Saturday, August 27, 2011

Exiled Patriots, Fugitive Freemen

This entry is from the New York Times, August 28, 1861.
The citizens of East Tennessee were strongly opposed to secession.  42,000 men joined the ranks of the Union army, and most of them came from East Tennessee.

Fugitive Freemen.

The exodus of patriots from East Tennessee has fairly commenced.  . . . They, escaped from East Tennessee at night, and with their clothes barely, and, in some few cases, a trusty fire-lock; and in this sad plight took up their weary line of march, as many a poor negro slave has done before them, towards the North Star. The pitiable precession arrived at Danville, travel-stained, ragged and foot-sore; and were received by the hospitable citizens of that loyal Kentucky town, in silence and with profound emotion, but with prompt and earnest sympathy A general contribution of food was made, and a generous dinner was soon prepared and set in the Seminary grounds for the fugitives. It was an acceptable gift, and gladly partaken of, amid the on-looking of hundreds of citizens of the surrounding country, whom the novel scene had gathered together.

We can well believe the letters from Danville which say that the population of Kentucky through which the slow-moving caravan of fugitive freemen passed, had been excited to the highest pitch, and that a rage of honest resentment against the horrible despotism of JEFF DAVIS had seized all hearts. Surely, so incendiary a movement was never made in the South as this movement of exiled patriots out of it; and we greatly mistake the signs of the times, if it does not prove the fire-brand that will light the fires of civil war, down to the borders and on the soil of the State of Tennessee.

The detachment of fugitives whose arrival at Danville is thus noticed is but the vanguard of the movement from East Tennessee. Another band, almost as numerous, was reported to be close behind this first, and their arrival at Danville was expected next day. And as the cause of their flight is ineradicable, the stream will flow on till every Union family is banished, or till the edict of inexorable tyranny shall forbid their further flight, and keep them at home to be hunted. We have rumors of defection from their former loyalty of such men as BROWNLOW and Hon. T.A.R. NELSON, coming in tolerably well authenticated form. We hope to find the facts otherwise, but we cannot deny that these men have struggled along to this time in almost utter hopelessness. They have had reason to despair of the protection of the United States Government; for no sign [???] promise of relief has been held out to them while the bloodhounds of secession, encompassing them on every side, have been gnashing their teeth upon them.

If the Union men of East Tennessee had been succored in time we should have lost none of the gallant spirit whom despair has driven to surrender to treason, and at this day the men that are fleeing for their lives might have been holding the State of Tennessee steadfastly in the Union.

Union Soldier from East Tennessee, as found at

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