The Colored Regulars in the United States Army
by T. G. Steward
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Praying that your honorable commission will take due notice of these facts, and recommend such remedy as shall seem to you best,

We have the honor to be, in behalf of the New York Society for the Promotion of Education among Colored Citizens,

Most respectfully yours,

CHARLES B. RAY, President. PHILIP A. WHITE, Secretary. New York City, December 28, 1857.



Early Literature of Negro Soldiers—Negro Soldiers in the War of the Revolution—The War of 1812—Negro Insurrections—Negro Troops in the Civil War—Notes.

"Do you think I'll make a soldier?" is the opening line of one of those delightful spirituals, originating among the slaves in the far South. I first heard it sung in the Saint James Methodist Church, corner of Spring and Coming Streets, Charleston, South Carolina, immediately after the close of the war. It was sung by a vast congregation to a gentle, swinging air, with nothing of the martial about it, and was accompanied by a swaying of the body to the time of the music. Occasionally there would be the "curtesys" peculiar to the South Carolina slave of the low country, which consists in a stooping of the body by bending the knees only, the head remaining erect, a movement which takes the place of the bow among equals. The older ladies, with heads adorned with the ever-present Madras kerchief, often tied in the most becoming and tasteful manner, and faces aglow with an enthusiasm that bespoke a life within sustained by visions of spiritual things, would often be seen to shake hands and add a word of greeting and hope which would impart a charm and meaning to the singing far above what the humble words of the song without these accessories could convey. As the rich chorus of matchless voices poured out in perfect time and tune, "Rise, shine, and give God the glory," the thoughts of earthly freedom, of freedom from sin, and finally of freedom from the toils, cares and sorrows of earth to be baptized into the joys of heaven, all seemed to blend into the many colored but harmonious strain. The singing of the simple hearted trustful, emancipated slave! Shall we ever hear the like again on earth? Alas, that the high hopes and glowing prophecies of that auspicious hour have been so deferred that the hearts of millions have been made sick!

Of the songs that came out of slavery with these long suffering people, Colonel Higginson, who perhaps got nearer to them in sentiment than any other literary man not really, of them, says: "Almost all their songs were thoroughly religious in their tone, however quaint their expression, and were in a minor key both as to words and music. The attitude is always the same, and, as a commentary on the life of the race, is infinitely pathetic. Nothing but patience for this life—nothing but triumph in the next. Sometimes the present predominates, sometimes the future; but the combination is always implied."

I do not know when this "soldier" song had its birth, but it may have sprung out of the perplexity of the slave's mind as he contemplated the raging conflict and saw himself drawn nearer and nearer to the field of strife. Whether in this song the "present predominates," and the query, therefore, has a strong primary reference to carnal weapons and to garments dyed in blood; whether the singer invites an opinion as to his fitness to engage in the war for Freedom—it may not be possible to determine. The "year of Jubilee," coming in the same song in connection with the purpose for which the singer is to be made a soldier, gives clearer illustration of that combination of the present and future which Mr. Higginson says was always present in the spirituals of that period, if it shows no more. When it is remembered that at that time Charleston was literally trodden under foot by black soldiers in bright uniforms, whose coming seemed to the colored people of that city like a dream too good to be true, it is not hard to believe that this song had much of the present in it, and owed its birth to the circumstances of war.

Singularly enough the song makes the Negro ask the exact question which had been asked about him from the earliest days of our history as a nation, a question which in some form confronts him still. The question, as the song has it, is not one of fact, but one of opinion. It is not: Will I make a soldier? but: Do you think I will make a soldier? It is one thing to "make a soldier," another thing to have men think so. The question of fact was settled a century ago; the question of opinion is still unsettled. The Negro soldier, hero of five hundred battlefields, with medals and honors resting upon his breast, with the endorsement of the highest military authority of the nation, with Port Hudson, El Caney and San Juan behind him, is still expected by too many to stand and await the verdict of thought, from persons who never did "think" he would make a soldier, and who never will think so. As well expect the excited animal of the ring to think in the presence of the red rag of the toreador as to expect them to think on the subject of the Negro soldier. They can curse, and rant, when they see the stalwart Negro in uniform, but it is too much to ask them to think. To them the Negro can be a fiend, a brute, but never a soldier.

To John G. Whittier and to William C. Nell are we indebted for the earliest recital of the heroic deeds of the colored American in the Wars of the Revolution and 1812. Whittier contributed an article on this subject to the "National Era" in 1847, and five or six years later Nell published his pamphlet on "Colored Patriots," a booklet recently reprinted by the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It is a useful contribution, showing as it does the rising and spreading abroad of that spirit which appreciates military effort and valor; and while recognizing the glory that came to American arms in the period described, honestly seeks to place some of that glory upon the deserving brow of a race then enslaved and despised. The book is unpretentious and aims to relate the facts in a straight-forward way, unaccompanied by any of the charms of tasteful presentation. Its author, however, is deserving our thanks, and the book marks an important stage in the development of the colored American. His mind was turning toward the creation of the soldier—the formation of armies.

There are other evidences that the mind of the colored man was at this time turning towards arms. In 1852 Doctor Pennington, one of the most learned colored men of his times, having received his Degree in Divinity from Heidelberg, delivered an address before a mass convention of colored citizens of Ohio, held in Cleveland, in which he spoke principally of the colored soldier. During the convention the "Cleveland Light Artillery" fired a salute, and on the platform were seated several veteran colored men, some of them, particularly Mr. John Julius, of Pittsburg, Pa., taking part in the speech-making. Mr. Nell says: "Within recent period several companies of colored men in New York city have enrolled themselves a la militaire," and quotes from the New York Tribune of August, 1852, as follows:

"COLORED SOLDIERS.—Among the many parades within a few days we noticed yesterday a soldierly-looking company of colored men, on their way homeward from a target or parade drill. They looked like men, handled their arms like men, and should occasion demand, we presume they would fight like men."

In Boston, New Haven, New Bedford and other places efforts were made during the decade from 1850 to 1860 to manifest this rising military spirit by appropriate organization, but the efforts were not always successful. In some cases the prejudices of the whites put every possible obstacle in the way of the colored young men who attempted to array themselves as soldiers.

The martial spirit is not foreign to the Negro character, as has been abundantly proved in both ancient and modern times. Williams, in his admirable history of the Negro as well as in his "Negro Troops in the Rebellion," has shown at considerable length that the Negro has been a soldier from earliest times, serving in large numbers in the Egyptian army long before the beginning of the Christian era. We know that without any great modification in character, runaway slaves developed excellent fighting qualities as Maroons, in Trinidad, British Guiana, St. Domingo and in Florida. But it was in Hayti that the unmixed Negro rose to the full dignity of a modern soldier, creating and leading armies, conducting and carrying on war, treating with enemies and receiving surrenders, complying fully with the rules of civilized warfare, and evolving finally a Toussaint, whose military genius his most bitter enemies were compelled to recognize—Toussaint, who to the high qualities of the soldier added also the higher qualities of statesmanship. With Napoleon, Cromwell and Washington, the three great commanders of modern times who have joined to high military talent eminent ability in the art of civil government, we must also class Toussaint L'Ouverteur, the black soldier of the Antilles. Thiers, the prejudiced attorney of Napoleon, declares nevertheless that Toussaint possessed wonderful talent for government, and the fact ever remains that under his benign rule all classes were pacified and San Domingo was made to blossom as the rose. In the armies of Menelek, in the armies of France, in the armies of England, as well as in the organization of the Zulu and Kaffir tribes the Negro has shown himself a soldier. If the Afro-American should fail in this particular it will not be because of any lack of the military element in the African side of his character, or for any lack of "remorseless military audacity" in the original Negro, as the historian, Williams, expresses it.

In our own Revolutionary War, the Negro, then but partially civilized, and classed with "vagabonds," held everywhere as a slave, and everywhere distrusted, against protest and enactment, made his way into the patriot army, fighting side by side with his white compatriots from Lexington to Yorktown. On the morning of April 19th, 1775, when the British re-enforcements were preparing to leave Boston for Lexington, a Negro soldier who had served in the French war, commanded a small body of West Cambridge "exempts" and captured Lord Percy's supply train with its military escort and the officer in command. As a rule the Negro soldiers were distributed among the regiments, thirty or forty to a regiment, and did not serve in separate organizations. Bishop J.P. Campbell, of the African Methodist Church, was accustomed to say "both of my grandfathers served in the Revolutionary War." In Varnum's Brigade, however, there was a Negro regiment and of it Scribner's history, 1897, says, speaking of the battle of Rhode Island: "None behaved better than Greene's colored regiment, which three times repulsed the furious charges of veteran Hessians." Williams says: "The black regiment was one of three that prevented the enemy from turning the flank of the American army. These black troops were doubtless regarded as the weak spot of the line, but they were not."

The colony of Massachusetts alone furnished 67,907 men for the Revolutionary War, while all the colonies together south of Pennsylvania furnished but 50,493, hence the sentiment prevailing in Massachusetts would naturally be very powerful in determining any question pertaining to the army. When the country sprang to arms in response to that shot fired at Lexington, the echoes of which, poetically speaking, were heard around the world, the free Negroes of every Northern colony rallied with their white neighbors. They were in the fight at Lexington and at Bunker Hill, but when Washington came to take command of the army he soon gave orders that no Negroes should be enlisted. He was sustained in this position by a council of war and by a committee of conference in which were representatives from Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts, and it was agreed that Negroes be rejected altogether. The American Negro's persistency in pressing himself where he is not wanted but where he is eminently needed began right there. Within six weeks so many colored men applied for enlistment, and those that had been put out of the army raised such a clamor that Washington changed his policy, and the Negro, who of all America's population contended for the privilege of shouldering a gun to fight for American liberty, was allowed a place in the Continental Army, the first national army organized on this soil, ante-dating the national flag. The Negro soldier helped to evolve the national standard and was in the ranks of the fighting men over whom it first unfolded its broad stripes and glittering stars.

