Did Confederates Capture Blacks at Gettysburg?

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wbull1

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In answer to a request I saw on this site yesterday for primary sources to this question, here are two primary sources. I'm sure there are others.

Here’s an order from Longstreet to Pickett

HEADQUARTERS FIRST ARMY CORPS,
Greenwood, Pa., July 1, 1863–10.30 a.m.
Maj. Gen. G. E. PICKETT,
Commanding Division:
As directed yesterday evening, if relieved in time to-day by General Imboden, the commanding general desires you to come on this evening as far as this point, and to follow on after the remainder of the command across the mountains to-morrow morning. If you do not start from the vicinity of Chambersburg before to-morrow you may move on across the mountain without stopping here. When you arrive here, either this evening or to-morrow, the commanding general wishes you to relieve a brigade of General Hood at New Guilford, and send it forward to rejoin his division. Your own brigade will in turn be relieved by General Imboden when he gets here and sent on to rejoin you. The captured contrabands had better be brought along with you for further disposition.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. M. SORREL,
[27.] Assistant Adjutant-General.

Col William Steptoe Christian, commander of the 55th Virginia, wrote to his wife on June 28, 1863, in a letter that was found on the Gettysburg battlefield: “We took a lot of negroes yesterday. I was offered my choice but as I could not get them back home I would not take them.”
 

E_just_E

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55th Virginia, was part of Heth's old Brigade under Brockenbrough, in the 3rd (AP Hill's) Corps that entered PA the 28th. Likely, both references are to people captured in Maryland during the earlier parts of the Gettysburg Campaign. Ewell's Corps had captured people in PA as well.
 

wbull1

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55th Virginia, was part of Heth's old Brigade under Brockenbrough, in the 3rd (AP Hill's) Corps that entered PA the 28th. Likely, both references are to people captured in Maryland during the earlier parts of the Gettysburg Campaign. Ewell's Corps had captured people in PA as well.
So, is your response a suggestion that the soldiers captured blacks only earlier on in the campaign and did not capture any in Gettysburg?
Why would they do that?
 
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E_just_E

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So, is your response a suggestion that the soldiers captured blacks only earlier on in the campaign and did not capture any in Gettysburg?
Why would they do that?
My response is that based on the dates of the sources you provided, they likely refer to people captured in Maryland.

Nothing more. Nothing less.
 
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Tom Elmore

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So, is your response a suggestion that the soldiers captured blacks only earlier on in the campaign and did not capture any in Gettysburg?
Why would they do that?
Most of the black population had left Gettysburg, and the Confederates were focused on fighting the Federals by the time they reached Gettysburg. However, if an opportunity presented itself ...

A black maid worked for Mrs. Hartzell at a farmhouse a mile from the town [a widow Hartzell lived near Herr's Tavern on the Chambersburg Pike, while Samuel Hartzell lived northwest of Gettysburg on the Mummasburg road]. When the fighting started on July 1, Mrs. Hartzell departed her house suddenly with her little girl, while the maid gathered up her three year old boy; they left bread in the oven. They went to the house of an old gentleman named Chriss [possibly John Crist] and joined their family in their cellar. They left there and went to Dave Hankey’s place [possibly P. D. W. Hankey]. There the Rebels wanted to take the maid, saying “she’s got to go with us,” which Mrs. Hartzell refused. She approached a sick Confederate officer who agreed to protect the maid if she helped out [presumably with the wounded]. (source: Battleground Adventures, The Colored Servantmaid; Greg Coco, A Vast Sea of Misery)

The above story generally checks out in terms of the people and places named. The Hankeys fed and housed a reported 30 or more neighbors, but also had around a thousand wounded Confederates on their property. The 36 recorded burials on the property were all from Rodes' division, mainly from Daniel's and Iverson's brigades.

One post-war source described a black named Jack who worked on a farm near the town. He was quoted as saying, “They’ll kill all us n------, or take us back to slavery.” This source noted that a great many black refugees passed through Gettysburg going northward. "Some had a spring wagon and horse, but usually they were on foot, burdened with bundles containing a couple of quilts, some clothing, and a few cooking utensils. In several instances they trundled their belongings in a two-wheeled handcart. Occasionally one drove a single sheep, or hog, or a cow and calf. Most of the runaways would drift into the towns and find employment, and there they would make their future homes." (Battleground Adventures, The Bank Clerk)

James Warfield was one of the three blacks among the 170 in the town of Gettysburg who owned a farm. The other two were Abraham Brien and Alfred Palm. Warfield's property on Warfield's Ridge was within the Confederate lines July 2-4, but we hear nothing of James Warfield or Abraham Brien during the battle, so they must have left the area. The Confederates were presumably oblivious to the recent presence of black residents in the town, since I know of no mentions of this subject in Confederate sources. Also, how else can we explain the burial of a Georgia soldier on the grounds of the Black AME church on the southwestern edge of town?
 

W. Richardson

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I will not like this article as there is nothing in it to like. I do appreciate your posting it, William. Thank you for reminding us how horrible war can be.

I can certainly agree with your statement. War, all wars are indeed horrible events. Too bad those in leadership rolls on each side did not do more to stop the War for Southern Independence, but alas they didn't .

Respectfully,
William
 
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