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[741] conveying the freedmen ‘to some tropical country,’ as the law expressed it.

If the arming of a few negroes at Hilton Head had already caused such an intense commotion in the South, one may imagine the effect produced by the law which officially sanctioned their admission into the Federal ranks. The proud planters revolted at the idea of having to fight their former slaves on equal terms and to treat them like regular enemies. It was precisely at this period that the two belligerents signed the cartel of exchanges which was to be subsequently suspended in consequence of this very question concerning the treatment of negro soldiers; but as the Confederate prisons did not as yet contain any of these soldiers, the Richmond authorities, who were greatly interested in the conclusion of this agreement, smothered their wrath.

A strong prejudice still prevailed, even in the North, against men of color—a prejudice which had alone inspired and encouraged the projects of emigration brought forward at the time as a natural consequence of emancipation. It was not thought that these men could ever make good soldiers. Many men would have objected to serve by their side, and several generals were opposed to their being enrolled. Thus, Butler, remembering his former affinity with the slavery party, deprived one of his lieutenants, General Phelps, of his command, because the latter had organized five companies of negroes without having received special orders from the President to that effect. It was, therefore, important that the least possible latitude should be allowed to the interpretation of the new law, called the confiscation law. In communicating the text of this law to several commanders, the Secretary of War, under date of July 22d, gave them precise instructions regarding the obligations imposed upon them by this law, and the manner of fulfilling them. General McClellan hastened on the 9th of August to communicate these instructions to his army by an order which we regret not being able to produce in full, as it sums up the whole question in a clear and dignified manner. It ended with an assurance to fugitive negroes employed by the government in any capacity that they should never be sent back to slavery. Only one point remained now unsettled—

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