Persons of Color
the establishment of Camp Curtin, the North’s largest
camp of rendezvous for soldiers departing for the war, directly to
their north, Harrisburg’s citizens saw rapid and dramatic changes
in their daily routines. Everything, it seemed, was suddenly different,
and one of the most noticeable changes was how busy the city had
become. Even before the war, Harrisburg was undergoing a healthy
rate of growth, increasing its population from 13,000 in 1860 to
about 16,000 by April 1861, the month that war broke out.
the ten days after the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the population of
Harrisburg more than doubled, as volunteers and workers arrived by
train, wagon, horse, and by foot. General confusion, even chaos, reigned
for quite a while, as the city filled with thousands of people who
wanted to participate in the war effort, yet had no idea what war was
truly about. As historian William J. Miller described the scene, “Unfortunately
few of these young volunteers knew any more about war than did the
people of the city. Most were just boys anxious to be off on a grand
adventure. They came to the state capital not knowing what to expect,
many bringing baggage, pets, friends, wives and weapons.”
with the cooperation of city and military authorities, order was imposed
and Harrisburg’s citizens soon became used to living in a war
town. They witnessed the regular spectacle of large numbers of soldiers
coming from and going to the railroad depot at the east end of Market
Street. They watched the occasional passage through town of large quantities
of military stores, and the daily sight of men in officers’ uniforms
strolling along the wooden sidewalks. There were, now and again, unusual
and exciting events, such as great patriotic demonstrations, parades,
speeches, and urgent appeals for goods, money, and civilian volunteers.
was also the day after day annoyance of hosting many restless young
men far away from their homes. The Daily Telegraph railed
against the dangerous nuisance of cavalrymen riding their horses at
high speeds through the city, and it lamented the affronts to morality,
mostly embodied by drunken soldiers, and the presence of "dens
of infamy," unlicensed and unregulated drinking establishments
that were regular sources of fights, robberies, and other illegal activities,
and of course the houses of prostitution.138 The
almost immediate increase in crime was the first and most noticeable
effect of hosting a major military camp on the outskirts of town, and
by necessity it was addressed first. But beyond that, there were many
other major adjustments that would have to be made.
the new faces and war excitement, good and bad, infused the city with
a sort of public giddiness for the first year of the war. Behind this
exhilaration, though, lurked a grim apprehension that things could
soon turn ugly. Newspaper reports of military disasters and the death
of local boys from disease or fighting were not lost on the citizenry,
but it was not until June 1862 that the real horrors of war came home,
and a decided somberness set in.
Becomes a War Hospital
was in June that trainloads of wounded soldiers began arriving in the
city from the overflowing hospitals of Washington and Virginia. While
local residents had seen the occasional neighbor return from the fighting,
some having lost an arm or a leg to an emergency amputation, the sheer
numbers of severely wounded and suffering young men that suddenly appeared
at the train station, in need of immediate care, temporarily overwhelmed
and distressed them.
first, the small hospital at Camp Curtin absorbed the sick and wounded,
and aside from the shock of seeing dirty, bloody, bandaged youths being
transported from the train station, through town to the camp, instead
of smartly uniformed, haughty boys marching from the camp, through
town to the train station, the presence of large numbers of wounded
did not greatly change the day-to-day activities of most citizens.
by the suffering, they did what they could to help out. They collected
supplies and food in response to appeals made by the local agents of
the Sanitary Commission. The Daily Telegraph and the Patriot
and Union ran regular reports of donations sent to the camp hospital
by local people for the wounded soldiers. Items such as jars of peaches,
bushels of potatoes, baskets of tomatoes, blankets, shirts and other
clothing, books, and cash were all acknowledged.
women of Harrisburg responded by forming aid societies through their
churches, which collected donations and distributed the items to the
convalescing soldiers. They sat by sick soldiers’ bedsides, wrote
letters home for them, and performed numerous other chores that kept
the camp hospital in operation. Their work, though invaluable to the
war effort, was not often recognized, and was frequently not coordinated
with the needs of the hospital. That would change in the coming months.
1862 brought the unprecedented bloodshed of the Antietam campaign and
with it another strain on the resources of the military hospitals.
Again, Harrisburg, as well as other Northern cities, received large
numbers of wounded. This time, however, the camp hospital could not
handle all the cases. City officials and the state quartermaster officials
scrambled to find suitable hospital space around town.
churches were some of the first to be utilized as makeshift hospitals,
as were local halls, school buildings, and many private homes. By the
end of the month, more than one thousand wounded and sick soldiers
were being cared for in the city’s makeshift hospitals. As soldiers
recovered or succumbed to their wounds, the number of patients shrank
somewhat, but still remained above five hundred throughout the rest
of the city schools that was used as a hospital to treat soldiers wounded
at the battle of Antietam was the “Colored Schoolhouse” which
sat on the corner of Raspberry Alley and Cherry Alley. This one-room
school, which was located in the Judy’s Town neighborhood, served
the African American residents of the city’s South Ward. Schoolteacher
John Wolf, like the rest of Harrisburg’s teachers, had to cancel
classes for his students during the several months in which the building
was filled with victims of the fighting in Maryland and Virginia.139
Ladies Union Relief Associaton
was during the Antietam campaign that the various efforts of Harrisburg’s
women were combined to form the Ladies Union Relief Association. Rising
to meet the incredible challenge, the association’s members daily
traveled the mile distance from town to Camp Curtin, carrying meals
for the wounded. When a kitchen was finally installed at the camp hospital,
the women of the Association worked there from morning until night
until it was closed by a smallpox scare.
were put in charge of the storerooms of supplies that began pouring
into Harrisburg from Pennsylvania residents for their troops. These
badly needed supplies were distributed to regional military hospitals
around the country and to the Sanitary Commission. To provide more
hospital beds for badly wounded soldiers, they supervised the removal
of convalescing soldiers from the hospitals to private homes, and in
some cases took recovering soldiers into their own homes. They also
visited the soldiers in the various city hospitals, providing compassion
and human contact.140
with the wounded soldiers came other wartime visitors to the city.
Countless family members of wounded and missing soldiers arrived to
undertake the tiring search through military hospitals for missing
sons and husbands. A letter from "A.G.W." under the title "A
Visit to Sharpsburgh," appeared in the Christian Recorder newspaper
on 25 October 1862, telling of encounters with such searchers:
Oct. 13th, 1862.
