From the New York Times:
Fugitive Slaves Going South.
The Naval Expedition about setting sail from Hampton Roads to some point on the Southern coast, will be accompanied by one thousand negroes, able-bodied men, being a part of the number of escaped slaves that have gathered about Fortress Monroe since the commencement of hostilities in Eastern Virginia. These negroes accompany the expedition in the capacity of laborers. When the army has effected its landing on the Southern coast, the first object will be to secure a position, and fortify it beyond the possibility of successful assault. The object is not to burn Savannah, or Charleston, or Mobile, and escape again to sea.
The mere destruction of private property involved in such a foray would do nothing to suppress rebellion, nor to produce fair compensation for the enormous cost of the expedition itself. The object is to take possession of rebel soil, to hold it after taken, and to restore the Constitution and laws of the National Government, so that Unionists may be protected in persons and property, if any such are found yet residing in the South; and rebels punished for their treason to the Government.
To accomplish these results, it is not only necessary that the armed expedition should go to the South, but that it should remain there, in possession of the territory over which the National sway is to be extended. The labor of the accompanying slaves will be, therefore, of immediate and vast importance, in the throwing up of breastworks and building of forts and redoubts. No better class of laborers could be found — indeed, none so good for the purpose, in all the population of the United States. They are well acclimated and inured to work on the coast. They are merry and efficient laborers when working in gangs, and there will be just enough variety in their movements to please the most striking peculiarity of the African race.
A very great advantage will be gained by the troops of the expedition in being relieved from work on the intrenchments. They will have every hour to devote to their improvement in discipline, and to repelling the attacks of the rebels, who will certainly swarm around them whenever they shall effect a landing. The rebels themselves have hitherto enjoyed a monopoly of this easy-going manner of camp life. Their slaves have done the drudgery, while they have practiced the arts of war, in evolutions in the field, and in the dexterous handling of arms. It will not be thought strange that the National armies, after eight months tuition at the hands of the rebels in this clever trick of using the “colored population,” have learned to profit by its obvious advantages. We can really improve on their lessons.
There will be another advantage — a moral one — to be gained by the Unionists in this use of the “contraband” slaves of the war, of more importance, perhaps, than the physical aid that they may render by their labor. They will be efficient missionaries in the cause of the Union against rebellion, in the living examples they will present of deliverance from rebel owners, through the power of the National arms. The Southern mails may be closed to Northern newspapers, and the rebel Press may disseminate the foul lie that all the fugitive slaves that escape to the National army are transported to Cuba, and resold into worse slavery; — but the presence of a National army among the plantations of the South Atlantic or Gulf coast, with a thousand negroes free from bondage, and working for wages in the Union lines, will tell a different story; and tell it so loudly in the thunder of unconquerable batteries, that every slave in the savannahs of the South cannot fail to hear it.
Thus in the progress of the war, and under a Providence that human sagacity cannot forecast, the great wrong of this rebellion will bear the seeds of its own right and regeneration.