I sat in my tent-door thoughtfully, but very thoughtlessly humming "Dixie." I had not observed "Charles," a servant, or “contraband," here, who sat just within the tent.
"We stop a-singin' dat song now, massa!" said he, interrupting me.
“Why?" I inquired.
Charles was confused for a moment, but I pressed the question.
“Well," he replied hesitatingly, “it don't b'long to my perfession, sir; dat's all, I s'pose. —I don't wish I was in Dixie, I'se sure!" continued he. “None a' de niggers does; you may bet your soul o' dat!”
"Where is Dixie, Charles?”
“ ‘S Norfolk —dat's whar 'tis," was the indignant reply. “Kills de niggers in Dixie, jist like' sheep, a-working in de batteries!"
The idea of our contest is fully appreciated by I the colored people. The representations at the North, that the slaves do not understand the cause for which the Federal army are moving upon the South, are utterly false. I have seen here and in Hampton scores of the fugitives, and conversed with them; and I have never found one who did not perfectly understand the issue of the war, and hang with terrible anxiety upon its success or failure.
I was particularly struck with this at Hampton, when the battle of Great Bethel was progressing. They crowded together in little squads about the streets, listening to the reports of the cannon in the distance, or the accounts of those who came in from the field. Many of them were almost insane with anxiety, and expressed themselves extravagantly.
“If the ‘Unioners' get the fight," I said, “what will it do for you?"
“Den we'll be free!" answered all who stood near me, almost in one breath.
“But if they lose the battle?”
“O, den it be worser for us dan ebber," they said, shaking their heads mournfully, and in their simplicity believing that all the issue of the war hung upon the result of that day. — Letter from F ort Monroe
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