March 21, 1862
From the Sixteenth.
Bertrand, Mo., March 11
Messrs. Editors: We are now waiting at this place for transportation to Sikeston, from which station we will march to New Madrid. The balance of our Regiment (6 companies) are now at this place. We arrived here yesterday about 4 o’clock p.m., after a march of fifteen miles through the hot sun, carrying our knapsacks all the while. We intended leaving here this morning, but could not get transportation over the Charleston and Fulton R. R., and consequently will not get off before to-morrow morning, if then. – During the past week we have been laying at what is known as Forrest Grove, 15 miles south of this. It was evidently the intention to have us march through from that place to New Madrid, but on account of the heavy swamps laying between us, the idea was abandoned.
From present indications it would seem that a fight with the rebels at that place inevitable. There are various reports as to the number of rebels now at that place. Yesterday a negro came into camp, reporting himself direct from New Madrid, and informed us that the place was garrisoned by 80,000 rebels, and “more a coming.” The latest advices however, received this evening, through a member of the 2d Michigan cavalry, direct from there, reports the forces 12,000 strong, and says the rebel pickets, when put out, are deserting and coming over to the cause of the Union. He says our forces are only waiting for the gunboats to arrive when to take it will be an easy matter.
The weather is fine and were we not encumbered with so much baggage, could march with great speed. It is said to be 20 miles from Sikeston to New Madrid, which distance we will make in one day. The sick and disabled were all sent to Bird’s Point last night and to-day, by order of General Paine. We are now only about 19 miles from that place. The health of the boys is generally good.
Say to our friends and relations in McDonough that they will not hear from us until New Madrid is ours. – We have too much to do to write to them now. I will write you again soon.
Evacuation of New Madrid.
The 16th Regiment it appears figured some in driving the rebels out of New Madrid. On Wednesday evening 12th, the 10th Illinois and the 16th, together with two companies of the 1st regular infantry, under cover of the darkness, took an advanced position directly in front of the rebel fort for the purpose of planting some heavy siege guns. Not a word was spoken; every cigar and pipe was put away; every gun was held firmly to prevent the least rattling and the troops advanced within 150 yards of the enemy’s pickets in the most perfect silence. After the engineer had measured the proposed line of earthworks, the boys removed a rail fence, piling the rails lengthwise, lapping the ends and then covering them with earth. In about three hours a breastwork was built sufficient to protect the two regiments, and by early dawn the artillery was ready for action.
During the night Capt. Carr, wandered beyond our pickets and was shot by the enemy.
In the morning our battery opened the ball by sending a shot into the enemy’s works. This was replied to by a fire from the guns of the fort, supported by five gunboats. A correspondent of the Chicago Tribune remarks that the cannonading was terrific. – Round shot, shell and grape fell over and beyond our breastworks in all directions. The infantry laid quietly in the trenches. At first there was considerable dodging and ducking, as but few of the boys were ever before under fire. This wore off, and all soon were jesting, smoking, “watching balls,” and sleeping. One ball striking the breastwork, threw a cart-load of sand over a squad of the 16th boys. They immediately jumped on the embankment, and, hat in hand, gave the rebels a salute and cheer. They hardy veterans before Sebastopol, after their months of experience, could not have exhibited more coolness than did these brave Illinoisans. The fight lasted till 6 o’clock in the afternoon, when the rebels ceased to fire. During the fight we lost six men killed and several wounded, most of them belonging to the regulars, and the rest to some Ohio regiment. Neither the 10th or 16th had a man injured. The rebels lost during the fight, in killed, 27. The number of their wounded is not ascertained.
The rebels are driven from their last stronghold in Missouri.
Answers to Correspondents.
Astronomer – That point has never yet been settled beyond dispute. There are some who still believe the moon is made of green cheese.
Sam – The reason that you can see through glass is because it is transparent.
Jim – It is a mistake. The world is not round. We have talked with a returned Californian who says the deep gulleys and high mountains in that country renders such a thing absurd.
Sam – You are right. The Eagle has changed again. It came out strong last week for party organization, and the editor proposes to take the stump to counteract the effect of his article of four weeks since.
