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Army Life in a Black Regiment by Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Part 4 out of 5

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You've heern talk of Jesus
Who set poor shiners free."

"De valley" and "de lonesome valley" were familiar words in their
religious experience. To descend into that region implied the same
process with the "anxious-seat" of the camp-meeting. When a young girl
was supposed to enter it, she bound a handkerchief by a peculiar knot
over her head, and made it a point of honor not to change a single
garment till the day of her baptism, so that she was sure of being in
physical readiness for the cleansing rite, whatever her spiritual mood
might be. More than once, in noticing a damsel thus mystically
kerchiefed, I have asked some dusky attendant its meaning, and have
received the unfailing answer,--framed with their usual indifference
to the genders of pronouns--"He in de lonesome valley, sa."

The next gives the same dramatic conflict, while its detached and
impersonal refrain gives it strikingly the character of the Scotch and
Scandinavian ballads.

XIII. CRY HOLY.

"Cry holy, holy!
Look at de people dat is born of God.
And I run down de valley, and I run down to pray,
Says, look at de people dat is born of God.
When I get dar, Cappen Satan was dar,
Says, look at, &c.
Says, young man, young man, dere's no use for pray,
Says, look at, &c.
For Jesus is dead, and God gone away,
Says, look at, &c.
And I made him out a liar, and I went my way,
Says, look at, &c.
Sing holy, holy!

"O, Mary was a woman, and he had a one Son,
Says, look at, &c.
And de Jews and de Romans had him hung,
Says, look at, &c. Cry holy, holy!

"And I tell you, sinner, you had better had pray,
Says, look at, &c.
For hell is a dark and dismal place,
Says, look at, &c.

And I tell you, sinner, and I wouldn't go dar!
Says, look at, &c.
Cry holy, holy!"

Here is an infinitely quaint description of the length of the heavenly
road:--

XIV. O'ER THE CROSSING.

"Vender's my old mudder,
Been a-waggin' at de hill so long.
It's about time she'll cross over;
Get home bimeby.
Keep prayin', I do believe
We're a long time waggin' o'er de crossin'.
Keep prayin', I do believe
We'll get home to heaven bimeby.

"Hear dat mournful thunder
Roll from door to door,
Calling home God's children;
Get home bimeby.
Little chil'en, I do believe
We're a long time, &c.
Little chil'en, I do believe
We'll get home, &c.

"See dat forked lightnin'
Flash from tree to tree,
Callin' home God's chil'en;
Get home bimeby.
True believer, I do believe
We're a long time, &c.
O brudders, I do believe,
We'll get home to heaven bimeby."

One of the most singular pictures of future joys, and with fine flavor
of hospitality about it, was this:--

XV. WALK 'EM EASY.

"O, walk 'em easy round de heaven,
Walk 'em easy round de heaven,
Walk 'em easy round de heaven,
Dat all de people may join de band.
Walk 'em easy round de heaven. (_Thrice_.)
O, shout glory till 'em join dat band!"

The chorus was usually the greater part of the song, and often came in
paradoxically, thus:--

XVI. O YES, LORD.

"O, must I be like de foolish mans?
O yes, Lord!
Will build de house on de sandy hill.
O yes, Lord!
I'll build my house on Zion hill,
O yes, Lord!
No wind nor rain can blow me down,
O yes, Lord!"

The next is very graceful and lyrical, and with more variety of rhythm
than usual:--

XVII. BOW LOW, MARY.

"Bow low, Mary, bow low, Martha,
For Jesus come and lock de door,
And carry de keys away.
Sail, sail, over yonder,
And view de promised land.
For Jesus come, &c.
Weep, O Mary, bow low, Martha,
For Jesus come, &c.
Sail, sail, my true believer;
Sail, sail, over yonder;
Mary, bow low, Martha, bow low,
For Jesus come and lock de door
And carry de keys away."

But of all the "spirituals" that which surprised me the most, I
think,--perhaps because it was that in which external
nature furnished the images most directly,--was this. With all my
experience of their ideal ways of speech, I was startled when first I
came on such a flower of poetry in that dark soil.

XVIH. I KNOW MOON-RISE.

"I know moon-rise, I know star-rise,
Lay dis body down.
I walk in de moonlight, I walk in de starlight,
To lay dis body down.
I'll walk in de graveyard, I'll walk through de graveyard,
To lay dis body down.
I'll lie in de grave and stretch out my arms;
Lay dis body down.
I go to de judgment in de evenin' of de day,
When I lay dis body down;
And my soul and your soul will meet in de day
When I lay dis body down."

