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Dark Artillery; or, How to Make the Contrabands Useful; Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, October 26, 1861 | by Penn State Special Collections Library
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Dark Artillery; or, How to Make the Contrabands Useful; Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, October 26, 1861

With the enunciation of the Fort Monroe Doctrine in May 1861, escaped slaves who made their way to Union lines were declared as “contrabands of war,” and not subject to return to their confederate owners. As contraband, runaway Blacks were dragooned by the Union Army to serve as field laborers, construction workers, and domestic workers, and in a variety of tasks that often paralleled their former status as slaves. As this editorial cartoon illustrates, racism was not confined to the South, and the complex issue of how to deal with the contrabands of war continued to be a challenge to the Union cause.

 

Rare Books and Manuscripts, Special Collections Library, University Libraries, Pennsylvania State University

 

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Taken in October 1861