New Book Details Long-Forgotten and Controversial Civil War Battle in Louisiana Former Slaves’ Fight at Milliken’s Bend Led to Congressional Investigation Baton Rouge—At Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana, a Union force composed predominantly of former slaves met their Confederate adversaries in one of the bloodiest engagements of the war. This small yet important fight 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. Controversial charges made after the battle eventually led to a congressional investigation and contributed to the suspension of prisoner exchanges between North and South. Barnickel’s compelling and comprehensive account of the battle illuminates not only the immense complexity of the events that transpired in northeastern Louisiana during the Vicksburg Campaign but also 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 to end slavery. And for African Americans, both free and enslaved, Milliken’s Bend symbolized their never-ending struggle for freedom. 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.
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