Showing posts with label Corn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Corn. Show all posts

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Dr. Seth Rogers to his daughter Dolly, January 30, 1863

ALBERTI's Mills, 40 miles from FERNANDINA.
January 30, 1863. 

This river is rebellious to the last degree. It is very crooked and sluggish and black and got us aground so many times in the long, sleepless night that rebel pickets might have picked off many of our men and officers. Again and again we had to turn points at right angles and we were never more than two rods from one or the other shore. Often the sides of our boat were swept by the boughs of the mournful looking trees. The shores are generally low and marshy, and the moss droops so low as to give the appearance of weeping willows. It is now eleven, A.M. and we are starting homeward. Oh, it is a queer night, so queer that more than once I laughed outright, when I thought of the curious fact that T. W. H. and I were so industriously trying to get a peep at real rebels, while they would undoubtedly do something to get a peep at us. In my time I have seen considerable mismanagement of one kind and another, but do not remember that I ever dreamed that so much of that article could be employed in one night on board a steamboat. Among the boat's officers there was no mutual understanding, and it is fortunate for us that the rebels did not know it. But at daylight we did reach Alberti's Mills, and then came for me an hour of fitful, dreamy sleep. I had made three vigorous efforts to sleep during the night, but enjoyed the calm moonlight and strange scenery and spice of danger too much for drowsiness. We passed picket fires and felt the possibility that our return might be obstructed, or greatly harassed. Very few officers have voluntarily dared such a responsibility as that resting on our Colonel, but he patiently and vigilantly met all the obstacles and had his pickets and skirmishers so arranged. . . .

Evening and Ben Deford again, thank God!

 I had written thus far when the rebels began firing from the shore and I found myself among our soldiers, who replied with spirit and precision that sent more than one poor fellow to the dust.

Captain Clifton of the John Adams was shot through the head and died instantly. The Major's [J. D. Strong] head escaped by about two inches.

Strange to say no other accidents occurred in this nor in the subsequent firing from the bluffs on the Florida shore. The first attack was from the Georgia bluffs. They were both desperate, but of short duration. One fellow actually jumped on the flat-boat in tow, and was immediately shot by one of our soldiers. I afterwards asked Robert Sutton what he himself was about during the conflict, and found that he was deliberately shooting from the pilot house, with two guns, having a man to load one while he fired the other. But now I will go back to the sunrise. As I was saying, the pickets and skirmishers were so placed that there was no escape for the white families at Alberti’s Mills. The Colonel had gone ashore and a little after sunrise sent for me to go off and take with me some copies of the President's proclamation. I found a little village, all included in the A. estate, and the mansion was occupied by Madame A. and her family. She was a New Yorker by birth and her deceased husband was a native of Philadelphia. Mr. B., former business partner of his - A.'s was at the house on a visit, ill with chronic bronchitis. He, being an important person, must be made prisoner, unless too feeble to be removed from the house. I found, on examination, that he could be taken with us without danger to himself. Madame A. spent much time trying to convince me that she and her husband had been wonderfully devoted to the interests of their slaves, especially to the fruitless work of trying to educate them. The truth of these assertions was disproved by certain facts, such as a strong slave jail, containing implements of torture which we now have in our possession, (the lock I have), the fact that the slaves have “mostly gone over to the Yankees,” and the yet other fact that Robert Sutton, a former slave there, said the statement was false. The statement of a black man was lawful in Dixie yesterday. I called Madame A.'s attention to a former slave of hers, whom she remembered as “Bob,” but never before knew as Robert Sutton, corporal in the army of the United States. Robert begged me to forgive him for breaking through my order that he should not exert himself at all till the danger of inflammation of the brain should be averted. The white bandage about his head was conspicuous at the points of danger through all the twenty-four eventful hours of our expedition. It finally devolved upon him and Sergeant Rivers1 to examine the persons of our six rebel prisoners, for concealed weapons of defense. This last process was so very anti-slavery, that I fancied the rebels enjoyed it somewhat less than I.

I am told that thirteen riderless horses went back to camp after that fight in the woods the other night; that the lieutenant [Jones] in command and five others were killed and many others wounded. Could our party have known the exact state of affairs, the camp might have been destroyed and many prisoners taken. But it was safer and wiser for infantry not to follow cavalry in the night. Our comrades on the Ben Deford greeted us heartily and the Provost Marshal was in readiness to take charge of our prisoners. We shall probably take Mr. B. to Beaufort with us. He is a wealthy and influential rebel and may become a very important hostage when Jeff Davis begins to hang us. We brought off two or three negroes, and rice, corn, sheep and other valuable things, strictly contraband of war. I wanted the Colonel to take a piano already boxed, and in a store-house at the wharf, but we had no room for it. I thought it would especially please Miss Forten to have it in her school.

_______________

1 Prince Rivers.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 352-4

Monday, November 2, 2020

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 16, 1864

A plan of invasion. Gen. Longstreet telegraphs that he has no corn, and cannot stay where he is, unless supplied by the Quartermaster-General. This, the President says, is impossible, for want of transportation. The railroads can do no more than supply grain for the horses of Lee's army—all being brought from Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, etc. But the President says Longstreet might extricate himself from the exigency by marching into Middle Tennessee or Kentucky, or both.

Soon after this document came in, another followed from the Tennessee and Kentucky members of Congress, inclosing an elaborate plan from Col. Dibrell, of the Army of Tennessee, of taking Nashville, and getting forage, etc. in certain counties not yet devastated, in Tennessee and Kentucky. Only 10,000 additional men will be requisite. They are to set out with eight days' rations; and if Grant leaves Chattanooga to interfere with the plan, Gen. Johnston is to follow and fall upon his rear, etc. Gen. Longstreet approves the plan—is eager for it, I infer from his dispatch about corn; and the members of Congress are in favor of it. If practicable, it ought to be begun immediately; and I think it will be.

A bright windy day—snow gone.

The Federal General Sherman, with 30,000 men, was, at the last dates, still marching southeast of Jackson, Miss. It is predicted that he is rushing on his destruction. Gen. Polk is retreating before him, while our cavalry is in his rear. He cannot keep open his communications.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 150-1

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Diary of Gideon Welles: Monday, July 18, 1864

I yesterday went with my sons and Dr. Horwitz to Silver Spring, passing over the ground of the late fight. The chimneys of the burnt houses, the still barricaded road, the trampled fields, and other evidences bear testimony to what had occurred. The Blairs were absent from Silver Spring, but we turned down the lane which leads to it and went to the walls of Montgomery Blair's house, situated pleasantly on a little wooded eminence. But all was silent. Waste and war. Judge B. tells me the house and furniture cost him just about $20,000. The Rebels have done him this injury, and yet some whom they have never personally harmed denounce him as not earnest in the cause, as favoring the Rebels and their views. We went through the grounds to the mansion of the elder Mr. Blair. The place was less injured than I had supposed, and there must have been extra pains taken for the preservation of the shrubbery and the growing crops. Fields of the best corn I have seen this year were untouched. What depredation or plunder had been committed in the house I could not tell, for it was closed. My son, who led our pickets, was the first to enter it after the Rebels left. He found some papers scattered over the floor, which he gathered up. There had been crowds of persons there filling the house, sleeping on the floors, prying into the family privacy, but not more rudely, perhaps, than our own soldiers would have done, had the place been in their power.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 80-1

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: January 30, 1864

The Senate has passed a new Conscription Act, putting all residents between the ages of eighteen and fifty-live in the military service for the war. Those over forty-five to be detailed by the President as commissary quartermasters, Nitre Bureau agents, provost guards, clerks, etc. This would make up the enormous number of 1,500,000 men! The express companies are to have no detail of men fit for the field, but the President may exempt a certain class for agricultural purposes, which, of course, can be revoked whenever a farmer refuses to sell at schedule prices, or engages in speculation or extortion. Thus the President becomes almost absolute, and the Confederacy a military nation. The House will pass it with some modifications. Already the Examiner denounces it, for it allows only one owner or editor to a paper, and just sufficient printers,— no assistant editors, no reporters, no clerks, etc. This will save us, and hasten a peace.

