1865 February 4: News from the South—Debate on Arming Slaves
The following articles appeared in the February 4, 1865, issue of The Polk County Press.
News from Rebeldom.
NEW YORK, Jan. 31.
In the rebel House last Thursday there was an interesting debate on the bill to put slaves into the army. During the debate Jeff. Davis was severely denounced by members. [Jefferson Davis]
Mr. Torney, of North Carolina, said he looked upon the bill as a project to arm the slaves. The President had declared in favor of it, and when he gets them in the army as when he gets them in the army as teamsters and cooks, he can make them drill, or perform any other duty. He would be willing to surrender the slaves for independence. The only objection he had to making soldiers of slaves was that they would not fight on our side. They would prove the enemy’s best allies in accomplishing our overthrow and devastation. Mr. Torney said the county had been too long and too often delayed and deceived by the President’s plans, projects and prophecies. Not one of his prophecies had been fulfilled ; no one of his projects or plans had proven successful ; yet the President proposes new and dangerous schemes with unable confidence in his own judgment. When Susanna, Corporal Trim and the servants sat down by the kitchen fire for a talk, Corporal Trim said he had been so often deceived in his own judgment that he now had doubts of its accuracy, even when he knew he was right. The President had been much oftener deceived in his judgment than the Corporal, and it is time he had learned some mistrust of his judgment. He must not look for an unlimited support either from Congress or the country, when he proposes the wild, mail scheme of arming slaves. The country was beginning to learn that all the abolitionists were not in the North, and our own President had proposed abolition in a way that created suspicion as to his soundness. Mr. Torney said it was time that Congress should express their opinion upon arming slaves, and stamp upon it the indelible stamina of public abhorrence.
Mr. Leach of North Carolina, said he was unalterably opposed to such a measure. He believed that the day on which such a policy was adopted would sound tho death-knell of our cause. It would make a Domingo of our land.
Others from South Carolina and elsewhere expressed similar views.—The question was not disposed of.
The rebel papers say Gen. Kirby Smith commanding the rebel Trans Mississippi department, has repeatedly refused to comply with orders from Richmond directing him to transfer his troops on the east side of the Mississippi river.
The opponents of Jeff. Davis among his own people grow bitterer daily in their denunciations of him, and it is admitted that his humiliation was the design of the Congressional action to place Lee at the head of the armies. [Robert E. Lee]
The Union raiding force up the Chowan River, North Carolina, in the direction of Weldon, is said to number between 6,000 and 10,000 men, including infantry, cavalry and artillery.
General Beauregard contradicts the reports that Union meetings have been held in Georgia. [P.G.T. Beauregard]