Charcoal is important in Africa due to its centrality to urbanization. Despite this, the politics of charcoal remain largely unexplored. This article asks how political power shapes charcoal production and how charcoal as an energy source shapes political power through an in-depth study of charcoal extraction in northern Uganda. It argues charcoal production, and its particular destructiveness, should be understood as a continuation of the violence of the 1986–2006 war between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Ugandan government. Based on long-term fieldwork in northern Uganda, the article draws a distinction between the politics of small-scale household production and of large-scale industrial production. By focusing on the political violence of industrial charcoal production, we argue that orthodox academic and policy narratives about the charcoal industry in Africa can be qualified, and new questions can be raised concerning broader narratives of energy modernity and global energy politics.