Mr. G. A. Myers, the little old lawyer, always potential with the successive Secretaries of War, proposes, in a long letter, that the Department allows 30 to 40 foreigners (Jews) to leave the Confederate States, via Maryland, every week!

Mr. Goodman, President of the Mississippi Railroad, proposes to send cotton to the Yankees in exchange for implements, etc., to repair the road, and Lieut.-Gen. (Bishop) Polk favors the scheme.

Commissary-General Northrop likewise sent in a proposal from an agent of his in Mississippi, to barter cotton with the Yankees for subsistence, and he indorses an approval on it. I trust we shall be independent this summer.

To-day it is cool and cloudy, but Custis has had no use for fire in his school-room of nights for a week—and that in January. The warm weather saved us a dollar per day in coal. Custis's scholars are paying him $95 the first month.

I shall hope for better times now. We shall have men enough, if the Secretary and conscription officers do not strain the meshes of the seine too much, and the currency will be reduced. The speculators and extortioners, in great measure, will be circumvented, for the new conscription will take them from their occupations, and they will not find transportation for their wares.

The 2000 barrels of corn destroyed by the enemy on the Peninsula, a few days ago, belonged to a relative of Col Ruffin, Assistant Commissary-General! He would not impress that—and lo! it is gone! Many here are glad of it.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 138-9

Monday, August 17, 2020

Robert G. Harper to Elias B. Caldwell, August 20, 1817

BALTIMORE, August 20, 1817.

DEAR SIR: Ever since I received your letter of July 11, requesting the communication of such ideas as had occurred to me concerning the proposed plan of colonizing the free blacks in the United States, with their own consent, and indeed from the time of our short interview at Washington, when you first mentioned the subject to me, I have kept it constantly in view, and revolved it much in my mind. Hitherto, however, I have been prevented from putting my thoughts on paper, or even digesting and reducing them to method, by various interruptions, arising in part from accident, and in part from professional engagements, in the midst of which I am obliged at last to write. This may interfere very much with the order of my ideas, but will not, I trust, occasion any material omission[.]

Nor do I apprehend much inconvenience from the delay, since the preparatory measures for the first step in this great enterprise, the institution of a mission to the southwestern coast of Africa, to explore the ground, and seek out a suitable situation for the establishment of the colony, are not yet, I believe, entirely completed.

Although you confine your request to the communication of my ideas concerning the manner and means of accomplishing this great design, it will not, I trust, be improper or unseasonable to throw out, by way of preface and introduction, some hints on its usefulness and practicability, which have long engaged my attention, and are susceptible I think of very full proof. To many, and especially to you, this I know is quite unnecessary; but great numbers of our countrymen, including many persons of good sense, considerable influence, and the best intentions, may have serious doubts on these two points, which it is of great importance to remove, in order to gain their zealous co-operation. Towards the attainment of so desirable an object I wish to contribute my mite, for which this seems to be a fit occasion.

In reflecting on the utility of a plan for colonizing the free people of color, with whom our country abounds, it is natural that we should be first struck by its tendency to confer a benefit on ourselves, by ridding us of a population for the most part idle and useless, and too often vicious and mischievous. These persons are condemned to a state of hopeless inferiority and degradation by their color, which is an indelible mark of their origin and former condition, and establishes an impassable barrier between them and the whites. This barrier is closed forever by our habits and our feelings, which perhaps it would be more correct to call our prejudices, and which, whether feelings or prejudices, or a mixture of both, make us recoil with horror from the idea of an intimate union with the free blacks, and preclude the possibility of such a state of equality, between them and us, as alone could make us one people. Whatever justice, humanity, and kindness, we may feel towards them, we cannot help considering them, and treating them, as our inferiors; nor can they help viewing themselves in the same light, however hard and unjust they may be inclined to consider such a state of things. We cannot help associating them in our feelings and conduct, nor can they help associating themselves, with the slaves, who have the same color, the same origin, and the same manners, and with whom they or their parents have been recently in the same condition. Be their industry ever so great, and their conduct ever so correct, whatever property they may acquire, or whatever respect we may feel for their characters, we never could consent, and they never could hope, to see the two races placed on a footing of perfect equality with each other; to see the free blacks, or their descendants, visit in our houses, form part of our circle of acquaintance, marry into our families, or participate in public honors and employments. This is strictly true of every part of our country, even those parts where slavery has long ceased to exist, and is held in abhorrence. There is no State in the Union where a negro or mulatto can ever hope to be a member of Congress, a judge, a militia officer, or even a justice of the peace; to sit down at the same table with the respectable whites, or to mix freely in their society. I may safely assert that Paul Cuffee, respectable, intelligent, and wealthy as he is, has no expectation or chance of ever being invited to dine with any gentleman in Boston; of marrying his daughter, whatever may be her fortune or education, to one of their sons; or of seeing his son obtain a wife among their daughters.

This circumstance, arising from the difference of color and origin between the slaves and the free class, distinguishes the slavery of America from that of every other country, ancient or modern. Slavery existed among almost all the ancient nations; it now exists throughout Asia, Africa, and America, and in every part of the Russian and Turkish dominions in Europe; that is, in more than three-fourths of the world. But the great body of the slaves every where, except in North and South America, are of the same race, origin, color, and general character, with the free people. So it was among the ancients. Manumission therefore, by removing the slave from the condition of slavery, exempted him from its consequences, and opened his way to a full participation in all the benefits of freedom. He was raised to an equality with the free class, became incorporated into it with his family, and might, by good fortune or good conduct, soon wash out the stain, and obliterate the remembrance, of his former degraded condition.

But in the United States this is impossible. You may manumit the slave, but you cannot make him a white man; he still remains a negro or a mulatto. The mark and the recollection of his origin and former state still adhere to him; the feelings produced by that condition in his own mind, and in the minds of the whites, still exist; he is associated, by his color and by these recollections and feelings, with the class of slaves ; and a barrier is thus raised between him and the whites, that is, between him and the free class, which he can never hope to transcend. With the hope he gradually loses the desire. The debasement, which was at first compulsory, has now become habitual and voluntary. The incitement to good conduct and exertion, which arises from the hope of raising himself or his family in the world, is a stranger to his breast. He looks forward to no distinction, aims at no excellence, and makes no effort beyond the supply of his daily wants; and the restraints of character being lost to him, he seeks, regardless of the future, to obtain that supply by the means which cost him the least present trouble. The authority of the master being removed, and its place not being supplied by moral restraints or incitements, he lives in idleness, and probably in vice, and obtains a precarious support by begging or theft. If he should avoid those extremes, and follow some regular course of industry, still the habits of thoughtless improvidence, which he contracted while a slave himself, or has caught from the slaves among whom he is forced to live, who of necessity are his companions and associates, prevent him from making any permanent provision for his support by prudent foresight and economy, and, in case of sickness, or of bodily disability from any other cause, send him to live as a pauper at the expense of the community.

There are no doubt many honorable, and some very distinguished, exceptions; but I may safely appeal to the observation of every man, at all acquainted with the class of people in question, for the correctness of this picture.

Such a class must evidently be a burden and a nuisance to the community; and every scheme which affords a prospect of removing so great an evil must deserve to be most favorably considered.

