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Text for Page 095 [07-07-1862]

              85
                            Port Royal

[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
which reached us in the midst of a furious rain-storm
on the evening of the Fourth:  The South Caroli-
nians have lately re-possessed themselves of works
at Port Royal Ferry, in the Coosaw River, from
which they were driven by our troops in January
last.  On the morning of the Fourth, they opened
fire upon our pickets, drove them in, crossed the
river in a boat, and burned some boats and a block-
house at the end of the causeway.  Our artillery
being ordered up, fired at the boat, and a little field
(and water) practice occurred between it and the
enemy.  He fired 150 round shot; we, in like manner,
wasted 100 shells.  No damage on either side.  The
Rebels attempted the same work on the same day
with more or less of success at Seabrook.
    I have just learned that although the Potomac
starts to-morrow.  being an old and slow boat she
will carry no mail.  Never mind, you will get this
letter, together with an indefinite number of others
of my inditing, at some time during the present
month.  I shall keep on writing for my own satisfac-
tion.

                   FROM SOUTH CAROLINA.
                            -------*-------

A Sunday at Port Royal � The Negro Sun-
       day-school-Gen. Hunter � Negro Physi-
       ognomy and Behavior � The �Contra-
       band� Regiment � A Drill, Sermon, and
       Prayer � Stories of Runaway Slaves.

From our Special Correspondent.
Hilton Head, S.C., Headquarters of the 1st Regi-
         ment South Carolina Volunteers, July 7, 1862.

I have just beheld the two best things that have
yet to come out of this war � a Sunday-School for ne-
groes in the State of South Carolina, and an embryo
negro regiment.  In accordance with a promise ex-
pressed in a recent letter, I am about to give my ex-
perience of, and impressions with regard to them.
   Sunday is, as you may suppose, a more than usu-
ally tranquil day at Hilton Head.  Then its busiest
locality, the long pier, instead of its working-day as-
pect of arriving or departing steamers, its bustle of
embarkation and debarkation, its perspiring white
and black laborers, exhibits no livelier spectacle than
a score or so of military or nautical idlers � we have
very few civilians here � gratefully inhaling the sea
breeze and enjoying the prospect.  The many vessels
in the bay ride easily at anchor, the waves dance
and shimmer in the sunlight, making exhilarant
music on the long reaches of white sand forming the
shore; the unpainted store-houses and Government
buildings seem newer than ever, and the tents of the
various encampments stand out against the cloudless
blue sky with a purity of effect befitting the scene
and the occasion.  I can imagine nothing more deli-
ciously tranquil, nor less suggestive of war.  Yet we
are here, with hostile intent, on the soil of the State
most inimical to our national unity; here, apparently
waiting what you are going to do about Richmond.
Half the civilized world is similarly employed, I
fancy, a part of it with a not at all friendly inten-
tion of waiting but a very little longer.  Hadn�t
you better hurry up matters in that direction that
we may do so in this?
   On Sundays, the troops have a company inspec-
tin in the morning, a drill just before sunset, gen-

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
erally followed by a prayer and sermon by the regi-
mental chaplain.  (I wish, by the by, that there was
an order prohibiting these gentlemen from extending
their discourses beyond ten or even five minutes
duration.  To enranked soldiers, immediately after
the fatigue of drill, a larger amount must become
irksome, even when they are �standing at ease.�
One can, or ought to, be able to say a good deal in
five minutes; the Sermon on the Mount hardly occu-
pied longer in delivery.  The rest of the day is a
holiday, or nearly so.  I believe there is preaching
somewhere of Sunday mornings, at Hilton Head,
but I had heard of the negro school, and preferred
going to it.)
   It is at about fifteen minutes distance from Gen.
Hunter�s headquarters ( a neat row of unpainted
wooden buildings, fronting the bay, or rather a con-
tinuous one.)  To reach the school involves a sandy
walk out to the negro quarters, past divers long
buildings filled with commissary stores, some of
them smelling so strongly of pork, that a man of
faint appetite might satiate it by walking through or
across them.  Leaving these behind, a torrid five
minutes of sand, with a prospect of marsh to the
right, brings us to the aforesaid negro quarters and
the school, a room fitted up for its present purpose,
and forming part of a long, whitewashed building,
one story in hight, tenanted by black women and
children.
   When our party arrived school had not yet com-
menced.  It was summoned by a decently-dressed
negro, ringing a bell suspended outside the building,
at the sound of which the scholars appeared, drop-
ping in by ones and twos � first the children, then
boys and girls, and grown-up men and women.  The
very first � a shy, dusky urchin of five, who came
decorously in and deposited himself in a corner �
was promptly rewarded for his zeal with a quarter
dollar, given to him by a middle-aged gentleman,
clad in a loose flannel coat, ample, blue, military
trowsers, and a straw hat.  His quietly-resolute face,
and thin, grizzled mustache, were strongly indicative
of character: one did not need the removing or
touching of hats on the part of bystanders to an-
nounce that he was somebody.  It was Major-
General Hunter, Commander of the Department of
the South, who will be known in future histories of
the rebellion as the man who first acted upon the
necessity of wresting from the Rebels their main
weapon � Slavery � and striking at them with it.  I
was better pleased to see Gen. Hunter than many
another of his rank that I could name.
   But the school-room is filling.  Immediately in
front of me (I sit below the principal teacher�s desk,
facing the scholars) is a bench, seating nearly a
dozen very young children � none, I should say, older
than four years, two or three scarcely one; hardly
any of their little, black, bare legs touch the ground.
They are all cleanly dressed; one has a gay straw
hat, decorated with ribbons, but the majority are
bare-headed.  Their soft-skinned, dusky, infantile
faces and white eyeballs look upward at us, beneath
the close-curling black wool, with that appealing
glance peculiar to the negro � always, to my think-
ing, irresistibly touching, and suggestive of depend-
ence on, humility toward, and entreaty for merciful
consideration at the hands of a superior race.  On[e]
has a really charming countenance � none are posi-
tively ugly.  The physiognomy of one queer little
thing is, indeed, comically suggestive of its owner
having recently eaten a bad oyster, and being
dubious as to the results (as a friend whispers in my
ear); and another, seated upon the ground, being
too small for elevation to the bench, is engrossed
with her toes, to the exclusion of all other sources of               
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