[Transcriber's Note: This footnote appeared in the text without a footnote anchor:

"To the Honorable General Court of the Massachusetts Bay:

"The subscribers beg leave to report to your Honorable House, which we do in justice to the character of so brave a man, that, under our own observation, we declare that a Negro man called Salem Poor, of Col. Frye's regiment, Capt. Ames' company, in the late battle at Charlestown, behaved like an experienced officer, as well as an excellent soldier. We would only beg leave to say, in the person of this said Negro centres a brave and gallant soldier. The reward due to so great and distinguished a character we submit to the Congress.

"Cambridge, Dec. 5, 1775."

These black soldiers, fresh from heathen lands, not out of slavery, proved themselves as worthy as the best. In the battle of Bunker Hill, where all were brave, two Negro soldiers so distinguished themselves that their names have come down to us garlanded with the tributes of their contemporaries. Peter Salem, until then a slave, a private in Colonel Nixon's regiment of Continentals, without orders fired deliberately upon Major Pitcairn as he was leading the assault of the British to what appeared certain victory. Everet in speaking "of Prescott, Putnam and Warren, the chiefs of the day," mentions in immediate connection "the colored man, Salem, who is reported to have shot the gallant Pitcairn as he mounted the parapet." What Salem Poor did is not set forth, but the following is the wreath of praise that surrounds his name:

Jona. Brewer, Col. Eliphalet Bodwell, Sgt. Thomas Nixon, Lt.-Col. Josiah Foster, Lieut. Wm. Precott, Col. Ebenr. Varnum, 2d Lieut. Ephm. Corey, Lieut. Wm. Hudson Ballard, Capt. Joseph Baker, Lieut. William Smith, Capt. Joshua Row, Lieut. John Morton, Sergt. (?) Jonas Richardson, Capt. Richard Welsh, Lieut.]

It is in place here to mention a legion of free mulattoes and blacks from the Island of St. Domingo, a full account of whose services is appended to this section, who fought under D'Estaing with great distinction in the siege of Savannah, their bravery at that time saving the patriot army from annihilation.

When the Revolutionary War had closed the brave black soldier who had fought to give to the world a new flag whose every star should be a star of hope to the oppressed, and whose trinity of colors should symbolize Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, found his race, and in some instances himself personally, encased in a cruel and stubborn slavery. For the soldier himself special provision had been made in both Northern and Southern colonies, but it was not always hearty or effective. In October, 1783, the Virginia Legislature passed an act for the relief of certain slaves who had served in the army whose "former owners were trying to force to return to a state of servitude, contrary to the principles of justice and their solemn promise." The act provided that each and every slave who had enlisted "by the appointment and direction of his owner" and had "been received as a substitute for any free person whose duty or lot it was to serve" and who had served faithfully during the term of such enlistment, unless lawfully discharged earlier, should be fully and completely emancipated and should be held and deemed free in as full and ample manner as if each and every one of them were specially named in the act. The act, though apparently so fair on its face, and interlarded as it is with patriotic and moral phrases, is nevertheless very narrow and technical, liberating only those who enlisted by the appointment and direction of their owners, and who were accepted as substitutes, and who came out of the army with good discharges. It is not hard to see that even under this act many an ex-soldier might end his days in slavery. The Negro had joined in the fight for freedom and when victory is won finds himself a slave. He was both a slave and a soldier, too often, during the war; and now at its close may be both a veteran and a slave.

The second war with Great Britain broke out with an incident in which the Negro in the navy was especially conspicuous. The Chesapeake, an American war vessel was hailed, fired upon and forced to strike her colors, by the British. She was then boarded and searched and four persons taken from her decks, claimed as deserters from the English navy. Three of these were Negroes and one white. The Negroes were finally dismissed with a reprimand and the white man hanged. Five years later hostilities began on land and no opposition was manifested toward the employment of Negro soldiers. Laws were passed, especially in New York, authorizing the formation of regiments of blacks with white officers. It is remarkable that although the successful insurrection of St. Domingo was so recent, and many refugees from that country at that time were in the United States, and our country had also but lately come into possession of a large French element by the Louisiana purchase, there was no fear of a servile insurrection in this country. The free colored men of New Orleans, under the proclamation of the narrow-minded Jackson, rallied to the defence of that city and bore themselves with commendable valor in that useless battle. The war closed, however, and the glory of the Negro soldier who fought in it soon expired in the dismal gloom of a race-slavery becoming daily more wide-spread and hopeless.

John Brown's movement was military in character and contemplated the creation of an army of liberated slaves; but its early suppression prevented any display of Negro valor or genius. Its leader must ever receive the homage due those who are so moved by the woes of others as to overlook all considerations of policy and personal risk. As a plot for the destruction of life it fell far short of the Nat Turner insurrection which swept off fifty-seven persons within a few hours. In purpose the two episodes agree. They both aim at the liberation of the slave; both were led by fanatics, the reflex production of the cruelty of slavery, and both ended in the melancholy death of their heroic leaders. Turner's was the insurrection of the slave and was not free from the mad violence of revenge; Brown's was the insurrection of the friend of the slave, and was governed by the high and noble purpose of freedom. The insurrections of Denmark Vesey in South Carolina, in 1822, and of Nat Turner, in Virginia, in 1831, show conclusively that the Negro slave possessed the courage, the cunning, the secretiveness and the intelligence to fight for his freedom. These two attempts were sufficiently broad and intelligent, when taken into consideration with the enforced ignorance of the slave, to prove the Negro even in his forlorn condition capable of daring great things. Of the probable thousands who were engaged in the Denmark Vesey insurrection, only fifteen were convicted, and these died heroically without revealing anything connected with the plot. Forty-three years later I met the son of Denmark Vesey, who rejoiced in the efforts of his noble father, and regarded his death on the gallows as a holy sacrifice to the cause of freedom. Turner describes his fight as follows: "The white men, eighteen in number, approached us to about one hundred yards, when one of them fired, and I discovered about half of them retreating. I then ordered my men to fire and rush on them. The few remaining stood their ground until we approached within fifty yards, when they fired and retreated. We pursued and overtook some of them whom we thought we left dead. After pursuing them about two hundred yards, and rising a little hill, I discovered they were met by another party, and had halted and were reloading their guns. Thinking that those who retreated first and the party who fired on us at fifty or sixty yards distant had all only fallen back to meet others with ammunition, as I saw them reloading their guns, and more coming up than I saw at first, and several of my bravest men being wounded, the others became panic struck and scattered over the field. The white men pursued and fired on us several times. Hark had his horse shot under him, and I caught another for him that was running by me; five or six of my men were wounded, but none left on the field. Finding myself defeated here, I instantly determined to go through a private way and cross the Nottoway River at Cypress Bridge, three miles below Jerusalem, and attack that place in the rear, as I expected they would look for me on the other road, and I had a great desire to get there to procure arms and ammunition. After going a short distance in this private way, accompanied by about twenty men, I overtook two or three who told me the others were dispersed in every direction. After trying in vain to collect a sufficient force to proceed to Jerusalem, I determined to return, as I was sure they would make back to their old neighborhood, where they would rejoin me, make new recruits, and come down again. On my way back I called on Mrs. Thomas', Mrs. Spencer's and several other places. We stopped at Major Ridley's quarters for the night, and being joined by four of his men, with the recruits made since my defeat, we mustered now about forty strong.

After placing out sentinels, I lay down to sleep, but was quickly aroused by a great racket. Starting up I found some mounted and others in great confusion, one of the sentinels having given the alarm that we were about to be attacked. I ordered some to ride around and reconnoitre, and on their return the others being more alarmed, not knowing who they were, fled in different ways, so that I was reduced to about twenty again. With this I determined to attempt to recruit, and proceed on to rally in the neighborhood I had left."[6]

No one can read this account, which is thoroughly supported by contemporary testimony, without seeing in this poor misguided slave the elements of a vigorous captain. Failing in his efforts he made his escape and remained for two months in hiding in the vicinity of his pursuers. One concerned in his prosecution says: "It has been said that he was ignorant and cowardly and that his object was to murder and rob for the purpose of obtaining money to make his escape. It is notorious that he was never known to have a dollar in his life, to swear an oath, or drink a drop of spirits. As to his ignorance, he certainly never had the advantages of education, but he can read and write (it was taught him by his parents) and for natural intelligence and quickness of apprehension, is surpassed by few men I have ever seen. As to his being a coward, his reason as given for not resisting Mr. Phipps shows the decision of his character."[7]

The War of the Rebellion, now called the Civil War, effected the last and tremendous step in the transition of the American Negro from the position of a slave under the Republic to that of a soldier in its armies. Both under officers of his own race at Port Hudson and under white officers on a hundred battlefields, the Negro in arms proved himself a worthy foeman against the bravest and sternest enemies that ever assailed our nation's flag, and a worthy comrade of the Union's best defenders. Thirty-six thousand eight hundred and forty-seven of them gave their lives in that awful conflict. The entire race on this continent and those of allied blood throughout the world are indebted to the soldier-historian, Honorable George W. Williams, for the eloquent story of their service in the Union Army, and for the presentation of the high testimonials to the valor and worthiness of the colored soldier as given by the highest military authority of the century. From Chapter XVI of his book, "Negro Troops in the Rebellion," the paragraphs appended at the close of this chapter are quoted.



