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Table of Contents of Born at the Battlefield of Gettysburg: An African-American Family Saga

Preface: “We are people to whom the past is forever speaking”
Victor D. Chambers writes to Union Army veteran Michael R. Carroll.

Facsimile of Letters from Victor Chambers to Michael Carroll
May 14, 1931
June 8, 1931


Chronology of Events

Chapter 1: “The dream and the hope of the slave”
Victor Chambers’ great-grandparents leave Haiti for freedom in Philadelphia.

Chapter 2: “Thou art a little slave, my child”
Victor Chambers’ mother is kidnapped, sold, and bought by uncle of Confederate General William Barksdale.

Chapter 3: “I tremble for my country”
Slave markets of Richmond; lifestyle and attitudes of wealthy Virginia planters.

Chapter 4: “There is an inferior race to do the menial service”
The Barksdale family; Victor Chambers’ mother is “well acquainted with young Massa Will” Barksdale.

Chapter 5: “Man is slave only to himself”
Slave women find means of defense and rebellion, despite punishments and abuse.

Chapter 6: “She is rising”
After 37 years as a slave and pregnant with her son, Victor Chambers’ mother escapes from Barksdale plantation.

Chapter 7: “Cheer on the weary traveler”
As Victor’s mother endures a grueling 250-mile trek back to freedom, Union and Confederate armies follow parallel routes from Virginia into Pennsylvania.

Chapter 8: “We can never forget what they did here”
Victor Chambers’ mother arrives at Gettysburg the night before the battle and witnesses the death of Union Army general Reynolds the next morning.

Chapter 9: “My mother could not get away from the field”
She assists wounded and dying men, and William Barksdale is killed.

Chapter 10: “This nation shall have a new birth of freedom”
Victor Chambers is born in an old army wagon: no doctors, no hot water, no one to help—”No one but God and my mother.”

Chapter 11: “No more weary travelin'”
Victor Chambers’ mother is reunited with her mother. He is raised by his mother and grandmother.

Chapter 12: “At the closed gate of justice”
Victor Chambers, an artist and porter in a tobacco factory in West Chaster, leaves for Rhode Island.

Chapter 13: “If it were not for men like you, I would be in slavery”
Victor Chambers, janitor, writes to Union Army veteran Michael R. Carroll.

Epilogue: “Let the kin of the dead come and hold him by the head”
Dahomean ritual for the burial of an honorable man.