But it is not in themselves merely that the free people of color are a nuisance and burden. They contribute greatly to the corruption of the slaves, and to aggravate the evils of their condition, by rendering them idle, discontented, and disobedient. This also arises from the necessity, under which the free blacks are, of remaining incorporated with the slaves, of associating habitually with them, and forming part of the same class in society. The slave, seeing his free companion live in idleness, or subsist, however scantily or precariously, by occasional and desultory employment, is apt to grow discontented with his own condition, and to regard as tyranny and injustice the authority which compels him to labor. Hence, he is strongly incited to elude this authority, by neglecting his work as much as possible, to withdraw himself from it altogether by flight, and sometimes to attempt direct resistance. This provokes or impels the master to severity, which would not otherwise be thought necessary; and that severity, by rendering the slave still more discontented with his condition, and more hostile towards his master, by adding the sentiments of resentment and revenge to his original dissatisfaction, often renders him more idle and more worthless, and thus induces the real or supposed necessity of still greater harshness on the part of the master. Such is the tendency of that comparison which the slave cannot easily avoid making between his own situation and that of the free people of his own color, who are his companions, and in every thing, except exemption from the authority of a master, his equals, whose condition, though often much worse than his own, naturally appears better to him; and, being continually under his observation, and in close contact with his feelings, is apt to chafe, goad, and irritate him incessantly. This effect, indeed, is not always produced; but such is the tendency of this state of things, and it operates more extensively, and with greater force, than is commonly supposed.

But this effect, injurious as it must be to the character and conduct of the slaves, and consequently to their comfort and happiness, is far from being the worst that is produced by the existence of free blacks among us. A vast majority of the free blacks, as we have seen, are and must be an idle, worthless, and thievish race. It is with this part of them that the slaves will neccessarily associate the most frequently and the most intimately. Free blacks of the better class, who gain a comfortable subsistence by regular industry, keep as much as possible aloof from the slaves, to whom in general they regard themselves as in some degree superior. Their association is confined as much as possible to the better and more respectable class of slaves; but the idle and disorderly free blacks naturally seek the society of such slaves as are disposed to be idle and disorderly too, whom they encourage to be more and more so by their example, their conversation, and the shelter and means of concealment which they furnish. They encourage the slaves to theft, because they partake in its fruits; they receive, secrete, and dispose of the stolen goods, a part, and probably much the largest part, of which they often receive as a reward for their services; they furnish places of meeting and hiding places in their houses for the idle and the vicious slaves, whose idleness and vice are thus increased and rendered more contagious. These hiding places and places of meeting are so many traps and snares for the young and thoughtless slaves who have not yet become vicious; so many schools, in which they are taught, by precept and example, idleness, lying, debauchery, drunkenness, and theft. The consequence of all this is very easily seen, and I am sure is severely felt, in all places where free people of color exist in considerable numbers. That so many resist this contagion, that the free blacks themselves, as well as the slaves, do not become still more generally profligate, is a strong and consoling proof that the race possesses a fund of good dispositions, and is capable, in a proper situation, and under proper management, of becoming a virtuous and happy people. To place them in such a situation, to give them the benefit of such management, is the object of your noble enterprise; and surely no object is more entitled to approbation. .

Great, however, as the benefits are which we may thus promise ourselves from the colonization of the free people of color, by its tendency to prevent the discontent and corruption of our slaves, and to secure to them a better treatment, by rendering them more worthy of it, there is another advantage, infinitely greater in every point point [sic] of view, to which it may lead the way. It tends, and may powerfully tend, to rid is, gradually and entirely, in the United States, of slaves and slavery: a great moral and political evil, of increasing virulence and extent, from which much mischief is now felt, and very great calamity in future is justly apprehended. It is in this point of view, I confess, that your scheme of colonization most strongly recommends itself, in my opinion, to attention and support. The alarming danger of cherishing in our bosom a distinct nation, which can never become incorporated with us, while it rapidly increases in numbers and improves in intelligence; learning from us the arts of peace and war, the secret of its own strength, and the talent of combining and directing its force—a nation which must ever be hostile to us, from feeling and interest, because it can never incorporate with us, nor participate in the advantages which we enjoy; the danger of such a nation in our bosom need not be be [sic] pointed out to any reflecting mind. It speaks not only to our understandings, but to our very senses; and however it may be derided by some, or overlooked by others, who have not the ability or the time, or do not give themselves the trouble to reflect on and estimate properly the force and extent of those great moral and physical causes which prepare gradually, and at length bring forth, the most terrible convulsions in civil society, it will not be viewed without deep and awful apprehension by any who shall bring sound minds and some share of political knowledge and sagacity to the serious consideration of the subject. Such persons will give their most serious attention to any proposition which has for its object the eradication of this terrible mischief lurking in our vitals. I shall presently have occasion to advert a little to the manner in which your intended colony will conduce to this great end. It is therefore necessary to touch on it here. Indeed, it is too obvious to require much explanation.

But, independently of this view of the case, there is enough in the proposed measure to command our attention and support on the score of benefit to ourselves.

No person who has seen the slaveholding States, and those where slavery does not exist, and has compared ever so slightly their condition and situation, can have failed to be struck with the vast difference in favor of the latter. This difference extends to every thing, except only the character and manners of the most opulent and best educated people. These are very much the same every where. But in population; in the general diffusion of wealth and comfort; in public and private improvements; in the education, manners, and mode of life of the middle and laboring classes; in the face of the country; in roads, bridges, and inns; in schools and churches; in the general advancement of improvement and prosperity, there is no comparison. The change is seen the instant you cross the line which separates the country where there are slaves from that where there are none. Even in the same State, the parts where slaves most abound are uniformly the worst cultivated, the poorest, and the least populous; while wealth and improvement uniformly increase as the number of slaves in the country diminishes. I might prove and illustrate this position by many examples drawn from a comparison of different States, as Maryland and Pennsylvania, and between different counties in the same State, as Charles county and Frederick, in Maryland; but it is unnecessary, because every body who has seen the different parts of the country has been struck by this difference. Whence does it arise? I answer, from this: that in one division of country the land is cultivated by freemen, for their own benefit, and in the other almost entirely by slaves, for the benefit of their masters. It is the obvious interest of the first class of laborers to produce as much and consume as little as possible, and of the second class to consume as much and produce as little as possible. What the slave consumes is for himself; what he produces is for his master. All the time that he can withdraw from labor is gained to himself; all that he spends in labor is devoted to his master. All that the free laborer, on the contrary, can produce is for himself; all that he can save is so much added to his own stock. All the time that he loses from labor is his own loss.

This, if it were all, would probably be quite sufficient to account for the whole difference in question. But, unfortunately, it is far from being all. Another, and a still more injurious effect of slavery, remains to be considered.

Where the laboring class is composed wholly, or in a very considerable degree, of slaves, and of slaves distinguished from the free class by color, features, and origin, the ideas of labor and of slavery soon become connected in the minds of the free class. This arises from that association of ideas which forms one of the characteristic features of the human mind, and with which every reflecting person is well acquainted. They who continually from their infancy see black slaves employed in labor, and forming by much the most numerous class of laborers, insensibly associate the ideas of labor and of slavery, and are almost irresistibly led to consider labor as a badge of slavery, and consequently as a degradation. To be idle, on the contrary, is in their view the mark and the privilege of freemen. The effect of this habitual feeling upon that class of free whites which ought to labor, and consequently upon their condition, and the general condition of the country, will be readily perceived by those who reflect on such subjects. It is seen in the vast difference between the laboring class of whites in the Southern and Middle, and those of the Northern and Eastern States, Why are the latter incomparably more industrious, more thriving, more orderly, more comfortably situated, than the former ? The effect is obvious to all those who have travelled through the different parts of our country. What is the cause? It is found in the association between the idea of slavery and the idea of labor, and in the feeling produced by this association, that labor, the proper occupation of negro slaves, and especially agricultural labor, is degrading to a free white man.

Thus we see that, where slavery exists, the slave labors as little as possible, because all the time that he can withdraw from labor is saved to his own enjoyments; and consumes as much as possible, because what he consumes belongs to his master; while the free white man is insensibly but irresistibly led to regard labor, the occupation of slaves, as a degradation, and to avoid it as much as he can. The effect of these combined and powerful causes, steadily and constantly operating in the same direction, may easily be conceived. It is seen in the striking difference which exists between the slaveholding sections of our country and those where slavery is not permitted.

