Slave Yule, 1861
Welcome to Katzenhaus Books, where we tell - the stories behind the history.
RSS Follow Become a Fan

Delivered by FeedBurner


Recent Posts

A Tour of Henrietta's Oxford
Launch Day Is Tuesday, September 19, 2017
What's New and What's Next?
Four Days and Counting
Decisions! Decisions!

Categories

A new contest
Abolition
absurdity
academic myopia
Almost Free
Amazon
ancestors
Announcement
apocalypse
Applications and software
Appomattox
Arnulf of Lisieux
art of speaking
attracting readers
audience
audio books
Author Central
Author Gifts
author's Plea
awards
baseball
basketball
Battle of Port Royal
Battles
biographical
blind artists
blockade
blog chain
Book Club Guides
Book Design
Book Launch
book stores
book trailer
bookstores
Boxed Set
bright ideas
Building a platform
business
Business plan
Busy-ness
butterflies
Career choices
cats
celebrations
cemetery research
Census
challenges
characterization
Characters
Charleston
children
children's books
choosing a publisher
Choosing a Title
Christmas Past
Civil War
commercials
Computer Hacks
Confederates
Conferences
Connections
constitutional amendments
construction
Contract labor
cotton
Countdown Sale
Countdown to Launch
Cover Designs
Cover images
cutting and pasting
Cyber Monday
daily drama
daily events
Dead Mules
decisions
depression
diversions
dogs
Do-Overs
DRM
earthquake
e-book pricing
e-books
editing
elevator speech
elmore leonard
Elves and Holidays
Emancipation
England
English class
evidence
Excerpt
exclusivity
Exercise
Expertise
Facebook
fact and fiction
failures
fame and fortune
family affairs
Favorites
Fear of Failure
Fish
flood waters
flowers
food delights
Formatting
Fort Pulaski
free chapter
Free Days
freebies
Friendship
Frogmore
garden
gardens
genealogy
Getting organized
ghost stories
Giveaway
Goals
good business
good news
grammar cops
gratitude
gray horses
gripes
grocery shopping
guest blogs
Gullah
handicaps
Harriet Tubman
Hiatus
Historical background
Historical Fiction
historical puzzlers
historical thinking
history lessons
Holidays
home office
hope and kindness
horse races
horses
hurricanes
identifying your audience
illustrations
imagination
indie authors
Inspiration
inspirations
internet
internet history
intruders
ISBN
Kalamazoo
karma
Kindle
Kindle links
Kindle rankings
Kindle Serials
kings
Klout
Ku Klux Klan
Lack of co-ordination
landmarks
language
Laughs
launch dates
Laura Towne
Layouts
legal matters
lending library
Lessons learned
lessons unlearned
libraries
literary genres
local news
love story
making choices
Marketing
Matchbooks
medicine
medieval-isms
Meet the Characters
Memorial Day
memories
Milestones
military matters
mind-mapping
Misfis
Monthly Musings
name recognition
NaNoWriMo
Nellie Chase
New Blog
New Book
New England
New Research
New Year
newsletters
nonfiction
non-profits
nostalgia
Nurses
oddities
odds and ends
olympics
omens
opening lines
outrage
Oxford
Papacy
parties
Penn Center
photographs
picture book
Pinterest
Pinterest and copyrights
Pirates
planning ahead
plot
point of view
polite society
politics
portraits
powerful women
Predictions
pre-orders
press release
previews
pricing
Principles
procrastination
productivity
Profiles
Progress Report
Promotions
proofs
pros and cons
publishing
publishing companies
publishing ploys
publishing rights
pure sentimentality
puzzlements
quiz
rain
random thoughts
RBOC
read an ebook
readership
recipes
Reconstruction
Relaxation
research
Resolutions
reviews
road trip
rough draft
Roundhead Reports
royalties
rules
SALE
Sales
scams
schedules
Scoop It
ScoopIt
seasons
Secessionville
second edition
Second Mouse
self-publishing
settings
Shiloh
Short Stories
Silliness
slander
Slavery
small world
Smile of the Day
snow, living in the south
social media
software
software disasters
South Carolina
Speechless!
sports
Spring
story arc
Substitutes
Success
summer
Synopsis
Taking a Break
Taxes
Thank You
the difficulties of blogging
The Gideonites
Theme
Tongue-in-cheek
Traditions
trailer
Travelog
trilogies
trolls
Tweet
Twitter
Upcoming Events
using commas
Vacation
vacation photos
Valentine
video
Visitor
vocabulary
Volunteering
voting
warnings
weather
weather trauma
website
word counts
Word-of-Mouth
Words
Words of Warning
Writer Beware!
Writer's Block
Writing Advice
Writing as Career
writing process

Archives

September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010

powered by

"Roundheads and Ramblings"

Slave Yule, 1861

The Roundhead Regiment from Pennsylvania had strong abolitionist beliefs. But what were they to do about the slaves they found occupying the house they wanted to use as their regimental headquarters.Slavery had not yet been abolished, so, despite the fact that their owners had fled from Beaufort, leaving the slaves behind, they could not just be turned out into the streets.  Within minutes some enterprising slave dealer would have corralled them, marked them as runaways, and resold them to someone else.

