First EditionWilson, Joseph T. The Black Phalanx, A History of the Negro Soldiers of the United States. Hartford: The American Publishing Company, 1887. First edition with original illustrated cover collage of various images including a musket, drum, and what appears to be a meteor shattering, both meteor and title are gilt gold. 9" x 6" inches. 528 pages. 64 illustrations of scenes depicted in the text. The book covers the history of African American soldiers in the wars of 1775-1812 and 1861-65 with special focus on the Black Phalanx, the black commanders of the army. Wilson dedicates the book to "the Brave Men Who Commanded the Black Phalanx" writing "You were outlawed by the decrees of Jefferson Davis, criticised by many friends at home, and contemptuously received by brother officers at headquarters, in the field, in the trenches, and at the mess table; yet, you did not waver in your fidelity to principle or in your heroic leadership of those whose valor was denied until it was proven in carnage and victory." Crack in cloth on spine does not affect text or structure. Title page detached. Front hinge cracked. Textblock toned but clean and tight. Overall in very good condition. An important historic text written during a time when African American service was underrepresented if not entirely disregarded.
Joseph T. Wilson was not only a historian of the fighting black spirit in the Civil War, but was one of its soldiers. His fellow veterans recruited him to write a complete and accurate record of the great struggles for liberty and union borne by African Americans. The result was The Black Phalanx, a book rich in anecdotes, eyewitness accounts, and previously overlooked facts. This classic includes succinct, compelling accounts of African Americans in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, men who fought and died for freedom they could not enjoy. The body of the book examines every aspect of black service in the Civil War: the "revolutionary" decision to arm captured black soldiers, and the efforts to recruit troops; the training of black Union regiments; and battles they fought, including the assault on Fort Wagner, the siege of Petersburg, and the fall of Richmond. African Americans spilled blood in every theater of war, from Arkansas to Virginia, and The Black Phalanx is Wilson's spirited history of those soldiers whose valor was denied until it was proven in carnage and victory.