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The Arresto of the 13th Maine

"The following correspondence of the Springfield Republican, a leading organ of the Lincoln party in Massachusetts, cannot be read without filling the reader with irrepressible indignation, and with a warning of alarm of an approaching conflict iii which the white man will be driven to fight for the natural suprema- cy of his race. Judge Kelly, Republi- can Congressman from Philadelphia, in a recent speech threatened that the ne- gro regiments shall be marched into the North, with a bayonet at the breast of every copperhead. PENSACOLA, Fla., Feb. 1, 1863. As the experiment of organizing negro regiments has been instituted by the government, its progress and results are a matter of great interest; and hay- big had an opportunity to witness the efforts to enforce the principle of mili- tary equality of such regiments, I will volunteer to give you its history. For several months past the military post of Ship Island has been garrisoned by two companies of the 13th Maine regiment, under command of Col. Henry Rust. Recently, the 2d Louisiana Reg- iment of black volunteers was ordered to rendezvous at this Island, and Col. Rust was ordered to transfer the com- mand of the post to their commanding officer, CoL N. W. Daniels. Col. Rust and staft as ordered, repaired to Fort Jackson, leaving behind him on the Is- land the two companies of the 13th Maine. Upon assuming command of the post, Col. Daniels issued orders commanding the consolidation of the two companies of whites with his regiment of blacks. He ordered them to attend battalion drill, and be consolidated at dress pa- MEN lN THE ARMY. rade. In camp and guard duties black Captains were placed over white Lieu- tenants, and thus white officers and black, white privates and black, in one black column blent, obsequiously doing honor to black equals and superiors, were to inaugurate the reign of ebony. The recognition required was not mere- ly the passing salute and modes and forms of military etiquette, but an equal military equality, with its accompanying honors and obedience. Against the orders thus consolidating them with blacks, the officers of the two white companies earnestly protested. But their protest being unheeded and unanswered, after a suitable delay, they finally refused to obey the orders. They refused to take their companies to bat- talion drill or appear on dress parade; they refused also to detail guard to be commanded by negroes. They were ar- rested, and the command of the compa- nies finally devolved upon the Orderly Sergeants. By the Sergeants offering to detail guard, the question was put di- rectly to the members of the companies whether they would do duty as guard under negro officers. Following the ex- ample of their officers, the men peremp- torily refused. Whereupon the men were ordered under arrest, their mus- kets and equipments taken from them. and black guards stationed around their appointed quarters. The execution of the order for arrest- ing the companies was one of the most humiliating scenes I ever witnessed. As a precaution against disturbance, the black regiment was ordered under arms and muskets loaded. Two companies of blacks, with their black officers. marched to the quarters of the disobe- dient soldiers, and called upon them to surrender themselves as prisoners. In- stead of resisting, the men obeyed the summons in a spirit characteristic of the intelligent New England soldier, who knows how to obey, but knows, too, the philosophy of resistance to injustice. Silently they marched in front of their negro masters, stacked their arms, hung their accoutrements upon their glittering bayonets, and turned sadly away, while their black captors bore away their arms with feelings and expressions of glee, as if they were trophies of conquest. Asthe ebony band returned from their work, their comrades in camp welcomed them with shouts of triumph. By a sin- gle word or act on the part of the white officers, a scene of riot and bloodshed would have been the sequel. But wiser counsels prevailed, and officers and men quietly submitted themselves as prison. ers to those with whom they would not serve as soldiers or acknowledge as equals."

The Old Guard May 1863.

David Upton