I have dedicated myself to learn something every day. My friend Allan Moore fulfilled this need with the following article. I hope y’all enjoy the story as much as I did.
A bit of info on the results of the Civil War. A little late, but still good to know information. It was said that a crow, flying across the land devastated by Sherman and his troops, would have to carry his own rations.
If you grew up in the South, then you can relate. I grew up with this belief but did not know the real reason. My mother always served black eyed peas on New Year’s Day, and she said it would bring good luck in the New Year. I’ve carried this tradition forward but never knew the reason behind it.
It became a way of remembrance for my mother and grandmother. “Black Eyed Peas: The Real Story,” is much more interesting and has gone untold in fear that feelings would be hurt. It is a story of war, the most brutal and bloody war in US history. Military might and power pushed upon civilians, women, children, and elderly. Never seen as a war crime, this was the policy of the greatest nation on earth trying to maintain that status at all costs. An unhealed wound remains in the hearts of some people of the southern states even today.
The story of THE BLACK EYED PEA being considered good luck relates directly back to Sherman’s Bloody March to the Sea in late 1864. It was called The Savannah Campaign and was led by Major General William T. Sherman. This campaign began on November 15, 1864 when Sherman’s troops marched from the captured city of Atlanta, Georgia and ended at the port of Savannah on December 22, 1864. When the smoke cleared, the Southerners who had survived the onslaught came out of hiding. They found that the blue-belly aggressors had looted and stolen everything of value, and everything you could eat, including all livestock was stolen or killed.
Death and destruction were everywhere. While in hiding, few had enough to eat, and starvation was now upon the survivors. There was no international aid, no Red Cross meal trucks. The Northern army had taken everything they could carry and eaten everything they could eat. But they couldn’t take it all.
The devastated people of the South found for some unknown reason that Sherman’s blood-thirsty troops had left silos full of black eyed peas. At the time in the north, the lowly black eyed pea was only used to feed livestock. The northern troops saw it as the thing of least value. Taking grain for their horses and livestock and other crops to feed themselves, they just couldn’t take everything. So they left the black eyed peas in great quantities, assuming it would be of no use to the survivors, since all the livestock it could feed had either been taken, eaten or killed. Southerners awoke to face a new year in this devastation and were facing massive starvation if not for the good luck of having the black eyed peas to eat.
From New Year’s Day 1865 forward, the tradition grew for true Southerners to eat black eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck. My family will be served black eyed peas on New Year’s Day because I was raised a true Southerner.
My family eats black eyed peas on New Year’s Day and several more times during the year. We all just like black eyed peas. C Brewer