|The Port Royal Experiment
November 7, 1861 to March 3, 1865
|Stand up, my soul, shake off thy fears,
And gird the gospel armor on;
March to the gates of endless joy,
Where Jesus, thy great Captain's gone.
In the Beginning was Fortress Monroe, Va
The first mission field to open (August, 1861) to the American Missionary Association and other groups was at
Fortress Monroe in Virginia where General Butler had declared that the slaves escaping to his lines were contraband
of war. This opened the floodgates of slaves who would risk their lives and the lives of their families for freedom.
Chaplain P Franklin Jones of the 1st New York Volunteers sent a letter to the New York YMCA requesting help for an
educational and aid mission. This letter was passed on to the American Missionary Association (see Mission to the
Freed Contrabands at Fortress Monroe) and (see notes from Fortress Monroe American Missionary.) The American
Missionary Association sent its first missionary to the freedmen on September 3, 1861 - Rev. L. C. Lockwood. On
September 17, 1861 the first teacher was Mrs. Mary Peake a free person of light color who had received her
education in Alexandria while it was part of the District of Columbia. She taught in the brown cottage adjoining the
Chesapeake Female Seminary (a former school for whites). The school was eventually moved to ex President Tyler's
summer home. On February 22, 1862 Mrs. Peake became the first teacher to die at her post. (Letter from Mary
Smith Peake to S S Jocelyn) (Letter from Mrs. Mary Vangh about Mary S. Peake's education) (See Rev. L. C.
Lockwood 1871 Report on early years)
Fortress Monroe was also the training ground for Edward Pierce. He wrote in great detail in an article for the
Atlantic Monthly telling of transformation from slavery to a free labor work force. For his future in the Port Royal
Experiment it helped that he had been the personal secretary of Secretary of Treasury Salmon P. Chase.
The elements of the mission at Fort Monroe were the same as Port Royal: 1. immediate aid. 2. education and 3. how
to transition individuals from slavery to free labor. The mission at Fortress Monroe sat the stage for a much more
massive mission in Port Royal. The playbook for freedom would be written in these places, the Mississippi river valley
and whereever the power and authority of the U.S. Army and Navy reached. It was not consistent but a learning
process. The world was changing but no one knew what it was changing to.
In Port Royal another element was added to the mix: Would the newly freed slaves fight for their freedom? This
question would be a larger national question that would be answered yes in spite of the difficulties that it caused with
the rest of the Port Royal Experiment.
Arrival at Port Royal
On November 7, 1861 the U. S. Navy under the command of Commodore Samuel F. Du Pont and the Army under
the command of General T. W. Sherman arrived in Port Royal and fired on the Forts Beauregard and Walker at the
entrance of Port Royal Sound. As soon as the Union navy and troops arrived in Hilton Head, Port Royal, and St.
Helena,South Carolina they spread throughout the islands of Georgia and South Carolina where the troops
encountered the newly freed slaves. The attack was a success, and the Confederate forces retreated inland,
abandoning Beaufort and Port Royal Sound, including Paris Island. This new Union site would eventually become
the headquarters for a command called the Department of the South, which would cover the coasts of South
Carolina, Georgia, and part of Florida. Plantation owners and other white residents fled, leaving behind the bulk of
their possessions, including thousands of slaves and large amounts of cotton from the record crop then in the
process of being harvested. The people left behind would provide the north with some of its first view of slavery and
a unique look into the culture of the Sea Islands.
At Port Royal by John Greenleaf Whittier
Ole Massa on he trabbels gone ;
He leaf de land behind :
De Lord's breff blow him furder on
Like corn-shuck in de wind.
We own de hoe, we own de plough,
We own de hands dat hold;
We sell de pig, we sell de cow,
But nebber chile be sold.
"De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
We'll hab de rice an' corn :
O nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
De driver blow his horn!
The Fleeing Confederates
The South Sea Islands contained some of the most notable South Carolinians: Robert Barnwell Rhett, William J.
Grayson, Elliotts, Heywards, Coffins, Fripps, Barnwells and Seabrooks. As the Union came the white population left
leaving only one white resident in Beaufort who was too drunk to move.
Traveling through the South Sea Islands would be Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Robert Gould Shaw, Robert
Smalls, James Montgomery, Harriet Tubman and Clara Barton. Working with them was Salmon P. Chase, Edwin M.
Stanton, Senator Charles Sumner and the American Missionary Society among other social reform groups.
The Day of the Gun-shoot at Bay Point
November 7, 1861 9:25 the Union fleet entered the Sound. They were fired upon and the bombardment began. The
Wabash, Commodore Du Pont's flagship led the ships straight up the sound. First Bay Point and then Hilton Head. 3
turns and the Confederate flags came down. The whites evacuated in confusion.
Late in November the Adjutant General ordered the seizure of all cotton and any other property that could be used
for the U. S. Army. Paid labor was to pick, collect, and pack the cotton preparatory to its shipment in transports to the
Quartermaster in New York where it was sold on the public account. In the execution of this order General Sherman
appointed Wm. H. Nobles agent of the United States to collect and store cotton found in the deserted section of
South Carolina, who received six per cent on the market value of the cotton stored. Nobles, and his assistant, James
Adrian Suydam, had by Christmas sent away cotton to the value of $30,000. Brigadier-General Rufus Saxton said,
upon the arrival of Edward L. Pierce, the agent of the Treasury Department, "he will have little to do but take the
credit of collecting a couple of million dollars' worth of cotton." Of the cotton already picked and stored before the
arrival of Du Font's fleet, Pierce thought there were 2,500,000 pounds, an estimate which indicates that the crop was
In December, 1861 U. S. Agents were appointed by Capt. Saxton as Quartermaster to take possession of crops and
(Appointment of William H. Nobel as U. S. Agent )
(General Isaac Steven's Response)
Captain Saxton as Quartermaster was also in charge of the contraband labor and controlled the contraband camps
established. He appointed Banard K. Lee as the supervisor of the camps. The laborers were paid little in the
beginning and no share of the rations, so that the laborers would simply come and go.
In the beginning General T. W. Sherman didn't think much of the newly freed slaves. He reported back to
General Sherman Reports on Newly Freed Slaves December 15, 1861
General T. W. Sherman and Negro Labor December 14 ,1861
Treasury Department Takes Over Cotton
The Treasury Department responsible for the collection of abandoned property. On Dec. 20. Secretary of Treasury
Salmon Chase sent Col. William H. Reynolds, an officer in the 1st Rhode Island Artillery, to Port Royal to collect
abandoned cotton, prevent slaves from destroying plantations and gins. There were 883,048 acres of improved land
and 33,339 slaves. Shortly thereafter, he sent Edward L. Pierce, well known for his work with freed slaves or
contrabands at Fortress Monroe in Virginia, to look into the situation among the thousands of freed slaves who had
been abandoned by their owners or who had escaped into the Union lines. Pierce was to use contraband labor to
plant and harvest the 1862 cotton crop to help pay for mounting war costs, including feeding the numerous
contrabands (perhaps as many as 16,000) at Port Royal. (See Diary of John Murray Forbes)
Start of the Gideonites
In 1861 the American Missionary Association and Rev. Mansfield French were making plans for teachers and
missionaries to come to the Port Royal area by January 4th, 1862. (See letter from Rev French) Secretary Chase
prepared a way for French to visit Port Royal with an introduction letter to Col. Reynolds. On January 15th Gen.
Thomas Sherman wrote letter requesting teachers for the ex-slaves on plantations under Union control, and
northern churches sent to Port Royal. Tappans and AMA sent Rev. Mansfield French to assess the needs of the
former slaves and new societies from Boston, New York and Philadelphia began recruitment of "Gideon's Band" of
missionaries. The first teacher had already opened a school in Beaufort on January 8, 182 --- Dr. Solomon Peck D.
In the later part of January Barnard K. Lee, Jr. One of the superintendents of the Freedmen started a Sabbath and
day school at Hilton Head with some other government officers. Another school was opened in Beaufort on February
1 at the Praise House. Edward L. Pierce of the Treasury Department with Dr. Rev. Edward Everett Hale and Rev. J.
