Arrival of the first Negro family within the lines.

Robert Gray

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 24, 2012
Arrival of the first Negro family within the lines, on 1st Jan. 1863.
Photograph by David B. Woodbury. (Library of Congress)

First produced as a stereo image. The original negative is damaged.

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JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
This has always been one of the most haunting images. I ' think ' there are 13 people, men, women and children. Their expressions we've in images of refugees from the Civil War into 2020. Hard to look at but we have to. It's awfully important.

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Which lines, @Robert Gray ? I'm not arguing, just thought there was quite a heavy number arriving in Beaufort, 1862?
 

ForeverFree

Major
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
Location
District of Columbia
I don't know where "The First" comes from. The description says only "a negro family." They certainly weren't "the first" in general ... possibly "the first" at that location in 1863.
Your point is apt. In fact, enslaved people were running to Union locations before the shooting war began. In March 1861 - before the attack on Ft Sumter - Lieut. Col. L. THOMAS, Assistant Adjutant-General, U. S. Army, sent a letter from his post at FORT PICKENS, FLA. The fort was under US control. He wrote:

On the morning of the 12th instant four negroes (runaways) came to the fort entertaining the idea that we were placed here to protect them and grant them their freedom. I did what I could to teach them the contrary. In the afternoon I took them to Pensacola and delivered them to the city marshal to be returned to their owners. That same night four more made their appearance. They were also turned over to the authorities next morning.​

Recollect that the Fugitive Slave Act, and others, were the policy of the United States before the war.

The US began its "contraband of war" policy in May 1861, the month after Ft Sumter. When a Virginia slave owner demanded the return of three slaves that had escaped to Fort Monroe, Butler refused, on the grounds that these persons (or property, as the Confederacy considered them) were being used to wage war against the Union. Hundreds of runaways were at the fort by the end of 1861.

Here's an interesting timeline, from the Official Records, regarding the treatment of enslaved persons by the US military from March 1861 through May 1862.

MILITARY TREATMENT OF CAPTURED AND FUGITIVE SLAVES.

Mar.18, 1861.–Lieut. Adam J. Slemmer, U. S. Army, commanding at Fort Pickens, Fla., returns four fugitive slaves to their masters.
Apr.23, 1861.–Brig. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, U. S. Army, offers to use U. S. troops in co-operation with the Governor of Maryland to repress an apprehended slave insurrection.
May24, 1861.–Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, U. S. Army, from Fort Monroe announces to the General-in-Chief his determination to employ fugitive slaves of disloyal owners.
30, 1861.–Hon. Simon Cameron, Secretary of War, directs Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, U. S. Army, not to surrender fugitive slaves to disloyal owners.
June22, 1861.–Col. Harvey Brown, U. S. Army, commanding Fort Pickens, Fla., reports to the War Department that he will not return fugitive slaves to their masters unless otherwise ordered.
July9, 1861.–The House of Representatives resolves that it is not the duty of Union soldiers to capture and return fugitive slaves.
Aug.30, 1861.–Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont, U. S. Army, proclaims martial law in Missouri and his purpose to confiscate the property and liberate the slaves of disloyal owners.
Sept.11, 1861.–President Lincoln issues an order modifying the proclamation of General Frémont to conform to act of Congress.
12, 1861.–Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont, U. S. Army, issues deeds of manumission to two slaves of a disloyal owner.
Oct.14, 1861.–Hon. Simon Cameron, Secretary of War, authorizes Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Sherman, U. S. Army, commanding at Port Royal, S. C., to organize and arm, if necessary, squads of fugitive and captured slaves.
Nov.4, 1861.–Maj. Gen. John A. Dix, U. S. Army, directs that negroes be not allowed to come within certain military lines in Maryland.
7, 1861.–Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, U. S. Army, in a letter of instructions counsels Brig. Gen. Don Carlos Buell, U. S. Army, appointed to the command in Kentucky, to respect the constitutional rights of Kentuckians in their slave property.
8, 1861.–Brig. Gen. William T. Sherman, U. S. Army, commanding Department of the Cumberland, expresses the opinion that fugitive slaves must be delivered up on application of their masters in conformity to the laws of Kentucky.
20, 1861.–Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, U. S. Army, issues General Orders, No. 3, excluding fugitive slaves from the military camps in the Department of the Missouri.{p.750}
Dec.25, 1861.–Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, U. S. Army, commanding District of Southeast Missouri, orders fugitive slaves to be expelled from Fort Holt, Ky.
Mar.13, 1862.–Additional Article of War approved forbidding officers and soldiers of the U. S. Army from aiding in the capture and return of fugitive slaves to disloyal owners.
May9, 1862.–Maj. Gen. David Hunter, U. S. Army, proclaims martial law in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, and declares all slaves free.
19, 1862.–President Lincoln modifies Major-General Hunter’s proclamation freeing the slaves in his military department.

