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[444]

Nearly two months after this he wrote a letter to his father, stating a desire which he had formed for obtaining an appointment in the Military Academy. This project (which ultimately led to nothing) was, perhaps, the only thing which prevented him from accepting a commission which was tendered to him, under Colonel Shaw, in the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts. He thus describes this offer:—

Newbern, North Carolina, February 27, 1862.

While upon compliments, I should not fail to speak of that very great one paid us by Governor Andrew. I refer to his sending to Colonel Lee for some of his warrant officers to take commissions in the Fifty-fourth. I am proud to belong to a regiment of such a composition that officers may be drawn at will from its ranks, and with perfect confidence in their abilities. I don't know what people at home think of making soldiers out of negroes, but I have the most perfect faith in it. You who know negroes—real ones, not barbers, waiters, and the like—only by books, may think them too ignorant and cowardly; but no man of sense, who has had the opportunities we have for judging of their capabilities, can have any doubt upon the subject. I have been very strongly tempted to take a commission in the Fifty-fourth; and but for my last letter, I should probably have done so. I predict a glorious future for the Fifty-fourth, and lots of promotion for the officers who were bold enough first to try the experiment at the risk of failure. One thing is as sure as anything in this changeable world can be, that I shall come back again, if I don't go to West Point. You may make up your minds to that. I could no more stay at home than I could fly. It will be splendid fun to go again as an officer. The roughest things then will seem a great improvement on former times. No man can stay at home now any more than six months ago. There is just as much, nay, far more, need of men now than then; for the volunteering fever has, I fear, abated. This war has got to be fought out to the end, be that two years or twenty distant. Victory must be the result.


The regiment was mustered out of service on the 18th of June, 1863, and the young soldier still felt a great desire to continue in the service. His parents and friends, however, desired that he should rejoin his Class in College, and complete the studies of the Senior year. It was thought that

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