Our Memphis Correspondence.
CAMP NEAR MEMPHIS, Nov. 16th, 1862.
Dear Journal: Items of news from the 114th regiment, Ills. Vols. would, doubtless, be interesting to many of our readers. If you will give me space in your columns I will occasionally gratify a large circle of friends and acquaintances. We left Camp Butler on the 8th of Nov. and landed in Memphis on the 15th, stopping by the way at St. Louis, Cairo and Columbus. At Cairo, we were kindly shows the distributing Post Office, through which all papers and letters for the Army of the Mississippi must pass, and where they are assorted in packages and directed to the different regiments, and must say that we never saw such perfect system and care, to have every letter and paper reach its destination, as exists in this office. Friends at home direction their letters to the care of the Captain, give the letter of the company and the number of the regiment, may feel assured that they will be received wherever the regiment may be. From Alton to Columbus we had a very unpleasant passage. The boat was too small and the Captain a drunken brute; a rabid enemy of the administration. At Columbus we were transferred to the U. S. transport Crescent City, and experienced about as great a change as we might suppose a man would in passing from Purgatory to Paradise.
At Columbus we say the first traces of war's dire calamities. The town, once so pleasant and busy, is almost destitute of inhabitants, save the ebony and yellow contrabands that are congregated here and the soldiers that garrison the place. The Government has erected a number of neat and commodious buildings for offices, store rooms, &c., which greatly improves the appearance of the place [unknown] store, a chain lies harmless [unknown] the imbecility of this [unknown]. But the fortifications in the rear of the city amaze the verdant beholder. In fact it is difficult to conceive how a well armed and resolute army could ever be dislodged; and no doubt, nothing but the fear of starvation could have caused them to abandon this stronghold.
The passage from Columbus down was enlivened by several amusing incidents, and some rather wild adventures. At every landing and wood yard the "intelligent contrabands" were on hand with their welcome of "God bless the Lincoln soges."
Stopping two nights on the Arkansas shore we sent out a strong picket guard, and under the guidance of the negroes paroled the country for several miles around, paying our respects to a number of the citizens, rather to their discomfort. We succeeded in tracking up and capturing a noted rebel who had been taken prisoner at Covington, Ky., and had escaped from Camp Chase a few weeks ago. On these nocturnal excursions I conversed freely with a number of men and women, and found them almost universally disloyal and decidedly of the guerrilla stamp. The young and middle aged men are all in the army — the women and old men and negroes are home providing food and clothing for the army, free from molestation, and even enjoying protection from the Union army sent down to fight the rebellion. At Camp Butler, when surrounded with none but loyal and true citizens, soldiers were permitted to burn miles of fencing, "cramp" all the poultry in the country, without a rebuke — here in the midst of an enemy's country, where the men are all in the rebel army, where the women exhibit ornaments made of the bones of murdered citizens, and watch their opportunity to shoot Union soldiers from their windows, loyal citizens of the North who have left their families and friends, their farm and shop, to sustain the Government with the strength of their lives are tonight lying upon the wet ground with a cheerless autumn rain falling around them, without wood to build a fire, in sight of splendid palaces owned by rebel Colonels, Captains now in the army, not more than 40 miles from us, are ordered not to touch a rail or stick of wood, or to pick up a stray chicken, under penalty of severe punishment. Dozens of large, stout, intelligent negro men, owned by our most bitter enemies and rank traitors, are within sight of our camp — and yet, to each company in the regiment the following order was read last night at roll call:
CAPTAIN: You will detail for to-morrow five men, with axes and spades, to work on division parade ground, to report at headquarters at 7 o'clock A.M.
By order of Brig. Gen. —
How long will the people be willing to carry on this terrible war under such management.
Memphis has been a beautiful city, but the demon of secession has touched it with his blighting want, and the best than can be said of it is, that is a conquered city.
The inhabitants are held in check by the presence of a large army. A few men of Northern origin, who have got a foothold here, are cheerful in their submission; but those in "the manor born" are sullen and haughty, and seek every opportunity to pick off a Union soldier.
What think you of the President's Proclamation? said we to a rebel surgeon. "O," says he, "our people regard it as most inhuman, and will resist it to the last man; we regard it as a violation of the rules of civilized warfare, because," says he, "we regard the negro as private property, in no way belonging to the Government or army, and, therefore, not subject to lawful seizure; but you can never carry it out." If we should carry it out, what would be the effect upon the South? "It would ruin us; we would stand in constant dread of a universal pillage and destruction of our property, and the massacre of our wives and children; our armies would be disbanded, as every man would be required at home to take care of his own family." That would end the war, then, would it now? "It certainly would; but what would you do with the negroes? Colonize as many as wish to go, and the remainder lot you hire, at a fair compensation, to till your soil but forever put a stop to the accursed traffic in human chattels."
The truth is, slavery is the capital-creating element of the South — the support of the army — it is useless to spend another dollar and murder to sacrifice another life in attempting to put down the rebellion and sustain slavery. Strike at the root of the evil, destroy the institution, and the Confederacy, like Sampson shorne of his locks, will lose all its power for harm.
Our regiment is in good spirits and good health. We are under Brig. Gen. Buckland. The brigade is composed of three Illinois regiments, one Ohio and one Indiana. Our Colonel is all right, and is deservedly popular; in fact, there is not a better regiment in camp than the 114th. We are deprived of news. Northern papers are scarce, and sell high. If we could get a package of the Journal, occasionally, it would do us good. W. A. MALLORY.
Capt. Co. C, 114th Regt.