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"Negro Treachery" in the SE, pre-Emancipation Proclamation

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by ForeverFree, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

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    In August of 1862, a group of concerned citizens in Liberty County, GA, near Savannah, wrote this letter to Confederate Brigadier-General MERCER, Commanding Military District of Georgia, Savannah:

    GENERAL: The undersigned, citizens of Liberty County, of the Fifteenth District, would respectfully present for your consideration a subject of grave moment, not to themselves only, but to their fellow- citizens of the Confederate States who occupy not only our territory immediately bordering on that of the old United States, but the whole line of our sea-coast from Virginia to Texas.

    We allude to the escape of our slaves across the border lines landward, and out to the vessels of the enemy seaward, and to their being also enticed off by those who, having made their escape, return for that purpose, and not infrequently attended by the enemy. The injury inflicted upon the interests of the citizens of the Confederate States by this now constant drain is immense.

    Independent of the forcible seizure of slaves by the enemy whenever it lies in his power, and to which we now make no allusion, as the indemnity for this loss will in due time occupy the attention of our Government from ascertained losses on certain parts of our coast, we may set down as a low estimate the number of slaves absconded and enticed off from our sea-board at 20,000, and their value at from $12,000,000 to $15,000,000, to which loss may be added the insecurity of the property along our borders and the demoralization of the negroes that remain, which increases with the continuance of the evil, and may finally result in perfect disorganization and rebellion.

    The absconding negroes hold the position of traitors, since they go over to the enemy and afford him aid and comfort by revealing the condition of the districts and cities from which they come, and aiding him in erecting fortifications and raising provisions for his support, and now that the United States have allowed their introduction into their Army and Navy, aiding the enemy by enlisting under his banners, and increasing his resources in men for our annoyance and destruction.

    Negroes occupy the position of spies also, since they are employed in secret expeditions for obtaining information by transmission of newspapers and by other modes, and act as guides to expeditions on the land and as pilots to their vessels on the waters of our inlets and rivers. They have proved of great value thus far to the coast operations of the enemy, and without their assistance he could not have accomplished as much for our injury and annoyance as he has done; and unless some measures shall be adopted to prevent the escape of the negroes to the enemy, the threat of an army of trained Africans for the coming fall and winter campaigns may become a reality.

    It is, indeed, a monstrous evil that we suffer. Our negroes are property, the agricultural class of the Confederacy, upon whose order and continuance so much depends--may go off (inflicting a greet pecuniary loss, both private and public) to the enemy, convey any amount of valuable information, and aid him by building his fortifications, by raising supplies for his armies, by enlisting as soldiers, by acting as spies and as guides and pilots to his expeditions on lend and water, and bringing in the foe upon us to kill and devastate; and yet, if we catch them in the act of going to the enemy we are powerless for the infliction of any punishment adequate to their crime and adequate to fill them with salutary fear of its commission.

    Surely some remedy should be applied, and that speedily, for the protection of the country aside from all other considerations. A few executions of leading transgressors among them by hanging or shooting would dissipate the ignorance which may be supposed to possess their minds, and which may be pleaded in arrest of judgment.

    We do not pray the general in command to issue any order for the government of the citizens in the matter, which, of course, is no part of his duty, but the promulgation of an order to the military for the execution of ringleaders who are detected in stirring up the people to escape, for the execution of all who return, having once escaped, and for the execution of all who are caught in the act of escaping, will speedily be known and understood by the entire slave population, and will do away with all excuses of ignorance, and go very far toward an entire arrest of the evil, while it will enable the citizens to act efficiently in their own sphere whenever circumstances require them to act at all.

    In an adjoining county, which has lost some 200, since the shooting of two detected in the act of escaping not another attempt has been made, and it has been several weeks since the two were shot.
    The letter talks about "our sea-board"; they were probably talking about the area from SE Virginia (Hampton Roads) to NE Florida (St Augustine and Jacksonville). By August 1862 some 20,000 had fled bondage to coastal areas controlled by the Union, according to the letter.

    Note that in their letter, the enslaved persons in question are not merely seen as fugitives; they are cast as traitors, enemies of the state. The fugitives "go to... the enemy and afford him aid and comfort by revealing the condition of the districts and cities from which they come... aid him in erecting fortifications and raising provisions for his support... occupy the position of spies also, since they are employed in secret expeditions for obtaining information by transmission of newspapers and by other modes, and act as guides to expeditions on the land and as pilots to their vessels on the waters of our inlets and rivers."

