, May 2
.--Some two or three months since, seven negroes, who had been slaves, effected an escape from their masters, and appeared at Fort Pickens
, then commanded by Lieutenant Slemmer
That officer returned them to the rebel troops, by whom they were given up to their owners, by whom they were mercilessly punished for the attempt to gain their liberty.
At the time of their surrender, Fort Pickens
was greatly in need of men to defend it, and down to this moment there has been no day when these negroes would not have been of great use in the various labors about the fort.
Just such laborers have since been carried thither at a great expense to the Government
Their fidelity was guarantied by every circumstance, and was beyond question.
When General Jackson
defended New Orleans, he pressed every thing that had any fighting quality about it,--Barataria
pirates, free negroes, whatever came to hand, into the service.
One of the Secessionists is reported to have said, that if Lieutenant Slemmer
had not returned these men, “a nigger would not have been left in all that part of Florida
.” --N. Y. Evening Post, May 6