The siege and attempted reduction of Savannah by the combined French and American forces is one of the events of our revolutionary war, upon which our historians care little to dwell. Because it reflects but little glory upon the American arms, and resulted so disastrously to the American cause, its important historic character and connections have been allowed to fade from general sight; and it stands in the ordinary school text-books, much as an affair of shame. The following, quoted from Barnes' History, is a fair sample of the way in which it is treated:

"French-American Attack on Savannah.—In September, D'Estaing joined Lincoln in besieging that city. After a severe bombardment, an unsuccessful assault was made, in which a thousand lives were lost. Count Pulaski was mortally wounded. The simple-hearted Sergeant Jasper died grasping the banner presented to his regiment at Fort Moultrie. D'Estaing refused to give further aid; thus again deserting the Americans when help was most needed."

From this brief sketch the reader is at liberty to infer that the attack was unwise if not fool-hardy; that the battle was unimportant; and that the conduct of Count D'Estaing immediately after the battle was unkind, if not unjust, to the Americans. While the paragraph does not pretend to tell the whole truth, what it does tell ought to be the truth; and this ought to be told in such a way as to give correct impressions. The attack upon Savannah was well-planned and thoroughly well considered; and it failed only because the works were so ably defended, chiefly by British regulars, under brave and skillful officers. In a remote way, which it is the purpose of this paper to trace, that sanguinary struggle had a wider bearing upon the progress of liberty in the Western World than any other one battle fought during the Revolution.

But first let us listen to the story of the battle itself. Colonel Campbell with a force of three thousand men, captured Savannah in December, 1778; and in the January following, General Prevost arrived, and by March had established a sort of civil government in Georgia, Savannah being the capital. In April, the American general, Lincoln, feeble in more senses than one, perhaps, began a movement against Savannah by way of Augusta; but Prevost, aware of his purpose, crossed into South Carolina and attempted an attack upon Charleston. Finding the city too well defended, he contented himself with ravaging the plantations over a wide extent of adjacent country, and returned to Savannah laden with rich spoils, among which were included three thousand slaves, of whose labor he made good use later.

The patriots of the South now awaited in hope the coming of the French fleet; and on the first of September, Count D'Estaing appeared suddenly on the coast of Georgia with thirty-three sail, surprised and captured four British warships, and announced to the government of South Carolina his readiness to assist in the recapture of Savannah. He urged as a condition, however, that his ships should not be detained long off so dangerous a coast, as is was now the hurricane season, and there was neither harbor, road, nor offing for their protection.

By means of small vessels sent from Charleston he effected a landing in ten days, and four days thereafter, on the 16th, he summoned the garrison to surrender to the arms of France. Although this demand was made in the name of France for the plain reason that the American army was not yet upon the spot, the loyalists did not fail to make it a pretext for the accusation that the French were desirous of making conquests in the war on their own account. In the meantime Lincoln with the regular troops, was hurrying toward Savannah, and had issued orders for the militia to rendezvous at the same place; and the militia full of hope of a speedy, if not of a bloodless conquest, were entering upon this campaign with more than ordinary enthusiasm.

During the time that the fleet had been off the coast, and especially since the landing, the British had been very busy in putting the city in a high state of defence, and in making efforts to strengthen the garrison. Lieutenant-colonel Cruger, who had a small force at Sunbury, the last place in Georgia that had been captured by the British, and Lieutenant-colonel Maitland who was commanding a considerable force at Beaufort, were ordered to report in haste with their commands at Savannah. On the 16th, when the summons to surrender was received by Prevost, Maitland had not arrived, but was hourly expected. Prevost asked for a delay of twenty-four hours to consider the proposal, which delay was granted; and on that very evening, Maitland with his force arrived at Dawfuskie. Finding the river in the possession of the French, his course for a time seemed effectually cut off. By the merest chance he fell in with some Negro fishermen who informed him of a passage known as Wall's cut, through Scull's creek, navigable for small boats. A favoring tide and a dense fog enabled him to conduct his command unperceived by the French, through this route, and thus arrive in Savannah on the afternoon of the 17th, before the expiration of the twenty-four hours. General Prevost had gained his point; and now believing himself able to resist an assault, declined the summons to surrender. Two armed ships and four transports were sunk in the channel of the river below the city, and a boom in the same place laid entirely across the river; while several small boats were sunk above the town, thus rendering it impossible for the city to be approached by water.

On the day of the summons to surrender, although the works were otherwise well advanced, there were not ten cannon mounted in the lines of Savannah; but from that time until the day of assault, the men of the garrison, with the slaves they had captured, worked day and night to get the defences of the city in the highest state of excellence. Major Moncrief, chief of the engineers, is credited with placing in position more than eighty cannons in a short time after the call to surrender had been received.

The city itself at this time was but a mere village of frame buildings and unpaved streets. Viewed as facing its assailants, it was protected in its rear, or upon its north side, by the Savannah river; and on its west side by a thick swamp or morass, which communicated with the river above the city. The exposed sides were those of the east and south. These faced an open country which for several miles was entirely clear of woods. This exposed portion of the city was well protected by an unbroken line of defences extending from the river back to the swamp, the right and left extremes of the line consisting of strong redoubts, while the centre was made up of seamen's batteries in front, with impalements and traverses thrown up to protect the troops from the fire of the besiegers. The whole extent of the works was faced with an ample abattis.

To be still more particular: there were three redoubts on the right of the line, and on the right of them quite near the swamp, was a sailor's battery of nine pounders, covered by a company of the British legion. The left redoubt of these three, was known as the Springhill redoubt; and proved to be the objective of the final assault. Between it and the centre, was another sailor's battery behind which were posted the grenadiers of the 60th regiment, with the marines which had been landed from the warships. On the left of the line near the river were two redoubts, strongly constructed, with a massy frame of green spongy wood, filled in with sand, and mounted with heavy cannon. The centre, or space between these groups of redoubts, was composed, as has been said, of lighter but nevertheless very effective works, and was strongly garrisoned.

Having thus scanned the works, let us now take a glance at the men who are to defend them. As all of the assaulting forces are not made up of Americans, so all of the defenders are not foreigners. The centre redoubt of the triplet on the right, was garrisoned by two companies of militia, with the North Carolina regiment to support them; Captains Roworth and Wylie, with the provincial corps of King's Rangers, were posted in the redoubt on the right; and Captain Tawse with his corps of provincial dragons, dismounted, in the left or Springhill redoubt, supported by the South Caroline regiment. The whole of this force on the right of the line, was under the command of the gallant Lieutenant-colonel Maitland; and it was this force that made the charge that barely failed of annihilating the American army. On the left of the line, the Georgia loyalists garrisoned one of those massy wooden sand-filled redoubts; while in the centre, cheek by jowl so to speak, with two battalions of the seventy-first regiment, and two regiments of Hessians, stood the New York Volunteers. All of these corps were ready to act as circumstances should require and to support any part of the line that might be attacked. The Negroes who worked on these defences were under the direction of Major Moncrief.

The French troops had landed below the city and were formed facing the British lines, with the river on their right. On their left, later, assembled the American troops. The final dispositions were concluded by September 22nd, and were as follows: The American troops under Lincoln formed the left of the line, their left resting upon the swamp and the entire division facing the Springhill redoubt and her two sister defences; then came the division of M. de Noailles, composed of nine hundred men. D'Estaing's division of one thousand men beside the artillery, came next, and formed the centre of the French army. On D'Estaing's right was Count Dillon's division of nine hundred men; on the right of Dillon were the powder magazine, cattle depot, and a small field hospital; on the right of the depot and a little in advance, were Dejean's dragoons, numbering fifty men; upon the same alignment and to the right of the dragoons were Rouvrais' Volunteer Chasseurs, numbering seven hundred and fifty men; still further on to the right and two hundred yards in advance of Rouvrais, was Framais, comanding the Grenadier Volunteers, and two hundred men besides, his right resting upon the swampy wood that bordered the river, thus completely closing in the city on the land side. The frigate, La Truite, and two galleys, lay within cannon shot of the town, and with the aid of the armed store ship, La Bricole, and the frigate, La Chimere, effectually cut off all communication by water.

On the 23rd, both the French and the Americans opened their trenches; and on the 24th, a small detachment of the besieged made a sortie against the French. The attack was easily repulsed, but the French pursuing, approached so near the entrenchments of the enemy that they were fired upon and several were killed. On the night of the 27th another sortie was made which threw the besiegers into some confusion and caused the French and Americans to fire upon each other. Cannonading continued with but little result until October 8th.

The engineers were now of the opinion that a speedy reduction of the city could not be accomplished by regular approaches; and the naval officers were very anxious about the fleet, both because of the dangers to which it was exposed from the sea, and also because with so many men ashore it was in especial danger of being attacked and captured by British men-of-war. These representations agreeing altogether with D'Estaing's previously expressed wishes to leave the coast as soon as possible, induced that officer and General Lincoln to decide upon an attempt to storm the British works at once. It is quite probable that this had been the purpose as a last resort from the first. The preservation of the fleet was, however, the powerful factor in determining the time and character of the assault upon Savannah.