    The Liberty County men opine that the freedom seekers "have proved of great value thus far to the coast operations of the enemy, and without their assistance he could not have accomplished as much for our injury and annoyance as he has done."

    Civilian law, apparently, was insufficient to meet the crisis; the letter stated "if we catch them in the act of going to the enemy we are powerless for the infliction of any punishment adequate to their crime and adequate to fill them with salutary fear of its commission." The solution, they believed, was for the military to essentially summarily execute the traitors, or at least, a number of them; this would set a example for any slaves who might follow the ringleaders.

    In the following posts, I will present some examples of Negro treachery from the SE coast. Notably, these events took place before the final Emancipation Proclamation was issued. The show the extent to which African Americans were wrapped up in the war, and aiding the Union, before it was official United States policy to emancipation the enslaved and officially enlist them into the US military.

    - Alan
     

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  3. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

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    The shooting was between the United States and the putative Confederate States began in April 1861, with the attack on the US Fort Sumter.

    The month before that, a group of enslaved people sought asylum from slavery at US Fort Pickens, located right outside of Pensacola, Florida, along the northeastern portion of the Gulf Coast. Like US Fort Monroe, outside of Hampton, Virginia, this fort remained in Union hands throughout the rebellion.

    However, the freedom seekers' hopes were dashed by the US personnel at the fort, as noted in this correspondence:

    From: FORT PICKENS, FLA., March 18, 1861.
    To: Lieut. Col. L. THOMAS, Assistant Adjutant-General, U. S. Army.

    SIR: I have the honor to report that since my last report nothing has happened to disturb the peaceable relations existing between the U. S. forces and those opposing us.
    ...
    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.
    ...
    I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    A. J. SLEMMER, First Lieutenant, First Artillery, Commanding.
    The freedom seekers could be forgiven for their imagination. After all, during secession winter, the argument was made frequently and loudly that dissolving the Union was the only way to protect the South from, in the words of the South Carolina Secession Declaration, an incoming Lincoln administration that believed "a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States." If the North was warring against slavery, then surely it would protect fugitive slaves when they ought their freedom.

    But those freedom seekers were wrong... or better put, their timing was wrong. The Union would come to see the necessity of emancipation. But not then. Not yet.

    - Alan
     
  4. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

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    This is a map that shows Union occupation at various points during the war:

    civil_war_1861-1865-jpg.160535.jpg

    An obvious omission is Ft Pulaski, near Savannah, which fell into Union hands in April 1862. Many slaves fled to the fort and its environs, which no doubt put white men in Liberty County on high alert.

    Of note is that by the autumn of 1862, the Union controlled most of Hampton Roads; thousands of slaves in the area gained their freedom. Port Royal, which was captured in Nov 1861, was a slave dense area; according to this, some 10,000 enslaved people resided there; they refused to join whites who left the area, basically refugeeing themselves and seeing how things would work out under the Union.

    If you include Hampton Roads, Port Royal, coastal NC, the Ft Pulaski area, and portions of NE Florida as areas under Union control by August of 1862, then it is quite reasonable that 20,000 or even more enslaved people gained their freedom along the Southeast coast, as claimed in the very first post by the Concerned Citizens of Liberty County, GA.

    Slave flight was a real problem for the Confederacy's SE Coast, as we shall see.

    - Alan
     
  5. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

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    In the July 1861, the House of Representative passed what has been called the Crittenden Resolution, also called the War Aims Resolution. John J. Crittenden was a Congressman from Kentucky, and he wanted to make the United States' goals for the War of the Rebellion crystal clear. The Resolution reads:

    Resolved by the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States, That the present deplorable civil war has been forced upon the country by the disunionists of the Southern States now in revolt against the constitutional Government and in arms around the capital;

    that in this national emergency Congress, banishing all feelings of mere passion or resentment, will recollect only its duty to the whole country;

    that this war is not waged upon our part in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, nor purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those States, but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and to preserve the Union, with all the dignity, equality, and rights of the several States unimpaired;

    and that as soon as these objects are accomplished the war ought to cease.​

    The bolded text is key; translated into modern language, this part of the resolution says the United States has no intention to interfere with the institution of slavery. This was meant to assuage the fears of the Union's slave holding states (Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri); and also to alert the Rebels that no, the US did not seek, as the South Carolina Secession Declaration stated, to wage a war against slavery. Perhaps such assurance might lead Confederates to abandon their secessionist stance.

