During the Civil War, the movement of Union troops through the slave states brought emancipation to the enslaved. This drawing by Union sketch artist A. R. Waud captures one such moment, as field slaves on horseback jubilantly greet advancing Union troops and leave the plough they are hauling, knowing they are free.
Waud accompanied the Union army during virtually the whole of the Civil War, capturing the truths of the war with his drawing as no other medium could. Thanks to his efforts and those of other documentarians, later Americans can catch glimpses of a wildly tumultuous period in black history, when millions who had endured the tragedy of bondage enjoyed self-possession for the first time.
Image: Waud’s “Negroes Leaving The Plough,”
published with descriptive text in Harper’s Weekly, March 26, 1864,
from this source.