Zion's Herald and Wesleyan Journal
Boston: Boston Wesleyan Association for the New England Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 8 April 1863


  This little fellow who came to our regiment some three months ago, is a perfect fac simile of the renowned Topsey in Uncle Tom's Cabin, or Tomtit in Dred. His first introduction to me was just after reveille one morning, when I had tucked my blanket snugly around me for another half hour's "little more sleep and little more slumber," which good old Dr. Watts reprehends so much. I was just getting into that calm, dreamy, pleasant kind of repose, when a tremendous racket at my cabin door brought me up in a hurry. It seemed as if the battering and kicking were sufficient to waken the seven sleepers.

  "What's wanted?" I shouted.

  "Please Massar Chap'in, I's come to make yer fire."

  "Of course I opened the door and admitted the author of the noisy demonstration—and there stood before me the very impersonation of mischief, native shrewdness and demure humility. The little fellow had his feet encased in army shoes of about number seven, and dressed in a cast off uniform which was large enough in which to have buried him. The wool on the top of his head was kinky and matted enough to have been impervious to anything in the shape of a comb, and would have driven good Miss Ophelia with her New England ideas of thrift and neatness into a fit if hysterics. He was seemingly about twelve years of age, had a peculiar confidential air about him, and a merry roguish twinkle of the eye that told of fire and fun and mischief. After he had tumbled everything upside down in his efforts to put things in order, and got the fire to blazing, and kicked up such a dust in flourishing a hickory broom over the floor, that I was nearly strangled, he subsided into a corner and surveyed his labors with the air of a hero.

  "Would you like to stay with me?" I asked.

  "Yes sah," he replied quickly, while his eye twinkled, and his ivories showed themselves in contrast with his jolly black face. Forthwith little Shady was regularly installed into office, and went to work accordingly.

  One evening I got into conversation with him as follows:

  "How old are you Shady?"

  "Dunno Massar, neber knowed how old I is."

  Have you any brothers or sisters?"

  "Yes sah."

  "How many have you got?" I asked.

  "Dunno how many I's got—got some."

  "You don't know how many you've got! Why that's strange—what do you mean?"

  "White folks count one two three—dis nigga can't count more'n one two three—I'se got one two three bruders, den dar's de gals more'n one two three."

  "Do you remember their names?" I asked.

  "Yes, dar's Jim, was sold to Massar Green, and dar's Sal in de big house, and dar's Luce that Massar sold to gen'lman in Baltimore, and dar's Sam and Pete and Sue—and den dar's de baby and tother baby and me—how many dat ar' chap'in?"

  "Nine," I replied. He then named them all over again, pronouncing each name as he touched his fingers.

  "Why did you run away?" I asked him. "Did your mother know that you were going off with the soldiers?"

  "Yes sah," he replied in a low, confidential tone of voice. "Mother told me I oughter go wid dem yankee soldiers, for Massar had sold me to anoder gen'lman, an she would neber see me again, just like poor Luce in Baltimore. How far to Baltimore chap'in? I's gwine dar sometime—I want ter see Luce—she's good gal."

  "Do you know who made you, Shady!"

  The little fellow looked up into my face with such a comical, quizzical expression on his round black face that I did not know what to make of it. He seemed to wonder at such an abstruse—perhaps to him, absurd question. I asked again—"Do you know who made you?"

  "Dunno who made me, neber hearn 'bout such things."

  "Did no one ever tell you about God who made all things?"

  "Old Uncle Pete sometimes spoke about de Lord—but dunno 'bout dem things."

  "Did you ever hear about a good man called Jesus Christ, that wicked men nailed on a tree called a cross?"

  Neber hearn tell 'bout um, who was Jesus, did yer see um?"

  I then told him in simple language the story of the cross, and when I spoke of Jesus by the name of Saviour, the little fellow interrupted me, saying—"now I 'member mother talkin' to Sal 'bout de Saviour. Is Jesus de Saviour?"

  Talk about the heathen in Africa, India or the Feeje Islands! Talk about the christianizing spirit of slavery! Talk about the efforts made to convert the world! And yet we, as a nation, have millions of heathen in our land, and a miserable set of god-defying traitors in the North would willingly give up the whole land to the vile influence of slavery. May Jehovah in his infinite wisdom and gracious power so bless our armies, that the dark tide-wave of human oppression, wrong, robbery and treason, shall be driven back from our land, and the nation be redeemed, blessed and prospered.—American Wesleyan.