The Wealthiest Slave in Savannah: Rachel Brownfield and the True Price of Freedom

Joined
Nov 9, 2015
Location
Santa Barbara, California
Here are the first four paragraphs of an article I published last year (all based on original, primary source research). End notes are included for your reference. You can download it for free on my website here:

http://www.davidtdixon.com/free-articles/

I would love to get a discussion going on the subject of slaves and free blacks lending aid to Union forces in the South during the Civil War. Please download and read the short article and reply. Here's the sample:

Charley Lamar was always itching for a fight. Once arrested for illegally importing slaves, he quipped that “a man of influence can do as he pleases.” Lucrative profits from blockade running led him to quit his commission as a colonel in the Confederate army and return home. Savannah was landlocked by the Union occupation of Fort Pulaski and fearful of General William T. Sherman’s inexorable advance from the west. Lamar and other wealthy merchants rode out the end of the war in a city full of blacks and imprisoned Yankee soldiers. Lamar hated them all.

Lamar also resented locals, blacks and poor Irish folks mostly, who shared their meager foodstuffs with the Union captives at the makeshift prison at the corner of Hall and Whitaker Streets. After all, Confederate soldiers reported that they missed many a meal in Northern prison camps. On a given evening, a passing slave could be observed hurling a loaf of bread over the stockade fence or sneaking a pail of milk through to the starving soldiers.

Rachel Brownfield was just the type of “favored slave” that must have aroused particularly visceral emotions from Charley Lamar. Despite her status as chattel property, she parlayed her intelligence and resourcefulness into several profitable business ventures in a pre-war boom town desperate for labor and services. One evening in 1864, Lamar intercepted Rachel on a mission of mercy. The result was predictable.

Lamar did not need to ask where Rachel was going that night. Slaves and free blacks had a curfew in the city. This uppity slave woman was up to no good. Amid a hail of expletives, Lamar kicked over her bucket and scattered Rachel’s relief package in the street. He then drew his sword and threatened to run her through if he ever caught her aiding enemy soldiers again. Had Lamar known the extent of Rachel’s efforts on behalf of the Union prisoners, he might have killed her on the spot.
charley lamar.jpg

Charley
 

Republican Blues

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 13, 2010
Location
on the Savannah Station..
Here are the first four paragraphs of an article I published last year (all based on original, primary source research). End notes are included for your reference. You can download it for free on my website here:

http://www.davidtdixon.com/free-articles/

I would love to get a discussion going on the subject of slaves and free blacks lending aid to Union forces in the South during the Civil War. Please download and read the short article and reply. Here's the sample:

Charley Lamar was always itching for a fight. Once arrested for illegally importing slaves, he quipped that “a man of influence can do as he pleases.” Lucrative profits from blockade running led him to quit his commission as a colonel in the Confederate army and return home. Savannah was landlocked by the Union occupation of Fort Pulaski and fearful of General William T. Sherman’s inexorable advance from the west. Lamar and other wealthy merchants rode out the end of the war in a city full of blacks and imprisoned Yankee soldiers. Lamar hated them all.

Lamar also resented locals, blacks and poor Irish folks mostly, who shared their meager foodstuffs with the Union captives at the makeshift prison at the corner of Hall and Whitaker Streets. After all, Confederate soldiers reported that they missed many a meal in Northern prison camps. On a given evening, a passing slave could be observed hurling a loaf of bread over the stockade fence or sneaking a pail of milk through to the starving soldiers.

Rachel Brownfield was just the type of “favored slave” that must have aroused particularly visceral emotions from Charley Lamar. Despite her status as chattel property, she parlayed her intelligence and resourcefulness into several profitable business ventures in a pre-war boom town desperate for labor and services. One evening in 1864, Lamar intercepted Rachel on a mission of mercy. The result was predictable.

Lamar did not need to ask where Rachel was going that night. Slaves and free blacks had a curfew in the city. This uppity slave woman was up to no good. Amid a hail of expletives, Lamar kicked over her bucket and scattered Rachel’s relief package in the street. He then drew his sword and threatened to run her through if he ever caught her aiding enemy soldiers again. Had Lamar known the extent of Rachel’s efforts on behalf of the Union prisoners, he might have killed her on the spot.
View attachment 84371
Charley

Charles Agustus Lafayette Lamar...his own niece called him a Red Headed Devil. Dude was a real piece of work.
 

Northern Light

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Jul 21, 2014
A nice example of a man who is more interested in his pocketbook than his country. He certainly seems full of anger and hatred. I'd hate to be his horse.
 
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Anna Elizabeth Henry

1st Lieutenant
Silver Patron
Joined
Feb 15, 2015
Location
New York, New York
Not sure she had a heart of gold as she was also seen ransacking the warehouse of David Dillon the evening that Sherman's troops entered Savannah. More on Dillon in an upcoming article this spring.

Ransacking incident aside, I meant it along the lines of risking her life and the safety of her family for helping with the feeding and escape of Union soldiers. That takes a special kind of person to find that level of self-sacrifice inside of themselves to do. Most people wouldn't involve themselves and risk what little freedom they had in her situation and for no reward other than you are doing the right thing.
 

ErnieMac

Lt. Colonel
Forum Host
Retired Moderator
Joined
May 3, 2013
Location
Pennsylvania
Charles Lamar was the primary investor in the SS Wanderer, the last documented ship to bring slaves into the US. He was a cousin of Mary Ann Lamar Cobb, wife of Confederate MG Howell Cobb, and was serving as an aide to General Cobb when killed during the Battle of Columbus on April 16, 1865.
 

Republican Blues

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 13, 2010
Location
on the Savannah Station..
Charles Lamar was the primary investor in the SS Wanderer, the last documented ship to bring slaves into the US. He was a cousin of Mary Ann Lamar Cobb, wife of Confederate MG Howell Cobb, and was serving as an aide to General Cobb when killed during the Battle of Columbus on April 16, 1865.


Actually he was the Owner of the Schooner Wanderer, not an SS, she was not steam powered.
 
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