James McCrea Report from Beaufort, S. C. March 16, 1863 American Missionary
Notes: James A. McCrea would teach, preach and supervise during his time in the Sea Islands. He has extensive correspondence both his and about him.
There are two points of interest in this report. Notice the language "An intelligent contraband"
1. It's a matter of condescension to use the word "intelligent". So much of the time the Sea islanders were portrayed as not smart. When the St. Augustine and Florida volunteers arrived they were so much "smarter" than the Sea islanders. The language barrier may have had something to do with these characterizations. The Sea islanders had been isolated for years and had developed their own language which was a mixture of African and English (called Creole English or Geechee.) It was a mixture of Mandinka, Wolof, Bambara, Fula, Mende, Vai, Akan, Ewe, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Kongo, Umbundu and Kimbundu. The Gullah language is still heard today throughout the language. The Floridans including the St. Augustinians had more contact with the white population with their labor in hotels, etc.
2. The term contraband was first coined by General Butler to describe the slaves who ran to union lines. They were not returned but put to work within the union lines. The new term coined before the start of the Port Royal Experiment was "freedmen." This term went a long way to remove the stigma of being a piece of property (for either side.) In the beginning however their legal status was not "free," but on January 1st they were free under President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.