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[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
ner in front of the door, and affording delicious greet-
ing to the sun-browned cheeks within.  A group of
officers converse on the piazza, others are busy
enough in-doors, horses stand picketed around, sen-
tries pace to and fro, soldiers come and go, and every-
thing is as cheery as may be and decidedly unlike
an advance.  We hear of movements on the part
of other divisions, but suppose that the evacuation
of Manassas and the falling back of the Rebels for
sixty miles to _________, has effected a change in the
plans of Gen. McClellan, and incidentally in our dis-
position.
          NEGRO FUGITIVES FROM MANASSAS.
  Contrabands and stragglers have been coming in
all day yesterday, all confirming the unlooked-for
flight which seems less improbable than had been
supposed in view of the masterly outflanking process
to which the rebels have yielded!  Doubtless the
telegraph has already flashed the general particulars
to you, yet the details obtained viva voce may claim
some interest.  I talked yesterday with half a dozen
of these emigrants from Secessia, now dispatched to
Washington, to repeat what they here volunteered,
to the proper authorities.
  They were a picturesque group six sturdy  boys, 
whose net value may have averaged a thousand dol-
lars each, as  God s image, carved in ebony,  is
rated in the rapidly-lessening dominions of Davis.
Roughly, but stoutly clad in homespun garments,
and, with one exception, well shod, the eldest might
have been 40 years, the others averaging little more 
than 30.  Thoroughly African in appearance, their
black faces and white, glistening teeth (the later
irresistibly suggestive of huge, closely-set grains of
Indian corn) beamed with satisfaction at the success-
ful result of their Hegira, as they leaned sunning
themselves against the side of the house, answering
the questions put to them, and laughing gleefully at
the expense of their recent  owners. 
  When I approached, the elder, a thick-set, heavily-
built negro was displaying an old revolver, a  five-
shooter  of Colt s pattern, duly capped and loaded,
and declaring that he had made up his mind before
leaving Manassas to escape or die.  He and his party
reckoned they had ten shots among  em.  Directly 
they see how things was a goin , they determined to
clear right out, and they done it too.  They quit at
night, took to the woods, and had to wade Occoquan
Creek twice,  up to here  pointing to the
waist.  They heard the dogs after  em, but
wasn t afraid of them not nigger dogs, you
know, such as they hunts us with  way down South
 only sport dogs.  They got through the pickets
easy (through our pickets, too, they might have
added, for we heard nothing of them until they pre-
sented themselves at headquarters) knowing the
country.  He, the principal speaker, quit on Thurs-
day night.  Then our side the Rebels, Sir was
busy leavin ; he reckoned they had all gone,

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
now.  They was all kinds, Mississippians,
Virginians, North Carolinians, and Georgians.  They
had taken the cannon away, too.  Most of  em was
pretty well armed with Enfield rifles or shot-guns,
but some had only knives and hickory clubs.  An
Arkansas company fought only with bowie-knives 
 them choppers, you know they went right in with
 em.   They were pretty well clad and fed, had
fresh pork and bread, but no coffee for a long time,
and no salt.  Nearly all on  em, even the privates,
had niggers to wait on  em (?) they couldn t get
along no how without us.  The colored people knew
what was goin  on, but they had to keep mighty
quiet about it.  Everybody said the rebellion was
gone up caved in, though  the Secesh  thought a
good deal of Beauregard and Davis  specially
Beauregard.  They got news of all the movements
of the Union troops, and obtained the Northern
papers regularly.
  I mentioned the tenor of President Lincoln s recent
Emancipation message, and asked whether the
speaker thought it probable under any circumstances
that the South would attempt the abolition of Slavery.
The answer was emphatic:   No, Sar!  dey dig us
under de ground fust!   There were some black
regiments, composed, my informant believed, of free
negroes, but not at Manassas; plenty of them down
South, guarding the coasts.  All the colored folks
were for the Union,  of course, Sar;  Dey believe
God s goin  to set  em free.   They had heard of
John Brown and of the song about him; he was the
bravest man that ever lived.
  Humanely apprehensive for the well-being and
future prospects of this dusky chattel who, as he
stated, was a Kentuckian born, a Mississippian by
compulsory adoption, and, four days ago, a slave of
one John Calhoun of Claiborne County, in that re-
pudiatory state I inquired how he proposed to main-
tain himself.  He smiled his smile rippled into a
grin and he responded:  That he was All Right;
that he had raised garden truck, and perfectly under-
stood carpentering.  And, really, he seemed quite
ready to launch himself upon the untried experiment
of individual responsibility, on the strength of these
ridiculous accomplishments.  I wonder if his ex-
master could get along in the world as well, were he
cast adrift in a similar manner.
  I have seen few pleasanter things than the after-
noon sun shone upon immediately subsequent to this
conversation: the six escaped slaves sent off under
escort of a single soldier not, as an officer humanely
explained to them, to prison or punishment, but that
they might be fed and cared for, and, after they had
retold their story, receive their first vital experience
of God s truth that He created all men free and
equal.
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Nineteen: page forty
Description:Newspaper clipping written by Gunn for ''The New York Tribune,'' regarding his experiences at the camp of General Heintzelman, including speaking with a party of escaped slaves from Manassas.
Date:1862-03-12
Subject:African Americans; African American troops; Beauregard, P.G.T.; Brown, John; Calhoun, John; Civil War; Davis, Jefferson; Dogs; Emancipation; Firearms; Food; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Lincoln, Abraham; McClellan, George B.; Military; New York tribune.; Slaveholders; Slavery; Slaves
Coverage (City/State):[Alexandria, Virginia]
Scan Date:2010-06-14

 

Volume
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Nineteen
Description:Includes Gunn's descriptions of his experiences as a war correspondent for ""The New York Tribune"" in Virginia while traveling with the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsular Campaign; the Siege of Yorktown; the Battle of Williamsburg; his departure from Alexandria on the steamer Kent; the ruins of Hampton, Virginia, after it was burnt by John B. Magruder; touring the gunboat Monitor; the death of Fitz James O'Brien from a gunshot wound; Jim Parton's temporary separation from Fanny Fern; and seeing Robert E. Lee's house in Virginia.
Subject:Civil War; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Marches (U.S. Army); Marriage; Medical care (U.S. Army); Military; Military camp life; Peninsular Campaign (Va.); Prisoners of war (Confederate); Siege of Yorktown (Va.); Slavery; Slaves; Travel; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York; Washington, District of Columbia; Alexandria, Virginia; Hampton, Virginia; Yorktown, Virginia; Williamsburg, Virginia
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2010 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.