It is therefore obvious that a vast benefit would be conferred on the country, and especially on the slaveholding districts, if all the slave laborers could be gradually and imperceptibly withdrawn from cultivation, and their place supplied by free white laborers—I say gradually and imperceptibly, because, if it were possible to withdraw, suddenly and at once, so great a portion of the effective labor of the community as is now supplied by slaves, it would be productive of the most disastrous consequences. It would create an immense void, which could not be filled; it would impoverish a great part of the community, unhinge the whole frame of society in a large portion of the country, and probably end in the most destructive convulsions. But it is clearly impossible, and therefore we need not enlarge on the evils which it would produce.

But to accomplish this great and beneficial change gradually and imperceptibly, to substitute a free white class of cultivators for the slaves, with the consent of the owners, by a slow but steady and certain operation, I hold to be as practicable as it would be beneficial; and I regard this scheme of colonization as the first step in that great enterprise.

The considerations stated in the first part of this letter have long since produced a thorough conviction in my mind that the existence of a class of free people of color in this country is highly injurious to the whites, the slaves, and the free people of color themselves. Consequently, that all emancipation, to however small an extent, which permits the persons emancipated to remain in this country, is an evil which must increase with the increase of the operation, and would become altogether intolerable, if extended to the whole, or even to a very large part, of the black population. I am therefore strongly opposed to emancipation, in every shape and degree, unless accompanied by colonization.

I may perhaps on some future occasion develop a plan, on which I have long meditated, for colonizing gradually, and with the consent of their owners, and of themselves, where free, the whole colored population, slaves and all; but this is not the proper place for such an explanation, for which indeed I have not time now. But it is an essential part of the plan, and of every such plan, to prepare the way for its adoption and execution, by commencing a colony of blacks, in a suitable situation and under proper management. This is what your society propose to accomplish. Their project therefore, if rightly formed and well conducted, will open the way for this more extensive and beneficial plan of removing, gradually and imperceptibly, but certainly, the whole colored population from the country, and leaving its place to be imperceptibly supplied, as it would necessarily be, by a class of free white cultivators. In every part of the country this operation must necessarily be slow. In the Southern and Southwestern States it will be very long before it can be accomplished, and a very considerable time must probably elapse before it can even commence. It will begin first, and be first completed, in the Middle States, where the evils of slavery are most sensibly felt, the desire of getting rid of the slaves is already strong, and a greater facility exists of supplying their place by white cultivators. From thence it will gradually extend to the South and Southwest, till, by its steady, constant, and imperceptible operation, the evils of slavery shall be rooted out from every part of the United States, and the slaves themselves, and their posterity, shall be converted into a free, civilized, and great nation, in the country from which their progenitors were dragged, to be wretched themselves and a curse to the whites.

This great end is to be attained in no other way than by a plan of universal colonization, founded on the consent of the slaveholders and of the colonists themselves. For such a plan, that of the present colonization society opens and prepares the way, by exploring the ground, selecting a proper situation, and planting a colony, which may serve as a receptacle, a nursery, and a school, for those that are to follow. It is in this point of view that I consider its benefits as the most extensive and important, though not the most immediate.

The advantages of this undertaking, to which I have hitherto adverted, are confined to ourselves. They consist in ridding us of the free people of color, and preparing the way for getting rid of the slaves and of slavery. In these points of view they are undoubtedly very great. But there are advantages to the free blacks themselves, to the slaves, and to the immense population of middle and southern Africa, which no less recommend this undertaking to our cordial and zealous support.

To the free blacks themselves the benefits are the most obvious, and will be the most immediate. Here they are condemned to a state of hopeless inferiority, and consequent degradation. As they cannot emerge from this state, they lose by degrees the hope and at last the desire of emerging. With this hope and desire they lose the most powerful incitements to industry, frugality, good conduct, and honorable exertion. For want of this incitement, this noble and ennobling emulation, they sink for the most part into a state of sloth, wretchedness, and profligacy. The few honorable exceptions serve merely to show of what the race is capable in a proper situation. Transplanted to a colony composed of themselves alone, they would enjoy real equality; in other words, real freedom. They would become proprietors of land, master mechanics, shipowners, navigators, and merchants, and by degrees schoolmasters, justices of the peace, militia officers, ministers of religion, judges, and legislators. There would be no white population to remind them of and to perpetuate their original inferiority; but, enjoying all the privileges of freedom, they would soon enjoy all its advantages and all its dignity. The whites who might visit them would visit them as equals, for the purposes of a commerce mutually advantageous. They would soon feel the noble emulation to excel, which is the fruitful source of excellence in all the various departments of life; and, under the influence of this generous and powerful sentiment, united with the desire and hope of improving their condition, the most universal and active incitements to exertion among men, they would rise rapidly in the scale of existence, and soon become equal to the people of Europe, or of European origin, so long their masters and oppressors. Of all this the most intelligent among them would soon become sensible. The others would learn it from them; and the prospect and hope of such blessings would have an immediate and most beneficial effect on their condition and character; for it will be easy to adopt such regulations as to exclude from this colony all but those who shall deserve by their conduct to be admitted; thus rendering the hope of admission a powerful incentive to industry, honesty, and religion.

To the slaves, the advantages, though not so obvious or immediate, are yet certain and great.

In the first place, they would be greatly benefited by the removal of the free blacks, who now corrupt them, and render them discontented: thus exposing them to harsher treatment and greater privations. In the next place, this measure would open the way to their more frequent and easier manumission; for many persons, who are now restrained from manumitting their slaves by the conviction that they generally become a nuisance when manumitted in the country, would gladly give them freedom, if they were to be sent to a place where they might enjoy it usefully to themselves and to society. And, lastly, as this species of manumission, attended by removal to a country where they might obtain all the advantages of freedom, would be a great blessing, and would soon be so considered by the slaves, the hope of deserving and obtaining it would be a great solace to their sufferings, and a powerful incitement to good conduct. It would thus tend to make them happier and better before it came, and to fit them better for usefulness and happiness afterwards.

Such a colony, too, would enlarge the range of civilization and commerce, and thus tend to the benefit of all civilized and commercial nations. In this benefit our own nation would most largely participate; because, having founded the colony, and giving it constant supplies of new members, as well as its first and principal supply of necessaries and comforts, its first counexions would be formed with us, and would naturally grow with its growth and our own, till they ripened into fixed habits of intercourse, friendship, and attachment.

The greatest benefit, however, to be hoped from this enterprise, that which, in contemplation, most delights the philanthropic mind, still remains to be unfolded. It is the benefit to Africa herself, from this return of her sons to her bosom, bearing with them arts, knowledge, and civilization, to which she has hitherto been a stranger. Cast your eyes, my dear sir, on this vast continent; pass over the northern and northeastern parts, and the great desert, where sterility, ferocious ignorance, and fanaticism, seem to hold exclusive and perpetual sway; fix your attention on Soudan, and the widely extended regions to the south; you see there innumerable tribes and nations of blacks, mild and humane in their dispositions, sufficiently intelligent, robust, active, and vigorous, not averse from labor or wholly ignorant of agriculture, and possessing some knowledge of the ruder arts, which minister to the first wants of civilized man; you see a soil generally fertile, a climate healthy for the natives, and a mighty river, which rolls its waters through vast regions inhabited by these tribes, and seems destined, by an all wise and beneficent Providence, one day to connect then with each other, and all of them with the rest of the world, in the relations of commerce and friendly intercourse. What a field is here presented for the blessings of civilization and Christianity, which colonies of civilized blacks afford the best and probably the only means of introducing. These colonies, composed of blacks already instructed in the arts of civilized life and the truths of the gospel, judiciously placed, well conducted, and constantly enlarged, will extend gradually into the interior, will form commercial and political connexions with the native tribes in their vicinity, will extend those connexions to tribes more and more remote, will incorporate many of the natives with the colonies, and in their turn make establishments and settlements among the natives, and thus diffuse all around the arts of civilization, and the benefits of literary, moral, and religious instruction.

