Showing posts with label Contrabands. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Contrabands. Show all posts

Monday, November 16, 2020

Dr. Seth Rogers to his daughter Dolly, January 27, 1863

January 27, 1863.

I appropriated the mess-room for operations and the officer's berths to receive the wounded. Fortunately we had thought to bring candles along, no others on board. . . . It was not more than one hour before we were busy dressing gun-shot wounds. One man was killed instantly by a ball through the heart and seven were wounded, one of whom will die. Braver men never lived. One man with two bullet holes through the large muscles of the shoulder and neck, brought off from the scene of action, two miles distant, two muskets and not a murmur escaped his lips. Another, Robert Sutton, with three wounds, one on the skull, which may cost him his life, would not report himself till compelled to do so by his officers. While dressing his wounds he quietly talked of what they had done and what they yet can do. Today I have had the Colonel order him to obey me. He is perfectly quiet and cool but takes this whole affair with the religious bravery of a man who realizes that freedom is sweeter than life. Yet another did not report at all, but kept all night on guard and perhaps I should not have known of his having a buck-shot in his shoulder, if some duty requiring a sound shoulder had not been required of him today. The object of our raid was to surprise and capture a company of rebel cavalry pickets, but, as is usual in this war, the enemy seemed to know the secret plan, and we only succeeded in making them skedaddle after a few rounds, and in bringing off five contrabands, a fine piano [for the Beaufort schoolhouse] and divers other things. We also had the satisfaction of burning the plantation house and out-buildings, in accordance with general orders, so they will not screen any more pickets. We steadily send shot and shell over the bluffs to prevent their picking off men from our boat, which is their habit. All this is very exciting and I enjoy it much. I just now volunteered to go up on a bluff and burn a picket house of rendezvous, but I believe the Colonel thinks it is unsafe for his friends to do what he himself is ever ready to do.

We reached St. Mary's before noon. I believe I have before stated that the town was partially burned by the Neptune, yet there were fifty or more houses remaining, including two large churches, a bank, etc. As we approached, the waving of white handkerchiefs began again, by the two maiden ladies (!!) residing in sight of the wharf. All the other houses were uninhabited. The women informed us that they were living entirely alone with their aged mother, that they were “Domingo ladies,” but had not owned slaves since England abolished slavery there.

Their antecedents have been so doubtful that the Colonel thought it best to search their house very carefully in spite of their protestations, and entreaties and talk of honor, etc. etc. permitted to join him and one of the captains in the search and found it very interesting though we discovered no rebels. Of course we had a guard around the house, a guard of such color as greatly to annoy the inmates. They told me that they had not seen pickets at all, and many other things which I knew to be false. But we politely left them, they avowing that they were ladies and thanking us for being gentlemen. As we were about to leave the wharf, bang, bang, bang, went secesh rifles from behind the houses and whistling went the balls over our heads. We were not long in sending shot and shell enough to protect our skirmishers and then the Colonel did what I begged him to do this morning — put nearly all the town in flames, save the house of these women and two or three at the windward of it. I wanted to take the women down to Fernandina and burn every house, but the Colonel thought it best to leave them, so there will still be a screen and sympathy left there for the rebels. But we left an immense fire and I trust the pickets will have to rescue the women from it.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 350-1

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Dr. Seth Rogers to his daughter Dolly, February 3, 1863

February 3, 1863.

At break of day we were at Beaufort and my sick and wounded were being carefully conveyed to the “Contraband Hospital” for better care than our camp hospital affords. I left eight there and it seemed like leaving my children among strangers. But this was only a feeling, not a fact. It was very pleasant to have the black soldiers served first when wounded. Colonel [Rishworth] Rich and the other officers and soldiers, must wait the convenience of our freedmen. I should quite enjoy living in some one of our Northern cities a few months with the 1st S. C. Vols. I fancy there would be a conquering of prejudices somewhat satisfactory to your humble servant. Justice is an admirable machine when in good running order and with honest engineers to keep it going. 

The Colonel took his official report in one hand and a captured instrument of slave torture in the other, to Gen. Saxton and left them for an early inspection. I was too busy to breakfast there with the Colonel. At ten o'clock we were disembarking opposite our camp and the home troops were receiving us with wild cheers of joy. All sorts of false rumors had been reported concerning us. 

We had been cut up and cut down, hung and cut to pieces, and various other rebel morsels of information had been circulated. I trust that you have not been tormented by such rumors. Perhaps it is best for me to take this occasion to say that the rebel reports are not always so reliable as their personal sympathizers could wish. Believe nothing short of official reports and my letters. 

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 356-7

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Captain Charles Wright Wills: December 1, 1864

Cushingville Station, east bank of Ogeechee river, 
December 1, 1864. 

Ten miles to-day. Had just finished the last line when (the officers are talking over the rumors of the day) I heard Captain Smith say, “Our folks captured one Rebel ram.” I asked him where, and he pointed out an old he sheep, one of the men had just brought in. Our regiment is the only part of our corps this side of the river. We are guarding the prisoners who are repairing the bridge. The Rebels had destroyed one section of it. The 17th Corps crossed near the railroad bridge, but are ten miles behind us to-night. This river is about 60 yards wide here, and we have sounded it in several places and found it from 12 to 15 feet deep. It has no abrupt banks here, but runs river, lake, swamp, to dry land. I find here again what I thought was palm-leaf fan material, on the Oconee river. It turns out to be swamp palmetto. The palmetto tree also grows near here. Twelve p.m.—Have been out with 25 men burning railroad. I did not do much of it, for it is the 17th Corps' work. Two of Howard's scouts came to us while we were at work. Said they had just left Millen, and left 150 Rebels there. Millen is four miles from here and is the junction of the Savannah and Augusta railroad. One of our men captured eight mules and two horses to-day. The trees along the river are covered with Spanish moss, like we saw so much of at Black River, Miss. The men shake their heads when they see it and say, “Here's your ager.” We are only guarding this bridge until the 17th Corps gets here. Our corps are going down the other side of the river. An immense number of “contrabands” now follow us, most of them able-bodied men, who intend going into the army. We have not heard a Rebel gun since the 22d of last month. They don't trouble our march a particle. 

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 329-30

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Letter from G., May 13, 1864

BELLE PLAIN, VA., May 13, 1864.

On the S. C. boat, pulling up to the shore Government flatboats of horses and cavalry recruits. There are no docks and the army supplies are being landed from barges connected by pontoons with the shore. A constant stream of contrabands passing with bags of grain and barrels of pork on their shoulders. Dr. Douglas and Dr. Agnew are here. Good Dr. Cuyler is here. Senator Pomeroy is on board going down to bring up General Bartlett of Massachusetts who went into the fight with a Palmer leg and was wounded again. Col. —— tells me there has been great anxiety at the War Department. Mr. Stanton said to him, “When we have a victory the whole North shall know it.”—“And when there is silence?” said Col. ——. “Then,” said the Secretary, “there is no communication with the front.” We have a Feeding-Station on shore and are putting up another two miles away, on the hill, where ambulance trains halt sometimes for hours, owing to obstructions in the road. The mud is frightful and the rain is coming on again. We are directed to take the return train of ambulances for Fredericksburg.

Just as I finished, the train from Fredericksburg arrived. Nothing I have ever seen equals the condition of these men. They had been two or three days in the ambulances; roads dreadful; no food. We have been at work with them from morning till night without ceasing; filling one boat, feeding the men; filling another, feeding them. There is no sort of use in trying to tell you the story. I can scarcely bear to think of it. All the nurses and cooks from the Invalid Corps of our Hospital, who marched off that day, Sullivan, Lewis and the rest, armed with muskets again, are down here guarding prisoners. Yesterday a squad of rebel officers was marched on board a boat lying by ours. I had to pass through their ranks to get supplies from our boat, and shook hands with our boys and saw the officers; Stewart and Bradley Johnson among them; strong well-fed, iron looking men, all of them. There's no give in in such looking men as these. Our soldiers from the front say the rebels stand— stand—in solid masses, giving and taking tremendous blows and never being shoved an inch. It is magnificent!

