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Embattled FreedomJourneys through the Civil War's Slave Refugee Camps$
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Amy Murrell Taylor

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469643625

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469643625.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 25 May 2020

Securing Work

Securing Work

(p.25) 1 Securing Work
Embattled Freedom

Amy Murrell Taylor

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter continues with the story of Edward and Emma Whitehurst, as well as thousands more enslaved people who fled to Fort Monroe and vicinity, and describes their efforts to secure work with the Union army in 1861 and 1862. It discusses the nature of their labor, from working as guides and spies for the army, to seeking positions as cooks, laundresses, nurses, and heavy laborers. And it describes how difficult it became for these refugees to secure compensation for their labor—as well as recognition of their right to own property. Not everyone in the Union army was willing to view refugees as free people who were entitled to participate in a free labor system. This led to a troubling sequence of events in late 1861 and well into 1862, in which the refugees protested the lack of wages and other harsh labor policies, the frequency of theft, and the impressment of men to work for the Union. Their outcry led to policy changes that involved compensating refugees more consistently for their work—but not before the Whitehursts themselves lost everything to marauding Union soldiers during the Peninsula Campaign.

Keywords:   work, spies, cooks, laundresses, nurses, heavy laborers, property, wages, impressment, Peninsula Campaign

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