9* [Blest Too The Peace Makers ; They Shall Be Called Sons Of God.]
Jesus said" never avenge yourselves" Romans13,19,"Instead, feed your enemy if he is hungry. If he is thirsty give him something to drink and you will be "heaping coals of fire on his head." In other words, he will feel ashamed of himself for what he has done to you. Don't let evil get the upper hand but conquer by doing good. (Romans 13,19-21)
The Law of the land was "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." Men have retaliated after being attacked for thousands of years. Retaliation is justified by those unwilling to become a “door mat” by the hard hearted. If the Negro's were capable of fighting then all could be expected was savagery since the race had been literally raped for two hundred years. Southerners thought they would want revenge as Nat Turner did on his revenge ride. Nat killed any one in his path that was white.
In order to be a peacemaker, one must be strong and have some level of power. Peace making is an option and one must have some level of control over the situation. Slaves could be peaceful but lacked the influence or power to make peace. First people respect strength, and then they respect what is right.
Slaves had few options however, the Civil War musket gave black men power, but would they use it to seek revenge? This was Southerners biggest fear. Southerners had sexually abused black women for two hundred years. Southerners expected black soldiers to come after their women.
Black’s saw southerners as individuals rather than a single race. There were slave masters that loved their slaves and treated them with respect and kindness. In return their slaves treated them with respect when they were not forced.
“ Uncle Henry, the young fellow who figured in the whipping by Old Major, came back to the farm once at the head of a dozen soldiers. He had become a recruiting officer--now, I think they call it "drafting. " Old Major was sitting in his favorite chair on the porch when he saw Henry coming with those soldiers, and he almost fell, he was that scairt. You see, so many times the slaves had returned to kill their masters, and poor Old Major thought Henry remembered that whipping.”
“ But Henry drew the men up in front of Old Major and he said, "This is my master, Major Holden. Honor him, men." And the men took off their caps and cheered Old Major. And he nearly fell again such a great big burden was off his shoulders, then. When Henry commanded his men to stack arms, they all stacked their guns together in front of Old Major, except one soldier who was the lookout. The others then went into the house to see Mis' Nancy; and Mis' Nancy sent out to have some chickens killed, and in no time at all those men were all seated around the dining room table having a regular feast--that is, all but the one who had to watch the guns, and he was fed later.”
J. Mellon, Bullwhip Days, The Slaves Remember, p210-211
Between December 10-29, 1864 black troops fought at Saltville Virginia. They were black Cavalry soldiers from Kentucky. Kentucky was a border state that was not under the influence of the Emancipation Proclamation. Black men were allowed to join the Union Army but their families remained in slavery. The following is exceptional historical material because it describes the action of a black cavalry unit at the Battle of Saltville and also describes the experience of a soldiers widow after he was killed at Saltville. These men not only had justification for retaliation against their enemies but also had the opportunity. They chose instead to show their enemies kindness. Many people feel that kindness displayed towards an enemy without retaliation was a sign of weakness. No one will ever characterize these men as weak.
Letter from Col. James S Brisbiny to Brig. General Lorenzo Thomas
Lexington Ky Oct 20/64
General I have the honor to forward herewith a report of the operations of a detachment of the 5th U.S. Colored Cavalry during the late operations in Western Virginia against the Salt Works. After the main body of the forces had moved, Gen'l Burbridge Comdg. District was informed I had some mounted recruits belonging to the 5th U.S. Colored Cavalry, then organizing at Camp Nelson and he at once directed me to send them forward. They were mounted on horses that had been only partly recruited* and that had been drawn with the intention of using them only for the purpose of drilling. Six hundred of the best horses were picked out, mounted and Col Jas. F. Wade 6th. U.S.C. Cav'y was ordered to take command of the Detachment. The Detachment came up with the main body at Prestonburg Ky and was assigned to the Brigade Commanded by Colonel R. W. Ratliff 12th O[hio].V. Cav.
On the march the Colored Soldiers as well as their white Officers were made the subject of much ridicule and many insulting remarks by the White Troops and in some instances petty outrages such as the pulling off the Caps of Colored Soldiers, stealing their horses etc. was practiced by the White Soldiers. These insults as well as the jeers and taunts that they would not fight were borne by the Colored Soldiers patiently or punished with dignity by their Officers but in no instance did I hear Colored soldiers make any reply to insulting language used toward [them] by the White Troops.