M. Manning of Boston sent three more teachers in February to Hilton Head.
New England Freedmen's Aid Society
On Tuesday, February 4, 1862 in response to Pierce's letters the New England Freedmen's Aid Society was formed
in Boston at the house of Rev. Jacob M. Manning. Rev. Edward Hale was elected chair and Edward Atkinson
secretary. Hon. Gov. John A. Andrew was elected president of the society. (See Philbrick's excitement at his
selection to go to Port Royal) The first general meeting was held in Old South Church on Sunday, February 16,
1862. The society would spread through New England with local branches organized (See list of Branch Societies)
William Endicott, Jr. was named treasurer, Edward Atkinson remained secretary, Mr. George B. Emerson headed up
the committee to get teachers for $50 per month and expenses for the teachers. John Murray Forbes, Samuel
Cabot, Jr., George Higginson, and Patrick Tracy Jackson, Jr. were active members. Edward Everett Hale was vice-
president. By March 6 38 teachers had been hired and $5,367.55 raised.
Its aims were: to relieve bodily suffering to organize industry; give instructions in the rudiments of knowledge, morals,
religion and civilized life; to inform the public of the needs, rights, capacities and disposition of the freedmen.
The teacher committee of the New England group was George B. Emerson, Le Baron Russell, Loring Lothrop,
Charles F. Barnard, and H. F. Stevenson.
The following are the regulations that they used with teachers. (The Freedmen's Record - Dec 1865)
1. All applications must be made in person at this Office, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
2 Transportation is furnished from Boston to the place of employment.
3. The salary of female Teachers is, usually, for the first year $20 per month, besides shelter and ration; of male
Teachers $30 per month, besides shelter and ration.
4. Salary begins on leaving New York.
5. One month's salary in advance, if desired.
6. The Teacher will draw salary from the Treasurer of the Society.
By 1865 they would employ fifty-four teachers: nine men and forty-five women. Part of their efforts would be given to
teach U.S.C.T units including the Fifth Cavalry Regiment (Mass) during its organization at Readville and the 86th U.S.
See New England Freedmens Aid for more information on this society.
Sherman's General Order No. 9
On February 6, 1862 General T. W. Sherman writes General Order No. 9 calling on Northern societies to assist in
helping freedmen and outlines the general plan of superintendents for plantation labor and teachers for teaching
See General T. W. Sherman General Order 9 Requesting Help for Freedmen
The National Freedman's Relief Association
On February 20 the National Freedman's Relief Association. New York, originated at a meeting held in the hall of
the Cooper Institute, in response to an appeal from Gen. Sherman and Commodore Dupont, representing in a
general order, dated the 6th of that month, the helpless condition of the blacks within the vast area occupied by the
forces under their command, and calling upon the benevolent and philanthropic of the land for aid. The President
would be Francis George Shaw, Corresponding Secretary Rev. O. B. Frothingham, Recording Secretary George
Cabot Ward, Treasurer Joseph B. Collins, the Executive Committee consisted of C. C. Leigh, Chas. Collins, Rev.
Henry J. Fox and William Geo Hawkins. The advisory committee was S. H. Tyng, D. D. and Wm C. Bryant. (See
American Missionary for an article on Port Royal and the beginning of the NFRA.)
The founding committee was appointed to organize an Association, to make a special appeal to the public, to appoint
suitable teachers to instruct the Freedmen in industrial and mechanical arts, in the rudiments of education, the
principles of Christianity, their accountability to the laws of God and man, their relation to each other as social
beings, and all that might be necessary to render them competent to sustain themselves as members of a civilized
To attain the end proposed, so far as might be within the reach of the Association, the
following plan, with regard to the treatment of the blacks, was adopted:
I. They must be treated as Freemen.
II. As such they must earn their livelihood as we do, and not be dependent on charity.
III. Their labor must be performed under a well-organized superintendence.
IV. They will receive compensation for their labor, in the shape of daily wages,
reserving there out a sufficient percentage to defray the cost of superintendence.
V. As soon as their labor shall be organized, they will be required to provide their own support.
VI. In the meanwhile, and until their earnings shall provide the means of their support, they will be aided with food,
clothing, and shelter, but such supplies shall be charged to them as advances, to be paid by the receiver, without
VII. They may erect tenements on the land, and occupy them, free of charge, but when they occupy tenements
erected or supplied by the Association, they shall pay rent.
VIII. Schools and churches shall be established among them, and the sick be cared for.
IX. No idlers will be allowed among them, but all must work who can.
X. Each one will be encouraged to raise on his own ground such articles of food as his family may require, and be so
taught gardening as to raise quantities for the army and navy and other markets.
XI. To guard against imposition upon their ignorance and inexperience, no stores will be allowed among them except
those licensed by the Association.
At this meeting William Cullen Bryant proposed that the ex-slaves be known as freedmen as opposed to
contrabands. (See more information on the meeting)
In November 1863 the National Freedmen's Association would send by the steamer Arago the following teachers:
Miss A. G. Goodhue, Miss M. A. Fowler, Miss Kate Foote, Miss M. A. Buss, Miss E. H. Peck, Miss S. E. Peck, Miss E.
I. Stuart, Miss L. E. Loyell and Miss E. M. Wood to Beaufort.
(see National Freedmens Relief Association for more information)
A PEACEFUL EXPEDITION TO PORT ROYAL. DEPARTURE OF MISSIONARIES. (from The Rebellion Record, A
Diary of American Events and Documents)
The first missionary expedition to propagate industry, religion, and education among the contrabands at Hilton Head,
as well as to encourage agriculture and like useful measures, sailed from New York City March third, 1862. It is
composed of some sixty persons, about fifteen of whom are ladies. Mr. Edward L. Pierce, the Government agent, in
charge of the plantations and contrabands at Port Royal, is to be the directing genius of this association; and from
the experience he has already gained, the selection of that gentleman for the position is considered very judicious.
(See Forbes for an observer at the beginning of the journey.) The duty of the men, who include persons of about
every trade and business, will be to take charge of the abandoned estates of the chivalry, and to direct the labors of
the negroes, who are to be employed in such agricultural pursuits as the cultivation of cotton and the raising of
necessary vegetables for the use of the army. The ladies go with the intention of establishing an industrial school,
under the superintendence of the Rev. Mr. French, of this city. Among the ladies we should mention the name of
Mrs. Harlan, wife of the United States Senator from Iowa.
It will thus be seen that the persons composing the expedition do not come from one locality, but hail from
Washington, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and other places. Some go as volunteers, but the bulk proceed under
the auspices of the National Freedman's Relief Association of this city, and the Educational Commission in Boston.
Each member was obliged to take the following oath of allegiance before being finally accepted:
I, do solemnly swear that I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States
against all enemies, whether domestic or foreign; that I will bear true and faithful allegiance and loyalty to the same,
any allegiance, resolution, or law of any State convention to the contrary notwithstanding. And further, that I do this
with a full determination and pledge to perform it, without any mental reservation whatever; and further, that I will
faithfully perform all the duties which may be required of me by law. So help me God.
There was also a document that "commissioned" the teachers (see example from the American Missionary
Association) and teacher instructions (See AMA Teacher Instructions).
The Atlantic, which conveys the expedition, takes out with her a large cargo, consisting of army stores, agricultural
implements, seeds, clothing, sewing-machines, and numerous contributions toward the success of the object
March 2, 1862 the steamship Atlantic left New York City with 53 missionaries including 12 women, paid salary of $50
per month--"Gideonites" they were labeled--destined to be teachers, plantation superintendents, and missionaries
among the contrabands sailed from New York for Beaufort. (List of the first teachers and superintendents) The
Gideonites worked and taught on the islands surrounding Port Royal under Treasury control for the next several
months. (Journey and first days Edward S. Philbrick) (Journal of Miss Susan Walker)
On arrival Rev. Mansfield French addressed the new workers: "Ours is, indeed, a new, untried mission, the final
results of which may decide the fate of the poor slaves, and through them, of the nation. To do our work, and do it
properly, requires such wisdom as God only can give. You will find the Negroes of the plantations, in some cases,
idle, and roaming about---husbands searching for their wives, parents for their children, sold from them. All possible
facilities must be afforded them in their sacred work. Order must be established, industry, tidiness in personal habits,
as well as in their dark and miserable cabins, secured, and all, when age or health will allow it, must have immediate
employment. They will receive you as friends, but they will not only carefully weigh your words and actions, but they
will try your spirit. They are sensitive, acute observers, and readily distinguish between a patronizing friend and a
real one. To have an influence over them, you must first convince them that yours is a brother's hand and heart.
