The story is all about a war of cruel, excessive military force waged on the Southern civilians, (women, children, elderly, disabled) of the Confederate States of America. Never regarded by the northern perpetrators as a war crime this was the course of the greatest nation on the planet earth all while attempting to "preserve" their cause at any expense. It was a crime bordering on genocide in the minds of the victims. The stench of this murderous action remains in the Southern states, no, all of the USA when, to the contrary, the subject of slavery has been a slow healing abscess, but somewhat suited for discussion.
The tale of THE BLACK-EYED PEA being deemed as good luck correlates undeviatingly back to Sherman's 1864 manic trek to the sea. It was termed "The Savannah Campaign" which was commanded by Major General William T. Sherman. The crime began on November 15, 1864, when Sherman's troops advanced from the conquered city of Atlanta, Georgia and ended on December 22, 1864, at the port of Savannah.
When the danger seemed to have passed, the southern survivors of the assault came out of hiding. Profoundly broken and already starving, they found that the Yankee aggressors had plundered and stripped everything of value, and all that was editable including livestock.
Death and destruction were everywhere. Starvation was certain for the survivors.
They didn't have phones to call for help. There was no international aid, no Red Cross, no meal trucks, no soup kitchens. The federal army had carted off everything and eaten everything. But they couldn’t take it all. The ravaged citizens of the southland noticed for some unexplained reason Sherman’s ruthless troops had left silos full of black-eyed peas.
It seems that in the north during the early 19th century the humble black-eyed pea was solely utilized as food for livestock. The Yanks 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 the black-eyed peas in great quantities were left assuming it would be of no use to any survivors since they had taken or eaten all the stock.
Basically, the Southerners awoke greeting a new year in this devastation. They were facing massive starvation if it had not been for the good luck of having the black-eyed peas to eat. From new year's day 1866 forward a tradition grew to eat black-eyed peas on the first day of January for good luck. -- M. Hollingsworth