No words can express the horrible confusion of this place. The wounded arrive one train a day, but the trains are miles long; blocked by all sorts of accidents, wagon trains, bad roads, broken bridges; two, three days on the way, plunged in quagmires, jolted over corduroy, without food, fainting, starving; filthy; frightfully wounded, arms gone to the shoulder, horrible wounds in face and head. I would rather a thousand times have a friend killed on the field than suffer in this way. It is worse than White House, Harrison's, or Gettysburg by far. Many die on the way. We found thirty-five dead in the ambulances yesterday, and six more died on the stretchers while being put on board the boats. The boats are anything that can be got hold of, cattle scows, anything. Barges of horses are landed by the side of the transports and the horses cross the deck where the helpless men lie. Mules, stretchers, army wagons, prisoners, dead men and officials as good as dead are tumbled and jumbled on the wretched dock which falls in every little while and keeps the trains waiting for hours. We fed the men at once. We fed all the five boats that got off yesterday. There is no Government provision for this, beyond bread; no coffee, no soup, no cups or pails, or vessels of any kind for holding food. The men eat as if starving. These had been three days without food. We are ordered to Fredericksburg today to report to Dr. Douglas, as there is more misery there than here.

SOURCE: Jane Stuart Woolsey, Hospital Days, p. 150-1

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Major-General George B. McClellan to Abraham Lincoln, July 7, 1862

Camp near Harrison's Landing, Va., July 7, 1862.

Mr. PRESIDENT: You have been fully informed that the rebel army is in our front with the purpose of overwhelming us by attacking our positions or reducing us by blocking our river communications. I cannot but regard our condition as critical, and I earnestly desire, in view of possible contingencies, to lay before Your Excellency for your private consideration my general views concerning the existing state of the rebellion, although they do not strictly relate to the situation of this army or strictly come within the scope of my official duties. These views amount to convictions, and are deeply impressed upon my mind and heart. Our cause must never be abandoned; it is the cause of free institutions and self-government. The Constitution and the Union must be preserved, whatever may be the cost in time, treasure, and blood. If secession is successful, other dissolution’s are clearly to be seen in the future. Let neither military disaster, political faction, nor foreign war shake your settled purpose to enforce the equal operation of the laws of the United States upon the people of every State.

The time has come when the Government must determine upon a civil and military policy covering the whole ground of our national trouble. The responsibility of determining, declaring, and supporting such civil and military policy, and of directing the whole course of national affairs in regard to the rebellion, must now be assumed and exercised by you, or our cause will be lost. The Constitution gives you power sufficient even for the present terrible exigency.

This rebellion has assumed the character of a war. As such it should be regarded, and it should be conducted upon the highest principles known to Christian civilization. It should not be a war looking to the subjugation of the people of any State  in any event. It should not be at all a war upon population, but against armed forces and political organizations. Neither confiscation of property, political executions of persons, territorial organization of States, or forcible abolition of slavery should be contemplated for a moment.

In prosecuting the war all private property and unarmed persons should be strictly protected, subject only to the necessity of military operations; all private property taken for military use should be paid or receipted for; pillage and waste should be treated as high crimes, all unnecessary trespass sternly prohibited, and offensive demeanor by the military toward citizens promptly rebuked. Military arrests should not be tolerated, except in places where active hostilities exist, and oaths not required by enactment’s constitutionally made should be neither demanded nor received. Military government should be confined to the preservation of public order and the protection of political rights. Military power should not be allowed to interfere with the relations of servitude, either by supporting or impairing the authority of the master, except for repressing disorder, as in other cases. Slaves, contraband under the act of Congress, seeking military protection, should receive it. The right of the Government to appropriate permanently to its own service claims to slave labor should be asserted, and the right of the owner to compensation therefor should be recognized. This principle might be extended, upon grounds of military necessity and security, to all the slaves of a particular State, thus working manumission in such State; and in Missouri, perhaps in Western Virginia also, and possibly even in Maryland, the expediency of such a measure is only a question of time. A system of policy thus constitutional, and pervaded by the influences of Christianity and freedom, would receive the support of almost all truly loyal men, would deeply impress the rebel masses and all foreign nations, and it might be humbly hoped that it would commend itself to the favor of the Almighty.

Unless the principles governing the future conduct of our struggle shall be made known and approved the effort to obtain requisite forces will be almost hopeless. A declaration of radical views, especially upon slavery, will rapidly disintegrate our present armies. The policy of the Government must be supported by concentrations of military power. The national forces should not be dispersed in expeditions, posts of occupation, and numerous armies, but should be mainly collected into masses, and brought to bear upon the armies of the Confederate States. Those armies thoroughly defeated, the political structure which they support would soon cease to exist.

In carrying out any system of policy which you may form you will require a Commander-in-Chief of the Army-one who possesses your confidence, understands your views, and who is competent to execute your orders by directing the military forces of the nation to the accomplishment of the objects by you proposed. I do not ask that place for myself. I am willing to serve you in such position as you may assign me, and I will do so as faithfully as ever subordinate served superior.

I may be on the brink of eternity, and as I hope forgiveness from my Maker I have written this letter with sincerity toward you and from love for my country.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,                   
Major-General, Commanding.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 11, Part 1 (Serial No. 12), p. 73-4

Monday, March 9, 2020

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Friday, May 20, 1864

Settled weather at last; cold nights. One of the most interesting and affecting things is the train of contrabands, old and young, male and female — one hundred to two hundred — toiling uncomplainingly along after and with the army. They with our prisoners and the trains left for Gauley this morning

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 464

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Gustavus V. Fox to Flag Officer Samuel F. Dupont, March 10, 1862

Wabash off St. Johns 
Florida—10 Mar. 62
My Dear Friend—

After sending Mohican, Pocahontas and Potomska to Brunswick I sent the 6 light draft vessels here to cross the bar, explore and go up to Jacksonville and to Palatka if need be—and after arranging all matters for the occupation of Fernandina, St. Mary's Geoa Cumberland Sound &c, with Gen' Wright and Drayton—I came out in the Bienville and joined my ship again, and run down here to see how the expedition was progressing. Nassau we have—but the boats were still outside the bar, except Ellen which we got in this afternoon. The others hope to get in tomorrow. These bars are very shallow and there is some delusion about the Fernandina one—we came out at high water yesterday, with Mark Twain—how we got over drawing 13 f. I know not.

Four contraband hoisted a white flag and were sent for—they represent an entire abandonment all over the country, pretend to say the Governor has ordered everything to be left except Pensacola and Appalachicola. I have sent Huron that cannot possibly cross this bar with her foot more of draft than her predecessors to St. Augustine to send up Keystone to P. Royal for my mail and to ask Lardner if all is quiet there, for Sherman had a long face the day I left him. I want to finish off this coast—and possibly the Theodoro and Casslin are stowed away in some of the inlets—also see about the Live Oak in Mosquito inlet. You can get as much as you want on Cumberland island. Regards to Mr. Welles.

Faithfully Yrs
S. F. DuPost

I hope Davis is with you today.

Please hurry Flag and send me some light draft Tug or ferry boat for Edisto. Ellen is nearly used up and the tugs must be repaired or break down altogether.

Don't say I never gave you any thing for I enclose you a thousand dollars—but I am rich I have some half million more.

SOURCE: Robert Means Thompson & Richard Wainwright, Editors, Publications of the Naval Historical Society, Volume 9: Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1861-1865, Volume 1, p. 111-2

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Flag Officer Samuel F. Dupont to Gustavus V. Fox, January 4, 1862 — 8 p.m.

4th Jany. 8 PM.
Dear Sir

A whale boat is up from Tybee where the Andrew had to put in having broken her rudder a second time. I send off for her. We are fortunate in having a most efficient man in this ship the Chief Engineer, who puts these matters quickly to rights.