DEAR BROTHER: - We were
not long in the cars until we discovered that many were travelling
on a sad mission. Fathers and brothers in search of sons or brothers
who were wounded, were sick, or near to death, or had fallen, and
whose bodies they wished to recover. As we neared the scene of
action, their number increased. In the hotels, the hospitals, the
field, everywhere, we met men in search of friends. Sometimes they
were successful soon, sometimes they were directed from hospital
to hospital, from town to town, for days, sometimes they searched
in vain. The person sought for had been removed, or had died, or
was buried in an unmarked grave.
writer had been in Harrisburg, and noted, "I visited some of the
hospitals in Harrisburg, and was pleased with them in general. The
sick affected me much more than the wounded. I will not soon forget
how one man asked me, "Do you know anything good for the dysentery?" The
wounded were doing well, and received good attention." Here, the
writer seemed to be referring to medical attention, but later noted
the need for spiritual comfort:
Men suffer and die without
a word of comfort, and are buried without ceremony. The latter
is not needed; for there are no friends to weep. A visitor cannot
do much, unless he remains some time. Sometimes remarks are gratefully
received, sometimes evaded. In a hospital in Harrisburg, I asked
a young man who is sick, a native of New Hampshire, if he was a
member of church. He said not; but his mother is. His eyes filled
with tears at once. While I talked, they ran down his cheeks. He
had been in the service a year - had not heard a sermon. He belonged
to a battery. The man next to him was his neighbor and companion
and like him. I talked awhile, and then knelt down in prayer with
them. May it be answered and blessed! 141
passing week, more family members and friends of wounded soldiers came
to town, swelling the numbers of civilian visitors. The presence of
familiar faces did much to comfort those lying in the hospitals, but
it created other problems, as hotel space was scarce. That need was
addressed that winter with the establishment in December 1862 of the
Soldier’s Retreat, a refuge near the train station that welcomed
soldiers coming or going from their homes. Proprietors Eby Byers and
John B. Simon also fed and sheltered the families of those men who
were in town searching or caring for them, providing a needed alternative
to the town’s hotels.
used by the Soldier’s Retreat came from Harrisburg citizens,
who donated food and money to make the shelter as hospitable as it
could be under the circumstances. One of the founders of the Retreat,
Eby Byers, had a long history of humanitarian work, and was known as
a fierce anti-slavery advocate. He was one of the three local businessmen
who, ten years earlier, had pooled their money for the redemption of
the kidnapped James Phillips. Now, with the outbreak of the war, he
was actively supporting the soldiers who were fighting the slave powers
in the South.
Retreat served a much more important function near the end of the year,
when the threat of smallpox forced the evacuation of the healthy men
at Camp Curtin, while about thirty men with the dreaded and dangerous
disease were quarantined in a hospital building there. Fortunately,
the camp only had between 50 and 100 men at the time, and the Soldier’s
Retreat proved to have ample accommodations for them. Those men, as
well as all new recruits entering the city, were vaccinated against
the disease, and the threat passed by mid-February 1863.
was restored to its full role in March 1863, but between late December
and March, The Soldier’s Retreat functioned as a temporary camp.
Because camp operations were transferred here, the Army took over management
of the Retreat, and the name was changed to the Soldier’s Rest.
It continued to provide the same services as when Byers and Simon,
who returned to management duties in the spring, were managing it.142
of Confederate prisoners of war in Harrisburg caused considerable excitement
as the curious thronged to the train station and the camp to gawk at
them. The fascination of local townspeople with these men did not seem
to die down as the war dragged on. In June 1862, a rail shipment of
about 400 Confederate prisoners arrived in Harrisburg, and was met
by crowds of curious onlookers who crowded the tracks from Lemoyne
(then Bridgeport) to the center of town. The locomotive engineer refused
to slow the train as it approached the bridge over the Susquehanna
River and instead drove straight through to Camp Curtin with the excited
crowd chasing the train all the way to the siding beside the camp.143
After a year
of war, the novelty of having “Southern Knights,” as the
local Republican newspaper contemptuously named the prisoners, in Harrisburg
still excited many local townspeople. On 14 July, the Telegraph reported
1,546 “rebel prisoners, and deserters, have been reported” to
the Harrisburg Provost Marshal. Of the local residents who regularly
flocked to see the incoming prisoners, some were more than merely curious.
The Telegraph complained of seeing “men at the railroad
depot rush to greet filthy rebels as they arrived here, prisoners,
under the escort of Federal soldiers, just as if such wretches were
victors fresh from the battles in favor of the Government.”144
at Camp Curtin
some Confederate prisoners brought for incarceration in Harrisburg
that piqued the interest of local people, and other soldiers, for a
different reason. As noted earlier, the campaign leading up to and
including the Battle of Antietam yielded many Confederate prisoners
from the Army of Northern Virginia, hundreds of whom were brought by
train to Harrisburg.
prisoners were about sixty African Americans who had been captured
with the Southern troops. All of them were confined in Camp Curtin
until long-term imprisonment could be worked out by military authorities
in Washington. They were described by a soldier of the Sixteenth Pennsylvania
Volunteer Cavalry, whose camp was next to the prisoner area, in a letter
home from Camp Curtin dated 18 September 1862. The Union soldier, Private
Wallace Mitchell, wrote, “There are about 200 Rebel prisoners
quartered a few rods from my tent. They are the nasties[t] looking
set I ever saw. About 1/3 negroes. Many of them dressed in our soldiers
American soldiers were wagoners whose wagon train was captured by Union
troops near Williamsport, Maryland on the sixteenth. The Telegraph reprinted
a news item from a Chambersburg newspaper, which gave details about
the Confederate African American prisoners: “Some sixty-five
four horse wagons, with numbers of loose horses and mules, were brought
to town and driven at once to camp Slifer, where they were handed over
to the commandant, and the drivers, mostly negroes, were lodged with
the other prisoners in the jail yard. The wagons were mostly loaded
with ammunition and had been attached to Jackson’s army.” The
paper then reported that all the prisoners “were sent to Harrisburg.”146 The
prisoners arrived in Harrisburg the next morning and were gradually,
over the course of the next few weeks, sent to the Union’s prisoner
of war camp at Fort Delaware.
Buries a Black Confederate
African American prisoner of war generated a considerable amount of
sympathy among the city’s residents during this time. Henry Harris
was, by his account, a cook with Stonewall Jackson’s troops.
He was captured the day after the Battle of Antietam, having been separated
from the Confederate army in the confusion following the battle. He
surrendered to Union troops after running out of ammunition and food.
