War of the Rebellion: Serial 125 Page 0308 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

It is considered a bloody battle when 10 per cent. of the combatants engaged are killed or wounded. The loss at Gettysburg did not amount to so high a percentage. Nor even when that proportion of killed and wounded is reached does the ultimate mortality amount to 5 per cent.

Through was a frightful ordeal, then, were these poor wretches, during their incarceration of eight or ten weeks on board Christianowned slavers, doomed to pass! Their ranks twice decimated in that brief period; their numbers, without regard to age or sex, thinned by death, as the numbers of soldiers passing through four sanguinary battles seldom are; not inspired, as the soldier may be, by zeal in a cause; not sustained, as the soldier in battle is, by hope of victory; their future dark, purposeless, despairing, as the prospect of pitiless slavery, ending only at death, could make it; what people, even under the harrow of pagan victory, were ever made to endure what they endured?

And this crime of one portion of God's creatures against another portion was committed not in the case of thousands, not even of millions only; it was committed through the persistent barbarities of three centuries and a half, in the case of tens of millions! When we consider the character of the means employed in Africa to fill up the slave cargoes; the wasting wars waged to procure prisoners; the marauding bands of kidnapers firing villages and killing all who resisted; the slaughter of those who were too young, and the abandonment of those who were too old or infirm to be marketable; the deaths on the long, desert journey; and again the pestilence-invaded barracoons; and yet again in the dungeons of the slave ship-when we reflect upon all these prolific sources of mortality we shall not be inclined to consider Lord Palmerston guilty of exaggeration when he calculated that we must treble the number of slaves actually landed in the colonies to find the total of persons who were consigned to death or slavery by the various operations of the trade from its inception in the Old World to its close in the harbors of the New.

But lest in this the British premier should have exaggerated, let us assume that the number of those who perished in Africa by slave wars, marauding murders, pestilence, and the extremity of hardship, previous to embarkation, was but equal to the number embarked. In other words, let us, to obtain in entire number of victims, lower the estimate to double the number only that were actually received on board slave ships. Then, according to our previous calculation, assuming the number shipped from Africa in the three and a half centuries through which this traffic lasted to have been 15,500,000, we have 31,000,000 as the total number of negroes who have been consigned to death or to foreign slavery that one race of men might live by the labor of another. Thirty- one millions! a portion of mankind equal in number to the entire inhabitants, Northern and Southern, white and colored, of the United States!

Of these 31,000,000 upward of 3,000,000 (a population equal to that of the United States when independence was declared) were

---------------

number landed, namely, 80, by deducting 20 per cent. from 100; but to those 80 we must add 25 per cent. on 80 in order to obtain the original number shipped, namely, 100.

The term "middle passage" is not to be understood as designating the transoceanic route to the West Indies from any particular portion of the slave coast. "Middle passage, or mid-passage; the passage of a slave ship from Africa across the Atlantic Ocean." (Worcester's Dictionary.)

---------------