The fatal risk of taking ‘rather more liberty….’

“Although Jefferson Davis never enforced his order to enslave captured black soldiers, some of his senior officers committed atrocities against black troops in violation of the code of war….

“Even more common was violence committed against individual black soldiers in captured areas of the South. In Morehead City, North Carolina, whites murdered a black soldier for taking ‘rather more liberty than an Anglo-Saxon [man] likes to submit to.’

“Soldiers expected danger from uniformed opponents, and Northern blacks were raised to be wary of white neighbors, but few were prepared for the threat of assassination in the dead of night….”

— From “The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America’s Most Progressive Era” by Douglas R. Egerton (2014)


’75 barrels of resin’ made for fiery Fourth

On this day in 1862: Private D.L. Day, Co. B, 25th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, writes in his journal while on duty in New Bern:

“The Fourth was celebrated with salutes from the forts, batteries and gunboats morning, noon and night. There were gala times in Camp Oliver last night. A huge bonfire was set from a pyramid of 75 barrels of resin, and when well on fire it lighted up the camp in grand style.”


Salisbury women take command of homefront

On this day in 1863: Hungry and unable to pay inflated prices, 75 Salisbury women, most of them wives of Confederate soldiers, arm themselves with axes and go in search of hoarded food.

The railroad agent turns them away from the depot, claiming he has no flour. They break into a warehouse, taking 10 barrels, and find seven more at a store. After coming up empty at a government warehouse, they collar a suspected speculator and relieve him of a bag of salt.

The women then return to the depot, storm past the uncooperative agent and claim 10 more barrels of flour.

Soon after, a farmer arrives at the station with a wagonload of tobacco for shipment. When the agent tells him about the rampaging women, according to a contemporary account, the farmer hurriedly drives off, “fearful that they would learn to chew.”


Civil War soldiers emboldened by canteens of courage

“Many of the Civil War’s legendary charges in the face of the enemy were made by soldiers who had been drugged into near insensibility by the liberal dispensing of hard liquor….

“The 16th North Carolina went into action at Seven Pines [Henrico County, Virginia] after the company commissary ‘hobbled down with several canteens of “fire water” and gave each of the men a dram. He knew we needed it, and the  good angels only smiled.’ ”

— From “Fateful Lightning: A New History of the the Civil War and Reconstruction” by Allen C. Guelzo (2012)