The Real Story of how the legendary “black-eyed pea” came to be a symbol of good luck has gone untold in fear that feelings would be hurt. It’s a story of war, the most brutal and bloody war, 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 cost. A unhealed wound remains in southern states even today, on the other hand the policy of slavery has been a open wound that has also been slow to heal but ok to talk about.
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 lead by Major General William T. Sherman. The Civil War campaign began on 11/15/64 when Sherman 's troops marched from the captured city of Atlanta, Georgia and ended at the port of Savannah on 12/22/1864.
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 Sherman’s bloodthirsty troops had left silos full of black eyed peas.
You see at the time in the north the lowly black eyed pea was only used to feed stock. The northern troops saw it as the thing of least value, taking grain for their horses, 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 because all the stock that it could feed had either been taken or eaten.
Southerners awoke to face a new year in this devastation; facing massive starvation if not for the good luck of having the black-eyed peas to eat. From New Years Day 1866 forward the tradition grew to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck.
From the Robert E. Lee Chapter, Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1640