"I'll lie in de grave and stretch out my arms." Never, it seems to me,
since man first lived and suffered, was his infinite longing for peace
uttered more plaintively than in that line.

The next is one of the wildest and most striking of the whole series:
there is a mystical effect and a passionate striving throughout the
whole. The Scriptural struggle between Jacob and the angel, which is
only dimly expressed in the words, seems all uttered in the music. I
think it impressed my imagination more powerfully than any other of
these songs.

XIX. WRESTLING JACOB.

"O wrestlin' Jacob, Jacob, day's a-breakin';
I will not let thee go!
O wrestlin' Jacob, Jacob, day's a-breakin';
He will not let me go!
O, I hold my brudder wid a tremblin' hand
I would not let him go!
I hold my sister wid a tremblin' hand;
I would not let her go!

"O, Jacob do hang from a tremblin' limb,
He would not let him go!
O, Jacob do hang from a tremblin' limb;
De Lord will bless my soul.
O wrestlin' Jacob, Jacob," &c.

Of "occasional hymns," properly so called, I noticed but one, a funeral
hymn for an infant, which is sung plaintively over and over, without
variety of words.

XX. THE BABY GONE HOME.

"De little baby gone home,
De little baby gone home,
De little baby gone along,
For to climb up Jacob's ladder.
And I wish I'd been dar,
I wish I'd been dar,
I wish I'd been dar, my Lord,
For to climb up Jacob's ladder."

Still simpler is this, which is yet quite sweet and touching.

XXI. JESUS WITH US.

"He have been wid us, Jesus
He still wid us, Jesus,
He will be wid us, Jesus,
Be wid us to the end."

The next seemed to be a favorite about Christmas time, when meditations
on "de rollin' year" were frequent among them.

XXII. LORD, REMEMBER ME.

"O do, Lord, remember me!
O do, Lord, remember me!
O, do remember me, until de year roll round!
Do, Lord, remember me!

"If you want to die like Jesus died,
Lay in de grave,
You would fold your arms and close your eyes
And die wid a free good will.

"For Death is a simple ting,
And he go from door to door,
And he knock down some, and he cripple op some,
And he leave some here to pray.

"O do, Lord remember me!
O do, Lord, remember me!
My old fader's gone till de year roll round;
Do, Lord, remember me!"

The next was sung in such an operatic and rollicking way that it was
quite hard to fancy it a religious performance, which, however, it was.
I heard it but once.

XXIH. EARLY IN THE MORNING.

"I meet little Rosa early in de mornin',
O Jerusalem! early in de mornin';
And I ax her, How you do, my darter?
O Jerusalem! early in de mornin'.

"I meet my mudder early in de mornin',
O Jerusalem! &c.
And I ax her, How you do, my mudder?
O Jerusalem! &c.

"I meet Brudder Robert early in de mornin',
O Jerusalem! &c.
And I ax him, How you do, my sonny?
O Jerusalem! &c.

"I meet Tittawisa early in de mornin',
O Jerusalem! &c.
And I ax her, How you do, my darter?
O Jerusalem!" &c.

"Tittawisa" means "Sister Louisa." In songs of this class the name of
every person present successively appears.

Their best marching song, and one which was invaluable to lift their
feet along, as they expressed it, was the following. There was a kind of
spring and lilt to it, quite indescribable by words.

XXIV. GO IN THE WILDERNESS.

"Jesus call you. Go in de wilderness,
Go in de wilderness, go in de wilderness,
Jesus call you. Go in de wilderness
To wait upon de Lord.
Go wait upon de Lord,
Go wait upon de Lord,
Go wait upon de Lord, my God,
He take away de sins of de world.

"Jesus a-waitin'. Go in de wilderness,
Go, &c.
All dem chil'en go in de wilderness
To wait upon de Lord."

The next was one of those which I had heard in boyish days, brought
North from Charleston. But the chorus alone was identical; the words
were mainly different, and those here given are quaint enough.

XXV. BLOW YOUR TRUMPET, GABRIEL.

"O, blow your trumpet, Gabriel,
Blow your trumpet louder;
And I want dat trumpet to blow me home
To my new Jerusalem.

"De prettiest ting dat ever I done
Was to serve de Lord when I was young.
So blow your trumpet, Gabriel, &c.

