War of the Rebellion: Serial 124 Page 0178 CORRESPONDENCE,ETC.

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Nay, more. I have now on file applications from very many first-clads officers, line and field, to be exchanged into the colored regiments; some asking promotion in their transfer on the ground of their experience and service in a dozen battles; and these of the best kind, asking simple transfer in obedience to conscientious convictions, and positively declining to receive promotion in their new branch of service lest their true motives might be misunderstood. It is not an uncommon thing to receive a recommendation of some deserving soldier signed by from ten to twenty officers, representing all the grades; the recommendation expressing the utmost faith and interest in the colored regiments and favoring the particular nominee for promotion on the ground that he possess, in addition to military fitness, a high moral character and earnest convictions on religious subjects, and that for these reasons he will prove a desirable exemplar to be placed before the docile but untutored men of his command.

With such facts before us, and with public sentiment throughout the country strongly tending toward an universal acceptance-of the President's policy of arming the slaves, it is for the Governor to press forward this business with all its energy, calmly disregarding the abuse or venomous vituperation of the "copperhead" North and their more manly and respectable allies, the rebels South; such opposition in itself being the strongest argument possible for the wisdom and necessity of the step that so arouses and exacerbates the malice of our enemies. The rebels South are not fools, nor are their Northern allies. If arming the negroes were the silly and useless thing they claim it to be, all their energies would then be devoted to urging the Government forward in an unresulting expenditure of its resources.

The lie, however, is only on their lips, while in their heart of hearts they believe and tremble.

That more able-bodies negroes have not been brought within our lines is due to circumstances which you can well appreciate. With the limited force at my command, and with that force taxed to its uttermost to hold posts that must be held at any cost, and to furnish men for the expeditions conducted conjointly with the navy, I have not yet been in a position to carry out my plans (already fully matured) of coastwise expeditions of mixed troops to penetrate those regions where slaves are densest, and therein establish posts to which all fugitives may flock, assured of welcome, protection, and employment. These things are held in abeyance, however, not abandoned. All information of importance to the slaves spreads among them with a rapidity of vocal telegraphing not much surpassed by the issues of the New York press; and although this very facility of communication has heretofore somewhat acted against us, owing to the manner in which these bondsmen, seeking liberty, were too often repulsed from our lines in the earlier stages of this war, I am now happy to believe from my spies on the mainland and from other sources of information that the whole slave population of the South is thoroughly alive to the President's proclamation of the 1st of January, and that thousands of anxious "chattels" are feverishly longing for the advent of the coastwise expeditions which they have been promised, and which will be sent the moment I am at liberty, and with the requisite authority asked for in my letters by last mail.

I have the honor to be, with the highest esteem, sir, your very obedient servant,

D. HUNTER,

Major-General, Commanding.