Enslaved Louisianians responded just as dramatically to the city's capture by the Federal army. Thousands fled to New Orleans seeking sanctuary from slavery. Hope of freedom soon gave way to frustration and anger, however, when U.S. General Benjamin F. Butler attempted to maintain order by keeping slavery and plantations intact. When General Butler proposed to leave black Louisianians "subject to the ordinary laws of the community," African Americans fought reenslavement. Violence erupted when black refugees attempted to force their way into occupied New Orleans.
Braving hunger, disease, homelessness and violence, countless men, women and children evaded Federal soldiers and entered the city. A prominent white Creole and a close personal friend of the Grima family, Polyxene Reynes, described the turmoil of a "horribly hot" New Orleans summer when "thousands of runaway negroes . . . are crowding by 15 and 20 into each little room. The Faubourg Tremé is their refuge."
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