Monthly Archives: May 2014

Jubal Anderson Early

Jubal Anderson Early was born November 3, 1816 in the Red Valley section of Franklin County, Virginia, to Mason Joab Early and Ruth Stovall Hairston. Ruth Stovall Hairston was born 1794 to Samuel Hairston and Judith Saunders. Samuel Hairston was born September 25, 1755 to Robert Hairston (son of immigrant Peter Hairston) and Ruth Stovall.

Wikipedia says of Jubal Anderson Early:  The Early family was a well connected old Virginia family.  Early’s father operated an extensive tobacco plantation of more that 4,000 acres at the foot of the Blue Ridge.  Early attended local schools as well as private academies in Lynchburg and Danville before entering West Point in 1833.  He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1837, ranked 18th of 50.  After graduating from the Academy, Early fought against the Seminole in Florida as a second lieutenant in the 3rd U.S Artillery Regiment before resigning from the Army for the first time in 1838.  He practiced law in the 1840’s as a prosecutor for both Franklin and Floyd Counties in Virginia.  He was noted for a case in Mississippi where he beat the top lawyers in the state.  His law practice was interrupted by the Mexican-American War, in which he served as a Major with the 1st Virginia Volunteers from 1847-1848.  He served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1841-1843.  Early was a Whig and strongly opposed secession at the April 1861 Virginia convention for that purpose.  He accepted a commission as a brigadier general in the Virginia Militia.  He was sent to Lynchburg, Virginia, to raise three regiments and then commanded one of them, the 24th Virginia infantry, as a colonel in the Confederate States Army.  Early was promoted to brigadier general after the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861.  He fought most of the battles in the eastern theater.  At Antietam, Jubal ascended to division command.  At Fredericksburg, Early saved the day by counterattacking a division of Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, which penetrated a gap in Jackson’s lines.  He was promoted to major general on January 17, 1863.  Approaching Gettysburg from the northeast on July 1, 1863, Early’s division was on the left most flank of the confederate line.  He soundly defeated Brig. Gen. Francis Barlow’s division (part of the Union XI Corps), inflicting three times the casualties to the defenders as he suffered, and drove the Union troops back through the streets of town capturing many of them.  On May 31, 1864, Lee expressed his confidence in Early’s initiative and abilities at higher command levels, promoting him to the temporary rank of lieutenant general.  In the Valley Campaigns of 1864, Lee sent Early’s Corps to sweep the Union forces from the Shenandoah Valley and to menace Washington, D.C. , hoping to compel Grant to dilute his forces against Lee around Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia.  Early’s invasion caused considerable panic in Washington and Baltimore , and he was able to get to the outskirts of Washington.  Realizing Early could easily attack Washington, Grant sent out an army under the command of Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan to subdue his forces.  At times outnumbering the Confederates three to one , Sheridan defeated Early in three battles, starting in early August , and laid waste to much of the agricultural properties in the Valley.  Early fought in the battle of the Wilderness and assumed command of the ailing A. P. Hill’s Third Corps during the march to intercept Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Spotsylvania Court House.  At the Battle of Cold Harbor, Lee replaced the ineffectual Ewell with Early as the commander of the Second Corps.  When the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered April 9, 1865, Early escaped to Texas by horseback, where he hoped to find a Confederate force still holding out.  He proceeded to Mexico, and from there sailed to Cuba, and Canada.  Early was pardoned in 1868 by President Andrew Johnson but still remained an unreconstructed rebel.  In 1869, he returned to Virginia and resumed the practice of law.  At the age of 77, after falling down a flight of stairs, Early died in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Slave Celebrations

Slave Narratives are a collection of accounts taken by government workers assigned to go out in about the year 1937 and record the experiences of former slaves before they had all passed away. This work was done under the Work Projects Administration, an agency of the United States government, brought into being by President Roosevelt during his administration. There are many more states where this work was done and many more slave narratives but my research to date has only included South Carolina. For a substantial collection of the slave narratives go to Gutenberg Project under Work Projects Administration for further accounts.

What follows are accounts by former slaves from South Carolina describing in their own words their celebrations as slaves. Keep in mind the accounts were based on memory and about 72 years had passed since they had had that experience. Of the broader list of slave narratives accounts (this list only includes interesting accounts from those who shared their stories about their work experience) many could not remember the various things that had happened to them and some did not want to give their experience on various subjects.

“They give us Christmas Day. Every woman got a handkerchief to tie up
her hair. Every girl got a ribbon, every boy a barlow knife, and every
man a shin plaster. De neighbors call de place, de shin plaster, Barlow,
Bandanna place. Us always have a dance in de Christmas.”
[South Carolina, Part I, Peter Clifton]

“On Christmas Day master always give big dinners for slaves, and on New
Year we had a holiday.”
[South Carolina, Part I, Wallace Davis]

“My Massa ne’er didn’t work us hard lak. Coase uz de day’ ud come, de
hands hadder go up to de big house en go ’bout dey business, but dey
al’ays knock offen early on uh Saturday evenin’ en le’ everbody do jes
wha’ dey wanna dere on de plantation. Ne’er didn’t use no horn to wake
dey colored peoples up en didn’t wake em work en de big Christmus day en
New Years’ neither. Ne’er hab no udder holidays but dem two. My Massa
gi’e aw his colored peoples uh big Christmus dinner to de white folks
house. Jes hab plenty uv fresh meat en rice en biscuit en cake fa
eve’ybody dat day.”
[Washington Dozier]

“Old Marse he give us de rations fer de barbecues. Every master wanted
his darkies to be thought well of at de barbecues by de darkies from all
de other plantations. De had pigs barbecued; goats; and de Missus let de
wimmen folks bake pies, cakes and custards fer de barbecue, jes’ ‘zactly
like hit was fer de white folks barbecue deself!”

