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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 040 [03-12-1862]

              [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-
  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
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