Foreign Policy Digital

War and Reconstruction: Ron Chernow’s marvelous new biography of U.S. Grant

By Col. Bob Killebrew, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Best Defense office of Civil War affairs

In the years following the Civil War, the American south descended into chaos.  Returning southern soldiers, facing newly enfranchised former slaves and their northern allies, began a reign of murder, intimidation and brutality against newly enfranchised African Americans and white Republicans that threatened, as one federal official said, “a second civil war.” Thousands of blacks were murdered. Many more thousands who dared to raise their voices were beaten, threatened and driven from their homes. Often, their only hope was the United States army’s garrisons in the south, placed there for their protection and for enforcing federal laws by the

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