On the night of the eighth, Major L'Enfant, with a detachment attempted to set fire to the abattis in order to clear the way for the assault, but failed to through the dampness of the wood. The plan of the assault may be quite accurately obtained from the orders given to the American troops on the evening of the 8th by General Lincoln and from the inferences to be drawn from the events of the morning of the 9th as they are recorded in history. At least two of the historians who have left us accounts of the seige, Ramsey and McCall, were present at the time, and their accounts may be regarded as original authority. General Lincoln's orders were as follows:

"Evening Orders. By General Lincoln. Watchword—Lewis.

"The soldiers will be immediately supplied with 40 rounds of cartridges, a spare flint, and have their arms in good order. The infantry destined for the attack of Savannah will be divided into two bodies; first composed of the light troops under the command of Colonel Laurens; the second, of the continental battalions and the first battalion of the Charleston militia, except the grenadiers, who are to join the light troops. The whole will parade at 1 o'clock, near the left of the line, and march by platoons. The guards of the camp will be formed of the invalids, and be charged to keep the fires as usual in camp.

"The cavalry under the command of Count Pulaski, will parade at the same time with the infantry and follow the left column of the French troops, precede the column of the American light troops; they will endeavor to penetrate the enemy's lines between the battery on the left of Springhill redoubt, and the next towards the river; having effected this, will pass to the left towards Yamacraw and secure such parties of the enemy as may be lodged in that quarter.

"The artillery will parade at the same time, follow the French artillery, and remain with the corps de reserve until they receive further orders.

"The whole will be ready by the time appointed, with the utmost silence and punctuality; and be ready to march the instant Count Dillon and General Lincoln shall order.

"The light troops who are to follow the cavalry, will attempt to enter the redoubt on the left of the Springhill, by escalade if possible; if not by entrance into it, they are to be supported if necessary by the first South Carolina regiment; in the meantime the column will proceed with the lines to the left of the Springhill battery.

"The light troops having succeeded against the redoubt will proceed to the left and attempt the several works between that and the river.

"The column will move to the left of the French troops, taking care not to interfere with them.

"The light troops having carried the work towards the river will form on the left of the column.

"It is especially forbidden to fire a single gun before the redoubts are carried; or for any soldier to quit his rank to plunder without an order for that purpose; any who shall presume to transgress in either of these respects shall be reputed a disobeyer of military orders which is punishable with death.

"The militia of the first and second brigades, General Williamson's and the second battalion of the Charleston militia will parade immediately under the command of General Huger; after draughting five hundred of them the remander of them will go into the trenches and put themselves under the commanding officer there; with the 500 he will march to the left of the enemy's line, remain as near them as he possibly can without being seen, until four o'clock in the morning, at which time the troops in the trenches will begin an attack upon the enemy; he will then advance and make his attack as near the river as possible; though this is only meant as a feint, yet should a favorable opportunity offer, he will improve it and push into the town.

"In case of a repulse after taking Springhill redoubt, the troops will retreat and rally in the rear of redoubt; if it cannot be effected that way, it must be attempted by the same route at which they entered.

"The second place of rallying (or the first if the redoubt should not be carried) will be at the Jews' burying-ground, where the reserve will be placed; if these two halts should not be effected, they will retire towards camp.

"The troops will carry in their hats a piece of white paper by which they will be distinguished."

General Huger with his five hundred militia, covered by the river swamp, crept quite close to the enemy's lines and delivered his attack as directed. Its purpose was to draw attention to that quarter and if possible cause a weakening of the strength in the left centre of the line. What its real effect was, there is now no means of knowing.

Count Dillon, who during the siege had been on D'Estaing's right, and who appears to have been second in command in the French army, in this assault was placed in command of a second attacking column. His purpose was to move to the right of General Huger, and keeping in the edge of the swamps along the river, steal past the enemy's batteries on the left, and attack him in the rear. Bancroft describes the results of his efforts as follows: "The column under Count Dillon, which was to have attacked the rear of the British lines, became entangled in a swamp of which it should only have skirted the edge was helplessly exposed to the British batteries and could not even be formed." Here were the two strong sand-filled redoubts, mounted with heavy cannon, and these may have been the batteries that stopped Dillon's column.

Count Pulaski with his two hundred brave cavalrymen, undertook his part in the deadly drama with ardor, and began that perilous ride which had for its object: "to penetrate the enemy's lines, between the battery on the left of the Springhill redoubt, and the next towards the river." Balch describes it as an attempt to "penetrate into the city by galloping between the redoubts." It was the anticipation of the Crimean "Charge of the Light Brigade;" only in this case, no one blundered; it was simply a desperate chance. Cannon were to the right, left, and front, and the heroic charge proved in vain; the noble Pole fell, banner[8] in hand, pierced with a mortal wound—another foreign martyr to our dearly bought freedom.

The cavalry dash having failed, that much of the general plan was blotted out. The feints may have been understood; it is said a sergeant of the Charleston Grenadiers deserted during the night of the 8th and gave the whole plan of the attack to General Prevost, so that he knew just where to strengthen his lines. The feints were effectually checked by the garrison on the left, twenty-eight of the Americans being killed: while Dillon's column was stopped by the batteries near the river. This state of affairs allowed the whole of Maitland's force to protect the Springhill redoubt and that part of the line which was most threatened. The Springhill redoubt, as has been stated, was occupied by the South Carolina regiment and a corps of dragoons. This circumstance may account for the fact, that while the three hundred and fifty Charleston militia occupied a most exposed position in the attacking column, only one man among them was killed and but six wounded. The battery on the left of this redoubt was garrisoned by grenadiers and marines.

The attacking column now advanced boldly, under the command of D'Estaing and Lincoln, the Americans consisting of six hundred continental troops and three hundred and fifty Charleston militia, being on the left, while the centre and right were made up of the French forces. They were met with so severe and steady a fire that the head of the column was soon thrown into confusion. They endured this fire for fifty-five minutes, returning it as best they could, although many of the men had no opportunity to fire at all. Two American standards and one French standard, were placed on the British works, but their bearers were instantly killed. It being found impossible to carry any part of the works, a general retreat was ordered. Of the six hundred continental troops, more than one-third had fallen, and about one-fifth of the French. The Charleston militia had not suffered, although they had bravely borne their part in the assault, and it had certainly been no fault of theirs if their brethren behind the embankments had not fired upon them. Count D'Estaing had received two wounds, one in the thigh, and being unable to move, was saved by the young naval lieutenant Truguet. Ramsey gives the losses of the battle as follows: French soldiers 760; officers 61; Americans 312; total 1133.

As the army began its retreat, Lieutenant-colonel Maitland with the grenadiers and marines, who were incorporated with the grenadiers, charged its rear with the purpose of accomplishing its annihilation. It was then that there occurred the most brilliant feat of the day, and one of the bravest ever performed by foreign troops in the American cause. In the army of D'Estaing was a legion of black and mulatto freedmen, known as Fontages Legion, commanded by Vicount de Fontages, a brave and experienced officer. The strength of this legion is given variously from six hundred to over eight hundred men. This legion met the fierce charge of Maitland and saved the retreating army.

In an official record prepared in Paris, now before me, are these words: "This legion saved the army at Savannah by bravely covering its retreat. Among the blacks who rendered signal services at that time were: Andre, Beauvais, Rigaud, Villatte, Beauregard, Lambert, who latterly became generals under the convention, including Henri Christophe, the future king of Haiti." This quotation is taken from a paper secured by the Honorable Richard Rush, our minister to Paris in 1849, and is preserved in the Pennsylvania Historical Society. Henri Christophe received a dangerous gunshot wound in Savannah. Balch says in speaking of Fontages at Savannah: "He commanded there a legion of mulattoes, according to my manuscript, of more than eight hundred men, and saved the army after the useless assault on the fortifications, by bravely covering the retreat."

It was this legion that formed the connecting link between the siege of Savannah and the wide development of republican liberty on the Western continent, which followed early in the present century. In order to show this connection and the sequences, it will be necessary to sketch in brief the history of this remarkable body of men, especially that of the prominent individuals who distinguished themselves at Savannah.

In 1779 the French colony of Saint Domingo was in a state of peace, the population then consisting of white slave-holders, mulatto and black freedmen (affranchis), and slaves. Count D'Estaing received orders to recruit men from Saint Domingo for the auxiliary army; and there being no question of color raised, received into the service a legion of colored freedmen. There had been for years a colored militia in Saint Domingo, and as early as 1716, the Marquis de Chateau Morant, then governor of the colony, made one Vincent the Captain-general of all the colored militia in the vicinity of the Cape. This Captain Vincent died in 1780 at the reputed age of 120 years. He was certainly of great age, for he had been in the siege of Carthegenia in 1697, was taken prisoner, afterwards liberated by exchange and presented to Louis XIV, and fought in the German war under Villars. Moreau de St. Mery, in his description of Vincent, incidentally mentions the Savannah expedition. He says: "I saw him (Vincent) the year preceding his death, recalling his ancient prowess to the men of color who were enrolling themselves for the expedition to Savannah; and showing in his descendants who were among the first to offer themselves, that he had transmitted his valor. Vincent, the good Captain Vincent, had a most pleasing countenance; and the contrast of his black skin with his white hair produced an effect that always commanded respect."

The Haytian historian, Enclus Robin, says when the call for volunteers reached Saint Domingo: "eight hundred young freedmen, blacks and mulattoes, offered themselves to take part in the expedition;" that they went and "fought valiantly; and returned to Saint Domingo covered with glory." Madiou, another Haytian historian of the highest respectability says: "A crowd of young men, black and colored, enlisted with the French troops and left for the continent. They covered themselves with glory in the siege of Savannah, under the orders of Count D'Estaing."

