Monday, June 3, 2013


Picture: "A Rebel Captain forcing negroes to load cannon under the fire of Berdan's sharp shooters."


As reported in the Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Army Slave Catching,” May 28, 1861  --  As long as slaves continue to be employed by the rebels in their service, throwing up fortifications etc., as they were at Charleston and are to-day at Norfolk and Richmond, our commanders should take no trouble to return such of them as are arrested in their attempts to regain their liberty. They are, to use a Crimean word, the [illegible] of the Confederate army; to them will be due most of the work that will be done; and every one that is returned is only adding to the available force of those who are striving to cut our throats. We do not touch the question of humanity; but look at the matter solely in light of expediency. Judging then by military rules alone, we regard all cases of rendition as so many evidences of folly of which our Gen. Butlers and Major Dimmicks must yet be cured. No officer of the Government would, we take it, feel that he was under obligation [to?] [illegible] the traitors if they should be caught within our lines. But one strong-armed slave is worth any half-dozen horses in the Southern service. Why, then, send him back?

Impressing Negroes to work on the Nashville Fortifications
"Impressing Negroes to Work on the Nashville Fortifications," Annuals of the Army of the Cumberland, John Fitch, 1864

Again, this is not a war of compliments. Pretty soon the shooting of bullets must begin. The object to be attained is to compel the people of the seceding States to acknowledge obedience to the Constitution and the laws. For the present we are bound to do them all the injury in our power. For that our armies are levied. We shall burn their towns, sink their ships and boats, cut off their trade, shut them out of the markets of the world, kill as many of them as we can in battle, and if necessary desolate their fields. This is war. It is horrid work; but it is all implied in rebellion. Why, then, when we are pointing Minie muskets at their breasts should we be called upon to respect their claims to human property? Why are slaves, held in defiance of all law, human and divine, the only property that shall be restored to those who are destroying the value of all property?  (source: Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Army Slave Catching,” May 28, 1861)


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