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Lincoln’s Veteran Volunteers Win the War

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Lincoln’s Veteran Volunteers Win the War:  The Hudson Valley’s Ross Brothers and the Union’s Fight for Emancipation by D. Reid Ross
Published by State University of New York Press, November 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7914-7641-3

More than 140 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln described the Civil War’s defeat of slavery as a “new birth of freedom.” On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama will gaze toward the memorial to that president when he takes to oath of office as our 44th president. This “new birth” is an altogether fitting and proper time to recall the significance of the war that made it possible.

My grandfather, his three brothers, and 200,000 other dedicated Union soldiers set th;e stage for the election of our first African American president – a contribution that few people today recognize. Those selfless young men believed it was their duty to fulfill the promise of the Founding Fathers and assure freedom of opportunity for all Americans. They knew, too, that the rest of the world was watching as the principles of freedom and democracy were put to a test they knew they must win. It is profoundly important that we remember those men and their sacrifices.

Lincoln’s Veteran Volunteers Win the War tells the little-known story of their devotion to Abraham Lincoln, their deep moral commitment to the founding principles of this nation, and their willingness to do whatever it would take to fulfill that promise. James McPherson, who has expressed a particular interest in “the motivation and acitons of Civil War soldiers, especially with respect to their convictions about slavery” has writtern in a personal letter to me that my book “addresses these issues in a persuasive manner.”

Daniel Ross and his brothers were raised to believe in the assertion of the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. Their church and their community rejected slavery as immoral and against the laws of God. As they grew to manhood, they saw their nation increasingly at odds over that fundamental principle, and realized they had to fight to uphold it. The Rosses and thousands of young men who shared their convictions volunteered to fight at the outset of the Civil War, not only to preserve their country but also to assure liberty and justice for all men – no matter what their race. As the war continued, they re-enlisted as Veteran Volunteers, willing to persevere until victory was theirs, no matter what the cost.

The stories of my grandfather, his three brothers, and their regimental comrades, bring to light the moral compass that compelled them to continue risking their lives, despite inconceivable horrors on the battlefield. One Ross brother was killed, another blinded, another deafened, and the fourth held captive in Andersonville and four other confederate prisons. Their parents were crippled with rheumatism, and without their sons’ help, they lost the family farm to foreclosure. Yet they never wavered in their commitment.

Obama’s election demonstrates that at last, our nation’s deeds honor the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation. All of those who have fought for civil rights including the Veteran Volunteers, would agree that the fulfillment of those promises is long overdue.  As we celebrate this defining moment in our nation’s history, let us also honor the men whose sacrifices helped make it possible.

For additional information, contact:

SUNY Press: Fran Keneston, marketing department, 518-472-5023.
D. Reid Ross, author, Reid’s website: www.dreidross.com