The contraband mentioned within is 24 h. later from Savannah than the previous one, who had stated that Como Tattnall was considered too old and this one brings the news of his resignation. A General Harrison reviewed 15,000 men near Savannah — troops are arriving every week from Virginia — guns are still going up on Pulaski and 4 rifle cannon came from Richmond yesterday. They look to losing Savannah and this man also says they are to fire it, while they intend to hold Pulaski. Gillis thinks this man may have been sent as a spy. Except in precision of details and numbers I have great reliance in them — though we know also that a few are faithful. This we know by the signals that are occasionally made from the plantations on the approach of the Gunboats or armed launches.

Yrs truly
S. F. Dupont
Mr. Fox

SOURCE: Robert Means Thompson & Richard Wainwright, Editors, Publications of the Naval Historical Society, Volume 9: Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1861-1865, Volume 1, p. 98

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Commander John Rodgers to Captain Charles Henry Davis, January 4, 1862

Wassaw Sound
Flag. Jan 4th 1861
Dear Davis —

I had a conversation with a contraband on board Gillis vessel who goes up in the Harry Andrew. He has white blood in his veins and is intelligent —name, Thos Franklin I think.

He says he heard that Com. Tattnall has resigned, alleging the infirmities of age. That three of the steamers are sunk in the channel — if so I presume the hulls were worthless, and the engines were wanted. This looks doubtful or rather very improbable. He says Fort Pulaski in which he recently worked as brick layer, (his trade) is well provisioned having five months supply. He says that the walls are badly cracked — that about 3 months ago the flag staff was struck by lightning and the fort was very much damaged by the stroke.

These are the main particulars. He is worth examination.

I write to you this because I do not think Gillis attaches as much importance as I do to this source of information. In war correct news is of so much value that sources of it should be examined. By digging, the clear water of truth will be reached.

It would be well to constitute an inquisitor with full power to torture with questions any unlucky white man or negro whom the misfortunes of war shall bring into his hands. Thus may our faith in the stars and stripes be vindicated.

Yours very truly
JoHN rodgers

SOURCE: Robert Means Thompson & Richard Wainwright, Editors, Publications of the Naval Historical Society, Volume 9: Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1861-1865, Volume 1, p. 97

Monday, June 3, 2019

Commander John Rodgers to Captain Charles Henry Davis, January 2, 1862

Flag, Wassaw Sound
Jany 2, 186[2]
Dear Davis

I learn from Isaac Tatnall Gillis, Contraband, who escaped from the Str St. Mary at Savannah to Tybee, 3 weeks ago, that there are 5 Batteries on St. Simon's Island and two on Jekyl Isld. All these batteries are made of railroad iron and palmetto logs, the guns in bomb proofs.

These Batteries may be avoided however in going to Brunswick by entering St. Andrews Sound and passing through the Jekyl Creek with about fathoms at Spring tide. This passage debouches about 2½ miles from the Batteries on Jekyl Isld. The passage through St. Andrews leads to Fernandina. There is but one Battery on Amelia Island, none on Cumberland Isld, the guns having been removed.

The guns on Amelia Isld, old ones brought from St. Augustine, are pointed across the channel towards Cumberland Isld and cannot be brought to bear upon a vessel coming upon them from the inside.

No work has been done on Ft Clinch and no use made of it.

Through Ossabaw Sound, there is a passage to Montgomery, about ten miles from Savannah, with a good road leading to that city.

There is a sand Battery on Green Island, which must be passed in going to Montgomery.

There are no batteries at St. Catherine's Sound nor at Sapelo, Doboy, Altamah nor St. Andrews. There is a battery of 5 guns at St. John's, and one with 4 at Nassau.

Genl Yulee (Query The famous Senator?) commands at Fernandina. In the scramble for the Virginia guns, poor Florida was pushed aside, and left without any. Therefore, and because she cannot get back her troops from Virginia, Isaac thinks the Floridians will not fight with any very good will. About 2000 troops at Fernandina. These people were formerly fed by Steamboat from Savannah through the Romilly marshes which we now block, so that at present they must be fed from Brunswick, by Railroad from Savannah.

Freeborn cut has plenty of water, Isaacs thinks 4 fath. to the Savannah River which it enters about 3 miles below Ft Jackson, and one below the entrance to St. Augustine Creek (See Savannah Chart). About 200 yards from the River, Freeborn's cut has a short double bend. Isaac was in a Steamer with double engines disconnected; by giving away on one paddle and backing with the other, she could scarcely get through; men with lines could have a vessel round. Isaac heard about 2 months ago that a section of the dry dock was sunk in Freeborn Cut. He does not know whether this is so.

Isaac says that Fort Pulaski is badly provisioned, that it depends upon daily supplies from Savannah, and that in a weeks blockade it must fall from starvation.

He can take vessels into the Savannah River at night if desired thro' Freeborn cut or thro' St. Augustine or Wilmington River. These two last names belong to different parts of the same stream, or by ascending through Freeborn cut and coming down St. Augustine Creek, the forts may be approached in a direction they were not intended to resist.

If a force to resist the Georgia Navy can be got into the Savannah River above Fl Pulaski then the fort will be starved sooner or later, and fall without a blow. This will open Savannah River and Savannah to our Guns. Fort Jackson is on our way, but its guns are all en barbette.

By sounding here, we have found only 9 ft water at low tide into Freeborn cut.

After emerging from Freeborn Cut into the Savannah, Isaac thinks 2 fathoms can be carried down and across the river to Venus Point. See Savannah Chart.

The Flag is now between G. Wassaw & Little Tybee Islds blocking Freeborn Cut. The H. Andrew disabled nr Gt Wassaw Battery. The Seminole and Alabama at the entrance of the Romilly marshes.

Isaac has been pilot for years in these waters, he thinks he is worth $1500 — his master got $35 per month for his services. Gillis, I think, scarcely sees his way clear in putting him upon his Books for pay. I do not think he ought to be made to risk his neck for nothing. Gillis said he would enter him, upon my urging it, but I do not think he has done so.

I send the Commodore his chart of Port Royal colored by Mr McCauley and backed. It is, I think neatly done.

All the information I have gleaned from Isaac is interesting to me, and you will I presume find it valuable as confirming or raising doubts, and getting better knowledge thereby, from other sources.

Yours most truly
John Rodgers
Capt. Davis

SOURCE: Robert Means Thompson & Richard Wainwright, Editors, Publications of the Naval Historical Society, Volume 9: Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1861-1865, Volume 1, p. 94-6

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Diary of William Howard Russell: July 14, 1861

At six o'clock this morning the steamer arrived at the wharf under the walls of Fortress Monroe, which presented a very different appearance from the quiet of its aspect when first I saw it, some months ago. Camps spread around it, the parapets lined with sentries, guns looking out towards the land, lighters and steamers alongside the wharf, a strong guard at the end of the pier, passes to be scrutinized and permits to be given. I landed with the members of the Sanitary Commission, and repaired to a very large pile of buildings, called “The Hygeia Hotel,” for once on a time Fortress Monroe was looked upon as the resort of the sickly, who required bracing air and an abundance of oysters; it is now occupied by the wounded in the several actions and skirmishes which have taken place, particularly at Bethel; and it is so densely crowded that we had difficulty in procuring the use of some small dirty rooms to dress in. As the business of the Commission was principally directed to ascertain the state of the hospitals, they considered it necessary in the first instance to visit General Butler, the commander of the post, who has been recommending himself to the Federal Government by his activity ever since he came down to Baltimore, and the whole body marched to the fort, crossing the drawbridge after some parley with the guard, and received permission, on the production of passes, to enter the court.

