In order to preserve the Union, it was inevitable that something had to be done in America.
Congress passed the Confiscation Act of It also dealt with a problem that had plagued field commanders occupying Southern territory. As troops advanced, slaves sought refuge in Union camps, and Federal commanders were confused over their obligations to the refugees.
Some freed the slaves, other sent them back to their master for lack of means to care for them. The Confiscation Act declared all slaves taking refuge behind Union lines captives of war who were to be set free.
The Act essentially paved the way for the Emancipation Proclamation and solved the immediate dilemma facing the army concerning the status of slaves within its jurisdiction. After this act was passed, thousands of Southern slaves became "freedmen. Though they had eagerly awaited their liberators, freedom was accompanied by frightening uncertainties.
Homeless, with few possessions, blacks fleeing to Union lines for protection found themselves as dependent on the Federal government for their existence as they had been on their masters. But Washington issued no concrete policy concerning their welfare, and field commanders saddled with caring for the refugees resorted to various means of providing them with food, shelter, and clothing.
Many freedmen, herded into contraband camps, were hired out to loyal Unionist plantation owners for low wages, and others in the Western theater were assigned parcels of confiscated lands for subsistence farming.
Still others rendered service to the army. Unaccustomed to administering refugee relief, the army generally managed to maintain freedmen at a subsistence level. But many died of disease in overcrowded stockades, and some voluntarily returned to their homes because of deplorable conditions. Supplemental aid arrived from Northern relief societies that collected food and clothing for the freedmen and by began sending teachers to educate them.
Not all freedmen dared trust whites professing friendship. Abuses of slavery were fresh in their minds, and many suffered injustices at the hands of invading white soldiers. Knowing the war was not over, unsure of what or whom to believe, many preferred to stay with their masters, whose power over them would remain after Union forces moved on.
Others joined the Federal army afteror followed it aimlessly, not knowing what else to do. The bureau was not granted a separate budget for its work, but instead drew funds from the Department of War.
Heading the bureau was none other than General Oliver O. Howard, a graduate of Bowdoin and West point and a very distinguished Civil War veteran. One of the most difficult challenges of the bureau was instituting a judicial system that would be fair to both blacks and whites.
At first, the bureau established its own judicial authority, with local agents setting up temporary three-man courts to hear individual disputes between white employees who were dealing for the first time with black employees demanding fair wages.
Bureau agents monitored state and local legal affairs and often intervened on behalf of blacks. One way to accomplish this was to distribute lands confiscated or abandoned during the war-someacres in to newly freed slaves.
Another challenge facing the negro in the South was the abysmal lack of health care services. The bureau attempted to strengthen existing medical care facilities as well as expand services into rural areas through newly established clinics. Perhaps the most important contribution the bureau made to Reconstruction efforts involved expanding educational opportunities to emancipated African-Americans.
Lacking adequate resources, the bureau did not establish new schools itself, but instead acted as a catalyst between Northern relief societies and local governments and individuals. Byabout 3, new schools serving more thanpupils, as well as dozens of evening and private schools, had been established.
Also, despite inadequate funding and a shortage of facilities, the bureau enabled an estimatedfreedmen to receive medical attention in more than hospitals. Although Howard himself was above reproach, the agents in the field, usually left completely to their own devices, used their positions to exact money and power from the very people they were meant to serve.
Officially existing for just one year, plagued by corruption, and lacking enough funding and manpower to complete what was indeed a Herculean task, the bureau nonetheless made great strides in providing newly emancipated negros with access to equal justice, fair labor practices, land, and education.
These are extracted in their entirety from the "Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.Role of Ex-Slaves after the End of Civil War There are a large number of African Americans who played a significant role in the post civil war era, making great contributions .
Roles Of Black Slaves During The Civil War Civil War: The Role of Ex- Slaves After the Civil War was a critical year in the history of the United States of America. America's position as a country established on principles of freedom had been weakened by slavery. The National Archives holds rich collections of records on nineteenth-century Southern African American women.
Two of the most important collections for the study of formerly enslaved African American women are the Civil War soldiers pension files and the Freedmen's Bureau records. During the war, while Lucy's husband, Thomas, served in the Union army, Lucy lived in a federal camp established for ex-slaves.
Reunited in Vicksburg, Lucy and Thomas legally married with an Union army chaplain officiating. Civil War: The Role of Ex-Slaves After the Civil War was a critical year in the history of the United States of America.
America's position as a country established on principles of freedom had been weakened by slavery. Civil War: The Role of Ex-Slaves After The Civil War Civil War: The Role of Ex-Slaves After the Civil War was a critical year in the history of the United States of America.