Calendar of Events

Embattled Freedom – Health and Medicine in Civil War Refugee Camps

Ongoing Opportunities

  • August 3 at 1:30 PM

On August 3 at 1:30 PM in the Delaplaine Randall Conference Room at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, join Dr. Amy Murrell Taylor as she discusses medical care in the refugee camps of the Civil War.

The Civil War was just days old when the first enslaved men, women, and children began fleeing their plantations to seek refuge inside the lines of the Union army as it moved deep into the heart of the Confederacy. In the years that followed, hundreds of thousands more followed in a mass exodus from slavery that would destroy the system once and for all.

Dr. Taylor draws on an extraordinary survey of slave refugee camps throughout the country. Her presentation will reveal the everyday experiences of these refugees from slavery as they made their way through the vast landscape of army-supervised camps that emerged during the war. She will take attendees inside military-issued tents and makeshift towns, through hospitals and active combat, and into the realities of individuals and families struggling to survive physically as well as spiritually.

The stories of individuals–storekeepers, a laundress, and a minister among them–anchor her wide-ranging story and demonstrate with new clarity how contingent the slaves’ pursuit of freedom was on the rhythms and culture of military life. Dr. Taylor also brings new insight into the medical experience for those who called the refugee camps home for a time.

The presentation will begin at 1:30 PM in the Delaplaine Randall Conference Room at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. The presentation is included with admission, and museum members get in free.

Dr. Amy Murrell Taylor is an associate professor of history at the University of Kentucky. Her research focuses on the social and cultural history of the U.S. South in the 19th century. Her latest book, Embattled Freedom: Journeys through the Civil War’s Slave Refugee Camps (UNC Press, 2018), is a study of the many thousands of men, women, and children who fled slavery and sought refuge behind the lines of the Union army during the American Civil War. She previously examined families divided by national loyalties, both the realities of their lives and the images of them in popular culture, in The Divided Family in Civil War America (UNC Press, 2005). She is the co-editor, with Stephen Berry, of the “UnCivil Wars” series with the University of Georgia Press, as well as an editorial advisory board member of the Civil War Monitor magazine and a past member of the board of editors of the Journal of Southern History. She is also involved in a variety of public history and historic preservation projects in central Kentucky.