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An Account of the Destruction of the Forks of the Highway Slave Market

In honor of Juneteenth, that is an account of the Destruction of the Forks of the Highway Slave Market in Natchez, Mississippi by the US Coloured Troops organized in Mississippi in 1863. This letter appeared within the Milwaukee Each day Sentinel:
“February 17, 1864
Letter from Natchez
Correspondent of the Sentinel,
Natchez, Miss., Jan. 25, 1864. 
Expensive Sentinel: — Nonetheless farther down the mighty Father of Waters, and from a distinct department of the service than previously, do I now write you.
Thomas James advert from the Natchez Gazette, Nov 16, 1850.
Concerning the center of August final, Adjutant Basic Thomas, in the middle of his mission within the West, arrived at this place and approved Capt. Smith of the 14th Wisconsin to boost a negro regiment instantly. Two males thought-about most worthy of promotion have been taken from every regiment of the Fourth Division and Ransom’s brigade, and after a inflexible examination commissioned as line officers.
From the Forks of the Highway Slave Market exhibit taken throughout our Folks’s of the Decrease Mississippi Valley Tour.
Thus located all arms went to work filled with vitality and willpower, and ten days after Gen. Thomas had given authority to boost the regiment we had the group full, officers and males mustered into the US service. Whereas recruiting, our little band of officers made some perilous scouts by means of the nation, our arms have been in nice demand and wanted with as a lot zeal in a small method as Gen. Butler’s was on a bigger scale by the accomplice chiefs. Very liberal rewards have been supplied for the supply—useless or in any other case—of any officer belonging to this regiment. So that you see we have been marked males from the start. I’ve been knowledgeable that the rebels have pictures of all of the officers of this regiment who’ve had their pictures taken on this metropolis. Good topics to grace accomplice albums.
John O’Ferrall advert, dated Jan 30. 1856 from Feb 17, 1857 newspaper.
For a few weeks we drilled, making commendable progress contemplating that these males have been recent from the cotton fields and plantations, a lot of whom by no means had a gun of their arms. Ignorant, dirt-begrimed, and perpetually denied say of the rights or qualities of manhood. The advance was obvious to essentially the most informal observer. Erect, self-reliant, within the proud consciousness of a newly acquired existence, the daybreak of liberty to the race. It was actually affecting to see them rush to the ranks, desperate to grow to be environment friendly troopers, attentive to directions, obedient to all commends, their complete minds bent on the only real process of qualifying themselves to avenge their wrongs and battle for the federal government that had given them freedom and safety. However our time for drill and self-discipline was of brief length.
View from the highest of Forks of the Highway going through north these are the roads on which vacationers entered the Metropolis of Natchez from the north. They might have handed proper by the enslaved market.
Our first quarters have been in a protracted vary of barracks used for quite a lot of years as slave pens. Very lots of the males composing the regiment had been bought in them; introduced from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and different slave States, in giant gangs ironed, they have been positioned in these dungeons till a sale might be affected. These constructing have been located in [the] outskirts of town and owned by an Irishman O’Ferrall, the worst of secessionists [sic] in the entire nation. Because the place was very a lot uncovered, we have been ordered to assemble barracks throughout the fortifications and to tear down these slave pens to acquire lumber to construct them. This order was acquired simply at night and was hailed with the wildest enthusiasm by these males who had been chained, gagged and whipped, and suffered tortures unutterable inside these similar partitions, and thru that lengthy evening they labored with a horrible earnestness and the morning solar noticed the slave pens of Natchez leveled to the bottom, by no means, it’s hoped, to be once more reconstructed. Throughout this work many an exciting memory was recalled of the cruelty of merchants, of unhappy partings of husband and spouse, of inhuman fathers promoting their very own youngsters, and a thousand different incidents illustrating the detestable stats[sic] of society on the South.
The Medical Inspector of the 17th Military Corps has examined our newly made camp and pronounces it not equaled at this put up for cleanliness and the great thing about its grounds.”
The portion of Forks of the Highway Slave Market just lately contracted by The Conservancy is alongside tree line within the background.
There may be an effort underway involving The Metropolis of Natchez, The Nationwide Park Service, The Nationwide Park Basis, The Belief for Public Land, and The Archaeological Conservancy to amass land for a everlasting interpretive memorial at Forks of the Highway Slave Market in Natchez, Mississippi. Final 12 months, the Conservancy contracted for a portion of the land that is called O’Farrell tract. We have now since assigned the contract to the Nationwide Park Service, which is able to shut on the property quickly. This may add one other tract to these already donated by the Metropolis of Natchez. Further land should be acquired to ensure that the Nationwide Park Service to start planning its latest and most transferring unit of the Natchez Nationwide Historic Park.    


| The Archaeological Conservancy 2022


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