War of the Rebellion: Serial 124 Page 0437 UNION AUTHORITIES.

Search Civil War Official Records

of negro emigration will be from the North to the South, not from the South to the Northern States. The only attraction which the North, with its winters of snow and ice, offers to the negro is that it is free soil. Let the South once offer the same attraction and the temptation of its genial climate, coupled with the fact that there the blacks almost equal the whites in number, will be irresistible. A few years will probably see half the free negro population now residing among us crossing Mason and Dixon's line to join the emancipated freedmen of the South.

The chief object of ambition among the refugees is to own property, especially to possess land, if it be only a few acres, in their own State. Colonel Higginson testified to his conviction that the effect of bounty land would be much greater on the colored than on the white soldier. They delight in the idea.

Working for wages, they soon get an idea of accumulating. Savings banks will be popular with them whenever their confidence is won.

The negro of Florida occupies an intermediate place between the slaves of North Carolina and those of South Carolina. He is more enterprising and more self-reliant than the latter. As a general rule, he enlists more willingly and makes an excellent soldier. Many of them were employed as lumbermen and in other vocations better calculated to call out their intelligence than the monotonous labor of the cotton-field.

SECTION III. - Negroes as military laborers.

Even under the present faulty or imperfect system of management, the refugee negroes furnish to the Government in various localities, in the shape of military labor, the full equivalent of the rations and the wages which they and their wives and children receive. Major-General Dix expressed to the Commission his opinion that such was at this time the case within his military department, with the single exception perhaps of a few rations to dependent women and children on Craney Island. (a)

To the same effect is the evidence obtained from Brigadier- General Saxton, Military Governor of the Department of the South, having about 18,000 refugees under his care. He testifies that, all things considered, they have been no expense to the Government. (b)

So far, in all the localities visited by the Commission, the demand for able-bodied negroes as laborers in the military service has greatly exceeded the supply. In many cases the supply has not met half the demand. During the time Mr. Vincent Colyer was superintendent at New Berne the standing requisition by Major-General Burnside for colored laborers was for 5,000; and at no time was Mr. Colyer able to furnish over 2,000. Major-General Dix informed the Commission that he had never been able to obtain colored laborers enough, and that he had, at the time the Commission visited him, an order from Washington for 500, which he had been unable to fill.

While the military operations are continued the services of the negro can be made effective in the prosecution of the war, even as a laborer alone, to a much greater extent than he has been heretofore

a Stated in a conference which the Commission had with General Dix at Fortress Monroe May 9, 1863.

b Testimony of General Saxton, taken June, 1863. He says: "The fact is that the colored people here have been of no expense to the Government. They have received a good many articles of clothing from charitable societies at the North; but the balance of credit, I think, is largely in favor of the negroes."