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Coat of Major Samuel Willard Saxton (1829-1933)

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The United States government decided to follow a mostly hands-off policy toward the approximately three million freed slaves in the years immediately following the Civil War. The Freedmen's Bureau, created in 1865, was a limited exception to this policy. The Bureau, under Union General Oliver O. Howard, covered "all subjects relating to refugees and freedmen." Although it provided much-needed food and educational opportunities to former slaves, the Freedman's Bureau was a relatively weak, understaffed organization. It could do little to protect freedmen's rights during Southern Reconstruction (1865-1877). Major Samuel Willard Saxton (1829-1933) of Deerfield, Massachusetts, was one the soldiers General Howard retained to serve in the Freedmen's Bureau after the war. Saxton was named for Deerfield's anti-slavery minister Samuel Willard. He wore this uniform coat and these epaulettes in the 1880s.


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