    But the Confederates did not abandon their stance. The Civil War would rage for four plus years, leading to the deaths of of over 700,000 men.

    And the Union stance toward the treatment of enslaved people would evolve. In ways that Crittenden probably didn't like.

    - Alan
     
  6. matthew mckeon

    matthew mckeon Brigadier General Moderator

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    Very interesting thread.
     
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  7. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain Forum Host

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    Very good thread, @ForeverFree.
    But please edit the title to put "Negro Treachery" within quotes. As it is, it looks like your judgement of their actions, not that of the slaveholders.
     
  8. connecticut yankee

    connecticut yankee Private

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    I agree with John Hartwell that this is a very good thread. Quite interesting. And I also agree with his suggestion that quotation marks are needed in the title to inform readers "Negro Treachery" is how the topic was described in the writings you presented in this thread, and do not necessarily represent your personal opinion (if such is the case, of course).
     
  9. PatW

    PatW Private

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    The concerned citizens of Liberty County had some very strange notions. A slave is a person held as property who effectively is afforded no rights by the government or the society. So how in tarnation can anyone logically conclude that such a person owes any loyalty whatsoever to either? Such a person’s first loyalty should be to anyone or anything that will end his or her condition of servitude. That is what any right thinking person would do. The citizens of Liberty County like so many slave owners seemed to suffer from a distinct lack of imagination.
     
  10. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

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    When the American Civil War began, neither the Union nor the Union military intended to disturb the institution of slavery. But almost from the beginning of the war, the Union disturbed the relationship between enslaver and the enslaved.

    The first crack, and a significant one at that, came at Fort Monroe, which is situated right outside Hampton, Virginia. The fort was commanded by General Benjamin Butler. In May 1861 - just one month after the shelling of Fort Sumter - three enslaved men fled bondage and sought refuge at the fort. Their owner was a Colonel Mallory, whom Butler understood to be the commander of Confederate forces around Hampton.

    By Adam Goodheart wrote about the three freedom seekers:

    Frank Baker, Shepard Mallory and James Townsend were field hands who — like hundreds of other local slaves — had been pressed into service by the Confederates, compelled to build an artillery emplacement amid the dunes across the harbor. They labored beneath the banner of the 115th Virginia Militia, a blue flag bearing a motto in golden letters: “Give me liberty or give me death.”​

    Under the flag of truce, Col Mallory sent an officer to retrieve his property. Butler refused, on the grounds that these persons (or property, as the Confederacy considered them) were being used to wage war against the Union (the term "contraband of war" will soon be used to describe such escaped slaves, though Butler himself does not use the phrase per se). No mention was made of emancipation.

    Butler wrote about the incident in his book Autobiography and personal reminiscences of Major-General Benj. F. Butler : Butler's book : a review of his legal, political, and military career:

    Butler Excerpt 1.png

    Butler Excerpt 2.png
    Butler Excerpt 3.png

    As news spread through the local "grapevine telegraph" of the successful escape of the Fort Monroe Three, hundreds of enslaved people would flock to the fort. Before the end of 1862, the United States government passed laws specifying that asylum seeking slaves who were employed by the Confederates could not be sent back to their owners. Tens of thousands of enslaved people throughout the Confederacy were able to flee to Union occupied territory, if they weren't residing in Federal controlled territory.

    Slaves proved to be a boon for the Union in many ways.

    - Alan
     
  11. wausaubob

    wausaubob 2nd Lieutenant

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  12. wausaubob

    wausaubob 2nd Lieutenant

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    Once the idea of summary execution is introduced the Confederacy is on a slippery slope.
     
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  13. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

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    African Americans became a major source of information for the Union. In May 1863, Gen. Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, warned a fellow officer that he must take numerous steps to avoid negroes learning of his operations and alerting the Union:

    Lee warns of negroes knowing too much.png

    What follows are example of former enslaved people who give aid and comfort to the enemy of the Confederacy.

    - Alan
     
  14. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

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    There is a story to tell about slavery in Civil War Louisiana, and elsewhere, but I am hoping to not let this thread become overwhelming.

    As time goes on, you'll see what I mean.

