The Civil War settled once and for all the questions of state sovereignty and slavery.
But the problems of reconstruction remained after Appomattox and with them the Armyâ€™s
involvement in southern affairs. The nation had to be put back together and the peace had to be won
or the sacrifices of a terrible war would have been in vain. The Army played a key role from the
beginning. As the Union Army moved into an area a series of Provost Marshalls and policing troops
were set up in areas where civil government wasnâ€™t around.
Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard was chosen in late 1865 to head the Bureau of Freedmen.
After Lincolnâ€™s death, President Andrew Johnson went ahead with his own Reconstruction plans.
He declared the Civil War formally at an end in April 1866, and liberally pardoned most former
Confederates upon their taking a loyalty oath and then permitted them to re-establish civil
government. Congress disagreed with the President
And then had the South put under military control. The Congress set forth the First Reconstruction
Acts of March 1867. This act set up five military districts in the South.
The commanders of these districts were major generals who reported directly to Washington.
Basically the Reconstruction forces were a separate army under the control of the Congress. During
this period, would see the rise of the Ku Klux Klan because of former slaves being put into uniform
to police the white South. Many of these units were killed by the Klan and it became a mission of the
Army to suppress the Klan. The black militia units were finally disbanded because of the opposition of
In April 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes ended the military occupation of the South.
The Armyâ€™s role in the South in the years 1865-1877 was without precedent in the United
States. During these days, Henry County would suffer from these wounds of the time. Many schools
were burned as well as churches by some underground freed slaves. The Klan here found them and
they were executed. The Military government overseeing the area did not like the situation and put a
firm cap on the area for some time.
1. American Military History, 1969.
2. Mother of Counties, Mrs. Rainer, 1971.