"O, Satan is a liar, and he conjure too,
And if you don't mind, he'll conjure you.
So blow your trumpet, Gabriel, &c.

"O, I was lost in de wilderness.
King Jesus hand me de candle down.
So blow your trumpet, Gabriel," &c.

The following contains one of those odd transformations of proper names
with which their Scriptural citations were often enriched. It rivals
their text, "Paul may plant, and may polish wid water," which I have
elsewhere quoted, and in which the sainted Apollos would hardly have
recognized himself.

XXVI. IN THE MORNING.

"In de mornin',
In de mornin',
Chil'en? Yes, my Lord!
Don't you hear de trumpet sound?
If I had a-died when I was young,
I never would had de race for run.
Don't you hear de trumpet sound?

"O Sam and Peter was fishin' in de sea,
And dey drop de net and follow my Lord.
Don't you hear de trumpet sound?

"Dere's a silver spade for to dig my grave
And a golden chain for to let me down.
Don't you hear de trumpet sound?
In de mornin', In de mornin',
Chil'en? Yes, my Lord!
Don't you hear de trumpet sound?"

These golden and silver fancies remind one of the King of Spain's
daughter in "Mother Goose," and the golden apple, and the silver pear,
which are doubtless themselves but the vestiges of some simple early
composition like this. The next has a humbler and more domestic style of
fancy.

XXVII. FARE YE WELL.

"My true believers, fare ye well,
Fare ye well, fare ye well,
Fare ye well, by de grace of God,
For I'm going home.

Massa Jesus give me a little broom
For to sweep my heart clean,
And I will try, by de grace of God,
To win my way home."

Among the songs not available for marching, but requiring the
concentrated enthusiasm of the camp, was "The Ship of Zion," of which
they had three wholly distinct versions, all quite exuberant and
tumultuous.

XXVHI. THE SHIP OF ZION.

"Come along, come along,
And let us go home,
O, glory, hallelujah?
Dis de ole ship o' Zion,
Halleloo! Halleloo!
Dis de ole ship o' Zion,
Hallelujah!

"She has landed many a tousand,
She can land as many more.
O, glory, hallelujah! &c.

"Do you tink she will be able
For to take us all home?
O, glory, hallelujah! &c.

"You can tell 'em I'm a comin',
Halleloo! Halleloo!
You can tell 'em I'm a comin',
Hallelujah!
Come along, come along," &c.

XXIX. THE SHIP OF ZION. _(Second version.)_

"Dis de good ole ship o' Zion,
Dis de good ole ship o' Zion,
Dis de good ole ship o' Zion,
And she's makin' for de Promise Land.
She hab angels for de sailors, _(Thrice.)_
And she's, &c.
And how you know dey's angels? _(Thrice.)_
And she's, &c.
Good Lord, Shall I be one? _(Thrice.)_
And she's, &c.

"Dat ship is out a-sailin', sailin', sailin',
And she's, &c.
She's a-sailin' mighty steady, steady, steady,
And she's, &c.
She'll neither reel nor totter, totter, totter,
And she's, &c.
She's a-sailin' away cold Jordan, Jordan, Jordan,
And she's, &c.
King Jesus is de captain, captain, captain,
And she's makin' for de Promise Land."

XXX. THE SHIP OF ZION. _(Third version.)_

"De Gospel ship is sailin',
Hosann--sann.
O, Jesus is de captain,
Hosann--sann.
De angels are de sailors,
Hosann--sann.
O, is your bundle ready?
Hosann--sann.
O, have you got your ticket?
Hosann--sann."

This abbreviated chorus is given with unspeakable unction.

The three just given are modifications of an old camp-meeting melody;
and the same may be true of the three following, although I cannot find
them in the Methodist hymn-books. Each, however, has its characteristic
modifications, which make it well worth giving. In the second verse of
this next, for instance, "Saviour" evidently has become "soldier."

XXXI. SWEET MUSIC

"Sweet music in heaven,
Just beginning for to roll.
Don't you love God?
Glory, hallelujah!

"Yes, late I heard my soldier say,
Come, heavy soul, I am de way.
Don't you love God?
Glory, hallelujah!

"I'll go and tell to sinners round
What a kind Saviour I have found.
Don't you love God?
Glory, hallelujah!

"My grief my burden long has been,
Because I was not cease from sin.
Don't you love God?
Glory, hallelujahl"

XXXII. GOOD NEWS.

"O, good news! O, good news!
De angels brought de tidings down,
Just comin' from de trone.