Under the old system, there was a constant strife between master and slave, each guarding jealously their own
interests, productive of evil only to either party.
Freest prove to them that their interests are yours, and you will acquire power to elevate and improve them. They
are more or less in doubt as to their future condition, and will inquire earnestly your opinions...."
The New England Freedmen's Association would characterize the word "teacher" as being "not meant those solely
who are expected to teach the ordinary branches of school education. Some never enter a school edifice. All are
expected to give instruction in those arts of civilized life which the Negro needs quite as much as book-learning.
Lessons of industry, of domestic management and thrift, lessons of truth and honesty, lessons which may help their
pupils (children and adults) to unlearn the teachings of slavery,--- these make a part of the system of education
which our New-England men and women are striving to introduce into our Southern States. And gladly do we testify
to the fidelity, to the large religious sense of the dignity of their calling, which they have manifested." (See also
American Missionary article on Rev. French)
All was not perfect in this world. They would face difficulties in dealing with the military. There were be internal
disagreements (See resignation letter), violence (In Clumford's Creek the school was burned and the teacher Mrs.
Croome driven off) and death (See death of Miss Georgiana Warren and deaths of other teachers).
Edward L Pierce Appointed by Secretary of Treasury Chase
March 9 - Secretary of Treasury Salmon Chase appointed abolitionist Boston attorney Edward L. Pierce to begin the
"Port Royal Experiment" of schools and hospitals, and allowed plantations to be run by the former slaves and paid
blacks $1 per 400 lbs. cotton. Dubois: "He was a firm friend of Secretary Chase; and when, in 1861, the care of
slaves and abandoned lands devolved upon the Treasury officials, Pierce was specially detailed from the ranks to
study the conditions. First, he cared for the refugees at Fortress Monroe; and then, after Sherman had captured
Hilton Head, Pierce was sent there to found his Port Royal experiment of making free workingmen out of slaves.
Before his experiment was barely started, however, the problem of the fugitives had assumed such proportions that it
was taken from the hands of the over-burdened Treasury Department and given to the army officials." (See Pierce's
Report to Secretary Chase)
The Military Rules for Freedmen
In the beginning of the Port Royal experiment confusion reigns. (Actually this will become a familiar pattern.) However
they were all in uncharted territory. Notice in this document how you may confuse the treatment of the freedmen with
that of free persons of color before the Civil War. However this is a military district where passes were a common
feature. The wage and labor controls were not.
Headquarters of the 2nd Brigade of the South Carolina Expeditionary force to the Superintendent of Contrabands.
Port Royal Relief Committee (History of the Port Royal Relief Committee)
Apr. 15 - The Port Royal Relief Committee of Philadelphia sent funds in the care of Miss Laura Matilda Towne. The
Penn School was founded on St. Helena Island, the oldest missionary school of the Port Royal Experiment. The Penn
Center is the site of one of the country's first schools for freed slaves. Begun in 1862 as Penn School, an
experimental program to educate Sea Island slaves freed at the beginning of the Civil War, it is the oldest and most
persistent survivor of the Port Royal Experiment. The first teachers were Northern missionaries Laura Towne and
Ellen Murray. Both spent the next forty years of their lives living among and educating former Sea Island slaves, the
Gullah people of the South Carolina Low Country. The officers of the Port Royal Committee were: Stephen Colwell,
Chairman, E. W. Clark Treasurer, Ellis Yarnall Recording Secretary, Bn. P. Hunt, Corresponding Secretary. The
Committee on Teachers was J. M. McKim, F. R. Cope, P. P. Randolph, and Bn. P Hunt.
Miss Miltada Thompson (the future Mrs. Saxton would be a member of the Port Royal group of teachers. From March
5, 1862 to March 20, 1863 $18,517.21 would be raised. Both Laura Towne and John Hunn sold goods which
returned part of this revenue with 701.01 from Laura Towne and $6,144.61 from John Hunn.
The goods sent on April 25, 1862 on the Oriental and Atlantic to Laura Towne consisted of bacon, shoulders,
pickled herring, mackerel, smoked herring, molasses, salt, clothing, boots, shoes, cotton, needles, brushes, soap,
hats, caps, bonnets.
See The People's Of Philadelphia Response
Letter from J M M'Kim to Stephen Colwell
This committee would later become the Pennsylvania Freedmen's Relief Association.
The American Missionary Association (History of the American Missionary Association)
The American Missionary Association had already worked with E. L. Pierce and General Butler at Fortress Monroe.
They would establish schools at Port Royal, Beaufort, Hilton Head and St. Helena.
General David Hunter Chosen to head the new Dept of the South
General David Hunter, who had befriended himself to Abraham Lincoln was chosen as the first commander of the
Department of the South. It encompassed operations in South Carolina, Georgia and the Florida east coast. Hunter
was an abolitionist. In a few months he had issued a proclamation freeing the slaves in South Carolina, Georgia and
Florida (overturned by President Lincoln) See General Hunter's General Order 11
General Hunter created the first African-American regiment (the first South Carolina - which was also not accepted
by the War Department but one company survived to be part of Rufus Saxton's newly created 1st South Carolina)
He defended his proclamation and arming the freedmen with a letter to the National Freedmen's Relief Association
on July 17, 1862.
They Smelled a Big Rat - The Formation of Hunter's Regiment
See Military treatment of captured and fugitive slaves 1861-1862
See General Hunter Creates first Africian-American Regiment
General Hunter simply impressed the workers on the plantations creating ill-feelings and mistrust (especially since he
used the plantation supervisors to assist in this impressment. He would do this again to fill the ranks of the 2nd South
Carolina when he returned to the Department the following year. In the meantime during his absence the 1st
Regiment was re-formed by volunteers.
See Chase to Stanton, May 21, 1862
See Also Pierce to Chase, May 12, 1862
See Also Documents relating to Impressment of Freedmen for Hunter's Regiment May 12, 1862
See Also Pierce to General Hunter No. 6, May 13, 1862
See Also G. M. Wells to Pierce, May 13, 1862
See Also L. D Wells to Pierce, May 13, 1862
Rufus Saxton Appointed Military Governor
May 30 - Rufus Saxton replaced Edward Pierce at Port Royal in response to Congressional action, control passed to
the War Department. . His duties were to supervise the growth and sale of cotton, to regulate labor, to direct the
activities of new comers and settle them at suitable points over the several islands. (This is part of his orders.)
In 1863 the American Freedmen's inquiry commission was interviewing people in the Port Royal area. Here is the
testimony of General Saxton and Harry Mcmillan a freedman.
His authority extended wherever the Department of the South took control (See Pilot Island, St. Johns River)
In 1864 Eubon Thomlinson, General Saxton's aide was appointed to be agent for the Pennsylvania Freedmen's Aid
Society. He gave a testimony on conditions in the Sea Islands to the Society.
1866 Semi Annual Report on Freedmen's Schools - Alvord - Sea Island Section
Edward Pierce Leaves Port Royal
With the mission of Edward Pierce and the Treasury Department turned over to General Saxton and the Department
of War Pierce wrote his 2nd and final report to Treasury Secretary Chase. (See Report)
Rufus Saxton's Oath for Superintendents
"I, believing that negro slavery is a great enemy to humanity, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully perform to the
best of my ability my duty as superintendent of plantations in this department, and, as such, will use all the means in
my power so to educate and elevate the people under my control as to fit them to enjoy the blessings of freedom;
that to the best of my knowledge I will deal fairly and honestly with them, and respect, and cause all others under my
jurisdiction to respect their rights; that I will not engage in trade with them for my own profit or appropriate any of the
proceeds of their labor to my own personal advantage. So help me God."
For service in this laborious, most disheartening and often dangerous field of labor, the division superintendents
received $1,000, and the district agents $100 per annum. However for teachers a recommendation from General
Saxton would be a good letter for future employment in the north (See letter).
