Recovering Soldiers and Sojourners
In a report to Asst. Superintendent Asa Severance Fiske February 1863, A.M.A. (American Missionary Association) worker Lucinda Humphrey Hay provided a brief chronology of her involvement in instructing "the contrabands" between August of the previous year to the present, mostly, if not solely, in Memphis. In her account, she makes mention of a host of figures including the Rev. and Mrs.Jeremiah Porter, with whom she lived at Fort Pickering, Captain Jerry of the engineering department, who willingly outfitted her school at Camp Shiloh with appropriate equipment, the Rev. John Eaton, Jr., overseer of the entire operation of caring for freedmen in Tennessee and Arkansas (and later Mississippi). She refers to the group of divines--the chaplains--their wives, and the few helpful officers as her family. Within a matter of time, Capt. Henry S. Hay, like Eaton a member of the 63rd USCI (United States Colored Infantry), would also become part of this circle, on Christmas day of '63, marrying the teacher. Hay would in fact become a superintendent of contraband, a fact which, together with his leadership of the 63rd--one of the principal guard units in Memphis--points to the 63rd (and perhaps other black guard units) playing as central a role in the social programs of the contraband camps as white officers and missionaries. In various writings, Humphrey mentions the assistance of Levi, a captain in the black guard, whom she says has the confidence of his fellow blacks, and Uncle Jerry, a black minister apparently at Camp Shiloh. Without a doubt, numerous other yet unsung individuals joined in the work, and through the reading of written reports and recollections by camp personnel the deeds of these important actors and actresses are being recovered.