Originally published 08/05/2012
Jim Downs: Civil War and Emancipation the "Greatest Biological Catastrophe of the Nineteenth Century."
Contraband during the Civil War. Credit: Wiki Commons.January 1, 2013 will mark the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the effective date of the Emancipation Proclamation.We tend to think of the emancipation of African American slaves in the South as a celebratory moment of jubilation and ecstasy. But there is a darker, bitterly ironic side to this triumphant story -- a grim story of neglect and indifference to a vulnerable population of uprooted men, women and children left to negotiate their freedom in a hostile, war-torn, disease-plagued land.