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FEBRUARY, 1862.      DOUGLASS' MONTHLY.      599

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We clip from the N. Y. Times the following testimony of its reporter at Port Royal of the love of liberty and willingness to labour generally evidenced by the negroes of that and adjacent sea islands:

There are now in Beaufort District, alone, I am informed by official personages, nearly 16,000 slaves, whose masters have fled, and Beaufort District is but a small portion of the country at present in our hands.  I have accompanied a number of the reconnoissances [sic] made in all directions from this post, both by sea and land; have witnessed the exploration of the country from Tybee Island on the south, to North Edisto on the north, an extent of at least 60 miles, and have penetrated as far into the interior, on some of these excursions, as our troops have yet gone.  Everywhere I find the same state of things existing; everywhere the blacks hurry in droves to our lines; they crowd in small boats around out ships; they swarm upon our decks; they hurry to our officers, from the cotton houses of their masters, in an hour or two after our guns are fired.  I am writing now, not what I have heard, but what I have seen.  I am not sending you opinions, or conclusions at which I have arrived, but facts that I have observed.  I mean each statement I make to be taken literally; it is not garnished for rhetorical effect, but put into such a form as will most exactly convey to the mind of a reader the impression made on me.  I have seen negroes who reported themselves as just escaped from their masters, who came breathless to our forces, and said they dared not go back, for their masters would kill them; who told that their masters were at that time armed and threatening to shoot any slave that did not fly with them; who declared that they had tricked their owners and came away in boats that they were bidden to take back to the whites.  I have talked with drivers and field hands, with house maids and coachmen and body servants, who were apparently as eager to escape as any.  I have heard the blacks point out how their masters might be caught, where they were hidden, what were their forces.  I have seen them used as guides and pilots.  I have been along while they pointed out in what houses stores of arms and ammunition were kept, and where bodies of troops were stationed.  In a few hours I have known this information verified.  I have asked them about the sentiment of the slave population and been invariably answered that everywhere it is the same.

I have invariably been told by the negroes that they were not well fed.  The first reason a black man or woman assigns for deserting his owner, is the small quality of food given him; the next reason is the same story about clothing; then comes the complaint of hard usage, hard work, and occassionaly of cruelty.  The last is rare in my experience.  The most of them speak, it is true, of instances where negroes have been recently shot, but few allude to previous hardships worse than whipping.  Of late, the accusations of masters shooting their slaves are more frequent, indicating (this is inference) that the desperation of the rebels increases.

Gen. Stevens is pursing a very good plan with the negroes who come to hide for protection.  He makes them all work, which they do cheerfully and readily, upon the promise of receiving wages.  Instead of allowing them soldiers' rations, as done at Hilton Head, he gives them bacon and corn;  just such fare as that to which they have accustomed, altho' in larger quantities.  They appear to be well satisfied with the arrangement, which has the advantage of being much more economical.

Cotton is being rapidly secured, perhaps not in such large quantities as might be desired, as the burning of the baled material has been very extensive, but still the worth of millions of dollars will be obtained.  The blacks are beginning to discover that we wish to secure it, and apprise us beforehand, in
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some instances, when a destruction is about to be attempted.

One singular result of the war is thus far apparent:  The negroes leave no doubt in the mind of any sensible person that they have recently received but inferior and insufficient food and clothing; as it must have been to the interest of the masters to provide well for their slaves, and as many, if not all of the masters have been persons of ordinary humanity.  I do not doubt that heretofore this has been the case.  The sufferings and want of the slaveholders have probably aggravated the condition of the salves, and made these readier to desert their former owners.——The absurd attempts of Southern papers to pretend that the blacks are still loyal, can only excite a compassionate smile.  The poor wretches cling to this hope, the absence of which would present to them so appalling a future.

The slaves not yet escaped, of course, pretend to be faithful, but some have told me how they said to their masters and mistresses on the day of the fight, "The Yankees will be whipped, massa and missus" but all the while they prayed and believed otherwise.  So, casual allusions are made in the Charleston papers to the fidelity of their "servants," as if it were a matter of course, but there is no labored discussion of a subject too terrible for discussion.  As for my own judgement——it may not be worth much——but I came hither prepared to find all the negroes attached to their masters, and I have gradually observed feeling of bitterness displayed by the blacks; at first there was only elation at their own escape; of late this has been mingled with indignation at the insane attempt of the masters to fire on them; I have known of several instances where slaves asked for arms to fire on their own masters, (this was the case with Col. Whitmarsh Seabrook's live stock near Edisto;)  I have known where slaves assisted in the capture of their masters; I have sometimes asked myself whether the time might not come when arming the blacks and regularly drilling them as soldiers under white officers, might nt prove the only means of averting the odions horrors of a servile insurrection.  That time appears to me not to have yet come even here; but it may be nearer than any of us suppose. * * *

In speaking to Israel (an intelligent young man belonging to James Garrard) yesterday, I am afraid I made him uncomfortable for the rest of the day.  Said I:

"Do you like stopping here better than on the plantation?"

