Thomas Bahde

Thomas Bahde teaches in the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion at Oregon State University. He has authored articles on the midwestern experience during the Civil War and is the editor of The Story of My Campaign: The Civil War Memoir of Captain Francis T. Moore, Second Illinois Cavalry.

Listed in: American Civil War · Slavery and Slave Trade · Race and Ethnicity · American History, Midwest · African American Studies

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The Life and Death of Gus Reed · A Story of Race and Justice in Illinois during the Civil War and Reconstruction
By Thomas Bahde

Gus Reed was a freed slave who traveled north as Sherman’s March was sweeping through Georgia in 1864. His journey ended in Springfield, Illinois, a city undergoing fundamental changes as its white citizens struggled to understand the political, legal, and cultural consequences of emancipation and black citizenship. Reed became known as a petty thief, appearing time and again in the records of the state’s courts and prisons.

“Much of Reed’s biography remains conjectural, but Bahde does an excellent job of constructing the series of contextual landscapes that support his conjectures. …The Life and Death of Gus Reed contributes to the vein of recent historical scholarship that widens the geographic compass of Reconstruction beyond the South and lengthens its chronological scope beyond 1877. In emphasizing the unsettled state of race relations in the North as well as the South during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, this historiography performs a valuable service.”

American Historical Review, Vol. 120, No. 5, 2015