What effect this experience had upon these volunteers may be inferred from their subsequent history. Robin says: "These men who contributed their mite toward American independence, had still their mothers and sisters in slavery; and they themselves were subject to humiliating discriminations. Should not France have expected from that very moment, that they would soon use in their own cause, those very arms which they had learned so well to use in the interests of others?" Madiou says: "On their return to Saint Domingo they demanded for their brothers the enjoyment of political rights." Beauvais went to Europe and served in the army of France; but returned to fight for liberty in Hayti, and was Captain-general in 1791; Rigaud, Lambert and Christophe wrote their names—not in the sand. These are the men who dared to stir Saint Domingo, under whose influence Hayti became the first country of the New World, after the United States, to throw off European rule. The connection between the siege of Savannah and the independence of Hayti is traced, both as to its spirit, and physically, through the black legion that on that occasion saved the American army. How this connection is traced to the republics of South America, I will allow a Haytian statesman and man of letters, honored both at home and abroad, to relate. I translate from a work published in Paris in 1885:

"The illustrious Bolivar, liberator and founder of five republics in South America, undertook in 1811 his great work of shaking off the yoke of Spain, and of securing the independence of those immense countries which swelled the pride of the catholic crown—but failed. Stripped of all resources he took flight and repaired to Jamaica, where he implored in vain of the governor of that island, the help of England. Almost in despair, and without means, he resolved to visit Hayti, and appeal to the generosity of the black Republic for the help necessary to again undertake that work of liberation which had gone to pieces in his hands. Never was there a more solemn hour for any man—and that man the representative of the destiny of South America! Could he hope for success? After the English, who had every interest in the destruction of Spanish colonial power, had treated him with so much indifference, could he hope that a new-born nation, weak, with microscopic territory, and still guarding anxiously its own ill-recognized independence, would risk itself in an enterprise hazardous as the one he represented? Full of doubt he came; but Petion gave him a most cordial welcome.

"Taking the precautions that a legitimate sentiment of prudence dictated at that delicate moment of our national existence, the government of Port-au-Prince put to the disposition of the hero of Boyaca and Carabobo, all the elements of which he had need—and Bolivar needed everything. Men, arms and money were generously given him. Petion did not wish to act openly for fear of compromising himself with the Spanish government; it was arranged that the men should embark secretly as volunteers; and that no mention of Hayti should ever be made in any official act of Venezuela."

Bolivar's first expedition with his Haytian volunteers was a failure; returning to the island he procured reinforcements and made a second descent which was brilliantly successful. Haytian arms, money and men turned Bolivar's disasters to victory; and the spirit of Western liberty marched on to the redemption of South America. The liberation of Mexico and all Central America, followed as a matter of course; and the ground was thus cleared for the practical application of that Continentalism enunciated in the Monroe doctrine.

The black men of the Antilles who fought in the siege of Savannah, enjoy unquestionably the proud historical distinction of being the physical conductors that bore away from our altars the sacred fire of liberty to rekindle it in their own land; and also of becoming the humble but important link that served to unite the Two Americas in the bond of enlightened independence.


Note:—In the preparation of the above paper I have been greatly assisted by the Honorable L.J. Janvier, Charge d'affairs d' Haiti, in London; by Right Reverend James Theodore Holly, bishop of Hayti, and by Messrs. Charles and Frank Rudolph Steward of Harvard University. To all of these gentlemen my thanks are here expressed. T.G.S.

Paper read at the session of the Negro Academy, Washington, D.C., 1898.



Adjutant-General Thomas in a letter to Senator Wilson, May 30, 1864, says: "Experience proves that they manage heavy guns very well. Their fighting qualities have also been fully tested a number of times, and I am yet to hear of the first case where they did not fully stand up to their work."

Major-General James G. Blunt writing of the battle of Honey Springs, Arkansas, said of Negro troops: "The Negroes (First Colored Regiment) were too much for the enemy, and let me here say that I never saw such fighting as was done by that Negro regiment. They fought like veterans, with a coolness and valor that is unsurpassed. They preserved their line perfect throughout the whole engagement, and although in the hottest of the fight, they never once faltered. Too much praise cannot be awarded them for their gallantry. The question that Negroes will fight is settled; besides, they make better soldiers in every respect than any troops I have ever had under my command."

General Thomas J. Morgan, speaking of the courage of Negro troops in the battle of Nashville, and its effect upon Major-General George H. Thomas, says: "Those who fell nearest the enemy's works were colored. General Thomas spoke very feelingly of the sight which met his eye as he rode over the field, and he confessed that the Negro had fully vindicated his bravery, and wiped from his mind the last vestige of prejudice and doubt."


[6] Confession of Nat Turner, Anglo-African Magazine, Vol. 1, p. 338, 1859.

[7] Ibid.

[8] The presentation of this banner by the Moravian Nuns of Bethlehem forms the text of the poem by Longfellow beginning—

When the dying flame of day Through the chancel shot its ray, Far the glimmering tapers shed Faint light on the cowled head; And the censer burning swung Where, before the altar, hung The crimson banner, that with prayer Had been consecrated there. And the nuns' sweet hymn was heard the while, Sung low in the dint, mysterious aisle, "Take thy banner! may it wave Proudly o'er the good and brave; When the battle's distant wail Breaks the Sabbath of our vale, When the cannon's music thrills To the hearts of those lone hills. When the spear in conflict shakes, And the strong lance shivering breaks.

* * * * *

"Take thy banner! and if e'er Thou should'st press the soldier's bier And the muffled drum shall beat To the tread of mournful feet, Then the crimson flag shall be Martial cloak and shroud for thee." The warrior took that banner proud, And it was his martial cloak and shroud.



Organization of Negro Regiments in the Regular Army—First Move in the War—Chickamauga and Tampa—Note.

Altogether the colored soldiers in the Civil War took part and sustained casualties in two hundred and fifty-one different engagements and came out of the prolonged conflict with their character so well established that up to the present hour they have been able to hold an important place in the Regular Army of the United States. No regiment of colored troops in the service was more renowned at the close of the war or has secured a more advantageous position in the history of that period than the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment of Infantry. Recruited among the free colored people of the North, many of them coming from Ohio, it was remarkable for the intelligence and character of its men, and for the high purpose and noble bearing of its officers. Being granted but half the pay per month given to white soldiers, the regiment to a man, for eighteen months refused to receive one cent from the Government. This was a spectacle that the country could not longer stand. One thousand volunteers fighting the country's battles without any compensation rather than submit to a discrimination fatal to their manhood, aroused such a sentiment that Congress was compelled to put them on the pay-roll on equal footing with all other soldiers. By them the question of the black soldier's pay and rations was settled in the Army of the United States for all time. Every soldier, indeed every man in the army, except the chaplain, now draws the pay of his grade without regard to color, hair or race. By the time these lines reach the public eye it is to be hoped that even the chaplain will be lifted from his exceptional position and given the pay belonging to his rank as captain.

(February 2, 1901, the bill became a law giving chaplains the full pay of their grade.)

More than 185,000 blacks, all told, served in the army of the Union during the War of the Rebellion, and the losses from their ranks of men killed in battle were as heavy as from the white troops. Their bravery was everywhere recognized, and in the short time in which they were employed, several rose to commissions.

Perhaps the most notable act performed by a colored American during the war was the capture and delivery to the United States forces of the rebel steamer Planter, by Robert Smalls, of Charleston. Smalls was employed as pilot on the Planter, a rebel transport, and was entirely familiar with the harbors and inlets, of which there are many, on the South Atlantic coast. On May 13, 1862, the Planter came to her wharf in Charleston, and at night all the white officers went ashore, leaving a colored crew of eight men on board in charge of Smalls. Smalls hastily got his wife and three children on board, and at 2 o'clock on the morning of the 14th steamed out into the harbor, passing the Confederate forts by giving the proper signals, and when fairly out of reach, as daylight came, he ran up the Stars and Stripes and headed his course directly toward the Union fleet, into whose hands he soon surrendered himself and his ship. The act caused much favorable comment and Robert Smalls became quite a hero. His subsequent career has been in keeping with the high promise indicated by this bold dash for liberty, and his name has received additional lustre from gallant services performed in the war after, and in positions of distinguished honor and responsibility in civil life. The Planter, after being accepted by the United States, became a despatch boat, and Smalls demonstrating by skill and bravery his fitness for the position, was finally, as an act of imperative justice, made her commander.

With the close of the Revolutionary War the prejudice against a standing army was so great that the army was reduced to scarce six hundred men, and the Negro as a soldier dropped out of existence. When the War of 1812 closed sentiment with regard to the army had made but little advancement, and consequently no place in the service was left for Negro soldiers. In the navy the Negro still lingered, doing service in the lower grades, and keeping up the succession from the black heroes of '76 and 1812. When the War of the Rebellion closed the country had advanced so far as to see both the necessity of a standing army, and the fitness of the Negro to form a part of the army; and from this position it has never receded, and if the lessons of the Cuban campaign are rightly heeded, it is not likely to recede therefrom. The value of the Regular Army and of the Black Regular were both proven to an absolute demonstration in that thin line of blue that compelled the surrender of Santiago.

In July, 1866, Congress passed an act adding eight new regiments of infantry and four of calvary to the nineteen regiments of infantry and six of calvary of which those arms of the Regular Army were at that time composed, thus making the permanent establishment to consist of five regiments of artillery, twenty-seven of infantry, and ten of cavalry. Of the eight new infantry regiments to be formed, four were to be composed of colored men; and of the four proposed for the calvary arm, two were to be of colored men. The President was empowered by the act also to appoint a chaplain for each of the six regiments of colored troops. Under this law the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry Regiments were organized.

