Negroes in the War.
It must be a puzzle to many simple-minded people to understand the reason for the bitter opposition to the employment of negroes in the war. The rankest "abolitionist" that ever lived never claimed that negroes were better than white men, and why such furious zeal should be exhibited to keep negroes from sharing the dangers and hardships of war — especially in cases where they are willing to fight — is not always so plain that he who runneth can read.
Of course, one thing is not difficult to see, viz., that it is not occasioned by love to the negro that he is spared from danger. On the contrary the men most bitter in denouncing the plan of arming negroes are those who hate them most cordially. One would think from their ordinary talk that nothing would sit them so well as to see the blacks mustered, drilled, and subjected to the fatigues and perils of war, and mowed down by hundreds and thousands in battle. When David wished to get Urlah out of the way he ordered him put in the front rank of the battle, and as human nature is much the same now as in King David's time, why don't the negrophobists take advantage of the war to get the negroes out of their way, or at least to make them undergo all the perils of campaigning in order to afford additional argument to show that they are only beasts of burden? The testimony of so good a Democrat and a soldier as Gen. Jackson is upon record that they can be taught to fight well, and hence there is an inconsistency involved which needs explanation.
The opposition to the enlistment of negroes is due simply to the needs of slavery. Even the bitter war which slavery is now waging upon us has not yet disarmed it of influence at the North. This influence would be less had the Border States not unwillingly consented to tarry with us in the Union. But they are here, and they cling to their adored idol with a devotion and persistence which might be admirable were it not infamous. The arming of the slave is a step toward his freedom. He has never been taught the use of firearms because he might some day employ them against his master in securing his own independence. Even if the Border State slaves were exempt from military service the project is still dangerous to slavery. It is first a concession that the negro race is good for something besides raising cotton and tobacco, and can be educated to the soldier's high qualities. Kentucky slave breeders and their allies claim, with great confidence, that he cannot be thus educated, but they seem to have a horror of trying it. If successful, it would of course vastly increase the dangers of phattel slavery, as it would teach "thousands of negroes the use of arms, who, by association with the Border State slaves would make them discontented, and at the same time instruct them in military tactics. The Border State gentry cannot stand calmly by and consent to such innovations. If their first care in general is not to save slavery in preference to the Union, it certainly is their second care, and they have worked themselves into the belief that their accursed institution must stand through all time and be protected by the government when assailed. And in support of this blind devotion they have filled the President's ear with their lamentations, and threats, and prophecies until he at last has taken the unwise step of attempting to "conciliate" them once more by refusing all military aid form negroes. It is a step which he will yet revoke, but it is always absurd to reject aid form any source, and especially so in a war brought on by slavery. It is an error, because a military leader always loses more than he gains by granting concessions to a miserable clique in opposition to the wishes of the great majority of his earnest friends and supporters. The luke-warm loyalty of the Border States has been far more detrimental to the Union cause than beneficial, and will be just so long as they are allowed thus to neutralize our earnest efforts against the traitors. Had they gone out with the Cotton States the lines would have been drawn direct; now they have given half their energies to the enemy, and with the other half have simply hung upon the Union cause and held it back. This foray against negro soldiers is their latest evidence of pro-slavery bigotry and malice, and though it will cost us many thousands of precious lives the work will be better done when it is done, and when every pro-slavery folly and madness shall have had its day.