Letter from Albert S. Kendrick, Adjutant
28th Wisconsin Vol. Inf.
Pine Bluff - The 28th Regiment
Pine Bluff - The 28th Regiment
We have been kindly permitted by Dr. Kendrick to make the following extracts from a letter from his son, dated -
PINE BLUFF, Ark., Jan. 10, 1864
The command at Pine Bluff remains the same as it was when I last wrote. Gen. Thayer is expected here soon with more forces. Benton has been evacuated by our troops, which leave Pine Bluff exposed and isolated. Many of our troops, the veterans, are home on furloughs, One entire regiment of our Division, is home - the 77th Ohio - the Ohio regiment that had the name of running at Shiloh. A baser slander I think was never fabricated, and they are determined to live it down. The 43rd Indiana goes home as soon as they return. Our army evidently does not intend to advance this winter, and perhaps not in the spring.
There is an army in front of us, but there is no country worth fighting for this side of the Red River. It seems to me that to advance into Texas across this desert would be poor policy. As long as we occupy Arkansas Valley, we hold Arkansas.
There is now a convention in session in Little Rock, for the purpose of forming a State Government for Arkansas. The convention at Pine Bluff sent delegates and a copy of their resolutions, which were in effect, "that it was for the interest and happiness of the people of Arkansas, to have African slavery abolished." The men who framed the resolutions are planters and slaveholders. To have expressed such sentiments thus publicly in this place six months ago would have cost them their lives.
They are men too, who love the institution of slavery. Some of them have been fighting for it during the present rebellion; but they admit defeat, and are not too blind to see that the State cannot return to the Union with slavery. Is any one at the North too blind to see the same truth? I always have been until lately. Slavery is crushed, I don't doubt that. - How can I, when right across the street is the office of the Superintendent of Freedmen, where one company a week is recruited for the war; where the accounts of two thousand freedmen and women are kept, that their old masters, now their employers, shall not defraud them. I wish you could go into that office for an hour; I wish Newton Kendrick could go there. It is always full, and business ever on hand: Capt. Talbot is always spokesman. A negro comes in, takes off his hat, and with a bow always commences, 'massa.' Capt. T. ' Put on that hat, ' 'stand up,' 'don't call any man master,' 'what is your name.' The negro gives his name. 'That name is to be yours hereafter.' The recorder takes it down and the negro is enlisted as a soldier or hired out to some planter - the negro always setting his own price on his labor.
There is a Methodist Elder being tried here by a Court Martial for selling his own slaves. Capt. Williams is Judge Advocate of the court. He says they will give him five years in some military prison. It is getting pretty rough when men in Arkansas are tried for selling their own negroes. We expect boats up the river daily; the floating ice is blockading them. Ice here in the ponds is frozen four inches thick. It is much colder here than it was on the Mississippi last year.
SOURCE: The Waukesha Freeman newspaper of February 2, 1864. Transcribed by PCC Bruce Laine of MG John Gibbon Camp #4, Dept. of Wisconsin, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.