From Our Own Correspondent.
NEWBERN, N.C., Saturday, May 31, 1862.
The experiment of placating the Old North State has commenced, under the rule of the new Governor. The first acts in the drama have the virtue of being intelligible, and pleasing at least to one class of people. As usual, in all attempts to soothe Southern wrath, the negro is thrown in as the offering.
The schools established by Mr. COLYER for the instruction of the colored people were suddenly closed on Wednesday evening. It was the first administrative act of the new Governor, since whose advent the military authority seems, to a great extent, suspended.
Hearing that this was to be done, I went early to the Methodist Church on Hancock-street, where one of the colored schools is held. Very few had, as yet, arrived. Sitting at a side door I observed an old couple of at least sixty years of age, each of whom held a little primer, in hand, into which they were intently peering, and by the aid of the dim twilight were endeavoring to master their first lesson in letters. Approaching them, I asked, “How do you get along with your book?” “O, master, we is trying right hard, but git on slow.” “Don’t you know how to read?” I asked. “No, but we wants to, master, very much; we wants to learn more dan we does to eat a good dinner when we is hungry; we want to learn so dat we can read de Word of God,” said the man.
In a few minutes the pupils began to come in. They came — young, old and middle-aged, male and female — and quietly took seats, filling the body of the house, as well as the galleries, and numbering five or six hundred. In front of the altar were sixteen bright and wakeful little boys of from eight to twelve years, ranged on two benches, and confronting the lesson of the evening, which had been written upon a sheet in large letters, and hung over the pulpit:
“Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.” — Matt. 5th ch.
When all had become seated, Mr. COLYER gave out the Sabbath school hymn:
“Joyfully, joyfully, onward we move,” which was sung with earnest pathos by the whole congregation.
During the prayer, when incidental reference was made to the closing of the school, a sob was heard in all parts of the house. That single sentence dashed all hopes and sent a pang to every heart. The Superintendent remarked that during the six weeks the schools had been opened, no disorder had occurred, and not the slightest complaint had been made by the authorities. The schools had been uniformly closed before the hour of guard-mounting, though by this course they had been obliged to assemble at an inconvenient hour, leaving their work at the fortification and on the bridge frequently without their suppers, in order to be early at the school. They had made rapid progress, over one hundred, only a few days since, having been selected as teachers, who could read with facility, and the remainder were able, after a few minutes’ instruction, to read the common lesson. He alluded to the fact that three or four hundred of them had been engaged upon one work — the fort — and that no disturbance had occurred, not a fight had taken place among them. Meantime they had lived in most inconvenient places, generally kitchens and outbuildings in the town, crowded together in unhealthy and irritating circumstances.
“These schools,” said the speaker, “are now to be closed, not by the officers of the army, under whose sanction they have been commenced, but by the necessity laid upon me by Gov. STANLY, who has informed me that it is a criminal offence, under the laws of North Carolina, to teach the blacks to read, which laws he has come from Washington with instructions to enforce.”
The teacher said he hoped that the schools would be closed only for a brief time, and exhorted them to submit patiently to the deprivation like good, law-abiding people, such as they had always proved themselves to be. Those who followed the injunction before them, on the pulpit, and trusted in the Saviour, who had given the command, would not only have this blessing restored to them, but must, ultimately enjoy even greater blessings than this.
The old people dropped their heads upon their breasts and wept in silence; the young looked at each other with mute surprise and grief at this sudden termination of their bright hopes. It was a sad and impressive spectacle. Mr. COLYER himself could hardly conceal his emotion. A few moments of silence followed, when, as if by one impulse, the whole audience rose and sang, with mournful cadence, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow,” and then shook hands and parted.
The school at the Baptist Church, where the more advanced scholars were placed, was closed in a similar manner.
Mr. COLYER continues the white school for poor children, as usual. This is right. It is better to educate a small part of the rising generation than to neglect the whole. The State raised, during the year 1860-61, for educational purposes, less than $100,000. The sum expended in powder during the same period is not stated. Generals BURNSIDE and RENO visited the schools for the whites, and were received by over fifty children — some very pretty — with bouquets of flowers. These they presented to the General, who expressed himself greatly pleased.
