forcing the negro to risk his life for the freedom of his master. If the first class would cultivate the society of our intelligent soldiers more, they would discover the real sentiments of the army to be greatly in favor of negro conscription for recruiting the army for the ensuing spring. As to those who entertain the latter view of “moral objection,” &c., their opinions, conscientious and moral suasions smack too much of the fanatical and Puritanical love for the negro which the Northman professes, when he sees them unwilling to allow him to srike a blow against those who would enslave to a worse than Hindostan servitude both master aud servant. That the negro will fight more faithfully for his master than for the Yankee no one can doubt who has seen the attachment of slaves to their masters in camp, and the reliance and the faithfulness with which they discharge sometimes the most dangerous and difficult duties. Then, too, the wonderful change which would be brought upon them by giving such as were enlisted their immediate freedom, with a promise of a grant of land after the war, would cause them to acknowledge and look upon the Yankees as their inferior, whom they now consider as their equal. Let this freedom be given them in due form by their masters, and solemnly confirmed by the seal of the County Court upon their being conscripted, and we would hear no more of negroes running to the enemy to be free. Contented and happy around their camp-fires, they, with proper discipline and drill, would make us soldiers superior to any the enemy have yet brought to bear against us. Then Congress will have another vexed question that this negro conscription will dispose of, viz.: Consolidation of regiments whose numbers have been reduced to mere skeletons; and we take it for granted Congress must consolidate many regiments, battalions and companies. Let the officers thus thrown out, and others already out, and now doing nothing but troubling the authorities half their time to find something for them to do, be assigned to the command of these negro regiments and companies. Let them be placed in our sea-coast garrisons, and on lines of communication and supply, and in camps of instruction, to be there drilled and prepared for the field, if we should need them, and who doubts but what we will, by the coming spring. It might be said these officers would object to commanding negro regiments and negro companies. But no, they will not, if they have the proper qualities and qualifications for officers. It will take just such gallant men as those who have already lost their commands by leading them to the forefront of the battle, to command that respect from the negro which the Southern gentleman knows so well how to command, at the same time that he shows, without constraint, the uttermost kindness, and no officer should consider it any disparagement to him to command these troops, but rather look upon it in the light of a difficult task which the government has assigned to him for his signal success in the past, and his ability to reduce to proper discipline, and make good soldiers of, the raw and rough material. Rather let him regard such an assignment or appointment as a compliment to his fitness for command. In other words, only the best officers should be selected to command these troops, and, our word for it, we will have in the fourth year of the war a new and powerful reinforcement, a force capable of any thing less than the greatest emergency, and an offset to the hirelings and blacks that the enemy are bringing against us, which they never dreamed of. Do this now, and we will only do what is evidently becoming more apparent we will have to do sooner or later, namely: meet with the same material that class of the enemy's army which, unless counterbalanced thus, will form an important element in our defeat and subjugation. These remarks are dictated by a clear conviction of what is daily becoming more and more urgent by the great desire of the majority of our people and army for this enactment, and by the circumstances around me — for be it noted that I write from a section of Virginia the most prosperous, and that there are ten farmers living adjacent, owning more than twenty thousand acres of land between them, and from this broad area not a single soldier is furnished to the army. Think, Virginians, of twenty thousand acres of land in Virginia, owned by ten different families, not furnishing a single representative in the army. If such be the case in Virginia, what must it be in the less populous South, where the extensive cotton lands of the rich planter extend for miles away. Yet these men are willing, yea, many of them anxious, to contribute their portion of negroes to the service, and one hundred could be raised in this immediate neighborhood without material detriment to the farming interests of the country. Then can there be any reasonable wish, on the part of Congress, to delay legislation on this subject when the forces are wanted in the army, the officers are at hand to command them, and the masters are willing to contribute them? Let Congress take this into consideration at an early day. Let us have prompt and vigorous action on this subject, and not have to lament, in the fall of 1865, the many reverses which would have been prevented by the organization of such a force.
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
A voice from the country against it.Gentlemen: In the Enquirer of the eighteenth ultimo, you advance and recommend the proposition to conscript the slaves of the South for the purpose of making soldiers of them, and claim for the Enquirer the honor or merit (which, I suspect, none will dispute with you) of being the first to advance it. Can it be possible that you are serious and earnest in proposing such a step to be taken by our Government? Or were you merely discusssing the matter as a something which might
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