Today In History – January 16

January 16th, 1865, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman issued special field order number 15. This field order confiscated a strip of coastal land extending about thirty miles inland from the Atlantic Coast and stretching from Charleston, South Carolina, two hundred and forty-five miles south to Jacksonville, Florida. The order made this land into federal property. The land was then given mostly to emancipated peoples.

The field order was as follows…

“Special Field Orders No 15

Jan 16, 1865

Military Division of Mississippi

I The abandoned rice fields are
reserved and set apart for the settlement
of the negroes now made free

II No white present on the islands

III Respectable negroes will be given a [?]y
to establish a peaceable agricultural settlement
Shall have a plot not more than 40 Acres

IV When a negro has enlisted in the
military service he may locate his family
in any of the settlements at pleasure”[1]

[1] William Techumseh Sherman, January 16, 1865, Library of Congress,

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