Monday, June 24, 2013

A Fishy Advertisement?

Something about the above advertisement, which was printed in the May 10, 1864, issue of the Louisville Weekly Journal, seems a bit fishy to me.

The agent who placed it, James P. Flint, states that the purpose of his position is "to ascertain the number of slaves that are in the military service of the United States, belonging to loyal owners of the State, and to procure proper vouchers for said slaves, so that the owner may be enabled to get compensation therefor."

The date of the placement of the notice coincides with the recent beginnings of African American recruitment in Kentucky. The main reason black recruitment was finally allowed in the Commonwealth was because the state's draft quota was not being filled with white soldiers.

Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but is it possible that Governor Bramlette hired Flint with the authority to appoint others to canvas the owners of the Bluegrass state to find out how many slaves they had lost the U.S. army and thus count them toward them state's quota?

A significant number of Kentucky slaves had fled the state and enlisted in other states such as Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and even the famous 54th and 55th Massachusetts Infantry regiments. Certainly Bramlette knew this. But was the desire to find out the number of slaves fighting for the Union from Kentucky worth the cost it would take to get this information? Surely Flint and those he was authorized to appoint to take this census were not going to work for free?

Compensation for Border State slaves had been offered and soundly rejected two years earlier. Was the Federal Government seriously going to pay owners now that it was quite clear slavery was on its last legs? I wouldn't think so. I also highly doubt that the state of Kentucky was going to compensate its numerous owners.

Color me curious. I am going to have to dig into this issue a little deeper.


  1. Hey Tim,
    This was legit--the Slave Claims Commission was formed in 1864 to compensate loyal slave owners ofor their slave's enlistment. Kentucky was one of the included states. Read more about it here:

  2. Thanks for the link! I will see if I can get a copy of that. It would be very interesting to peruse. However, I still wonder if there weren't hidden ulterior motives in attempting this type of census, as to my knowledge there was never any monetary compensation made to owners.