- Alan
 

TomP

Sergeant
Joined
Sep 29, 2015
Location
Corinth, MS
This image of a contraband family arriving in Corinth, MS was originally published in Miller's Photographic History of the Civil War. In November, 2018, the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center held a candlelight walking tour from the park to the downtown historic district. Mr. Autry Davis of Corinth portrayed a resident of the nearby contraband camp. He is standing a few yards from where the photograph was taken. The provost Marshal office (Moss House Hotel) is no longer standing; it did not survive past 1900. The camp was organized in November, 1862, however, contrabands began to arrive shortly after the city fell to the Union on May 30, 1862.

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lupaglupa

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
In November, 2018, the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center held a candlelight walking tour from the park to the downtown historic district. Mr. Autry Davis of Corinth portrayed a resident of the nearby contraband camp.

@TomP I am hoping to get back to Corinth when the Contraband Camp site is more developed. It should be a terrific addition to the history of the War in Corinth (and all of NE MS)
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
I am reminded of a passage from the series, The Army of the Potomac, by Bruce Catton, in which one of the volumes he describes a Union officer meeting with such a wagon of full of Negro children and their Mother. The Union officer asks the Mother, "Are all these children yours?" To which the Mother replies, "'Dar's only 17 of 'em."

Can't say if that's an exact retelling, but I know the story's in there somewhere. :smile:
 

ForeverFree

Major
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
Location
District of Columbia
This image of a contraband family arriving in Corinth, MS was originally published in Miller's Photographic History of the Civil War. In November, 2018, the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center held a candlelight walking tour from the park to the downtown historic district. Mr. Autry Davis of Corinth portrayed a resident of the nearby contraband camp. He is standing a few yards from where the photograph was taken. The provost Marshal office (Moss House Hotel) is no longer standing; it did not survive past 1900. The camp was organized in November, 1862, however, contrabands began to arrive shortly after the city fell to the Union on May 30, 1862.

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Thanks so much for this.

- Alan
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
Yes, thanks SO much for all of this! I'm continually reading varied descriptions of how enslaved were received when coming into the lines. My favorite has to be two Sisters ( Mercy? ) all but assaulting the man who pursued a young black girl into the hospital where she'd fled, Beaufort. You read enough ' sent back ' accounts, the thought of 2 Sisters making hash out of the pursuer is wonderful. He did his own fleeing according the them- pretty sure they're believable.

Thanks very much for the timeline @ForeverFree , @TomP , I've always been smitten by that image, thank you! Hang on- these moments in time are too fascinating. What would be very cool is a family member one day able to claim relatives in this picture. It happens, between research, family lore, making connections- you never know.

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It's frequently tough ascertaining for certain because era dresses can be unhelpful- but it looks to me like one of these women made the trip while very far into her pregnancy. CAN you imagine? I remember a 30 minute trip in a nice, cushy car seat being awful.Someone's daughter here is what, maybe 10, a son somewhat older.

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Once had a shot at trying to figure out what quilt pattern we're seeing, protecting everyone's belonging- swear I'll get it. Sorry, this stuff distracts me.

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That gray is a little lean but in wonderful shape considering the kind of trip they had- AND it's a great horse! This family knew their horses, goodness. Sorry, also distracted by horses. Love the mixed teams, horses always seem a little embarrassed having their bovine friends along.

Love to see more from the candlelight tour. Just the image of Mr. Davis standing right, there gives me chills.
 

lupaglupa

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
It's frequently tough ascertaining for certain because era dresses can be unhelpful- but it looks to me like one of these women made the trip while very far into her pregnancy. CAN you imagine? I remember a 30 minute trip in a nice, cushy car seat being awful.
I always think about this when I read accounts from the pioneers who went west in wagons. A difficult and tiring trip in the best of circumstances, but done while pregnant?! Ugh. Our fore-mothers were tough women.
 

