Letter from St. Louis.
[FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.]
ST. LOUIS, August 23, 1863.
The Negro Exodus from Missouri.
The St. Joseph Herald of late date, says:
Capt. Woods, the Sheriff of Platte county, was in this city a few days since, and from him we learned something of the negro stampede now going on in the lower counties. During the last two months the darkies have been leaving Platte county at the rate of about 30 or 40 per day. By the census of 1860 Platte county had a slave population of 3,313, and our informant thinks that there are but 200 or 300 left. From all portions of North Missouri we have like information. The slaves are leaving by day and by night. Few owners pretend to stay the exodus. Many pick up their "duds" and walk boldly off in broad day, while others retire in the night. Should the fight continue at the present rate, by the time 1866 rolls around the slaves of the State will scarcely be worth counting.
Such items as this are as common to all the country papers in this State as cold is to an iceberg, or warmth to the rays of a summer sun. Many of them keep a heading standing at the top of a column such as "The Negro Exodus from Missouri," and are never at a loss for items to fill it; and occasionally the country weeklies publish lists of master from whom slaves have fled, and arranged the losers in alphabetical form. There is not a master, perhaps, in the whole length or breadth of Missouri who considers his title to his slaves any more binding than the slaves themselves choose to ordain, or that they do more than hold possession from day to day. Their only concern is, that the negroes, when they come to depart, will not rob them of horses, wagons, or other farm or household property. A master, however loyal his antecedents prove him to be, will not go to a military post even a mile distant to claim his fugitive servants. Notwithstanding this state of affairs, and that Missouri, to all intents and purposes, is as free as any of the free States in the North, our Charcoal, or radical party, are furious at the Convention for passing a seven-year Emancipation Act, and are about to proceed to call a Convention of their own, which shall violently overturn the present State Government, and proclaim an immediate Emancipation Act. Many of their windiest and most reckless politicians and orators are out in the State, making harangues daily, and inflaming the minds of their partisans to a proper pitch for so desperate a resolve.
Departure of the first Colored Troops from Missouri.
About a week ago an order came to this city through Adj.-Gen. Thomas, directing the colored troops at Schofield Barracks, and Benton Barracks, to be supplied with arms, as they had previously been supplied with uniforms, knapsacks, canteens, and all other articles of accoutrement, for a campaign. Gen. Schofield was slow to carry it out, and prepared and was about to forward some objections to Washington; but the radicals instantly raised such a clamor about his ears that he was glad to forego his purpose and succumb. Muskets and bayonets were accordingly given out to them from the Government stores at the arsenal. The same rule was established that prevails at Baltimore and Washington––namely: that white soldiers when on leave from camps and barracks to stroll about the city, are not allowed to carry pistols or bayonets; but that negroes, being in danger of assaults with brickbats and bludgeons from ill disposed citizens, may carry such weapons to defend themselves. The privilege is a useless one, at least in this city, as not a single case of ill usage to a colored soldiers has occurred since the commencement of negro enlistments. The day following the distribution of arms, two darkie soldiers were passing along Franklin Avenue, when one Michael Heberer, a white barber, who was sitting in front of his shop, conceived that the negroes looked and grinned imprudently at him. Some of the bystanders aver that they did and others that they did not. At any rate, an altercation proceeded from the barber asking why they did so, and one of the colored men seized Heberer and threw him down, while the other stabbed him fatally in the side. They ran off and escaped to their barracks, and on the succeeding day the company to which they belonged and three other companies were ordered off to the South, I think to Helena. The steamer Metropolitan was chartered to take them down. They displayed much steadiness marching through the streets to the levee, showing that they have received pretty thorough drill since their enlistment at Schofield's.
The battalion just mentioned as the first instalment of Missouri colored troops for the war, is made up, as is the balance of the regiment at Schofield Barracks, mainly of negroes who are fugitives from the interior of this State. For a time the regiment was termed the 1st Missouri, (colored), but it has been changed to the 3d Arkansas. The colonel is John Guylee, late 1st lieutenant of the 37th Illinois. The Rev. William A. Pile, late lieutenant-coonel of the 33d Missouri, is to be general of the brigade now raising, and to be raised here. He is quite an oddity for a preacher, or was t least when in command of white soldiers. He prayed once every day and preached once or twice a week to his men with great fervor, and during duty hours sore as hard as any one, and knocked soldiers sprawling with this fist whenever they violated disciplinary rules.
Money Lost on the Steamer "Ruth."
