Time Full of Trial

The Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony, 1862-1867

By Patricia C. Click

328 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 25 illus., 2 maps, 1 table, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4918-7
    Published: May 2001
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-7540-7
    Published: January 2003
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7246-3
    Published: January 2003

Buy this Book

To purchase online via an independent bookstore, visit Bookshop.org
In February 1862, General Ambrose E. Burnside led Union forces to victory at the Battle of Roanoke Island. As word spread that the Union army had established a foothold in eastern North Carolina, slaves from the surrounding area streamed across Federal lines seeking freedom. By early 1863, nearly 1,000 refugees had gathered on Roanoke Island, working together to create a thriving community that included a school and several churches. As the settlement expanded, the Reverend Horace James, an army chaplain from Massachusetts, was appointed to oversee the establishment of a freedmen's colony there. James and his missionary assistants sought to instill evangelical fervor and northern republican values in the colonists, who numbered nearly 3,500 by 1865, through a plan that included education, small-scale land ownership, and a system of wage labor.

Time Full of Trial tells the story of the Roanoke Island freedmen's colony from its contraband-camp beginnings to the conflict over land ownership that led to its demise in 1867. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources, Patricia Click traces the struggles and successes of this long-overlooked yet significant attempt at building what the Reverend James hoped would be the model for "a new social order" in the postwar South.

About the Author

Patricia C. Click is associate professor in the Division of Technology, Culture, and Communication at the University of Virginia. She is author of The Spirit of the Times: Amusements in Nineteenth-Century Baltimore, Norfolk, and Richmond.
For more information about Patricia C. Click, visit the Author Page.


"Elucidat[es] the conflicting goals of social reformers and the military and how military exigencies and Presidential Reconstruction ultimately sealed the Roanoke freedmen's fate."--North Carolina Historical Review

"Click has made this small story of the Civil War in to a book rewarding to students of the period and especially to anyone interested in the history of eastern North Carolina."--Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

"Reconstruction scholars and those interested in the growing debate over the federal government's responsibility to the descendants of slaves will benefit from the poignant story of the Roanoke Island freedmen's colony, told engagingly by Patricia C. Click."--Journal of American History

"Click has performed an outstanding service in rescuing the Roanoke Island freedmen's colony from historical oblivion. . . . Her account of the colony's history will prove definitive."--American Historical Review

"Click's fine study of the refugee camp at Roanoke Island, North Carolina, offers valuable insight. . . . Time Full of Trial makes a signal contribution to understanding the experience of African American refugees during the Civil War."--Maryland Historical Magazine

"Click's well-researched book documents the history of the emancipation process in eastern North Carolina."--Civil War Book Review