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 position and surroundings as a clerk had been more congenial to him than life in camp, but he rejoined his comrades from the conviction that it was his duty to share with them all the hardships and perils to which they were exposed. On the night of Friday, March 13, a large body of Rebels took position opposite Newbern, and the next morning they opened an artillery fire upon the defences of the town and the barracks of the garrison. They were at once driven back by Union gunboats in the Neuse River, and before night of the 14th retreated into the interior. It was subsequently reported that the Rebel force had marched north to attack the town of Washington, which had been captured by our forces soon after the taking of Newbern. The Forty-fourth Massachusetts was despatched by steamer to relieve the garrison, and remained there until March 22d, when the siege was raised. Lieutenant Crane accompanied this expedition, and has left a minute and careful narrative of the siege. When it was decided to recruit a second colored regiment in Massachusetts, commissions were offered to several noncommissioned officers and privates in the Forty-fourth Massachusetts, of whom Crane was one. This was precisely what he had most desired. He was an uncompromising opponent of slavery, a sincere friend to the colored race, and felt confident that, if negroes were allowed a fair trial with other soldiers, they would prove themselves worthy of the trust. While acting as clerk in the Quartermaster's Department at Newbern, he was continually brought in contact with colored men and their families, most of whom had been slaves before the occupation of the place by Union troops; and in letters to various friends, as well as in private conversation, he had repeatedly expressed faith in their military capacities. He was commissioned on the 7th of June, 1863, First Lieutenant, and on June 19th Captain, of Company H, Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Volunteers, and at once entered enthusiastically upon the work of preparing his men for the field.
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