The New England Association established a retail store at Beaufort, South Carolina, on the basis of one supported
by the Port Royal Relief Committee of Philadelphia at Hilton Head. This was done at the request of Gen. Saxton, was
profit—simply self-supporting. Such goods as the people need were sold to them at prices covering cost and
January 1, 1863 - A New World Emerges
(from Charlotte Forten Grimke Journals) The most glorious day this nation has yet seen, I think. I rose early--an
event here---and early we started, with an old borrowed carriage and a remarkably slow horse. Whither were we
going? Thou wilt ask, dearest A. To the ferry; thence to Camp Saxton, to the celebration. From the ferry to the cam
the "Flora" took us. How pleasant it was on board! A crowd of people, whites and blacks, and a band of music---to
the great delight of the negroes. Met on board Dr. and Mrs. Peck and their daughters, who greeted me most kindly.
Also Gen. S's father whom I like much, and several other acquaintances whom I was glad to see. We stopped at
Beaufort, and then proceeded to Camp Saxton, the camp of the 1st. Reg. S. C. Vols. The "Flora" c'ld not get up to
the landing, so we were rowed ashore in a row boat. Just as my foot touched the plank, on landing, a hand grasped
mine and a well known voice spoke my name. It was my dear and noble friend, Dr. Rogers. I cannot tell you, dear A.,
how delighted I was to see him; how good it was to see the face of a friend from the North, and such a friend. ....
There were the black soldiers, in their blue coats and scarlet pants, the officers of this and other regiments in their
handsome uniforms, and crowds of lookers-on, men, women and children, grouped in various attitudes, under the
trees. The faces of all wore a happy, eager, expectant look. The exercises commenced by a prayer from Rev. Mr.
Fowler, Chaplain of the Reg. An ode written for the occasion by Prof. Zachos, originally a Greek, now Sup. of Paris
Island, was read by himself, and then sung by the whites. Col. H. introduced Dr. Brisbane in a few elegant and
graceful words. He B. read the President's Proclamation, which was warmly cheered. Then the beautiful flags
presented by Dr. Cheever's Church were presented to Col. H for the Reg. In an excellent and enthusiastic speech,
by Rev. Mr. French. Immediately at the conclusion, some of the colored people---of their own accord sang "My
Country Tis of Thee." It was a touching and beautiful incident, and Col. Higginson, in accepting the flags made it the
occasion of some happy remarks. He said flags made it the occasion of some happy remarks. He said that that
tribute was far more effecting than any speech he c'ld make. He spoke for some time, and all that he said was grand,
glorious. He seemed inspired. Nothing c'ld have been better, more perfect. ....After he was done speaking he
delivered the flags to the color bearers with a few very impressive remarks to them. They each then, Prince Rivers,
and Robert Sutton, made very good speeches indeed, and were loudly cheered. Gen. Saxton and Mrs. Gage spoke
very well....A hymn written I believe, by Mr. Judd was sung, and then all the people united with the Reg. in singing
"John Borwn." It was grand.
(from Laura Towne's Diary) January 1, 1863.
We rejoiced at midnight with great pride and joy to think that our country is at last free.
We were late in the morning, and when we reached the ferry saw the Flora depart without us. Sergeant Arthur took
us across in his boat, and we waited at the General's house until the Flora's second trip. It was a thousand pities, for
when we reached Camp Saxton at Smith's plantation,1 we arrived through the dense crowd at the foot of the platform
only in time to see Colonel Higginson 2 standing between his two colorbearers, Robert Sutton and Prince Rivers,
looking small — tall and large man as he is — compared with them; but we missed Colonel Higginson's speech,
which was stirring and eloquent.
In one of the pauses of the exercises, just after the regiment received its colors, I believe, the soldiers and people
spontaneously broke out with "My Country, 't is of thee," and Colonel Higginson made happy use of this incident.
Mrs. Gage and others had spoken; Mr. Zachos' poem had been read, Mr. Judd's also.
We sang the John Brown song with the people, were then asked up to the platform with the other ladies, and all was
over. There was a grand barbecue, and we went to see the oxen, each standing roasted whole in its pit. As we went
to reembark, Captain Saxton made his horse rear and bow to the ladies several times. At last he grew restive and
would have thrown Captain S. if Mr. Fairfield had not sprung to the rescue.
At the General's again we dined, I sitting at his right hand, he taking me in to dinner. The staff, Mrs. Gage, Miss
Thompson, and our party were the guests. Dinner over, we sat up in the General's parlor and talked, I with Mrs.
Gage, the General and Captains amusing themselves decking out Nelly and Tilly with scarfs and swords. I observed
that the General gave his yellow scarf to Tilly, his red one to Nelly, thus letting Miss Thompson rank Nelly. They
retained these scarfs all the evening.
I wore my blue silk dress and it looked well, but not so pretty as Miss Louise Kellogg's, who came with other guests to
the dance. This was opened by the General and myself in a cotillion — neither of us dancing the Lancers. I found I
had not forgotten, and I enjoyed it exceedingly.
(Letters from Port Royal)
The first letter of 1863 gives an account of the ceremonies with which the Sea Islands celebrated the Emancipation
Proclamation. The place was the Smith Plantation, on Port Royal Island, where the First South Carolina had its camp.
From Harriet Ware
Jan. 1,1863. We started [from R.'s] at ten o'clock with four oarsmen, under a cloudless sky, which remained
undimmed through the day. The men sang and we sang, as we wound our way through the marshbound creek,
reaching the Smith Plantation just as the Flora was landing her first load from the Ferry. We followed the crowd up to
the grove of live-oaks with their moss trimmings, which did not look so dreary under a winter's sun, but very summer-
like and beautiful. The regiment, which had been drawn up at the wharf to receive the guests from Beaufort,
escorted them to the platform in the middle of the grove, where we found it — the regiment — in a circle round the
stand, where they remained quiet and orderly as possible through the whole proceedings, which lasted about three
hours. Guests, white and colored, were admitted within the line, and as ladies we were shown seats on the platform.
The general arrived in his carriage with the Mission House l ladies.
It is simply impossible to give you any adequate idea of the next three hours. Picture the scene to yourself if you can,
— I will tell you all the facts,—but if I could transcribe every word that was uttered, still nothing could convey to you
any conception of the solemnity and interest of the occasion. Mr. Judd, General Superintendent of the Island, was
master of ceremonies, and first introduced Mr. Fowler, the Chaplain, who made a prayer, — then he announced that
the President's Proclamation would be read, and General Saxton's also, by a gentleman who would be introduced by
Colonel Higginson. And he rose amid perfect silence, his clear rich voice falling most deliciously on the ear as he
began to speak. He said that the Proclamation would be read "by a South Carolinian to South Carolinians " — a man
who many years before had carried the same glad tidings to his own slaves now brought them to them, and with a
few most pertinent words introduced Dr. Brisbane, one of the tax-commissioners here now, who read both
proclamations extremely well. They cheered most heartily at the President's name, and at the close gave nine with a
will for General "Saxby," as they call him. Mr. Zachos then read an ode he had written for the occasion, which was
sung by the white people (printed copies being distributed, he did not line it as is the fashion in these parts) —to
"Scots wha hae." I forgot to mention that there was a band on the platform which discoursed excellent music from
time to time. At this stage of the proceedings Mr. French rose and, in a short address, presented to Colonel
Higginson from friends in New York a beautiful silk flag, on which was embroidered the name^of the regiment and
"The Year of Jubilee has come!"
Just as Colonel Higginson had taken the flag and was opening his lips to answer (his face while Mr. French was
speaking was a beautiful sight), a single woman's voice below us near the corner of the platform began singing "My
Country, 'tis of thee." It was very sweet and low — gradually other voices about her joined in and it began to spread
up to the platform, till Colonel Higginson turned and said, "Leave it to them," when the negroes sang it to the end. He
stood with the flag in one hand looking down at them, and when the song ceased, his own words flowed as musically,
saying that he could give no answer so appropriate and touching as had just been made. In all the singing he had
heard from them, that song he had never heard before — they never could have truly sung "my country" till that day.
