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African-American History Month

A vengeful Confederate attack in Charles City ends in triumph for black Union troops

A vengeful Confederate attack in Charles City ends in triumph for black Union troops

Union Brig. Gen. Edward A. Wild was already a marked man when he landed on the banks of the James River near Sherwood Forest plantation in Charles City on May 5, 1864.

So was his “African Brigade,” whose relentless pursuit of Confederate partisans in Hampton Roads and northeastern North Carolina in late 1863 had enraged the South with a trail of destruction that included burned houses, shaken female hostages, the liberation of nearly 1,000 slaves and the hanging of a suspected guerrilla.

The fiery abolitionist was unrepentant, however, when he steamed from Yorktown with Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler’s new 33,000-man Army of the James to threaten the...

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