The interior of the work covers a space of about seven or eight acres, as far as I could judge, and is laid out with some degree of taste: rows of fine trees border the walks through the grass plots; the officers' quarters, neat and snug, are surrounded with little patches of flowers, and covered with creepers. All order and neatness, however, were fast disappearing beneath the tramp of mailed feet, for at least 1200 men had pitched their tents inside the place. We sent in our names to the General, who lives in a detached house close to the sea face of the fort, and sat down on a bench under the shade of some trees, to avoid the excessive heat of the sun until the commander of the place could receive the Commissioners. He was evidently in no great hurry to do so. In about half an hour an aide-de-camp came out to say that the General was getting up, and that he would see us after breakfast. Some of the Commissioners, from purely sanitary considerations, would have been much better pleased to have seen him at breakfast, as they had only partaken of a very light meal on board the steamer at five o'clock in the morning; but we were interested meantime by the morning parade of a portion of the garrison, consisting of 300 regulars, a Massachusetts volunteer battalion, and the 2d New York Regiment.

It was quite refreshing to the eye to see the cleanliness of the regulars — their white gloves and belts, and polished buttons, contrasted with the slovenly aspect of the volunteers; but, as far as the material went, the volunteers had by far the best of the comparison. The civilians who were with me did not pay much attention to the regulars, and evidently preferred the volunteers, although they could not be insensible to the magnificent drum-major who led the band of the regulars. Presently General Butler came out of his quarters, and walked down the lines, followed by a few officers. He is a stout, middle-aged man, strongly built, with coarse limbs, his features indicative of great shrewdness and craft, his forehead high, the elevation being in some degree due perhaps to the want of hair; with a strong obliquity of vision, which may perhaps have been caused by an injury, as the eyelid hangs with a peculiar droop over the organ.

The General, whose manner is quick, decided, and abrupt, but not at all rude or unpleasant, at once acceded to the wishes of the Sanitary Commissioners, and expressed his desire to make my stay at the fort as agreeable and useful as he could. “You can first visit the hospitals in company with these gentlemen, and then come over with me to our camp, where I will show you everything that is to be seen. I have ordered a steamer to be in readiness to take you to Newport News.” He speaks rapidly, and either affects or possesses great decision. The Commissioners accordingly proceeded to make the most of their time in visiting the Hygeia Hotel, being accompanied by the medical officers of the garrison.

The rooms, but a short time ago occupied by the fair ladies of Virginia, when they came down to enjoy the sea-breezes, were now crowded with Federal soldiers, many of them suffering from the loss of limb or serious wounds, others from the worst form of camp disease. I enjoyed a small national triumph over Dr. Bellows, the chief of the Commissioners, who is of the “sangre azul” of Yankeeism, by which I mean that he is a believer, not in the perfectibility, but in the absolute perfection, of New England nature which is the only human nature that is not utterly lost and abandoned — Old England nature, perhaps, being the worst of all. We had been speaking to the wounded men in several rooms, and found most of them either in the listless condition consequent upon exhaustion, or with that anxious air which is often observable on the faces of the wounded when strangers approach. At last we came into a room in which two soldiers were sitting up, the first we had seen, reading the newspapers. Dr. Bellows asked where they came from; one was from Concord, the other from New Haven. “You see, Mr. Russell,” said Dr. Bellows, “how our Yankee soldiers spend their time. I knew at once they were Americans when I saw them reading newspapers.” One of them had his hand shattered by a bullet, the other was suffering from a gun-shot wound through the body. “Where were you hit?” I inquired of the first. “Well,” he said, “I guess my rifle went off when I was cleaning it in camp.” “Were you wounded at Bethel?” I asked of the second. “No, sir,” he replied; “I got this wound from a comrade, who discharged his piece by accident in one of the tents as I was standing outside.” “So,” said I, to Dr. Bellows, “whilst the Britishers and Germans are engaged with the enemy, you Americans employ your time shooting each other!”

These men were true mercenaries, for they were fighting for money — I mean the strangers. One poor fellow from Devonshire said, as he pointed to his stump, “I wish I had lost it for the sake of the old island, sir,” paraphrasing Sarsfield's exclamation as he lay dying on the field. The Americans were fighting for the combined excellences and strength of the States of New England, and of the rest of the Federal power over the Confederates, for they could not in their heart of hearts believe the Old Union could be restored by force of arms. Lovers may quarrel and may reunite, but if a blow is struck there is no redintegratio amoris possible again. The newspapers and illustrated periodicals which they read were the pabulum that fed the flames of patriotism incessantly. Such capacity for enormous lying, both in creation and absorption, the world never heard. Sufficient for the hour is the falsehood.

There were lady nurses in attendance on the patients; who followed — let us believe, as I do, out of some higher motive than the mere desire of human praise —the example of Miss Nightingale. I loitered behind in the rooms, asking many questions respecting the nationality of the men, in which the members of the Sanitary Commission took no interest, and I was just turning into one near the corner of the passage when I was stopped by a loud smack. A young Scotchman was dividing his attention between a basin of soup and a demure young lady from Philadelphia, who was feeding him with a spoon, his only arm being engaged in holding her round the waist, in order to prevent her being tired, I presume. Miss Rachel, or Deborah, had a pair of very pretty blue eyes, but they flashed very angrily from under her trim little cap at the unwitting intruder, and then she said, in severest tones, “Will you take your medicine, or not?” Sandy smiled, and pretended to be very penitent.

When we returned with the doctors from our inspection we walked around the parapets of the fortress, why so called I know not, because it is merely a fort. The guns and mortars are old-fashioned and heavy, with the exception of some new-fashioned and very heavy Columbiads, which are cast-iron eight, ten, and twelve-inch guns, in which I have no faith whatever. The armament is not sufficiently powerful to prevent its interior being searched out by the long-range fire of ships with rifle guns, or mortar boats; but it would require closer and harder work to breach the masses of brick and masonry which constitute the parapets and casemates. The guns, carriages, rammers, shot, were dirty, rusty, and neglected; but General Butler told me he was busy polishing up things about the fortress as fast as he could.

Whilst we were parading these hot walls in the sunshine, my companions were discussing the question of ancestry. It appears your New Englander is very proud of his English descent from good blood, and it is one of their is msin [sic] the Yankee States that they are the salt of the British people and the true aristocracy of blood and family, whereas we in the isles retain but a paltry share of the blue blood defiled by incessant infiltrations of the muddy fluid of the outer world. This may be new to us Britishers, but is a Q. E. D. If a gentleman left Europe 200 years ago, and settled with his kin and kith, intermarrying his children with their equals, and thus perpetuating an ancient family, it is evident he may be regarded as the founder of a much more honorable dynasty than the relative who remained behind him, and lost the old family place, and sunk into obscurity. A singular illustration of the tendency to make much of themselves may be found in the fact, that New England swarms with genealogical societies and bodies of antiquaries, who delight in reading papers about each other's ancestors, and tracing their descent from Norman or Saxon barons and earls. The Virginians opposite, who are flouting us with their Confederate flag from Sewall's Point, are equally given to the “genus et proavos.”

At the end of our promenade round the ramparts, Lieutenant Butler, the General's nephew and aide-de-camp, came to tell us the boat was ready, and we met His Excellency in the court-yard, whence we walked down to the wharf. On our way, General Butler called my attention to an enormous heap of hollow iron lying on the sand, which was the Union gun that is intended to throw a shot of some 350 lbs. weight or more, to astonish the Confederates at Sewall's Point opposite, when it is mounted. This gun, if I mistake not, was made after the designs of Captain Rodman, of the United States artillery, who in a series of remarkable papers, the publication of which has cost the country a large sum of money, has given us the results of long-continued investigations and experiments on the best method of cooling masses of iron for ordnance purposes, and of making powder for heavy shot. The piece must weigh about 20 tons, but a similar gun, mounted on an artificial island called the Rip Raps, in the channel opposite the fortress, is said to be worked with facility. The Confederates have raised some of the vessels sunk by the United States officers when the Navy Yard at Gosport was destroyed, and as some of these are to be converted into rams, the Federals are preparing their heaviest ordnance, to try the effect of crushing weights at low velocities against their sides, should they attempt to play any pranks among the transport vessels. The General said: “It is not by these great masses of iron this contest is to be decided; we must bring sharp points of steel, directed by superior intelligence.” Hitherto General Butler's attempts at Big Bethel have not been crowned with success in employing such means, but it must be admitted that, according to his own statement, his lieutenants were guilty of carelessness and neglect of ordinary military precautions in the conduct of the expedition he ordered. The march of different columns of troops by night concentrating on a given point is always liable to serious interruptions, and frequently gives rise to hostile encounters between friends, in more disciplined armies than the raw levies of United States volunteers.

