for the raising of provisions and supplies for our forces on the coast. In the absence of penalties of such a nature as to insure respect and dread, the temptations which are spread before the negroes are very strong, and when we consider their condition, their ignorance and credulity, and love of change, must prove in too many cases decidedly successful. No effectual checkd to their escape, the desire increases among then in proportion to the extent of its successful gratification, and will spread inland until it will draw negroes from counties far in the interior of the State, and negroes will congregate from every quarter in the counties immediately bordering on the sea and become a lawless set of runaways, corrupting the negroes that remain faithful, depredating on property of all kinds, and resorting, it may be, to deems of violence, which demonstrates that the whole State is interested in the effort to stop this evil; and already have negroes from Middle Georgia made their escape to the sea-board counties, and through Savannah itself to the enemy.
After consulting the laws of the State we can discover none that meet the case and allow of that prompt execution of a befitting penalty which its urgency demands. the infliction of capital punishment is now confined to the superior court, and any indictment before that court would involve incarceration of the negroes for months, with the prospect of postponement of trial, long litigation, large expense, and doubtful conviction; and, moreover, should the negroes be caught escaping in any numbers, there would not be room in all our jails to receive them. The civil law, therefore, as it now stands cannot come to our protection.
Can we find protection under military law? This is the question we submit to the general in command. Under military law the severest penalties are prescribed for furnishing the enemy with aid and comfort and for acting as spies and traitors, allow which the negroes can do as effectually as white men, as facts prove, and as we have already suggested. There can be but little doubt that if negroes are detected in the act of exciting their fellow-slaves to escape or of taking them off, or of returning after having gone to the enemy to induce and aid others to escape, they may in each of these case be summarily punished under military authority. But may not the case of negroes taken in the act of absconding singly or in parties, without being directly incited so to do by one or more others, be also summarily dealt with by military authority? Were our white population to act in the same way, would it not be necessary to make a summary example of them, in order to cure the evil or put it under some salutary control? If it be argued that in case of the negroes it would be hard to mete out a similar punishment under similar circumstances, because of their ignorance, pliability, credulity, desire of change, the absence of the political ties of allegiance, and the peculiar status of the race, if may be replied that the negroes constitute a part of the body politic in fact, and should be made to know their duty; that they are perfectly aware that the act which they commit is one of rebellion against the power and authority of their owners and the Government under which they live. They are perfectly aware that they go over to the protection and aid of the enemy who are on the coast for the purpose of killing their owners and of destroying their property; and they know, further, that if they themselves are found with the enemy that they will be treated as the enemy, namely, shot and destroyed.
To apprehend such transgressors, to confine and punish them privately by owners, or publicly by the citizens of the county by