being where the cruel master abuses the industrious and well-behaved slave, and the first to some are those that feel particular grievances.
It is a physical impossibly to take all. I cannot feed the white men within my lines. Woman and children are actually starving in spite of all that I can do. Any, and they too without fault on their part. What would be the state of things if I allowed all the slaves from the plantations to quit their employment and come within the lines is not to be conceived by the imagination.
Am I then to take of these blacks only the adventures, the shiftless, and wicked, to the exclusion of the good and quiet? If coming within our lines is equivalent to freedom, and liberty is a boom, is it to be obtained only by the first that apply?
I had written thus far when by the Ocean Queen I received a copy of an orders of Major-General Hunter upon this subject in the Department of the south. Whether I assent or distinct from the course of action therein taken it is not my province to criticism it.
I desire, however, to call attention to the grounds upon which it seems to be based and to examine how far they may be applicable here.
The military necessity does not exist here for the employment of negroes in arms, in order that we may have an acclimated force. If the War Department desires, and will permit, I can have 5,000 able bodied white citizens enlisted within 60 days, all of whom have lived here many years, and many of them drilled soldiers, to be commanded by intelligent loyal officers. Besides, I hope and believe that this war will be ended before any body of negroes could be organized, armed, and drilled so as to be efficient.
The negro here, by long habit and training, has acquired a great horror of fire-arms, sometimes ludicrous in the extreme when the weapon in is his own hand. I am inclined to the opinion that John Brown was right in his idea of arming the negro with a pike or spear instead of a musket, of they are to be armed at all. Of this I say nothing, because a measure of governmental policy is not to be discussed in the dispatch of a subordinate military officer.
In this connection it might not be inopportune to call to mind the fact that a main cause of the failure of the British in their attack on New Orleans was the employment of a regiment of blacks brought with them from the West Indies. This regiment was charged with the duty of carrying the facines with which the ditch in front of Jackson's line was to be filled up and the ladders for scaling the embarkment. When the attacking column reached the point of assault the facines and ladders were not there. Upon looking around for them it was found that their black guardians had very prudently laid themselves down upon the plain in the rear and protected their heads from the whistling shot with the facines which should have been to the front in a different sense.
I am further inclined to believe that the idea that our men here cannot stand the climate, and thereof the negroes must be freed and armed as na acclimated force, admits of serious debate.
My command has been either here or on the way here from Ship Island since the 1st of May; some of them on shipboard in the river since the 17th of April. All the deaths in the general hospital in this city since we have been here are only 13 from all causes, 2 of these being accidental, as will appear from Surgeon Smith's report, herewith submitted. From diseases at all peculiar to the climate I do not believe we have lost in the last thirty days one-fifth of one per cent. in the whole command; taking into the account also the infirm and debilitated,