I fear that blogging about the 150th anniversary of the war that made the United States what it is today may not interest my many foreign readers, but history has so many lessons to teach all of us.
150 years ago, as I mentioned, the Civil War was entering its final months.
In January of 1865, we got a sneak preview of what the ending of the war would bring for the slave population of the United States, courtesy of none other than Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.
His is another story of how convoluted the story and study of history can be.
General Sherman was concerned about winning the war for the North. On the other hand, he wasn't too concerned about the slave population of the Confederate territories he and his armies had pillaged and occupied. It may (or may not) surprise you to learn that Sherman, along with most other whites of his day (even those who opposed slavery), was a racist. His interest was winning the war for the United States, not in doing anything for the slaves in the areas he was fighting in.
But thousands and thousands of slaves, freed as Sherman destroyed the plantations where they were enslaved, started to follow his armies. Some tragic things happened to those slaves, especially at a location in Georgia called Ebenezer Creek.
On January 16, 1861, Sherman issued Special Order 15, which is worth reading all the way through, although it is a long document, just for a historic flavor.
|St. Johns River, Florida, photo taken from Auto Train by AM|
Would the idea of reserving land to freed slaves-40 acres of tillable land in parts of Georgia and Florida- have worked? (Many know the plan as "40 acres and a mule" but the mule was more intended as a loan than a gift.) We'll never know, because the plan only lasted until the fall of 1865. At that point, the war over and a new President in charge of the post-war United States, the land reverted back to its former owners. The freed slaves faced many, many years of misery ahead of them.
Another sad chapter in the history of the Civil War was about to begin.