armed and forced to fight against the Confederacy. In the wake of the battle, 64 black laborers who had been traveling with rebel forces were captured by the Union. Although, the troops were not successful in conquering Ford Wagner, the sacrifice and valor of the soldiers proved that the slaves wanted freedom and they could lay down their life to achieve it. e. given their freedom. The men were recaptured by the Union troops and forced back into hard labor. Lieutenant J. Wallace Comer of the Army of Tennessee's 57th Alabama and his camp slave, Burrell. The politically incorrect runaway slaves you will not hear about, are those slaves captured and forced into labor by the union, that ran away from the union back to their plantations. In October 1862, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant took command of the Union Department of the Tennessee, establishing his headquarters in the village of La Grange, Tenn. Reading between the lines, we can attempt to recover some of what enslaved people experienced, but crucially not all of their thoughts, feelings, and motivations are clear to us. (Courtesy of Robert Gray), Slaves were ubiquitous in Confederate armies dating back to the war’s earliest days. (Library of Congress). By July 30, the fort’s commandant, Brig. COMPANY When the opportunity presented itself, slaves consistently ran to—not from—Union lines. The Union Army swept through Missouri during the early months of the war, and a Confederate guerrilla insurgency emerged to counter what many considered an enemy occupation. An attack on the Confederate position on June 3 resulted in heavy casualties for the Union, and nine days later, Grant led his army away from Cold Harbor to Petersburg, Virginia, a rail center that supplied Richmond. While Union desertion ran the full course of the war, there were periods when it spiked, most notably the winter and spring of 1863 in the wake of the Union army’s devastating defeat at Fredericksburg and its retreat following the Battle of Chancellorsville. Federal policy regarding slaves who ran away from their masters and came to the Union army was contradictory and confused in the first years of the war. In the furious fighting that blanketed Herbst Woods, Leventhorpe fell with wounds in his hip and arm. An enslaved … Several slaves ran away to serve with Mexican forces. “I gave Joe a tremendous whipping last night,” Pender scribbled in a note to his wife. It technically freed the slaves in the states in rebellion, but not the ones in the Border states that had stayed loyal. Other black residents were inspired by the battle to enlist in the Union army, serving with distinction during the remainder of the war. When word of the captured camp slaves reached him, Birney headed directly to Fort McHenry. Marlboro Jones, a slave of Captain Randal F. Jones of the 7th Georgia Cavalry, sat for a formal portrait in a Confederate uniform. Union officers took the initiative to actually free slaves. If anyone would be baffled by modern-day claims about “Black Confederates,” it would be Confederate soldiers. Most Confederates were unwilling or unable to believe that slaves had legitimate reasons for leaving, much less the agency and wherewithal to plot their own escapes. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (Catherine Elizabeth "Kate" Middleton); wife of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. to any amount.” Members of the Washington Artillery of New Orleans (Eshleman’s Battalion) similarly testified that Lee’s General Orders No. These southerners joined the Union army, that is, the army of the United States of America, and worked to defeat the Confederacy. slaves ran away from plantation to join the Union. “By 8 o’clock my mess were all filled with real coffee and other substantials.”. George’s return was not the only such instance. In May 1861, an Alabama recruit’s first taste of camp life included winding his way through “throngs of negro cooks.” As they adjusted to army life, Confederate soldiers frequently wrote home, imploring relatives or acquaintances to “send me a negro boy.”, The presence of slaves allowed Lee’s soldiers to configure their camps as “small Southern communities,” in which bondsmen completed everyday tasks such as laundry, cooking, and caring for animals, while also seeing to their master’s personal comfort. All seven were skilled tradesmen, ideally capable of finding employment as freed men. ... before Lincoln ran … Through word-of-mouth and eavesdropping, slaves learned of the rise of the Republican Party, Lincoln’s election and the outbreak of war. Many slaves had already left the plantation by the time of legal abolition. When