1863 March 25: A Southern View of the Emancipation Proclamation
The following is from the March 25, 1863, issue of The Prescott Journal.
The Proclamation at the South.
The Nashville Union is in a pretty good position to judge of the effect of the Emancipation Proclamation in the South. It states that the evil results, which its opponents predicted would follow its publication, have not yet appeared. In the almost two month which have elapsed since it was issued, no domestic carnage and slave insurrections have followed—on the contrary the slaves seem to have been unusually peaceful and quiet. Their masters have risen against the Government by thousands, but they have not lifted their hand against their masters. The Union, in contrasting the conduct of the classes, remarks that “if the rebellious slave owners would follow the example set before them by their patient slaves, the National would quickly be at peace.
The Union also thus meets and emphatically contradicts the thousand times repeated allegation that the Emancipation Proclamation made rebels out of Southern Union men. The editor evidently speaks by the cards when he says :
“But we are told that it has exasperated the Southern people, and made rebels of loyal men. We deny it positively, and defy any one to produce evidence that such is the fact. Show us one Union man who has faltered in his loyalty in consequence of Emancipation Proclamation. We have heard a good deal of such stuff, and demand the proof. It is not true ; not one word of it. On the contrary, it is an atrocious calumny against a body of men who are not so depraved as to prefer property to country. The very warmest advocates of the Emancipation Proclamation are large slave-owners of this State and Alabama ; and the most radical letter we have yet seen on this subject, we received a short time ago, from a large slaveholder of Kentucky.”
A later number of the Nashville Union Feb. 19th, bears this testimony as to the effect of the Proclamation and the dark prospects of rebeldom :
“We are told also by the opponents of the Proclamation, that it would exasperate the rebels, and thus give energy and strength to the rebellion. But experience thus far falsifies this prediction. At no period in the career of the rebellion have its prospects been so dark, or its condition so distracted and desperate, as they are at present. A cloud of gloom and despair, which lets no shaft of light stream through its murky rifle, envelopes the land of rebellion from Richmond to Mobile.
A Negro Army.
An officer of Massachusetts cavalry, stationed at Beaufort, S. C., after expressing his satisfaction with the enlisted negro troops, as being quick, active, possessed of great powers of endurance, oddly disciplined, and well satisfied with military life, thus utters his sentiments on a problem of war—what to do with the negro :
I want to see an army of 300,000 blacks on the field by the first of July.—“How can we get them?” you may ask. By striking into the interior of some thickly settled slave States and giving every negro the chance to work his own salvation. Let the Government do away with agricultural projects for the present, and instead of sending men into the field to raise cotton, make soldiers of them. The rebels fear them much more than they do white troops. Many of them have old scores to settle up, and they know when they fight it is for their own salvation. Ask of them what they may expect if their old masters catch them, and they will say, “Lord, Massa, he shoot me, sure—never go alive, boss.”
As long as this state of feeling exists among them, you need not fear that they will not make good soldiers. The rebels say they do not want any negroes after they have entered our lines, and as a general thing they shoot them when they catch them.