The anguish brought by the total devastation of the lowlands of Rapides Parish was only matched by the justifiable fears of taxes imposed as penalties by the United States; plans to confiscate the land; the disenfranchisement of white men in the plantation areas and in the hill country who were involved in the Civil War; the total loss of value to Confederate money and investment in Confederate bonds: and the complete frustration in land grown up in switch canes; in worn out farm equipment, lack of fences, poor and insufficient livestock for minimum work, fences gone or in disrepair, frequently the loss of the family home and everything in it during wartime raids and invasions, often the loss of barns and outhouses, and, finally and most critical, the loss of credit or sources of credit, and the loss of a labor supply which made any plans impossible.
After the first stunned reaction to defeat, Rapides planters and farmers, fewer for those killed and disabled, slowly began to stand at solving the problems facing them all. They started the painful process of rebuilding. Gradually, life assumed a new pattern.
Black males were enfranchised -- and white males were threatened with no voice at all in the government. In the face of what seemed an unbearable situation to them, the white males formulated resistance plans. In the position these men were placed by war and the conflicting ideologies between the sections with loss of control of local government, they became known, appropriately, as The Redeemers . It was as though they wished to redeem the lifestyle of before the Civil War. And, pressed in their hostility to the new order imposed by the conquerors, the Redeemers did, indeed, appear to be trying to turn the clock back.
Some joined the Ku-Klux-Klan. Some joined the Knights of the White Camelia. Some eligible white males would not go to the polls to register to vote with Freedmen's Bureau registrants who were often blacks. Black males, urged by the Freedmen's Bureau, voted, and the flack freedmen and women tried to work out an acceptable pattern for living in the new order.
Sharecropping arrangements were made between the black farm workers and the white planters so the black furnished his labor in exchange for shelter, and a chance to raise foodstuffs, as well as make a money crop. A share, depending upon whether or not the laborer furnished his work stock, ran from a quarter to half shares. The sharecroppers included both white croppers and black planters to a small degree.
One of the many devastating but not so visible aspects of the war's results was the broken spirit of the white males, and now they were often left with physical problems occurring from the war, freed slaves, and political impotence.
White males who had assumed the roles of patriarchs in society before the war were all but destroyed in a world so totally changed for them. They were accustomed to unquestioned obedience from slaves, hired help, wives, and children. Gradually, the Redeemers, uniting in a coalition with others, gradually became strong enough, until the year 1900, the Republican Party was eliminated for what would become many years.
Next - The Bourbons, 1900-1928
Back to Index