My new book, The Road to Frogmore, devotes several chapters to what was going on in South Carolina in November, 1862. Along the coast, the Union army was fully in charge, plantation owners had fled to the safety of locations further inland, and the slaves who had been abandoned on coastal plantations were beginning to learn what it meant to be free. Abolitionists, missionaries, and Union army officials were busy planning celebrations for the upcoming Emancipation Day, scheduled for January 1, 1863. My main character, Miss Laura Towne, was already anticipating the formalities that would take place on Hilton Head Island. They included speeches, military bands, and a public appearance by the "1st. South Carolina Colored Infantry Regiment." There would be free ox-roasts for all comers, black and white, as well as a fancy-dress ball for Army officials.
My characters were justifiably excited by the prospect of freedom, but that was not the case in other parts of the South -- for example, in Memphis, where runaway slaves were still being hunted down and punished, while Union officials struggled to enforce the new laws. the excerpts below, taken from local Memphis newspapers, demonstrate the depths of the animosity.
Nov. 13, 1862
(Classified Ad) $25 Reward! Ran away from the subscriber, a Negro Boy named John. He is aged about thirty years, is black, about five feet six inches high, limps when he walks and has several scars on his neck and legs. I will pay the above reward if lodged in jail or for his delivery to me. J.B. Townsend
Nov. 15, 1862
Memphis Intelligence — From the city papers, we learn that Judge Swayne, of the criminal court, was met at his first step in discharging the duties devolved upon him by the laws of the State, by a peremptory interference on the part of the Federal authorities ... The order says ... "that any attempt to execute State laws at variance with the orders of the President and the military commanders will be construed as a contempt of the authorities of the United States, and will be summarily punished. The status of the negro is involved in the war now existing, and will, in its progress be clearly determined. In the meantime the runaway slave must be treated as 'free.'"
Nov. 18, 1862
The Appeal Battery — We publish from "An Eye-Witness" an interesting account of the conduct and efficiency of the Appeal battery in the fights at Corinth and Hatchie Bridge: (Excerpt) "It was in the battle of Hatchie Bridge that the Appeal Battery was particularly serviceable ... The gunner fell, wounded, and as quick as thought Lieutenant Scott sprang from his horse and took his place, and above the rattle of musketry I heard the clear ringing voice of Lieutenant Hoyer, ordering, 'double-shot with canister, and let them have it.' Instantly the guns were belching forth a shower of iron hail upon the advancing foe, and for about forty minutes the guns were worked with a rapidity and precision rarely, if ever witnessed on a battlefield, within easy musket range of the enemy ... I am satisfied you will be proud to know that in its maiden battle your namesake baptised itself in a rivulet of Yankee blood." (In September this year replica cannons, including the kind used by the Appeal battery sponsored by the newspaper in 1862, were installed in Confederate Park; see http://bit.ly/QcXtAf)