There were many forts
up and down the coast
that had been taken by the
Confederates; and there
were others, still held by
the United States Government, which the Confederates were equally anxious
to get into their power.
To one of these, Fortress Monroe, Butler had been sent
 with troops. As soon as he had settled in his new quarters,
Butler began to make short marches here and there about the
country, that, by and by, when the people round about
should rise against him, he might have some sort of an idea
what kind of a place he was in,—where the roads were,
where they led to, where the villages were, and how many
people were in the villages.
Everywhere he went, he was met by negroes, who, when
they saw his Union soldiers, would come up to them singing
the funniest old songs, all about freedom, bondage, and the
year of jubilee. Negroes, you know, are always a jolly class
among themselves, always dancing, and singing their strange
old tunes. These negroes, too, in spite of all their years of
slavery, were still full of noise and music. Some of their
songs are very funny, both in words and tune; others are
so sad and weary; they speak to you of those dark, dark
days when these poor men and women worked like cattle
through the long hot days, were whipped and driven like
cattle, and were bought and sold like cattle in the market
It began to be a serious question what to do with these
negroes. The object of the war was not to free the slaves,
but to preserve the Union. Many a soldier, many an officer
in the Union ranks, believed yet in the right of the South to
keep slaves if she wanted to. They were fighting only to
save the Union. Others there were, who declared slavery a
 wicked sin; and these men claimed the right to save these
slaves and free them.
But now the slaves themselves began to ask, "Are you
coming to free us, or are you not?" And no one was quite
ready to say.
The negroes supposed they were to be freed; and
frequently slaves came into the Union camp, begging to be
carried away somewhere, anywhere, only to be free. What
to do with them was getting every day to be a puzzle.
Again General Butler came forward. "What shall we
do with these negroes!" said he; "why, it's plain enough.
The Southerners have always said these slaves are their
property just as their horses and their cows, their tobacco
and their cotton are their property. Very well! then we
are to treat them just as we would treat the cows and the
horses, the tobacco and the cotton—that is, we will take
them for our own use. That is the rule in war, that on
entering an enemy's country, the army shall take everything
it needs for its own use. Those things which the enemy
takes are called "contraband goods." Therefore, since the
negro is the property of the Confederate, we may take him
just as we would take a Confederate Barrel of flour. He is,
like the flour, contraband goods."
Nobody could find any fault with this, certainly. It was
true enough. And after that the negro was called the