Horace Greeley.

The American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 online

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cupied the forts guarding the entrance
to Port Royal, and firmly established
himself on that and die adjacent
islands, issued a proclamation to the
people of South Carolina, wherein he

" In obedience to the orders of the Presi-
dent of these United States of America, I
have landed on your shores with a small
force of National troops. The dictates of a
duty which, under the Constitution, I owe
to a great sovereign State, and to a proud
and hospitable people, among whom 1 have
passed some of the pleasantest days of my
life, prompt me to proclaim that we have
come among you with no feelings of per-

sonal animosity; no desire to harm your
citizens, destroy your property, or interfere
with any of your lawful rights, or your so-
cial and local institutions, beyond what the
causes herein briefly alluded to may render

All in vain. None of the Whites
on the adjacent mainland could be
induced even to accept a copy of this
document — those who were brought
to parley insisting that there were no
" loyal persons '' (in Gen. Sherman's
sense) — that is, no loyal Whites —
withiii their knowledge. And no
South Carolina journal' intimated
that Gen. Sherman's virtual pledge
not to intermeddle with Slavery ren-
dered his presence on their coast one
whit less unwelcome than it would
otherwise have been. If any White
native of South Carolina came over
to us, or evinced a desire to do so,
thenceforth tiU near the end of the
Bebellion, his name has not been
given to the public.

Maj.-Gen. Wool, who succeeded
G^n. Butler in command at Fortress
Monroe, issued" an order directing
that " all colored persons called con-
trabands" employed by officers or
others within his command, must be
furnished with subsistence by their
employers, and paid, if males, not
less than $8 ; if females, not less tlian
$4 per month; and that ''all able-
bodied colored persons, not employed
as aforesaid," will be immediately
put to work in the Engineer's or the
Quartermaster's Department. By a
subsequent order," he directed that
the compensation of * contrabands *
working for the Government should
be $6 to $10 per month, with soldiers*

» Oct 14, 1861.

^It IB well understood that this aentenoe was
inaeried bj the President in revising the order.

*»Not William T., who became so famous^
but an old armj officer, Smanrij 6th ArtaUerj.
«Oct H 186L . »»NoT. 1, laeL

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Maj.-Gen. Due, being abont to take
poeaeBsion of the counties of Accomac
and Northampton, Ya., on the east-
em shore of Chesapeake Bay, issued "
a Proclamation, which says :

"The military forces of the United Btates
are about to enter jonr comities as a part
of the Union. They will go among you as
friends, and with the earnest hope that
they may not, by your own acts, be forced
to become your enemies. They will invade
no rights of person or property. On the
contrary, your laws, your institutions, your
usages, will be scrupulously respected.
There need be no fear that the quietude of
any fireside will be disturbed, unless the
disikurbanoe is caused by yourselves.

"Special directions have been given not
to interfere with the condition of any person
held to domestic service ; and, in order that
there may be no ground for mistake or pre-
text for misrepresentation, commanders of
regiments and corps hare been instructed
not to. permit any such persons to come
within their lines.'*

Haj.-G«n« Halleok, soon after suo-

ceeding Gen. Fremont in command

in Missouri, issued his famous ^ Order

No. 8,' which sets forth that

"It has been represented that important
information, respecting the number and con-
dition of our forces, is conveyed to the
enemy by means of fugitive slaves who are
admitted within our lines. In order to
remedy this evil, it is directed that no such
persons be hereafter permitted to enter the
lines of any camp, or of any forces on the
march ; and that any now within such lines
be immediately excluded therefrom."

Gen. Halleck afterward, in a letter
to F. P. Blair, explained and justified
this order, as follows :

♦• Order No. 8 was, in my mind, clearly a
military necessity. Unauthorized persons.
Black or White, free or slave, must be kept
oat of our camps, unless we are willing to

Enbllsh to the enemy every thing we do or
itend to do. It was a military^ and not a
political order.