Yesterday the Governor was waited upon by large numbers of the residents, in and out of town, who congratulated him upon the auspicious beginning of his administration. Among others, several persons applied for the restoration of their fugitive property who have sought protection from the tyranny of the plantation within our lines. One NICHOLAS BRAY, living a few miles from town on the Falmouth road, obtained an older to carry off two slave-women. With his wife he proceeded to an old school building where one of them was lying sick abed, he dragged her forth and drove away with her to the plantation. Her sister, a bright mulatto young woman of unusual attractions, hearing of the proceedings, was made almost frantic, and sought asylum at the only place she knew — the headquarters of the poor. Elated at his success, BRAY drove up and without ceremony began a search of the premises. Mr. COLYER, at the time was away. Apprised of his coming, HARRIET flew with lightning speed, and concealed herself in an out-building almost under the eaves of Gen. BURNSIDE’s headquarters. Not finding the object of his search, BRAY drove off, probably to renew the search at a more convenient season. HARRIET is only about seventeen years of age, and BRAY asserts that he has been offered fifteen hundred dollars for her.
BRAY is a brother-in-law of A.G. EUBANK, the Quartermaster of the rebel militia, lately at this place. He is a well known rebel; was mustered into the service, it is said, and only escaped taking part in the battle of Newborn on account of some alleged injury to his back. He promised to take the oath of allegiance.
New Bern Enquirer-June 12, 1860
Cedar Grove Cemetery, New Bern, North Carolina
Several other orders were given for the capture and taking away of slaves from the town. Four were reported to have been captured and carried out of our lines yesterday.
Frightened at this turn of affairs, a number of the slaves who have congregated in the town had scattered like a flock of frightened birds. Some have taken to the swamps, and others have concealed themselves in out-of-the-way places. A perfect panic prevails among them. The greater part who were employed on the fortifications are so much alarmed at the prospect of being returned to their enraged masters, and being punished, that they are of little use as laborers.
It is believed that many will find their way to the rebel lines, and, in order to make friends with them, will reveal important facts touching the condition of affairs in this department. The slaves express the greatest horror at the prospect of being sent back to their old homes, and say that they will be unmercifully “cut up” for having absconded. One old man of sixty told me to-day that he would rather be placed before a cannon and blown to pieces than go back. Multitudes say they would rather die.
FEELING AMONG THE OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS.
The new administration has fallen upon the officers and soldiers in this place like a wet blanket. Prominent officers, from colonels and quartermasters down to the humblest soldiers in the ranks, speak in terms of the most vehement indignation of the course which the new Governor is pursuing, and I have not met an individual, either officer or soldier, and I have seen a large number, who does not condemn, in the plainest language, the course which has been adopted.
Nevertheless, no whisper of disloyalty to the Government has or will be uttered or tolerated in any quarter. Massachusetts, as well as New-York troops, it is assumed, will conquer their prejudices and execute the behests of the Government, believing that patriotic motives inspire whatever measures are adopted for the putting down of the slaveholding rebellion.
It would be a dereliction of duty on my part, however, to conceal, at the present time, the state of feeling which prevails, and to predict that military force will, before long, be required to assist in compelling the return of fugitive slaves to their claimants.
I have carefully watched in every quarter for the uprising of the Union sentiment in this State, but, unlike the reporters of the Tribune, have failed to see it. Hence, I have refrained from misleading the public on that subject. For the correctness of my reports, in this respect, I appeal with confidence to every officer and soldier in the department.
Four hundred more of the released Union prisoners arrived here, via Washington, last night, on board of the steamer Virginia. They are in a deplorable condition, many having scurvy in its worst forms. One man whom I saw, had large scorbutic sores on his limbs, and his flesh turning black and blue. Many have ulcerous gums and loosened teeth, from the constant use of salt, fat pork, and no vegetables. They include the letters G and part of M. Segeant MATHEWS, the color-bearer of Col. CORCORAN, is on board. They will receive medical attention, some necessary comforts, and sail at once for New-York. —– MORREEL, Third United Status Infantry, died on board to-day of dropsy.
