Confederate Slave Impressment in the Upper South
Under policies instituted by the Confederacy, white Virginians and North Carolinians surrendered control over portions of their slave populations to state authorities, military officials, and the national government to defend their new nation. State and local officials cooperated with the Confederate War Department and Engineer Bureau, as well as individual generals, to ensure a supply of slave labor on fortifications. Using the implementation of this policy in the Upper South as a window into the workings of the Confederacy, Jaime Amanda Martinez provides a social and political history of slave impressment. She challenges the assumption that the conduct of the program, and the resistance it engendered, was an indication of weakness and highlights instead how the strong governments of the states contributed to the war effort.
According to Martinez, slave impressment, which mirrored Confederate governance as a whole, became increasingly centralized, demonstrating the efficacy of federalism within the CSA. She argues that the ability of local, state, and national governments to cooperate and enforce unpopular impressment laws indicates the overall strength of the Confederate government as it struggled to enforce its independence.
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adult male slaves agricultural Albemarle County Alfred April August Board of Slave Call for Slaves Capt clerk Confederacy Confederate army Confederate government Confederate officers Confederate soldiers Confederate war effort Congress county’s December Department Engineer Bureau Engineer Hospital engineer officers enslaved escape exemption farmers February fortifications free blacks Gilmer Governor Letcher Governor Smith Governor Vance hired impressed slaves impressment call impressment quotas James January Jeremy F JLEP John Letcher letters LSEB Lynchburg Magruder March ment military Munford negroes North Carolina November number of slaves October overseers owners percent planters pressment protested R. C. Gatlin received request requisitions for slave responsibility Richmond Rives Rockingham County sent September Slave Claims slave impressment slave labor slave population slaveholders slavery state’s Stevens tions Union army Vance’s Virginia and North Virginia General Assembly Walter H Whiting’s William H. C. Whiting William Smith Wilmington WSEP Zebulon Baird Vance