" I am ready to cany out any lawful in-
stmotions in regard to nigitive slaves which
my 8ui>enors may give me, and to enforce
any law which Congress may pass. But I
tan not make law, and will not violate it.
Ton know my private opinion on the policy
of confiscating the slave property of Rebels

in arms. If Congress shall pass it, you may
be certaih that I shall enforce it. Perhaps
my policy as to the treatment of Rebels and
their property is as well set out in Order
No. 18, issued the day your letter was writ-
ten, as I could now describe it.'*

That deserters fix«n the enemy,
entering the lines or camp of an army
in time of war, are "unauthorized
persons," is quite obvious ; that they
very often give false information, and
are in fact spies, deserting back again
at the first fair opportunity, is well
knoT/VTQ. Yet no commander prior to
Gen. Halleck ever directed deserters
to be repelled firom his front and
thrown back on the enemy; on the
contrary, the risks of dissimulation,
falsehood, and treachery, are pre-
sumed to be far overbalanced by thd
chance of thus obtaining valuable in-
formation and aid. That the White9
of Missouri were &r more likely than
the Blacks to be traitors at heart,
and infinitely more apt to steal away
to the Bebels with important infor-
mation, was as palpable as noonday ;
yet Gen. Halleck' s l^o. 3 repelled
Blacks only.

G^n. HallecFs order Ko. 13 sheds
no ftirther light on this subject ; but,
in a subsequent order," he says :

^^ It does not belong to the military to
decide upon the relation of master and
slave. Such questions must be setUed by
the civil courts. No fugitive sUves wili^
therefore, be admitted within our lines or
camps, except when specially ordered by
the General commanding.''

Never was a "therefore'' more

misplaced. How were the persons

presenting themselves adjudged to

be or known as " fugitive slaves^' t

Plainly, by the color of their skins,

and that only. The sole end of this

regulation was the remanding of all

slaves to their masters — seven-eighths

of whom were most envenomed, im*

*Nov. 13, 1861.

TOL. n. — 16


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placable Rebels — hy depriving tbem
of refuge within onr lines from those
maBters' power.

Gen. Cameron, the Secretary of
War, had ab-eady become an ardent
and open convert to the policy of re-
cognizing Slavery as the IJnion's real
assAilant, and fighting her accord-
ingly. La his Annual Report** to the
President of the operations of his
Department, he said :

^ It has beoome a grav^ question for de-
termination "what shall be done with the
slaves abandoned bj their owners on the
adyance of onr troops into Bonthem terri-
torj, as in the Beaufort district of South
Carolina. The whole White population
therein is six thousand, while the number
of negroes exceeds thirty-two thousand.
The panic which drove their masters in wild
oonfosion from their homes leaves them in
undisputed possession of the soil. Shall
thej, armed by their masters, be placed in
the neld to fight agidnst us ? or shall their
labor be continually employed in repro-
ducing the means for supporting the armies
of rebellion?

"The war into which this Government
has been forced by rebellious traitors is
carried on for the purpose of repossessing
the property violently and treacherously
seizea upon by the enemies of the Gt>vem-
ment, and to reestablish the authority and
laws of the United States in the places
where they are opposed or overthrown by
armed insurrection and rebellion. Its pur-
pose is to recover and defend what is justly
its own«

" War, even between independent nations,
k made to subdue the enemy, and all that
belongs to that enemy, by occupving the
hostile country, and exercising dominion
over all the men and things wiUiin its ter-
ritory. This being true in respect to inde-
pendent nations at war with each other, it
follows that Rebels, who are laboring by
force of arms to overthrow a Government,
Justly bring upon themselves all the conse-
c^uences of war, and provoke the destruc-
tion merited by the worst of crimes. That
Government would be false to national
trust, and would justly excite the ridicule
of the civilized world, that would abstain
from the use of any efficient means to pre-
serve its own existence, or to overcome a
rebellious and traitorous enemy, by sparing

or protecting the property of those who
are waging war agidnst it.

"The principal wealth and power of the
Rebel States is a peculiar speoies of proper-
ty, consisting of the service or labor of
African slaves, or the descendants of Afri-
cans. This property has been variously es-
timated at the value of from seven hundred
million to one thousand million dollars.

"Why should this property be exempt
from the hazards and consequences of a re-
bellious war ?