He talked in the most charming manner for over half an hour, keeping every one's attention, the negroes' upturned
faces as interested as any, if not quite as comprehending. Then he called Sergeant Rivers and delivered the flag to
his keeping, with the most solemn words, telling him that his life was chained to it and he must die to defend it. Prince
Rivers looked him in the eye while he spoke, and when he ended with a "Do you understand?" which must have
thrilled through every one, answered most earnestly, "Yas, Sar." The Colonel then, with the same solemnity, gave
into the charge of Corporal Robert Sutton a bunting flag of the same size; then stepping back stood with folded arms
and bare head while the two men spoke in turn to their countrymen. Rivers is a very smart fellow, has been North
and is heart and soul in the regiment and against the "Seceshky." He spoke well; but Sutton with his plain common
sense and simpler language spoke better. He made telling points; told them there was not one in that crowd but had
sister, brother, or some relation among the rebels still; that all was not done because they were so happily off, that
they should not be content till all their people were as well off, if they died in helping them; and when he ended with
an appeal to them to above all follow after their Great Captain, Jesus, who never was defeated, there were many
moist eyes in the crowd.
General Saxton then said a few words, regretting that his flag had not arrived as he intended, and introduced Mrs.
Gage, who spoke to them of her visit to St. Croix and how the negroes on that island had freed themselves, and
telling them that her own sons were in the army; she might any day hear of their death, but that she was willing they
should die in the cause and she hoped they were ready to die too. Quartermaster Bingham led the regiment in
singing "Marching Along." Mr. Judd had written a hymn which he and a few friends sang. Judge Stickney spoke. The
whole regiment then sang " John Brown," and was dismissed in a few words from the Colonel to the tables for the
twelve roasted oxen,1 hard bread, and molasses and water, except one company and certain corporals whom he
mentioned, who came to the foot of the steps to escort the colors.
Ballad of Port Royal (by Mrs. Francis Dana Gage Parker)
John C. Zachos was assigned to serve as superintendent on Paris Island, a position he held until November or
December 1862 as one of the first Gideonites.. Among the best early sources relating to wartime Paris Island is a
report written by Zachos at the end of 1862. He reported that there were 330 persons living on the island, including
130 children, 150 available to work the fields (half of those were women), 12 old people, 4 or 5 invalids, six
carpenters, and an unspecified number of house servants. During the previous growing season, they had harvested
Ã´220 acres of cotton, 300 acres of corn, 46 of sweet potatoes, 20 of rice and garden products, for a total of 590
acres under cultivation. Total income as a result of this effort came to only $3.00 per person, with which, as Zachos
notes, they were to clothe and support themselves for a year. Mr. Zachos had a role to play in the 1st Emancipation
Proclamation celebration on January 1, 1863. He read and the audience sang a poem he had written.
Zachos was replaced as Paris Island Superintendent by Frances Dana Gage, a well-known Ohio abolitionist and
temperance advocate who traveled to Beaufort in October, 1862 to assist the former slaves. In January, 1863, she
was appointed Superintendent of the six Paris Island Plantations. Frances Gage's daughter Mary, was assigned to
Paris Island and for about six months in the fall of 1863 and into early 1864, Clara Barton assisted the Gage's on
Paris Island. These superintendents and teachers reported directly to General Rufus Saxton.
St. Helena Island
Mr. Allen, Superintendent, Mr Hill, carpenter, Mr. Phillips commissary agent, Mr. Bundy (and family), E. S. Williams,
One teacher of the Port Royal group, herself of African descent, was Charlotte S. Forten of Philadelphia. She was a
graduate of the State Normal School, Salem, Massachusetts, and had taught in the same city. Refusing a residence
in Europe, she joined one of the parties for Port Royal to teach among her people. This woman enjoyed the
friendship of Whittier and, as a beautiful singer herself, the poet sent her directly his Hymn written for the scholars of
St. Helena Island which she taught them to sing for the Emancipation Proclamation exercises of January 1, 1863."
By. J. G. Whittier
Oh none in all the world before
Were ever glad as we.
We're free on Carolina's shore,
We're all at home and free.
thou friend and helper of the poor,
Who suffered for our sake.
To open every prison door,
And every yoke to break.
Look down, oh, Saviour sweet, and smile,
And help us sing and pray;
The hands that blessed the little child,
upon our foreheads lay.
Today in all our fields of corn,
No driver's whip we hear.
The holy day that saw thee born,
Was never half so dear.
The very oaks are greener clad,
The waters brighter smile,
Oh never shone a day so glad,
On sweet St. Helena's Isle.
For none in all the world before
Were ever glad as we.
We're free on Carolina's shore,
We're all at home and free!
Higginson's Story about Laura Towne (Letters and Journal)
An old Aunt Phillis, the plantation patriarch, was here this morning, sighing over an impracticable little boy she has
the care of. "Mus' take 'um to de wood for whip 'um," she averred. "Why so?" I asked. "No use for whip 'um in de
house, massa. Miss Laury [Towne] hear de very first slap come flyin', say, ' Stop! Stop! No for whip!' So everybody
take he child to de wood, far place, for whip 'um! Can't fotch up boy widout whip!"
This picture of the whole maternal population of the place scudding for the woods, with children under their arms, to
enjoy a season of undisturbed chastisement, beyond reach of Miss Laury, was too much for me.
To supply this need (Sewing) Miss Botume solicited the necessary apparatus from her northern friends and began
work on some old contraband goods stored in an arsenal. She reported that sewing was a fascination to all and that
''they learned readily and soon developed much skill and ingenuity."" This school has come down today as the Old
Fort Plantation School.
One of the Beaufort students who had earlier been in school in Port Royal wrote a letter to the AMA. (See Letter)
General Saxton's First Report on Schools
"Experienced teachers report that the progress of the pupils does not compare unfavorably with that of children in
the common schools North. They all manifest an intense desire to learn to read and seem to have the intuition that it
is by means of education they are to rise in the scale of citizenship. During the planting and harvesting seasons it is
a common sight to see groups of children going to school after having completed their tasks in the field. The
Northern associations have sent down large numbers of experienced teachers and schoolbooks and thousands of
dollars in valuable articles of clothing to be distributed."
Edward Pierce Returns to Port Royal
In the spring of 1863 Edward Pierce returned to Port Royal. He used his time to visit the islands, the teachers and
the people he had come to know. He saw the new U.S.C.T. regiments. He wrote about his impressions for the Atlantic
Monthly in "Freedmen of Port Royal."
List of Superintendents and Teachers Under Brig General Rufus Saxton June 1863
This list was found in the Freedmen Bureau Records as a rations report. Good to find a misfiled report (See Report)
The Founding of Mitchelville
In February 1865 the town of Mitchelville was founded by Col Littlefield in his order #3. It is probable that the town
was founded to take care of the population of the newly freed families that came in with General T. Sherman and in
his wake. It was estimated that 100 people a day were moving to the island. (See Founding of Mitchelville.)
The Societies divide the mission field
In December 1863 at a meeting in Washington, D. C. delegates from the five principal Freedmen's Aid Societies
adopted a resolution: "Resolved that we recommend to the several associations that they arrange for themselves,
distinct fields for the collection of funds and materials of aid, and that as far as possible, they avoid all collision or
interference which may unfavorably affect their separate interest and the common prosperity." There were still
complaints that the "National" organization in New York was crossing boundary lines.
The Fight for Land (adapted from the 2nd Annual Report of the New England Freedmen's Relief)
Property in Land. — In March, 1863, the United States sold at auction 16,479 acres of land out of 76,775 acres
subject to sale for non-payment of taxes. The lands, with the buildings, brought but 93 cents per acre. About 3,500
acres were taken by the blacks. The number of acres now owned by the Freedmen is said to be not far from 7,350.
More recently, at the sale of the town of Beaufort, from seventy-five to eighty houses and house-lots were bought by
the blacks, at prices ranging from $40 to $1,800. The aggregate price paid for 64 of these was $32,927, and at this
rate the lots purchased must have cost about $40,000. On the 16th September, 1863, instructions were issued to the
United States Direct Tax Commissioners for the sale by auction of the 60,000 acres reserved at the sale in the
spring. Of these remaining lands, 6,081 acres were to be reserved for school purposes, and 13,370 for " war,
military, naval, revenue, and police purposes," leaving 40,845 acres to be sold; of which 24,316 acres were to be put
up in lots not exceeding 320 acres, and 16,529 acres to be disposed of at private sale, to heads of families of the
African race, in lots not exceeding 20 acres. The announcement of the intended sale of 24,000 acres in large lots
was received with great dissatisfaction by the friends of .the Freedmen. Many thought that the blacks had an
exclusive claim to these lands which had so long been drenched with their sweat and blood, and nearly all saw with
alarm the threatened revival of the old system of large proprietorships.
