Friday, October 24, 2008

Letter from Dr. Miller

Lake Providence, La.
Feb 17th, 1863

Mr. Editor:

I believe I promised to send you an account of the remainder of our foraging. It has been so long since, that I almost forget where I left off, but I think it was at Dr. Taylor’s. His wife is a Northern lady, and says that she detests slavery and would willingly yield all their negroes in order to be relieved of the very great care and anxiety consequent upon keeping slaves.

As an instance of the social and religious condition of the neighborhood in which they live, she told us that she had not attended church but once during the seven years they had resided in Louisiana, and that was while visiting New York or New Orleans; not because she did not wish to go, but because there was not a church sufficiently near. What a commentary on the institution of slavery! Neither church nor school house within the reach of the planter and his family, what then must be the condition of the poor slave?

Leaving the Doctor’s, we stared for home, or rather for camp, by a different rout from the one upon which we went out in order to avoid the three miles of muddy roads. Upon approaching the first house on our homeward trip, we discovered a white man leaving it rather unceremoniously, as though he was not desirous of cultivating a more intimate acquaintance just then. On reaching the house we were saluted by the voices of a dozen or more negroes with exclamations such as “gor Cap’n have him focht back.” “Take and hang him; he is mighty mean.” “He running away massa, gor how scara he look when he see you’ens comin.” &c.

Thinking that it might be quite as well to take charge of him until we were ready to leave a sent a couple of mounted men to detain him and turn him over to Captain White, who set him free as soon as we were fairly started for camp. We learned that he was the plantation overseer and was tyrannical and brutal and a perfect terror to the poor negroes.

From here we pursued our homeward course without any adventure worth recording, and arrived in camp at 8 o’clock. The fruits of the day’s foraging were four barrels of molasses, two barrels of pork, 500 pounds of fresh beef steak, 150 chickens, 20 dozen eggs, a barrel or more of honey, several bushels of sweet potatoes, 8 mules, three horses, 2 guns, 2 pistols and one wagon with five loads of corn and fodder. Thus ended the day’s foraging. – Hoping our friends with you are all well, I remain, Yours,

J. G. Miller

– Published in The Union Sentinel, Osceola, Iowa, Saturday, March 14, 1863

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