VICTIMS OF ATTRITION
Three types of persons became particularly unfortunate victims of the war: refugees, Negroes, and families of soldiers. As the war coursed through the South it turned thousands of Confederates into homeless wanderers. Union sympathizers might welcome the approach of enemy forces, but others found life under enemy occupation unthinkable and either fled their homes as Union troops approached or left soon after they had arrived. Often a family had to flee several times, and wherever they stopped they created problems for themselves and others. Friends and relatives who took them in soon found their generosity strained by the overcrowded home life and the rapidly dwindling food supply. The poorer refugees often became problems to the law and even to the military authorities. Confederate home front morale suffered as a consequence.
The Census of 1860 showed North Carolina to have approximately 30,000 free Negroes and 331,000 slaves, the large majority of both being concentrated in the eastern and northern counties. Between 1835 and 1860 most of the state's liberal treatment of its Negroes had vanished, and when war came the increased fear of Negro insurrection provoked even tighter controls. In 1861 the legislature ordered a mandatory death sentence for encouraging discontent among slaves and free Negroes. When the legislature refused to enact other controls, municipalities did so by means of local ordinances. Part of their overall intent was to reduce the number of free Negroes, to prevent them from associating with slaves, and to control them by means of permits, licenses, curfews, and hiring them out for minor infractions of the law. The intent of the city ordinances regarding slaves was to restrict even further their mobility while living and working. The effectiveness of these laws and ordinances is indicated by the fact that government authorities did with all Blacks about whatever they wished and there was no insurrection.
Negro labor prevented the economic collapse of the Confederacy, and both state and nation used it ruthlessly. On 19 December 1862 the legislature authorized the Governor to impress any number of slaves that were needed for work on fortifications and other defense projects. To