" It was the boast of the leader of the Re-
bellion, while he yet had a seat in the Sen-
ate of the United States, that the Southern
States would be comparatively safe and free
from the burdens of war, if it should be
brought on by the contemplated Rebellion;
and that boast was accompanied by the
savage threat that ^Northern towns and
cities would become the victims of rapine
and military spoil,* and that * Northern men
should smell Southern gunpowder and feel
Southern steel.' No one doubts ike dispod-
tion of the Rebels to carry that threat into
execution. The wealth of Northern towns
and cities, the produce of Northern farms,
Northern workshops and manufactories,
would certainly be seized^ destroyed, or ap-
propriated as military spoil. No property m
the North would be Glared from ^e hands
of the Rebels ; and their rapine would be de-
fended under the laws of war. While the
loyal States thus have all their property
and possessions at stake, are the insurgent
Rebels to carry on warfare against the Gov-
ernment in peace and security to their own

" Reason and justice and self-preservation
forbid that such should be the policy of this
Government, but demand, on the contrary,
that, being forced by traitors and Rebels to
the extremity of war, all the rights and
powers of war should be exerdsed to bring
it to a speedy end.

"Those who war against the Govern-
ment justly forfeit all rights of property,
privilege, or security, derived from the Con-
stitution and laws, against which they are
in armed rebellion; and, as the labor and
service of their slaves constitute the chief
property of the Rebels, such property should
share tiie common fate of war to which
they have devoted the property of loyil

" While it is plain that the slave property
of the South is justly subjected to all tb^
consequences of this rebellions war, and
that tne Gk>vemment would be untrue to
its trust in not employing all the riehts and
powers of war to bring it to a speedy dose,
the details of the plan for doing so, like all

' Dea 1, 186L

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other military measures, most, in a great
degree, be left to be determined by particu-
lar exigencies. The disposition of other
property belonging to the Rebels that be-
comes subject to our arms is governed by
the circumstances of the case. The Gov-
ernment has no power to hold slaves, none
to restrun a slave of his liberty, or to ex-
act his service. It has a right, however, to
use the voluntary service of slaves liberated
by war from their Rebel masters, like any
other property of the Rebels, in whatever
mode may be most efficient for the defense
of the Gt>vemment, the prosecution of the
war, and the suppression of rebellion. It
is as clearly a right of the Government to
arm slaves when it may become necessary
as it is to take gunpowder from the enemy.
Whether it is expedient to do so, is purely a
military question. The right is unquestion-
able by tne laws of war. The expediency
must be determined by circumstances, keep-
ing in view the great object of overcoming
the Rebels, reestablishing the laws, and re-
atoring peace to the nation.

** It is vain and idle for the Government to
carry on this war, or hope to maintain its
existence against rebellious force, without
employing iH. the riffhts and powers of war.
As has been said, the right to deprive the
Rebels of their property in slaves and slave
labor is as clear and absolute as the right
to take forage from the field, or cotton fi^m
the warehouse, or powder and arms from
the magadne. To leave the enemy in the
possession of such property as forage, and
cotton, and military stores, and the means
of constantly reproducing them, would be
madness. It is, therefore, equal madness
to leave them in peaceful and secure posses-
sion of slave property, more valuable and
efficient to them for war than forage, cot-
ton, and military stores. Such policy would
be national suicide. What to do with that
species of property is a question that time
and circumstances will solve, and need not
be anticipated, further than to repeat that
they can not be held by the Government as
daves. It would be useless to keep them
as prisoners of war ; and self-preservation,
the highest duty of a Government, or of in-
dividuals, demands that they should be dis-
posed of or employed in the most effective
manner that will tend most speedily to sup-
press the insurrection and restore the au-
thority of the Qovemment If it shall be
found that the men who have been held by
the Rebels as slaves are capable of bearing
arms and performing efficient military ser-
vice, it is the right, and may become the
duty, of this Gk>vemment to arm and equip
them, and employ their services against the
Rebels, under proper military rc^iulations,
disdpliDe, and command.

" But, in whatever manner they may ba
used by the Government, it is plain that,
once liberated by the rebellious act of their
masters, they should never agdn be restored
to bondage. By the master's treason and
Rebellion, he forfeits all right to the labor
and service of his slave ; and the slave of
the rebellious master, by his service to the
Government, becomes Justly entitled to free-
dom and protection.