    - Alan
     
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  15. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

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    From November 1861 to February 1862, the US army and navy were able to capture Confederate land along the Sea Islands of coastal South Carolina. Confederate Colonel William Martin corresponded about ongoing activities:

    TO: HEADQUARTERS MOUNTED REGIMENT, Pocotaligo, S. C., December 9, 1861.

    GENERAL: At 9 p.m. 5th instant, I received a telegram from you, authorizing me to proceed to Port Royal Island to complete the burning of the cotton commenced by Capt. Stephen Elliott. As it was advisable to cross the ferry about dark, I started next day at 12 m., sent forward scouts to Beaufort to report to me at the ferry. They did so, and the information from the town was brought (down to sundown) that there was no enemy on the island.

    ...

    On the return of my pickets from the enemy’s lines I divided the column into two detachments, and taking charge of one, and assigning the other to Major Oswald, we proceeded respectively to the waters around the island where the plantations lie and burned all the cotton, except where the quantity was too inconsiderable to destroy the building or where the owners were engaged in removing it. I have reason to suppose but little cotton remains on the island. Where the cotton was in the dwelling-houses, or its destruction involved the loss of valuable buildings, it was thrown out and rendered valueless.

    The two detachments united at a rendezvous near the ferry, and crossed at 10 p.m. on [the] 7th instant, the men having been almost incessantly in the saddle for thirty-four hours, with but two meals, which they carried in their haversacks.

    WM. E. MARTIN, Colonel Mounted Regiment.

    Major-General LEE, Coosawhatchie, S. C.

    P. S.-I omitted to state, on my arrival within half a mile of the ferry, on my way to cross over from this side, I concealed my men in a douse thicket and allowed no negroes to pass; that when I bivouacked on the plantation beyond the ferry I guarded every negro house and the country around, and that at all times, after the pickets fired on us, I took every negro who was passing into custody, and that all opportunity of conveying intelligence of our movements was cut off.

    This illustrates how Confederate operations and activities were affected by concerns of negroes (enslaved people) providing information to the enemy. And the war is not yet a year old.

    - Alan
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
  16. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

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    This is from a report by US Brig. Gen. Isaac I. Stevens, U. S. Army, concerning a Skirmish on Chisolm’s Island, S. C. in December, 1861. Note that the US found "an intelligent negro" to navigate them through the area:

    HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF PORT ROYAL, Beaufort, S. C., December 18, 1861.

    SIR: In pursuance of my directions Lieutenant Porter, Eighth Michigan Regiment, took a party last evening across the Coosaw River, and surprised a picket on Chisolm’s Island. I found an intelligent negro as guide. The party started at 9.30 o’clock, crossed the Coosaw, got in the rear of the picket, attacked it, and took the whole party of 6 prisoners. Two were wounded. They belonged to the Fourteenth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, Colonel [James] Jones commanding, and their names are J. P. Longford, L. M. Longford, B. Mathis, John Mates, M. W. Jennings (wounded), and Corporal J. Y. Longford (wounded).

    I have not been able to elicit much information from them. They state, however, that theirs is the only regiment stationed at Garden’s Corner, and that there are no pieces of artillery there. They have been in the Confederate service about four months; have received no pay. They stated that the common people had been led into the war by the leaders; that they volunteered to prevent being drafted. They (the prisoners) believe the whole difficulty grows out of a misunderstanding. Their leaders, however, were very determined.

    I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    ISAAC I. STEVENS, Brigadier-General, Commanding.
    - Alan
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
  17. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

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    In January 1862 Union forces were engaged in earnest at Port Royal. US Brig. Gen. Isaac Stevens spoke of a successful joint expedition by Union forces:

    TO HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE EXPED’Y CORPS, Beaufort, S. C., January 3, 1862.

    SIR: I have the honor to report, for the information of the commanding general, the complete success of the joint expedition of which the land forces were placed under my command, and the return of the several regiments to their respective encampments. The object of the joint expedition was to seize and destroy the enemy’s batteries on the main opposite Port Royal Island, bring away the guns and other property, but not to engage the enemy except in the accomplishment of this object, and not to advance into the interior.

    ...

