Congress, freedom to this servile race? Did you expect to march into that country, drained as you say it is by conscription of all its able-bodied white men without leaving the negroes free to show symptoms of servile insurrection? Does not this state of things arise from they very fact of war itself? You are in a country where now the negroes outnumber the whites ten to one, and these whites are in rebellion against the Government or in terror seeking its protection.
Upon reflection, can you doubt that the same state of things would have arisen without the presence of a colored regiment? Did you not see symptoms of the same thing on the plantations here when we arrived, although under much less favorable circumstances, for a revolt? You say that the prospect of such an insurrection is heart-rending, and that you cannot be responsible for it. You are in no degree responsible for it. The responsibility rests upon those who have begun and carried on this war, who have stopped at no barbarity, no act of outrage, upon the citizens and troops of the United States.
You have forwarded me the records of a pretended court-martial, showing that seven men of one of your regiments, who enlisted here into the Eighth Vermont Regiment, who had surrendered themselves prisoners of war, were in cold blood murdered, and, as certain information shows, were required to dig their own graves. You are asked if this is not an occurrence equally as heart-rending as prospective servile insurrection?
The question is now to be met whether in a hostile, rebellions part of the State, where this very murder has been committed by the militia, you are to stop in the operations of the field to put down servile insurrection because the men and women are terror-stricken. When was it ever heard before that a victorious general, in an unsurrendered province, stopped in his course for the purpose of preventing the rebellious inhabitants of that province from destroying each other and refused to take command of a conquered province lest the should be made responsible for their self-destruction? As a military question, perhaps the more terror-stricken the inhabitants are that are left in your rear the more safe will be your eyes the very facts, in terror-stricken women, children, and men, which you had before contemplated in theory. Grant it. But is not the remedy to be found in the surrender of the neighbors, fathers, brothers, and sons of the terror-stricken women and children, who are now in arms against the Government within 20 miles of you? And when that is done, and you have no longer to fear from their organized force, and they have returned peaceably to their homes, you will be able to use the full power of your troops to insure their safety from the so-much-feared (by them, but not by us) servile insurrection.
If you desire you can send a flag of truce to the commander of these forces embracing these views, and placing upon him the responsibility which belongs to him. Even that course will not remove it from you, for upon you it has never rested. Say to them that if all armed opposition to the authority of the United States should cease in Louisiana on the west bank of the river you are authorized by the commanding general to say that the same protection against negro or other or other violence will be afforded to that part of Louisiana that has been in the part already in the possession of the troops of the United States. If that is refused, whatever may ensue is upon them, and not upon you or upon the United States. You will have done all that is required of a brave, humane man to avert from these deluded people the horrible consequences of their insane war upon the Government.