Harris was first taken to Greencastle, in Franklin County, and then
forwarded to Harrisburg by train a week after the battle, along with
the Twentieth Pennsylvania Militia regiment.
On the morning
of 26 September, about one-half mile before reaching the Cumberland
Valley Railroad Bridge over the Susquehanna, the troop train collided
on a foggy morning with an engine that was sitting on the tracks waiting
for clearance to cross the bridge into Harrisburg. The force of the
collision caused the first three wooden troop cars to accordion together,
killing eight soldiers and severely injuring more than fifty, including
Harris, whose injuries were so extreme that he was not expected to
men were all brought across the bridge and cared for in the warehouse
room of the Cotton Mill, on North Street. All during the next day,
Harris was tended to by a local clergyman, the Reverend Frank Moore,
who provided for his comfort and gave “such Christian counsel
as the hour and his condition seemed to demand.” The black Confederate
soldier suffered mightily, and died of his injuries on Saturday morning.
The newspaper reported, “His remains were properly taken care
of and buried.”147
It is almost
certain that Henry Harris’ body was turned over to Harrisburg’s
African American community for burial. In the most likely scenario,
he was given at least a brief service by members of either the Wesley
Union or Bethel A.M.E. church, and his remains were then conveyed out
of town along Ridge Road to the small African American burial yard
just beyond the reservoir. It was probably in this manner that Harrisburg
buried its first, and only, African American Confederate soldier.
is curious that Harrisburg’s white population would
show such compassion and interest in the suffering of a single black
enemy soldier from Virginia, while at the same time ignoring the
needs and actively frustrating the interest of its own black residents.
The overall lot of Harrisburg’s African American community
had not significantly improved since the war began, and there are
indications that it suffered considerably as a result of the hostilities.
slaves continued to arrive in large numbers after the fighting began,
and often attempted to blend in with local residents. The new arrivals
squeezed into already overcrowded houses and rooms, and swelled the
populations in Tanner’s Alley, Judy’s Town, and Verbeketown
to unhealthy limits. An article in the Patriot and Union titled “The
Poor Negroes,” published more than two years into the war, described
these neighborhoods in the most desperate terms. Although that newspaper
had a sharp anti-black bias, the article does illustrate the stress
that war imposed upon these neighborhoods.
It opined, “We
have often thought, while passing through places inhabited by negroes,
of the different scenes of life, the misery and depravity. Their homes,
which are in many cases not more than sheds, afford them little protection
against the cold blasts and heavy snows of winter.” In reference
to the rapidly increasing numbers of fugitive slaves who were arriving
in the city, the editor wrote, “After he is here what good does
it do him? He is looked upon as an intruder by those of his own color.
He comes to be hated by those who should be his friends—With
winter approaching, what will the thousands of unprovided, helpless
on poor housing was largely accurate, and the question was a legitimate
one, even if the rest of the article took off on a racist rant against
African Americans and abolitionists. The presence of the army camp
did provide many jobs for city residents, including African Americans.
Freight needed to be unloaded, goods needed to be transferred from
trains and canal boats to wagons and delivered, and services needed
to be provided to the tremendous influx of civilian and military visitors
to the city. African Americans filled these regular support jobs in
limited numbers, and also took advantage of the multitude of irregular
the African American neighborhoods often harbored businesses and services
that were highly popular with the troops and with visitors to the city,
but which were considered less than legitimate by local authorities.
Businesses such as dance halls, gambling dens, brothels, and speakeasies
proliferated through almost the entire war, and provided an income
for many local African American residents as well as many newly arrived
The Mayors’ office
would stage regular raids to shut down the most obnoxious establishments,
only to see business shift over to a different site a day or two later.149 Such
jobs were, therefore, usually irregular, however, and were even dangerous
when the customer, generally a young, impatient soldier, felt he had
been wronged or robbed.
the uncertainty and risk was the racist attitude with which most soldiers
regarded African Americans, making them more inclined to mete out a
form of vigilante justice against a local black person that they perceived
as being less than honest. When local tensions rose over the stress
of war, that combination could be explosive.
to be what happened in August 1862, on the eve of the Confederate invasion.
Large numbers of soldiers were in Camp Curtin, many of them newly enlisted
men, and rumors were circulating that secessionist sympathizers were
hawking poisoned food at the camp. In fact, on 15 August 1862, a number
of soldiers were reported to have been sickened after eating pies brought
in for sale by an old white woman, and a rumor circulated through camp
that seven of them died.
As the story
went, the deaths were traced to the woman's pies and authorities determined
that the pies had been laced with strychnine. The story was almost
immediately denied by health authorities at the camp, but the reassurances
of the camp doctor did not spread through the ranks as quickly as the
sensational rumors had, and many men continued to believe that Southern
fifth columnists were about.
day, an old African American man arrived in camp with food for sale
and immediately became the focus of the soldiers’ rage over the
supposed poisonings. Private George N. Barnes of the 137th Pennsylvania
Infantry regiment documented the incident in a letter home, written
that same day: “Secessionists are in the camp peddling poison
pies, cakes, bear [beer] etc. Nine men have died since I wrote this.
None of them belongs to our company. One old nigger had his nose knocked
off and one ear tore off and his old wagon knocked into slivers. All
peddlers fared about the same fate and pedlar[s] may expect the same
treatment given to the unfortunate African American peddler was not
inconsistent with the feelings that many local whites had toward local
blacks. Although anti-slavery speakers, books, and plays were appearing
with increased frequency in Harrisburg, the overriding sentiment behind
public support for the war, and among the men fighting the war, was
anti-secessionist, not anti-slavery.
1862, longtime anti-slavery speaker Wendell Phillips spoke to a large
crowd at Brant's Hall in Harrisburg, in response to Democratic charges
that abolitionists and anti-slavery policies were to blame for the
bloodshed and destruction of the war. Phillips laid blame for the war
on the institution of slavery, noting that its "doom was proclaimed
in its own position; and its end, with the fearful enormities of which
it had been the author, would go down into darkness and disgrace."
appearance, the audience was warmed up by the nationally known anti-slavery
singers The Hutchinson Family, whose repertoire now included many patriotic
songs.151 Despite the
popularity of the musical Hutchinson Family, and the forcefulness of
Phillips’ rhetoric, his argument failed to make many converts
among white city residents.
attempt to link the war to anti-slavery activism and to stir up white
phobias about African American militancy occurred during the same month
as the beating of the black vendor at Camp Curtin. Sometime in the
first week of August, handbills began appearing around town announcing:
The great Gen. James
Lane has arrived in this city to-day, and will address the colored
citizens of Harrisburg in front of the Market-House at four o'clock
this (Monday) afternoon. Men and brethren, come along.