In 1869 the infantry suffered further reduction, and the four colored regiments organized under the law of 1866, numbered respectively the 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st, were consolidated into two regiments, and numbered the 24th and 25th—the 38th and 41st becoming the former, and the 39th and 40th the latter. Previous to this consolidation the numbers between the old 19th and the 38th, which was the lowest number borne by the new colored regiments, were filled in by dividing the old three batallion regiments in the service, and making of the second and third batallions of these regiments new regiments. The whole infantry arm, by the law of 1869, was compressed into twenty-five regiments, and in that condition the army remains to the present, to wit:[9] Ten regiments of cavalry, five of artillery and twenty-five of infantry.

The number of men in a company and the number of companies in a regiment have varied greatly within the past few months. Just previous to the breaking out of the war a regiment of infantry consisted of eight companies of about sixty men each, and two skeletonized companies and the band—the whole organization carrying about five hundred men; now a regiment of infantry consists of twelve companies of 106 men each and with the non-commissioned staff numbers twelve hundred and seventy-four men.

Since 1869, or for a period of thirty years, the colored American has been represented in the Regular Army by these four regiments and during this time these regiments have borne more than their proportionate share in hard frontier service, including all sorts of Indian campaigning and much severe guard and fatigue duty. The men have conducted themselves so worthily as to receive from the highest military authority the credit of being among our best troops. General Miles and General Merritt,[10] with others who were active leaders in the Indian wars of the West, have been unstinting in their praise of the valor and skill of colored soldiers. They proved themselves not only good individual fighters, but in some instances non-commissioned officers exhibited marked coolness and ability in command.[11]

From 1869 to the beginning of the Hispano-American War there were in the Regular Army at some time, as commissioned officers, the following colored men, all from West Point, all serving with the cavalry, and none rising higher than first-lieutenant, viz: John H. Alexander, H.O. Flipper and Charles Young. H.O. Flipper was dismissed; Alexander died, and Young became major in the volunteer service, and was placed in command of the Ninth Battalion of Ohio Volunteers, discharging the duties of his position in such a manner as to command general satisfaction from his superior officers.[12]

These colored men while cadets at West Point endured hardships disgraceful to their country, and when entering the army were not given that cordial welcome by their brother officers, becoming an "officer and gentleman," both to give and to receive. Of course there were some noble exceptions, and this class of officers seems to be steadily increasing, so that now it is no longer necessary, even on the ground of expediency, to strive to adhere to the rule of only white men for army officers. Of Alexander and Young it can be said they have acquitted themselves well, the former enjoying the confidence and esteem of his associates up to the time of his early death—an event which caused deep regret—and the latter so impressing the Governor of his State and the President as to secure for himself the responsible position which he, at the time of this writing, so worthily fills. Besides these line officers, five colored chaplains have been appointed, all of whom have served successfully, one, however, being dismissed by court-martial after many years of really meritorious service, an event to be regretted, but by no means without parallel.

Brief sketches of the history of these four colored regiments, as well as of the others, have been recently made by members of them and published in the Journal of the Military Service Institution and subsequently in a large and beautiful volume edited by Brigadier-General Theo. F. Rodenbough and Major William L. Haskin, published by the Institution and designated "The Army of the United States," a most valuable book of reference. From the sketches contained therein the following summary is given.

The Twenty-fourth Infantry was organized, as we have seen, from the 38th and 41st Regiments, these two regiments being at the time distributed in New Mexico, Louisiana and Texas, and the regiment remained in Texas from the time of its organization in 1869 until 1880. Its first Lieutenant-Colonel was William R. Shafter. It was from this regiment and the Tenth Cavalry that the escort of Paymaster Wham was selected which made so brave a stand against a band of robbers that attacked the paymaster that several of them were given medals for distinguished gallantry, and others certificates of merit. The Twenty-fifth Infantry was organized in New Orleans out of the 39th, that was brought from North Carolina for that purpose, and the 40th, that was then in Louisiana. It was organized during the month of April, 1869, and early in 1870 moved to Texas, where it remained ten years. In 1880 it moved to the Department of Dakota and remained in the Northwest until it took the road for the Cuban war.

The Ninth Cavalry was organized in New Orleans during the winter of 1866-67. Its first Colonel was Edward Hatch and its first Lieutenant-Colonel Wesley Merritt. From 1867 to 1890 it was in almost constant Indian warfare, distinguishing itself by daring and hardihood. From 1890 to the opening of the Cuban war it remained in Utah and Nebraska, engaging in but one important campaign, that against hostile Sioux during the winter of 1890-91, in which, says the historian: "The regiment was the first in the field, in November, and the last to leave, late in the following March, after spending the winter, the latter part of which was terrible in its severity, under canvas."

The Tenth Calvary was organized under the same law as was the Ninth, and at the same time. Its place of rendezvous was Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and its first Colonel, Benjamin H. Grierson. This regiment was the backbone of the Geronimo campaign force, and it finally succeeded in the capture of that wily warrior. The regiment remained in the Southwest until 1893, when it moved to Montana, and remained there until ordered to Chickamauga for the war.

These four regiments were finely officered, well drilled and well experienced in camp and field, particularly the cavalry regiments, and it was of them that General Merritt said: "I have always found them brave in battle." With such training and experience they were well fitted to take their place in that selected host of fighting men which afterwards became the Fifth Army Corps, placed under command of Major-General William R. Shafter, the first Lieutenant-Colonel of the Twenty-fourth Infantry.

When the news of the blowing up of our great battleship Maine, in the harbor of Havana, with the almost total loss of her crew, flashed over the country, carrying sadness to hundreds of homes, and arousing feelings of deepest indignation whether justly or unjustly, it was easy to predict that we should soon be involved in war with Spain. The Cuban question, already chronic, had by speeches of Senators Thurston and Proctor been brought to such a stage of aggravation that it needed only an incident to set the war element in motion. That incident was furnished by the destruction of the Maine. Thenceforth there was no power in the land sufficient to curb the rapidly swelling tide of popular hate, which manifested itself in the un-Christian but truly significant mottoes: "Remember the Maine," "Avenge the Maine," and "To hell with Spain." These were the outbreathings of popular fury, and they represented a spirit quite like that of the mob, which was not to be yielded to implicitly, but which could not be directly opposed.

The President did all in his power to stay this element of our population and to lead the country to a more befitting attitude. He and his advisers argued that Spain was to be resisted, and fought if necessary, not on account of the Maine, not in the spirit of revenge, but in the interest of humanity, and upon principles sanctioned even by our holy religion. On behalf of the starving reconcentrados, and in aid of the noble Cuban patriot, we might justly arm and equip ourselves for the purpose of driving Spanish rule from the Western Hemisphere.

This view appealed to all lovers of freedom, to all true patriots, and to the Christian and philanthropist. It also afforded a superb opportunity for the old leaders in the South, who were not entirely relieved from the taint of secession, to come out and reconsecrate themselves to the country and her flag. Hence, Southern statesmen, who were utterly opposed to Negroes or colored men having any share in ruling at home, became very enthusiastic over the aspirations of the colored Cuban patriots and soldiers. The supporters, followers, and in a sense, devotees of Maceo and Gomez, were worthy of our aid. The same men, actuated by the same principles, in the Carolinas, in Louisiana or in Mississippi, would have been pronounced by the same authorities worthy of death.

The nation was, however, led into war simply to liberate Cuba from the iniquitous and cruel yoke of Spain, and to save thousands of impoverished Cubans from death by starvation. Great care was taken not to recognize the Cuban government in any form, and it seemed to be understood that we were to do the fighting both with our navy and our army, the Cubans being invited to co-operate with us, rather than that we should co-operate with them. We were to be the liberators and saviors of a people crushed to the very gates of death. Such was the platform upon which our nation stood before the world when the first orders went forth for the mobilization of its forces for war. It was a position worthy our history and character and gave to our national flag a prouder meaning than ever. Its character as the emblem of freedom shone out with awe-inspiring brilliancy amid the concourse of nations.

While there was such a clamor for war in the newspapers and in the public speeches of statesmen, both in and out of Congress, it is remarkable that the utmost serenity prevailed in the army. Officers and men were ready to fight if the stern necessity came, but they were not so eager for the death-game as were the numerous editors' whose papers were getting out extras every half-hour. It was argued by the officers of rank that the Maine incident added nothing whatever to the Cuban question; that it did not involve the Spanish Government; that the whole subject might well be left to arbitration, and full respect should be given to Spain's disclaimer. It was also held that to rush into a war in order to prevent a few people from starving, might not relieve them, and at the same time would certainly cost the lives of many innocent men. Spain was revising her policy, and the benevolence of the United States would soon bring bread to the door of every needy Cuban. Such remarks and arguments as these were used by men who had fought through one war and were ready to fight, through another if they must; but who were willing to go to any reasonable length to prevent it; and yet the men who used such arguments beforehand and manifested such a shrinking from carnage, are among those to whom the short Spanish War brought distinction and promotion. To their honor be it said that the war which gave them fresh laurels was in no sense brought about through their instigation.

As chaplain of the Twenty-fifth Infantry, stationed with the headquarters of the regiment at Fort Missoula, where we had been for ten years, the call for the war met me in the midst of my preparations for Easter service. One young man, then Private Thomas C. Butler, who was practicing a difficult solo for the occasion, before the year closed became a Second Lieutenant, having distinguished himself in battle; the janitor, who cared for my singing books, and who was my chief school teacher, Private French Payne, always polite and everywhere efficient, met his death from a Spanish bullet while on the reserve before bloody El Caney.

