Pressures on the Home Front

The twin pressures of the conscription of able bodied men for the Confederate army in late 1861 and the successful invasion of United States armed forces into coastal North Carolina in early 1862 placed citizens under a strain.  Conscription forced men into service and sometimes to the detriment of older planters who could not manage their plantation in the absence of a newly conscripted Overseer.  These letters, written as appeals to the governor, clearly show how military requirements often ran counter to home front needs.  “Now my dear sir,” wrote one planter, “if the Negroes on our large estates are not to be attended to what will become of us & how will our soldiers be fed if the farms are not cultivated.”  Some citizens appealed to have conscripts released in order to remain on plantations to oversee the slaves while others weighed the option of moving the slaves away from the coast.  One correspondent noted the increased boldness of the slaves and their activities including running away.  Slaves took advantage of the twin pressures – fewer able bodied white men at home and a hostile army nearby – to gain their freedom.  The second year of the war held out the prospect of change to all North Carolinians.

Governor’s Correspondence: Abram Riddick to Gov. Henry Toole Clark, Feb. 3, 1862

Governor’s Correspondence: J. S. Browne to Gov. Henry Toole Clark, Feb. 11, 1862

Governor’s Correspondence: John Ragland to Gov. Henry Toole Clark, Feb. 11, 1862

Letter: B.A. Capehart to Thomas Goode Tucker Esq., Feb. 24, 1862

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