unfortunate race come within your lines, that you do not turn them away, but receive them kindly and cordially.
They are to be encouraged to come to us; they are to be received with open arms; they are to be fed and clothed; they are to be armed.
There was still much prejudice against Negro Soldiers among our rank and file, as well as among their superiors; those from New England
possibly and partially excepted: but the Adjutant-General
was armed with a potent specific for its cure.
The twenty regiments of Blacks which he was intent on raising he had authority to officer on the spot from the White
veterans at hand; and this fact — at least, until the commissions should be awarded-operated as a powerful antidote to anti-negro prejudice.
There were few, if any, instances of a White sergeant or corporal whose dignity or whose nose revolted at the proximity of Blacks as private soldiers, if he might secure a lieutenancy by deeming them not unsavory, or not quite intolerably so; while there is no case on record where a soldier deemed fit for a captaincy in a colored regiment rejected it and clung to the ranks, in deference to his invincible antipathy to “niggers.”
And, though Gen. Banks
, in his order1
directing the recruitment of a “Corps d'afrique” in his department, saw fit to say that
“The prejudices or opinions of men are in no wise involved;” and “it is not established upon any dogma of equality, or other theory, but as a practical and sensible matter of business.
The Government makes use of mules, horses, uneducated and educated White men, in the defense of its institutions.
Why should not the negro contribute whatever is in his power for the cause in which he is as deeply interested as other men?
We may properly demand from him whatever service he can render,” &c., &c.--
yet there were few who did not see, and not many who refused to admit, that a systematic arming of the Blacks in defense of the Union
imposed obligations and involved consequences incompatible not merely with the perpetuation of Slavery, but with that of Caste as well.
Hence, the proclaimed repugnance in Congress, in the Press, and among the People, to arming the Blacks, was quite as acrid, pertinacious, and denunciatory, as that which had been excited by the policy of Emancipation.
Yet, in spite of ugly epithets, the work went on. Presently, a distinct Bureau was established,2
in the Adjutant-General
's office at Washington
, “for the record of all matters relating to the organization of colored troops;” and a Board, whereof Gen. Silas Casey
, organized for the strict examination of all candidates for commissions in Black regiments; by whose labors and investigations a higher state of average character and efficiency was secured in the officering of these than had been attained in the (too often hasty and hap-hazard) organization of our White
In August, the Adjutant-General
again visited the Great Valley
on this business; and he now issued from Vicksburg3
an order which was practically a conscription of all able-bodied male Blacks who should seek protection within the Union
lines, and should not be otherwise employed, into the National
an order from the War Department, establishing recruiting stations for Black soldiers in Maryland
, and Tennessee
, and directing the enlistment as volunteers of “all able-bodied free negroes;” also the “slaves ”