Why They Fought: Abolitionists in the Union Army of the Cumberland

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Date: January 27, 2017
Contact: Kim Coons, 423-752-5213x139

Fort Oglethorpe, GA: Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, in partnership with the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, invites the public to participate in a free, 45 minute program at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, 200 East Martin Luther King Boulevard, Chattanooga, TN 37403, on Monday, February 13. The doors open at 5:30 pm, and the formal program begins at 6 pm. This program will focus on abolitionists in the Union Army of the Cumberland during the Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns.
In many cases, soldiers found themselves marching off to war, as Private Chauncey Welton of the 103rd Ohio suggested, in order to “fight for and vindicate the supremacy of the Constitution.” Not all were staunch abolitionists, looking to eradicate the institution of slavery. However, as many US soldiers tramped through middle Tennessee, headed toward Chattanooga, they became personally acquainted with the peculiar institution. As soldiers interacted with enslaved African Americans, some of their mindsets began to change, as indicated by Lieutenant Alfred Pirtle, when he shared in a letter home that as the unfolding events in which he was involved rapidly made “practical abolitionists of every soldier.” For whatever reason soldiers donned the blue uniform of the US Army at the onset of hostility, by war’s end, they removed the shackles of slavery from across the land. This program will explore stories of these “blossoming” abolitionists found within the Army of the Cumberland.
For more information about programs at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, contact the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center at 706-866-9241 or the Lookout Mountain Battlefield Visitor Center at 423-821-7786. 

Last updated: February 2, 2017

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