"As grief from out my soul shall fly,
Just comin' from de trone;
I'll shout salvation when I die,
Good news, O, good news!
Just comin' from de trone.

"Lord, I want to go to heaven when I die,
Good news, O, good news! &c.

"De white folks call us a noisy crew,
Good news, O, good news!
But dis I know, we are happy too,
Just comin' from de trone."

XXXIII. THE HEAVENLY ROAD.

"You may talk of my name as much as you please,
And carry my name abroad,
But I really do believe I'm a child of God
As I walk in de heavenly road.
O, won't you go wid me? _(Thrice.)_
For to keep our garments clean.

"O Satan is a mighty busy ole man,
And roll rocks in my way;
But Jesus is my bosom friend,
And roll 'em out of de way.
O, won't you go wid me? _(Thrice.)_
For to keep our garments clean.

"Come, my brudder, if you never did pray,
I hope you may pray to-night;
For I really believe I'm a child of God
As I walk in de heavenly road.
O, won't you," &c.

Some of the songs had played an historic part during the war. For
singing the next, for instance, the negroes had been put in jail in
Georgetown, S. C., at the outbreak of the Rebellion. "We'll soon be
free" was too dangerous an assertion; and though the chant was an old
one, it was no doubt sung with redoubled emphasis during the new events.
"De Lord will call us home," was evidently thought to be a symbolical
verse; for, as a little drummer-boy explained to me, showing all his
white teeth as he sat in the moonlight by the door of my tent, "Dey tink
_de Lord_ mean for say _de Yankees_."

XXXIV. WE'LL SOON BE FREE.

"We'll soon be free,
We'll soon be free,
We'll soon be free,
When de Lord will call us home.
My brudder, how long,
My brudder, how long,
My brudder, how long,
'Fore we done sufferin' here?
It won't be long _(Thrice.)_
'Fore de Lord will call us home.
We'll walk de miry road _(Thrice.)_
Where pleasure never dies.
We'll walk de golden street _(Thrice.)_
Where pleasure never dies.
My brudder, how long _(Thrice.)_
'Fore we done sufferin' here?
We'll soon be free _(Thrice.)_
When Jesus sets me free.
We'll fight for liberty _(Thrice.)_
When de Lord will call us home."

The suspicion in this case was unfounded, but they had another song to
which the Rebellion had actually given rise. This was composed by nobody
knew whom,--though it was the most recent, doubtless, of all these
"spirituals,"--and had been sung in secret to avoid detection. It is
certainly plaintive enough. The peck of corn and pint of salt were
slavery's rations.

XXXV. MANY THOUSAND GO.

"No more peck o' corn for me,
No more, no more,--
No more peck o' corn for me,
Many tousand go.

"No more driver's lash for me, _(Twice.)_
No more, &c.

"No more pint o' salt for me, _(Twice_.)
No more, &c.

"No more hundred lash for me, _(Twice_.)
No more, &c.

"No more mistress' call for me,
No more, no more,--
No more mistress' call for me,
Many tousand go."

Even of this last composition, however, we have only the approximate
date and know nothing of the mode of composition. Allan Ramsay says of
the Scotch songs, that, no matter who made them, they were soon
attributed to the minister of the parish whence they sprang. And I
always wondered, about these, whether they had always a conscious and
definite origin in some leading mind, or whether they grew by gradual
accretion, in an almost unconscious way. On this point I could get no
information, though I asked many questions, until at last, one day
when I was being rowed across from Beaufort to Ladies' Island, I found
myself, with delight, on the actual trail of a song. One of the
oarsmen, a brisk young fellow, not a soldier, on being asked for his
theory of the matter, dropped out a coy confession. "Some good
sperituals," he said, "are start jess out o' curiosity. I been a-raise
a sing, myself, once."

My dream was fulfilled, and I had traced out, not the poem alone, but
the poet. I implored him to proceed.

"Once we boys," he said, "went for tote some rice and de nigger-driver
he keep a-callin' on us; and I say, 'O, de ole nigger-driver!' Den
anudder said, 'Fust ting my mammy tole me was, notin' so bad as
nigger-driver.' Den I made a sing, just puttin' a word, and den anudder
word."

Then he began singing, and the men, after listening a moment, joined in
the chorus, as if it were an old acquaintance, though they evidently had
never heard it before. I saw how easily a new "sing" took root among them.