On the 2nd of October the forces reached the vicinity of the Salt Works and finding the enemy in force preparations were made for the battle. Col Ratliffs Brigade was assigned to the left of the line and the Bridge dismounted was disposed as follows. 5th U.S.C. Cav. on the left. 12th O[hio]. V.C. in the center and 11th Mich. Cav. on the right. The point to be attacked was the side of a high mountain, the Rebels being posted about halfway up behind rifle pits made of logs and stones to the heights of three feet. All being in readiness the Brigade moved to the attack. The Rebels opened upon them a terrific fire but the line pressed steadily forward up the steep side of the mountain until they found themselves within fifty yards of the Enemy. Here Col. Wade ordered his force to charge and the Negroes rushed upon the works with a yell and after a desperate struggle carried the entire line killing and wounding a large number of the enemy and capturing some prisoners There were four hundred black soldiers engaged in the battle. one hundred having been left behind sick and with broken down horses on the march, and one hundred having been left in the Valley to hold horses. Out of the four hundred engaged, one hundred and fourteen men and four officers fell killed or wounded. Of this fight I can only say that men could not have behaved more bravely. I have seen white troops fight in twenty-seven battles and I never saw any fight better. At dusk the Colored Troops were withdrawn from the enemies works, which they had held for over two hours, with scarcely a round of ammunition in their Cartridge boxes.
On the return of the forces those who had scoffed at the Colored Troops on the march out were silent.
Nearly all the wounded were brought off though we had not an Ambulance in the command. The Negro 'soldiers preferred present suffering to being murdered at the hands of a cruel enemy. I saw one man riding with his arm off another shot, through the lungs and another shot through both hips.
Such of the Colored Soldiers as fell into the hands of the Enemy during the battle were brutally murdered. The Negroes did not retaliate but treated the Rebel wounded with great kindness, carrying them water in their canteens and doing all they could to alleviate the sufferings of those whom the fortunes of war had placed in their hands. Col. Wade handled his command with skill bravery and good judgment, evincing his capacity to command a much larger force. I am General Very Respectfully Your Obedient. Servant
James S Brisbiny
*I.e., disabled or diseased horses that had been only partly
Ira Berlin, Free At Last, p489
“According to a captain in the 13th Kentucky Cavalry, a regiment that so opposed the enlistment of blacks that some of its men nearly murdered a recruiting officer for the USCT. he and his comrades "never saw troops fight like they did. The rebels were firing on them with grape and canister and were mowing them down by the Score but others kept straight on."
J. T. Glatthaar, Forged in Battle, p165
10* [Blest Are Those Persecuted For Holiness' Sake; The Reign Of God Is Theirs].
American slaves frequently called on Jesus in times of trouble and apparently continued the practice long after slavery. Recall that the Lord took the place of ancestors in heaven and was called upon in times of need.
“Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10
Apparently slave masters and overseers were not comfortable with slaves calling on the Lord while they were whipping them so the slave was forbid in this case from “calling on the Lord.”
Dey wouldn't allow 'em to call on de Lord when dey were whippin' 'em, but dey let 'em say, "Oh, pray! Oh, pray, Marster!" Dey would say, "Are you goin' to work? Are you goin' visitin' widout a pass? Are you goin' to run away?" Dese is de things dey would ax him , when dey wuz whippin' him.
Alex Woods, Raleigh, North Carolina, Bull Whip Days, p244
Although they could not always call the Lord's name, the Lord understood and was not easily fooled. Note that in the following narrative, William Moore was from Texas and Alex Woods was from North Carolina. The large separation between them suggest that saying “pray” instead of “Lord” was not an isolated practice during whippings.
“ One day, I am down in the hog pen riling the hogs and teasing them like any yearling boy will do, when I hear a loud agony screaming up to the house. I can't make out who 'tis. I'm curious and I start up to the house and I hear, "Pray Marse Tom. Pray, Marse Tom. " But still I can't tell who 'tis. When I get up close I see Marse Tom got my mammy tied to a tree with hir clothes pulled down and he is laying it on her with a bullwhip and de blood is running down her eyes. I goes crazy. I say, "Stop, Marse Tom," and he swings the whip and it don't reach me good, but it cuts just the same. I sees Miss Mary standing in the cook house door. I run aryund crazy like, and I see a big rock and I take it and I throw it and it ketches Marse Tom in the skull and he goes down like a poled ox.”
William Moore, Selma Alabama/Limestone County Texas, Bull Whip Days pg 332
William Moore, Library of Congress, 163132r
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