savages, whose only excuse for their barbarity is their ignorance and their exclusion from the civilized world. The day must come when every true American will be proud of the reflection that the Government was strong enough to crush the rebellion without losing the smallest element of its humanity or its dignity, and stands before the world unimpeached in its true honro and glory.
It may be observed that no one imagined, prospectively, the horrors which came to light at Andersonville, the full enormity of which only became known at the close of the military events which ended the war. Had they been known when at their worst the Government would have had the choice of but three measures: First, the rebel prisoners might have been sent South, we to receive in return such white prisoners as they might have held, leaving the colored troops to their fate; second, a resort to retaliatory measures; or, lastly, for the country to wage the war with increased zeal to bring it to a legitimate end. No man can doubt which of these plans the Northern people would have approved if submitted to them, and the Government only assumed to represent the people in the question.
It ought to be mentioned here, as a beautiful illustration of the moral sublime, that among the many memorials, some of them very numerously signed, which reached the War Department, praying for relief to Federal prisoners suffering in the South, in nearly all of them there was an express protest against a resort to retaliation. And what was the real effect of the barbarity upon the prisoners in the South?
Certainly it was most deplorable and shocking upon individuals for the time being; but no one whose moral eyes are open can fail to see that it became in many ways a signal step, under the guidance of Providence, for bringing the rebel cause to destruction. It strengthened the feeling in the North in favor of warlike and determined meaures against rebellion; it sent thousands into the army who took the field resolutely determined to punish the authors of a great crime against humanity. The enemy might almost literally have felt that it is "a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
An erroneous opinion appears to have been circulated, more or less widely, with regard to the number of colored Federal troops who fell into the hands of the enemy, which makes it important to state that the actual number thus exposed to injurious treatment was very much greater than has been commonly supposed. This will sufficiently appear from the fact that, on the 21st of January, 1865, Lieutenant O. O. Poppleton, adjutant of the One hundred and eleventh U. S. Colored Infantry, addressed a letter, dated at Nashville, Tenn., to Major-General Butler, in the following words, to wit:
I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of a Mobile paper (rebel) containing, over the signatures of D. H. Maury, major-general, C. S. Army, the names of 569 soldiers belonging to the One hundred and sixth, One hundred and tenth, and One hundred and eleventh Regiments of U. S. Colored Infantry, who were taken prisoners by a force of the enemy under Major General N. B. Forrest at Athens and Sulphur Branch Trestle, Ala., on the 24th and 25th of September, 1864, and placed at work on the defenses of Mobile, Ala., by order of the rebel authorities. Lieutenant William T. Lewis, adjutant One hundred and tenth U. S. Colored Infantry, has a paper of later date than this, containing the names of nearly 300 more soldiers of the same command also at work on the defenses of Mobile.
This is an official report from the adjutant of the One hundred and eleventh Regiment Colored Infantry, showing that there were then, in January, 1865, at work on the fortifications about Mobile 569 colored soldiers belonging to three regiments only; and a reference is made to another paper as being at that time in the hands of another officer,