"Oh! Yes, Sir," he said promptly.

"What will you do when the soldiers leave here?"

At this question, the look of surprise which passed over Israel's face was irresistibly droll.  He finally replied:

"I'd go wi' 'em!"

"But suppose they won't let you?"  I said.

"Den I jump into de boat!"

"Ah!" I answered, "they might put you out again!"

It was evident that no such contingency had presented itself to his mind before.  He simply ejaculated with great emphasis, as if overwhelmed with astonishment and dear at the bare idea:

"Christ A'mighty!"

I asked him what he was afraid of, and he replied "Massa Elliott Garrard catch me——might as well be dead——he kill me, certain".  I assured him of his safety before we parted.


The Tribune's correspondent at Port Royal, speaking of the arming of the slaves, says:

It is plain that the arming of the slaves will now become general, on one side or the other.  In addition to the accounts heretofore received from different parts of the South, here is the statement of the negro who came into camp on New Year's Day:  He knows that at a point not far distant from Port Royal, not less than 300 slaves are under arms, organized and officered mainly by whites, and forming a part of the regular force under command of the General of that Department.
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They are treated very much like white——that is, like the common white soldiers——for whom South Carolina aristocracy has little more respect than for the blacks.  Other companies were forming, in which the proportion of black officers was considerably larger.  This negro was asked to take command of a company already raised——the recruiting being probably about as near the volunteer system as elsewhere in the South.  When he declined, he was ordered to take it, and threatened with punishment if he refused.  Indisposed to fight for the perpetuation of the tyranny that sought to compel him, he fled to our camp, where there seems small chance of this being either compelled or permitted to fight for the flag that protects him.  His statements are confirmed by another slave from the same district, who neither knew the other before, or has seen him since.

The name of the negro and of his former owner, and the plantation from which he came, are all known to me, but there is a reason for not publishing them.  He has brought information of great value concerning the rebel forces and preparations for defence in a certain quarter, partly confirming and partly extending the knowledge already in possession of Gen. Sherman.  I cannot praise too highly his intelligence and honesty, and he gives no mean evidence of military capacity in the suggestions which he made for the attach of the rebel defenses.  He went down to the wharf, scanned the vessels of war at anchor, and gave a clear opinion as to how many might approach the place, to which he offers to pilot them.  When I first talked with him he drew on the sand with the point of his stick a plan of the district from which he came, indicating with perfect distinctness the location of forces, giving their names and strength, and marking the points of approach.  Afterward he brought me a piece of board on which he had sketched the same, and its main features corresponded so accurately with the chart that it was impossible to doubt he as right in the details.  He came to our camp because he was determined he would not fight for slavery, and believed that here he might fight for freedom.  Why should he not?  How long before we shall believe that a negro can fight as well as work for the flag——that he has courage, capacity and will for war?  Gen. Sherman is expressly authorized by his instructions to arm the slaves if he chooses.  He will learn sooner or later that the side which first summons the negro to its aid will conquer; that the South will emancipate and disarm her slaves sooner than submit to defeat; that the abolition of slavery is no longer a question.  The only question left to be answered is, whether they or we shall abolish it——on which the four millions of blacks shall fight——whether they or we shall inscribe on our banner, "Justice to the negro," and under it advance to success.

THE COLONIZATION OF CONTRABAND.——One of the numerous plans for the colonization of the contrabands which have been proposed, is to give them the Indian reserves west of Arkansas, which have been forfeited by the rebellion of their red-skinned inhabitants.  The country thus reverting to the Government embraces about 20,000,000 acres of cotton land, of unsurpassed fertility.  It is said the plantations of the Choctaws and Chicasaws alone could fully supply the American mills, even in the first year of the experiment.  It is proposed to apply the principle of Benton's Florida armed occupation act, and send all contrabands to their Territory and apprentice them to the settlers upon these cotton lands, leaving the question of their final disposition to be settled by Congress at the close of the war——all contrabands, as fast as they come into camp, to be promptly forwarded thither.

The negro boys about Annapolis have caught the "Army Hymn," and Old John Brown's "Glory, Hallelujah," from the New England soldiers.  As for the latter, an Annapolis resident says, "the negroes are clear carried away with it."
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