When the General, Commissioners, and Staff had embarked, the steamer moved across the broad estuary to Newport News. Among our passengers were several medical officers in attendance on the Sanitary Commissioners, some belonging to the army, others who had volunteered from civil life. Their discussion of professional questions and of relative rank assumed such a personal character, that General Butler had to interfere to quiet the disputants, but the exertion of his authority was not altogether successful, and one of the angry gentlemen said in my hearing, “I’m d----d if I submit to such treatment if all the lawyers in Massachusetts with stars on their colors were to order me to-morrow.”

On arriving at the low shore of Newport News we landed at a wooded jetty, and proceeded to visit the camp of the Federals, which was surrounded by a strong entrenchment, mounted with guns on the water face; and on the angles inland, a broad tract of cultivated country, bounded by a belt of trees, extended from the river away from the encampment; but the Confederates are so close at hand that frequent skirmishes have occurred between the foraging parties of the garrison and the enemy, who have on more than one occasion pursued the Federals to the very verge of the woods.

Whilst the Sanitary Commissioners were groaning over the heaps of filth which abound in all camps where discipline is not most strictly observed, I walked round amongst the tents, which, taken altogether, were in good order. The day was excessively hot, and many of the soldiers were lying down in the shade of arbors formed of branches from the neighboring pine wood, but most of them got up when they heard the General was coming round. A sentry walked up and down at the end of the street, and as the General came up to him he called out “Halt.” The man stood still. “I just want to show you, sir, what scoundrels our Government has to deal with. This man belongs to a regiment which has had new clothing recently served out to it. Look what it is made of.” So saying the General stuck his fore-finger into the breast of the man's coat, and with a rapid scratch of his nail tore open the cloth as if it was of blotting paper. “Shoddy sir. Nothing but shoddy. I wish I had these contractors in the trenches here, and if hard work would not make honest men of them, they'd have enough of it to be examples for the rest of their fellows.”

A vivacious prying man, this Butler, full of bustling life, self-esteem, revelling in the exercise of power. In the course of our rounds we were joined by Colonel Phelps, who was formerly in the United States army, and saw service in Mexico, but retired because he did not approve of the manner in which promotions were made, and who only took command of a Massachusetts regiment because he believed he might be instrumental in striking a shrewd blow or two in this great battle of Armageddon — a tall, saturnine, gloomy, angry-eyed sallow man, soldier-like, too, and one who places old John Brown on a level with the great martyrs of the Christian world. Indeed one, not so fierce as he, is blasphemous enough to place images of our Saviour and the hero of Harper's Ferry on the mantelpiece, as the two greatest beings the world has ever seen. “Yes, I know them well. I've seen them in the field. I've sat with them at meals. I've travelled through their country. These Southern slave-holders are a false, licentious, godless people. Either we who obey the laws and fear God, or they who know no God except their own will and pleasure, and know no law except their passions, must rule on this continent, and I believe that Heaven will help its own in the conflict they have provoked. I grant you they are brave enough, and desperate too, but surely justice, truth, and religion, will strengthen a man's arm to strike down those who have only brute force and a bad cause to support them.” But Colonel Phelps was not quite indifferent to material aid, and he made a pressing appeal to General Butler to send him some more guns and harness for the field-pieces he had in position, because, said he, “in case of attack, please God I’ll follow them up sharp, and cover these fields with their bones.” The General had a difficulty about the harness, which made Colonel Phelps very grim, but General Butler had reason in saying he could not make harness, and so the Colonel must be content with the results of a good rattling fire of round, shell, grape and canister, if the Confederates are foolish enough to attack his batteries.

There was nothing to complain of in the camp, except the swarms of flies, the very bad smells, and perhaps the shabby clothing of the men. The tents were good enough. The rations were ample, but nevertheless, there was a want of order, discipline, and quiet in the lines which did not augur well for the internal economy of the regiments. When we returned to the river face, General Butler ordered some practice to be made with a Sawyer rifle gun, which appeared to be an ordinary cast-iron piece, bored with grooves on the shunt principle, the shot being covered with a composition of a metallic amalgam like zinc and tin, and provided with flanges of the same material to fit the grooves. The practice was irregular and unsatisfactory. At an elevation of 24 degrees, the first shot struck the water at a point about 2000 yards distant. The piece was then further elevated, and the shot struck quite out of land, close to the opposite bank, at a distance of nearly three miles. The third shot rushed with a peculiar hurtling noise out of the piece, and flew up in the air, falling with a splash into the water about 1500 yards away. The next shot may have gone half across the continent, for assuredly it never struck the water, and most probably ploughed its way into the soft ground at the other side of the river. The shell practice was still worse, and on the whole I wish our enemies may always fight us with Sawyer guns, particularly as the shells cost between £6 and £7 apiece.

From the fort the General proceeded to the house of one of the officers, near the jetty, formerly the residence of a Virginian farmer, who has now gone to Secessia, where we were most hospitably treated at an excellent lunch, served by the slaves of the former proprietor. Although we boast with some reason of the easy level of our mess-rooms, the Americans certainly excel us in the art of annihilating all military distinctions on such occasions as these; and I am not sure the General would not have liked to place a young doctor in close arrest, who suddenly made a dash at the liver wing of a fowl on which the General was bent with eye and fork, and carried it off to his plate. But on the whole there was a good deal of friendly feeling amongst all ranks of the volunteers, the regulars being a little stiff and adherent to etiquette.

In the afternoon the boat returned to Fortress Monroe, and the General invited me to dinner, where I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Butler, his staff, and a couple of regimental officers from the neighboring camp. As it was still early, General Butler proposed a ride to visit the interesting village of Hampton, which lies some six or seven miles outside the fort, and forms his advance post. A powerful charger, with a tremendous Mexican saddle, fine housings, blue and gold embroidered saddle-cloth, was brought to the door for your humble servant, and the General mounted another, which did equal credit to his taste in horseflesh; but I own I felt rather uneasy on seeing that he wore a pair of large brass spurs, strapped over white jean brodequins. He took with him his aide-de-camp and a couple of orderlies. In the precincts of the fort outside, a population of contraband negroes has been collected, whom the General employs in various works about the place, military and civil; but I failed to ascertain that the original scheme of a debit and credit account between the value of their labor and the cost of their maintenance had been successfully carried out. The General was proud of them, and they seemed proud of themselves, saluting him with a ludicrous mixture of awe and familiarity as he rode past. “How do, Massa Butler? How do, General?” accompanied by absurd bows and scrapes. “Just to think,” said the General, “that every one of these fellows represents some one thousand dollars at least out of the pockets of the chivalry yonder.” “Nasty, idle, dirty beasts,” says one of the staff, sotto voce; “I wish to Heaven they were all at the bottom of the Chesapeake. The General insists on it that they do work, but they are far more trouble than they are worth.”

