Slavery & Stereotypes in Confederate Arkansas

Charlie Rigger, talking about harsh treatment of slaves by Union soldiers in Arkansas.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I have had many irons in the fire but today some Facebook memories popped up in my notifications and I thought they were worth sharing. A result of some research I had been doing a few years back, the information dealt with the harsh treatment of slaves by Union soldiers in Confederate Arkansas. Most of us were taught that the Civil War (War of Northern Aggression, War Between the States etc) was a noble endeavor to free the slaves from bondage in the South. However, a review of the facts reveals that Northern attitudes toward race did not reflect the humanitarian propaganda being distributed from Washington, D.C.

From The Slave Narratives, Volume 2, Part 6, page 40. Interview with former slave Charlie Rigger talking about treatment they received from the Yankees:

“I recollect the soldiers come by in July, 1863 or 1864 and back in December. I heard talk so long ‘fore they got there , I knowed who they was. They took my oldest brother. He didn’t want to go. We never heard from him. He never came back. My white master hid out. He didn’t go to war. One son went and came back. It was the Yankees made my oldest brother go. The first crowd in July swapped their wore-out scrub stock for our good stock. The second crowd cleaned them out, took our hogs. Miss Betty had died ‘fore they come in July. That second crowd come in December. They cleaned out everything to eat and wear. They set the house ‘fire several times with paper and coal oil (kerosene). It went out every time. One told the captain. He come up behind. It went out every time. He said, “Let’s move on.” They left it clean and bare. We didn’t like them.”

From the Slave Narratives, Arkansas, Vol. 2 pg. 33. Interview with former slave Shepherd Rhone, Pine Bluff , Arkansas:

“I know when the Yankees come I run from em. When peace declared, the Yankees come all through our house and took everything they could get ahold of to eat. The only reason the Yankees whipped the South is they starved em.”

From the Arkansas Slave Narratives, interview with former slave Josephine Ann Barnett of Devalls Bluff , Arkansas:

“The slaves hated the Yankees. They treated them mean. They was having a big time. They didn’t like the slaves. They steal from the slaves too. Some poor folks didn’t have slaves.”

Clint Lacy– is author of Blood in the Ozarks: Expanded Second Edition


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