JF Ptak Science Books Post 2248
The "Port Royal Experiment" established in 1862 by the Union Army at Mitchelville, Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, South Carolina for freed slaves was certainly a very interesting and perhaps life-saving idea for many freed slaves. Well, the "freed" slaves weren't really that--they escapes their servitude when the Union Army took control of Hilton Head and surrounding areas early in the war on November 8, 1861. The island became a staging area for Union forces and was fortified--it also attracted the attention of escaped slaves,m who by 1862 had sought a form of asylum there, numbering around 600. They were not exactly welcomed to the island, as there were prejudices against African Americans in the Union ranks as well--in fact some needed protection as the lower low-lifes among the Northern ranks stole from the escaped slaves what little they had. In any event, it was a difficult situation, with no clear way of dealing with the new ex-slave population from a legal.administrative point of view. These ex-slaves were considered as 'contraband" of war, and my early 1862--on Hilton Head at least--the solution was found in establishing a town for them.
The town was created by and named for Kentuckian and Major General Ormsby M. Mitchel--he wouldn't survive the year, dying of yellow fever in Beaufort S.C., and then buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn (and as it turns out his marker is not far from my mother's mother's family. Furthermore he is the O.M. Mitchel I know from the history of astronomy, his life before the military and before his country needed him. He wound up at the troubled Albany observatory right before leaving for the war).
Mitchelville was necessary and perhaps it was even sufficient for the time--certainly it had its share of trouble during the war, and then with ownership of land issues after the war, and so on.
What struck me about this map was the placement of Mitchelville.
It was mostly surrounded by poop.
Situated on a cotton field--some of the slaves who lived there used to work those same fields for the land owner who directed the Confederate unsuccessful defense of the island--the town had a huge swamp to its south, with a 'government corall" just west of that; the northern boundary of the town was a large "government cattle yard", and the to the west was a fort and horse coral. And then to he east was the ocean. Hot, swampy, and mostly surrounded by cows and horses, the town doesn't look particularly appetizing. On the other much larger hand, the people living there were no longer slaves.