Thomas Morris Chester, Black Civil War Correspondent
His Dispatches from the Virginia Front
In 1864 the Philadelphia Press commissioned Thomas Morris Chester, son of an ex-slave to cover the activities of black troops on the Virginia front. The only black correspondent for a major daily during the Civil War, Chester covered the crucial final year of the war around Richmond. His dispatches constitute the most sustained and extensive first-hand account of black soldiers in existence. As the war came to a close, Chester richly described the responses of Confederate troops and civilians to encounters with black soldiers, as he joined the black troops of the 25th Army Corps as they led the victorious Union forces into Richmond. In this volume, R.J.M. Blackett provides a concise biography of Chester and reproduces in annotated form his Civil War dispatches, which are remarkable for their detail and their graphic accounts of the destruction, the excitement and the liberation of the Civil War experience.