The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #7873   Message #1961459
Posted By: GUEST,Pete Peterson
08-Feb-07 - 02:38 PM
Thread Name: Mary don't you weep--meaning
Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
May 1861. War just starting and Gen'l Ben Butler in command down near Fortress Monroe in southeastern VA. Three escaped slaves made it into Union lines. Their owner, under flag of truce, asked for the return of his property. Butler told him that the property in question (remember this is a year and a half before the Emancipation Proclamation) was helping the Cofederate cause, and therefore was being seized as contraband of war. Word spread quickly and escaped slaves were then, thenceforward (but not quite forever) known as "contrabands"