Monday, July 8, 2013

Carried Off . . . by the Rebels

Information wanted ads posted by those recently freed from slavery and attempting to reunite their families were not unusual to find after the Civil War. The institution of slavery dispersed individual parts of family units so effectively that casting as wide of net as possible was often the best means thought possible to locate a lost loved one. Usually those seeking displaced family members with notices mentioned that their relatives had been sold or had run away. But, as this advertisement shows, family members were sometimes also literally kidnapped by soldiers of the contending armies.

Soldiers of Confederate raiders such as John Hunt Morgan, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and scores of individual guerrillas snatched up both free and enslaved African Americans to work for the soldiers as cooks, teamsters, and body servants, or to labor in Southern hospitals, fields, and factories. Union troops, too, sometimes impressed slaves and freedmen into labor duties, or when allowed to enlisted, forced them into the army. Without much exerciseable power these people were often at the mercy of their captors - blue or gray. However, just like the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters of Union and Confederate soldiers who worried about the safety and whereabouts of their men at arms, slave family members,too, - as this advertisement proves - longed to learn the fate and location of their kin.

From the Louisville Weekly Journal, August 15, 1865.


  1. These are really jewels of ads that you manage to find. And I know how time consuming it is to peruse these old newspapers--kudos to you.

  2. Thanks! My hope is that one of these will turn out to be someone's relative that they can connect with.