Strong suspicions are entertained at the Treasury Department at Washington that the heavy loss of Government money ($2,600,000) by the burning, near Cairo, of the steamer Ruth, of this city, involved a robbery of the money before the burning of the steamer. Fire, it is thought, was applied to the freight on the deck of the boat,to destroy all evidence of the robbery. So far it is not known how the fire occurred, but it has been ascertained that the bill of lading described the different packages of the money is also non est. So soon as these suspicions became public, Major Brinton of Philadelphia, who was the senior of the eight Paymasters on board, demanded a Court of Inquiry. A regular Court of Inquiry was not granted by the War Department, but Major Febiger, Chief of the Pay District of the Mississippi, and two officers of Gen. Schofield's staff, were ordered to sit as a Military Commission to investigate the matter. They are now sitting in this city, and will make a report about a week hence.
Construction of the Franking Privilege.
Postmaster-General Blair finding that the recent act of Congress, relative to franking privileges, if carried out to the letter, would operate against the privileges of many officers having business with various departments with which they are not directly connected, and believing that such was not the intent of the Act, has given it the most liberal construction possible, and decided that any Government official, having official business with any of the Departments is entitled to and will receive the benefit of franking. Notwithstanding the decision of Mr. Blair, Secretary Stanton, not knowing of or not caring for such a decision, has taken it upon himself to construe the same Postoffice law in a directly contrary sense, and through Provost-Marshall General Fry has issued a circular to conscription and enrolling officers throughout the country deciding that all their communications must be prepaid. According to this ruling the expenses of the Acting Assistant Provost-Marshal General's office for Missouri is from $30 to $40 per month. The Secretary of War in his circular does not inform conscription officers whether the Government will refund postage expenses, or whether they must meet the expense out of their own pockets. Stanton is a strict constructionist of all matters relating to the conscript, as are Provost-Marshal General Fry, Judge Advocate Holt and Solicitor Whitting––all of whom have aided him in illustrating its clumsy provisions. The Attorney-General, who is the proper authority to construe acts of Congress, is allowed by them no say whatever in the premises. They make it a point to give the Government the benefit of all doubt arising from doubtful provisions. Nothing is construed favorably to those who are subject to the law.
The Town of Lawrence, Kansas––The Guerrilla Raid upon it.
Lawrence is the capital town of Douglas county, Kansas, situated on the right bank of the Kansas river, 70 miles from its mouth by the windings of the stream and 43 miles in a straight line. (The Kansas river empties into the Missouri near Kansas city.) It is built on a rolling slope, and consisted, as late as about a year ago, between 400 and 500 buildings, some of which were brick and stone. It has baptist, Congregationalist, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic churches, a newspaper office, (Lawrence Republican,) two saw-mills, a grist-mill, a machine shop, several coach and wagon factories, a tannery, a soap and candle factory, a brewery and distillery, and six of seven hotels. An academy is located here, together with several schools. The city was founded in 1854 by settlers from the Eastern States, under the auspices of the New England Emigrant Aid Society of Massachusetts. The population by the census of 1860 was about 2,500, at which time the value of taxable property was assessed at something like $600,000. It was next in size to Leavenworth City being the second largest town in the State. The country surrounding it is exceedingly rich and fertile and has become quite populous. It is presumed that much of it was ravaged by Quantril and his guerrillas after their attack and burning of the town and their barbarous massacre of the inhabitants. The place was in an utterly defenceless condition at the time of their approach, no such thing as a rebel raid being apprehended. During the Kansas troubles, existing for a few years before the war, Lawrence was the chief settlement in the territory and the headquarters of the Free State party. It was very odious to the border ruffians, who repeatedly threatened it with summary vengeance, and in 1857 they captured the town and burned the principal hotel, but were restrained by their leaders from destroying private houses. It is believed that the Kansians will lose no time in retaliating by the complete destruction of independence or some other flourishing town in Missouri, because Quantril's band is supposed to consist almost entirely of Missourians. The raiders would have experienced a perfectly fiendish joy if they had succeeded in capturing or killing Senator Jim Lane, but he was adroit enough to slip through their fingers and escape from the town on horseback before they had quite surrounded it with their pickets. It is worthy of remark that Quantril, the head devil of the band, lived in Kansas during the original troubles there, and was a member of the Free State faction, and was a crony of Cleveland and Jamison.
Arrest of an Alleged Female Spy.
