Baptists and the American Civil War: January 22, 1863

North Carolina MapSouthern Baptist newspapers routinely publish (whether original reporting or in the form of selective republishing from other sources) reports of Yankee atrocities in Union-occupied areas of the South. This week, readers of North Carolina Baptists’ Biblical Recorder learn of “Yankee Outrages in Eastern North Carolina” (the coastal region). This sensational account of desecrations, quite real yet perhaps exaggerated at times, involves both dreaded “abolition” (Union) forces and the traitorous “Buffaloes,” a name of uncertain origin given to North Carolinians who serve in the Union Army. To make matters all the worse, a growing number of North Carolina slaves are joining forces with the abolitionist and Buffalo troops.

The portions of our State which have fallen into the hands of the enemy, have, from the first, been treated with great severity. Outrages unwarranted by the usages of war have been common. But, recently, the enemy have become more bold, and have inaugurated a system of oppression and plunder which must inflict incalculable miseries on the people who are in power. The following letter which we copy from the Daily Progress of this City, will sufficiently indicate this, and show what the people elsewhere have to expect if the designs of the enemy to advance further in the State be not met.

Within the last twelve days 10,000 Abolition troops have passed from Suffolk through Gates county, and down the Chowan river to reinforce Foster. On the last occasion the troops were conveyed down the river in seventeen steamers, many of them gunboats, and among the troops in whole or in part was said to be Corcoran’s brigade. Many of the men deserted in Gates and Chowan, and still more seemed much dispirited, declaring they did not wish to fight–that they were carried to certain slaughter and would never return. At Elizabeth City Flusser has compelled the Mayor of the City to issue a proclamation to the inhabitants of the city, and to all living within six miles thereof, to come in an take the oath of allegiance to the United States on or before Thursday next. The proclamation does not state the penalty for disobedience. The Abolitionists say, the effects of those neglecting or refusing, will be confiscated. My informant who has escaped thence, says he saw negroes there in uniform armed to the teeth, aiding the abolitionists in arresting citizens who were loyal to the South, and that the Buffaloes in Camden and Currituck have no less than eighty slaves armed and in uniform, with whom they are scouring the country and making arrests, and seizing, to their own use and destroying property, The Buffaloes of Chowan and Gates, aided by the abolitionist forces, having become more bold by impunity, have recently, crossed the Chowan river; they went straight to the house of one Smith, in Bertie county, where they seized and carried off above three thousand dollars worth of goods belonging to loyal men who were engaged in carting from and to Richmond.–They showed a perfect knowledge of the locality and description of the articles seized, arrived no doubt, from some disloyal man, willing to buy his own immunity at the expense of the loyal. The individual is not known, but from present indications his identity will not be long doubtful. From Mr. Smith’s these men, in all about 100 in number and mostly abolitionists, but under the guidance of one Ethridge, who is the leader of the Buffaloes, went to Mrs. Gaskins when under some confessed, frivolous charges they seized and carried off one of her sons, stole some articles, and abused and insulted Mrs. Gaskins and her daughter. At this place they had along with them one of Mrs. Gaskins’ slaves, who had [runaway] from her, who was serving as an abolition soldier and was fully armed, and in abolition uniform. When they came to Mrs. Gaskins’ two of Mr. John Pool’s negroes were there; these negroes the abolitionists ordered and forced them into their ranks, and thence they marched them to Mr. Pool’s. At Mr. P’s the abolition soldiers arrested Lieut. Wm. Mebane, and after stealing two gold watches and some other property, they went back to their boats–and Mr. Pool’s negroes in the hurry of the embarkation, threw down their arms on the beach and ran home. Mr. Gaskins and Mr. Mebane remained in their hands, having been carried across the river, and not yet heard from. You may rest assured, that a systematic attempt is being made to arm the slaves against the whites, in the subjugated districts, and the same course will be pursued wherever these wretches are suffered to overrun the country. Elizabeth City is but a specimen of what all subjugated portions of our State will be. How long–oh, how long, shall these wretches be permitted to desecrate the soil of the most beautiful and fertile portion of North Carolina, the Delta of the State? How long?

Source: “Yankee Outrages in Eastern North Carolina,” Biblical Recorder, January 21, 1863 (link)