That such must be the tendency of colonies of this description, if well placed; well formed, and well conducted, cannot, I think, be reasonably doubted. Such a colony has already been established, with satisfactory success and flattering prospects. But it may be doubted, perhaps, whether the situation has been fortunately chosen with respect to all the objects that ought to be kept in view; and it is still more questionable, whether a sufficient supply of colonists of a proper description, to give it the extent necessary for rendering it in any considerable degree beneficial, can be drawn from the sources on which it must rely. It is in the United States alone that such colonists can be found in any considerable numbers. In the choice of a good situation, too, on which so much depends, we have far more assistance from recent discoveries, and the extention of geographical knowledge in that quarter of the globe, than was possessed by the founders of that colony. We have the benefit of their experience, of their discoveries, and even of their errors, which we may be able to correct or avoid. Useful therefore and meritorious as their establishment certainly is, we may hope to render ours far more extensively beneficial.

An objection, of some plausibility, is frequently urged against this scheme of colonizing the free people of color, which it may be proper in this place to notice. These people, it is said, especially the industrious and estimable part of them, will not go to the new colony. That many of them will decline to go at first, and some always, cannot be doubted. It is even probable, and may be safely admitted, that but few of them now think favorably of the project; for men, especially ignorant men, venture unwillingly upon great changes, the extent, nature, and consequences of which they are little capable of understanding. But it by no means follows that the same unwillingness or hesitation will continue, after the ground shall have been broken, the way opened, and the settlement formed. In the first instance, none will engage but the most industrious, intelligent, and enterprising, who are capable of discerning the advantages of the undertaking, and have resolution and energy enough to encounter its first hardships and risks. This is the case with all colonies, and especially those formed in distant, unknown, or unsettled countries. Some resolute and adventurous spirits first embark, and they open and prepare the way for others. It is stated and believed, on evidence better known to you than to me, that a sufficient number of such persons stand ready at this time to commence the colony, as soon as the necessary previous arrangements can be made. I have no doubt of the fact, not only from information, but from general reasoning on the human character, and my knowledge of many individuals among the free blacks. When this first step is taken, (and in most enterprises the greatest difficulty lies in the first step,) when a settlement of free blacks shall have actually been formed, the way opened, and the first difficulties surmounted, others will soon be disposed to follow. If successful and prosperous, as it certainly will be if properly conducted, its success will quickly become known to the free blacks in every part of the country.

However distrustful of the whites, they will confide in the reports made to them by people of their own color and class. The prosperity of the settlement, and the advantageous condition of the settlers, will soon be universally understood and believed; and, indeed, will be far more apt to be exaggerated than undervalued. The most ignorant and stupid of the free people of color will speedily understand or believe that, in the colony, they may obtain a state of equality, opulence, and distinction, to which they can never aspire in this country: hence the desire to join their friends and equals there may be expected soon to become general among them; nor is it too much to hope and anticipate that this desire will speedily grow into a passion ; that the difficulty will be not to find colonists, but to select them; and that the hope of being received into the favored number, for whom it may be practicable to provide annually, will ere long become a most powerful and operative incentive to industry, sobriety, and general good conduct, among the whole class from which the selection will be annually made.

Having detained you thus long, my dear sir, much too long, I am afraid, with these preliminary observations on the benefits which may be expected from this undertaking, I proceed now to the manner of carrying it into execution. I shall not, however, treat this branch of the subject in its whole extent, for which this is not the proper place, bit shall confine myself to the objects more immediately in view at this time the choice of a proper situation for the first settlement, and the circumstances to which the attention of the agent, who is to be sent out for the purpose of exploring the ground, ought chiefly to be directed.

The first of these circumstances is salubrity, with a view to which the vicinity of low and marshy grounds, of swamps, and of rivers which are apt to overflow their banks, ought to be carefully avoided. High situations, open to the sea, or washed by rivers with high and steep banks, should be sought. Mountains in the vicinity, and in the direction from which the winds regularly blow, are much to be desired; and great attention should be paid to the abundance of brooks and springs, and to the quality of their water. On all these accounts, an elevated and uneven surface ought to be preferred, though less fertile than the flat low grounds. Too much attention ought not to be paid, in the first settlements, either to great fertility or the convenience of navigation. The first establishment should no doubt be within a convenient distance from a good port, but need not be close to it ; nor ought to be so, unless the immediate vicinity should be much more healthy than such situations usually are. The settlement must be entirely agricultural at first, and will long, perhaps always, continue so, in a very great degree. Commerce there, as in our own country, must and will soon grow out of agriculture; but the first settlements ought to be made with a view to the latter, far more than to the former. Contiguity to a good market for agricultural productions is, indeed, a very important incitement and aid to agricultural industry, and therefore a very important circumstance in the location of an agricultural colony; but it is far from being the most important, and care must be taken to prevent its being too much regarded.

Nor ought any thing in this respect to be sacrificed to great fertility, which is most frequently found in low, flat, and unwholesome situations. A good soil, well adapted to the cultivation of wheat, Indian corn or maize, and cotton, is all in this respect that ought to be desired; and such soils are found in places possessing every advantage of good water, with a dry and pure atmosphere. Wheat and Indian corn are the best articles of food, and the soils that produce them are fit also for various other grains and vegetables, useful for food and of easy culture, especially the sweet potato and various kinds of pulse, which thrive well in hot climates. As an object of tillage, with a view to exportation, cotton is by far the best, because it thrives well in high and healthy situations, of a light soil, may he cultivated 10 advantage on small farms, and requires little labor which cannot be performed by women and children.

Attention should also be paid to suitable streams for the erection of grist mills, saw mills, and other water works, which will be almost indispensable to the colony in its infant state, and of great utility at a more advanced period. Fortunately, such streams abound most in the countries best adapted in other respects to agricultural settlements.

The character, condition, and disposition of the natives, will also require very particular attention; it being of the greatest importance to gain and preserve their good will, so as to cultivate and cement a free and friendly intercourse with them, obtain from them assistance and supplies, and gradually communicate to them the knowledge and habits of civilized life. For this essential purpose, we should not only avoid the neighborhood of fierce and warlike tribes, but that of very large and powerful ones, who will be much more unmanageable and dangerous than small ones in many points of view.

It would also be best to select a situation as distant as possible from Sierra Leone. There would no doubt be some advantages at first in a close neighborhood, but they would probably be soon overbalanced by the jealousies and collisions which could hardly fail to take place between two colonies established under different Governments, and with different views and interests in many important points. This is an objection to Sherbro river, probably not insurmountable, but sufficient to turn the scale in favor of a more distant position, possessing in other respects equal or nearly equal advantages.

If, indeed, an arrangement could be made with the British Government for an union and incorporation of the two colonies, or rather for the reception of our colonists into their settlement, it might deserve serious consideration. There would no doubt be many advantages at first in sending them to a settlement already formed, where the first difficulties have been surmounted, and a regular government exists. But this is matter for future deliberation. We ought now to search out a fit place for ourselves; for it is doubtful whether an incorporation would be agreed to by the British Government, and far from being certain that the best place has been chosen for their establishment. When these points shall have been ascertained, and we know what prospect there is of obtaining a suitable situation elsewhere, a negotiation may be opened, if then thought advisable, for uniting the two colonies.

There will always be one strong objection to the incorporation. The British colony will be for a long time retained in the colonial state, subject to a foreign and distant Government, and, when ripe for independence, will probably be compelled to seek it by force of arms. The nature and habitual policy of that Government will almost necessarily lead to this result. Our colony, on the contrary, ought to be republican from the beginning, and formed and fashioned with a view to self-government and independence, with the consent of the mother country, at the earliest practicable period. It is thus only that it can be most useful to the colonists, to Africa, to its, and to the general cause of humanity.

It would, however, be premature at present to decide on the question of incorporation; and therefore, with a view to this interesting part of the case, the agent should be instructed to investigate most carefully the progress and present state of the Sierra Leone settlement, and to ascertain, as exactly as possible, all the circumstances of its locality, as relates to health; fertility; objects of culture suitable to its soil and climate; navigation; the nature of the country in its vicinity; the character, situation, and strength of the neighboring tribes; and the facilities of communication with the remote and interior parts of the continent.

