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[173]

A Confederate plan for arming the slaves. [from the Charlotte observer, November, 1901.]

It was overlooked at the time of its publication in the Richmond Dispatch, but the New York Sun makes a summary of a strikingly interesting documentary contribution to our Richmond contemporary by Mr. Irving A. Black, who, during the civil war, was assistant adjutant-general on the staff of General Patrick R. Cleburne, who commanded a division in Hardie's corps of the Confederate Army of the Tennessee. The document is a paper prepared by General Cleburne in December, 1863, in which for the first time a military officer of prominence definitely advocated the employment of slaves as soldiers for the South. The paper was submitted to the brigadier-generals of the division, and Mr. Buck's recollection is that the project was approved by them unanimously; but when it was referred to the general officers of the army it was opposed by several of them, though, continues Mr. Buck,

my impression is that Generals Hardie and Johnston, however, declined to forward the paper to the War Department on the ground that in tenor it was more political than military. Subsequently it was sent through another channel to Jefferson Davis, who indorsed on it these words, substantially:

While recognizing the patriotic motives of its distinguished author, I deem it inexpedient, at this time, to give publicity to this paper, and request that it be suppressed.

J. D.

All copies were supposed to have been suppressed, but a few years ago one was found among the effects of a deceased officer of General Cleburne's staff and sent to the Confederate Record Office of the War Department at Washington, by which it was referred to Mr. Buck for authentication.

General Cleburne in this paper, according to the narrative, described the straits to which the Confederacy was reduced in the latter part of 1863, and said:

‘In this state of things it is easy to understand why there is a growing belief that some black catastrophe is not far ahead of us, and that unless some extraordinary change is soon made in our condition we must overtake it.’


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