Sunday, November 3, 2013

Information by Contrabands

From the N. Y. Times, Tuesday.

One of our correspondents at Yorktown adds a postscript to his letter, dated on Saturday, May 3, at noon, to the effect that our picket had been puzzled at encountering no pickets of the enemy during the previous night and morning, and adds: “A contraband, has just come in, reports the rebels have evacuated Yorktown.”  It will be seen that the news did not reach Gen. McClellan until the morning of the 4th, when the pursuit was instantly commenced with vigor.  Nor is this the only instance where the loyalty and reliability of the fugitive slaves have been tested.  Our armies have hardly taken a step without reliance upon the reports of the faithful black fellows whose accuracy has been remarkable.  Gen. Banks has had frequent occasions to acknowledge the value of these volunteer guides; and it is credibly stated that but for information carried by them to Gen. McDowell’s officers, when they approached the Rappahannock, that important division of the army would have pressed forward and fallen into the hands of Gen. Gustavus Smith, whose rebel legions lay only a short distance beyond the river.  The country will owe much to its African allies by the time the war is ended.  Shall it pay the debt by giving them up to their vindictive masters and to hopeless slavery?

– Published in The Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, Iowa, Friday Morning, May 16, 1862, p. 2

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