“Whilst de meats fer de company table was kept barbecued out in de yard,
de cakes, pies, breads, and t’other fixings was done in de kitchen out
in de big house yard. Baskets had ter be packed to go to camp meetin’.
Tables was built up at Rogers under de big oak trees dat has all been
cut down now. De tables jes’ groaned and creeked and sighed wid victuals
at dinner hour every day durin’ de camp meetin’.”

“Missus fetch her finest linens and silver and glasses to out-shine dem
brung by de t’other white folks o’ quality. In dem days de white folks
o’ quality in Union most all come from Goshen Hill and Fish Dam. After
de white folks done et all dey could hold den de slaves what had done
come to church and to help wid de tables and de carriages would have de
dinner on a smaller table over clost to de spring. Us had table cloths
on our table also and us et from de kitchen china and de kitchen silver.”
[South Carolina, Part I, Gus Feaster]

“At de Sardis
sto’ dey used to give big barbecues. Dem days barbecues was de mos’
source of amusement fer ev’ybody, all de white folks and de darkies de
whole day long. All de fiddlers from ev’ywhars come to Sardis and fiddle
fer de dances at de barbecues. Dey had a platform built not fer from de
barbecue table to dance on. Any darky dat could cut de buck and de
pigeon wing was called up to de platform to perform fer ev’ybody.”
[South Carolina, Part II, Wesley Jones]

“De slaves what belong to my white folks have frolicsome days all
through de year. Go to frolic on Saturday en go to white folks church on
Sunday en sit in portion of church in de gallery. Den on Christmas eat
en drink de best liquor dere was en de Fourth of July de one day dat dey
have to go to [HW: Eutaw] Springs. Dey go in buggies en wagons en have
plenty of everything to eat dat day. I know dere was a battle up dere,
although I didn’ never go wid em. Cotton pickin en corn shuckin days
won’ no work times, dey was big frolics. De first one shuck red corn had
to tell who his best girl was en all dem things. All dem come to cotton
pickin dat want to en pick cotton en cook big dinner. Pick cotton till
’bout 5:30 in de evenin’ en den knock off for de eats en de dancin. Go
to all de slaves weddings too. Dey would mostly get married ’bout on a
Sunday evenin’.”
[South Carolina, Part II, Gable Locklier]

“Marster lak he dram, ’specially in de fall of de year when it fust git
cool. Us used to have big corn shuckin’s on de plantation at night,
‘long ’bout de fust of November of every year. All de corn was hauled
from de fields and put in two or three big piles in de barnyard and de
slaves would git ’round them, sing and shuck de corn. De slave women
would hang buckets of raw tar afire on staves drove in de ground ’round
de crowd, to give light. Them was sho’ happy times.”

“When Christmas come, all de slaves on de plantation had three days give
to them, to rest and enjoy themselves. Missus and de two little misses
fixed up a big Christmas tree. It was a big holly bush wid red berries
all over it. It sho’ was a picture of beautifulness. I can see missus so
plain now, on Christmas mornin’, a flirtin’ ’round de Christmas trees,
commandin’ de little misses to put de names of each slave on a package
and hang it on de tree for them. She was always pleased, smilin’ and
happy, ’cause she knowed dat she was doin’ somethin’ dat would make
somebody else happy. She tried as hard to make de slaves happy as she
did to make her own white friends happy, it seem lak to me. Close to de
tree was a basket and in dat basket was put in a bag of candy, apples,
raisins and nuts for all de chillun. Nobody was left out.”

“Christmas mornin’, marster would call all de slaves to come to de
Christmas tree. He made all de chillun set down close to de tree and de
grown slaves jined hands and make a circle ’round all. Then marster and
missus would give de chillun deir gifts, fust, then they would take
presents from de tree and call one slave at a time to step out and git
deirs. After all de presents was give out, missus would stand in de
middle of de ring and raise her hand and bow her head in silent thanks
to God. All de slaves done lak her done. After all dis, everybbdy was
happy, singin’, and laughin’ all over de place. Go ’way from here, white
man! Don’t tell me dat wasn’t de next step to heaven to de slaves on our
plantation. I sees and dreams ’bout them good old times, back yonder, to
dis day.”
[South Carolina, Part IV, Junius Quattlebaum]

“On Christmas day, the master would have a big dinner for his slaves and
spread it out in the yard. Corn shuckings were popular and so were
cotton pickings, where big eats were prepared for those who helped.
They had big feasts at marriages, and even the slaves had feasts at
their marriages, the master and his family taking part in the
ceremonies.”
[South Carolina, Part IV, Morgan Scurry]