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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Civil War - "negroes in the army of our enemies"

August 12, 1863
The Charleston Mercury


How shall we deal with negroes in the army of our enemies?

As we understood President DAVIS'proclamation, all slaves
in the Confederate States taken in arms against the Confederate
States, were to be turned over to the civil authorities of the
States, to be dealt with according to the laws of the States.
Governor BONHAM has demanded, we understand, all such captures
lately taken in South Carolina. Why have they not been
surrendered up to him, to undergo the penalties of our laws?

The negroes from Massachusetts, which have come here in the
Yankee army, are doubtless brought to South Carolina to excite
our slaves to insurrection. Ought they not also to be
surrendered to the authorities of South Carolina, to be dealt
with according to State laws? IF not surrendered, they
certainly should not be taken.

We suppose the matter has stuck in that serbonian bog of
indecision - Richmond.

Two officers recruiting soldiers, in a State composing one
of the Confederate States, are taken and hung by the Yankee
military authorities. President Davis details, by lot, two
officers of the Yankee army, to be hung in retaliation. That
was done two months ago, and they are not executed.

Seeing the wretched indecision and vacillation which
prevails at Richmond, President LINCOLN put forth a
proclamation declaring that our slaves in the army of the
United States are like all its other soldiers, and that if
executed by us, he will retaliate by executing soldiers of the
Confederate States taken prisoners. Here is the consummation
of our weak polity of timid imbecility. Our slaves are to be
made our equals in our own country, fighting against us. If
President DAVIS submits to this, it will argue that he
determines we shall not carry on the war, and adopts the Yankee
policy of ending it.

It was perfectly plain, from the commencement of the war,
that there was but one way to make it a civilized war - and
that was, by the sternest retaliation for every breach of the
usages of civilized war by our enemies. To forbear with such
an enemy was only to invite further outrages and aggressions,
and, finally, to make it really and unequivocally a war of
extermination. Under the false and feeble policy of our
Executive, we have been steadily drifting to this consummation.
Instead of saving blood, it will only add ten-fold to its

He sends an army into Pennsylvania - at this late and
critical period - and then our soldiers are made to pay for all
they take or need. In South Carolina, about the same time,
negro troops - in whose behalf President LINCOLN threatens
retaliation on the citizens of the South - make a raid on
Combahee. Hear the New York Tribuneaccount of the sort of
war they carried on:

'The soldiers scattered in every direction, and burned and
destroyed everything of value they came across. Thirty-four
large mansions, known to belong to notorious rebels, with all
their rich furniture and rare works of art, were burned to the
ground. Nothing but smouldering ruins, and parched, crisp
skeletons of once magnificent old oak and palmetto groves, now
remain of those delightful country seats. Sluices were opened,
plantations flooded, and broad ponds and lakes were made,
where, but a few hours before, luxuriant crops of rice and corn
were putting forth their leaves. We brought within our lines
nearly 800 valuable slaves; having destroyed property to the
amount of two millions, most of which belonged to notorious
leaders in this rebellion.'

One of the effects of the Presidentpolicy of timidity
is, that in the Western States we see the proposition openly
made of arming our slaves and making them portions of the
Confederate army. It is fortunate for us that this crazy
expedient is beyond the power of the Government and Congress of
the Confederate States. Weakness and desperation are always
nearly allied.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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