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[518] appointed as company officers to command them. Prompt and energetic efforts in this direction would probably accomplish more toward a speedy termination of the war, and an early restoration of peace and unity, than any other course which could be adopted.

Gen. Butler, in response, instructed Gen. Phelps to employ his ‘contra-bands’ in cutting down trees and forming abatis for the defense of his lines, instead of organizing them as soldiers. This Gen. P. peremptorily declined1 to do; saying, “I am not willing to become the mere slave-driver you propose, having no qualifications that way,” and thereupon throwing up his commission. Gen. Butler declined to accept his resignation; but it was, on reference to Washington, accepted by the Government; whereupon, he quit the service and returned to his Vermont home, leaving 600 able-bodied negro men in his camp, and a very decided tendency on the adjacent plantations to increase the number.

The current of events soon carried Gen. Butler along with it; so that — though he was almost isolated from the Government, with which he communicated but fitfully — at least a fortnight being usually required to send a dispatch from New Orleans to Washington and receive an answer — he felt constrained by the necessities and perils of his position, just the day before Stanton's direction to Saxton aforesaid, to appeal to the free colored men of New Orleans to take up arms in the National service; which appeal was responded to with alacrity and enthusiasm, and a first regiment, 1,000 strong, filled within 14 days--all its line officers colored as well as the rank and file. His next regiment, filled soon afterward, had its two highest officers White; all the rest colored. His third was officered by the best men that could be had, regardless of color. His two batteries were officered by Whites only; for the simple reason that there were no others who had any knowledge of artillery.

On the reception at Richmond of tidings of Gen. Hunter's and Gen. Phelps's proceedings with reference to the enlistment of negro soldiers for the Union armies, Jefferson Davis issued2 an order directing that said Generals be no longer regarded as public enemies of the Confederacy, but as outlaws; and that, in the event of the capture of either of them, or of any other commissioned officer employed in organizing, drilling, or instructing slaves, he should not be treated as a prisoner of war, but held in close confinement for execution as a felon, at such time and place as he (J. D.) should order. It is not recorded that any one was ever actually hung under this order.

So long as the ranks of the Union armies were satisfactorily filled by volunteering alone, and Whites stood ready to answer promptly every requisition for more men, negroes or mulattoes were not accepted as soldiers; though they were, as they had ever been, freely enlisted and extensively employed in the navy, with the same pay and allowances as Whites. At no time during the war was a colored person, if known as such, accepted — as many had been throughout our own Revolutionary War — for service in a regiment or other organization preponderantly

1 July 31.

2 Aug. 21.

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