Sale of african Americans out of Virginia during the war - how and how relevant

Piedone

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
It is well known that enslaved people were sold out of the Upper South - especially from Virginia - mainly to provide manpower for plantations in the West or the Lower South - and is also clear that this „business“ was highly profitable and generated a very considerable income in 1860 still.

Hence I ´d ask:

#1 As the Confederacy was always short of manpower and relied greatly on enslaved workforce in all matters beyond direct combat - it should be presumed that the sale of american Africans out of the Lower South should have become even more important during the war.
Can this be proven? Is there any data available to answer such a question?

#2 If the sale of people out of Virginia continued - how was it be done? Coastal shipping was generally closed with the federal blockade and the railroads were already too much strained to accept further traffic.

#3 If such sales continued then I ´d assume that also relevant business interests were existing with them - and that they were trying to influence political decisions.
Are there any sources (letters, speeches hold, newspaper articles....) that are showing such lobbying? Did it happen? What were the aims? Is it maybe possible to recognize one (of course of several) factor(s) why Virginia was so most important regarding the confederate war effort in such lobbying? - Theoretically all of this could be conceivable but the question is: is there any base to such an idea?
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The simple answer is NO… as in New Orleans. New Orleans was the major transshipment & sales point for slaves in the Deep South. Charleston was the eastern equivalent. Without access to those two ports, the extras from VA & Maryland could not be shipped southward. The same thing was happening in KY & TN.

The “fancy girl” sex slave market in New Orleans was especially dependent on the light skinned young female extras from VA. They sold for multiples of prime field hands. The loss of cash flow from the sale of their daughters & female relatives hit VA planter’s cash flow especially hard.

The infamous Forks in the Road market in Natchez MS depended on a steady flow of extras from both VA & the border states arriving from up & down the Mississippi River. The war put an end to the free flow of human beings that market depended on.

Before secession there were Casandras who warned against what would happen if a war disrupted the circular flow of goods, credit & human beings that drove the Southern economy. Much good it did them.

In 1865 the slave trade was legal & continued to be so right up until the final emancipation. Slave traders fled from Richmond with their stock just ahead of the advancing 25th Corps. Slaves were advertised for sale to settle debts on the courthouse steps in Nashville even as USCT regiments prepared to assault Hood’s left in Dec 1864. To the bitter end, the Reverse Underground RR continued kidnapping free Northern blacks & sending them southward for sale. Be that as it may, the droves of human beings herded southward from VA & capital northward had ceased.

Another factor inhibiting the shipping of extras southward was that there weren’t any. As my relations in Rockinham NC could have attested, any slave that could had self liberated & there were no longer extras to sell.
 
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Piedone

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
So if I understood it correctly...
there still was limited slave trade (and there were still such traders) during the war (as it is shown by that occurences in Nashville and Richmond)?
I assume such trade generally could have beeon only small-scale and regional under wartime conditions - as you already demonstrated.

Is there anything known about (failed?) attempts to still transport enslaved people out of Va.?
If there should have been a critical manpower shortage eg in the Lower South such an attempt should have been extremely profitable
or
am I supposing correctly that the manpower needs of especially cotton plantations was sinking - as less cotton could be exported because of the federal blockade.

Or is all of this just far from reality as in such a critical situation just nobody spared a thought anymore about the trade with enslaved humans?

I know these are many questions - but as it is common with such matters:
the closer one looks at it the more intricate everything gets...
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
So if I understood it correctly...
there still was limited slave trade (and there were still such traders) during the war (as it is shown by that occurences in Nashville and Richmond)?
I assume such trade generally could have beeon only small-scale and regional under wartime conditions - as you already demonstrated.

Is there anything known about (failed?) attempts to still transport enslaved people out of Va.?
If there should have been a critical manpower shortage eg in the Lower South such an attempt should have been extremely profitable
or
am I supposing correctly that the manpower needs of especially cotton plantations was sinking - as less cotton could be exported because of the federal blockade.

Or is all of this just far from reality as in such a critical situation just nobody spared a thought anymore about the trade with enslaved humans?

I know these are many questions - but as it is common with such matters:
the closer one looks at it the more intricate everything gets...
Ad in June 8, 1864 Richmond Dispatch
C B Wellborn . J A Tay, E. Ira E Foster, J L Queen Wellborn, Taylor & co. General Auction and Comm'n Merchants, Real Estate and Negro Brokers, Kile's Building , Corner Peachtree and Marietta Streets, Atlanta, Ga. Consignments solicited.

Must have been enough of a trade for Atlanta to advertise in Richmond in 1864.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
So if I understood it correctly...
there still was limited slave trade (and there were still such traders) during the war (as it is shown by that occurences in Nashville and Richmond)?
I assume such trade generally could have beeon only small-scale and regional under wartime conditions - as you already demonstrated.

Is there anything known about (failed?) attempts to still transport enslaved people out of Va.?
If there should have been a critical manpower shortage eg in the Lower South such an attempt should have been extremely profitable
or
am I supposing correctly that the manpower needs of especially cotton plantations was sinking - as less cotton could be exported because of the federal blockade.

Or is all of this just far from reality as in such a critical situation just nobody spared a thought anymore about the trade with enslaved humans?

