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[738] Nor did he stop here; but wishing to increase the number of these new soldiers, he gathered all the adult negroes residing on the adjoining islands at Hilton Head on the 12th of May, in order to induce them to enter the military service. Such a proposition looked very much like an order to men accustomed from infancy to absolute submission, and many of them left the plantations with regret, believing that they were about to be conveyed to some distant country. The civil agents complained bitterly of the trouble this measure had created among the people entrusted to their charge, and thence sprung the quarrel which Mr. Lincoln cut short by deciding in favor of Hunter. The protection granted to fugitive slaves was the first logical consequence of the war; their enrolment in the Federal armies was the second. As untimely and impolitic as was the proclamation by which Hunter had taken upon himself to free the slaves outside of his jurisdiction, the creation of the first negro regiment was an act skilfully conceived. It was essentially a military act; it raised and ennobled the freedman by entrusting him with arms; its legality was unquestionable from the moment that the President approved of it, for there was no law to prevent him from enlisting colored volunteers. In short, it showed to the Confederates that the Washington government was determined not to allow itself to be any longer paralyzed by the vain hope of reconciliation. The exasperation evinced by the latter proved that the blow had struck home. The partisans of slavery in the North were also naturally excited; and a member from Kentucky succeeded in getting the House of Representatives to adopt a resolution asking explanations of the government relative to the arming of negroes at Hilton Head. The Secretary of War merely stated in reply that he had issued no orders on the subject, and refused to submit his correspondence with General Hunter to the House; three weeks later, however, he communicated to it a despatch, written by the latter, in reply to a resolution of which he had been the subject. Feeling that he was now supported by the approval of the government and the sound good sense of the nation, Hunter openly avowed the measure for which he had been blamed. He pointed out, not without a show of reason, all its advantages, but treated the official communication of the House with an irony which

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