Sherman's Special Field Orders, No. 15
Special Field Orders, No. 15 were military orders issued during the American Civil War, on January 16, 1865, by General William Tecumseh Sherman, commander of the Military Division of the Mississippi of the United States Army. They provided for the confiscation of 400,000 acres (1,600 km2) of land along the Atlantic coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida and the dividing of it into 40 acres (0.16 km2) parcels, on which were to be settled approximately 18,000 freed slave families and other Blacks then living in the area.
The orders were issued following Sherman's March to the Sea. They were intended to address the immediate problem of dealing with the tens of thousands of black refugees who had joined Sherman's march in search of protection and sustenance, and "to assure the harmony of action in the area of operations". His intention was for the order to be a temporary measure to address a immediate problem, and not to grant permanent ownership of the land to the freedmen, although most of the recipients assumed otherwise. General Sherman issued his orders four days after meeting in Savannah, Georgia with twenty local black ministers and lay leaders and with U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. Brig. Gen. Rufus Saxton, an abolitionist from Massachusetts who had previously organized the recruitment of black soldiers for the Union Army, was put in charge of implementing the orders.
- Order by the Commander of the Military Division of the Mississippi
- "HARMONY OF ACTION" - SHERMAN AS AN ARMY GROUP COMMANDER
- Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, Harper and Row, 1988, p.70
- Buescher, John. "Forty Acres and a Mule." Teachinghistory.org. Accessed 12 July 2011.