    I cannot close this report without congratulating the commanding general and the country on the good conduct of the troops under my command, none of whom, except the Highlanders, had ever been under fire before, and on the perfect success of the expedition, placed by him, so far as regards the land forces, in my hands. Looking to the marches by land and the movements by water, looking to the very considerable combination involved in the final concentration of troops, it is a little remarkable that every departure in detail from the original plan, and indeed every accident, seemed only to further it. We effected in flat-boats, manned by negroes alone and without the aid of a single employé, a landing on the enemy’s shore, having to cross in our boats a space of 3 miles. We moved to our point not along the main road, but across the fields and along paths shown us by negroes picked up upon the shore. We engaged the enemy on our own and not on his field. We gave him fair challenge of battle. Every regiment of my command was, through its skirmishers, brought into contact with him. He kept under cover, fell back from his position, and yielded the field to us. Our troops have confidence in themselves and faith in the bayonet.

    I must return my acknowledgments to the several members of my staff, to my assistant adjutant-general, Capt. Hazard Stevens, who is referred to in the highest terms in the accompanying reports; to Lieutenant Porter, Eighth Michigan Regiment, who, by means of the negroes, guided my force all the way from the first landing to the ferry (in this he was assisted by Lieutenant Taylor, Roundhead Regiment); to Lieutenant Lyons, Fiftieth Pennsylvania Volunteers, who organized the transportation on flat-boats, in which duty Lieutenant Cottrell, Eighth Michigan, rendered service; to Captain Fuller, assistant quartermaster, for valuable aid in his department and on my staff; and to Lieutenant Holbrook, who volunteered and served most acceptably as aide throughout. Dr. Kemble, the brigade surgeon, was very efficient. He examined in person, under fire, the ground occupied by our skirmishers, and personally superintended the bringing off of our wounded men.

    I am under very special obligations to my post and brigade quartermaster, Capt. William Lilley, who was indefatigable in preparing for the expedition and efficient in furthering it. He furnished the crews of negroes for the flats and removed the 12-pounder gun and carriage to Beaufort. At midnight he remounted it, took it across the ferry early in the morning, and brought it into Beaufort before night, taking along with him a wagon load of three-inch plank, and making eight bridges on the road. The large ferry-boat itself, with all its appurtenances, is now safely laid away at Beaufort in his charge, for use on future occasions.

    ...
    The negroes all report that there are no troops this side of Garden’s Corner...

    ISAAC I. STEVENS, Brigadier-General, Commanding Land Forces.
    - Alan
     
  18. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

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    Serious punishment, including death, was the penalty for supporting the Union, especially if it involved attacking Confederate forces.

    In this report from Confederate Brig. Gen. Nathan G. Ryan, several negroes who "attacked my pickets at Watt’s Cut" faced death if convicted, or hard labor if not, for their attacks on a Confederate picket:

    (TO HEADQUARTERS THIRD MILITARY DISTRICT, Adams Run, S. C., January 25, 1862; Capt. T. A. WASHINGTON, Assistant Adjutant-General, Charleston, S. C.

    CAPTAIN-I have the honor to report that the expedition under Col. p. F. Stevens, Holcombe Legion, has succeeded in capturing about 50 negroes on Edisto Island, several of whom are the negroes that attacked my pickets at Watt’s Cut.

    I think after a due investigation, should any of the negroes be convicted, they should be hanged as soon as possible at some public place as an example. The negroes have evidently been incited to insurrection by the enemy.

    I have now as prisoners several negroes, who say they can identify the men who attacked the pickets. I will keep all the negroes till the investigation is through, and would earnestly request instructions from the general commanding.

    The negro fellows not implicated directly I propose to iron heavily and work them under guard on the causeway now being made at Church Flats. Colonel Stevens will probably arrive to-day with the remainder of the negroes.

    Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    N. G. EVANS, Brigadier-General, Commanding.​

    Keep in mind this is all before the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863; and even the Preliminary Proclamation of September 1862.

    I had not heard of black men engaging in "attacks" on Confederates this early in the war until I saw this.

    - Alan
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
  19. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

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    This correspondence is related to the above in post #17. It refers to activities at Edisto Island, SC. The Union was in the process of capturing areas in coastal SC, causing a commotion among the enslaved and Confederate soldiers.

    It is clear that the enslaved people were engaged in a coordinated effort to escape their enslavers. They were in communication with each other, and had set up meeting points from which they would proceed to particular locations. According to the following report, "the negroes... have destroyed the bridges connecting Botany Bay and Eddingsville with the main island"; it appears the escaping slaves were acting tactically. The account mentions a Union gunboat; the runaways were apparently in communication with Union forces in the area to enable their escape from local plantations.