slaves were near the front lines, amused Confederates drew on heavy dosages of slave vernacular and the “Sambo” stereotype, to depict them as clueless, “comical bystanders,” who lacked the battlefield courage of white Southerners. Again, the Union advance was halted, if only momentarily, as Grant awaited reinforcements. Most performed menial tasks like this man ready to shine an officer’s boots. killed. Escape, under these circumstances, would have amounted to a “suicide mission,” in the words of scholar Colin Woodward. General John C. Fremont in August 1861 declared that the slaves owned by Confederates in his conquered territory in Missouri were free. The self-emancipation thesis, which originated in the 1930s in the work of W. E. B. When referring to camp slaves, Confederate soldiers consistently used the terms “servant,” “cook,” or “negro”—making a clear distinction that the African Americans traveling with Lee’s army were laborers and servants, not soldiers. returned to their masters. “Tell George his Mother & all are well,” Louisa Leventhorpe added in a letter to her husband written in February 1863. Slaves had accompanied the Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland in September 1862, but the Gettysburg Campaign would mark the first and only time Lee’s army carried a substantial number of slaves into a free state. “Out of the many negroes in this army I haven’t known one to even try to make his escape to the enemy,” boasted James Paul Verdery of the 48th Georgia. Cooper H. Wingert is a historian and the author of 12 books, including The Confederate Approach on Harrisburg, Slavery and the Underground Railroad in South Central Pennsylvania and Abolitionists of South Central Pennsylvania. As Lee’s columns entered Pennsylvania in late June 1863, Confederates were eager to establish their slaves’ loyalty. Inability to raise enough finances to support the war. A Chambersburg minister who had taken special note of the Southern army’s sizable contingent of “colored servants and teamsters” reported rumors that some had deserted. In May 1861, three enslaved men who were determined not to be separated from their families ran to Fort Monroe, Virginia. Contraband was a term commonly used in the United States military during the American Civil War to describe a new status for certain escaped slaves or those who affiliated with Union forces. While “a man can do everything that a soldier has to do,” reasoned a Mississippian who later joined Barksdale’s Brigade, “it is needlessly making a slave of himself if he can get some one else to do it for him.” Before his family sent an enslaved man named Jim to act as his servant, the Mississippi officer “scarcely had time to write a letter or read a line; now I have plenty to do both.”, Often lacking the funds to purchase their own slave, many enlisted men pooled their money to hire (or “rent”) an enslaved person from his master, or hire a free black servant. (National Civil War Museum), It was in Union hands that George’s story takes a surprising turn. “My opinion is that he was enticed away or forcibly detained by some negro worshipper,” the Alabamian reasoned, “as he had always been prompt and faithful, and seemed much attached to me.”. ... Patsey Fossett – ran away in 1827, and living free in Cincinnati by the time of the 1850 Census; ... "Monticello Slaves Who Gained Freedom." is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. For several months beginning in the summer of 1864, Army leadership ordered troops to harass and expel refugees from the camp and cooperated with slave owners to return their slaves. Runaway slaves who were not claimed were sold at public auction. Whites in the area defeated and severely punished them. At Richmond, Lee received 2,000 or his requested 5,000 to relieve white teamsters for duty in … Because “de abolitioners met us dar—we was de ‘men’ and day de ‘asses.’” While Sam’s parting quip—if indeed his own words—might have conveyed some vague sense of camaraderie, white Southerners were quick to remind him and other camp slaves of their secondary status. Dave Matthews, singer, songwriter, guitarist, actor; leader of Dave Matthews Band and Dave Matthews & Friends. contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. George “nursed his wounded master”—first at the impromptu field hospital set up at the Samuel Lohr farm, and later still in Union captivity, at hospitals in nearby Mercersburg, and eventually at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. When the union troops were in an area they often had the freed slaves come to them for protection and to help. d. armed and forced to fight against the Rebels. Unwilling