One very important circumstance in the selection of a suitable place for our settlements, to which the attention of the agent ought to be particularly directed, still remains to be brought into view. I mean the facility of communication with the Niger, that mighty river, which seems destined to supply the link of connexion between the interior of Africa and the civilized world.
I take the question relative to the lower course and termination of the Niger to be now satisfactorily settled. The discoveries of Park, in his last journey, compared and connected with the information derived from Mr. Maxwell and others, concerning the river Zayr, improperly called the Congo, from the name of a little district at its mouth, to say nothing of Sidi Hamet's narrative, as given to us by Captain Riley, which deserves great attention, authorize us, I think, to conclude that these two rivers are the same; in other words, that the Niger, after having traversed the interior of Africa four thousand miles, falls, under the name of Zayr, into the Atlantic, south of the equator : thus laying open that vast continent to its in. most recesses, and bringing its immense population into contact with the rest of the world. There is some doubt and much contrariety of opinion on this point, and this is not the place for entering at large into the discussion. Fortunately, a decision of the question, which cannot be absolutely decided till the course of the Niger shall be pursued to its termination, is not necessary for our present purpose; for, whether this great body of waters, collected in a course of two thousand miles, be lost, according to the opinion of some, in the sands, marshes, and lakes, supposed to exist in the centre of Africa; or, as others have imagined, be discharged into the Mediterranean through the Nile, a river of a more elevated bed, and hardly a tenth part as large; or, being arrested in its progress eastward toward the Indian ocean, by the elevated country in which the Nile has its sources, is driven through the feebler barrier of the mountains on the south, and thrown off to the Southern Atlantic; it is still the only avenue into the interior of Africa—and a noble avenue it is. At Bammakoo, where Park struck it in his last voyage, he stales it to be a mile wide. From thence to Houssa, a distance of between six and seven hundred miles, its course has been satisfactorily ascertained. Throughout this great extent, in which it receives many large streams, and flows through a fertile country, its current, though strong, is smooth and even, uninterrupted by cataracts or shoals. As it advances eastward, it recedes more and more from the coast, and thus becomes more and more difficult of access. Settlements therefore on the Atlantic, formed with a view to commercial intercourse with the vast countries on the Niger, and those more distant to which it leads, must be placed as near as possible to its upper waters, where they first begin to be navigable for boats.

These waters probably approach much nearer the Atlantic than has hitherto been believed. We have seen that, at Bammakoo, the highest point to which it has yet been traced, it is a mile wide-as large as the Susquehanna at its entrance into the Chesapeake bay. It must therefore be a very considerable stream much higher up; that is, much further to the south west, and consequently much nearer to the Atlantic. It has its source in the western part of a chain of mountains, which runs from west to east, nearly parallel with that part of the coast of Africa which extends from Sierra Leone to the bight of Benin. These mountains separate it from the rivers which, rising on their southern side, fall into the Atlantic, in the neighborhood of Sierra Leone. Their sources no doubt approach very near to those of the Niger; probably no great distance divides its navigable waters from theirs. Such a river, with a good port at or near its mouth, and a fertile country on its banks, would present the proper situation for a colony, planted with a view to the civilization of Africa, by the commerce of the Niger.

The course of such a commerce would be to ascend the Atlantic river, as far as possible, in boats, with the commodities wanted for the interior consumption, and to establish at that point a place of deposite, from whence the merchandise would be sent over land to the Niger, and down it to the various markets below. The returns would go up the Niger to its highest navigable point, where a town would soon arise; from thence, they would pass by land to the place of deposite on the other side of the mountain, and there be put into boats, for transportation down the river to the shipping port. If the Niger should be ascertained to continue its course to the ocean, an intercourse would gradually be extended down to its mouth, where a great commercial city, would arise; and to this mart the return cargoes purchased above would gradually find their way down the stream. Thus an immense circle of commerce would imperceptibly be formed, embracing the whole course of the Niger, and the vast countries which it waters and lays open, and connecting them all with each other, and with the whole commercial world. For a very considerable time this commerce would be confined to the countries far up the river, near to its source, where settlements would first be formed, and civilization would commerce. As the communication between these first settlements and those on the Atlantic became more and more safe, easy, and expeditious, by means of intermediate settlements, good roads, and improved inland navigation, colonies and trade would extend further and further down the river. Other settlements would soon be commenced at its mouth. At last, these two branches would meet and unite in a commerce vast as the stream on which it would be borne, and as the continent which it would civilize, enlighten, and adorn.

Ages, indeed, may be required for the full attainment of these objects; untoward events or unforeseen difficulties may retard or defeat them; but the prospect, however remote or uncertain, is still animating, and the hope of success seems sufficient to stimulate us to the utmost exertion. How vast and sublime a career does this undertaking open to a generous ambition, aspiring to deathless fame by great and useful actions! Who can count the millions that in future times shall know and bless the names of those by whom this magnificent scheme of beneficence and philanthropy has been conceived, and shall be carried into execution! Throughout the widely extended regions of middle and southern Africa, then filled with populous and polished nations, their memories shall be cherished and their praises sung, when other States, and even the flourishing and vigorous nation to which they belong, now in its flower of youth, shall have run their round of rise, grandeur, and decay, and, like the founders of Palmyra, Tyre, Babylon, Memphis, and Thebes, shall no longer be known, except by vague reports of their former greatness, or by some fragments of those works of art, the monuments of their taste, their power, or their pride, which they may leave behind.

It is in connexion, my dear sir, with this great operation that I consider your proposed colony of free blacks as most interesting and important. It ought to be the first step in this splendid career, and ought to be located with that view. In choosing a situation for it, therefore, the greatest regard ought to be had to its future connexion with the Niger. To this end, the agent ought to be instructed to make the most careful inquiries concerning the sources of that river, and its highest or most southwestern point; he should also make every effort to obtain the most full and accurate information concerning the rivers that rise in the mountains opposite to its sources, and take their course southwestwardly to the ocean; their size, the nature of the country through which they flow, the height to which they are navigable for ships and for boats, and the harbors al or near their mouths, should all be ascertained with the utmost care and accuracy. That river which combines in the greatest degree the advantages of salubrity, soil, navigation, and good neighborhood, and at the same time brings us nearest to the navigable waters of the Niger, by a good pass over the intervening mountains, is, I apprehend, the proper place, in itself, for the establishment of our colony.

I say in itself: because a place combining all those advantages may still be very unfit for our purpose, if it lie within the claims of any European Power, or too near any of their settlements. It should therefore be a particular object of the agent's attention to ascertain the situation and extent of those claims, and the distance between any European settlements and such place as may appear suited to our views. Inquiries concerning the territorial claims of European Powers can best be made in London; but it is in Africa alone that such information, when obtained, can be applied to the object of the intended mission.

There is a river, called in some maps the Mesurada, which, as there laid down, extends its branches further northeast than any other, and enters the ocean about one hundred or one hundred and fifty miles southeast of the Sherbro. It deserves, I think, the particular attention of the agent, who should be instructed to make inquiries about it, with a view to all the circumstances which may render it proper for a settlement, and to visit it, should the result of this investigation offer encouragement.

The river Nunez, or Noones, also merits particular regard. It empties itself into the Atlantic in latitude 10° 1’ north, about one hundred and fifty miles northwest from Sierra Leone. It has a very good harbor at its mouth, and carries from six to eight fathoms of water about twenty miles up, to a bar, over which there is however three fathoms, or eighteen feet. After passing the bar, the water continues from five to eight fathoms deep, to a point about fifty miles up from the mouth. From thence to the falls, about fifty miles higher up, it is said to admit vessels of one hundred and twenty tops. The country around and above the falls is represented as elevated, fertile, and healthy; abounding in game; well supplied with excellent timber, and watered by numerous streams large enough for mills; Indian corn, and all sorts of pulse and garden vegetables, are said to grow luxuriantly; cattle abound so much that an ox is sold for a dollar. The country below yields rice, Indian corn, and all the usual tropical productions. The natives are represented as peaceable and friendly, and the principal chief, who resides about ninety miles up the river, a little below the falls, and whose authority extends down to the mouth, and far into the interior, is said to be a man of sense and abilities, of a mild and humane character, and favorably disposed towards the whites, and especially the Americans. He speaks English perfectly well. This place would seem therefore to deserve the particular attention of the agent and the society. In addition to its other advantages, its upper waters approach near to those of the river Grande—a very important and interesting feature of African geography, as respects commercial intercourse with the interior, and the extension of civilization by means of colonies of civilized blacks.

