Caught in the middle.
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Caught in the middle.

After the Civil War began, slaves were sometimes seized from their masters and forced into service for the Confederate army. This illustration from a May 1862 issue of Harper’s Weekly depicted one way that the institution of slavery contributed to the Confederacy’s war effort. According to the caption, the northern newspaper artist observed this “struggle between two Negroes and a rebel captain” through a telescope. The captain “insisted upon their loading a cannon within range of [Union] Sharpshooters. . . . [He] succeeded in forcing the Negroes to expose themselves, and they were shot, one after the other.”

Source: Mead, Harper’s Weekly, May 10, 1862—American Social History Project.