to completely forsake Joe’s loyalty, an advertisement for his return speculated that he “ran away…or was captured…on Gen. Lee’s retreat from Pennsylvania.”, During the retreat, Captain Charles Waddell of the 12th Virginia (Mahone’s Brigade) briefly left the regiment, returning to find that his slave Willis had seized the opportunity to escape, taking with him Waddell’s camp equipage. Slaves who ran away toward Union troops were a. killed. It was in Union hands that George’s story takes a surprising turn. While Confederates viewed their slaves’ return as proof of unflinching loyalty, in most cases enslaved people’s true allegiances rested with their family members,  who remained in bondage. Nor did Pender’s earlier criticisms prevent him from administering the lash. Contraband camps were refugee camps to which between four hundred thousand and five hundred thousand enslaved men, women, and children in the Union-occupied portions of the Confederacy fled … During the Civil War , the Union Army frequently occupied much of Alabama's Tennessee Valley from the spring of 1862 on. “As to the idea of a faithful servant, it is all a fiction,” the North Carolina diarist Catharine Devereux Edmondston concluded in September 1863. “There was no way the Union would have won the war had it not been for the support of African-Americans,” said Stauffer. Cloudflare Ray ID: 60f194ac0f580476 d. returned to their - 14097191 Completing the CAPTCHA proves you are a human and gives you temporary access to the web property. Slaves who ran away to Union army troops were considered "contrabands of war." From Mercersburg, Confederate surgeon Thomas Fanning Wood proudly reported that a slave in his brigade had refused the invitation of local “abolition women” to help him escape. American Civil War - American Civil War - The Emancipation Proclamation: Despite its shocking casualty figures, the most important consequence of Antietam was off the field. The canteens indicate his role as a camp slave rather than a fighting man. (Library of Congress), At Gettysburg, enslaved people were present in large numbers in the Army of Northern Virgina, but not in the battle lines sweeping toward Union positions. Remarkably, many recent websites, books, and articles have accepted these claims as fact—with little or no critical analysis. “Discovering that he would be forced to become a Union volunteer,” a North Carolina paper later swanked, “he skillfully duped the Abolitionists by donning Federal uniform and by a feigned conversion to yankee philanthropy and bribery.” His deception complete, George procured a pass from a garrison officer to run some routine errands, and “with the aid of this pass…and by some strategy, George safely reached Dixie, as he says, ‘heartily sick of all yankees and all yankeedom.’”. Slaves and a small number of free African Americans might also have received cash for taking on additional tasks, or simply as a “bonus” for good work. Richard Nixon, 37th President of the U.S. and first President to resign from office. In the defense of Atlanta, General Joseph E. Johnston called for 12,000 slaves to join his army as teamsters and cooks, but such a large number was never furnished for any general, although slaves were an important part of the campaign, building fallback lines for the stubbornly retreating Confederate army to man. (Courtesy of the Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Morris was optimistic that the remaining number might be employed as “laborers, teamsters, &c&c,” though he noted that several of the men declared themselves to be free, “and have families to whom they desire to return.” Union officials debated this request, though Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton ultimately decided that no black detainees would be sent south. Washington was owned by Joseph Bryant of Bossier Parish, La., who hired him out as a cook to Private Burrel McKinney of the 9th Louisiana (Hays’ Brigade). As manpower issues grew more dire as the war progressed, however, the British army became more amenable to arming runaway slaves and sending them into … As the battle raged on to the east, the fallen colonel was joined by his slave. One enslaved man, a servant in Cobb’s Legion, confirmed the presence of Lee and all three corps commanders at a recent review in nearby Culpeper, while also shedding light on the army’s trajectory toward Pennsylvania. Pender, who castigated the treatment of camp slaves, paid his servant Joe $15 per month—higher than the average Confederate private’s monthly wage ($11). Camp slaves occupied much of the First Day’s battlefield after it was firmly in Confederate hands, tending to the wounded, cooking meals for Southern soldiers, and caring for the army’s multitude of horses and animals. Pender, a North Carolinian, looked on with dismay as slaves and “free boys” alike—“in most cases forced from home,” he added—came down sick and “are allowed to die without any care on the part of those who are responsible for their well being.” And just like soldiers, homesickness plagued slaves who were separated from family and loved ones, often for prolonged periods of time. “He is a good and smart boy but like most young negroes needs correction badly.”