Christian Recorder: September 13, 1862

Turner writes about happenings in Washington. 

Keywords: Contrabands, Women, Eulogy

Mr. Editor:--Somehow the hordes of Secesh have made their way so near as to menace this city, and infest Maryland, and the probability is, that before this shall have reached you, they may be in the city of Baltimore. How this can be in the providence of God, I know not, unless, as the Rev. James Lynch once very eloquently, and I now think, appropriately remarked, “That the head of this rebellion was in the South, and its tail in the North, and that God intended to punish the whole as due to its unnumbered crimes,” for the contest has been attended with a circumvolution of retreats and retreats ever since it commenced.
The whole affair appears to be nothing more nor less than a national scourge. To-day we are gaining great victories, to-morrow we are losing; to-day we are taking prisoners, to-morrow we are being taken prisoners. To-day we are before Richmond, to-morrow the rebels are before Washington. And thus it is so good a man, and so good a boy, all the time, and the war is no nearer to an end now than when it first began; indeed, the South is stronger now than ever; more disciplined, and more cemented together, in the diabolical traffic.
I was noticing yesterday the goddess of Liberty standing at the foot of the Capitol of the United States, with her face directed toward Virginia, as though she were looking at the progress of freedom. Her features appeared to be enlivened with hope, but bearing a physiognomy held by a peculiar anxiety that borders on sadness itself. One could hardly but feel, when viewing this noble statue, that the great ensign of this and every other nation’s pride, was vacillating between the hope of victory and the fear of despair. But when looking at how all great achievements have been wrought for the elevation of mankind, at any period in the world’s history, it seems to be the economy of Providence to disenthrall every perverted principle and violated law of nature, slowly, tediously, and at great length.

For in whatever part of this stupendous universe any violation, in-harmony, or abnormity, exists, the discordancy and conflicting action of its native operations will grate harshly in her onward career until they shall have been resuscitated by the gradual, but sure process of those immutable actionary and reactionary forces which are constitutionally warped in its primeval nature, and freedom is one of these grand principles, yes, the chief itself, which shall soon assert its original claims and bid defiance to the hand of oppression.
The people in Washington do not seem to be excited. Almost all believe that the city would be secure though ten thousand rebels harass her suburbs.
Contrabands are coming into the city in great droves, and of all the horrible reports that ever was told, they tell. It appears that many of the contrabands in making their escape, (I speak from what they say) threw their little children into the river and drowned them, to facilitate their flight. And there are two intelligent contrabands sitting down now in my house, who tell me that somewhere near Richmond, VA., there is a large coal mine, where several hundred colored people are at work, very low under ground, and a quantity of combustible material are prepared and placed in it, and that a cannon is situated at a respectable distance, so that should the Union forces take Richmond, this cannon is to be fired, which will ignite these combustibles and destroy everyone in the coal pit. They further believe that it was God’s mercy that prevented Gen. McClellan from taking Richmond, for had he taken it, the lives of thousands of colored people would have been instantly destroyed. But it is needless to try to particularize the horrid, hideous, shocking and inconceivable scenes of suffering which are reported by some of these poor dejected sons of humanity. Oh God, were I not confident that thy mercy endureth forever, I would despair for my people, but still we ask Thee, O thou Prince of peace, in wrath remember mercy! A few weeks ago, there was a great excitement in this city, which arose from a false apprehension that certain parties were trying to expatriate the contrabands from the country. It is to be hoped that equally as high a feeling for these homeless human beings, will animate them to give of their substance, and divide their comforts, and open their doors, so that these almost friendless souls may find shelter, “Let thy love speak through thy works,” was an ancient maxim.

Rev. Henry Tuite, for many years a venerable preacher in the A.M.E. Israel Church, and is said to have been one of the most zealous Christians of the age, died on Saturday morning, at 4 o’clock, and was buried Sabbath afternoon, at 3 o’clock. Rev. Jas. Reed speaks of him as being a man whose power of faith was beyond all human conception, and he was among those crucified to the world—a man that believed he talked with God word for word: he would speak of what God told him, in the same manner as I would of what the Bishop told me; and the probability is, that there are none or but few who now live, that can remember when father Tuite did one wicked act. It was remarked by Rev. Jas. Reed, when speaking about his funeral services, “that brother Tuite preached his funeral sermon as he lived, and all that was then required, was for angels to chant the requiem.” Yet father Tuite was an old and afflicted man, and had some peevish ways, that persons not acquainted with human nature, might have regarded, at times, as a fretful disposition; but no man was really more resigned to Providence than he. If his church brothers visited him, well; if not, well; always looked to God for His aid and support. Israel church has lost a bright star.

The protracted meeting still progresses gloriously in Zion Wesley Church. Many converts are being made and added to the church—such, I trust, as shall find eternal life.

Rev. J. P. Hamer, pastor of the John Wesley Church, has also been carrying on a gracious revival ever since the 25th of July. God has blessed his efforts with near fifty converts. He is a minister whose character stands clear before the world, and takes a prominent position on the side of intelligence.

Last Thursday night, a society of ladies and gentlemen gave a festival at the Presbyterian Church, for the benefit of the contrabands, which was presided over by Mrs. Elizabeth Trekly, a lady distinguished both by beauty and intelligence. Those who figured most prominently on the occasion were Mrs. Josephine Steward, Miss Jane Cook, Miss Margaret Cokely, Ms. Jas. Wormly, John T. Johnson, and Wm. Slade. There were others whose names I do not recollect. Though they had the disadvantage of a city somewhat excited in consequence of the army’s retreat to contend with, they nevertheless did remarkably well. Such manifestations of our sympathies as this, for the contrabands, are worth a thousand gabblers, in whose sight a quarter looks as big as a wagon-wheel.
                                                                                                                                      H. M. T.

Washington, Sept. 8, 1862

- Copyright © The #HMTProject -