To put up these lands for sale in lots of several hundred acres was to place them entirely out of the reach of the
blacks, for the reports of the profit derived from raising cotton had spread far and wide, and a large number of
speculators were eager to take plantations at ten or twenty times the rates at which they had sold the year before.
The keen competition for labor might compel these new planters to pay a fair price to the negroes, and
to treat them well as long as competition lasted, and the Freedmen would thus be raised from the condition of chattel
slavery to that of the lowest class of peasantry; but such a settlement of the long debated question of their rights
could be satisfactory only to those who have a low idea of negro capacity, and to those impatient people who are "
tired of the whole subject."
The negroes certainly would not be satisfied. - They desire to be proprietors themselves, for the sake of
independence — for the sake of bettering themselves indefinitely, for all the reasons that make other men wish to
grow rich. A considerable number have all the necessary qualifications for small proprietors, including capital, and
some have proved themselves able to manage large estates. -The last thing that the friends of the Freedmen should
wish is that they should be satisfied with the peasant condition, a condition in which even the poor earthly virtues
of forethought, prudence, and industry — great civilizers, even if they are not spiritualizing powers— are scarcely
called into exercise. We speak now of the Freedmen as a class, for some blacks, like some whites, are capable of
nothing better. All that is necessary for justice is to let all sorts find their level. Unfortunately the Chairman of the Tax
Commissioners, a gentleman who has done and suffered much for the negroes, and who deserves to be treated with
respect even by those who differ most widely from him, seems to be strongly attached to the large plantation-and-
peasan try-system, his plan being, if we are rightly informed, to give each negro two acres of land " to grow the
necessaries of life, that they may be able to work regularly on the plantations."
The sales were begun according to the programme, but not without a very strong opposition, and the opponents of
the measure were finally so far successful that the President, on the 31st of December last, issued new instructions
to the Tax Commissioners, according to which any loyal person of twenty-one years of age or upwards, who had at
any time since the occupation of the Islands by the national forces, for six months resided. Upon, or was then
residing upon or engaged in cultivating any lands in that district, owned by the United States, might enter for
preemption either one or two tracts of 20 acres, at the price of $1.25 per acre; preference being given to heads of
families, and to married women whose husbands were actually engaged in the service of the United States, or were
Soldiers, sailors, and marines actually engaged in the service were allowed to enter claims for one additional tract of
20 acres, if single men, and two if married. These instructions were made public at Port Royal on the 16th of
January, and within a fortnight applications for pre-emption rights amounting to 40,000 acres were received. It was a
matter of course that the lands should all be taken, for those blacks who did not wish to turn cultivators were
perfectly aware that they could sell their 40 acres for many times the government price. But it will be observed that
the number of acres to be sold was 40,845, affording only about 1,000 parcels of 40 acres, (and no negro, it is to
be supposed, for the reason just given, would apply for less than 40 acres, whether he intended to cultivate the
whole tract or not,) while the black population in the Port Royal islands alone, according to the June census, was
9,443, making, at an average of five, nearly 1,900 families. Consequently, even if all the lands were taken by the
blacks, there were only about half enough forty-acre lots to supply the people.* Those who got no land would be
greatly dissatisfied, and in this respect, if in no other, the scheme of sale was seriously defective.
Enthusiastic rejoicings followed the publication of the new instructions, and meetings were held at St. Helena and at
Beaufort, at which, after much natural congratulation, the native negroes, and the soldiers in the department, both
white and black, were urgently exhorted to take immediate advantage of their pre-emption rights. The majority of the
Tax Commissioners, however, refused to obey these instructions, alleging that they had been fraudulently obtained.
They went on selling plantations according to the September program, and finally procured the formal revocation of
the instructions of December 31, so that those previously issued came into force again.
* A lot of 8 or 10 acres is large enough for a family, The disappointment and confusion caused by this series of
transactions can easily be imagined. The instructions of December 31, whether fraudulently obtained or not, were
genuine orders of the government, and had been acted upon by the negroes. Many of them, in anticipation of the
official assignment of the lands which they had put in claims for, had staked out their lots, had begun the cultivation
of corn, and had become accustomed to the idea that they were landed proprietors. The legal points could not be
made intelligible to the people whose high-raised hopes were thus suddenly dashed. The confidence of the blacks in
the good intentions of the government, — so hard to gain — had once before, to use a mild phrase, been severely
shaken by General Hunter's unsparing conscription, following straight upon General Saxton's assurance that no
force should be used in recruiting the black regiments, and this second instance of seeming bad-faith was enough to
destroy it altogether. On the other hand, many plantations had been purchased by white persons, for large prices, at
sales conducted by officers of the government, and the money paid in. Under these circumstances it was plainly
impossible to do justice to all parties. Nevertheless, when the rights of the original inhabitants of the soil and those of
adventurers from the North come into collision, the weak and the poor should be protected. Acting upon this
principle, General Birney, while in command of the post of Beaufort, during the absence of General Saxton,issued
an order (March 30th) providing that the negroes shall for the present be left in undisturbed possession of the lands
occupied and planted by them, and prohibiting, under severe penalties, any attempt to eject them or to extort the
promise of a share of their crops, before the validity of their claims shall have been passed upon by the proper
authority. We have not heard that this order has been rescinded by General Saxton, though it must have
overstepped the powers of a simple Post-Commandant. The result will probably be that the blacks will get the crops
they planted before the sales; and that the purchasers of the plantations will be confirmed in their possession of the
Considering the difficulties attending the subject, among which are the circumstances that these estates will not be
completely forfeited until the beginning of the next year, and that no proper survey has been made which might
serve as a basis for a just and suitable division of the lands, it would have been a wiser arrangement, if the
plantations had been merely leased, on proper conditions, for a year. It was not desirable that they should be
cultivated any longer under government superintendents.
A general review of the results of the Port Royal enterprise, by one who has had good opportunities to observe
them, will appropriately conclude our remarks upon the condition of the Freedmen in the Department of the South.
" So far as the operations of this Department were intended as a trial of the capacity of the blacks for civilization, the
experiment has been entirely satisfactory. It has demonstrated beyond controversy that, under the usual
inducements of free labor, they will be industrious and efficient workers; that as owners of land, or conducting any
business on their own account, they exhibit a high degree of sagacity and prudence in the management of their
affairs ; that they, adults and children, are eager to learn to read and write, the children showing as much aptitude,
and learning as readily as the average of children in Northern schools ; that they can appreciate the better forms
of social life, and adopt them as fast as circumstances give them the opportunity and the means. In regard to the two
leading vices, besides indolence, attributed to the slaves, vices which were the inevitable fruits of their condition, —
lying and stealing, — the experience here is very gratifying, as well as generally
For the Philbrick Labor Experiment see:
Labor Experiment Feb 24, 1864
Wages April 16, 1864
Some information on Plantations that Freedmen purchased with their own money;
Ruben Tomlinson to J M McKim April 10, 1864
M. A. Wight Edgerly Plantation March 22, 1864
The Flood of Freedmen from General Sherman's March
After the arrival of General Sherman's army in Savannah hundreds of new freedmen each day entered the lines in
his Army's wake. These people mostly just started walking after his army had come through. No food, no clothing and
no shelter had been left behind by the army. General Saxton and others issued an appeal for assistance from the
north. (See General Saxton's Appeal , See National Freedman's Relief Appeal) Schools were opened in Savannah
on General Sherman's entrance. In December 500 pupils were entrooed. Ten African Americans were the first
teachers. This work was organized by the secretary of the American Tract Society, Boston. Two of the largest of the
schools were in "Bryan's slave mart," where selling of humans took place a few days before it was turned into a
What was done
On November 14, 1868 Jonathan Jasper Wright wrote a letter to the AMA stating what had been accomplished in
Beaufort. He closes his letter with: "I know that the hand of God is in his great work of elevating my people. I
thank him for the American Missionary Association, for their have not been in vain."
