Camp Nevin Kentucky November 5th 1861
General: The subject of Contraband negros is one that is looked to, by the Citizens of Kentucky of vital importance Ten have come into my Camp within as many hours, and from what they say, there will be a general Stampeed [stampede] of slaves from the other side of Green River– They have already become a source of annoyance to me, and I have great reason to belive that this annoyance will increase the longer we stay– They state the reasons of their running away–there masters are rank Secessionists, in some cases are in the rebel army–and that Slaves of union men are pressed into service to drive teams &&c
I would respectfully suggest that if they be allowed to remain here, that our cause in Kentucky may be injured– I have no faith in Kentucky's loyalty, there-for have no great desire to protect her pet institution Slavery– As a matter of policy, how would it do, for me to send for their master's and diliver the negro's–to them on the out-side of our lines, or send them to the other side of Green River and deliver them up– What effect would it have on our cause south of the River– I am satisfied they bolster themselves up, by making the uninformed believe that this is a war upon African slavery– I merely make these suggestions, for I am very far from wishing these recreant masters in possession of any of their property–for I think slaves no better than horses in that respect–
I have put the negro's to work– They will be handy with teams, and generally useful. I consider the subject embarrassing and must defer to your better judgement
. . . .
The negros that came to me to day state that their master's had notified them to be ready to go south with them on Monday Morning, and they left Sunday night–
Alexander McDowell McCook (brigadier general) to William Tecumseh Sherman, November 5, 1861, Camp Nevin, Ky., RG 393, pt. 1, entry 3534, box 1, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, and Sherman to McCook, November 8, 1861, Louisville, Ky., both excerpted in Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation ser. 1, vol. 1, pp. 519-520