Slavery in Clover Bottoms: John McClines Narrative

Jan Furman, Editor, John McCline, Author University of Tennessee Press $32 (192p) ISBN 978-1-57233-007-8
Born to slavery in Tennessee around 1851, John McCline experienced plantation life (including the whip) at first hand. McCline was about 11 when, in December 1862, he left the plantation to join the 13th Michigan Infantry. Working as a muleteer with the 13th, McCline labored through key battles at Murfreesboro, Chickamauga Creek and Lookout Mountain. He dispels the notion that blacks were complacent in bondage: inspired by reports of militant abolitionist John Brown, several of McCline's fellow slaves kept pistols secretly ready for an uprising that became unnecessary once Union troops overran rural Davidson County in 1862. McCline's description of the war is equally illuminating and rich in detail, as when he describes the mechanics of destroying a Southern railroad during Sherman's march to the sea. After the tracks were torn up, they were in turn heated on great bonfires till they glowed red. Then, with General Sherman looking on, they were bent round trees with the help of mules driven by teamsters such as McCline. The final chapter briefly recounts McCline's life after the war as he sought his family, work and the education that led to these unusually concise and elegant recollections. McCline's remarkable 1920s memoir--edited by Furman, an associate professor of early American literature at the University of Michigan, Flint--provides a compelling account of one child's slavery and one adolescent's Civil War. (July)
Reviewed on: 08/24/1998
Release date: 08/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-1-57233-453-3
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