I will not believe that there was a want of sincerity in your professions of liberality and patriotism, when many of you threatened resistance to impressment upon principle, and not because you were unwilling to aid the cause with your means. I renew the call for negroes to complete the fortifications around Savannah, and trust that every planter in Georgia will respond by a prompt tender of one fifth of all his working-men. As stated in my former appeal, the General in command will only accept the number actually needed.
headquarters military Department of Georgia, Savannah, Ga., Nov. 3, 1862.I have received from several counties of the State of Georgia, and from individual slaveholders, requests and demands that I should return their negroes, now working upon the fortifications of Savannah. It is my sincere and earnest desire to do so. I think it an injustice to those who have sent their negroes at my first call, that they should be compelled to bear the whole burden and heat of the day, while others, who are among the wealthiest in the land, look calmly on the danger of the city and the State, without contributing a single laborer from their hundreds or their thousands to their defence. Fellow-citizens, with whom ought the blame to rest? Not with those who have contributed their labor, for they have nobly done their duty. Not with me, for I am simply doing that which is absolutely necessary to the protection of the State from invasion, and from the designs of the abolitionists. Let the blame fall where it is justly due; on those who have refused to send labor to the defence of Savannah, and who still refuse to take their turn in the work; who, after enjoying immunity for so long a time, still refuse to relieve those who have been laboring for them. Let those citizens whose vital interests are at stake, and who have done their share toward the common weal, rise up and compel those backsliders, and especially the rich among them, to do their part. From the thousands of slaves who have thus been withheld from the defence of the country, enough, and more than enough, might easily be contributed to enable me to send back to their masters all those who have already worked here for three (3) months, and at the same time would give me a sufficient force to complete the defence of our chief city and coast. Patriots! will you allow the selfish and the unpatriotic to reap all the benefits of our war of independence, without sharing with you its burdens, its sacrifices, and privations? As soon as those who have not hitherto contributed send me a sufficient number to fill their places, I pledge myself to send back to their masters the negroes who are now at work. Until this is done, necessity compels me to retain them.
To the Planters of Georgia:
To the Planters of Georgia:
Hugh W. Mercer, Brigadier-General Commanding.