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ut now I hab de privilege for salute my own Cunnel. That officer, with the utmost sincerity, reciprocated the sentiment. About ten o'clock the people began to collect by land; and also by water,--in steamers sent by General Saxton for the purpose; and from that time all the avenues of approach were thronged. The multitude were chiefly colored women, with gay handkerchiefs on their heads, and a sprinkling of men, with that peculiarly respectable look which these people always have on Sundays and holidays. There were many white visitors also,--ladies on horseback and in carriages, superintendents and teachers, officers, and cavalry-men. Our companies were marched to the neighborhood of the platform, and allowed to sit or stand, as at the Sunday services; the platform was occupied by ladies and dignitaries, and by the band of the Eighth Maine, which kindly volunteered for the occasion; the colored people filled up all the vacant openings in the beautiful grove around, and ther
also of finer grain than those of whites, the surgeons say, and certainly are smoother and far more free from hair. But their weakness is pulmonary; pneumonia and pleurisy are their besetting ailments; they are easily made ill, and easily cured, if promptly treated: childish organizations again. Guard-duty injures them more than whites, apparently; and double-quick movements, in choking dust, set them coughing badly. But then it is to be remembered that this is their sickly season, from January to March, and that their healthy season will come in summer, when the whites break down. Still my conviction of the physical superiority of more highly civilized races is strengthened on the whole, not weakened, by observing them. As to availability for military drill and duty in other respects, the only question I ever hear debated among the officers is, whether they are equal or superior to whites. I have never heard it suggested that they were inferior, although I expected frequently
s gave the following total yield: Thirty contrabands, eighteen horses, eleven cattle, ten saddles and bridles, and one new army-wagon. At this rate we shall soon be self-supporting cavalry. Where complaints are made of the soldiers, it almost always turns out that the women have insulted them most grossly, swearing at them, and the like. One unpleasant old Dutch woman came in, bursting with wrath, and told the whole narrative of her blameless life, diversified with sobs:-- Last January I ran off two of my black people from St. Mary's to Fernandina, (sob,)--then I moved down there myself, and at Lake City I lost six women and a boy, (sob,)--then I stopped at Baldwin for one of the wenches to be confined, (sob,)--then I brought them all here to live in a Christian country (sob, sob). Then the blockheads [blockades, that is, gunboats] came, and they all ran off with the blockheads, (sob, sob, sob,) and left me, an old lady of forty-six, obliged to work for a living. (Chaos
January 1st (search for this): chapter 2
ght, at dress-parade, the adjutant read General Saxton's Proclamation for the New Year's Celebration. I think they understood it, for there was cheering in all the cards. Christmas is the great festival of the year for this people; but, with New Year's coming after, we could have no adequate programme for to-day, and so celebrat Two different stands of colors have arrived for us, and will be presented at New Year's,--one from friends in New York, and the other from a lady in Connecticut. I.ing the worst month in the year for blacks. December 30, 1862. On the first of January we are to have a slight collation, ten oxen or so, barbecued,--or not proph, evidently the result of some elaboration:-- I tink myself happy, dis New Year's Day, for salute my own Cunnel. Dis day las' year I was servant to a Cunnel ob much, because they have been often told that they were free, especially on New Year's Day, and, being unversed in politics, they do not understand, as well as we do,
January 4th (search for this): chapter 17
which they were enlisted. This is what will be done, should Mr. Wilson's bill, legalizing the back pay of the army, be defeated. We presume too much on the supposed ignorance of these men. I have never yet found a man in my regiment so stupid as not to know when he was cheated. If fraud proceeds from Government itself, so much the worse, for this strikes at the foundation of all rectitude, all honor, all obligation. Mr. Senator Fessenden said, in the debate on Mr. Wilson's bill, January 4, that the Government was not bound by the unauthorized promises of irresponsible recruiting officers. But is the Government itself an irresponsible recruiting officer? and if men have volunteered in good faith on the written assurances of the Secretary of War, is not Congress bound, in all decency, either to fulfil those pledges or to disband the regiments? Mr. Senator Doolittle argued in the same debate that white soldiers should receive higher pay than black ones, because the famil
January 19th (search for this): chapter 10