The road towards Hampton traverses a sandy spit, which, however, is more fertile than would be supposed from the soil under the horses' hoofs, though it is not in the least degree interesting. A broad creek or river interposed between us and the town, the bridge over which had been destroyed. Workmen were busy repairing it, but all the planks had not yet been laid down or nailed, and in some places the open space between the upright rafters allowed us to see the dark waters flowing beneath. The Aide said, “I don't think, General, it is safe to cross;” but the chief did not mind him until his horse very nearly crashed through a plank, and only regained its footing with unbroken legs by marvellous dexterity; whereupon we dismounted, and, leaving the horses to be carried over in the ferry-boat, completed the rest of the transit, not without difficulty. At the other end of the bridge a street lined with comfortable houses, and bordered with trees, led us into the pleasant town or village of Hampton — pleasant once, but now deserted by all the inhabitants except some pauperized whites and a colony of negroes. It was in full occupation of the Federal soldiers, and I observed that most of the men were Germans, the garrison at Newport News being principally composed of Americans. The old red brick houses, with cornices of white stone; the narrow windows and high gables; gave an aspect of antiquity and European comfort to the place, the like of which I have not yet seen in the States. Most of the shops were closed; in some the shutters were still down, and the goods remained displayed in the windows. “I have allowed no plundering,” said the General; “and if I find a fellow trying to do it, I will hang him as sure as my name is Butler. See here,” and as he spoke he walked into a large woollen-draper's shop, where bales of cloth were still lying on the shelves, and many articles such as are found in a large general store in a country town were disposed on the floor or counters; “they shall not accuse the men under my command of being robbers.” The boast, however, was not so well justified in a visit to another house occupied by some soldiers. “Well,” said the General, with a smile, “I dare say you know enough of camps to have found out that chairs and tables are irresistible; the men will take them off to their tents, though they may have to leave them next morning.”

The principal object of our visit was the fortified trench which has been raised outside the town towards the Confederate lines. The path lay through a church-yard filled with most interesting monuments. The sacred edifice of red brick, with a square clock-tower rent by lightning, is rendered interesting by the fact that it is almost the first church built by the English colonists of Virginia. On the tombstones are recorded the names of many subjects of His Majesty George Ill., and familiar names of persons born in the early part of last century in English villages, who passed to their rest before the great rebellion of the Colonies had disturbed their notions of loyalty and respect to the crown. Many a British subject, too, lies there, whose latter days must have been troubled by the strange scenes of the war of independence. With what doubt and distrust must that one at whose tomb I stand have heard that George Washington was making head against the troops of His Majesty King George III.! How the hearts of the old men who had passed the best years of their existence, as these stones tell us, fighting for His Majesty against the French, must have beaten when once more they heard the roar of Frenchman's ordnance uniting with the voices of the rebellious guns of the colonists from the plains of Yorktown against the entrenchments in which Cornwallis and his deserted band stood at hopeless bay! But could these old eyes open again, and see General Butler standing on the eastern rampart which bounds their resting-place, and pointing to the spot whence the rebel cavalry of Virginia issue night and day to charge the loyal pickets of His Majesty The Union, they might take some comfort in the fulfilment of the vaticinations which no doubt they uttered, " It cannot, and it will not, come, to good."

Having inspected the works — as far as I could judge, too extended, and badly traced — which I say with all deference to the able young engineer who accompanied us to point out the various objects of interest — the General returned to the bridge, where we remounted, and made a tour of the camps of the force intended to defend Hampton, falling back on Fortress Monroe in case of necessity. Whilst he was riding ventre a terre, which seems to be his favorite pace, his horse stumbled in the dusty road, and in his effort to keep his seat the General broke his stirrup leather, and the ponderous brass stirrup fell to the ground; but, albeit a lawyer, he neither lost his seat nor his sangfroid, and calling out to his orderly " to pick up his toe plate," the jean slippers were closely pressed, spurs and all, to the sides of his steed, and away we went once more through dust and heat so great I was by no means sorry when he pulled up outside a pretty villa, standing in a garden, which was occupied by Colonel Max Weber, of the German Turner Regiment, once the property of General Tyler. The camp of the Turners, who are members of various gymnastic societies, was situated close at hand; but I had no opportunity of seeing them at work, as the Colonel insisted on our partaking of the hospitalities of his little mess, and produced some bottles of sparkling hock and a block of ice, by no means unwelcome after our fatiguing ride. His Major, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten, and who spoke English better than his chief, had served in some capacity or other in the Crimea, and made many inquiries after the officers of the Guards whom he had known there. I took an opportunity of asking him in what state the troops were. "The whole thing is a robbery," he exclaimed; "this war is for the contractors; the men do not get a third of what the Government pay for them; as for discipline, my God! it exists not. We Germans are well enough, of course; we know our affair; but as for the Americans, what would you? They make colonels out of doctors and lawyers, and captains out of fellows who are not fit to brush a soldier's shoe." "But the men get their pay?" "Yes that is so. At the end of two months, they get it, and by that time it is due to sutlers, who charge them 100 per cent."

It is easy to believe these old soldiers do not put much confidence in General Butler, though they admit his energy. “Look you; one good officer with 5,000 steady troops, such as we have in Europe, shall come down any night and walk over us all into Fortress Monroe whenever he pleased, if he knew how these troops were placed.”

On leaving the German Turners, the General visited the camp of Duryea's New York Zouaves, who were turned out at evening parade, or more properly speaking, drill. But for the ridiculous effect of their costume the regiment would have looked well enough; but riding down on the rear of the ranks the discolored napkins tied round their heads, without any fez cap beneath, so that the hair sometimes stuck up through the folds, the ill-made jackets, the loose bags of red calico hanging from their loins, the long gaiters of white cotton — instead ot the real Zouave yellow and black greave, and smart white gaiter — made them appear such military scarecrows, I could scarcely refrain from laughing outright. Nevertheless the men were respectably drilled, marched steadily in columns of company, wheeled into line, and went past at quarter distance at the double much better than could be expected from the short time they had been in the field, and I could with all sincerity say to Colonel Duryea, a smart and not unpretentious gentleman, who asked my opinion so pointedly that I could not refuse to give it, that I considered the appearance of the regiment very creditable. The shades of evening were now falling, and as I had been up before 5 o'clock in the morning, I was not sorry when General Butler said, “Now we will go home to tea, or you will detain the steamer.” He had arranged before I started that the vessel, which in ordinary course would have returned to Baltimore at eight o'clock, should remain till he sent down word to the Captain to go.

We scampered back to the fort, and judging from the challenges and vigilance of the sentries, and inlying pickets, I am not quite so satisfied as the Major that the enemy could have surprised the place. At the tea-table there were no additions to the General's family; he therefore spoke without any reserve. Going over the map, he explained his views in reference to future operations, and showed cause, with more military acumen than I could have expected from a gentleman of the long robe, why he believed Fortress Monroe was the true base of operations against Richmond.

I have been convinced for some time, that if a sufficient force could be left to cover Washington, the Federals should move against Richmond from the Peninsula, where they could form their depots at leisure, and advance, protected by their gunboats, on a very short line which offers far greater facilities and advantages than the inland route from Alexandria to Richmond, which, difficult in itself from the nature of the country, is exposed to the action of a hostile population, and, above all, to the danger of constant attacks by the enemies' cavalry, tending more or less to destroy all communication with the base of the Federal operations.

The threat of seizing Washington led to a concentration of the Union troops in front of it, which caused in turn the collection of the Confederates on the lines below to defend Richmond. It is plain that if the Federals can cover Washington, and at the same time assemble a force at Monroe strong enough to march on Richmond, as they desire, the Confederates will be placed in an exceedingly hazardous position, scarcely possible to escape from; and there is no reason why the North, with their- overwhelming preponderance, should not do so, unless they be carried away by the fatal spirit of brag and bluster which comes from their press to overrate their own strength and to despise their enemy's. The occupation of Suffolk will be seen, by any one who studies the map, to afford a most powerful leverage to the Federal forces from Monroe in their attempts to turn the enemy out of their camps of communication, and to enable them to menace Richmond as well as the Southern States most seriously.

But whilst the General and I are engaged over our maps and mint juleps, time flies, and at last I perceive by the clock it is time to go. An aide is sent to stop the boat, but he returns ere I leave with the news that “She is gone.” Whereupon the General sends for the Quartermaster Talmadge, who is out in the camps, and only arrives in time to receive a severe “wigging.” It so happened that I had important papers to send off by the next mail from New York, and the only chance of being able to do so depended on my being in Baltimore next day. General Butler acted with kindness and promptitude in the matter. “I promised you should go by the steamer, but the captain has gone off without orders or leave, for which he shall answer when I see him. Meantime it is my business to keep my promise. Captain Talmadge, you will at once go down and give orders to the most suitable transport steamer or chartered vessel available, to get up steam at once and come up to the wharf for Mr. Russell.”