In the New England Freedmen's Record April, 1865 Report General Rufus Saxton is quoted: "So far as the
operations of this department were intended as a trail of the capacity of the blacks for civilization, the
experiment has been entirely satisfactory. It has demonstrated beyond controversy, that, under the usual
inducements of free labor, they will be industrious and efficient laborers."
On March 3, 1865 the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Refugees was created. Whatever lessons were
learned in Port Royal and throughout the rest of the south would hopefully become part of the Bureau in the
reconstruction of the south. The National Freedmen's Association would essentially collapse in a few years
after the war but the American Missionary Association would expand its mission sending throughout the
south. Then the AMA with the Freedmen's Bureau would create a series of institutions of higher learning
across the south some of which still exist today. (Go to History of the Freedmen's Bureau.)
Schools and Locations
Each society listed its own recruits and teacher and superintendents it supported in its own literature. This means
that a comprehensive picture of all the missionaries, teachers, superintendents is hard to create.
Charles P Ware from Milton Mass.
Port Royal Relief Society
The Port Royal Society would support Laura M. Towne. Her school would be called Penn School. She would start on
Pope's Plantation on St. Helena in 1862. Miss Towne would be the superintendent for all the Port Royal Schools on
St. Helena. (See chart of Port Royal Relief Society Teachers and Schools)
American Missionary Association
Lawton Place Hilton Head St. Helena Village
Miss A. A. Carter spring 1863 Miss E. S Williams spring 1863
Miss Martha L. Kellogg - spring 1863
Miss M. L. Kellogg - spring 1863
James A McCrea - spring 1863
Mr McClue - spring 1863
Rev. A. Root - spring 1863
Mrs. Mary F. Root - spring 1863
Schools of the National Freedmen's Association
(National Freedmen Vol II #7 July 1866)
Beadfortt, Port Royal Island, S. C.,) June 8, 1866. Dear Sir:—I propose to give you a full statement in relation to our
schools, in this the Beaufort District. I could have done so before, but waited, that the Monthly School Report for May
might accompany my letter—you will need it for reference.
Nine schools were in operation in May, there being employed fifteen (15) teachers, all Northern ladies. The number
of pupils registered was six hundred and forty-nine (649), the average attendance four hundred and fifty-three
(453). This is not large, but it averages thirty (30) pupils per day to each teacher, and that average I consider
enough for any teacher during May and June here.
There is an unavoidable and steady decrease in the attendance at every school after the middle of April, and the
schools continue small until October. Cotton is the crop in this district, on these islands, though some corn and
potatoes are raised. The crop is all gathered and the rush of work over on the plantations about the middle of
October. Then the children can and do attend school with little interruption, as well as many adults, until the following
Spring. March and most of April are occupied in getting the crops into the ground, and that is done without disturbing
the schools much. But as soon as cotton and corn are seen above ground the children are rapidly taken from their
books. Hoeing time has come, not only the main crop but the little garden patches must be kept free from weeds,
constantly worked—requiring the presence of every adult, except the decrepid, in the fields. Some of the children
must be made nurses, fences, and scare-crows; some have the care of the babes—these are "child-minders," others
"mind" cows and swine, keeping the hungry creatures out of the fields, and little ones from five to eight years old are
in the fields and gardens "minding" birds, keeping them from the corn, etc. So it is that the schools are so much
smaller than two months ago.
The oldest school of the Association hereabouts is at Edgerly. Miss Wight established this school in April, 1862, has
been its teacher ever since, save on one or two occasions, where her field of labor has been temporarily changed,
and she is still there. Edgerly is on this island, about nine miles from this place, accessible by land or by water (the
Beaufort River). It was formerly owned by one Philip Givens, was seized by United States Tax Commissioners, sold,
and purchased by the colored people now living upon it.
They, with the freed men on Union Point, near by, built last summer the house now used for the school. In the old "
Edgerly mansionhouse" one room has been set apart for the teacher. Adjoining is a small building, another room,
owned by the Association. There Miss Wight lives and labors most faithfully. No other white person lives within n. mile
of the place. Most of the (scanty) furniture was left by the Givens family, when they decamped, and is still subject to
the orders of the Treasury Agents. Miss Wight has a large school for one teacher, an average of fifty four (54.) It has
been eighty (80), and probably will be again. I think an assistant should be sent there in September.
At Ashdale a school was established in 1862, but by whom I am unable to tell, for want of records, which should have
been kept here. Aahdale is on Ladies' Island, east Bide three miles from the ferry landing on that island, just
opposite this town. The plantation was owned by a McKee, but is now the property of Col. H. F. Dutton, late of
Vermont. Miss Holden went there last January, and living in Mr. Dutton's family, has taught in his cotton-house, a
rough shed, 35 by 20 feet. There should have been two teachers; the school for three months averaged ninety (90);
was fifty (50) last month. Miss Holden was determined to attend to all who went to the school, sometimes held three
sessions, teaching often from seven to nine honrs, daily; worked too hard, so that on the 25th ult. I considered it best
to close the school, and Miss Holden is now here resting. I do not think it advisable to send another teacher there
this season, but Ashdale is an admirable location for a school, is the central point for an attendance from six large
plantations on Ladies' Island, and I hope the school there will be reopened with two teachers in September.
The schools of the Association in this town have been in operation four years, but have experienced so many
changes that the two now in session can hardly be recognized as the original one?. At present the Primary and
Grammar School, Mrs. Fogg, Principal, occupies a good building, used formerly as a Female Seminary, and the High
School, Miss Gilchrist, Principal, a still finer building, a college before the war. The former school averaged one
hundred and twenty (120) in May, the latter one hundred (100). This is a decrease of 25 per cent, from the winter
attendance, but there are still five schools, these teachers in each. The Association is fortunate in its selection of
Principals for these Beaufort schools. The buildings in which these schools now are have been held as "abandoned"
by the .Bureau, and assigned to us, but they will be released June 15th. Provision must be made for buildings for
next year On this subject I have made a full report, and the matter is now before the Executive Committee.
The school at "The Retreat" was established in 1863, though I do not know by whom it was done. The plantation is
on this island about west from town, distant six miles by the nearest road. It was the property of Rev. Ed S. Walker,
but is now owned by R. E. Graves & Co., of New York. Mr. H. A. Lane lives on the place, and cultivates it for Graves
& Co. Miss Perkins and Miss Harris are there; jeep house with Mr. Lane at the "mansion," nnd teach in the cotton-
house. They have a good school, tveraging from 45 to 50, and intend to continue it next year. I hope nothing will
prevent their doing so. Perryclear is on this island, a plantation beyond Edgerly, twelve (12) miles by land from town,
on Beaufort River. It was owned by a lady, from whom it derives its name, is now in the hands of Graves <fe Co., and
carried on by their agent, Mr. A. K. Lane. Miss Ford lives there, and teaches in the cotton-house, has a school
usually averaging 35. Perryclear is well situated to draw children from neighboring plantations, enough to make a
school of 75 to 100, and I think it will be well to send another teacher' there in the fall, and enlarge the school.
River View, on this island, fronting Broad River, was Ellis Place, but is now owned by Mr. R. K. Carleton, who lives
there. Mrs. Carleton has been teaching, usually at her house, since June, 1864, vacations excepted, but has never
had a large school, generally twenty-five (25).
The Rhet Place.
The Rhett Place is about a mile from River View, and eight (8) from Beaufort. We have there a school, which Miss
Fogg established in the fall of 1864. The plantation is in good hands still, leased on shares to the colored people.
There are no white people on the place, and our teachers, Miss Bacon and Miss Shoemaker, live at Mr. Carleton's,
River View and walk to and from their school. They teach in what was formerly the overseer's house. It is a good
school, has been well taught, but it has not, for several months, been large enough to justify keeping two teachers
there, and for that reason Miss Bacon resigned last month, and a few days ago sailed for New York.
On Distant Island, a little piece of Ladies' Island, cut off by the tides, has been Miss Gay's school, the only other one
under the auspices of the Association in this district. Distant Island is but a single plantation, owned by Mr. Kobinson,
in whose family Miss Gay has lived. The school has never been large enough to warrant continuing it, and as Mr.
Robinson needed the use of the building in which the school was tanght, I closed it on the 31st ult, and Miss Gay has
The June report will show an additional decrease in the attendance of most of the schools, and other changes.