It was on a bright day during the latter part of March and near the close of the day as I was looking out of the front window of my quarters that I saw the trumpeter of the guard come out of the Adjutant's office with a dispatch in his hand and start on a brisk run toward the quarters of the Commanding Officer. I immediately divined what was in the wind, but kept quiet. In a few minutes "officers' call" was sounded, and all the officers of the post hastened to the administration building to learn the news.

When all were assembled the Commanding Officer desired to know of each company officer how much time he would need to have his company ready to move from the post to go to a permanent station elsewhere, and from all officers how much time they would require to have their families ready to quit the station. The answers generally were that all could be ready within a week. It was finally agreed, however, to ask for ten days.

Immediately the work of preparation began, although none knew where the regiment was to go. At this time the order, so far as it was understood at the garrison, was, that two companies were to go to Key West, Florida, and the other companies of the regiment to Dry Tortugas. One officer, Lieutenant V.A. Caldell, early saw through the haze and said: "It means that we will all eventually land in Cuba." While we were packing, rumors flew through the garrison, as indeed through the country, thick and fast, and our destination was changed three or four times a day. One hour we would be going to Key West, the next to St. Augustine, the next to Tortugas. In this confusion I asked an old frontier officer where he thought we would really go. Regarding himself as an indicator and always capable of seeing the amusing side of a subject, he replied: "I p'int toward Texas." Such was the state of uncertainty as to destination, and yet all the time the greatest activity prevailed in making ready for departure. Finally definite orders came that we were to store our furniture in the large gymnasium hall at the post and prepare to go in camp at Chickamauga Park, Georgia.

Our regiment was at the time stationed as follows: Headquarters, four companies and the band at Fort Missoula; two companies at Fort Harrison, near Helena, and two companies at Fort Assinniboine, all in Montana. The arrangements contemplated moving the regiment in two sections, one composed of the Missoula troops to go over the Northern Pacific Railroad, the other of the Fort Harrison and Fort Assinniboine troops to go over the Great Northern Railroad, all to arrive in St. Paul about the same time.

On the 10th of April, Easter Sunday, the battalion at Fort Missoula marched out of post quite early in the morning, and at Bitter Root Station took the cars for their long journey. Officers and men were all furnished sleeping accommodations on the train. Arriving in the city of Missoula, for the gratification of the citizens and perhaps to avoid strain on the bridge crossing the Missoula River, the men were disembarked from the train and marched through the principal streets to the depot, the citizens generally turning out to see them off. Many were the compliments paid officers and men by the good people of Missoula, none perhaps more pleasing than that furnished by a written testimonial to the regret experienced at the departure of the regiment, signed by all the ministers of the city.

As the Twenty-fifth was the first regiment to move in the preparation for war, its progress from Montana to Chickamauga was a marked event, attracting the attention of both the daily and illustrated press. All along the route they were greeted with enthusiastic crowds, who fully believed the war with Spain had begun. In St. Paul, in Chicago, in Terre Haute, in Nashville, and in Chattanooga the crowds assembled to greet the black regulars who were first to bear forward the Starry Banner of Union and Freedom against a foreign foe. What could be more significant, or more fitting, than that these black soldiers, drilled up to the highest standard of modern warfare, cool, brave and confident, themselves a proof of American liberty, should be called first to the front in a war against oppression? Their martial tread and fearless bearing proclaimed what the better genius of our great government meant for all men dwelling beneath the protection of its honored flag.

As the Twenty-fifth Infantry was the first regiment to leave its station, so six companies of it were first to go into camp on the historic grounds of Chickamauga. Two companies were separated from the regiment at Chattanooga and forwarded to Key West where they took station under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel A.S. Daggett. The remaining six companies, under command of Colonel A.S. Burt, were conducted by General Boynton to a choice spot on the grounds, where they pitched camp, their tents being the first erected in that mobilization of troops which preceded the Cuban invasion, and theirs being really the first camp of the war.

Soon came the Ninth Cavalry, the Tenth Cavalry and the Twenty-fourth Infantry. While these were assembling there arrived on the ground also many white regiments, cavalry, artillery and infantry, and it was pleasing to see the fraternity that prevailed among black and white regulars. This was especially noticeable between the Twenty-fifth and Twelfth. In brigading the regiments no attention whatever was paid to the race or color of the men. The black infantry regiments were placed in two brigades, and the black cavalry likewise, and they can be followed through the fortunes of the war in the official records by their regimental numbers. During their stay in Chickamauga, and at Key West and Tampa, the Southern newspapers indulged in considerable malicious abuse of colored soldiers, and some people of this section made complaints of their conduct, but the previous good character of the regiments and the violent tone of the accusations, taken together with the well-known prejudices of the Southern people, prevented their complaints from having very great weight. The black soldiers held their place in the army chosen for the invasion of Cuba, and for that purpose were soon ordered to assemble in Tampa.

From the 10th of April, when the war movement began with the march of the Twenty-fifth Infantry out of its Montana stations, until June 14th, when the Army of Invasion cleared Tampa for Cuba—not quite two months—the whole energy of the War Department had been employed in preparing the army for the work before it. The beginning of the war is officially given as April 21st, from which time onward it was declared a state of war existed between Spain and the United States, but warlike movements on our side were begun fully ten days earlier, and begun with a grim definiteness that presaged much more than a practice march or spring manoeuver.

After arriving at Chickamauga all heavy baggage was shipped away for storage, and all officers and men were required to reduce their field equipage to the minimum; the object being to have the least possible amount of luggage, in order that the greatest possible amount of fighting material might be carried. Even with all this preparation going on some officers were indulging the hope that the troops might remain in camps, perfecting themselves in drill, until September, or October, before they should be called upon to embark for Cuba. This, however, was not to be, and it is perhaps well that it was not, as the suffering and mortality in the home camps were almost equal to that endured by the troops in Cuba. The suffering at home, also, seemed more disheartening, because it appeared to be useless, and could not be charged to any important changes in conditions or climate. It was perhaps in the interest of humanity that this war, waged for humanity's sake, should have been pushed forward from its first step to its last, with the greatest possible dispatch, and that just enough men on our side were sent to the front, and no more. It is still a good saying that all is well that ends well.

The Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the place where our troops assembled on their march to Cuba, beautiful by nature, especially in the full season of spring when the black soldiers arrived there, and adorned also by art, has, next to Gettysburg, the most prominent place among the historic battle-fields of the Civil War. As a park it was established by an act of Congress approved August 19, 1890, and contains seven thousand acres of rolling land, partly cleared and partly covered with oak and pine timber. Beautiful broad roads wind their way to all parts of the ground, along which are placed large tablets recording the events of those dreadful days in the autumn of 1863, when Americans faced Americans in bloody, determined strife. Monuments, judiciously placed, speak with a mute eloquence to the passer-by and tell of the valor displayed by some regiment or battery, or point to the spot where some lofty hero gave up his life. The whole park is a monument, however, and its definite purpose is to preserve and suitably mark "for historical and professional military study the fields of some of the most remarkable manoeuvres and most brilliant fighting in the War of the Rebellion." The battles commemorated by this great park are those of Chickamauga, fought on September 19-20, and the battles around Chattanooga, November 23-25, 1863. The battle of Chickamauga was fought by the Army of the Cumberland, commanded by Major-General W.S. Rosecrans, on the Union side, and the Army of Tennessee, commanded by General Braxton Bragg, on the side of the Confederates. The total effective strength of the Union forces in this battle was little less than 60,000 men, that of the Confederates about 70,000. The total Union loss was 16,179 men, a number about equal to the army led by Shatter against Santiago. Of the number reported as lost, 1,656 were killed, or as many as were lost in killed, wounded and missing in the Cuban campaign. The Confederate losses were 17,804, 2,389 being killed, making on both sides a total killed of 4,045, equivalent to the entire voting population of a city of over twenty thousand inhabitants. General Grant, who commanded the Union forces in the battles around Chattanooga, thus sums up the results: "In this battle the Union army numbered in round figures about 60,000 men; we lost 752 killed, 4,713 wounded and 350 captured or missing. The rebel loss was much greater in the aggregate, as we captured and sent North to be rationed there over 6,100 prisoners. Forty pieces of artillery, over seven thousand stand of small arms, many caissons, artillery wagons and baggage wagons fell into our hands. The probabilities are that our loss in killed was the heavier as we were the attacking party. The enemy reported his loss in killed at 361, but as he reported his missing at 4,146, while we held over 6,000 of them as prisoners, and there must have been hundreds, if not thousands, who deserted, but little reliance can be placed upon this report."

In the battle of Chickamauga, when "four-fifths of the Union Army had crumbled into wild confusion," and Rosecrans was intent only on saving the fragments, General Thomas, who had commanded the Federal left during the two days' conflict, and had borne the brunt of the fight, still held his position. To him General James A. Garfield reported. General Gordon Granger, without orders, brought up the reserves, and Thomas, replacing his lines, held the ground until nightfall, when he was joined by Sheridan. Bragg won and held the field, but Thomas effectually blocked his way to Chattanooga, securing to himself immediately the title of the "Rock of Chickamauga." His wonderful resolution stayed the tide of a victory dearly bought and actually won, and prevented the victors from grasping the object for which they had fought. In honor of this stubborn valor, and in recognition of this high expression of American tenacity, the camp established in Chickamauga Park by the assembling army was called Camp George H. Thomas.

