of their military strength, and enable the White masters to fill the Rebel armies, and wage a, cruel and murderous war against the people of the Northern States.
By reducing the laboring strength of the Rebels, their military power will be reduced.
You are, therefore, authorized, by every means in your power, to withdraw from the enemy their laboring force and population, and to spare no effort, consistent with civilized warfare, to weaken, harass, and annoy them, and to establish the authority of the Government of the United States within your Department.
Meantime, Brig.-Gen. J. W. Phelps
, commanding under Gen. Butler
at Carrollton, La.
, finding his camp continually beset by fugitives from Slavery on the adjacent plantations, but especially from that of Mr. B. La Blanche
, a wealthy and eminent sugar-planter just above New Orleans--(who, it appears, being vexed by military interference with the police of his plantation, had driven off all his negroes, telling them to go to their friends, the Yankees
)--had involved himself in a difference with his superior, by harboring and protecting those and other fugitives, contrary to the policy of the Government
, which Gen. Butler
was endeavoring, so far as possible, to conform to, Gen. Phelps
, in his report1
to Gen. Butler
's Adjutant, justifying his conduct in the premises — after setting forth the impossibility of putting down the Rebellion
and at the same time upholding its parent, Slavery, and the absolute necessity of adopting a decided anti-Slavery policy — says:
The enfranchisement of the people of Europe has been, and is still, going on, through the instrumentality of military service ; and by this means our slaves might be raised in the scale of civilization and prepared for freedom.
Fifty regiments might be raised among them at once, which could be employed in this climate to preserve order, and thus prevent the necessity of retrenching our liberties, as we should do by a large army exclusively of Whites.
For it is evident that a considerable army of Whites would give stringency to our Government; while an army partly of Blacks would naturally operate in favor of freedom and against those influences which at present most endanger our liberties.
At the end of five years, they could be sent to Africa, and their places filled with new enlistments.
Receiving no specific response to this overture, Gen. Phelps
a requisition of arms, clothing, &c., for “three regiments of Africans, which I propose to raise for the defense of this point ;” adding:
The location is swampy and unhealthy; and our men are dying at the rate of two or three a day.
The Southern loyalists are willing, as I understand, to furnish their share of the tax for the support of the war; but they should also furnish their quota of men ; which they have not thus far done.
An opportunity now offers of supplying the deficiency; and it is not safe to neglect opportunities in war. I think that, with the proper facilities, I could raise the three regiments proposed in a short time.
Without holding out any inducements, or offering any reward, I have now upward of 300 Africans organized into five companies, who are all willing and ready to show their devotion to our cause in any way that it may be put to the test.
They are willing to submit to anything rather than to Slavery.
Society, in tile South, seems to be on the point of dissolution ; and the best way of preventing the African from becoming instrumental in a general state of anarchy, is to enlist him in the cause of tile Republic.
If we reject his services, any petty military chieftain, by offering him freedom, can have them for the purpose of robbery and plunder.
It is for the interests of the South, as well as of the North, that the African should be permitted to offer his block for the temple of freedom.
Sentiments unworthy of the man of the present day — worthy only of another Cain — could alone prevent such an offer from being accepted.
I would recommend that the cadet graduates of the present year should be sent to South Carolina and this point, to organize and discipline our African levies; and that the more promising non-commissioned officers and privates of the army be the American conflict.