^* The dispodtion to be made of the slavet
of Rebels, after the close of the war, can be
safely left to the wisdom and patriotism of
Oongress. The representatives of the peo-
ple will unquestionably secure to the loyal
slaveholders every right to which they are
entitled under the Constitution of the

Mr. Lincoln Btmck ont and snp-
preased this portion of Gten. Came>
ron's Beport, inserting in its stead the
following :

^^ It is already a grave question what shall
be done with those slaves who were a^m*
doned by their owners on the advance of
our troops into Southern territory, as at
Beaufort district, in South Carolina. The
number left within our control at that point
b very considerable ; and similar cases will
probably occur. What shall be done with
them ? Can we afford to send them forward
to their masters, to be by them armed
against us, or used in producing supplies to
sustain the Rebellion ? Their labor may be
useful to us ; withheld from the enemy, it
lessens his military resources ; and withhold-
ing them has no tendency to induce the h<v-
rors of insurrection, even in the Rebel com-
munities. They constitute a military re-
source ; and, being such, that they should
not be turned over to the enemy is too plain
to discuss. Why 'deprive him of supplies by
a blockade, and voluntarily give him men to
produce them ?

** The disposition to be made of the slavea
of Rebels, after the close of the war, can be
safely left to the wisdom and patriotism of
Congress. The Representatives of the peo-
ple will unquestionablv secure to the loyal
slaveholders every right to which th^y ase
entitied nnder the Constitution of the coun-
try. Simon Cambbon,

"Secretary of War.*>

The abnse of negroes who had
escaped firom Bebel masters in Vir-
ginia and taken shelter within the
lines of the Army of the PotcmuM^
elicited the following:

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"Departbcbnt op State, )

" Washhtoton, Deo. 4, 1861. j
** To M%j.-6en. Geo. B. MoOLBLLijr :

" Genebal : I am directed by the Presi-
dent to call jonr attention to the following
sabject :

'^ Persons claimed to be held to service or
labor under the laws of tiie State of Vir-
ginia, and actaally employed in hostile ser-
Tioe against the Gk)vernment of the United
States, frequently escape from the lines of
the enemy's forces, and are received within
the lines of the Army of the Potomac.

^' This Department understands that snch
persons, afterward coming into the city of
Washington, are liable to be arrested by the
dty police, upon the presmnption, arising
from color, th&t they are fugitives from ser-
vice or labor.

** By the 4th section of the Act of Con-
gress approved August 6, 1861, entitled
^An act to confiscate propertv used for
insurrectionary purposes,' such hostile em-
ployment is made a friU and sufficient
answer to any further claim to service or
lal^r. Persons thus employed and escaping
are received into the military protection of
the United States ; and their arrest as frigi-
tives from service or labor should be imme-
diately followed by the military arrest of
the parties making the seizure.

^^ Copies of this communication will be
sent to the Mayor of the City of Washington
and to the Marshal of the District of Colum-
bia, that any collision between the civil and
military authorities may be avoided.

" I am, General, your very obedient,

" William H. Sewabd."

Maj.-Gen. Bamside, liaving eatab-

liahed himself on Koanoke Island,

iflgaed," ocmjointly with Com. Gk)ld&-

borongh, a Proclamation, in whioh

he said :

<' The Government asks only that its au-
tfiority may be recognized ; and we repeat,
in no manner or way does it desire to inter-
fere with your laws, constitutionally estab-
H^ed, your institutions of any kind what-
ever, ^your property of' any sort, or your
toages in any respect"

Maj.-Qen. Baell, ^oon after estab-
lishing hunself at Nashville, Tenn.,
tiioB demoDBtrated his nndoabted
devotion to the ^constitutional
goarantieBj" making no distinction
between Bebels^and loyal citizens :

" Hbad^abtbrs DBPABnoore ]

OF THB Ohio,
" Nashvillb, March 6, 1862.

^^ Dbab Sib : I have had the honor to re-
ceive your communication of the 1st instant,
on the subject of fugitive slaves in the campa
of the army.

^*It has come to my knowledge that
slaves sometimes make their way improp-
erly into our lines ; and in some instanoea
they may be enticed there ; but I think tha
number has been magnified by report.
Several applications have been made to ma
by pwsons whose servants have been found
in our camps ; and, in every instance that I
know of, the master has recovered his seiw
yant and taken him away.

*' I need hardly remind you that there
will always be found some lawless and mis-
chievous persons in every army; but I as-
sure you that the mass of this army is law-
abiding, and that it is neither its disposition
nor its policy to violate law or the rights of
individuals in any particular.