The stay of the colored regulars at Camp George H. Thomas was short, but it was long enough for certain newspapers of Chattanooga to give expression to their dislike to negro troops in general and to those in their proximity especially. The Washington Post, also, ever faithful to its unsavory trust, lent its influence to this work of defamation. The leading papers, however, both of Chattanooga and the South generally, spoke out in rather conciliatory and patronizing tones, and "sought to restrain the people of their section from compromising their brilliant display of patriotism by contemptuous flings at the nation's true and tried soldiers.

The 24th Infantry and the 9th Cavalry soon left for Tampa, Florida, whither they were followed by the 10th Cavalry and the 25th Infantry, thus bringing the entire colored element of the army together to prepare for embarkation. The work done at Tampa is thus described officially by Lieutenant-Colonel Daggett in general orders addressed to the 25th Infantry, which he at that time commanded. On August 11th, with headquarters near Santiago, after the great battles had been fought and won, he thus reviewed the work of the regiment: "Gathered from three different stations, many of you strangers to each other, you assembled as a regiment for the first time in more than twenty-eight years, on May 7, 1898, at Tampa, Florida. There you endeavored to solidify and prepare yourselves, as far as the oppressive weather would permit, for the work that appeared to be before you." What is here said of the 25th might have been said with equal propriety of all the regular troops assembled at Tampa.

In the meantime events were ripening with great rapidity. The historic "first gun" had been fired, and the United States made the first naval capture of the war on April 22, the coast trader Buena Ventura having surrendered to the American gunboat Nashville. On the same day the blockade of Cuban ports was declared and on the day following a call was issued for 125,000 volunteers. On May 20th the news that a Spanish fleet under command of Admiral Cervera had arrived at Santiago was officially confirmed, and a speedy movement to Cuba was determined upon.

Almost the entire Regular Army with several volunteer regiments were organized into an Army of Invasion and placed under the command of Major-General W.R. Shafter with orders to prepare immediately for embarkation, and on the 7th and 10th of June this army went on board the transports. For seven days the troops lay cooped up on the vessels awaiting orders to sail, a rumor having gained circulation that certain Spanish gunboats were hovering around in Cuban waters awaiting to swoop down upon the crowded transports. While the Army of Invasion was sweltering in the ships lying at anchor off Port Tampa, a small body of American marines made a landing at Guantanamo, and on June 12th fought the first battle between Americans and Spaniards on Cuban soil. In this first battle four Americans were killed. The next day, June 13th, General Shafter's army containing the four colored regiments, excepting those left behind to guard property, sailed for Cuba.[13]

The whole number of men and officers in the expedition, including those that came on transports from Mobile, amounted to about seventeen thousand men, loaded on twenty-seven transports. The colored regiments were assigned to brigades as follows: The Ninth Cavalry was joined with the Third and Sixth Cavalry and placed under command of Colonel Carrol; the Tenth Cavalry was joined with the Rough Riders and First Regular Cavalry and fell under the command of General Young; the Twenty-fourth Infantry was joined with the Ninth and Thirteenth Infantry and the brigade placed under command of Colonel Worth and assigned to the division commanded by General Kent, who, until his promotion as Brigadier-General of Volunteers, had been Colonel of the Twenty-fourth; the Twenty-fifth Infantry was joined with the First and Fourth Infantry and the brigade placed under command of Colonel Evans Miles, who had formerly been Major of the Twenty-fifth. All of the colored regiments were thus happily placed so that they should be in pleasant soldierly competition with the very best troops the country ever put in the field, and this arrangement at the start proves how strongly the black regular had entrenched himself in the confidence of our great commanders.

Thus sailed from Port Tampa the major part of our little army of trained and seasoned soldiers, representative of the skill and daring of the nation.[14] In physique, almost every man was an athlete, and while but few had seen actual war beyond an occasional skirmish with Indians, all excepting the few volunteers, had passed through a long process of training in the various details of marching, camping and fighting in their annual exercises in minor tactics. For the first time in history the nation is going abroad, by its army, to occupy the territory of a foreign foe, in a contest with a trans-Atlantic power. The unsuccessful invasions of Canada during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 can hardly be brought in comparison with this movement over sea. The departure of Decatur with his nine ships of war to the Barbary States had in view only the establishment of proper civil relations between those petty, half-civilized countries and the United States. The sailing of General Shafter's army was only one movement in a comprehensive war against the Kingdom of Spain. More than a month earlier Commodore Dewey, acting under orders, had destroyed a fleet of eleven war ships in the Philippines. The purpose of the war was to relieve the Cubans from an inhumane warfare with their mother country, and to restore to that unhappy island a stable government in harmony with the ideas of liberty and justice.

Up to the breaking out of the Spanish War the American policy with respect to Europe had been one of isolation. Some efforts had been made to consolidate the sentiment of the Western world, but it had never been successful. The fraternity of the American Republics and the attempted construction of a Pan-American policy had been thus far unfulfilled dreams. Canada was much nearer to the United States, geographically and socially, than even Mexico, although the latter is a republic. England, in Europe, was nearer than Brazil. The day came in 1898, when the United States could no longer remain in political seclusion nor bury herself in an impossible federation. Washington's advice against becoming involved in European affairs, as well as the direct corrollary of the Monroe Doctrine, were to be laid aside and the United States was to speak out to the world. The business of a European nation had become our business; in the face of all the world we resolved to invade her territory in the interest of humanity; to face about upon our own traditions and dare the opinions and arms of the trans-Atlantic world by openly launching upon the new policy of armed intervention in another's quarrel.

While the troops were mobilizing at Tampa preparatory to embarking for Cuba the question came up as to why there were no colored men in the artillery arm of the service, and the answer given by a Regular Army officer was, that the Negro had not brains enough for the management of heavy guns. It was a trifling assertion, of course, but at this period of the Negro's history it must not be allowed to pass unnoticed. We know that white men of all races and nationalities can serve big guns, and if the Negro cannot, it must be because of some marked difference between him and them. The officer said it was a difference in "brains," i.e., a mental difference. Just how the problem of aiming and firing a big gun differs from that of aiming and firing small arms is not so easily explained. In both, the questions of velocity, gravitation, wind and resistance are to be considered and these are largely settled by mechanism, the adjustment of which is readily learned; hence the assumption that a Negro cannot learn it is purely gratuitous. Several of the best rifle shots known on this continent are Negroes; and it was a Negro who summerized the whole philosophy of rifle shooting in the statement that it all consists in knowing where to aim, and how to pull—in knowing just what value to assign to gravitation, drift of the bullet and force of the wind, and then in being able to pull the trigger of the piece without disturbing the aim thus judiciously determined. This includes all there is in the final science and art of firing a rifle. If the Negro can thus master the revolver, the carbine and the rifle, why may he not master the field piece or siege gun?

But an ounce of fact in such things is worth more than many volumes of idle speculation, and it is remarkable that facts so recent, so numerous, and so near at hand, should escape the notice of those who question the Negro's ability to serve the artillery organizations. Negro artillery, both light and heavy, fought in fifteen battles in the Civil War with average effectiveness; and some of those who fought against them must either admit the value of the Negro artilleryman or acknowledge their own inefficiency. General Fitz-Hugh Lee failed to capture a Negro battery after making most vigorous attempts to that end. This attempt to raise a doubt as to the Negro's ability to serve in the artillery arm is akin to, and less excusable, than that other groundless assertion, that Negro officers cannot command troops, an assertion which in this country amounts to saying that the United States cannot command its army. Both of these assertions have been emphatically answered in fact, the former as shown above, and the latter as will be shown later in this volume. These assertions are only temporary covers, behind which discomfitted and retreating prejudice is able to make a brief stand, while the black hero of five hundred battle-fields, marches proudly by, disdaining to lower his gun to fire a shot on a foe so unworthy. When the Second Massachusetts Volunteers sent up their hearty cheers of welcome to the gallant old Twenty-fifth, as that solid column fresh from El Caney swung past its camp, I remarked to Sergeant Harris, of the Twenty-fifth: "Those men think you are soldiers." "They know we are soldiers," was his reply. When the people of this country, like the members of that Massachusetts regiment, come to know that its black men in uniform are soldiers, plain soldiers, with the same interests and feelings as other soldiers, of as much value to the government and entitled from it to the same attention and rewards, then a great step toward the solution of the prodigious problem now confronting us will have been taken.

* * * * *

Note.—"I had often heard that the physique of the men of our regular army was very remarkable, but the first time I saw any large body of them, which was at Tampa, they surpassed my highest expectations. It is not, however, to be wondered at that, for every recruit who is accepted, on the average thirty-four are rejected, and that, of course, the men who present themselves to the recruiting officer already represent a physical 'elite'; but it was very pleasant to see and be assured, as I was at Tampa, by the evidences of my own eyes and the tape measure, that there is not a guard regiment of either the Russian, German or English army, of whose remarkable physique we have heard so much, that can compare physically, not with the best of our men, but simply with the average of the men of our regular army."—Bonsal.


[9] The army has been reorganized since. See Register.

[10] "My experience in this direction since the war is beyond that of any officer of my rank in the army. For ten years I had the honor of being lieutenant-colonel of the Ninth Cavalry, and during most of that service I commanded garrisons composed in part of the Ninth Cavalry and other organizations of cavalry and infantry. I have always found the colored race represented in the army obedient, intelligent and zealous in the discharge of duty, brave in battle, easily disciplined, and most efficient in the care of their horses, arms and equipments. The non-commissioned officers have habitually shown the qualities for control in their position which marked them as faithful and sensible in the discharge of their duties. I take pleasure in bearing witness as above in the interest of the race you represent." WESLEY MERRITT.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse