marched through our streets yesterday in military order, under command of Confederate officers.
They were all armed and equipped with shovels, axes, blankets, &c. A merrier set were never seen.
They were brimful of patriotism, shouting for Jeff. Davis and singing war-songs.
And again, four days later:
Upward of 1,000 negroes, armed with spades and pickaxes, have passed through the city within the past few days.
Their destination is unknown; but it is supposed that they are on their way to the other side of Jordan.
The drafting of Blacks, and especially of slaves, by thousands, to work on Rebel fortifications, was, in general, rather ostentatiously paraded throughout the earlier stages of the War
. The Confederate Congress was finally constrained to regulate by law the impressment of property for military service; and its general “Act to regulate Impressments” 1
Sec. 9. Where slaves are impressed by the Confederate Government, to labor on fortifications, or other public works, the impressment shall be made by said Government according to the rules and regulations provided in the laws of the State wherein they are impressed; and, in the absence of such law, in accordance with such rules and regulations, not inconsistent with the provisions of this act, as the Secretary of War shall from time to time prescribe: Provided, That no impressment of slaves shall be made when they can be hired or procured by the consent of the owner or agent.
Sec. 10. That, previous to the 1st day of December next, no slave laboring on a farm or plantation, exclusively devoted to the production of grain and provisions, shall be taken for the public use, without the consent of the owner, except in case of urgent necessity.
The Lynchburg Republican
) had, so early as April, chronicled the volunteered enrollment of 70 of the free negroes of that place, to fight in defense of their State; closing with--
Three cheers for the patriotic free negroes of Lynchburg!
The next recorded organization of negroes, especially as Rebel soldiers, was at Mobile
, toward Autumn ; and, two or three months later, the following telegram was flashed over the length and breadth of the rejoicing Confederacy:
The (Rebel) Legislature of Virginia was engaged, so early as Feb. 4, 1862, on a bill to enroll all the free negroes in the State
, for service in the Rebel
forces; which was favored by all who discussed it; when it passed to its engrossment, and probably became a law.
All these, and many kindred movements in the same direction, preceded Mr. Lincoln
's first or premonitory Proclamation of Freedom,2
and long preceded any organization of negro troops to fight for the Union
The credit of having first conquered their prejudices against the employment of Blacks, even as soldiers, is fairly due to the Rebels
Had the negroes with equal facility overcome their
repugnance to fighting for their own enslavement, the Black
contingent in the Rebel
armies might soon have been very little inferior to the White
, either in numbers or in efficiency.
Yet Mr. Lincoln
's initial Proclamation aforesaid had hardly been diffused throughout the Confederacy
, when measures of deadly retaliation and vengeance were loudly pressed on every hand.
That a Government struggling against a Rebellion founded on Slavery, should threaten to