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1864 March 5: Enrolling “all able-bodied male colored persons,” A Rebel Letter Home, and Thoughts on the Indian War in Dakota Territory

March 10, 2014

Following are several medium-size articles from The Polk County Press and The Prescott Journal of March 5, 1864.

From The Polk County Press:

The New Enrolment [sic] Bill.

The Enrolment [sic] Bill, which has been pending in Congress, and causing so much debate and expenditure of time, has at last passed both Houses and become a law.  The maximum commutation agreed upon is three hundred dollars.  The provision in regard to the period of exemption of persons paying commutation is as follows :

“The name of each Person is to be retained on the roll in filling future quotas, and in no case shall the payment of commutation relieve persons from liability for more than one year.”

“This is the form originally adopted by the House Military Committee, but suspended in the House by the Stevens amendment [Thaddeus Stevens].  The clause which refers to the consolidation of old regiments reduced below the minimum number was struck out.  The only persons exempted by this bill are those physically or mentally unfit, and those actually in military or naval service, or discharged therefrom after two years of honorable service.  The proposition in regard to the enrolment [sic] of negroes is as follows :

“That all able-bodied male colored persons between the ages of twenty and forty-five shall be enrolled and form a part of the national force, and when slaves of loyal masters are drafted, the master shall receive a certificate and the slave therefrom be free, and the bounty of one hundred dollars, now payable to drafted men, be paid to the master.  The Secretary of War [William H. Seward] shall appoint a Commission to each slave State represented in Congress, charged to award each loyal master of colored volunteers a just compensation not exceeding three hundred dollars, payable out of the Commission, and every such colored volunteer shall be free, and in all cases where colored persons have heretofore volunteered.  The same provisions, bounty and compensation shall be applicable ;  but colored persons drafted or volunteering, while credited on quotas of slaves, where released, shall not be assigned as State troopers, but be mustered into regiments or companies, and United States colored troops.”

From The Prescott Journal:

What a Rebel says.

Mr. Geo. H. Nichols of this city, has handed us a letter, sent him by a brother in the 4th Wis., written by a member of the 27th La. Reg. to his wife.

The writer is evidently an intelligent man, and the letter mainly such as an affectionate man would write to his wife and family ;  but there is one passage that reveals something of the feeling in the rebel army, and may be of interest to our readers.  After advising his wife to take the oath of allegiance if she had an opportunity, he says :

“I can see plainly that I will not obtain a furlough to go home, and as to deserting the army I have no chance whatever to do so.  From what I can see myself and hear, I think the war will come to a close in the coarse of two or three months from now.  I If not settled by compromise, it will be settled in this way ;  we will not only rebel against the Yankees, but rebel against our own people certain, before long, if there is not a change, because they are treating us very bad.  We don’t get anything to eat but corn bread and sour molasses, and that we cannot stand long.”

About the Indian War.

A member of Co. A, 30th, at Camp Washburne [sic], Milwaukee, in a private letter, writes to us as follows :

No doubt the 30th will be sent up the Missouri in the spring ;  at least this expectation is very much in vogue at present.

And if there ever was a stupendous, flagrant, damned humbug, it is this great cry against a few refugee Indians.  It is a cursed swindle on the Government and a burning shame to the people of the Northwest.  You know as well as I do, that with a little good management, conducted by some one besides black legs and cut throats, everything could be settled with those Indians without difficulty.

Emphatic, but pretty truthful, we reckon.

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