Linda Barnickel of Nashville, Tennessee has been selected as the winner of the 2013 A. M. Pate Award in Civil War History. The Pate Award is presented each year by the Fort Worth Civil War Round Table to the new book that represents the best original research in Civil War history focusing on the far Western theater of the war – commonly called the Trans-Mississippi. The Award winner is selected by an independent committee. It will be presented at the January 14, 2014 meeting of the Fort Worth Civil War Round Table.
The book focuses on the Battle at Milliken s Bend, Louisiana, where a Union force composed predominantly of former slaves met their Confederate adversaries in a short but bloody engagement. This battle received some initial widespread attention but soon drifted into obscurity. In Milliken s Bend, Linda Barnickel uncovers the story of this long-forgotten and highly controversial battle.
The fighting at Milliken s Bend occurred in June 1863, about fifteen miles north of Vicksburg on the west bank of the Mississippi River, where a brigade of Texas Confederates attacked a Federal outpost. Most of the Union defenders had been slaves less than two months before. The new African American recruits fought well, despite their minimal training, and Milliken s Bend helped prove to a skeptical northern public that black men were indeed fit for combat duty. After the battle, accusations swirled that Confederates had executed some prisoners including white officers and black soldiers. The charges eventually led to a congressional investigation and contributed to the suspension of prisoner exchanges between North and South.
Barnickel’s well researched account not only gives a thorough explanation of the battle but also covers the implications of Milliken s Bend upon the war as a whole. The battle contributed to southerners increasing fears of slave insurrection and heightened their anxieties about emancipation. In the North, it helped foster a commitment to allow free blacks and former slaves to take part in the war. And for African Americans, both free and enslaved, Milliken s Bend symbolized their commitment to the war effort.
Reviews of the book have been very favorable including this from Richard G. Lowe author of “Walker’s Texas Division: Greyhounds of the Trans-Mississippi”
“Linda Barnickel’s Millikens Bend is by far the fullest treatment of that vicious and momentous little battle on the Mississippi River levee near Vicksburg. This detailed account examines antebellum race relations in the home states of the soldiers, growing antislavery sentiment in the free states, the battle itself and the ways in which northerners and southerners have remembered (or forgotten) the conflict in the decades since 1863. Based on deep research in primary and secondary sources, this book gives the story of the African-American enlisted men at Milliken’s Bend the attention in deserves and offers readers sound and fair-minded judgments of the evidence.”Richard G. Lowe, Author
and this from Andrew Wagenhofer of ‘Civil War Books and Authors:’
“Linda Barnickel’s Milliken’s Bend finally gives the battle and the men that fought it their proper due. It truly was a small battle with significant consequences, among them an inspiring effect on black recruitment in the North, a compelling reason for white Union soldiers and civilians to reevaluate their racial prejudices, and a prominent role in the breakdown of the prisoner exchange system. This study is an exhaustively researched gem and a model for future combined battle and memory studies.”Andrew Wagenhofer, Author
Linda Barnickel is an archivist and freelance writer with master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and The Ohio State University. Passionate about discovering the hidden and fascinating stories of history, she is interested in local history, military history, oral history, and the cultural power of archives. And is a deserving winner of the 2013 A. M. Pate, Jr. Award in Civil War History.