The government having granted him permission to raise two Colored Regiments,
he will be prepared to swear in all able-bodied colored men who may
offer, and he confidently expects to raise one company in this place.
Arms, equipment, uniforms, pay, rations, and bounty the same as received
by white soldiers, and no distinction will be made. Come one, come
J. H. Tompkins, Recruiting Officer for Lane's Colored Regiments.
caused considerable agitation and anxiety among white residents, loaded
as they were with a number of inflammatory statements. Most alarming,
to the peaceable citizens of Harrisburg was the name “James Lane,” which
referred to Kansas Senator James Henry Lane, whose nicknames “Bloody
Jim,” and “The Grim Chieftain” reveal the reputation
that surrounded this iconoclastic Republican figure.
frightening to white Harrisburg residents was the fact that Lane had
just begun recruiting for the First Kansas Colored Infantry in his
state, in defiance of federal regulations against the recruiting and
arming of African Americans for duty as federal soldiers. This handbill
suggested that the fiery Jayhawker had intimidated state authorities
into allowing him to raise African American regiments in Pennsylvania.
Images of the Garnet Guards, parading brazenly up Market Street with
shouldered muskets a mere two months before John Brown tried to rally
African Americans into a holy anti-slavery army filled their heads,
while Henry Highland Garnet’s words burned in their memories: “If
you must bleed, let it all come at once.” Worse yet, the handbill
promised that all equipment and pay would be on par with white soldiers.
White Harrisburg was not ready for this.
however, sensed that all was not right with the posters, and investigated.
The editor of the Daily Telegraph soon found that they had
been printed on the presses of the rival Patriot and Union newspaper.
Believing that they were false, and had been composed solely to stir
up sentiment against local anti-slavery advocates, and, by association,
against Republican politicians, Bergner shared his suspicions with
local Provost Marshal Dodge, and the next day a team of military officers
arrived in Harrisburg from Washington, DC and arrested the owners and
editors of the Patriot and Union on charges of suspected treason.
The men were
all taken to Washington and held for three weeks while military officials
decided whether they were guilty of exciting the passions of residents
opposed to using African American troops, and of discouraging the enlistment
of white soldiers. The editor, Uriah J. Jones, admitted to writing
the placards for political purposes but denied any intention of embarrassing
local recruiting officers. All were released on 23 August after signing
loyalty statements, and returned to Harrisburg with the threat of military
confiscation of their printing presses still hanging over their heads.
The threatened confiscation did not happen, however, and the Patriot
and Union continued to publish editions.152
arrest scare, the editors and staff of the Patriot and Union did
not noticeably decrease their anti-administration rhetoric after that.
In fact, perhaps in compensation for the humiliation at the hands of
those they perceived to be abolitionists, their anti-African American
and anti-abolition slant became more pronounced.
of Harrisburg whites toward the intentions of their African American
neighbors backslid another few degrees in the excitement following
this incident. As with the black peddler suspected of selling poisoned
food to the troops, and the possibility that local blacks were about
to be organized into armed companies by a western abolitionist fanatic,
whites seemed ready to believe any rumor or story about the dangers
presented by the local black population. Bergner even cautioned his
fellow citizens against putting too much stock in “the numerous
and silly rumors that are propagated…to the effect that the most
serious and terrible outrages are being almost daily perpetrated upon
weak and helpless white people by the blacks, who, it is alleged by
these reports, are becoming turbulent and defiant.”153
Harrisburg’s African American community was intentionally keeping
a low profile during the current excitement. Instead of celebrating
the First of August with marches through the streets, egalitarian banners,
and the delivery of fiery anti-slavery speeches—things that had
a way of disturbing local whites—the 1862 celebration was toned
down to be little more than a picnic, and the location was moved out
of sight and view of local whites, to Haehnlen’s Woods, a popular
picnic grove on Allison Hill, east of town.154
African American social events were publicized in the local newspapers
during this time, with the exception of a public invitation to attend
the laying of the cornerstone for the new brick Wesley Union Church
in Tanner’s Alley.155 The
congregation had finally raised enough money to begin building the
badly needed replacement for the old, small brick structure that had
been in place since the church relocated there in 1839. While the new
church was being constructed, services were moved to the public hall,
popularly known as the Colored Masonic Hall, owned by Aaron Bennett
in Tanner’s Alley. Significantly, the new church structure would
have its main entrance on South Street, instead of on Tanner’s
Alley, a move that acknowledged the expansion of the African American
community beyond the constricted boundaries of the congested, narrow,
It also signaled
the readiness and eagerness of the African American community to become
more closely integrated with the white community. The new church would
be an attractive structure, as equally suited to the majesty and solemnity
of the Lord’s work as the surrounding white churches, and, it
was desired, would be accepted as such. The laying of the cornerstone
was a ceremony that local African Americans hoped would demonstrate
to white Harrisburg that they should be accepted as equals in their
spiritual and moral works, even if not in their political and social
times, however, worked against even such simple things as mutual respect
and acceptance. If local blacks had to coexist only with local whites,
their daily lives might have been less consumed with the continuous
fight to ensure their safety and preserve their dignity. The average
Harrisburg resident wanted only to be let alone to his or her business;
the less fuss the better. Blacks and whites living in the shadow of
the Capitol had worked in proximity to each other for generations,
with only occasional racial friction surfacing, usually in response
to incursions by outsiders. As long as everyone kept to their own social
and cultural sphere, trouble was contained to the less savory locations,
such as speakeasies and dance houses. The seasonal presence of state
legislators, lobbyists, and the occasional reporter had not changed
that dynamic, and even the violence and unrest associated with the
appearance of slave catchers was viewed, for the most part, as participatory.
If you wanted to stay out of it, you could stay off the streets.
in a war town was much different. The relationship between local whites
and local African Americans, even though lacking in social parity,
was severely upset by the insertion of soldiers, support workers, visitors,
reporters, criminals, and opportunists; and not just a few. Harrisburg
was inundated by thousands, and at times tens of thousands, of strangers.
