A Year in the South: 1865: The True Story of Four Ordinary People Who Lived Through the Most Tumultuous Twelve Months in American History

Overview

A slave determined to gain freedom, a widow battling poverty and despair, a man of God grappling with spiritual and worldly troubles, and a former Confederate soldier seeking a new life. They lived in the South during 1865 — a year that saw war, disunion, and slavery give way to peace, reconstruction, and emancipation.

Between January and December 1865, these four people witnessed, from very different vantage points, the death of the Old South and the birth of the New South. ...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$9.66
BN.com price
(Save 30%)$13.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (19) from $1.99   
  • New (7) from $7.93   
  • Used (12) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

A slave determined to gain freedom, a widow battling poverty and despair, a man of God grappling with spiritual and worldly troubles, and a former Confederate soldier seeking a new life. They lived in the South during 1865 — a year that saw war, disunion, and slavery give way to peace, reconstruction, and emancipation.

Between January and December 1865, these four people witnessed, from very different vantage points, the death of the Old South and the birth of the New South. Civil War historian Stephen V. Ash reconstructs their daily lives, their fears and hopes, and their frustrations and triumphs in vivid detail — telling a dramatic story of real people in a time of great upheaval and offering a fresh perspective on a pivotal moment in history.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060582487
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/11/2004
  • Series: Harper Perennial
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 344,304
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen V. Ash is Professor of History at the University of Tennessee. He is the author of several books on the Civil War, including When the Yankees Came: Conflict and Chaos in the Occupied South. He lives with his wife in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
List of Illustrations xi
Preface xiii
Prologue: Four Southerners 1
Part 1 Winter
Louis Hughes 19
Cornelia McDonald 29
John Robertson 47
Samuel Agnew 61
Part 2 Spring
Samuel Agnew 75
John Robertson 87
Cornelia McDonald 97
Louis Hughes 109
Part 3 Summer
Louis Hughes 127
Samuel Agnew 143
Cornelia McDonald 157
John Robertson 171
Part 4 Fall and Another Winter
John Robertson 183
Cornelia McDonald 197
Louis Hughes 209
Samuel Agnew 219
Epilogue: 1866 and Beyond 235
List of Abbreviations 245
Notes 247
Bibliography 277
Index 285
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

A Year in the South: 1865
The True Story of Four Ordinary People Who Lived Through the Most Tumultuous Twelve Months in American History

Chapter One

Louis Hughes

South Alabamians sometimes call it simply the bigbee. It is a short name for a long river that rolls lazily, with many twists and turns, southward from the heart of the state to Mobile on the Gulf coast. In early 1865 the Tombigbee was high and busy with steamboats. They chugged up and down the river between Deinopohs and Mobile, stopping at landings here and there to load or unload. Bales of cotton and piles of Osnaburg sacks crowded the decks of many of the hosts. The sacks held the more precious cargo: they were filled with salt.

Many of the sacks were marked "Alabama." These were loaded aboard as a stop on the east bank of the river in Clarke County, some sixty miles north of Mobile. A road led inland from the landing there, and a short distance up that road lay the Alabama state saltworks. It was a sprawling little settlement centered around a large wooden building with a veranda. This building was the headquarters, in which Louis Hughes lived and worked.

Lou, as he was used to being called, had stepped easily into his new situation when he came to the works in 1863. A well-trained butler was a prized and useful servant, and thus Lou was immediately singled out from the other leased slaves and set to work in that role. He did a good job and became a favorite of the state salt commissioner, Benjamin Wooleey, whose office was in the headquarters. Moulds, Lou's wife, was pus to work as a cook. She, too, woo the comnaissiooer's approval; her bread and rolls, he said, were as good as any he had ever tasted. Woolsey, a lawyer and planter by profession, had at one none offered to buy Lou and Mafilda for three thousand dollars, but Boss had turned him down.

Boss was dead now, of course. January 1, 1865, was the first anniversary of his death. His sudden passing had shocked has family and slaves but suited in no immediate changes for Lou and Matilda. They and the other MeGehee slaves stayed on at the saltworks by order of Madam, Boss's widow, who remained at her father's plantation in Mississippi.

There were many slaves at the works in early 1865, perhaps 200 or more. Their muscle and swear and skills powered an extensive manufacturing operation. It was a scene of almost constant activity, for there were all sorts of tasks to be done and the Confederacy's salt famine generated a sense of urgency. Slave men slid most of the heavy labor -- boring wells, rending pumps and furnaces, chopping and hauling wood, making bricks, building levee sacking and weighing and loading the salt. The slave women cooked and did laundry and other chores with the help of the older children. Whites did the other jobs: among the two dozen or so employed at the works, besides the salt commissioner, were a superintendent, a clerk, a bookkeeper, a commissary manager, a doctor, a wagon master, two steam-engine operators, several artisans, and a number of overseers.

The saltworks was not just a manufacturing operation but a community, and a largely self-sustaining one. All the people who worked there lived on the site. Most of the slaves resided in barracks or cabins that were space ready along a sneer. The whites had separate residences or took rooms up stairs at the headquarters. Like any respectable Southern village, the works had a smithy, a cooperage, a a shoemaking shop, a carpentry shop, a sawmill, gristmill, and a cemetery. It also boasted a hospital, a commissary, a sac making shop, a storehouse, and at least one kitchen. The works produced no gram or meat (these were purchased from outside sources), but it had a a dairy and a seven-acre vegetable garden that helped feed the whole community.

Like any village, too, the works had its own economy, an informal system of borrowing and bartering, swapping and selling. Slaves as well as whites engaged in this casual commerce and Lou Hughes was one of those clever enough to make money from it. The story he tells about this in his memoir illustrates one of the curious things about the Old South: how the rigid laws and protocols of slavery and race relations were sometimes ignored in the intimacy of communal life.

As Lou tells it, one day in the early part of 1865 he approached the superintendent of the works, N. S. Brooks, about getting some tobacco. He had a hundred dollars he had borrowed from three other slaves; they had earned it doing extra chores at the works in their free time. Lou wanted this tobacco not to smoke but to resell. Brooks liked Lou and was happy to do him a favor, so he took the money and dispatched an order by boat to a merchant in Mobile. Four days later a package containing thirty-six plugs of tobacco arrived. Brooks turned it over to Lou, who, after finishing his morning duties at headquarters, set out to peddle the plugs among the black laborers at the works. Within an hour he had sold every plug at five dollars apiece, for a profit of eighty dollars. Later, as Lou was serving the noon meal in the headquarters' dining room, Brooks asked him how he had done with the tobacco.

"I did very well," Lou replied. "[T]he only trouble was I did not, have enough."

Brooks questioned him a little more, then drew out pencil and paper at did some figuring. His own salary was a meager $150 a month in rapidly depreciating Confederate money. After the meal, while Lou was clearing the table, Brooks came in from the veransla where he had been smoking with the clerk and made a proposition: he would order all the tobacco Lou could sell if Lou would split the profit with him fifty-fifty. Lou agreed.

A Year in the South: 1865
The True Story of Four Ordinary People Who Lived Through the Most Tumultuous Twelve Months in American History
. Copyright © by Stephen Ash. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)