The Freedmen's Bureau and Reconstruction: Reconsiderations

By Paul A. Cimbala; Randall M. Miller | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION
The Freedmen's Bureau and
Reconstruction:
An Overview

Randall M. Miller

In December 1865, Private Calvin Holly, a black Union soldier detailed to the Mississippi branch of the Freedmen's Bureau, wrote to General Oliver O. Howard, head of the Bureau in Washington, describing conditions in postwar Mississippi. Blacks there, he reported, were "in a great many ways being outraged upon beyound humanity." Women and children were having their houses "tourn down from over the"ir" heads," two black women were found dead along the Jackson road with their throats slit, a church was burned, and "The Rebbles are going a bout in many places through the State and robbing the colered pe"o"ple of arms money and all they have and in many places killing." Private Holly then advised the general that "the safety of this country depenes upon giving the Colered man all the rights of a white man, and especialy the Rebs, and let him know that their is power enough in the arm of the Government to give Justice, to all her loyal citizens." The Union must put down the rebel spirit still alive in Mississippi, he argued, or risk losing the war during the peace. Holly concluded by urging Howard and friends of the Union in Congress to pass "some laws that will give protection to the colered man and meet out Justice to traters in arms." More to the point, he instructed Howard: "now if you have any true harted men send them down here to carrie out your wishes through the bureau in regaurde to the freedmen." Failing that, "get Congress to

-xiii-

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