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A considerable number of the men had prepared themselves in some measure for bearing arms, others had been officers' servants or camp followers; and as has been noted in all times and in all races of men, some were natural soldiers. Passive obedience—a race trait— characterized them. During their whole service their esprit du corps was admirable.

Only a small proportion had been slaves. There were a large number of comparatively light-complexioned men. In stature they reached the average of white volunteers. Compared with the material of contraband regiments, they were lighter, taller, of more regular features. There were men enough found amply qualified to more than supply all requirements for warrant officers and clerks. As a rule, those first selected held their positions throughout service. The co-operation of the non-commissioned officers helped greatly to secure the good reputation enjoyed by the Fifty-fourth; and their blood was freely shed, in undue proportion, on every battlefield. Surgeon-General Dale, in the report previously quoted from, speaks further of the Fifty-fourth as follows:—

From the outset, the regiment showed great interest in drilling, and on guard duty it was always vigilant and active. The barracks, cook-houses, and kitchens far surpassed in cleanliness any I have ever witnessed, and were models of neatness and good order. The cooks, however, had many of them been in similar employment in other places, and had therefore brought some skill to the present responsibility.

In camp, these soldiers presented a buoyant cheerfulness and hilarity, which impressed me with the idea that the monotony of their ordinary duties would not dampen their feeling of contentment, if they were well cared for. On parade, their

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William J. Dale (1)
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