Rehearsal for Reconstruction
The Port Royal Experiment

Willie Lee Rose
Introduction by C. Vann Woodward

The award-winning chronicle of South Carolina's Sea Islands during the Civil War era


"A marvelous book."
New Yorker

"A definitive work."
New York Times Book Review

"A disturbing, beautifully told story."
New York Review of Books

"A triumph of historical analysis [and] a detailed recreation of some of the Civil War's noblest hopes and greatest tragedies."
—David Brion Davis

"First-rate history."
Journal of American History

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Just seven months into the Civil War, a Union fleet sailed into South Carolina’s Port Royal Sound, landed a ground force, and then made its way upriver to Beaufort. Planters and farmers fled before their attackers, allowing virtually all their major possessions, including ten thousand slaves, to fall into Union hands.

Rehearsal for Reconstruction, winner of the Allan Nevins Prize, the Francis Parkman Prize, and the Charles S. Sydnor Prize, is historian Willie Lee Rose’s chronicle of change in this Sea Island region from its capture in 1861 through Reconstruction. With epic sweep, Rose demonstrates how Port Royal constituted a stage upon which a dress rehearsal for the South’s postwar era was acted out.

Page count: 464 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.25


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Willie Lee Rose is the author of Rehearsal for Reconstruction, A Documentary History of Slavery in North America (both Georgia), and Slavery and Freedom.