Lincoln’s Last Card, Race War
By mid-1862, Northern enlistments for Lincoln’s war on the South slowed to a trickle—the end of 1862 witnessed suicidal assaults and tremendous casualties of blue-clad soldiers at Fredericksburg which ended any meaningful popular support for the war.  Lincoln would then employ the 1775 tactic of Virginia’s Royal Governor Lord Dunmore and British Admiral Alexander Cochrane in 1812—black troops and the threat of all-out race war in the South.  Just as the American colonists were shocked that the British would use black laborers to massacre them, Americans in 1863 would hold Northern leaders in contempt for unleashing former slaves to commit Nat Turner-style butchery of old men, women and children.  Below, Lincoln refers to American citizens in the South as “the enemy.”
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute  

Lincoln Last Card, Race War:
“On March 27, Colonel [James] Montgomery and 120 black troops boarded Commander Charles Steedman’s gunboat Paul Jones, and started on an expedition upriver to Palatka, raiding plantations along the way. Thomas T. Russell, a local planter, reported that at least six landings were made and that black troops carried off slaves, horses, carts, poultry, hogs, cotton, salt—everything they could lay their hands on…and abused and insulted the women just as they pleased.”  Confederate Captain Dickinson and about fifty horsemen greeted the gunboat with a hail of fire [at Palatka, and stated] “My little command is again ready for them, and will contest every bit of ground if they should attempt another landing.”
It was exactly the kind of reaction that Abraham Lincoln had hoped for. On learning of these developments, Lincoln wrote to General [David] Hunter:
“I am glad to see the accounts of your colored force at Jacksonville…I see the enemy are driving at them fiercely, as is to be expected. It is important to the enemy that such a force shall not take shape and grow and thrive in the South, and in precisely the same proportion it is important to us that it shall.”
General [Rufus] Saxton also recognized the psychological value of the black troops; in a report to Secretary of War Stanton, he wrote that it was his “belief that scarcely an incident in this war has caused a greater panic throughout the Southern coast than this raid of the colored troops in Florida.”
(Jacksonville’s Ordeal by Fire, Martin & Schafer, Florida Publishing Company, 1984, page 160)