I know these are many questions - but as it is common with such matters:
the closer one looks at it the more intricate everything gets...
What is it you are getting at? Surely your are aware of what was going on in Virginia during the war. People did flee on foot to the west with as many slaves as they could hold onto. The trade in extras was carried on purpose built schooners that made fast passages to New Orleans or Charleston. As I have already alluded to, slave traders marched their stock down the streets of Richmond as the all USCT 25th Corps advanced on the city. The big money was in providing extras to the Charleston, New Orleans & Forks in the Road market in Natchez.

A principle that will, perhaps, clarify what we are talking about is the seven year rule. Slave holders knew that they had to refresh their laborers every seven years. That was about as long as the average useful live span of a field laborer. The mortality on rice plantations was even shorter. The high mortality among slave born babies & the long years of often indifferent care meant that plantain raised stock was under sized & not prime laborers. At about $1,000 each amortized over seven years gives you a sobering insight into how the slave labor system actually worked. A steady flow of mature healthy stock from VA & the borders states was essential.
 

Piedone

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
What is it you are getting at?
Well...I just am trying to find out how things changed during the war - such upheavals are always intriguing but highly disparate happenings. Most people will try to continue their ways as long as possible - and on the same time radical change is happening.

Hence I thought that influential slave traders maybe would have tried to continue their business as long as possible and at all hazards - and if they found no way to trade with regions farther away I ‘d deem it possible that they used lobbyism or cabal or personal influence to make profits elsewhere.

This could tell something about how influential they really were in southern society - it also should tell something how slavery and the slavedriven economy developed during the war.

I am suspecting that those matters are generally overlooked - as everyone is mainly interested in the tidings of the war....
 

Piedone

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
Ad in June 8, 1864 Richmond Dispatch
C B Wellborn . J A Tay, E. Ira E Foster, J L Queen Wellborn, Taylor & co. General Auction and Comm'n Merchants, Real Estate and Negro Brokers, Kile's Building , Corner Peachtree and Marietta Streets, Atlanta, Ga. Consignments solicited.

Must have been enough of a trade for Atlanta to advertise in Richmond in 1864.
Strange, isn ´t it?
That is the point I am wondering about.
If such deals were made... how did they realize it?
I thought the railroads were overtaxed... do you deem it possible that they nevertheless occupied transporting space?
Or was the federal blockade of coastal shipping not that impregnable???
 

DaveBrt

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
Strange, isn ´t it?
That is the point I am wondering about.
If such deals were made... how did they realize it?
I thought the railroads were overtaxed... do you deem it possible that they nevertheless occupied transporting space?
Or was the federal blockade of coastal shipping not that impregnable???
The real and constant shortage of rolling stock was TOWARD Richmond, not from it. You could easily put 50 slaves in one box car, so I would guess that at least some of the trade continued by rail.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Well...I just am trying to find out how things changed during the war - such upheavals are always intriguing but highly disparate happenings. Most people will try to continue their ways as long as possible - and on the same time radical change is happening.

Hence I thought that influential slave traders maybe would have tried to continue their business as long as possible and at all hazards - and if they found no way to trade with regions farther away I ‘d deem it possible that they used lobbyism or cabal or personal influence to make profits elsewhere.

This could tell something about how influential they really were in southern society - it also should tell something how slavery and the slavedriven economy developed during the war.

I am suspecting that those matters are generally overlooked - as everyone is mainly interested in the tidings of the war....
As I have indicated, slave trading continued until the last gasp. What did not continue was the large volume of extras being transported to Charleston & New Orleans. The steady flow of extras from KY & TN to Mississippi & New Orleans markets via the river came to a complete halt. It was simply impossible to ship a steady stream of cargos of human beings for sale because of the war.

Slave traders were the bottom rung of the slave holding society. I don’t know what, exactly you imagine they were doing to influence events. I am not aware, off the top of my head, of Mary Chestnut making any reference to slave traders in her journal, for example. In 1865 people were still buying slaves, so some kind of market existed. The expression rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic comes to mind.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
The way I understand it continued, albeit I imagine slowed. But it seems some Missouri slave owners would get passes to go through the lines, and take slaves with them, then return solo. So I would imagine one could have acquired passes in occupied VA as well.
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
Then there were the die-hards:
1629046385872.png

Macon, Ga. April 30, 1865
See:
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/ne...d-reports-of-sales.154447/page-3#post-1984840
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
That is a telling ad. “… fill order for investment…liberal prices will be paid.” Certainly is a phrase that raises an eyebrow.

I have Norwegian friend whose father-in-law is convinced that gasoline powered cars will make a comeback. He has been buying them & putting them in storage. Must be something similar going on there.
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
That is a telling ad. “… fill order for investment…liberal prices will be paid.” Certainly is a phrase that raises an eyebrow.
Did he, at that late date, really believe slavery would survive? Or was he hoping he'd be "compensated" more, in greenbacks or silver, than he was paying in worthless confederate paper? Sounds like the same kind of heedless, arrogant optimism that brought on secession in the first place.

Hope springs eternal, I guess.
 

Piedone

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
Gosh...that‘s hard to understand. What was in his mind?
Did he speculate on any kind of governmental reimbursement for slave owners after emancipation?
 

Piedone

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
I read in the thread „Lincoln ‘s plan in 1865“ the following:
Recently read that in early 1865, Lincoln proposed to his cabinet a plan for $400mm in compensation to the Southern states for the losses of their slaves if they agreed to lay down their arms and come back into the Union. He justified the cost by saving the mere operation of the war to its finality would end up costing the same amount
Could it be that this A.Wilson made kind of a coldblooded bet on the realization of such a plan?

Sometimes it‘s really hard to stay unemotional.....
 
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