, on departure from Massachusetts, to keep him informed as to our experiment. I had good reason to believe that my reports had helped to prepare the way for this new battalion, and I had sent him, at his request, some hints as to its formation. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Department, Boston, February 5, 1863. To Col. T. W. Higginson, Commanding 1st Regt. S. C. Vols., Port Royal Island, S. C. Colonel,--I am under obligations to you for your very interesting letter of January 19th, which I considered to be too important in its testimony to the efficiency of colored troops to be allowed to remain hidden on my files. I therefore placed some portions of it in the hands of Hon. Stephen M. Weld, of Jamaica Plain, for publication, and you will find enclosed the newspaper slip from the Journal of February 3d, in which it appeared. During a recent visit at Washington I have obtained permission from the Department of War to enlist colored troops as part of the Massachuset
January 29th (search for this): chapter 3
river; but I was unwillingly convinced that, though the depth of water might be sufficient, yet her length would be unmanageable in the swift current and sharp turns. The Planter must also be sent on a separate cruise, as her weak and disabled machinery made her useless for my purpose. Two hundred men were therefore transferred, as before, to the narrow hold of the John Adams, in addition to the company permanently stationed on board to work the guns. At seven o'clock on the evening of January 29th, beneath a lovely moon, we steamed up the river. Never shall I forget the mystery and excitement of that night. I know nothing in life more fascinating than the nocturnal ascent of an unknown river, leading far into an enemy's country, where one glides in the dim moonlight between dark hills and meadows, each turn of the channel making it seem like an inland lake, and cutting you off as by a barrier from all behind,--with no sign of human life, but an occasional picket-fire left glim
on natural objects, reversing in these respects all previous habits. Yet now, in the retrospect, there seems to have been infused into me through every pore the voluptuous charm of the season and the place; and the slightest corresponding sound or odor now calls back the memory of those delicious days. Being afterwards on picket at almost every season, I tasted the sensations of all; and though I hardly then thought of such a result, the associations of beauty will remain forever. In February, for instance,--though this was during a later period of picket service,--the woods were usually draped with that net of shining haze which marks our Northern May; and the house was embowered in wild plum-blossoms, small, white, profuse, and tenanted by murmuring bees. There were peach-blossoms, too, and the yellow jasmine was opening its multitudinous buds, climbing over tall trees, and waving from bough to bough. There were fresh young ferns and white bloodroot in the edges of woods, ma
February 1st (search for this): chapter 2
present anxiety; and it is odd that physical insufficiency, the only discouragement not thrown in our way by the newspapers, is the only discouragement which finds any place in our minds. They are used to sleeping indoors in winter, herded before fires, and so they feel the change. Still, the regiment is as healthy as the average, and experience will teach us something. A second winter's experience removed all this solicitude, for they learned to take care of themselves. During the first February the sick-list averaged about ninety, during the second about thirty,--this being the worst month in the year for blacks. December 30, 1862. On the first of January we are to have a slight collation, ten oxen or so, barbecued,--or not properly barbecued, but roasted whole. Touching the length of time required to do an ox, no two housekeepers appear to agree. Accounts vary from two hours to twenty-four. We shall happily have enough to try all gradations of roasting, and suit all ta
February 3rd (search for this): chapter 10
. To Col. T. W. Higginson, Commanding 1st Regt. S. C. Vols., Port Royal Island, S. C. Colonel,--I am under obligations to you for your very interesting letter of January 19th, which I considered to be too important in its testimony to the efficiency of colored troops to be allowed to remain hidden on my files. I therefore placed some portions of it in the hands of Hon. Stephen M. Weld, of Jamaica Plain, for publication, and you will find enclosed the newspaper slip from the Journal of February 3d, in which it appeared. During a recent visit at Washington I have obtained permission from the Department of War to enlist colored troops as part of the Massachusetts quota, and I am about to begin to organize a colored infantry regiment, to be numbered the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers. I shall be greatly obliged by any suggestions which your experience may afford concerning it, and I am determined that it shall serve as a model, in the high character of its officers and the thorough
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