During the period before and during the Civil War, I would often hear my mother and other slaves holding whispered discussions. Those discussions showed how well they understood the situation. They would keep themselves informed by what they called the "grape-vine telegraph."
I was amazed how the slaves could keep themselves so knowledgeable, in spite of how the South tried to keep them ignorant. The slaves often got knowledge of the events of the war before the whites did.
On our plantation the news was usually gotten from the man they sent to the post office to pick up the mail. He would hang around and pick up drifts of information from other whites that usually gathered there and discussed the latest news. On his way back he would spread the news among the slaves. That is one of the ways that the slaves got information before the whites did.