Mississippi Slaveholder to the Confederate President

Louisville Miss  July 20th /63

Dear Sir   Visburg is gone and as a consequence Mississippi is gone and in the opinion of allmost every one here the Confederacy is gone.  I can myself see but one chance, but one course to pursue to save it, and I fear it is now too late for even that to check the tide that is overwhelming us.  It is simply by your own authority, and without waiting for congress to give you authority, to call out every able bodied Negro man from the age of sixteen to fifty years old.  They will go readily and cheerfully.  The owners would gladly give them up and afford every facility in getting them off.  On every road leading from the western Country there is a constant stream of negroes running into Ala & Georgia & the Carolinas.  They will destroy all the food in those states like an army of locusts.  This if nothing else would starve us into subjection in a few months   It is precisly what our enemy want.  Take our nego men away and thereby relieve us of a dangerous element.  Force the young white men, who are running off with them, into the army and we, the old men will take care of the negro women and children and make corn.  Act promptly   the negro men will all go to the enemy if not taken to our own army   I believe fully half of them had rather go into our ranks than the Yankees   They want to be in the frollick & they will be one way or the other.  Away with all squeamesness about employing negroes in civilized warfare.  Our enemies are doing it as rappidly as they can and we are left no other alternative.–  If you knew with what pleasure I would send off every negro man I have tomorrow morning you would not dismiss this hastily.  I am only one of the masses and what I say I believe nearly every slave holder in the South would say and do.  With the highest considerations of respect I am verry truly youre friend.

O G Eiland

O. G. Eiland to President Davis, 20 July 1863, B-581 1863, Letters Received, series 5, Secretary of War, War Department Collection of Confederate Records, Record Group 109, National Archives. Endorsement.

Published in The Black Military Experience, pp. 284–85, and in Free at Last, pp. 132–33.