Whilst I was sitting in the parlor which served as the General's office, there came in a pale, bright-eyed, slim young man in a subaltern's uniform, who sought a private audience, and unfolded a plan he had formed, on certain data gained by nocturnal expeditions, to surprise a body of the enemy's cavalry which was in the habit of coming down every night and disturbing the pickets at Hampton. His manner was so eager, his information so precise, that the General could not refuse his sanction, but he gave it in a characteristic manner. “Well, sir, I understand your proposition. You intend to go out as a volunteer to effect this service. You ask my permission to get men for it. I cannot grant you an order to any of the officers in command of regiments to provide you with these; but if the Colonel of your regiment wishes to give leave to his men to volunteer, and they like to go with you, I give you leave to take them. I wash my hands of all responsibility in the affair.” The officer bowed and retired, saying, “That is quite enough, General.”*

At ten o'clock the Quartermaster came back to say that a screw steamer called The Elizabeth was getting up steam for my reception, and I bade good-by to the General, and walked down with his aide and nephew, Lieutenant Butler, to the Hygeia Hotel to get my light knapsack. It was a lovely moonlight night, and as I was passing down an avenue of trees an officer stopped me, and exclaimed, “General Butler, I hear you have given leave to Lieutenant Blank to take a party of my regiment and go off scouting to-night after the enemy. It is too hard that —” What more he was going to say I know not, for I corrected the mistake, and the officer walked hastily on towards the General's quarters. On reaching the Hygeia Hotel I was met by the correspondent of a New York paper, who as commissary-general, or, as they are styled in the States, officer of subsistence, had been charged to get the boat ready, and who explained to me it would be at least an hour before the steam was up; and whilst I was waiting in the porch I heard many Virginian, and old-world stories as well, the general upshot of which was that all the rest of the world could be “done” at cards, in love, in drink, in horseflesh, and in fighting, by the true-born American. General Butler came down after a time, and joined our little society, nor was he by any means the least shrewd and humorous raconteur of the party. At eleven o'clock The Elizabeth uttered some piercing cries, which indicated she had her steam up; and so I walked down to the jetty, accompanied by my host and his friends, and wishing them good-by, stepped on board the little vessel, and with the aid of the negro cook, steward, butler, boots, and servant, roused out the captain from a small wooden trench which he claimed as his berth, turned into it, and fell asleep just as the first difficult convulsions of the screw aroused the steamer from her coma, and forced her languidly against the tide in the direction of Baltimore.

* It may be stated here, that this expedition met with a disastrous result. If I mistake not, the officer, and with him the correspondent of a paper who accompanied him, were killed by the cavalry whom he meant to surprise, and several of the volunteers were also killed or wounded.

SOURCE: William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South, Vol. 1, p. 405-19

Monday, February 4, 2019

Caroline E. Croome, November 23, 1863

Newbern, November 23d, 1863.

Mr. James gave me a School which Miss Canedy was teaching, consisting of adults and a few children who could not attend her large school. It is one of intense interest. The scholars manifest the most enthusiastic desire to learn. The great point with all seems to be to read the Testament. Some learn very rapidly and quite well, but when they attempt to spell, have no idea whatever of the sound of letters, nor can you give them any if they are old; with the younger ones I am trying to overcome this, and by perseverance shall, I hope, succeed. With those who have grown old, it seems only to be necessary to teach them to ready and the quickest method (however irregular) is the most desirable.

I found everything in Newbern so much more comfortable than I expected, that I have not for one moment felt as though I was enduring any privations. Our ungratified wants have only been a source of amusement, and our many comforts a continual cause for congratulation.

I cannot feel that I am engaged in teaching, in an ordinary way, reading, writing, and spelling; but, that each one to whom we impart any instruction, any spark of knowledge, is so much pressure bearing on a lever, that is slowly, but inevitably, elevating a nation.

When I witness their delighted earnest effort to improve, my own heart catches the spirit and echoes the fervent, “bress de Lord,” that involuntarily escapes so many lips when they find they can spell out a passage in the Testament or Psalms.

I cannot close without giving you a few incidents connected with my School, and those with whom I come in daily contact. One of my pupils, thirteen years of age, could, six months ago, read only very small words, and that by spelling them out; now she reads better than the average of white children of the North of the same age. She spells difficult words with ease. She is very black — intensely African. She has been at school only part of the six months. Another case is a woman of about sixty-five. She reads well in the Testament or in any book at sight, but cannot spell the simplest words. She has learned almost entirely since the Federal forces took Newbern.

We have a boy employed in the house, who has all the proverbial characteristics of the negro, and is in all above mediocrity. He keeps his book constantly with him, not only studying when an opportunity is given him, but stealing time from his work for that purpose. Often when I know he should be at work, I have listened in vain for the sound of his axe, and going quietly out to the wood yard, have seen him hide his Reader under a large stick of wood, and with a sheepish look and a real negro laugh, resume his work; but unless watched the axe will soon be dropped for the book. We have also a girl in the house, who has never had any advantages. She does not know all her tetters, but is very observing. This morning she said to me, in as good English as I could use, “Miss Carrie, James did not cut one particle of wood last night.” I looked at her astonished, for three weeks ago she could not have put together a correct sentence. She also said to the boy (when he tried to excuse himself for neglecting the wood), “If I could read as well as you can, I would not say gwine for going, specially when the white folks take so much pains with you.” Thus daily are brought before us such demonstrations of the high ability of the negro as must convince those who have hitherto denied that his elevation was possible.

C. E. Croome.

SOURCE: New-England Educational Commission for Freedmen, Extracts from Letters of Teachers and Superintendents of the New-England Educational Commission for Freedmen, Fourth Series, January 1, 1864, p. 9-10

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Commandant Samuel F. Dupont to Gustavus V. Fox, October 8, 1861

Astor House, N.Y. Oct. 8, 61.
Dear Mr. Fox

I answered yr telegraph in some haste last evening and write to say that ten days from the seventh will answer or we will make to answer should I be in advance of it, for in my present view and judgment I cannot spare any of the vessels you have so judiciously designated.

2. Captain Blake having signified his willingness that Midshipman Preston should leave the Academy I beg you will order him to Wabash for I greatly want such a person. The signal business alone for such a fleet to avoid separations and collisions &c will occupy one mind. He is also a draughtsman which will be of importance.

3. Please reward old Commodore Gregory's devotion to his gun boats for which I feel greatly indebted, by ordering his son Hugh M. Gregory to Wabash of which I wrote you before.

4. Goldboro' (Florida) wants a Gunner.

5. A Masters Mate to Curlew.

6. The number of contraband at Fortress Monroe was nearly all a sham. Sherman tells me there are only some four hundred men, and Wool says he will not give them up.

7. The QrMaster is bothered about the transportation of their Gun Powder—their fort and siege powder, not the fixed ammunition, they have 2400 bbls! I can take some on the Wabash. Shall I take one of the Barks at the Yard and make a magazine of her to be towed down?

8. Just had a French & Eng. man of war boarded direct from Charleston, had not seen the Wabash — Vandalia and Flag. off Charleston when they left.

9. Gen. Sherman has asked as a favor to him that Lt. Crossman, now in Philada. be ordered to some vessel in the exped. he being anxious for service on it. He is a son of the Army Quarter Master of that name and I believe clever.

10. Davis is hard at work and so am I, Rodgers also here, all doing our best, full of hope and spirit.

Yours faithfully
S. F. Dupont.
G. V. Fox Esq.
Ass. Secty.

P.S. Should have written sooner but was told you would be here, until Mr. & Mrs. Blair told me otherwise.

Davis says please not forget Preston.