    This was an obvious slave insurrection. In fact, the whole body of actions by the enslaved people, reported at 10,000 persons in the Port Royal area, might be considered a huge slave insurrection, although I don't know if it has been reported as such in history books; it might (incorrectly) be described in history books as cases of the Union simply occupying the area and freeing the slaves. Certainly some Confederate officers called it insurrection. Certainly some people died in this insurrection, as mentioned in the text.

    This was written by Confederate P. F. Stevens of Colonel Holcombe's Legion:

    TO: Confederate Capt. W. H. ROGERS, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

    CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report:

    Pursuant to orders from the general commanding, at 6.30 a.m. on Wednesday, the 22d instant, I proceeded with a detachment to cross the Dawho on an expedition to Edisto Island. My force was 120 infantry and 65 cavalry, composed of detachments from Captain Blair’s company (attached to the Legion), Company A and Company C of the infantry, and Company A and Company B of the cavalry. Major Palmer was in command of the cavalry, while I took the more immediate charge of the infantry. The Rev. Mr. Baynard accompanied me as guide.

    After considerable delay at the inconvenient ferry near Mr. Grimball’s (three-quarters of a mile long) and at the bridge over Watt’s Cut between Jehossee Island and Edisto, I left the cut about 3.30 p.m. and began my march on Edisto. About a mile from Watt’s Cut we passed {p.79}Dr. William Bailey’s place-Old Dominion; found some potatoes; corn-house burnt, together with two or three other outbuildings; 1 horse and 1 mule shot, supposed to have been killed by the pickets on Saturday in a field near by; 1 horse reported wounded. The detachment of cavalry thrown in advance examined the next plantation to the southeast of the road and reported no provisions, but the ruins of the corn-house still smoking.

    About 3 miles from the cut, just at the crossing of the Edisto Ferry road, at Mr. William Whaley’s place, found 4 negroes-Joe and his wife-belonging to Mr. Whaley, and in charge of the place; Bill, belonging to W. G. Baynard, these all old and infirm, and Peter, belonging to Henry Seabrook. Peter’s manner being very insubordinate, and his holding one hand in his pocket exciting suspicion, he was seized, searched, and tied on the discovery of a sharp knife in the pocket where he had kept his hand. Old Joe, on interrogation, confessed to having heard of the attack of Saturday, and said he could lead us to the rendezvous of the attacking party. Mounting some 30 infantry behind as many cavalry, I proceeded with this force, added to the cavalry, to the point-Miss Mary Seabrook’s-under guidance of Joe, but no trace of the negroes could be discovered. The dwelling-house had been very little used by the negroes, and their own houses deserted for a length of time. Returning to Whaley’s, I spent the night there. At Mr. Whaley’s we found some 400 bushels of corn and a few pigs.

    On the 23d sent Peter, under guard, to the pickets at Watt’s Cut with 1 horse and saddle; took 1 mule and cart and moved down the main road towards Mr. Townsend’s. One detachment of cavalry covered my front, while another visited the places on either side of the road. The detachment on the south and east of the road soon found a party of negroes, some 10 in number, whom I ordered to be taken into custody, and, through a fortunate misunderstanding of the order, they were sent immediately back to Watt’s Cut; I therefore cannot report their names or place of capture. Moving slowly until past the Episcopal Church, my advanced party captured Paul, belonging to the estate of James Clark; Penny, his wife, and Victoria, his child, belonging to Mr. Henry Bailey, and on his place. One mule and cart were taken from this place. Under guidance of Paul I directed my march towards Point of Pines, in which locality he said a number of negroes were assembled.

    Arrived at Mr. Edward Whaley’s place, a number of negroes were taken in the house and yard. They had assembled here from all points. While securing these several others were taken in the adjoining roads and fields, some in buggies, some on horseback, and some in carts. Leaving a guard over the negroes taken, I moved on, under guidance of Paul, to Mr. Hopkinson’s place, while a small party, under Messrs. Elliott and Curry (I omitted to state that at Jehossee these gentlemen reported to me by order of the general commanding), proceeded to Mr. Berwick Legaré’s place.