Dick – You say you would like to subscribe for a rank pro-slavery, semi-secession paper. Send a dollar to the editor of the Eagle and you will get it.
Tim – Daniel O’Connell was a French nobleman who displeased the King by bowing to an old hat which was nailed to gate post, and for this his son was sentenced to knock an apple off his head blind-folded. See Fox’s book of Martyrs.
Death of Henry Bailey. – On Sunday afternoon last this young man, who has been suffering a painful illness of several weeks, quietly sank into the arms of death. He was among the first in this county to offer his services in behalf of his country’s cause, and entered as a private in Capt. Ralston’s company, in the 16th Regiment. He was taken sick with what proved to be typhoid fever while his regiment was on its way to Bird’s Point. After lying for some weeks in the hospital at Bird’s Point he was brought home, but his system was too much prostrated to rally again. Mr. Bailey was much esteemed and respected in this community, where he has lived from his infancy. His funeral was attended by a large number of mourning friends and relatives on Monday afternoon last.
March 22, 1862
What Shall be Done with Them?
The action of the house of representatives in adopting Lincoln’s resolution to furnish pecuniary aid to the States which may gradually abolish slavery, and the certainty that it will pass the Senate, are sufficient to prompt the question, what shall be done with the negroes? It is confessedly a part of the scheme for the total abolition of slavery in all the States, and the placing of four millions of negroes on the hands of the government or the people. The tender of money is only made to hasten the accomplishment of their object in the border States – or, as a republican in Congress said, it is “an awful note of warning and an act of great magnanimity to the border States.” That is to say, “we will be magnanimous enough to pay you for your slaves now, but next year we may take them from you without paying for them.” But what shall be done with the negroes? In emancipating them the country become responsible for their maintenance and ultimate disposal – a place will have to be found for the four millions, and that too while we reject their society and shun their touch. A blind fanaticism has shut out all pecuniary and moral considerations from the subject. But it is well known that the marked characteristics which accompany the negrophobia of the republicans are an indifference to all other interests, a capacity for obtrusive, wearying assertion, and a total recklessness of consequences. What to do with four millions of blacks – unprepared and uneducated for “liberty” – is a question to make the merest tyro, in political economy shudder when asked to consider it reflectingly; and yet the Hales, Sumners, and Lovejoys, claiming to be statesmen, yell as wildly and loudly for emancipation as if the econumical question involved was unworthy of thought, and as if they had not white constituencies with interests to be affected by the measures. But their constituencies have an interest, particularly the laboring portions of them, in a result which would import, so to speak; a degrading and wages-depreciating competition into fields where the white man’s arms find none too frequent or continuous employment. If these and other representatives, of like class and calibre, have no voice or thought beyond the negro, it is time for white men – voters in their districts – to take thought for themselves and for their children. The problem – and it is not a hard one – for them to consider, is – how is our position as laboring men and the wages we receive for our labor, to be affected by emancipation, it being undeniable that freedom for blacks, now engaged in productive labor where they are, would pour in a tide of competition fatal to the self-respect and incomes of those to whom labor is now a dignity. Let no sophism or rhetorical pictures of “universal freedom” drive out of mind this view of the case, for it is the only practical one for the white laborer to take, nor conceal the fact that, under the sway of demagogues, “when the yoke is removed from the negro, it may conveniently be put on the white man. It will be as easy to make the citizen a slave, as the slave a citizen.”
Farmers from different parts of the county this week concur in reporting the fall wheat to be in very good condition. The ice which covered the fields for so long a time during the winter did not injure the wheat in the least degree – and if favorable weather attends the season the yield per acre will be heavy.
A Slaveholder in McDonough County.
We are informed that a man in this county has harbored a negro for several months. He feeds and clothes the black fellow, makes him work, and sometimes hires him out and pockets the wages. He pretends that he bought the [African-American] in Missouri. This is the substance of what we have heard from different persons, and we have no doubt of its truth. We shall not give the man’s name now, but we may add that he is a good republican, and is fully as honest as a great many other brawlers about negro “freedom.”