Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Arms and Uniforms for Freedmen

The Covington Journal reprinted this first article on May 17, 1862. Of the many different articles I have found in this paper regarding African-Americans, slaves, freedmen and other issues of race or abolition, this may be the harshest in its judgements and stereotypes. Apparently this judge, despite being so "busy," had enough free time to adjudicate a verdict on an entire generation on this race, based on observations of a comparatively few newly freed men and women.

This same paper, however, included another brief story on the subject of the African Americans in the islands off South Carolina and I have printed it below the first one.

Arming the Negroes
[from the Boston Courier May 2]

Enrollment of Loyal Blacks - An order just issued from the War office says a certain number of thousands of guns, and a certain number of thousand pairs of trousers - we will not say how many of either - are to be sent to Gen. Hunter immediately. They will be handled and worn by loyal blacks. - [N.Y. Tribune]

The trousers, we see by the papers, are to be "baggy red," and there are to be braided jackets besides, which will please the darkies; and the muskets, we trust, will be supplied out of those useless weapons purchased  by Fremont, at so high a price, in order that these untutored candidates for freedom may not hurt themselves with handling them. 

"Loyal blacks!"  What an outrage upon common sense - as though these negroes were fit at once to be put upon a par with citizens of the American Republic! WE quote in regard to them from the letter of an impartial judge, under date of April 4th, just received: 

"Since my arrival here I have been quite busy a great part of the time, yet have had several opportunities of going about upon the Island, or to the plantations, and seeing a little of the negro in his 'working clothes.' I have become more than ever convinced that the darkey must have a master to keep him at work; he is lazy, dishonest, and improvident, and cannot be relied on, the present generation is incapable of improvement to any extent; these efforts of abolitionists to improve their condition are the height of folly." 

"Loyal blacks,: forsooth!
Uniforms for the Contrabands at Port Royal
 New York, May 3- 
Gen. Rufus Saxton is in town, making every preparation to start of Port royal early next week on, as rumor ascribes tho him, a very peculiar mission. In plainer terms, he will take out with him a large supply of Zouave uniforms and arms, for the wear and use of the contrabands at Hilton Head, Tybee, etc.  The uniforms are of the New York Fire regiment pattern, only a little more showy. This proceeding opens a novel chapter in the rebellion, and promises to pave the way to results of a most startling character. [-[Cor. Philadelphia Inquirer]

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