Despite the efforts by Mayor Kepner to keep the peace, bands of thrill-seeking
soldiers always seemed to be in town, and when few other entertainments
existed, they turned their attention to making life difficult for the
African American residents they encountered on the sidewalks and in
the market sheds.
1862, Joseph Bustill and his family left town for that rather exclusive
luxury known to few people of the times: a vacation. While Joseph went
to upstate New York, to “take the cure” and see the sights
around Saratoga Springs, his wife Sarah and two-year-old son David
went to Philadelphia to spend the summer with the Jacob C. White, Jr.
family. The Bustills and Whites kept in touch through frequent correspondence,
not just with each other, but also with friends and family back in
Harrisburg. In a letter from Jacob to Joseph, dated 19 August 1862,
Jacob White thanked his cousin for a recent letter and begged him for
descriptions of the springs and the famed Union Hall hotel in that
a lighthearted account of recent family news, White turned to the more
somber political and war news, and then informed Joseph of the unpleasant
turn of events in his adopted hometown. Joseph Bustill’s wife
Sarah had just received a letter from her sister, Hannah Williams,
wife of abolitionist and anti-slavery activist John F. Williams, in
Harrisburg. Hannah had very unsettling news of events in her hometown
for her vacationing sister. Jacob White relayed the news to Joseph,
By a letter received
by Mrs. Bustill from Mrs. Williams in Harrisburg, we learn that
there are very troublous times there. Numbers of soldiers are at
large in the city and their prejudice against “the peculiar
people” is evidenced by the Kicks and cuffs they administer
to our poor sable brethren. It is dangerous for colored people
to walk the streets after night. The house of a colored man has
been burned to the ground, and a deplorable state of affairs is
said to exist.156
that burned down was that of Curry Taylor, the longtime resident caterer
and baker. Hannah Williams was well acquainted with Taylor, as both
were charter members of the new African American Presbyterian Church
headed by Charles Gardiner, and she surely felt Taylor’s loss
almost as keenly as he did. Much of the distress expressed in the letter
to her sister in Philadelphia was probably generated by this spectacular
and horrible, although fortunately non-fatal, blaze.
was one of the town’s most well known African American entrepreneurs,
making his reputation in the 1840s by bringing a wide variety of fresh
seafood and hard-to-find vegetables to town from the fish and produce
markets in Baltimore. In time, he even had a regular stall in the southern
market shed on the square. His rich and varied provisions allowed him
to become one of the town’s most successful caterers, and his
fresh baked bread won an award at the Fifth Annual Pennsylvania State
Agricultural Exhibition, held in Harrisburg in September 1855.157
that destroyed Curry Taylor’s West Avenue home actually started
in his bakery, which was situated at the rear of his residence. Sometime
about four-thirty in the morning on 14 August, someone noticed flames
shooting from the bakery. The cry of “Fire!” quickly awoke
the family and neighbors, and in a few minutes, the bells of the closest
firehouse alerted the rest of the town to the emergency. Taylor, and
probably a few of his neighbors, quickly carried or threw as much furniture
out of the burning structure as possible before the smoke and flames
drove them permanently out.
firefighters arrived quickly, the wooden home and bakery were already
fully engulfed in flames, and the firemen concentrated their efforts
on saving the house next door. Curry Taylor, his family, and neighbors
could do little more than stand helplessly beside their pile of salvaged
furniture and watch their home and business come crashing down into
a pile of sparks and glowing embers. The newspaper reported that the
early morning blaze was “the work of an incendiary.”158
Taylor’s establishment was targeted by an arsonist because of
his race or whether he and his family were random victims will never
be known. To Harrisburg’s African American community, though,
the fire appeared as one more outrage in an increasing wave of violence
directed against them. Unfortunately, things were about to get considerably
1862 brought more dire news with rumors that Confederate forces were
about to invade Pennsylvania. The invasion threat came swiftly in the
final weeks of a chaotic and tense summer. On 5 September, elements
of the Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee,
crossed into Maryland and headed for Frederick. Within days, the level
of tension in Harrisburg rose mightily, buoyed by invasion rumors and
unsubstantiated news reports of approaching Southern soldiers. Citizens
in small towns around Harrisburg held “war meetings” to
discuss how best to respond to the crisis.
tongues wagged with rumors that military authorities were preparing
to build defense works on the hills around the capital city. Stories
were related about trainloads of frightened refugees from Chambersburg
being delivered at the Market Street station, with the numbers of fugitives
increasing with each retelling. Most concerning of all was the breathlessly
voiced news about the imminent rebel plan to cross the river and capture
Harrisburg. To Harrisburg’s African American community this last
item, if true, was the worst of all possible scenarios.
sought to quell the fury of stories with a bit of editorializing about
the danger posed by rumors, and cautioned his readers to be more critical
of the news they were hearing on the street corners. “All the
rumors of a march on the capital of the state, are foolish and mischievous,” he
wrote. “The rebels have neither attempted, nor do they want to
get into Pennsylvania.”159 The
Republican editor knew his audience well. Harrisburgers loved to wallow
in the frenzy of approaching disaster, as long as it did not interfere
with that evening’s peace and quiet. His soothing words were
the warm, cozy cabin into which they could retreat after vicariously
taunting the circling wolves of possible invasion.
Even as Bergner
dismissed invasion talk as nonsense in one column, though, he promoted
the danger in the next column over, in copy written for one of his
advertisers. An ad for the Urich and Bowman dry goods store near the
Harrisburg Bridge began with a bit of doggerel and followed with boasting:
Draw forth your red
And have them ready shaken;
For Frederick city, Maryland,
Was by the rebels taken.
While we realize fully
the immense destruction that must ensue in the event of the rebels
visiting Pennsylvania by the way of Hagerstown, and marching down
the Cumberland Valley to our city, it is to our mind such a foolhardy
proposition that we cannot entertain it for a moment. Prudence,
however, commands us with our best vigilance to be prepared, and
the proprietors of the popular dry goods house, corner of Front
and Market streets will charge on them as they arrive in the city.160
Cabin at Sanford's Theater
the Telegraph was still simultaneously pumping up the war
frenzy while urging calm. In an ad for a local theater, the paper reminded, “Notwithstanding
the excitement about the invasion of our city by the rebels, Sanford
is not forgot. The large audiences that assemble there nightly is convincing
proof that rational amusement is necessary.”
amusement,” on this occasion, was quite appropriate to the emergency.
