GENERAL WILLIAM T SHERMAN T-Shirt
Though he came to disapprove of chattel slavery, Sherman was not an abolitionist before the war, and like many of his time and background, he did not believe in "Negro equality."His military campaigns of 1864 and 1865 freed many slaves, who greeted him "as a second Moses or Aaron" and joined his marches through Georgia and the Carolinas by the tens of thousands. The precarious living conditions and uncertain future of the freed slaves quickly became a pressing issue. On January 12, 1865, Sherman met in Savannah with Secretary of War Stanton and with twenty local black leaders. After Sherman's departure, Garrison Frazier, a Baptist minister, declared in response to an inquiry about the feelings of the black community that We looked upon General Sherman, prior to his arrival, as a man, in the providence of God, specially set apart to accomplish this work, and we unanimously felt inexpressible gratitude to him, looking upon him as a man that should be honored for the faithful performance of his duty. Some of us called upon him immediately upon his arrival, and it is probable he did not meet [Secretary Stanton] with more courtesy than he met us. His conduct and deportment toward us characterized him as a friend and a gentleman. Four days later, Sherman issued his Special Field Orders, No. 15. The orders provided for the settlement of 40,000 freed slaves and black refugees on land expropriated from white landowners in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Sherman appointed Brig. Gen. Rufus Saxton, an abolitionist from Massachusetts who had previously directed the recruitment of black soldiers, to implement that plan. Those orders, which became the basis of the claim that the Union government had promised freed slaves "40 acres and a mule," were revoked later that year by President Andrew Johnson.