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[408] Stanton, asking him to withdraw his prohibition, so far as concerns line officers, assistant surgeons, and chaplain of the colored regiment which he was about to raise. He says, ‘Power would not be used, except, possibly, for a few cases of plainly competent persons, recommended by the field officers, who shall be gentlemen and soldiers of highest merit and influence.’ Permission was not given.

There is no part of the military history of Massachusetts of greater interest than the part which relates to the recruiting and organization of these colored regiments. It was a new thing. Few men in the State had ever seen a colored man in uniform. They were not allowed to form part of the militia, or to be enlisted in the regular service. By many it was regarded as an experiment of doubtful utility; and there were those, even here in Massachusetts, who secretly hoped the experiment would prove a failure. With the Governor and his staff, and prominent citizens who had supported him in his war policy, the employment of colored troops had been long and well considered and anxiously desired. No one knew better than the Governor the importance of having the experiment succeed. As one of the means to this end, he determined to select for officers the very best material that could be found in the Massachusetts volunteer service. They should be men of acknowledged military ability and experience, of the highest social position, if possible, in the State, and men who believed in the capacity of colored men to make good soldiers. Upon receiving authority to recruit a regiment, he immediately fixed upon Robert G. Shaw, a captain in the Second Regiment Massachusetts Infantry, as the colonel; a gentleman of education, a brave officer, and connected, by blood and marriage, with the oldest and most respectable families in the State. Before communicating his purpose to Captain Shaw, he wrote Jan. 30 to Francis G. Shaw, Esq., Staten Island, N. Y., father of the captain, to obtain his consent. After stating fully his purpose to have the colored regiments officered by the best men, he said, ‘My mind is drawn toward Captain Shaw by many considerations. I am sure he would attract the support, sympathy, and active co-operation of many among his immediate family relations. The more ’

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