exchange a certainty for an uncertainty; for who knew but General Saxton
might yet be thwarted in his efforts by the pro-slavery influence that had still so much weight at Headquarters?
It would be intolerable to go out to South Carolina
, and find myself, after all, at the head of a mere plantation-guard or a day-school in uniform.
I therefore obtained from the War Department, through Governor Andrew
, permission to go and report to General Saxton
, without at once resigning my captaincy.
Fortunately it took but a few days in South Carolina
to make it clear that all was right, and the return steamer took back a resignation of a Massachusetts commission.
Thenceforth my lot was cast altogether with the black troops, except when regiments or detachments of white soldiers were also under my command, during the two years following.
These details would not be worth mentioning except as they show this fact: that I did not seek the command of colored troops, but it sought me. And this fact again is only important to my story for this reason, that under these circumstances I naturally viewed the new recruits rather as subjects for discipline than for philanthropy.
I had been expecting a war for six years, ever since the Kansas
troubles, and my mind had dwelt on military matters more or less during all that time.
The best Massachusetts
regiments already exhibited a high standard of drill and discipline, and unless these men could be brought tolerably near that standard, the fact of their extreme blackness would afford me, even as a philanthropist, no satisfaction.
Fortunately, I felt perfect confidence that they could be so trained,--having happily known, by experience, the qualities of their race, and knowing also that they had home and household and