These, my dear sir, are the hints that I thought I might venture to suggest to you on this most interesting subject. I make no apology for the length of my letter. It might no doubt be curtailed with advantage; but it might also, and with more ease, if not to a better purpose, be very much enlarged : (or I have touched briefly on less important topics, and altogether omitted some which belong properly to the subject, but did not seem to require immediate attention. Such as it is, I submit it to your consideration, with the hope that it may be of some use in the preparatory arrangements which you are engaged in making.

With the best wishes,
I am, dear sir, your most obedient servant,
ROBERT G. HARPER.
Elias B. CALDWELL, Esq.,
Secretary of the Colonization Society of the U. S.

SOURCE: United States Congressional Serial Set, Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives of the United States, 27th Congress, 3rd Session, Vol. 2, p. 193-208

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Captain Charles Wright Wills: October 14, 1864

Three miles southwest of Adairsville, October 14th.

We marched at sunset last evening and halted not until 3 this a. m. Marched miserably slow the first five miles through a deep gorge, but about 1 o'clock got straightened out on the Rome and Calhoun road, a good one, and then got along nicely. In the fighting at Rome yesterday, our folks whipped them and took some artillery. We got to bed at 3:15, and reveille sounded at 5 and we marched at 6:30. Not much sleep after marching 20 miles, was it. We had no crackers this morning, and before I got up my imagination was reveling in the prospect of a breakfast on parched corn, but at the festive board the cook surprised us with a mess of pancakes. They looked like plates cut out of a rubber blanket, and tasted accordingly. One member of the mess said they just came up to his ideal of a poet's dream. Another, that they only lacked one thing, and that was the stamp, “Goodyear's Patent.” The Surgeon advised us to use them sparingly, for, said he, “If they mass against any part of your interior lines the consequences will be dire.” But we were hard up for breadstuffs, and closed with the dreadful stuff manfully. Twelve m.—Have stopped for dinner.

The Rebel army was, or part of it, at Resaca yesterday, about nine miles from here.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 310-1

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Tuesday, May 17, 1864

Rained last night of course. Camp at Alderson's Ferry on Centreville road; very wet. Ordered to send a regiment to Union to report to General Averell. Sent five companies from Colonel Duval's command [and] five companies of Twenty-third, all under Lieutenant-Colonel Comly; Major Adney also went with [the] Thirty-sixth companies, [and] Dr. Barrett, surgeon. I don't believe the enmy is in force near Union. All busy with a small ferry-boat getting over wagons, etc.; horses and mules swim. General Crook and staff all at work, clubbing mules into the river. Considerable quantities of corn, etc., got here. Corn in the ear issued to men. Some parch, some boil, some pound up. Regular rations all gone long ago. A prodigious rain-storm about noon; no escape from the flood of falling and running water. The river we are crossing fell two feet last night. This will fill it booming full again.

We are now nearly three weeks without news from the outside or inside world. Great movements have taken place, we know, but “with us or with our foes,” we can't answer. The Rebels we see seem to have heard news which they construe in their own favor, but there is no elation of feeling as we would expect if they had met with decided success. We are so absorbed in our own fate that the more important operations of Grant do not fill us with anxiety.

Lieutenant Hamlin, Thirty-sixth, goes with twenty-two men, three seregants, etc., on Centreville Road.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 460-1

Monday, February 10, 2020

Captain Charles Wright Wills: September 1, 1864

September 1st, '64.

A real autumn morning. We were aroused at 3 a. m. and the air was then almost crisp. A breath of cold air is a luxury we can appreciate. A fresh, cool breeze is now stirring and I can almost hear the leaves falling. It is a real yellow fall and does me more good than aught else could, except a letter from home. Haven't had one from you for ten days. A prisoner says that yesterday's fight was rougher on them than the 28th of July fight. He said their brigade came up in front of our men, and though they did not stay more than long enough to take one look, when they got back under cover they were 500 men short. They afterwards charged again, and he said he doubted whether any of them got off alive and sound.

This is the 124th day of the campaign, exactly 90 of which we have been under fire. Have also moved 340 miles, though the direct road would be much less. The boys say we just finished the summer campaign in time to commence the fall ditto. I guess the movement surprised Hood. Prisoners all say they understood it to be a raiding party. ’Tis a rather mighty one. The country between these two railroads is rather better than any we have seen before in Georgia, but I never saw any in Illinois half as poor. Hardly any of the land has been under cultivation since the war commenced. A little sickly corn and a few patches of sorghum and millet are about all the farming evidence I have seen. Northern Alabama and a few counties in Mississippi are the only passable parts of the Confederacy that I have seen. Mrs. Lee Henty’s grand plantations, with their “hospitable mansions, whose broad verandas, supported by graceful pillars,” etc., are principally “bosh,” at least as far as northern Georgia is concerned. The health of the regiment is excellent, the men being, if anything, healthier than the officers. The lieutenant colonel and major, though both with us, are not yet reported for duty. Captain Boyd, Lieutenants Fox, A. & J. Smith are quite unwell. Captains Post, Vorhees, Smith and myself have at different times been all the officers fit for duty. I believe I am the only one who has never been off duty during the campaign, though Post, Smith, Vorhees and Dorrance have lost but a few days each, Smith, I believe only one. I don't believe these Rebels can be in very good spirits. I am afraid I'd be a little blue if we'd been whipped as often as they have this campaign. Most of the prisoners are great “peace” men, but they all say that their leaders will never give up as long as they can raise a brigade to fight. Every pup of them has hopes that the Chicago Convention will do something for them, they hardly know what. I heard one of the boys say he wished that the Convention could be induced to charge us in these works. There's talk of our going home to vote.

About 2 p. m. a signal officer in a tree reported that he could see our troops moving in line down the railroad toward us. It was the 23d and 4th Corps. The 14th which held the left of our line, about the same time commenced to swing its left around, and by 4 p. m. a battle opened. The 14th broke the enemy's line before the 23d got up, and alone rolled the Rebels up in fine style. By dark the 14th had captured from 12 to 20 pieces of artillery and a large number of prisoners. Three hours more of daylight and Hardee would have had no corps left, for the 4th and 23d were swinging further to the left, and would have been in his rear in less than two hours, when our whole line would have closed in on them.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 295-7

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Major-General Nathaniel P. Banks’ General Order No. 12, January 29, 1863

GENERAL ORDERS,No. 12.}
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,            
New Orleans, January 29, 1863.

The proclamation of the President of the United States, dated January 1, 1863, is published in general orders for the information and government of the officers and soldiers of this command and all persons acting under their authority. It designates portions of the State of Louisiana which are not to be affected by its provisions. The laws of the United States, however, forbid officers of the Army and Navy to return slaves to their owners or to decide upon the claims of any person to the service or labor of another, and the inevitable conditions of a state of war unavoidably deprive all classes of citizens of much of that absolute freedom of action and control of property which local law and the continued peace of the country guaranteed and secured to them. The forcible seizure of fugitives from service or labor by their owners is inconsistent with these laws and conditions, inasmuch as it leads to personal violence and the disturbance of the public peace and it cannot be permitted. Officers and soldiers will not encourage or assist slaves to leave their employers, but they cannot compel or authorize their return by force.