The Wheeling (Virginia) Register has the following:
Florena Kyser, a young miss of "sweet sixteen," was brought to the city on Sunday evening, and confined in the jail. She resides in Hardy county, and was employed by Gen. Harness to act as a spy. The General offered her $200 and a good horse, saddle and bridle, if she would spy out and report th number of men, position, etc., at Greenland Gap. The offer was accepted, and Miss K. and another young Miss set out on their journey. Miss Kyser was captured near Burlington by Col. Mulligan, who sent her here. The other girl escaped with all the information they had gained, and in all probability is now beyond the lines.
Since the arrest and execution of several spies in Gen. Burnside's Department, and some other arrests and executions in a few other Departments, the rebels are beginning to understand that the Government is in earnest, and that the part of a spy is a difficult and dangerous role. They are, therefore, resorting to the employment of women for such duties, thinking that they can perform them nearly as well, and that if they are detected and arrested by the Federal authorities, they will not be subjected to the extreme penalties inflicted upon male spies. Such arrests as that of Miss Kyser, therefore, are not unfrequent at present. Two female spies have been arrested in this city, and lodged in the female prison, in the course of the last three weeks.
Trial of a Slave Overseer.
The capture of Vicksburg and Port Hudson by which steamboat navigation is resumed with some regularity between this city and New Orleans, admits of the receipt of newspaper files two or three times a week from the latter city. They frequently contain items of interest that are overlooked in the letters of newspaper correspondents. I observe in one of them that the overseer of a plantation in Lafourche county, Louisiana, was lately tried in New Orleans on a charge of cruelty to a slave. The evidence introduced was that of three slaves upon the plantation, whose testimony was objected to by the counsel of the accused, as not legal evidence according to the laws of the State. The objection, however, was overruled, the accused was found guilty and sentenced to six months of hard labor in the parish prison. This practically involved the question of State rights, or military law vs. State law, and the latter was laid in the shade. The doctrine of State rights is naturally of small account in these war times.
Sterling Price not Resigned.
The story that obtained currency through the medium of the Montgomery Mail, (rebel paper) that Gen. Sterling Price had resolved that he would no longer stand the snubs and slights put upon him by Jeff Davis, and had resigned, seems to have been premature. The story obtained ready credence among our home secessionists, who are great admires of "Pop Price," as they call him, and who have heard from time to time how scurvily he has been treated by Jeff Davis. It appears, however, that instead of resigning, he has obtained an independent command at last, having entire control of the Department of Arkansas and Missouri conferred upon him. The whole force, however, under his control, is only 6,000 or 7,000 ragamuffins, with whom he is powerless to do anything towards redeeming Northern and Eastern Arkansas and Missouri to rebel rule. Maj. Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes, a drunkard and imbecile, who had been in command over Price, was relieved to make room for the latter, but not until he was completely prostrated by a sickness which has since proved fatal. King Jeff was a long time in relenting towards Price, and at a time when he could have been exceedingly useful to the rebel cause, he kept him subordinate to McCullough, and then to Van Dorn. Now that "Pop" is without an army, the Richmond autocrat consents that he shall have chief command. If he succeeds in recruiting a force of respectable numbers, Jeff. Davis will, no doubt, supersede him with some Richmond favorite.
Brig.-Gen. Ewing and the Western Radicals.
Soon after Gen. Ewing, son of the Hon. Thomas Ewing of Ohio, was assigned by Schofield to the command of a District, embracing portions of Kansas and Missouri, he made a speech at a public meeting in Kansas and followed it up with a general order of corresponding tenor, which gave him great eclat with all the true Union men. He referred to the bands of Red Legs and Jayhawkers of the Jennison stripe, who committed murders and robberies and plundered people on both sides of the border, whether Unionists or Secessionists, indiscriminately, and branded them as "brigands and bandits who were stealing themselves rich in the name of Liberty." He declared he would break them up, call rogues and robbers by their right names and bring them to punishment, if it cost him his position and his life. This was a most just and wholesome resolution, and everybody with the least attachment to right and law hoped he would be as good as his word and carry it out. Jennison, Mayor Anthony of Leavenworth and other leaders of the revolutionary element, however, immediately raised yells of rage and defiance. According to their custom of clamoring down as a "Copperhead" and "Pro-slavery man" every one who wants to stop short of Red Leg atrocities, they provided to make Kansas too hot to hold Ewing. Like Schofield with our Missouri Charcoals,he found they were too much for him, and that Jim Lane's influence would be brought to bear to upset him at Washington. He has accordingly prepared to succumb to their demands, and has issued the following order as a propitiatory offering:
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF THE BORDER, }
KANSAS CITY, MO., August 18, 1863. }
General Orders No. 9.––I Lieut. Col. Walter King, 4th Regiment, M.S.M., will as often as may be necessary, visit the several military stations in that part of Missouri included in this District, and ascertain what negroes are there who desire escort out of Missouri, and were the slaves of persons who, since the 17th day of July, 162, have been engaged in rebellion, or have in any way given aid or comfort thereto. He will make and certify a list of all such negroes at each of such stations, and of the persons by whom the disloyalty of their masters can be shown, and will deliver one copy of such list to the Commander of such station, and forward one to these Headquarters. Before preparing such lists, he will give due and public notice of the time at which he will be engaged in such duty at each station. He will be governed in the discharge of his duties by special written instructions received from or through these Headquarters.
