Friday, March 1

The Catoctin Center for Regional Studies Hosts "In Search of Freedom: African Americans and the Civil War "

JBK Theater March 2, 2013

Nationally acclaimed historians will gather at Frederick Community College’s Jack B. Kussmaul Theater on March 1-2 for a conference that illuminates African American involvement in the Civil War.

“In Search of Freedom: African Americans and the Civil War” will explore such topics as the path to emancipation, slave refugees and the Union army, and antebellum African American life in Maryland, to name a few.

“A lot of people know the military story of the Civil War, but most do not know the details of how African Americans experienced the war,” said Barbara Powell, Frederick Community College’s coordinator of the Catoctin Center for Regional Studies.

“Many of the speakers will present a national context for the story of African Americans and the Civil War, while others will focus on the Civil War and border region of mid-Maryland and the surrounding territory, north and south,” Herrin added. “This region of Unionists and Confederates, slaveholders and abolitionists, and enslaved and free African Americans was a microcosm of why and how the Civil War was fought.”

James McPherson, professor emeritus at Princeton University, will deliver Friday’s keynote “Black Men in Blue: African American Soldiers in the Civil War.” Saturday’s keynote “Was Emancipation a War Crime?” will be given by Professor Barbara Fields of Columbia University’s Department of History.

The conference is open to both an academic audience and the general public, especially those interested in Civil War history and African American history.

Attendees may be surprised by what they learn.

“African Americans in the Civil War were not just ‘victims’ or passive bystanders who had things done to and for them,” said Dean Herrin National Park Service Historian and co-coordinator of the Catoctin Center for Regional Studies. “Many were active participants in the struggle for freedom, impatient with the slow course of emancipation, and creators of their own destiny.”

The registration deadline is Feb. 22 and fees range from $10 to $40. Visit the conference website at to register online and view a full schedule.

The Catoctin Center for Regional Studies is sponsoring the conference with funding from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area and the Tourism Council of Frederick County’s TRIPP Program.

For more information contact Barbara Powell at 301-624-2803 or