Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Contraband Story

On the Arkansas side of the river, is a large plantation, owned by an active rebel, who “skedaddled” after the surrender of Island No. 10, leaving an old negro or two in charge of the premises, taking with him of course, all his “likely” chattels and other movable “property.”  A few days ago a captain in the 47th Indiana, one of the two regiments left here by Gen. Pope, observed a strange negro about the place, and questioning him closely elicited the following story:

The contraband said he had been a body servant to an officer in Fort Pillow, for some time past, and that he had made his escape a night or two previous by means of a stolen skiff. – Crossing the river to the Arkansas side, he cautiously approached the almost deserted plantation, where he had since been secreted and fed by one of the old negroes on the place.  He said the rebels at the fort had learned of the fall of New Orleans the day before he left, and at once began to make preparations for evacuating the place.  They were greatly depressed by the news, and freely admitted that their cause was now hopeless.  One of the officers in the language of the contraband said “Gemmen I tells you what it is, dere’s no use contendin’ any longer.  De Yankees hab got the Mississippi ribber sure, and de sooner we git from here de better.  De fac’ is, de Souf is about played out.”

This deserter, who is more than ordinarily intelligent for one of his class, amused the Indiana captain immensely.  He said that Lincoln had been represented to him as a huge monster, with one great eye in his forehead, eight arms and an immense [tool].  Our worthy Chief magistrate was further said to be especially fond of negroes as an article of food, and always had three or four roasted for breakfast.  “But lord bress you [massers],” said the contraband with a merry twinkle in his eye, as if apologizing for repeating such an absurd story, “I knowe’d better dan dat.  Dey couldn’t fool me wid any such stuff.  I know’d Massa Lincum was a mighty fine man and I’se got a heap o’ things I want to tell him too.”

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, May 17, 1862, p. 1

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