Robert Gray

First Sergeant
Joined
Jul 24, 2012
This has always been one of the most haunting images. I ' think ' there are 13 people, men, women and children. Their expressions we've in images of refugees from the Civil War into 2020. Hard to look at but we have to. It's awfully important.

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Which lines, @Robert Gray ? I'm not arguing, just thought there was quite a heavy number arriving in Beaufort, 1862?
I don't know where "The First" comes from. The description says only "a negro family." They certainly weren't "the first" in general ... possibly "the first" at that location in 1863.
According to the Library of Congress, the caption from the negative sleeve is "Arrival of negro family in the lines." The alternate title is "Arrival of the first Negro family within the lines, on 1st Jan. 1863." The second title, photographer, and date are from the Catalogue of photographic incidents of the war, from the gallery of Alexander Gardner...by Bob Zeller, published by the Center for Civil War Photography, c2003.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
I always think about this when I read accounts from the pioneers who went west in wagons. A difficult and tiring trip in the best of circumstances, but done while pregnant?! Ugh. Our fore-mothers were tough women.


Right? Here's something else that made me laugh- at us in 2020, not the women in the image- HOW did they manage to look un-rumpled, pretty darn put-together and tidy? I KNOW I look much, much worse after just a 12 hour ride in a nice, air conditioned car. Like something the cat dragged through the hedge backwards.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
According to the Library of Congress, the caption from the negative sleeve is "Arrival of negro family in the lines." The alternate title is "Arrival of the first Negro family within the lines, on 1st Jan. 1863." The second title, photographer, and date are from the Catalogue of photographic incidents of the war, from the gallery of Alexander Gardner...by Bob Zeller, published by the Center for Civil War Photography, c2003.


Boy do we owe LoC and the other archivists a LOT. Can't imagine the painstaking research and work- it always blows me away. They make it so easy for us to pull up these treasures in public access, the people who make it possible have all my respect.
 

JPChurch

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 30, 2016
Location
Manassas VA
This has always been one of the most haunting images. I ' think ' there are 13 people, men, women and children. Their expressions we've in images of refugees from the Civil War into 2020. Hard to look at but we have to. It's awfully important.

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Which lines, @Robert Gray ? I'm not arguing, just thought there was quite a heavy number arriving in Beaufort, 1862?
There's more wagons in the distance too....I wonder what that's all about.........I think this must have been a staged photo. So many of them were that type. Perhaps, "let's gather up some contraband and assemble them in/around this wagon we got here that's not being used and we'll put a Union forage cap on the one in the middle."
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
Maybe 'pose' or set-up the shot? ' Stage ' can mean a photo was deliberately misleading in some way, you know? These families were coming into the lines, a photographer wished to document it. To do that he'd have had to set up his gear and bring the subjects to it- those things weren't very mobile.

Oh I don't know- we see boys wearing those caps in more images than I can count. This is Varina's Landing- it's supposed to be Aiken's house but that isn't the house we see in the background. Forage caps galore!

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lupaglupa

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
@JPK Huson 1863 I think pose is the better word. Photography being what it was at the time, there aren't really a lot of action shots. Most photos included complete or partial posing of the subjects.
 

TomP

Sergeant
Joined
Sep 29, 2015
Location
Corinth, MS
@TomP I am hoping to get back to Corinth when the Contraband Camp site is more developed. It should be a terrific addition to the history of the War in Corinth (and all of NE MS)
When were you last here in Corinth? The Corinth Contraband camp site is as developed as it will be. There is a quarter-mile paved walking path with six life-sized bronze statue depicting life at the camp. In the fall every 5th-grader in the Alcorn County School District comes to the camp and participates in activities that would have been common in the camp. They wash clothes, plant cabbages, go to school with slates and reprint primers, and learn to march and load muskets. A week before the field-trip we visit them in their classrooms and talk to them about the history of the camp.

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James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Annual Winner
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Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
I am reminded that last night one of my very favorite episodes of PBS' Finding Your Roots by Henry Louis Gates was repeated, in which are told stories of descendants from: slaves "sold South" to Louisiana by the Jesuits in Maryland; mulatto fugitives from the slave uprising in Santo Domingo; and the last slave ship, the notorious Clotilde in Mobile in 1860. The point of the episode was the many variations on the supposedly "typical" lives.
 
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