On the other hand, how could a Union Army regiment use slave labor  without appearing hypocritical?  The answer, according to Col. Leasure, was to treat the slaves as honored employees with generous Christmas bonuses:

Slave Yule was a resounding success. Colonel Leasure invited the slaves to gather in the
forecourt on the Saturday morning before Christmas and distributed their Christmas gifts. “It’s
early,” he explained, “but this way you will get to enjoy your gifts as part of your celebration
for the next few days.”

Nellie had done a wonderful job of Christmas shopping. Her trip to the ransacked stores in
downtown Beaufort was disappointing, but she had found many great ideas when she talked to
the camp sutler. Each of the men received a pipe and a plug of tobacco. The teenaged boys got
pocketknives, while the younger boys received slingshots and balls. The women had new
headscarves and the army ‘housewives,’ or sewing kits. Teenaged girls received mirrors and
ribbons, and there were rag dolls for the littlest girls. All adults were given a small amount of
money to spend on whatever they chose, and the children had enough peppermint sticks and
oranges to last for days.

While the slaves had been busy at their tasks, a couple of the regimental carpenters had
slipped into the stairwells that led to the slave quarters. They patched the stairs and installed
handrails, both for the family rooms above the kitchen and the stable hands’ quarters above the
carriage house. And when Cook opened the door to her cookhouse on Saturday morning, she
found hams, barrels of flour and cornmeal, prized sugar and coffee, and bags of beans and rice.
“All of dis fo’ us? We’uns gonna has oursel’s a feast.” 

When Nellie stopped by later in to see if Cook had everything she needed, the bustling
 slave woman hugged her.

“Thank you. You be doin’ so much for us black folk.” She hesitated, and then added, “You
can calls me Bessie if you wants.” Nellie felt as if she had been given a gift all her own.

The officers and staff of the regiment watched the activities in the yard with a mixture of
amazement and puzzlement. “What’s that huge pile of brush for?” Private Stevenson asked
Uncle Bob. “There’s enough of it, but it doesn’t look like it would make a good bonfire.”

“No, we not be gonna burn dat. Dat’s wild grape vine, wisteria, an’ greenery fo’ makin’ de
wreaths. You come out back later dis afternoon an’ we’ be showin’you how we puts ‘em
t’gether.”

“Wreaths? Oh, as in decorations!”

“Yessir. We be doin’ some big ‘uns for de front of de big house, and some little ‘uns for
oursel’s. De women be makin’ swags, too, for all de mantels in de main house.”

“No Christmas tree?”

“Ain’t no good Christmas trees growin’ round here, ‘lessin you wants to hang some paper
chains on a palmetto bush. And dem things so sharp, you doesn’t want ‘em in de house. But der
gonna be candles, once we gits through dippin’ ‘em and dryin’ ‘em tonight.”

The festive mood was contagious, and the Union soldiers soon found themselves humming
Christmas carols as they went about their business. Some even pitched in to help the slaves dig
their fire pit in the back yard. The only soul who seemed less than jovial was the recovering
Reverend Browne, who wandered downstairs from his sickroom to find out what all the racket
was about. “Do these people realize Christmas is a holy day?” he asked Colonel Leasure. “Are
they planning to go to their church? Or should I be making arrangements to preach to them?”

“I think they’ll hold their own kind of worship, Robert. Let them be.”

“Humph! Looks like heathen stuff out there to me,” he grumbled. “What are we doing about
our own Christian men, Daniel? Is there a place here where we can hold services?”

“There’s a Presbyterian Church in town, and our men have already been holding regular
prayer services. If you’d like, we can have a Christmas service there. Would you sketch out a
worship program? I can have John Nicklin and his boys provide the music.”

And a proper Christmas dinner?”

“All taken care of, Robert. Nellie is a superb manager, and she and Cook have been working
on menus for days. We’ll serve our own resident staff here just after noon on Christmas Day,
and then we’re opening the house for visits from all the company staffs. We’ll have syllabub
and desserts, along with some good camaraderie. I want to help our men feel a bit less lost here
in the deep south at Christmas.”

“Syllabub? What’s that?”

“Well, Nellie says it’s Cook’s special holiday drink. Contains whipped milk, fruit juice, and
other flavorings. I thought it best not to inquire too closely about that.”

“And who will serve all this, since you seem to have given the slaves a vacation?”

Colonel Leasure was rapidly losing patience with his cantankerous old friend. “Robert!
Give me credit for being in control of this regiment. The slaves are doing their celebrating now,
and we’re letting them enjoy themselves to the fullest. By Christmas morning, they’ll be back at
work, and we’ll have our holiday, as nice as I can make it for Pennsylvanians stranded in South
Carolina. You don’t need to worry about it, nor supervise it, for that matter. Oh, and by the way.
You may want to keep to your room at the front of the house for the next few evenings, with the
door closed. There’ll be some singing and dancing in the yard, with my full approval!”