. So much so, that it became a logistical problem that had to be overcome. In postwar reminiscences, former Confederates extolled the virtues of their similarly “devoted” slaves. Just days after Lee’s cautionary epistle, a slave who ran away from Brig. The loyalty of Confederate slaves has proved a bedeviling topic in public memory of the Civil War. The unfolding conflict destabilized slavery as many of Missouri’s nearly 115,000 slaves took advantage of the ensuing chaos and struck a blow for their own freedom. President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, issued September 22, 1862, declared freedom to slaves in the confederate states that did not return to the control of the Union by January 1, 1863. Shortly after their arrival, the men were visited by Colonel William Birney—the older brother of Maj. Gen. David Bell Birney, who had fought at Gettysburg and whose father was a prominent prewar abolitionist. Just as white Southern soldiers ate well in Pennsylvania, so too did the army’s contingent of slaves. “We don’t pay but 80 cts a piece a month for him, and I had much rather pay that than to be standing over a hot fire cooking.” Samuel Burney and his mess mates in Cobb’s Georgia Legion shared a camp slave named Daniel, who “does all for us; brings wood, water, cooks, spreads down beds, blacks shoes, &c.” Although Daniel was not his slave, Burney seemed satisfied with his function as a shared servant, opining that he “does me as well as if he were mine.”, Life for camp slaves was often grueling and harsh. Jimmy Page, musician, songwriter, producer; member of The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin and other bands. c. given their freedom. As the army entered Pennsylvania, Henry became “very trifling,” Pryor wrote, and “dont care for any thing but to make money for himself.” Pryor thought that Henry “will get better” once he “got farther away from the free states.”, Many camp slaves who fell into Union hands were brought to Baltimore’s Fort McHenry. “Our negroes are not at all prepossessed with their Yankee brethren,” Wood wrote home, “and I don’t suppose one in the Regt. These men formed bonds of camaraderie even while forced to serve a cause dedicated to keeping them in bondage. “We never have been able to keep the impressed Negroes with an army near the enemy,” he admitted in January 1864. Please enable Cookies and reload the page. The southern Pennsylvania countryside, by comparison, seemed a veritable cornucopia of agricultural bounty. In the fall of 1835, a group of almost 100 slaves staged an uprising along the Brazos River after they heard rumors of approaching Mexican troops. Similarly, the excitement Pender and others attributed to their slaves could stem from a multitude of factors, not just zealous loyalty to the Confederate cause. Just how many camp slaves escaped during the Gettysburg Campaign remains unknown, though several individual cases do survive. There he was jailed as a runaway, and his ultimate fate remains uncertain. And while his slave did not escape, Captain Shepherd G. Pryor of the 12th Georgia (Doles’ Brigade) expressed frustration with the newfound assertiveness of his camp slave, Henry. Wingert has appeared on CSPAN Book TV, and is currently a student at Dickinson College. 72—instructing Confederates to respect civilian property—came “much to the disgust of the negro cooks, who cannot understand why the army should act so differently from the Federal armies in Virginia.”