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40 acres and a mule debate...

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  • 40 acres and a mule debate...


    As some of you already know, Sherman issued a Special Order No. 15 to settle newly liberated slaves on the confiscated land from plantation and slave owners. The confiscated land was about 400,000 acres. However, the order was revoked by President Johnson after Lincoln was assassinated, so there were no tangible benefits for many blacks, and the land was returned to original owners.

    Now, I have a few questions about the subject.

    1.) Were there any other cases where land or properties were permanently confiscated from Confederate owners and never did compensate them for the loss of their private property?

    2.) From a few articles I've read on the Net, it seems that the Union had no idea what to do with the liberated slaves once slavery was abolished. So, I'm curious where did Sherman come up with the idea that slaves could resettle on the confiscated land? Did somebody discussed it with Sherman? I recall Lincoln did approve it a month or so before he was assassinated. If so, then I'm curious as to how far Lincoln would have gone in providing freed slaves with land and means to cultivate it. Would this have meant setting a bad percedent in paving the path to more egalitarian measures arising in different circumstances? I think in some ways America lucked out on not experiencing this on large scale as some European civil wars did that.

    3.) While on the subject of plantation and slave owners, how did they fare in the aftermath of Civil War? Did they lose their homes and land due to financial troubles and went from being wealthy to poor in a matter of months? It seems there's not much information on this interesting subject. True, the entire Confederacy was in ruins, but from my rather naive perspective, a poor white family would have likely stayed poor regardless of who won the war. In other words, the true damage was done to upper classes and wealthy slave owners, how did that affect their economic and political influence?

    Okay, I think that's all for now. Tell me what you think of Sherman's Special Order No. 15?

    Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

    "Aim small, miss small."

  • #2

    It looks like nobody is interested in discussing this subject.

    However, to me, it seems Union contradicted itself by declaring all slaves ought to be freed, but wanted nothing to do with them as soon the war is over. That's what the majority of public wanted at that time apart from Radical Republicans' agenda.

    I'm wondering how blacks felt about that, having obtained their freedom by defeating Confederates at bayonet only to be stabbed in their backs by Union. Did that mean Emancipation was viewed as more of a means to defeat Confederacy than as the ultimate goal of ending the war?

    Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

    "Aim small, miss small."


    • #3

      Beware of men with "plans"! I can think of Robert E. Lee very easily when it comes to confiscation of property without recompense. We now know his property as Arlington National Cenetary.

      Second example is Ben Butler at New Orleans. He sent his troops up and down the Mississippi and Lafourche Bayou areas and seized all slaves, sugar and cotton found. He brought the "Freemen" to the New Orleans area and set them back to work on the local plantations under Yankee management. There was no choice in the matter. The mostly New England troops here also engaged in a number of forced sex acts with slave women, often in front of the former owners. These Yankees did not seem to care for the Slaves too much.

      In the case of General Richard Taylor, he inherited a plantation (Fashion) on the Mississippi between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. It was encumbered with about a $100,000 debt. He was able to pay down on the mortgage some, but after he married into a wealthy Creole Family, he took out about $200,000 more in mortgages on the property. His Father-in-Law co-signed. Taylor was only able to get in a couple of years crops before the war began. Taylor left for Virginia with his slave, Tom Strothers, as his servant. Tom had been to the Mexican War with Taylor's uncle and was fit to be tied when he heard Taylor wanted to bring another, younger slave who could red and write.

      Taylor heard about the loss of New Orleans while in Virginia and was sent "home" to command troops in Louisiana. The joke here was there were only about 600 men in one regiment being activated in Louisiana at the time (18th regiment, I believe). He was reinforced by about 400 Cavalry from Texas. Taylor sent the Cavalry on a raid along the Mississippi and were successful, at first. Then these Texans were ambushed by a superior riverine force and were forced to leave their horses and flee into the swamp. Picture a bunch of Texas cowboys covered with muck walking down a railway to base with the locals asking "Cher, where at is your horse?"!

      Taylor heard his "people" were being held in camps around New Orleans when his slaves contacted his brother-in-law in New Orleans and told him they were dieing in that place. Taylor never was able to rescue any of them.

      When Taylor went back to his old home after the war he found it gutted, with no real property left. He found the tanned leather skins of two ponies his children used to ride in the barn. He was not able to pay off his mortgage and lived the rest of his life involved in Louisiana politics and the demcratic Party. he even tried to help Ben Butler secure the presidential nomination years later. His in-laws paid off his mortgage. He lost his two sons to scarlet fever when an epidemic hit the steamboat the family was fleeing to Shreveport in.

      Taylor reported Tom Strothers was prospering when asked about him after the war.

      Most property owners lost their plantations after the war when the new "Federal" state governments hit them with property taxes they claimed were not piad during the war. Some made do, like Nathan Bedford Forrest. NBF went into the construction business.

      Last edited by Pruitt; 18 Aug 07, 15:58.
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"


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