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Nicholas Lemann's Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War tells the villains' tale well, beginning with the 1873 Colfax massacre in Louisiana. After a contested election, African American Republicans holed up in the courthouse, besieged by white Democrats who set it afire and murdered the freedmen as they emerged under flag of truce. At least seventy-one blacks were killed (as against two or three whites). The lead besieger became the county sheriff and, Lemann writes, "[t]he Negroes who remained in Colfax had no choice but to live meekly under the rule of the men who had killed their husbands and sons and brothers." The episode had repeated sequels with few variations, providing a sickening, slow-mounting body count as the postwar reconstruction of the South disintegrated.



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