Autograph Letter. HM 23335, The Huntington Library (micro 25:0359).
Washington Feb. 14, 1863
My dear General
Yours of the 8th is just received and I have handed that for my daughter to her for which she says she is much obliged to you.1 She will however express her own acknowledgments more acceptably than I can convey them.
It sinks my spirits to read of a delay of some weeks as now inevitable before the expedition against Charleston can move2 But I hope Divine Providence will work for us some good out of this seeming evil. The whole country is eager for news of success in your Department from the operations of the Military & Naval forces combined: and I am confident it will come in time. By the way while the grand movement is thus delayed, why not make a descent in Bulls Bay and take possession of some good positions there? Might not an advance on Charleston be made from thence? Might not an impression that such advance is intended be created and kept up so as to facilitate the real attack when made? Would it not be well at any rate to obtain a position on the main land from which better communication with the slave population could be kept up and by means of which the colored regiments could be more rapidly recruited? Pardon these crude suggestions. But General Scott used 10 invite free communication of my thoughts saying, only in politer language, that something useful even in military affairs could sometimes be picked out from a civilians ideas
On the subject of drafting negroes I am not qualified to express an opinion of any more value than on military operations; but I may venture my thoughts
It strikes me as very important to avoid all things likely to impair the self respect of the emancipees. Fresh from slavery, if they enlist freely they must feel themselves very different persons from what they would regard themselves if forced into the ranks, and into service under white officers. Would they not mistake military discipline for a new slavery? Would not the report of it, getting into the country, deter many from coming within our lines? Might not the compulsory service of the drafted men lessen the volunteers ideas of their own position? Of course you have considered or will consider these aspects of the case. I have not spoken to any member of the Administration on the subject and presume you will be allowed to act just as your own judgment prompts. You will, I am I am sure, do nothing which will retard, incidentally and by reflected influence, the grand consummation of the loyal Southern masses, though of darker complexion than our own, taking part with the Country against the Oligarchy.