Sanford’s Opera House was staging “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” This
was not, however, the traveling stage version based strongly on Harriett
Beecher Stowe’s best selling novel. Samuel S. Sanford’s
adaptation, dubbed “Sanford’s Southern Version,” or “Real
Life in Old Kentuck,” purported to tell the authentic story of
slave life on the plantations. In popular burlesque style, it lambasted
abolitionism and featured the character Aunt Chloe as an unhappy free
resident of Cincinnati, singing a song called “I’d radder
be on de Old Plantation.” The character Topsy accompanies herself
on the banjo and sang “Dere’s No Use Talking When a Nigger
Wants to Go.”
version, Eliza and George Harris stayed on the plantation to “jump
de broom” in Uncle Tom’s cabin, to live a satisfyingly
bucolic life in Kentucky. The final scene, dubbed “Such a Happy
Time,” featured “congo dances, reels, camp meeting chants,” and
a ‘corn shucking reel,” with the entire troupe singing
Oh! White folks, we’ll
have you to know,
Dis am not de version of Mrs. Stowe;
In her de Darks am all unlucky,
But we am de boys of Ol Kentucky.
Den hand de banjo down
We’ll make it ring both night an day;
And we care not what de white folks say,
Dey can’t get us to run away.161
Sanford, a veteran minstrel performer since 1840, wrote and first staged
this version of Stowe’s serialized story in 1853 in a specially
built Philadelphia minstrel hall, called Sanford’s Opera House,
first located on the corner of Twelfth and Chestnut streets. Following
a disastrous fire, Sanford’s troupe of minstrel performers moved
to a new home in 1855, opening in a hall at Eleventh Street with partner
Freeman Dixey, where the Sanford Opera Troupe continued to perform
until April 1862, when Sam Sanford split with Dixey, moved the troupe
to Harrisburg and opened in a hall on the corner of Blackberry Alley
and South Third Street.162
troupe offered a varied bill of amusements including burlesque, dancing,
comedy, singing, and of course minstrel shows. For the latter, the
troupe performed in blackface, with Sam Sanford as the star. In his
version of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” which by 1862 had
become one of their signature pieces, Sanford played the role of Uncle
version played very well in Harrisburg—Bergner wrote that “the
entertainments as given by Mr. S. and his heroic men are just what
the people like and want”—attracting large audiences through
its run. Sanford charged twenty-five cents for general admission, fifty
cents for private box seats, and offered gallery seating for just fifteen
cents. Traditionally, African American patrons were restricted to the
galleries in Harrisburg theaters. Whether any chose to overlook the
overtly racist and patronizing bill of fare in order to avail themselves
of a little “rational amusement” from Sanford’s “Great
Star Troupe of Minstrels” in this time of crisis is not known.163
Panic, and a "Large Number of Contrabands"
A few days
later the reality of the political situation hit home when, at 11:15
on Thursday morning, 11 September, the train from Chambersburg pulled
into the Cumberland Valley Railroad depot loaded with frightened civilians
from the valley. Local people who spoke to the throng as they descended
from the cars onto the platform heard stories of “excitement
and panic” in the wake of a Confederate invasion. The soldiers
in gray were thought at that time to be on the verge of invading Pennsylvania,
if they had not done so already. This alarming news was verified by
the other passengers on the morning train: “a large number of
the newspaper identified the African American war refugees as all contrabands—or
escaped Southern slaves—the likelihood is that a good number
of free African American residents of Chambersburg, Shippensburg, Newville,
and Carlisle were also present. Many had roots in the South, or had
escaped slavery decades before and had been living in relative peace
in the rural districts and small towns of the Cumberland Valley since
then. Many of these same persons had for years successfully evaded
the small parties of slave catchers who ventured north in the name
of the Fugitive Slave Law, only to be suddenly faced with the prospect
of thousands of enemy soldiers rampaging through the countryside, scouring
each farm and town for supplies, and possibly, for fugitive slaves.
of being captured by Southern soldiers and returned South into slavery
was enough to cause many free and nominally free African Americans
in Adams, Franklin, and Cumberland Counties to pull up stakes and move
east on the first available train. They stayed on until they crossed
the railroad bridge into the state capital, at which point they, along
with the white farmers and businessmen who had also fled, descended
upon Harrisburg’s dusty streets.
day, Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin issued an urgent call for fifty-thousand
volunteers to repel the invading Confederate forces. City newspapers
were agog with alarming headlines: “To Arms! To Arms!” and “Pennsylvania
Invaded.” The accompanying article finally admitted the desperate
nature of the military situation, stating “There is no use of
disguising the fact, the enemy has invaded our State; commenced the
destruction of the railroad from Hagerstown to Chambersburg, and we
have no doubt, if not checked will soon lay our homes desolate.”
By the next
day, those alarming reports of invasion were shown to be false, but
the panic continued. Again, the Chambersburg train was loaded with
war refugees, and, as reported by the local newspaper “a large
proportion of them were colored people, both slave and free, showing
no disposition to fall into the hands of the rebels.”165
was now overflowing not only with troops and workers, but also with
civilian refugees. At the height of the crisis, it was reported, “The
hotels are like bee hives, swarming—private houses are open,
their hospitality and accommodations at once cordial and free to all
who choose to enter—and thus the State Capital is one vast camp,
where the soldier is at liberty to bivouac on the street corner, in
our most elegant mansions, the capital grounds or the capitol buildings.”166 Soldiers
were also quartered in the new county courthouse at Market and Court
Street, in the railroad depots, and in any free space available. Civilians
crowded in wherever they could find room.
refugees shoved into the already cramped rooming houses and private
homes in Judy’s Town and Tanner’s Alley. The local African
American churches scrambled to enlist volunteers to help clothe, feed,
and find better living arrangements for these persons. It was about
this time that the Confederate prisoners began arriving in town as
well, and were forwarded to Camp Curtin for confinement. The sixty
captured African American Confederate soldiers were included in this
lot, and they followed the same road out of town to the prison area
as the white prisoners, attracting considerable attention in their
own right. Days later they would be marched under guard to waiting
railroad cars and sent to military prisons further north, creating
a scene that must have caused a considerable number of mixed emotions
to local African Americans who watched the procession from the sidewalks
and street corners.
A New Hope
On 22 September
1862, the entire nature of the war changed for the nation and for African
Americans in particular. By proclamation of the President of the United
States, the chief aim of the war would no longer be fought merely to
bring those states in rebellion back into the union, but it would heretofore
include the emancipation of all slaves in states or areas still in
rebellion as of the first day of 1863. Most citizens of Harrisburg
did not learn of this major change in policy until Tuesday the twenty-third,
when the proclamation was printed in its entirety in the newspapers.
from the staff of the Democratic Patriot and Union was predictably
negative, accusing the president of joining the ranks of the abolitionists.
The Republican Telegraph, however, hailed the shift as “nothing
more or less than what was demanded by the sternness of the crisis.” But
the anti-slavery cause was not a popular one among most of Harrisburg’s
white residents, and the proclamation would make few converts in the
state capital. Therefore, the Republican paper’s editor sought
to mollify his more Afro-phobic readers by asserting that the president’s
proclamation, although it was a radical step toward ending slavery “does
not seek the equalization of the races. It does not propose to elevate
the negro to the eminence of the white man, or degrade the white man
to the level of the negro.”167
is difficult to stifle. The issue of impending emancipation again brought
rumors to the region around Harrisburg; ugly rumors warning of the “robbing
of spring houses, burning of barns, ravishing of women,” circulated
in the town and countryside, and the culprits were said to be Southern
blacks, newly liberated by the president’s proclamation, who
were coming into the area.168
in Harrisburg and in the suburban districts were again viewed with
suspicion and fear, despite the fact that none of the rumored outrages
had actually occurred and the proclamation had not yet gone into effect.
The columns of the Telegraph again sought to dispel the outlandish
stories of an African American crime wave and promptly identified the
fears as unjustified, but that response was more in defense of the
proclamation rather than a defense of the local African American community.
newspaper, Harrisburg’s blacks knew, was not an all-weather friend
to their community. In an October editorial headlined “Their
Permanent Home,” editor George Bergner again brought up the perennial
idea of African colonization as the only means by which African Americans
could ever hope to gain anything close to equality. He argued, “It
is conceded that here they cannot attain perfect social equality and
the highest happiness, and total independence, culture and position
can be achieved only by removal.”169
of alienation was reinforced a week later when the Pottsville Standard published
an angry retort to a rumor that military authorities were planning
to use freed contrabands to work the Pennsylvania coalmines. The Standard,
a Democratic newspaper, was outraged by what it saw as a scheme to “supplant
white labor by the employment of negroes.” Moreover, many of
the white coal miners were Democrats, and to them the plan smacked
of political engineering to throw loyal Democratic workers out of employment “and
compel them to leave the County.” Taking a militant tone, the
newspaper warned, “We can tell the President of the United States,
and his abolition advisers, that they must keep their negroes out of
the Coal Region, unless they desire to inaugurate civil war in the
assaulted on all sides, besieged by racist rumors, threatened by neighboring
counties, and belittled by newspapermen as well as traveling minstrel
shows, Harrisburg’s African American community struggled to find
their footing in the dangerous floodwaters of the national conflict.
They knew that the events of the past twenty months had irrevocably
altered their futures in ways they could not yet fully comprehend,
but so far, they could do little more than flounder helplessly in trying
to exert some sort of control of their own.
of this year, all their efforts to influence those events had seemed
inconsequential, and so they had concentrated merely on staying afloat
as they were swept along in the current of war. But when Union soldiers
successfully stopped General Robert E. Lee’s invasion of Maryland
at Antietam Creek on the 17th of the month, and Abraham Lincoln had
used that momentous feat, a day that was the bloodiest in American
history, to issue his proclamation of emancipation, the event became
for them a lifesaving rock emerging from the floodwaters, and they
clung to this rock not just for survival, but for hope.
It was a
hope born of their strong faith—a faith strengthened by centuries
of slavery, decades of racism, and years of abuse. Through all the
trials, disappointments, false starts, and disasters, they had always
been able to find solace, advice, brotherhood, and organization in
the humble pews of their churches. Now, with the promise of emancipation
finally at hand, they finally had hope again, but they knew that they
also had to prepare. With a renewed sense of purpose, they turned aside
the social insults and political proscription, pulled themselves out
of the rushing torrent of history, and stood on that rock of future
emancipation to make plans for the new year. They headed for the only
place that could provide what they needed in this time of their greatest
need; they gathered in Reverend Gibbs’ small Bethel A.M.E church
on Short Street to prepare for the Year of Jubilee.
J. Miller, “Harrisburg’s First Casualty,” Bugle 1,
no. 1 (January 1991): 3; Harrisburg Daily Telegraph, 27 July
1863. Under the title “Fast Driving,” the Telegraph reported “Yesterday
afternoon, two members of a cavalry company drove through Chesnut (sic)
street at a gait which would have done justice to escaped lunatics
from an insane asylum.”
139. Miller, Training
of an Army, 126-127. The Telegraph places the schoolhouse
at the corner of Cherry and Raspberry Alleys. In Gopsill’s
Directory of Lancaster, Harrisburg, Lebanon and York 1863-4 (Jersey
City, 1863), the “Colored School” is located at Cherry
Alley, in the South Ward of Harrisburg. It identifies John Wolf as
the teacher. Wolf’s schoolhouse would later do more hospital
duty following the Battle of Gettysburg, when city hospitals were
once again overwhelmed by the wounded and dying soldiers. In that
case, however, the patients would be captured Confederate soldiers.
After Gettysburg, many of the incoming Confederate prisoners were
also wounded and sick, in need of care at city hospitals. All but
the Mulberry Street Hospital took in Confederate wounded, and a few
small temporary hospitals were also used. The “Colored School” on
Cherry Alley at Raspberry Alley was used to house fifty-eight Confederate
wounded who arrived in Harrisburg on 21 July 1863. Initially sent
to the German Reformed (Salem) Church on Chestnut Street, the Southerners
were moved the next day to the schoolhouse “which building
has been set apart for their sole accommodation.” The modern
day site of this African American schoolhouse and Confederate hospital
is now a parking lot to the south of Salem Church. Daily Telegraph,
22 July 1863.
Keener-Farley, “Harrisburg’s Homefront,” Bugle 9,
no. 4 (October 1999): 5-6; Daily Telegraph, 17 September 1863.
Recorder, 25 October 1862.
142. Miller, Training
of an Army, 148-150; Daily Telegraph, 24 August 1863.
143. Miller, Training
of an Army, 100.
Telegraph, 14 July, 2 September 1863.
