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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
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,
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
March 4th (search for this): chapter 2
mbkin, just arrived from Fernandina, who evidently had a previous reputation among them. His historical references were very interesting. He reminded them that he had predicted this war ever since Fremont's time, to which some of the crowd assented; he gave a very intelligent account of that Presidential campaign, and then described most impressively the secret anxiety of the slaves in Florida to know all about President Lincoln's election, and told how they all refused to work on the fourth of March, expecting their freedom to date from that day. He finally brought out one of the few really impressive appeals for the American flag that I have ever heard. Our mas'rs dey hab lib under de flag, dey got dere wealth under it, and ebryting beautiful for dere chilen. Under it dey hab grind us up, and put us in dere pocket for money. But de fus' minute dey tink dat ole flag mean freedom for we colored people, dey pull it right down, and run up de rag ob dere own. (Immense applause). Bu
s because last winter was so unusually mild,--with only one frost, they say. December 20, 1862. Philoprogenitiveness is an important organ for an officer of colored troops; and I happen to be well provided with it. It seems to be the theory of all military usages, in fact, that soldiers are to be treated like children; and these singular persons, who never know their own age till they are past middle life, and then choose a birthday with such precision,--Fifty year old, Sah, de fus' last April, --prolong the privilege of childhood. I am perplexed nightly for countersigns,--their range of proper names is so distressingly limited, and they make such amazing work of every new one. At first, to be sure, they did not quite recognize the need of any variation: one night some officer asked a sentinel whether he had the countersign yet, and was indignantly answered, Should tink I hab 'em, hab 'em for a fortnight ; which seems a long epoch for that magic word to hold out. To-night I
hing else, I verily believe, at that moment of high tide. It was shouted across by the pickets above,--a way in which we often receive news, but not always trustworthy. January 3, 1863. Once, and once only, thus far, the water has frozen in my tent; and the next morning showed a dense white frost outside. We have still mocking-birds and crickets and rosebuds, and occasional noonday baths in the river, though the butterflies have vanished, as I remember to have observed in Fayal, after December. I have been here nearly six weeks without a rainy day; one or two slight showers there have been, once interrupting a drill, but never dress-parade. For climate, by day, we might be among the isles of Greece,--though it may be my constant familiarity with the names of her sages which suggests that impression. For instance, a voice just now called, near my tent,--Cato, whar's Plato? The men have somehow got the impression that it is essential to the validity of a marriage that they sh
December 20th (search for this): chapter 2
men than target-shooting, which they enjoyed. I had the; private delight of the arrival of our much-desired surgeon and his nephew, the captain, with letters and news from home. They also bring the good tidings that General Saxton is not to be removed, as had been reported. 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. see that Frank Leslie's illustrated Weekly of December 20th has a highly imaginative picture of the muster — in of our first company, and also of a skirmish on the late expedition. I must not forget the prayer overheard last night by one of the captains: O Lord! when I tink ob dis Kismas and las' year de Kismas. Las' Kismas he in de Secesh, and notin‘ to eat. but grits, and no salt in 'em. Dis year in de camp, and too much victual! This too much is a favorite phrase out of their grateful hearts, and did not in this case denote an excess o
December 24th (search for this): chapter 2
e last night and told me his story; and he showed all his white teeth as he added, Dey tink de Lord meant for say de Yankees. Last night, 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 company-streets afterwards. 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 celebrated Christmas Eve with pattern simplicity. We omitted, namely, the mystic curfew which we call taps, and let them sit up and burn their fires, and have their little prayer-meetings as late as they desired; and all night, as I waked at intervals, I could hear them praying and shouting and clattering with hands and heels. It seemed to make them very happy, and appeared to be at least an innocent Christmas dissipation, as compared with some of the convivialities of the superior race hereabouts. December
December 25th (search for this): chapter 2
r us it is absolutely omitted from the list of vices. I have never heard of a glass of liquor in the camp, nor of any effort either to bring it in or to keep it out. A total absence of the circulating medium might explain the abstinence,--not that it seems to have that effect with white soldiers,--but it would not explain the silence. The craving for tobacco is constant, and not to be allayed, like that of a mother for her children; but I have never heard whiskey even wished for, save on Christmas-Day, and then only by one man, and he spoke with a hopeless ideal sighing, as one alludes to the Golden Age. I am amazed at this total omission of the most inconvenient of all camp appetites. It certainly is' not the result of exhortation, for there has been no occasion for any, and even the pledge would scarcely seem efficacious where hardly anybody can write. I do not think there is a great visible eagerness for tomorrow's festival: it is not their way to be very jubilant over anyth
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