BILOXI, Oct. 19, 1864.
SIR: I saw a New-Orleans paper of the 19th inst. yesterday, in which was an order from Gen. CANBY, claiming to have intercepted a dispatch from Gov. ALLEN, of Louisiana, to Secretary SEDDON, wherein the conscription of all able-bodied slaves in the Confederacy is strongly urged. If it be true that the dispatch was written by Gov. ALLEN, he is the first man in authority in the Confederacy who has offered a speedy and effectual method of obtaining peace with our independence. The enrolment of our negroes in the army before the end of this war, I look upon to be as certain as the rising and setting of the sun.
There is no prospect of a peace unless it be conquered. The North is a unit for war, or virtually so. The past has demonstrated that our hopes based upon the failure of their finances, the failure of the draft, or a change in popular sentiment, have all been delusive. The few Northern peace journals have no influence in the public mind. The late Northern election returns pronounce in favor of war; that is, they show large Republican majorities. LINCOLN will be reelected and the war will go on. Now, as the Yankees say, if the war lasts long enough, (and with the present Northern and Southern feeling it will last long enough) numbers are bound to tell. The thing is reduced to a question of relative strength as 6 is to 4.
The best blood of our country has already been spilled; our numbers are diminishing every day. The present campaign has lost us at least 80,000 men. How are these to be replaced? I see it stated in some of the papers that if all those who owe service could be put in our armies, it would increase those by 200,000 men. But is this so? I doubt it, and I expect the majority are of my opinion. However, admitting the fact, how are we to get these men into the army? Are not the conscription laws already as stringent as it is possible to make them? Or if they can be rendered more stringent, how many soldiers and how long will it require to execute them? Where, then, I repeat, are the men to come from to fight our battles?
We have but one source from which to derive our strength. The element which has been the foundation of wealth should now be made the instrument of our salvation. Arm our slaves. We must tell them; The Yankees have determined that you shall play a part in this war, that you shall fight. Now we put the question to you: Will you fight for us as freemen, with the privilege of staying among us after the war, or fight for the Yankee? for fight on one side or the other you must. Assemble the able-bodied negroes of a plantation and let their master speak to them thus, let him assure them that the promises of the Government will be carried out, and I feel certain that, out of fifty, twenty-five volunteers could be obtained; and he who fights willingly, fights better than he who is forced to fight. We shall, moreover demoralize the Yankee negro troop by putting negroes into our army, (the reasons are obvious,) and they would desert to us by hundreds; while we would at once remove the difficulties which now stand in the way of the exchange of prisoners.
Now comes the question: Will the negro fight? Certainly he will. If the experience we have already had were not sufficient to prove it, let the exploits of the Turcos of the French army speak, a corps that distinguished itself in Italy; read the deeds of an inferior race, the comparatively effeminate Sepoys of India, who, with a few Europeans to lead them, almost surpassed their instructors, is bravery and devotion. But there is no doubt that the negro will fight, and fight well.
How will the army like the innovation? I have heard some of our men say they could not get along with negroes; but my opinion is that our boys would at least fight as well if they knew their flanks well protected by a well disciplined division, even if their skins were black. Besides, no one ask them to affiliate with negro. Let the line of demarcation be drawn then as now; only if a colored corps behaves well in battle, give it the credit due to men who have deported themselves gallantly, for bravery should commend respect. And after all it is much better to shoot with a negro at a Yankee uniform; than be shot at by that negro in Yankee uniform; and this will be the case if the war goes on long enough. If we do not get the negro, the Yankees will, and the terminal scenes of this struggle, if negroes are not used by us, will be the subjugation of the Southern gentleman by his own slave.
But who is to pay for these 250,000 volunteers or conscripts, a matter of 250,000? Our children. The priceless advantages gained for them will enable them to easily pay the interest on such a debt. Should the planter demur at a thousand dollars a head for his negroes, let him remember that if the war lasts no will get rid of them for much less.
Now, admitting that we put these 25,000 negroes in the army, and they do their duty, the very rational question arises, what would be the influence after the war exercised by these negroes on the slaves which remain to us? Would it be injurious and tend eventually to subvert our institution, or would they, as is the case among the free colored population in Louisiana, be the most earnest advocates for its propagation? This is a question I am not prepared to answer. However, should the infiltration among the slaves of so large a number of free blacks, with that improvement of moral and character which would result to them fighting side by side with white men, endanger our institution, what then? Is it in no danger now? What becomes of it if we are whipped? What becomes of it even if we are not whipped eventually, and Mr. SHERMAN, and Mr. HUNTER, and Mr. SHERIDAN, e[???]d o[???]ne g nus, continue to make raids upon us and gather their fighting material from our own doors? Sir, we must look the fact firmly in the face that the institution of slavery is endangered by this war. There are fifteen millions people fighting for its extinction. There are a, hundred million applauding them! It is useless to hide our heads under the blanket. We are fighting for national independence, and not for slavery, and so. I think, believes Mr. DAVIS; for the question of slavery, as an object of this war, has never, to my knowledge, obtruded itself in any of his public documents. If we can succeed in this war and maintain our original position, that slavery is a beneficent institution, the only solution of the great problem of the relation of labor to capital; if we can prove the world wrong, and eventually overcome us prejudices, so much the better for us. But let us never forget the great fact that we are fighting for independence, independence! and perish, slavery, if it stands in its way.
I am firmly convinced that public sentiment is in favor of putting our negroes in the army. I hear it expressed daily by those who own slaves and those who do not. A member of the Mississippi Legislature told me last week that he had seven men he would give to the Government if it put arms in their hands. A majority of those who are silent on this question speak not their views because they fear being stigmatized as anti-slavery men. I feel au[???]e that before the next meeting of Congress, the prosperity, expediency and necessity of arming negroes will have taken such hold on the public mind that it will be advocated by a large majority of our Representatives.
If I am correct, then let every patriotic slaveholder canvass his slaves and find out who among them will volunteer for freedom and his home. Let him prepare the negro's mind for the position he is about to assume, and excite in him that love of country and of home which, I believe, exists strongly in the negro's breast.
I terminate this, assuring you that I have made some sacrifices for the Confederacy, and am devoted to its cause; that I was raised in the South, and have always been a slaveholder.