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To John G. Whittier.

Wayland, September 10, 1861.
Dear friend Whittier,--. .. Nothing on earth has such effect on the popular heart as songs, which the soldiers would take up with enthusiasm, and which it would thereby become the fashion to whistle and sing at the street corners. “Old John Brown, Hallelujah!” is performing a wonderful mission now. Where the words came from, nobody knows, and the tune is an exciting, spirit-stirring thing, hitherto unknown outside of Methodist conventicles. But it warms up soldiers and boys, and the air is full of it; just as France was of the Marseillaise, whose author was for years unknown.

If the soldiers only had a song, to some spirit-stirring tune, proclaiming what they went to fight for, or thought they went to fight for,--for home, country and liberty, and indignantly announcing that they did not go to hunt slaves, to send back to their tyrants poor lacerated workmen who for years had been toiling for the rich without wages; if they had such a song to a tune that excited them, how rapidly it would educate them! . . . Dr. Furness wrote me that a young friend of his was a volunteer in a wealthy aristocratic company that went from Philadelphia. [158] They returned much worked up about slavery. The young man told Dr. F. that he one day met a rude, rough man, a corporal, crying right out, blubbering like a school-boy. When asked what was the matter, he replied, “They've just sent a poor fellow back into slavery. I didn't leave my home to do such work as this, and I won't do it. I come here to fight for the country and the flag, not to hunt slaves; and if the colonel orders any more such work, I'm afraid I shall shoot him.”

Another who was ordered on picket-duty, of course at unusual risk of his life, was told that while he was sentinel, if any slave attempted to pass the lines, he must turn him back. He replied, “That is an order I will not obey.” Being reminded of his duty to obey orders, he replied, “I know the penalty I incur, and am ready to submit to it, but I did not enlist to do such work and I will not do it.” The officers, being aware that his feeling would easily become contagious, modified the order thus: “If anybody tries to pass, ascertain that all's right before you allow then to pass.” That night the moon shone brightly, and the sentinel on duty saw a moving in the bushes before him. “Who goes there? Answer quickly!” Up rose a tall ebony man. “Who are you?” “A fugitive.” “Are you all right?” “Yes, massa.” “Then run quick.”

Another time, a lordly Virginian rode up to the United States lines with a pass to the other side. He curled his lip contemptuously when a United States sentinel barred the course of his stylish chariot. “Where's your pass?” The Virginian, scorning to acknowledge authority from a “greasy mechanic” of the North, did not deign to make any reply, but [159] motioned to the slave who was driving his barouche to deliver the paper to the soldier. The slave dismounted and gave the sentinel the required pass. The sentinel seized him, and by a quick motion set him twirling down the hill, at the bottom of which were marshalled the United States forces. “Now you can turn back,” said the sentinel. “But I obtained an order allowing me to pass. How dare you hinder me?” “Where is your order?” “My servant just gave it to you.” “Oh, that was an order to pass only one, and he has already gone with it.”

The Virginian swore roundly, and called vociferously to his slave to come back. The bewildered slave attempted to do so, but the mischievous sentinel put his musket across the path. “Show the paper!” shouted the master. The slave did so. The sentinel read it, and coolly replied, “This is a pass from Norfolk. You must obtain another to go to Norfolk.” And so the haughty Southerner was obliged to guide his own horses back again whence he came.

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