|Source: Wikimedia Commons|
Headquarters Recruiting Department
Twenty-Fifth Army Correspondence
Smithville, North Carolina
Christian Recorder: March 18, 1865
Mr. Editor: -- Likely I have never witnessed a day in which more pleasing streams of intelligence ran (all at the same time) into my soul, than I have to-day. Having a few days ago received nearly two months mail, which I had been deprived of on account of our military movements; and having received between seventy-five and eighty papers, over which, for the last two days and nights, I have been poring; and having been astounded at the progressive developments which are fast rolling the colored race to the harbor of their God given rights, the port where unbiased justice and eternal equity will pavilion them from the ruthless fangs of slavery and all its secured routine; and having, yesterday, received the intelligence of the fall of Charleston, S. C., I can scarcely tell how to tender that profound debt of gratitude to the God of all favors, which one must impulsively feel, who is endeavoring to devote his time, talents, and life, to the accomplishment of these very objects.
Our military successes, however, have not so much surprised me, for I know that the divine principles of our side must prevail. But the solution of that sublimely wrought mathematical problem, which has been cut out and stamped upon the frontier piece of American prejudice, by the admission of (John) Rock, as a practitioner, at the nation’s highest bar of jurisprudence; (Henry Highland) Garnet to the Congressional Chamber, to proclaim those eternal truths, pure and unadulterated, which have been trampled down by the oligarchical fanatics of human tyranny, for many years; (William) Matthews golden, captaincy of a battery; and to crown the golden, yea, diamond statue, the passage of the constitutional amendment, which wipes out the blot and heals the hideous canker which, for many years has preyed upon our beloved land. His enactment ensures and guaranties freedom….to the human race….Would to God I could find words to express my joy and thankfulness…. But as I am deprived of such prerogatives, I must be contented to use the language of an old colored lady, yesterday, ‘Thanky, Jesus; O, Jesus, thanky, thanky, thanky!” These words were not uttered grandiloquently, but eloquently and impressively, coming from a heart which felt the force of every thank she gave. The negro ascends higher and higher, notwithstanding the exertions of the democratic parasites in Congress or elsewhere, to the contrary for which God be eternally thanked.
I was highly pleased to learn that Rev James Lynch had taken Andrew chapel, at Savannah, Georgia, into the A. M. E. Church. This is a splendid church and has a fine congregation, and it is not the only church in that State that will be benefited by uniting with us. Brother Lynch, though quite young, is very enterprising, and through his indefatigable and untiring seal and energy, is accomplishing a great work in that portion of the Lord’s vineyard.
Being shrewd, active and possessing a high degree of natural sagacity, and an industrial vigilance equally commendable, James Lynch stands high among colored clergymen. If not presumptuous, I would respectfully hint to our worthy bishops, that it would be more conducive to the interests of our Church to transfer some of its most talented ministers to these great southern fields, as the work to be done here is very extensive and requires able men to accomplish it.
I am sorry that it was not my privilege to accompany my regiment to Wilmington; being on recruiting service, I am left thirty miles in the rear. I hope someone will give the details of the affair. I simply know that Wilmington has fallen. How much fighting was done, or how many prisoners were taken I have not learned, I hope to see the place, however, in a few days. This place is daily growing in importance. A great many sick have been brought here, and it may in fact, be called a hospital town. I am very glad to see a certain Episcopal Church turned into a hospital, which has been hitherto closed. The use of said church was asked, solicited, both by myself and a certain white chaplain; each of us wanted it for our respective purposes; but we were politely informed by the Post commander that if we would see the trustees, (rebels) and get their permission, we could use it, otherwise he did not care to open it. I am not prepared to give his reasons, yet I am satisfied they were sufficient. But it is now quite as profitably employed, for when General Schofield landed his troops here, he opened it, regardless of trustees, or any one else, and made a hospital of it for the accommodation of our sick and wounded soldiers.
This is a famous place for balls. They are the acknowledged order of public and private association. The people dance to make acquaintances; dance to court; dance to get married; dance every night in the week for fashion and take a private dance on Sabbath for a rarity, and if they have no violin, (or fiddle, as they call it,) one fellow steps out, whistle, sings, or hums, and pats his feet, (heels and toes going at the same time,) claps his hands, beats his breast, and other like gesticulations which he will probably, keep up for half an hour. During this time the assembled crowd becomes enraged at their feet, and in order to vent their spleen, both men and women will stamp, kick, scrape, and knock their heels and toes over the floor, so cruelly that a more civilized person could not but feel sorry for them, especially where most of the persons were bare-footed. And yet this same vulgar fun is countenanced in more enlightened parts of the country, and among what we sometimes style big fish and upper tens. It is certainly a mystery how ladies and gentlemen can take pleasure in leaving their comfortable homes for the purpose of engaging in such outlandish pastimes. But some evil genius or false prophet prompts them to it. Many of our Churches are cursed with the same moral miasma. Talk about having a revival, without cutting similar capers, is regular nonsense. But let a person get a little animated, fall down and roll over awhile, kick a few shins crawl under a dozen benches, spring upon his feet, knock some innocent person on the nose and set it bleeding, then squeal and kiss (or buss) around for awhile, and the work is all done; whereas, if the individual had claimed justification under more quiet circumstances, its legitimacy would have been doubted. O, that people could learn, that “without faith it is impossible to please God.”
The Recorder of February 4th contains an article written by a lady in the west, which contains a song, entitled ‘The Children’s Freedmen Song,” which seemed so appropriate to those just emerging from the chains of slavery, that I proposed to teach our recruits how to sing it. Could the author of these verses have seen those slave driven recruits endeavoring to tune their voices to be the music of the song and have seen them shake their heads, when the words portrayed their previously forlorn and unhappy condition, she would have felt herself amply recompensed for the time and labor bestowed upon her poetic production.
Lieutenant Holmes, of our regiment, a noble specimen of that part of American humanity, whose progressive sentiments keep pace with the philanthropic revolutions of the country, has been appointed by the General to command the troops now being enlisted. It is sufficient to say that the motto of Lieut. Holmes is, “Push the Negro forward.” My esteem for all that is gentlemanly and dignified, lies between him and Lieut. Bishop, our noble and efficient adjutant. The principles possessed by these two officers will clothe them with honor, while hundreds, filling equally high positions, will squirt out a foppish existence and die, without leaving a foot-print upon the sands of time.