colored troops were completely panic-stricken. Scores of families, for no cause but a guilty conscience, fled into the swamps on their approach. Never was a region thrown into such commotion by a raid before. Proud scions of chivalry, accustomed to claim the most abject obedience from their slaves, literally fell on their knees before these armed and uniformed blacks and begged for their lives. I was frequently asked how I, a citizen, dared to trust myself among such incarnate demons. “What shall I do to to be saved?” was the question asked on every side. No sooner would the brigade enter a neighborhood than General Wild's quarters would be besieged by those wishing to take the oath of allegiance and secure the protection of the Government. Their slaves might all go — they would give them up willingly — only let their lives and property be protected. Union meetings were held in several places, and delegations sent to General Wild, proposing to do any thing “to be saved.” One set of resolutions was signed by fifty-nine planters, and another by seventy-six, while the return of the expedition was preceded and followed by hundreds of North-Carolinians, hastening to Norfolk to obtain certificates of their loyalty. One hundred and twenty vehicles crossed Great Bridge in a single day, containing persons journeying thither for this laudable purpose. An army of fifty thousand blacks could march from one end of rebeldom to the other almost without opposition, the terror they would inspire making them invincible. Well might the inhabitants universally admit, as they did, that slavery was dead there, and that North-Carolina would rejoin the Union as a free State, for the march of the colored brigade over the soil consecrated it ever more to freedom. With regard to the guerrillas, I am reliably informed that they have left this part of the State. The severe chastisement they and their friends received from General Wild rendered a longer stay not advisable. Had every one of these scoundrels captured been hanged, and the house of every other one burned, such organizations would long ago have ceased to exist. To have driven the guerrillas from this section of North-Carolina, to have effectually extinguished slavery there for ever, to have induced all the inhabitants to take the oath of allegiance, is a trinity of results due to this raid. In another respect this raid possesses historical importance. It is the first of any magnitude undertaken by negro troops since their enlistment was authorized by Congress, and by it the question of their efficiency in any branch of the service has been practically set at rest. Thoroughly obedient to their officers, during a march of three hundred miles their conduct on every occasion was truly admirable. It will have been seen that they performed in the enemy's country all the duties of white soldiers — scouting, skirmishing, picket duty, guard duty, every service incident to the occupation of hostile towns, and, best of all, fighting. Colonel Draper testifies to their excellent behavior under fire, and declares that he could wish to lead no better men into battle; that he feels perfectly secure with them, and can depend upon them at a critical moment with as much confidence as upon white troops less accustomed to obey the commands of superiors. Such testimony from an officer distinguished for courage and daring, a man who believes that fighting is the business of a soldier, possesses peculiar value. One incident in this connection, coming within my own experience, may be properly related here: On the morning after the fight at Sandy Hook, when General Wild had determined to return and attack the guerrilla camp, the men were drawn up in line to be reviewed, and all who wished to remain behind were asked to step out. Only thirty-five--and those foot-sore and lame — did so. I was instructed by the General to find a hundred for the camp-guard, and went down the line endeavoring to persuade more to volunteer, telling them that there would be a big fight — that the guerrillas would have them at great advantage down in the swamp — that they lost a number of men yesterday, and would lose a great many more to-day, and that they had better remain behind and help take care of the camp, where it would be perfectly safe, with little to do. I got but one man out of five hundred, all the rest replying: “No, no; I want to fight the grillas.” At last the General was obliged to order a detail from each company for this duty. The irregular service of such a raid as General Wild's is especially suited to the nature of colored troops; and, while I doubt not they will make as good regular soldiers as any, I am confident they will prove far better guerrilla-hunters than the whites. When the rebellion shall have subsided into partisan warfare, so far from lasting for ever, as Jeff Davis threatens, our colored troops will take care that its end is soon reached. It is an instructive turn of the tables that the men who have been accustomed to hunt runaway slaves hiding in the swamps of the South, should now, hiding there themselves, be hunted by them.
headquarters forces on Blackwater, Franklin, Va., January, 1864.sir: Probably no expedition, during the progress of this war, has been attended with more utter disregard for the long-established usages of civilization or the dictates of humanity, than your late raid into the country bordering the Albemarle. Your stay, though short, was marked by crimes and enormities. You burned houses over the heads of defenceless women and children, carried off private property of every description, arrested non-combatants, and carried off ladies in irons, whom you confined with negro men. Your negro troops fired on confederates after they had surrendered, and they were only saved by the exertions of the more humane of your white officers. Last, but not least, under the
General Wild, Commanding Colored Brigade, Norfolk, Va.:
General Wild, Commanding Colored Brigade, Norfolk, Va.: