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In Their Own Words

February 14, 1865

Civil War Letter on Freeing and Arming Slaves

From Augusta, Confederate soldier Lavender Ray wrote his father back in Newnan:

“… What is your opinion about our present situation? It appears gloomy enough, but I hope and think we will yet be independent. Our only hope is to fight until we conquer a peace… .

“I regard the Negro as the prime cause of our separation from the old Union, and it is humiliating to have to surrender one of our greatest institutions, both for the prosperity of our country and protection and civilization of the black race, to popular opinion of other nations. Yet, I think this will have to be done, sooner or later, and I believe Congress is of the same opinion. If so, why not make the Negro useful to us in achieving our independence/ We can put 100,000 in service and discipline them so they will do good fighting… .”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), “Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), pp. 344-345.