Experience of a "Contraband" in the Yankee lines.
The Savannah (Ga.) News
chronicles the return of a negro to that city, who had deserted some time ago to the Yankees
He ran away from his master's place, near Waynesville
, in March last, took a boat and went to St. Simon's Island
He discovered three gunboats off St. Simon
's, one of which hailed him. He approached the steamer, and received from them a countersign.
he was then told to go to another one of the gunboats, and when hailed to give the word ‘"contraband."’ He then approached the steamer indicated — the Pocahontas
— gave the countersign, and was taken on board.
From the Pocahontas
he was transferred to a steamer, the name of which he does not remember, and taken down on the Florida coast
Here he was placed on board the Wabash
, and shortly afterwards taken to Port Royal
While at the last named place, he worked on the wharf in loading and unloading Yankee steamers, for which he was promised $8 per month.
He worked two months, but received pay for only one.
He afterwards worked a short time in a saw-mill, and received no pay. He was then employed by Major White
, of Massachusetts
, as a body servant.
promised to pay $10 a month; but after repeated application for pay, stated that he had no money.
He asked Robert how he would like to go to Massachusetts
; who replied, ‘"very well,"’ but says he had then determined to come back home as soon as an opportunity offered.
From Hilton Head Robert followed the Yankee
troops to North Edisto
, and finally to James Island
He remained on the last-named Island three weeks, during which time the battle of Secessionville
A few days after the battle he succeeded in eluding the Federal
pickets, and passed into our lines.
He was subsequently sent to Charleston
and afterwards turned over to his master.
Robert states that the Yankees
are organizing companies of contrabands, at a place called ‘"Fish Hall,"’ or Hilton Head
, and that it is their intention to from them into a regiment.
He explains the modus operandi
by which the negroes are induced to enter the service.
Religious meetings are held at stated periods, at which a Rev. Mr. Wilson
At these meetings an ‘"enrolling officer"’ was always present who proceeded to take the names of the able-bodied men present.
These were asked to volunteer, and those who refused-by far the greater number — were forcibly sent to Fish Hall and mustered into service.
He attended one meeting, which was addressed by a colored brother from the North
A sentinel stood at the door, (as was the invariable custom,) while the colored brother harangued his audience in behalf of a Church in Canada
, and a forced contribution was taken up at the expense of the imprisoned contrabands.
This was the last meeting Robert attended, and he reports that the audience were at last accounts growing distressingly thin, the general impression being that their colored orator pocketed the money, and allowed the Church
to look after itself.
Robert reports the negroes on Hilton Head
dissatisfied, and many of them anxious to escape.
The island is closely guarded, and escape is next to impossible.
A negro attempted to get away while he was on the island, and was shot.
The negroes are worked from daylight until eight and nine o'clock at night.
They are allowed no privileges and are very cruelly treated, and on very slight offences they are closely confined and put on breed and water.
Robert's experience has given him a very unfavorable impression of the Yankee
doodles generally, and of their military colony on Hilton Head
From his own report he has good reasons for preferring to live in Dixie.