145. James S.
Miller, “From Erie to Harrisburg in 1862,” Bugle 2,
no. 3 (July 1992): 3. The actual location of the Confederate prisoner
camp and the Pennsylvania cavalry camp was in Camp Simmons, a smaller
adjunct camp located just north and to the west of Camp Curtin. The
modern day location would be just northeast of the intersection of
North Third Street and Polyclinic Avenue (old Reel’s Lane). Miller,
Training of an Army, 7, 107.
Daily Telegraph, 16 September 1862.
26, 27, 29 September 1862. This appears to be the only instance of
the burial of a Confederate African American soldier in Harrisburg.
If he was buried in the African American graveyard on Ridge Road, which
was the only active African American cemetery in Harrisburg during
the war, then it is probable that his remains were eventually re-interred
in Lincoln Cemetery after 1877. It is possible, but less likely, that
his remains were interred on the grounds of the county poor house.
and Union, 19 September 1863.
149. The Telegraph reported
some typical incidents: “Various complaints having been made
at the Mayor’s office of the noisy and boisterous conduct of
a party of young men who for some time have been in the habit of congregating
at a house of ill-repute in Tanners alley, officer Campbell last evening
was dispatched to that quarter to regulate matters…”and
in the same edition: “A party of negroes, named Thos. Keane,
Geo. Butler, Dick Allen and ‘Ginger,’ were arrested last
night by the Mayor’s police, for riotous conduct at a house somewhere
in Short street,” Daily Telegraph, 28 January 1862.
Fraternization between white citizens and soldiers and African American
residents was generally not publicly tolerated, but was acknowledged
to occur with regularity in the speakeasies, dancehalls, and the brothels
of Tanner’s Alley. See the article “Drunks” in the Telegraph,
2 July 1861.
150. Miller, Training
of an Army, 108; G[eorge] N. Barnes, 16 August 1862, to his
parents, “Letter Home From Camp,” Camp Curtin Historical
Society, http://www.campcurtin.org/campcurtin/barnes/barnes.htm (accessed
28 February 2003). That same day, Post Surgeon J. P. Wilson posted
the following notification from the Camp Curtin Hospital Department
in response to queries from the local newspapers: “Reports
having been circulated to the effect that several men had been poisoned
at Camp Curtin by eating pies, containing strychnine, and that they
had died from its effects, I deem it only just to state, that there
is no foundation in fact or circumstance for this rumor. There has
not been a single death in camp, or any sickness but a few mild cases
of cholera morbus, caused by eating unripe fruit or vegetables, since
the gathering of the recruits now in camp.” Daily Telegraph,
16 August 1862.
4 April 1862.
152. Daily Telegraph,
7 August 1862; William Henry Egle, History of the County of Dauphin,
141. As editor of the Republican, pro-administration Daily Telegraph,
George Bergner held considerable sway with local authorities. The arrest
and detainment of his rivals for three weeks in a Washington military
prison on treason charges was a major coup, but it was only part of
the personal battle that he waged against them. Barely two weeks before
their arrest by the Washington Provost Marshal, Bergner pressed charges
of libel against owners Oromel Barrett, Thomas C. MacDowell and editor
Uriah J. Jones, resulting in their arrest. They were released on a
guarantee of surety from Augustus L. Roumfort. Daily Telegraph,
21 July 1862.
Telegraph, 3 September 1862.
1 August 1862. The picnic grove was in a portion of what is now Bellevue
9 August 1862; Barton and Dorman, Harrisburg’s Old Eighth
of Negroes, Largely Personal and Private [Part 1],” Journal
of Negro History 11, no. 1 (January 1926): 82-83.
Annual Report of the Transactions of the Pennsylvania State Agricultural
Society for the Year 1855, vol. 3 (Harrisburg: A. Boyd Hamilton,
State Printer, 1856), 53. Curry Taylor won “second best” in
the category of best five loaves of bakers’ bread, in the exhibition
that was held in the newly constructed fair grounds north of town.
These are the same fair grounds that in 1861 were appropriated by
the military for use as the site of Camp Curtin. In the 1855 exhibition,
Taylor’s loaves were rated “very superior.” The
exhibition was the forerunner of the modern day Pennsylvania State
Telegraph, 14 August 1862. In addition to the total destruction
of Curry Taylor’s house and bakery, the fire also consumed
two small outbuildings and severely damaged the roof, attic, and
one side of the neighboring two-story wooden house.
8 September 1862.
161. Broadside, “Sanford’s
Opera House,” 11 October 1853, Clifton Waller Barrett Collection,
University of Virginia. Sanford’s troupe was still performing
the same version as late as 1861, one year before relocating to Harrisburg.
Broadside, “Sanford’s’ Opera House,” 1861,
Billy Rose Theatre Collection, New York Public Library for the Performing
Arts; Pennsylvania Daily Telegraph, 8 September 1862.
Le Roy Rice, Monarchs of Minstrelsy, From “Daddy” Rice
to Date (New York: Kenny Publishing, 1911), 34, 86.
Daily Telegraph, 8, 10 September 1862. Whether or not they took
in the racist version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” Harrisburg’s
African American residents did patronize the minstrel shows, and
crowded the gallery at Sanford’s Opera House later that year
on the closing night of the season. For the final show of the season,
the Telegraph reported in its 8 October 1862 issue, “The
gallery was well represented by Africa—and jammed to completion.” The
more traditional dramatization of “Uncle Toms’ Cabin” came
to Harrisburg in January 1864, playing at Brant’s Hall for
about one week. It was performed by a traveling troupe who called
themselves the Grand Star Combination Dramatic Company,” which,
the newspaper noted, was “composed of twenty-two ladies and
gentlemen of acknowledged metropolitan reputation.” Evening
Telegraph, 22 January 1864.
Daily Telegraph, 11 September 1862.
12, 13 September 1862.
16 September 1862.
23 September 1862. Patriot and Union, 23 September 1862.
Daily Telegraph, 3 October 1862.
25 October 1862.
Standard, reprinted in the American Volunteer, 6 November
1862. The same argument that fugitive slaves would replace white
workers was advanced in March 1862 by the editor of the Easton
Argus, in response to an article from the New York Herald’s Philadelphia
correspondent, who wrote about the arrival in that city of ninety-seven
such persons. The article charged abolitionists with “using
every endeavor to secure the employment of blacks in the arsenals
and navy yards.” To which statement the Easton Argus newspaper
complained, “As these blacks are willing to work cheaper than
white men, our white laborers will, as a matter of course, be thrown
out of employment, to the extent that these people are introduced
into our midst.” Easton Argus, reprinted in the Valley
Spirit, 30 April 1862.