By Barbara Brooks Tomblin
One of many lesser recognized tales of the Civil warfare is the position performed via escaped slaves within the Union blockade alongside the Atlantic coast. From the start of the conflict, many African American refugees sought avenues of get away to the North. because of their sheer numbers, those that reached Union forces awarded an issue for the army. the matter was once in part resolved by means of the 1st Confiscation Act of 1861, which authorized the seizure of estate utilized in aid of the South's struggle attempt, together with slaves. ultimately considered as contraband of warfare, the runaways turned often called contrabands. In Bluejackets and Contrabands, Barbara Brooks Tomblin examines the connection among the Union army and the contrabands. The military tested 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 offers an extraordinary photo of the contrabands and casts gentle at the very important contributions of African americans to the Union army and the Union reason.
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Additional info for Bluejackets and Contrabands: African Americans and the Union Navy
Another is the tale of Harry Jarvis, a slave born in Virginia who was interviewed in Hampton, Virginia, in 1872. Jar- 42 Bluejackets and Contrabands vis worked for “de meanest man on all de Easte’n Sho’,” where “dey don’t think so much ob deir niggers as dey do ob deir dogs. ” Jarvis told an interviewer he had escaped during the first year of the war. ” After being shot at by his employer, he decided to run away. “I tuk to der woods. ” His master sent dogs out to find Jarvis, but they lost the scent.
In August the Reverend Mansfield French, who had gone to Port Royal in 1861 to assist the freed people, and Robert Smalls, 26 Bluejackets and Contrabands a black pilot who had commandeered the Confederate steamer Planter and escaped to freedom, met with Stanton and Chase in Washington. After Smalls recounted his “thrilling story” of escape from slavery, the Reverend French presented a plan, proposed by General Rufus Saxton and endorsed by Hunter and Du Pont, that black troops be recruited to provide security for the many contrabands living and working on the Sea Island plantations.
Four days later Welles told Dahlgren the Aries would bring him 200 men and, upon its return to New York, 200 more. Then he cautioned, “The Department desires you to enlist for service in the squadron as many able-bodied contrabands as you can especially for firemen and coal heavers. ”45 Fortunately for the Union war effort, as conditions in the Confederacy deteriorated, more and more refuges—white as well as black— sought safety on Union naval vessels or requested to be rescued. The increasing number of fugitives presented Union Navy commanders with excellent recruiting opportunities, and Dahlgren took specific steps to promote this policy.