. Shortly after the First Battle of Manassas, the Richmond Enquirer ran a satirical column about a camp slave named Sam who had purportedly followed his master into the thick of the “popin of de guns.” Sam wrapped up his story with a joke that seemed to place him in lockstep with white Confederates. In August 1861, the Union Army determined that the US would no longer return escaped slaves who went to Union lines and classified them as "contraband of war", or captured enemy property. Like Beverly, they were forced to maintain a painful, evasive silence about their heart-wrenching brush with freedom, a uniquely human story of Gettysburg that remains largely untold. Upon William's assumption of the British throne, the Duchess would become queen consort. “We have hired a negro man to cook for us,” wrote one Confederate soldier. During the summer of 1862, a Charlottesville, Va., slaveholder groused that this slave George ran away, and “passing as a free man” joined up with a Confederate artillery unit. On July 1, 1863, George’s master, Colonel Collett Leventhorpe, led his 11th North Carolina Infantry (Pettigrew’s Brigade) across Willoughby Run and smashed into the left flank of the famed Iron Brigade. Most slaves had spent their entire lifetime in slavery, and the past several years in war-torn Virginia. Yet as events quickly demonstrated, Joe’s status was still secondary to that of white Confederate soldiers. Slaves ran away, some joined the army, others fled to freedom behind Union lines. From the outset of the war, notably, even before the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves ran away from their owners to the advancing Union Army lines. Gen. George H. Steuart’s Brigade correctly informed one of Sharpe’s men that the Confederate army “intended to march to the [Shenandoah] valley and visit Maryland.” A week later, after the fight at Brandy Station, Va., two slaves identified as officer’s servants came into the Union lines and shared more valuable information. The claims of fidelity and devotion that Southern diarists and columnists were all too eager to trumpet unraveled before their eyes as the war progressed. Slaves who ran away toward Union troops were a. returned to their masters. During the conflict, Southern papers churned out sentimental stories of “faithful” slaves combing battlefields to retrieve the bodies of their wounded or slain masters, anecdotes that painted the slave system in a harmonious and favorable light. Yet just months earlier, the colonel’s wife had offered George a potent reminder of the family ties that probably motivated his return. Family ties likely influenced George, the slave of an English-born Confederate officer. At least 16 followed Birney’s call and enlisted, while another eight left with Union regiments as cooks. An enslaved man named Joe—who served a group of brothers in the 18th Mississippi—disappeared during the retreat from Gettysburg. As the slaves made their way to freedom, the town of Natchez went from a population of 10,000 to 120,000 people almost overnight. As soon as the Civil War began, many free black men in the North wanted to fight for the Union cause. Even the Rhode Island regiment was half black, half white, and the men were segregated into their own companies, but in the rest of the Army, they were integrated throughout the regiments. After the fighting on July 1 had concluded, Confederate artillery officer Coupland R. Page met his “negro boy, Pete” along the Chambersburg Pike west of town. Thousands of black men accompanied Confederate armies into the field, but virtually none were fighting men. Not all African Americans at Gettysburg were northerners, of course. Reading the Enquirer from his camp in northern Virginia, a member of the 16th Mississippi copied the joke into his diary—complete with slave vernacular. b. armed and forced to fight against the Rebels. “I afterwards asked him about it, but he evaded my questions, and I could get nothing further from him, in relation to it.” For Beverly, the Gettysburg Campaign was another cruel reminder of the painful ironies and heartrending conditions of American slavery. “A great many negroes have gone to the Yankees,” wrote Edgeworth Bird, a quartermaster for Benning’s Georgia brigade, in a letter dated July 9. Refugee camps were established on confiscated plantations to house thousands of slaves liberated by the Emancipation Proclamation and provide them with care. “A chance for freedom they had,” bragged Private William S. White of the 3rd Richmond Howitzers, “but they preferred life and slavery in Dixie to liberty at the North.” Thoroughly coached in proslavery paternalism, White predicted that freedom would be an “absolute curse” to “careless” African Americans, who would “ever miss their kind and considerate masters.”, Some even claimed that slaves were more eager than white Confederates to wreak havoc on Yankee territory, in revenge for the hard war waged throughout much of the Union-occupied South. Just like the Virginia slave Beverly, the prospect of a prolonged, perhaps permanent separation from loved ones—coupled with fears of retribution against relatives still in bondage—discouraged many slaves from running away once the army reached Pennsylvania soil. 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