    By this time the alarm had been given, and the negroes were on the move for the lower part of the island; the number captured was therefore less than it would otherwise have been. A number were seen by Messrs. Elliott and Curry making their escape. Crossing a long footbridge from Hopkinson’s to Mr. Edward Seabrook’s, several negroes were taken at the latter place. Our party was there joined by Major Palmer, who, with his detachment, had passed through a number of plantations, among others those of Mr. Evans Eddings, Mr. Lastree, and one belonging to the estate of Berwick Legaré. At these places he had either captured or pursued negroes, and our hands were now quite full of prisoners. The infantry being in rear, as not able to move with the celerity of the cavalry, compelled to move rapidly in order to be ahead of the alarm which was now spreading, I could not stop to take notes as to the names of the negroes or their owners.

    The alarm must have been communicated in some way to the gunboat, which was now seen approaching Mr. Seabrooke’s place. Leaving a picket there I proceeded to assemble the command, which was scattered over the three places last mentioned, and covering the march of the captured negroes, I moved back to Edward Whaley’s, where I left the negroes under guard, and taking the infantry moved rapidly back to Seabrook’s to resist a landing, which seemed imminent. On the march two shells were thrown at the Seabrook house, but by the time my party came up the boat had retired. Night closing in, I quartered the infantry at Mr. Seabrook’s and carried the cavalry to Whaley’s.

    I regret to state that at the Legaré and Seabrook places 3 negroes were either shot or drowned and a fourth wounded; 2 women and 1 man ran into the water, and, refusing or failing to come out, were fired upon and disappeared beneath the water.

    Early on the 24th I dispatched the captured negroes under guard, with orders to the lieutenant that they were to be reported to the general commanding. I then proceeded with my force to the neighborhood of Mr. Townsend’s. Stopping at Major Murray’s, I endeavored, with a field glass, to examine Eddingsville, but could discover no signs of any persons in the village.

    In the mean time Major Palmer, who had gone to Townsend’s, returned with 5 negroes, and reported, on their statement, that the enemy were landing in our rear at Point of Pines. As I had heard one or two shells fired in that direction, I presumed they had thrown these to cover the landing, and thinking it prudent to secure my retreat in case the party should be greatly superior to my own, I dispatched the cavalry to cover the road by which the enemy was to approach, while I endeavored to pass it. Having passed this road, and the cavalry reporting no enemy landed, I concluded that, as I had visited nearly the entire island, my command greatly fatigued, provisions scarce, and my return so far begun, I had better continue my march home...

    The result of the expedition was the capture of some 80 negroes, men, women, and children. I brought off 9 mules, 10 horses, 5 colts, 8 carts, 1 two-horse wagon, 2 carriages, and 1 buggy...
    ...

    The upper portion of the island is completely deserted, and this expedition has, I think, driven off the island nearly all the able-bodied negroes, according to the information gathered. I think the negroes are congregated in large numbers on Botany Bay, in the vicinity of the fort. They have destroyed the bridges connecting Botany Bay and Eddingsville with the main island. Should it be desirable, I recommend that a force of 300 men be sent to Botany Bay, provided with the means of repairing the bridge which separates it from Edisto, and under instructions to make a surprise at night, when the gunboats cannot use their artillery. By this means I think nearly the entire force of negroes, numbering, according to accounts, some thousand, may be captured. From the confessions of some of the negroes taken, I think several of the party were concerned in the attack made on our pickets on Saturday last.

    Very respectfully,

    P. F. STEVENS, Colonel Holcombe Legion.​

    - Alan
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
  20. wausaubob

    wausaubob 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2017
    Messages:
    3,396
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    In many ways it was a war against slavery. Despite the Crittendon bill of the summer of 1861.
    Fortress Monroe, Alexandria, P0rt Royal, Grant in central Missouri, the Union retains St. Louis and Louisville, and then the hammer blows on western Tennessee, and New Orleans, with Norfolk added in.
    This is followed by Grant uniquely involved in experiments to make the blacks self supporting, including autonomous black communities at Davis bend. Grant's and Eaton's experiments on both sides of the Mississippi expanded the threat to slavery, and Dick Taylor incurred risks to attack the black regiments on the west side of the Mississippi.
    Sherman was not a particular advocate of abolition, but he was not shy about boasting about the number of African-Americans he liberated in the Meridian raid.
     
    NH Civil War Gal likes this.
  21. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Messages:
    7,427
    Location:
    District of Columbia
    This is a map of modern day coastal SC and GA, showing Edisto Island, Port Royal, and other places in the area.

    Port-Royal-Plantation-Hilton-Head-Island-South-Carolina.8.gif

    - Alan
     

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