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Chapter 6: the Colored troops — history of their organization — their losses in battle and by disease.

Wherever black regiments were engaged in battle during the Civil War, they acquitted themselves in a manner which fully justified the policy of the Government in enlisting their services. In the future wars of the Republic the colored American will find himself entrusted with his full share of tie fighting.

And yet, the war for the Union was not the first one in which the African fought for the Stars and Stripes. Black faces were not uncommon among the ranks of the patriots in 1776. The first man to fall in that struggle was the negro1 who led the mob in its attack on the British troops at the Boston Massacre. At Bunker Hill, the free negroes fought intermingled with the whites; and, when Major Pitcairn was killed, it was by a bullet from a negro's rifle. At the battle of Rhode Island, Colonel Greene's black regiment repulsed three successive charges, during which they handled a Hessian regiment severely.2 In the war of 1812, General Jackson issued a proclamation authorizing the formation of black regiments, and, subsequently, in an address to the colored troops thus enlisted, acknowledged their services in unstinted praise.

But, at the time of the Civil War the negro was closely associated in the public mind with the political causes of the strife. The prejudice and opposition against the use of colored troops was so strong that the war was half finished before they were organized to any extent.

The first appearance of the negro in the military operations of that period occurred, September, 1862, in Cincinnati, at the time of the threatened invasion by Morgan's raiders. A so-called Black Brigade of three regiments was then organized, and assigned to duty in constructing the fortifications and earthworks about Cincinnati. These men gave their services voluntarily, but were unarmed and without uniforms. Their organizations, such as it was, existed for three weeks only, and had no connection with the movement for enlisting colored troops.

About this same time General Butler took the initiative in the enlistment of colored men as soldiers, by organizing at new Orleans the regiments known as the Louisiana Native Guards, one of which completed its organization in August, 1862, and was mustered into service on the 27th of the following month. It was designated the First Louisiana Native Guard, and was the first black regiment to join the Union Army. The Second Louisiana Native Guard

1 Crispus Attucks: His body was placed in Faneuil Hall, and honored with a public funeral. With others who fell, he was buried beneath a stone bearing the words:

Long as in Freedom's cause the wise contend,
Dear to your country shall your fame extend,
While to the world the lettered stone shall tell
Where Caldwell, Attucks, Gray, and Maverick fell.

2 Arnold's History of Rhode Island.

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