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Confederate Slave Impressment in the Upper South

Jaime Amanda Martinez

Publication Year: 2013

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Series: Civil War America

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. 8-13

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INTRODUCTION: Cornerstones and Construction Workers: Slave Labor and the Confederate War Effort

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pp. 1-17

...proposed, Confederate fi scal and impressment policies had steadily undermined the institution of slavery, the Confederacy’s “sheet anchor” in its struggle for independence. While inflation had devalued slave property and government seizure of grains and livestock made it difficult to feed large slave populations, the paper focused much of its ire on government requisitions for slave labor. By impressing slaves, he suggested...

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1 Hundreds Have Been Called: Slave Impressment at the Local and State Levels, 1861–1863

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pp. 18-44

...Throughout the summer and fall of 1861, Brigadier General John Bankhead Magruder called on the families of southeastern Virginia to send slave laborers to his defensive works along the James River. Jackson and Washington, two slaves from the Fleet family’s plantation, traveled to Gloucester Point on orders from Magruder. The patriarch of the family, while complying with the requisition, wrote to his son...

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2 Throwing Up Breastworks: Slave Laborers under the Engineer Bureau

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pp. 45-70

...In 1937, speaking with Works Progress Administration interviewer Susie Byrd, Reverend Ishrael Massie recalled his experiences with Confederate slave impressment. A young teenager at the time of the Civil War, Massie once helped his master and the local impressment agent “catch men to carry to th’ battlefi eld.” When one slave...

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3 Provisions Are Needed Worse Than Fortifications: Slave Impressment and Confederate Agriculture

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pp. 71-97

...In December 1863, Francis McFarland faced a serious potential labor shortage. An elderly minister from Augusta County, Virginia, McFarland had depended on the labor of his sons and a hired slave to maintain his small farm before the war. By 1863, though, all three of McFarland’s sons had joined the Army of Northern Virginia, forcing...

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4 To Equalize the Burden: Slave Impressment and the Expanding Confederate State, 1863–1864

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pp. 98-131

...An anonymous citizen of Mecklenburg County, Virginia, while protesting Governor William Smith’s January 1864 requisition on behalf of his female neighbors, encouraged the governor to take a more active role in the enforcement and distribution of each quota. “The wholesale enrollment of all slaves from 18 to 55,” the correspondent suggested, “will...

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5 The President’s Mishap: From Engineer Laborers to Potential Confederate Soldiers, 1864–1865

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pp. 132-158

...On November 7, 1864, Jefferson Davis delivered what would be his final annual message to the Confederate Congress. After discussing the effi cacy of the February 1864 slave impressment act, Davis contemplated what he called “a radical modification in the theory of the law.” Congress’s actions to date had considered slaves only as private property, Davis...

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EPILOGUE: Black Confederates?, Slave Impressment and Confederate Memory

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pp. 159-164

...Once the war ended, slave impressment became a subject of contested memories rather than intense and practical political debate. John Bellamy of Wilmington incorrectly remembered that his father and other prominent North Carolina slaveholders sent their slaves to build fortifications without hesitation, complaint, or any sort of coercion...


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pp. 165-186


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pp. 187-212


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pp. 213-225

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pp. 226-228

...As I approached the finish line with this book, I looked forward to writing the acknowledgments. It is wonderful to have an opportunity to off er some small measure of gratitude to the many people who helped me get to this point, although it is far less than they deserve. It is also a little nerve-wracking, as I’ve no doubt lost track of some of the people who contributed to a project that began ten years, three homes, and...


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pp. 229-233

E-ISBN-13: 9781469612591
Print-ISBN-13: 9781469610740

Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Civil War America
The Civil War America series interprets the field broadly to include biography, military and nonmilitary history, works that explore the immediate background of the conflict, and studies of postbellum topics related to the war. A few diaries, sets of letters, and memoirs that make exceptional contributions to our understanding of the era also will appear as volumes in the series.

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Confederate States of America -- Race relations.
  • War and society -- Confederate States of America.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- African Americans.
  • Slavery -- Confederate States of America.
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