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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

May 09, 1862

Order to Free Slaves

Union General David Hunter, who had commanded the attack on Fort Pulaski, issued a general order which freed the slaves of Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.

“The three States of Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, comprising the military department of the south, having deliberately declared themselves no longer under the protection of the United States of America, and having taken up arms against the said United States, it becomes a military necessity to declare them under martial law. This was accordingly done on the 25th day of April, 1862. Slavery and martial law in a free country are altogether incompatible; the persons in these three States Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina heretofore held as slaves, are therefore declared forever free.”

However, President Abraham Lincoln, concerned that the order might prompt border states to join the Confederacy, would countermand the order ten days later.