A letter written in December 1864 by Captain Thomas B. Reed, commanding Company G, 9th Missouri State Militia Cavalry, to Colonel E. B. Alexander, at St. Louis, Missouri, in which Reed provides a list of freed slaves (contraband) from April 8, 1864, their owners and the dates the ex-slaves enlisted in the Union army.
Throughout history goods and property seized during conflicts have been considered contraband; the Civil War was unique because the assets that were considered contraband often included human beings. With Lincoln issuing the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, it solved the problem of contraband slaves. The First and Second Confiscation Acts effectively freed slaves in rebelling states, pursuant to proving their masters were rebels. The Emancipation Proclamation, on the other hand, freed slaves in areas of rebellion under Lincolnâ€™s right to seize enemy property, so it was not necessary to prove that an individual master was a rebel.
Image Courtesy Wilsonâ€™s Creek National Battlefield; WICR 32519