By Barbara Brooks Tomblin
One of many lesser identified tales of the Civil struggle is the function performed through escaped slaves within the Union blockade alongside the Atlantic coast. From the start of the struggle, many African American refugees sought avenues of break out to the North. because of their sheer numbers, those that reached Union forces provided an issue for the army. the matter used to be in part resolved through the 1st Confiscation Act of 1861, which authorized the seizure of estate utilized in aid of the South's conflict attempt, together with slaves. finally considered as contraband of struggle, the runaways turned often called contrabands. In Bluejackets and Contrabands, Barbara Brooks Tomblin examines the connection among the Union military and the contrabands. The military validated colonies for the previous slaves and, in go back, a few contrabands served as crewmen on military ships and gunboats and as river pilots, spies, and publications. Tomblin provides a unprecedented photo of the contrabands and casts gentle at the important contributions of African americans to the Union military and the Union reason.
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Additional resources for Bluejackets and Contrabands: African Americans and the Union Navy
Although the Lincoln administration initially refused to acknowledge the conflict as more than a rebellion, and certainly not a war about slavery, the majority of slaves believed otherwise. “We gwine to freedom,” many cried. Union Navy commanders did not always share the slaves’ concept of “freedom,” however. In his diary entry for April 25, 1863, Dr. Samuel Boyer of the bark Fernandina wrote, “Today 4 intelligent contrabands made their appearance in a dugout, having come all the way from the vicinity of Savannah having traveled ever since Sunday last, and doing without anything to eat since last Tuesday.
This possibility haunted Going to Freedom 39 some Union officers such as George Harlan, a surgeon who resigned his navy commission in August 1861 to join a cavalry unit. As a cavalry officer, Harlan found himself in the front lines and was often called to ride on forays into enemy territory, both of which posed the risk of capture. On May 24, 1862, he wrote to his wife, Margaret, from Suffolk, Virginia, to inform her that, rumor aside, he had not been captured by the enemy. ” Harlan told Margaret that the boy had plenty of pluck and never budged.
Budd then sent the contrabands off in the schooner Dana. ”7 The vast majority of slaves making their way to Union vessels along the southern coast were not, in the parlance of the day, “intelligent,” a term frequently used by Union commanders to denote educated or literate African Americans. Unable to read or write, these runaway slaves could not record their journeys for posterity. A few educated slaves or free blacks, however, wrote letters or kept diaries describing their escapes. Others told their story to interviewers after the war.