II. Commanders of such stations will furnish from time to time, as they may be called for by commanders of escorts, copies of the lists so prepared and filed with them; and will issue rations, where necessary, to negroes named in such lists, who are unable to remove from such station or to earn a living there, until escort can be furnished them to a place of safety where they can support themselves.
III. Commanders of companies and detachments serving in that part of Missouri included in the District will give escort and subsistence, where practicable, to all negroes named in such certified lists, to Independence, Kansas City, Westport, or the State of Kansas––sending direct to those headquarters all such negroes fit for military service, and willing to enlist.
By order of Brig.-Gen. Ewing.
P.B. PLUMB, Major and Chief of Staff.
The Lieut.-Col. King whom he appoints to enforce the ordnance is one of our most ardent Missouri Charcoals, and has been out in the State for six weeks with Drake and others, haranguing mobs of revolutionists wherever he could find them. He will of course make the shortest kind of work with the few slaves remaining in the District. Gen. Ewing is an aspirant for the first vacant U.S. Senatorship from Kansas, and seems to have fallen on the right track at last to get it. He cannot defeat Lane, but may succeed in ousting the other Kansas Senator, Pomeroy.
The Bank Robbery at Carrollton, Ky.
The announcement of the great bank robbery at Carrollton, by which the Southern Bank of Kentucky lost $100,000, a large portion of it in gold and silver, a few days since, has already been made. The robbers, although dressed in Confederate uniform, were not rebel soldiers, but were private citizens, living, it is thought, in the vicinity of that place. They surrounded the residence of the cashier, and under threats of summary violence, with arms in their hands, forced him to absolute silence and an unwilling submission to their wishes. It is no new thing for the villains and scoundrels with which our country is infested to take advantage of the unhappy state of our affairs––our, to some extent, defenseless condition, and commit their hellish atrocities in the rebel and Federal uniform, as best suits their nefarious ends. The town of Carrollton, where this wholesale robbery transpired, is the county seat of Carroll county, and is situated at the mouth of the Kentucky river.
The bank officers of St. Joseph in this State recently remitted the funds of the bank at that place, amounting to over $200,000, to this city for safe keeping, not knowing how soon it may be seized by such coup de main as that by which the Kentucky bank was despoiled of its treasure.
Robberies in St. Louis.
The city was never so accursed with rogues, gamblers and burglars than it is at present. Last night a gigantic robbery was perpetrated at the United States express office, situated at the corner of Fourth and Vine streets, one of the most public parts of the city. Early this morning two policemen discovering the Fourth street door open walked in, where they found the night clerk and porter lying on their beds and in a stupor from the effects of chloroform. Near the head of the porter was a sponge saturated with the liquid, and on the clerk's pillow was a cotton cloth which had been thoroughly wetted and used by the burglars for reducing him to stupefaction. On the floor was an eight-ounce gutta percha bottle, with about three ounces of the chloroform still remaining, showing that five ounces had been used or wasted by evaporation. The safe was open, the key in it, and more than $60,000 missing. Some packages of golf, amounting in all to $12,000, were overlooked by the burglars in their haste. The clerk's pistol was found lying on the bottom of the safe. He had gone to bed with this weapon and the key under his head.
Two or three nights each week soldiers, or highwaymen in the dress of soldiers, rob persons on the unfrequented streets or on high roads leading to the city, by protection against these robbers, the military have been compelled to establish a patrol consisting of both cavalry and infantry.
"Letter From St. Louis - The Negro Exodus from Missouri," San Francisco (CA) Daily Evening Bulletin, September 16, 1863, p. 3.