The public interest peremptorily demands that all persons without other means of support be required to maintain themselves by labor. Negroes are not exempt from this law. Those who leave their employers will be compelled to support themselves and families by labor upon the public works. Under no circumstances whatever can they be maintained in idleness, or allowed to wander through the parishes and cities of the State without employment. Vagrancy and crime will be suppressed by enforced and constant occupation and employment.

Upon every consideration labor is entitled to some equitable proportion of the crops it produces. To secure the objects both of capital and labor the sequestration commission is hereby authorized and directed, upon conference with planters and other parties, to propose and establish a yearly system of negro labor, which shall provide for the food, clothing, proper treatment, and just compensation for the negroes, at fixed rates or an equitable proportion of the yearly crop, as may be deemed advisable. It should be just, but not exorbitant or onerous. When accepted by the planter or other parties all the conditions of continuous and faithful service, respectful deportment, correct discipline, and perfect subordination shall be enforced on the part of the negroes by the officers of the Government. To secure their payment the wages of labor will constitute a lien upon its products.

This may not be the best, but it is now the only practicable system. Wise men will do what they can when they cannot do what they would. It is the law of success. In three years from the restoration of peace, under this voluntary system of labor, the State of Louisiana will produce threefold the product of its most prosperous year in the past.

The quartermaster's department is charged with the duty of harvesting corn on deserted fields and cultivating abandoned estates. Unemployed negroes will be engaged in this service under the control of suitable agents or planters, with a just compensation in food, clothing, and money, consistent with the terms agreed upon by the commission, and under such regulations as will tend to keep families together, to impart self-supporting habits to the negroes, and protect the best interest of the people and the Government.

By command of Major-General Banks:
RICH'D B. IRWIN,  
Lieutenant-Colonel, Assistant Adjutant-General.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 15 (Serial No. 21),  p. 666-7

Friday, December 27, 2019

Captain Charles Wright Wills: August 8, 1864

August 8, 1864.

Never was army better cared for than this. No part of it has been on short rations during the campaign. Extra issues of dessicated potatoes, mixed vegetables, etc., have bundled the advance guard of General Scurvy neck and heels outside the pickets. Extraordinary dreams of green corn, blackberries, new potatoes, etc., have done very much towards keeping up the health and morale of the army, and as much towards reconciling us to this summer sun, that ripens said goodies.

We draw supplies of clothing monthly as regularly as when in garrison, and a ragged soldier is a scarcity. At least 30 days' rations are safely stored in our rear, making us entirely unmindful of railroad raids, for, if necessary, we could build the whole road in that time. The heat has not troubled us much, save during a few days' marching.

We have had hardly three days without a rain for a month. We have done a great amount of work since our last battle, have constructed nine lines of works, and it will take at least two more before we get the position that I think Howard wants. We keep those poor Johnnies in a stew all the time. Our artillery is any amount better than theirs, and it plays on them from morning until night. Nothing worries troops so much, though compared with musketry it is almost harmless. I guess their ammunition is short, for they don't fire one shot to our 40. I think we'll like Howard first rate. If he is as good as McPherson, he'll do.

Four divisions are on their way to reenforce us. I don't think we need them, but the more, the merrier.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 288-

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: November 30, 1863

It is clear and cold. The boat in which my son and the battalion of clerks went down the river yesterday, sunk, from being overloaded, just as it got to the landing. It is said some of the boys had to wade ashore; but none were lost— thank God!

This morning early, Lee and Meade confronted each other in battle array, and no one doubts a battle is in progress to day this side of the Rapidan. Lee is outnumbered some two to one, but Meade has a swollen river in his rear. It is an awful moment.

I took my remaining son to the office this morning, to aid me in Custis's absence.

At night. Nothing has yet been heard from the battle, if indeed it occurred to-day. It is said that Meade is ordered to fight. They know at Washington it is too late in the season, in the event of Meade's defeat, for Lee to menace that city, or to invade Pennsylvania. It is a desperate effort to crush the “rebellion,” as they suppose, by advancing all their armies. And indeed it seems that Meade is quite as near to Richmond as Lee; for he seems to be below the latter on the Rappahannock, with his back to Fredericksburg, and Lee's face toward it. If Meade should gain the victory, he might possibly cut off Lee from this city. Nevertheless, these positions are the result of Lee's manoeuvres, and it is to be supposed he understands his business. He has no fear of Meade's advance in this direction with his communications cut behind him.

Captain Warner has sold me two pieces of bacon again, out of his own smoke-house, at $1 per pound, while it is selling in the market at $3.50 per pound—and he has given us another bushel of sweet potatoes. Had it not been for this kind friend, my little revenue would not have sufficed for subsistence.

While the soldiers are famishing for food, what is called “red tapeism” prevents the consummation of contracts to supply them. Captains Montgomery and Leathers, old steamboat captains, with ample capital, and owning the only steamboats in certain waters of Florida, have just proposed to furnish the government with a million pounds salt beef, on the main line of railroad in Florida, at a reduced price. The cattle are exposed to incursions of the enemy, and have to be transported by steamboats. They endeavored to make a proposal directly to the Secretary, which was so expressed in the communication I prepared for them—as they were unwilling to treat with Col. Northrop, the Commissary-General, who has become extremely obnoxious. But it was intercepted, and referred to the Commissary-General. Learning this, the captains abandoned their purpose and left the city—the Secretary never having seen their proposal. Our soldiers will not get the beef, and probably the enemy will.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 108-9

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: December 10, 1861

A WALK INTO THE COUNTRY.

The weather holds warm and springlike. We have no need of overcoats, unless doing guard duty nights. The people here tell us it is an unusually mild fall, but that we shall get right smart lots of cold and snow before many days. I took a walk of a few miles into the country yesterday, on a tour of observation. I noticed what appeared to me a great extent of good land, but very badly improved. Occasionally I saw a farm where things seemed to be kept up snug and showed some evidences of thrift, but more of them looked as though the owners studied to see how shiftless they could be and still manage to live. Buildings and fences are going to decay; fields of corn are yet unharvested, the cattle and hogs running through and destroying them. I asked one man why he didn't harvest his corn. “Oh,” he said, “there is no hurry about that, I have got all winter to do it in, and the corn is just as well off in the field as anywhere.” I came to the conclusion that his plan of harvesting was about as fast as he wanted it to eat. I said to another man I met, “You have good land about here, sir; easy of cultivation and close to a market. I suppose you make a pile of money?” “Oh, no,” he said, “you are mistaken; right poor land about yere, one can hardly make a living on it, but you go over yere a few miles to some creek [the name of which I have forgotten], and you will find right good land; make as much again corn on it as you can on this.” I asked, “What do you value this land at?” “Well,” he replied, “we reckon the land around yere worth about $10 an acre; reckon some of it mought be bought for a little less, but the land around Annapolis is worth from $25 to $50 an acre.” I made up my mind that a man with an ordinary degree of enterprise, with our improved implements for farming and with hired labor, might take this land and make money on it. I am unable to see any profits from slave labor in Maryland; it is poor help at the best; besides they have to be clothed and fed several months in a year during which time they are net earning much, and there is always on a farm employing a dozen or more field hands, a lot of old men and women and small children who are not earning anything, but still have to be supported.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 14-5

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Captain Charles Wright Wills: July 20, 1864

July 20, 1864.

Assembly has just sounded. In a few hours we will know if it is to be a fight. Frank says we are detailed for train guard. If the army marches right into Atlanta, I'll think it d----d mean, but if there is a fight will not feel so badly, unless we can get a big battle out of Johnston. I want to help in that. We have moved up near the town the army has gone on. Can hear heavy guns occasionally, sounds about three miles away, half the distance to the city.

This little town is quite an old place. About half the citizens are still here. I saw a couple of right pretty girls. Some Confederate prisoners tell me that Johnston is gone to Richmond, and that Hood is commanding and intends to fight us at Atlanta.

The wheat and oats raised this year in this part of Georgia, if it had all been saved, would not more than have fed the citizens. Full one-half the cornfields will not turn out anything.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 283