This chapter provides the context of the life of James Rumley, clerk of the Carteret County court, who kept a diary recording his experiences and the experiences of his community of Beaufort under Union military occupation, led by General Ambrose Burnside, during the Civil War. It describes Rumley's motivations, as well as his interpretation of the nature of military occupation. The chapter places his diary in its proper social, military, and historical context. Rumley viewed the Union occupation as a harsh, oppressive experience led by fanatical Yankee abolitionists out to ruin southern society and bring social equality between the black and white races. The chapter discusses the context of emancipation and freedmen attempting to attain autonomy, and their attempts to enlist in the United States Colored Troops (USCT). It also discusses the nature of Unionism and racism in the region, as well as interpreting the occupation as an effort in wartime reconstruction, of which Rumley disapproved.
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