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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Speculating on Confederate land

As I mentioned in my post about the Baldknobbers vigilante group in the Ozarks, when Confederate veterans returned home, many found their land had been confiscated for failure to pay taxes during the war and was now occupied by Union men.

Speculation in land skyrocketed in Missouri and many border and Southern states after the war as monied Northerners hurried in to grab cheap plots. One of the was Daniel Fogle, who in a letter from 1867 observed that he couldn't even get off the train without being offered land for sale, "There are a great many that are thronging the railroad stations, exceedingly anxious to sell lands."

The best deals were to be had from county governments, who had seized rebel farms when the taxes weren't paid. Fogle reported, "These lands sell for near nothing--but it is considered very hazardous to buy and occupy them as they mostly belong to men who went into the Southern army and dare not return, and there is a large band of them sworn together, and unknown to authorities, who will and do kill every man who attempts to occupy their former homes."

The enduring bitterness of displaced and disenfranchised Southerners led to many outlaw groups (often made up of former bushwhackers) and well as larger organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan. The legacy of the war continued long after the last battle was over.


  1. Would've been risky to buy any of those lands. Good way to wind up dead when the former owner took revenge.

  2. I think I'd be inspired to murder if I came back from war and found someone else living on my land.

  3. Carpetbaggers - isn't that what they were called? A shoddy way of treating your fellow citizens (i.e., to the victor goes the spoils)

    Allowing this type of land speculation probably engendered many ill side effects. Desperate men will take desperate tactics.

    War - what is it good for, except to promote someone's agenda? Interesting post about the darker side of the south.


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