The following correspondence explains itself.
Mr. HELPER, like Gov. STANLY, is a native of this State, and belongs in Rowan County. As his letter states, he has been employed in the army, and also in other important positions of the Government service. He is a brother of HINTON HELPER, author of The Impending Crisis.
NEWBERB, N.C., May 30, 1862.
To his Excellency Gov. Stanly:
DEAR SIR: I wish you to believe me when I tell you that what I say to you to-day, is said in a spirit of love and kindness, — they are only the words of one man, a son of the State, who heartily desires to become again permanent citizen.
I enlisted the service a private soldier for the purpose of fighting down the slaveholders’ rebellion, and was mustered out of said service on the 1st of February last, on my own application to join this division of the army, in either a military or civil capacity, in the hope that I might be more useful in my native State than elsewhere. This course was by some thought to be impolitic.
I have awaited your arrival with no little impatience, under the expectation that a new era was to be inaugurated by your administration, which would favor my long-cherished hopes of again settling on my native soil, and becoming useful. Without any means of knowing the policy to be adopted by you, upon your arrival, the recent acts of the General Government have led me to expect that you might try the effect of an earnest appeal to the people to listen to the gracious offer of the President in his late proclamation, and seek deliverance from the incubus of Slavery, which weighs so heavily upon its industry — an appeal which, backed by the high reputation you have enjoyed in the State for moderation and patriotism, could hardly fail to make an impression upon the people, even in the midst of the wild tumults of war. It had occurred to me, that while you, possibly, thus held out the olive branch to the few large slaveowners in the State, whose interest or convenience might temporarily suffer by the change, I might possibly make myself useful among that larger class of non-slaveholding citizens, who have no direct interest in perpetuating the system, and who, I have reason to believe, would be brought, by judicious management, soon to acquiesce in the paternal policy of the President.
Thus much I will reveal to you of my feelings and hopes.
I have had no good opportunity, since you came, to learn what course you proposed to pursue; but your first act, closing the schools which have been established for the instruction of the negroes, has seemed to me to point in quite another direction from that which I had supposed you might pursue.
It strikes me that this is a bad beginning, whether viewed as a stroke of policy or of justice, and my object in this communication is to respectfully inquire — presuming it not to be improper for me to do so, since you observe that you would be glad to hear any suggestions I might offer — whether the course indicated by this first act is to be the line of policy to be adopted by you. If so I shall need no further light, and will prepare as soon as practicable to leave the State, satisfied as I am that I can render the State no service so acceptable to you and them.
I am, Governor, very respectfully, your obedient servant, H.H. HELPER.
OFFICE OF THE PROVOST-MARSHAL,
NEWBERN, N.C., Saturday, May 31, 1862.
H.H. Helper, Esq.:
SIR: I am instructed by his Excellency the Military Governor of North Carolina, to inform you that he requires you to leave this department in the first vessel going North.
Capt. C.G. LORING, Jr., Assistant Quartermaster, will furnish you with the necessary order for transportation. I am, very respectfully, yours,
DAN MESSENGER, Provost-Marshal.
Last night, a party of men, distinguished with the letter “M” on their caps, proceeded to the house of NICHOLAS BRAY, at a distance of two miles from town, and took out the slave woman who was yesterday carried away, and then barred the house. This morning, the wife of BRAY appeared before the Governor and made complaint of the facts, and asked again for her negro woman. The Governor calmly advised her to return home, without making any present effort to find her. At last accounts things look mixed.
Though BRAY had disregarded the Governor’s advice, and armed with the power which had been previously given him, he was still searching the town for his slave.
I am informed that an order has been issued to search closely every steamer or vessel leaving this port, for the purpose of stopping any colored people who may be found on board with the design of getting away to the North. It is also intimated that the names of certain Captains of vessels are on the list of suspicious persons who will be subject to arrest on their arrival here, on charges of carrying away black persons from the State.
ADAMS & Co.’s Express agents have been waited on and required to show their way-bills for some weeks back, and persons are to be sent to Massachusetts and other places in pursuit of stray articles of verlu, sewing machines, &c. E.S.