Mary also remembers the days of the war, when they heard stories about being set free and prayed for their freedom. Then one day all the slaves were asked to come to the Grand House. Here they were told by the master and his wife that they were no longer slaves. They were now free. "The Yankees will soon be here." The two of them then brought their chairs to the front of the house on the porch and waited. In about an hour, the Yankees arrived and repeated: "You are now free." The slaves and Yankees ate and drank together in celebration, while the owners continued to "humbly" sit on the porch and watch. This story by Mary was indeed very different from the movies, such as "Gone with the Wind" with the fires and mayhem. It is actually as if the master and his wife were glad -- or at least resigned to the fact -- that their slave-owning days were over.
Ironically, Mary explains that somewhat later, the owners went around the area and found all their previous slaves and told them they could come back if they wanted. Mary and others in her family went back. Some even cried because they were hungry and no other place to go. This time, however, some things were different. Rather than going to church alone, now the slave and the white slave owners went to church together "until they died." Mary never explained what she did when coming back. It appears that they went back to their previous jobs on the plantation. But most of them went right back to calling them "Master" and "Misses" and "getting back home was the greatest pleasure of all" (18). As when all wars are over, people do whatever they can to survive.
Jacobs, Harriett. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. 26 November 2008. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/jacobs/hjhome.htm
Yetman, Norman. Voices from Slavery. Mineola, NY:…