Almost all white slaves

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NH Civil War Gal

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I'm currently reading a book called, "The Citizen Soldier" that was published by Time-Life in 1983 and reprinted from an 1879 diary of John Beatty, who eventually became a Colonel of the Third Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

He is describing how they have entered Murfreesboro and "the colored people pour out in great numbers on Sunday evenings to witness dress parade, some of them in excellent holiday attire. The women sport flounces and the men canes. Many are nearly white, and all slaves.

He goes on to say that in Murfreesboro the poor whites are as "poor as rot" and the "rich are very rich." There is no middle class and in fact the slaves (the nearly white) are the middle class. AND they aren't considered as good as their masters, BUT they are considered a great deal better than "the poor white trash."

I have to say I had no idea until this past year that there were slaves that were almost white or white looking. And certainly, until I started reading this book, I had no conception about them filling in a role of "middle-class" in a small city.

Any thoughts on this? Was Murfreesboro an exception? It seems like after the war that if you were nearly white or white enough to pass, it would be easy to move north or west and assimilulate
 
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