SOURCE: Robert Means Thompson & Richard Wainwright, Editors, Publications of the Naval Historical Society, Volume 9: Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1861-1865, Volume 1, p. 56-7

Monday, January 15, 2018

Salmon P. Chase to Edwin M. Stanton, May 5, 1865

Beaufort, N.C.  May 5, 1865
My dear Sir,

How would it do to issue an order forbidding the calling of the freedmen, “contrabands”, and the places where they are brought together in camps, “corrals.”  Words are things, & terms implying degradation help to degrade.  Such an order, expressed as you know how, would correct a great evil & help those who need help.

Here and at New Berne I have seen a number of the returned rebels – among them a Senator of the late rebel legislature & a Colonel in the rebel army paroled.  Evidently they would all like that restoration best which would give them most power & place; but they will, just as clearly, accommodate themselves to any mode of reorganization the National Government my think best – even including the restoration to the blacks of the right of suffrage which slavery took from them about thirty years ago.

Sincerely yours
Hon E. M. Stanton

It is clear to me that the National Government must take or suggest the initiative.

SOURCE: John Niven, Editor, The Salmon P. Chase Papers: Volume 5, Correspondence, 1865-1873, p. 40

Monday, October 23, 2017

Edwin M. Stanton to the American Freedmen's Inquiry Commission, March 16 1863

Washington, March 16, 1863.

GENTLEMEN: The order, of which the following is a copy, sets forth in general terms the functions and duties with which you are charged by this Department:

Ordered, That Robert Dale Owen, of Indiana; Col. James McKaye, of New York, and Samuel G. Howe, of Boston, Mass., be, and they are hereby appointed commissioners to investigate the condition of the colored population emancipated by acts of Congress and the President's proclamation of January 1, 1863, and to report what measures will best contribute to their protection and improvement, so that they may defend and support themselves; and also, how they can be most usefully employed in the service of the Government for the suppression of the rebellion.

The great and constantly increasing colored population thrown upon the care of this Department in the progress of the war, in the absence of any legislative provision for their protection and disposal, renders it highly proper that it should have not [only] the most authentic and accurate information as to their present condition and as to the experiences of other communities in like crises, but that such practical measures for placing them in a state of self-support and self-defense, with the least possible disturbance to the great industrial interest of the country and of rendering their services efficient in the present war, should be carefully and maturely considered and reported.

With these purposes in view, you will repair to such places as you may deem necessary, in order to obtain on the spot such authentic information as will enable you thoroughly to understand the matters hereby submitted to your investigation. Every aid and facility from Government officials in such places will be scoured to you, at your request, by letters addressed to them from the proper Department.

You will be allowed a secretary, and, if you should find it necessary, a corresponding secretary and messenger, and such further aid, stenographic or other, as you may deem essential to carry out the objects of the commission.

You are authorized to procure for the use of the commission such official documents, publications, and other writings (ultimately to be placed in the library of the War Department) as may be necessary in the course of your investigations and in making out your report.

Your compensation will be a per diem of $8, together with quarters, fuel, and subsistence at the rates allowed to a colonel of cavalry; and you will be allowed actual traveling and office expenses on vouchers specifying such expenses, duly certified by the commission.

While from the nature of the duties assigned to you a precise limit cannot be affixed for their termination, and while it is very desirable that they should be prosecuted with all proper assiduity and completed at as early a day as is consistent with their due performance, you are expected to continue your labors until you shall be able fully to complete the investigations and researches herewith committed to your charge, and report the same to the Department.

You may make to me from time to time, as you see fit, preliminary reports during your progress, and your final report will be accompanied by such official or authentic documents as may best substantiate the information and the recommendations it shall contain.

Secretary of War.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series III, Volume 3 (Serial No. 124), p. 73-4

Friday, October 6, 2017

Captain Charles Wright Wills: March 31, 1863

Camp 103d Illinois Infantry, Lagrange, Tenn.,
March 31, 1863.

I have lost my negro, Bob. The cavalry have been indulging in a pretty rough fight near here, and I am engaged on a “Board of Survey” which will occupy me for some days to come. There is also a good quality of Scotch ale in town, no paper collars, and a great deal of robbing and scoundrelism generally. There is some kind of a scare along the line, and the authorities this morning shipped to Memphis some 600 negroes, to get them out of the way of the trouble. I made my Bob send his wife and children, and the scamp, when it came to the parting, couldn't resist her pleading, and so he joined the party. It is beautiful to see such an exhibition of love and constancy in the brute species. All of these Africans will undoubtedly be sent to Illinois or somewhere else. I declare I don't like to see them introduced into our State, for they increase like rabbits. I believe will eventually outnumber the white race, in any country in which they are planted. This matter of slavery is an awful sin and I'm satisfied debases the governing race, but if we have to keep these negroes in the country, I say keep them as slaves. Take them from secesh and turn them over to Unionists, but don't free them in America. They can't stand it. These negroes don't average the ability of eight-year-old white children in taking care of themselves. There are exceptions of course; arm all the latter and make them fight Rebels. They will probably be fit for freedom after a few years as soldiers. I received the Register with the letters from our regiment and Peterson's dressing of the Democrat. ’Tis jolly to throw stones at that paper. You see if they all don't get their fingers burned by that foulmouthed Davidson. A decent man has no business talking against him, and will always come out behind. I am sure that he would be hung if he would venture within our regimental lines. One of my boys cut a great caper to-day. He is an old Dutchman, and has been aching for a fight ever since we left Peoria. He has told me several times that he had a mind to run off and go down to Vicksburg until the fight is over and then he would come back again. This morning I sent him to Lafayette (near Memphis) as guard for these contrabands. The old fellow went on to Memphis and I expect will be at the Vicksburg battle. I know that he won't leave me for good, though this act makes him liable to punishment as a deserter. He is a funny old dog but an excellent soldier. For goodness sake send me those shirts. All I have sewed together wouldn't more than make one long enough to reach the top of my pants. Any one of them would fly out over my coat collar if I'd stoop down.

About 100 of the 6th Illinois Cavalry were surprised night before last some 20 or 30 miles north of this place. The first notice they had of the enemy was a volley of balls and shot among them as they lay asleep by their bivouac fires, about 12 p. m. Eight were killed and about 25 or 30 wounded by the first fire. The 6th got up and went into the Rebels in a most gallant manner, killing and wounding a number and capturing a major, two captains and some others. The enemy numbered some 400, and had the advantage of a complete surprise and were then badly whipped. The 6th boys deserve infinite credit for their fighting, and their colonel, a rope for his carelessness. He fought like a hero, though. ’Twas Lieutenant Loomis. I don't believe that Napoleon had any better cavalry than this brigade here for fighting. Second Iowa, 6th and 7th Illinois are the regiments, and well handled they'd whip the devil. Just imagine the details of the above fight, and if you can't help thinking that every one of our men engaged was a hero, I'll disown you. I'll tell you a couple of items to show you how the war is being conducted here now. A train was captured a few miles west of here a few days ago, and three prisoners taken, carried off. A lieutenant among them was footsore and unable to keep up; one of the Rebels, for that reason alone, shot him through the head, killing him. The conductor of the train surrendered, but a Rebel after that shot at him three times, when the conductor concluding it was death anyway attempted to escape and succeeded. This morning I saw a crowd across the street and walked over. Some secesh prisoners had been brought in, among them the conductor had discovered the man who tried to kill him. The conductor tried hard to get to kill the scoundrel, but the guard prevented him. I tell you, if any of that stripe of fellows fall into my hands, you'll have a brother who has been concerned in a hanging scrape. I'm as decided on that point as I know how to be. I don't see any prospect of an immediate fight in this country. There is no force except a few hundred guerrillas within 50 miles of us, but General Smith uses every precaution. We are all under arms an hour before daylight, and the picketing is very systematical and good. The pickets are, however, annoyed more or less every night. These citizens are bringing immense bills of damages before our board. Three came in to-day amounting in the aggregate to $50,000, and more I think. To-morrow General Smith closes the lines at this post. No more going in or out by citizens. That is the best thing that has happened before my eyes during the war. The town has been full of citizens every day since we have been here, and of course they are all spies.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 166-8