" With great respect, your obedient ser-
vant, D. 0. Bubll,

^ Briff.-Gen. Commanding Department.
'^ Hon. J. R. Undbbwood, Ohurman Military
(Committee, Frankfort, Ky.^'

Glen. Joseph Hooker, commanding
on the Upper Potomac, issued" the
following order :

" To Brigade cmd RegifMntal Ommandet$
of thi8 Dwiaion :
"Messrs. Nally, Gray, Dunnington, Dent,
Adams, Speake, Price, Posey, and Oobey.
citizens of Maryland, have negroes supposed
to be with some of the regiments of this
division: the Brigadier-Gkneral command-
ing directs that ttiey be permitted to visit
aU the camps of his command. In search
of tieir property ; and, if found, that they
be allowed to take possession of the sam^
without any interference whatever. Should
any obstacle be thrown in their way by any
officer or soldier in the division, he will
be at once reported by the regimental com-
mander to these headquarters?'

Hereupon, some fifteen mounted
civilians rode np to the camp of
Brig.-Gen. Sickles's Excelsior Brig-
ade, having just fired two pistol-shots,
with evident intent to I9II, at a negro
running off; and thus created no lit-
tle excitement among the soldiers;
who, though generally enlisted with

:«Feb. 18^ 1868.

March 26, 1862.

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strong anti-negro prejudices, quite
oonunonly experienced a gradual
change, under the discipline of ser^
vice at the front, where they found
every Black their ready, active, zeal-
ous friend, and nearly every slave-
holder or overseer their quiet but
deadly, implacable foe. Maj. Tolen,
eommanding the 3d raiment, find-
ing the order to direct the admission
of but nine persons, ordered the resi-
due to remain without the lines ; and
— the repugnance of the soldiers to
slave-hunting threatening to break
out into open violence — Gen. Sicklqs,
who arrived soon afterward, ordered
the nine out of camp likewise; so
that the fugitives, if such were there,
were not there captured.

In the "West, especially within the
commands of Gens. Halleck and
Buell, slave-hunters fared much bet-
ter; as one of their number about this
time admiringly reported to a Nash-
ville journal, as follows :

" He visited the camp of Qen. MoOook, in
Haary countj, in quest of a fugitive ; and
that officer, instead of throwing obstacles in
the way, anorded him every facility for the
saocessM prosecution of his search. That
General treated him in the most courteous
and gentlemanly manner ; as also did Gen.
Johnson and Oapt. Blake, the brigade Pro-
vost-Marshal. Their conduct toward him
was in all respects that of high-toned gen-
tlemen, desirous of discharging their duties
promptly and honorably. It is impossible
ror the army to prevent slaves from follow-
ing them ; but, whenever the fugitives come
into the lines of Gen. McOook, they are se-
cured, and a record made of their names and
the names of their owners. All the owner
has to do is to apply, either in person or
through an agent, ezandne the record, or
look at the slaves ; and, if he finds any Uiat
belong to him, take them away.^'

In no case does it appear that any
of our pro-Slavery commanders ever
inquired into or cared for the loyalty
of either filayeholders or slaye-hunt-

ers, nor asked whether the persons
claimed as fugitives had given im-
portant information, or rendered
other service to the cause of the

In the same spirit, Gen. Buell's
Provost-Marshal, Dent, at Louisville,
Ky., issued an order to his (mounted)
provost-guard to flog all Blacks, free
or slave, whom they should find in
the streets after dark ; and for weeks
the spectacle was exhibited, to the
admiration of the thousands of active
and passive Bebels ii^ that city, of
this chivalric provost-guard, wearing
the national uniform, chasing scores
of xmquestionably loyal and harm-
less persons at nightfall through the
streets, over the pavements, and down
the lanes and alleys, of that city;
cutting and slashing them with cow-
hide and cat, while their screams of
fright and agony made merry music
for traitors of every d^ree. Many
were lashed immercifully ; but with
no obvious advantage to the national
cause, nor even to the improvement
of the dubious loyalty of those whom
the eidiibitioii most delighted and

Gten. Abner Doubleday, being
placed in command of the d^enses of
"Washington, answered," through his
Adjutant, to an inquiry on the sub-
ject, as follows :

" Sib : — I am directed hy Gen. Donhleday
to say, in answer to yonr letter of the 2d
instant, that all negroes coming into the
lines of any of the camps or forts nnder his
command are to he treated as persons, and
not as chattels.

*^ Under no circumstances, haa the com-
mander of a fort or camp the power of snr-
rendering persons claimed as fngitive slaves ;
as it can not he done without detiennininc

Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 34 of 113)