By Crandall Shifflett
In 1872, simply seven years after his emancipation, a thirty-four-year-old former slave named John Washington penned the tale of his existence, calling it "Memorys of the Past." 100 and two decades later, within the early Nineties, historian Crandall Shifflett stumbled upon Washington's forgotten manuscript on the Library of Congress whereas studying Civil warfare Fredericksburg. Over the resultant decade, Shifflett sought to profit extra approximately this Virginia slave and the folks and occasions he so vividly portrays. John Washington's Civil War provides this amazing slave narrative in its entirety, including Shifflett's targeted annotations at the life-changing occasions Washington records.
While becoming a member of the canon of better-known slave narratives through Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, and Solomon Northup, Washington's account illuminates a much assorted international. The son of a slave lady and an unknown white guy, Washington by no means lived open air the seventy-five-mile radius that integrated Richmond and Fredericksburg, till his emancipation. His narrative spans his reports as a family slave, a laborer within the Fredericksburg tobacco manufacturing unit, and a inn servant at the eve of the Civil conflict. He additionally tells of his daring enterprise throughout Union strains and his reviews as a slave lower than Union officials.
Washington's reminiscences let for a unique examine the extra own elements of slave existence. compelled attendance on the slaveowner's church, much-anticipated gatherings of neighboring slaves at harvesttime, even a short episode of courtship between slaves are one of the occasions defined during this outstanding narrative. On a broader scale, Washington was once a witness to key moments of the Civil warfare, and his chronicle contains his ideas concerning the wider political turmoil surrounding him, together with his dramatic account of looking at the Union military mass round Fredericksburg because it ready to invade the city. an outstanding advent and professional annotations by way of Shifflett reconstruct Washington's lifestyles via his dying in 1918 and supply informative ancient historical past and context to Washington's recollections.
An exceptional window into the lifetime of a Virginia bondsman, John Washington's Civil War communicates with actual urgency what it intended to be a slave in the course of a interval of maximum difficulty that sounded the notes of freedom for a few and the tip of a life-style for others