Louisville in The American Civil War - 1862-63: Louisville Under Threats of Attack - Emancipation Proclamation

Emancipation Proclamation

On September 22, 1862, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that as of January 1, 1863, all slaves in the rebellion states would be free. Although this did not affect slaveholding in Kentucky at the time, owners felt threatened. Some Kentucky Union soldiers, including Colonel Frank Wolford of the 1st Kentucky Cavalry, quit the army in protest of freeing the slaves. The proclamation presaged an end to slavery.

So many slaves arrived at the Union camp that the Army set up a contraband camp to accommodate them. The Reverend Thomas James, an African Methodist Episcopal minister from New York, supervised activities at the camp and set up a church and school for the refugees. Both adults and children started learning to read. Under direction by generals Stephen G. Burbridge and John M. Palmer, James monitored conditions at prisons and could call on US troops to protect slaves from being held illegally, which he did several times.

The Union's recruitment of slaves into the army (which gained them freedom) turned some slaveholders in Kentucky against the US government. In later years, the depredations of guerrilla warfare in the state, together with Union measures to try to suppress it, and the excesses of General Burbridge as military governor of Kentucky, were probably more significant in alienating more citizens. Civic rights were overridden during the crisis. These issues turned many against the Republican administration.

After the war ended, the Democrats regained power in central and western Kentucky, which the former slaveholders and their culture dominated. Because this area was the more populous and the Democrats also passed legislation essentially disfranchising freedmen, the white Democrats controlled politics in the state and sent mostly their representatives to Congress for a century. In the mid-1960s, the federal Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act ended legal segregation of public facilities and protected voting rights of minorities.

The Taylor Barracks at Third and Oak in Louisville recruited black soldiers for the United States Colored Troops. Slaves gained freedom in exchange for service to the Union. Slave women married to USCT men received freedom, as well. To secure legal freedom for the many slave women arriving alone at the contraband camp, Burbridge directed James to marry them to available USCT soldiers, if both parties were willing. Black Union soldiers who died in service were buried in the Louisville Eastern Cemetery.

In the Summer of 1863, Confederate John Hunt Morgan violated orders and led his famous raid into Ohio and Indiana to give the northern states a taste of the war. He traveled with his troops through north-central Kentucky, trekking from Bardstown to Garnettsville, a now defunct town in Otter Creek Park. They took the Lebanon garrison, capturing hundreds of Union soldiers and then releasing them on parole. Before crossing the Ohio River into Indiana, Morgan and his crew arrived in Brandenburg, where they proceeded to capture two steamers, the John B. McCombs and the Alice Dean; the Alice Dean burned after their crossing.

After the fall of New Orleans and the capture of Vicksburg, Mississippi on July 4, 1863, the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers were open to Union boats without harassment. On December 24, 1863, a steamboat from New Orleans reached Louisville.

In late 1863, General Hugh Ewing, brother-in-law to General Sherman, was appointed Military Commander of Louisville.

Read more about this topic:  Louisville In The American Civil War, 1862-63: Louisville Under Threats of Attack

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