There will be no schools at Distant Island and Ashdale to report. Miss Evans, who taught last month in Mrs. Fogg's
school, here in town, went home with Miss Bacon, and her place will this month be filled by Miss Holden. The seven
schools still in operation in my district are all on this island.
General Superintendents Appointed
On July 18, 1862 General Saxton appointed his General Superintendents: First Division: Mr. H. G. Judd (Port
Royal, Paris, Barnwell, Cat and Cane Islands with 29 teachers Second Division: Mr. Richard Soule Jr (St. Helena,
Ladies, Wassa, Coosaw, Dathaw, and Morgan Islands) with 23 teachers and Third Division: Rev. Thomas D.
Howard (Hilton Head and Pinckney Islands) with 3 teachers. Mr. Helper would be the superintendent for Fernandina
with four teachers. Rev. Brinkerhoff would be the superintendent for St. Augustine with 2 teachers.
Tax Commissioner Schools
St. Helena Island
Mrs. Adelaide Strong
Mrs. E. N. Gladding
For Freedmen Aid Societies information see Freedmen Aid Societies
For teachers after April 1865 see Assorted Teachers in Various Schools Later Dates by New England Branch
Freedmen's Union Commission, New York Freedmens Relief, American Missionary Association and others.
Teachers' Who Died in Service
Letters, Bulletins, Monthly Reports and Diaries
Report on Port Royal and the organization of the National Freedmen's Association, March 1862
Good Times A Coming - French to Whipple - March 18, 1862
Letter from Jas A. McCrea, May 12, 1862
Rev. D. B. Nichols, location unknown, June 1862
Mansfield French to Rev. Whipple Over Trip with robert Smalls, August 28, 1862
National Freedman Relief Association First Annual Report, February 19, 1863
C. C. Leigh's Report on Visit to Port Royal, April, 1863
Monthly Report, National Freedman Relief Association, May, 1863
Monthly Report, National Freedman's Relief Association, June, 1863
Report, National Freedman's Relief Association, July, August and September -1863
Rev. Charles Lowe, New England's Freedmen Aid, Dec 7, 1863
The Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin The Pennsylvania Freedmen's Aid Association - Eenben Tomlinson - 1864
Speech by R. Tomlinson, November, 1864
Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin - History of Port Royal Relief, February 1865
Letter Requesting Teachers for the 21 U. S. C. T. - August 28, 1865
St. Helena's Island including Penn Center
Diary of Laura M. Towne April 17, 1862
Diary of Laura M. Towne April 18, 1862
Letter by Laura M. Towne April 21, 1862
Diary of Laura M. Towne April 24, 1862
Diary of Charlotte Forten Grimke - Commission and Journey - Fall 1862
Letter from E. S. Williams to Mr. Jocelyn St. Helena's Island - December 18, 1862
Miss E. S. Williams, St. Helena Village, January 8, 1863
Miss E. S. Williams, St. Helena Village, April 26, 1863
Ned Loyd White, St. Helena Village, April 30, 1863
Letter from A. D. Milne to New England Freedmen's Aid Society - July 9, 1863
Resignation Letter Wm McClue Dr. Pope Plantation - February 15, 1864
Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin - Laura M Towne - December 11, 1864
Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin Letter of Ellen Murray - Feb 16, 1865
Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin - Laura M. Towne (1865-66 Report) - October, 1866
Letter from Rev. Mr. Fitch, Pinckney Island - May 8, 1862
James A. McCrea, Pickney Island, June 1862
Unknown Superintendent, Beaufort, June 1862
Letter from William McClue to Rev. Jocelyn Beaufort - November 18, 1862
National Freedmen's Relief Association from Mrs. M. L. Hayward, Dec. 5, 1862
Miss Mary Root, Beaufort, February 1, 1863
Rev. A. Root, Beaufort, March 6, 1863
James A McCrea, Beaufort, March 16, 1863
Report of the Misses Peck, March 31, 1863
Veranda School - Perryclear Plantation, May 1, 1863
Caroline Hayes - A Former Slave, May 20, 1863
Letter from A. P. Plimton to New England Freedmen's Aid from Ashdale Near Beaufort - August 8, 1863
Hospital at Beaufort - July, August or September 1863
Report of Rev. Charles Lowe to the Committee on Teachers - December 7, 1863
Report on Teachers in Beaufort Since Sherman's March - December 28, 1864
The Freedmen's Journal - James Blake - African Americans Following Sherman - Feb 11, 1865
James P Blake General Agent, Beaufort - Feb 19, 1865
Sarah Parker and Mira M. Fowler, March 31, 1863
Ella H. Ripley, Bythewood, April 29, 1863
Port Royal/Hilton Head
Miss Anna A. Carter, Lawton Place, Hilton Head, January 22, 1863
Miss Martha L. Kellogg, Hilton Head, Lawton Place, March 1863
Miss M. L. Kellogg, Hilton Head, April 16, 1863
Miss A. A. Carter, Lawton Place, Hilton Head, May 20, 1863
Letter from G. Pillsbury to New England Freedmen's Aid from Hilton Head - September 13, 1863
Recommendation Letter for Miss Barcolow - Jan 6, 1864
Mitchelville School Building - Hilton Head - June 20, 1864
Richardson to American Missionary Association Introduction for Rev Martendale - June 29, 1864
Letter from Caroline E. Jocelyn - Honey Plantation Hilton Head - July 20, 1864
The Freedmen's Record - A. F. Pillsbury - Mitchelville - September 24, 1864
W J Richardson Superintendent Concerns - October 19, 1864
The Freedmen's Record - James P. Blake - December 19, 1864
The Freedmen's Record - E. P. Breck - December 25, 1864
Story of the Schoolhouse in Mitchel, Hilton Head from The Freedmen's Journal January 1865
Pennsylvania Freedmen's Bulletin - School 4 - January 21, 1865
The Freedmen's Record - A. F. Pillsbury - Refugees from Sherman's march - March 7, 1865
National Freedman's Relief Association from Chloe Merrick, March 24, 1863
Letter to the National Freedman's Relief Association, April, 1863
Fernandina Schools (Florida), July, 1863
Start of Fernandina Asylum for Orphans August, 1863
National Freedman's Relief Association from Miss C. D. Connant, March 28, 1863
National Freedman's Relief Association from Julia M. Bartlett, April 30, 1863
The Freedmen's Journal - Dr. Esther Hill Hawks - Jacksonville - February 8, 1865
Savannah Slave Market School, January 1865
The Freedmen of Savannah, Savannah Education Association, January 1865
Richardson's Report on Creation of Savannah Education Association, January 2, 1865
Savannah Education Association, January 10, 1865
The Freedmen's Record - Freedmen in Georgia - February, 1865
The Freedmen's Journal - James Redpath - Charleston Schools - March 9, 1865
G. Pillsbury - Charleston - March 10, 1865
Teaching the 1st South Carolina (33rd USCT) - May 5, 1863
Monthly Report Beaufort Praise House - Hale - Feb 1864
Monthly Report Port Royal, Seabrook Plantation - Feb 1864
Monthly Report Beaufort Night School - Ellen M. Richardson - Feb 1864
Monthly Report Rice Park at Seabrook Plantation - George W. Tyson - March 1864
Monthly Report Gray Hill, Port Royal - Scoull - April 1864
Monthly Report Stoney Plantation Hilton Head - Eveleth - June 1864
Monthly Report Paris Island, Fuller Plantation - Baccalow - June 1864
Monthly Report Mitchelville High School, Port Royal - Twitchell - Nov 1864
Monthly Report of Penn School - Feb 1865
|General Rufus Saxton
|Port Royal Smith Plantation Church
|Charlotte Forten Grimke
Teacher St. Helena
|Jonathan Jasper Wright
|Frances Dana Gage
|Teachers at the Mission House in Beaufort
Miner, Harris, Armstrong, Cahoun, Colburn, H.C. Bullard, Mitchell, Jenners, King
|General Thomas Sherman
|Salmon P. Chase
Secretary of Treasury
|Commodore Samuel F. DuPont
|Dr. Esther Hill Hawks
Founder of American Red Cross
|Mary Smith Peake
Hampton University Museum Archives
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|Organization of National Freedman's Relief Port Royal Schools
Fall 1862 - Spring 1863
|Commission of W. O. King
Fortress Monroe by the American Missionary Association