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“As Federal troops pushed up the Peninsula toward Richmond in May 1862, discipline and loyalty among slaves for their masters began to erode. First a dozen fled to Union lines, while the remainder at one plantation enforced a work stoppage, despite entreaties from Ruffin’s son-in-law to return to the fields. Over the next few weeks, more and more slaves slipped off to the Federals, sometimes in dribbles, other times in droves, so that by the end of June there were not enough slaves left to care for the crops and animals. Cutting losses, Ruffin’s son sold much of his share of slaves and livestock and relocated his remaining bondsmen to the south near Petersburg. His father attempted to salvage what was left of his property, but the haunting question remained: Why this rash of runaways, when ‘no where were they better cared for, or better managed & treated, according to their condition of slavery?'”
— Why the Confederacy Lost, 1992