Through a combination of intelligence, daring, and sheer luck, the men reached the protection of occupying Union troops. Historian Blight prefaces the narratives with each man's life history. Using genealogical information, Blight has reconstructed their childhoods as sons of white slaveholders, their service as cooks and camp hands during the Civil War, and their climb to black working-class stability in the North, where they reunited their families. In the stories of Wallace Turnage and John Washington, we find portals that offer a rich new answer to the question of how four million people moved from slavery to freedom. From the publisher's description.