XXXVI. THE DRIVER.

"O, de ole nigger-driver!
O, gwine away!
Fust ting my mammy tell me,
O, gwine away!
Tell me 'bout de nigger-driver,
O, gwine away!
Nigger-driver second devil,
O, gwine away!
Best ting for do he driver,
O, gwine away!
Knock he down and spoil he labor,
O, gwine away!"

It will be observed that, although this song is quite secular in its
character, yet its author called it a "spiritual." I heard but two songs
among them, at any time, to which they would not, perhaps, have given
this generic name. One of these consisted simply in the endless
repetition--after the manner of certain college songs--of the mysterious
line,--

"Rain fall and wet Becky Lawton."

But who Becky Lawton was, and why she should or should not be wet, and
whether the dryness was a reward or a penalty, none could say. I got the
impression that, in either case, the event was posthumous, and that
there was some tradition of grass not growing over the grave of a
sinner; but even this was vague, and all else vaguer.

The other song I heard but once, on a morning when a squad of men came
in from picket duty, and chanted it in the most rousing way. It had been
a stormy and comfortless night, and the picket station was very exposed.
It still rained in the morning when I strolled to the edge of the camp,
looking out for the men, and wondering how they had stood it. Presently
they came striding along the road, at a great pace, with their shining
rubber blankets worn as cloaks around them, the rain streaming from
these and from then- equally shining faces, which were almost all upon
the broad grin, as they pealed out this remarkable ditty:--

HANGMAN JOHNNY.

"O, dey call me Hangman Johnny!
O, ho! O, ho!
But I never hang nobody,
O, hang, boys, hang!
O dey, call me Hangman Johnny!
O, ho! O, ho!
But we'll all hang togedder,
O, hang, boys, hang!"

My presence apparently checked the performance of another verse,
beginning, "De buckra 'list for money," apparently in reference to the
controversy about the pay-question, then just beginning, and to the more
mercenary aims they attributed to the white soldiers. But "Hangman
Johnny" remained always a myth as inscrutable as "Becky Lawton."

As they learned all their songs by ear, they often strayed into wholly
new versions, which sometimes became popular, and entirely banished the
others. This was amusingly the case, for instance, with one phrase in
the popular camp-song of "Marching Along," which was entirely new to
them until our quartermaster taught it to them, at my request. The
words, "Gird on the armor," were to them a stumbling-block, and no
wonder, until some ingenious ear substituted, "Guide on de army," which
was at once accepted, and became universal.

"We'll guide on de army, and be marching along"

is now the established version on the Sea Islands.

These quaint religious songs were to the men more than a source of
relaxation; they were a stimulus to courage and a tie to heaven. I
never overheard in camp a profane or vulgar song. With the trifling
exceptions given, all had a religious motive, while the most secular
melody could not have been more exciting. A few youths from Savannah,
who were comparatively men of the world, had learned some of the
"Ethiopian Minstrel" ditties, imported from the North. These took no
hold upon the mass; and, on the other hand, they sang reluctantly,
even on Sunday, the long and short metres of the hymn-books, always
gladly yielding to the more potent excitement of their own
"spirituals." By these they could sing themselves, as had their
fathers before them, out of the contemplation of their own low estate,
into the sublime scenery of the Apocalypse. I remember that this
minor-keyed pathos used to seem to me almost too sad to dwell upon,
while slavery seemed destined to last for generations; but now that
their patience has had its perfect work, history cannot afford to lose
this portion of its record. There is no parallel instance of an
oppressed race thus sustained by the religious sentiment alone. These
songs are but the vocal expression of the simplicity of their faith
and the sublimity of their long resignation.

Chapter 10
Life at Camp Shaw

The Edisto expedition cost me the health and strength of several years.
I could say, long after, in the words of one of the men, "I'se been a
sickly person, eber since de expeditious." Justice to a strong
constitution and good habits compels me, however, to say that, up to the
time of my injury, I was almost the only officer in the regiment who had
not once been off duty from illness. But at last I had to yield, and
went North for a month.

We heard much said, during the war, of wounded officers who stayed
unreasonably long at home. I think there were more instances of those
who went back too soon. Such at least was my case. On returning to the
regiment I found a great accumulation of unfinished business; every
member of the field and staff was prostrated by illness or absent on
detailed service; two companies had been sent to Hilton Head on
fatigue duty, and kept there unexpectedly long: and there was a
visible demoralization among the rest, especially from the fact that
their pay had just been cut down, in violation of the express pledges
of the government. A few weeks of steady sway made all right again;
and during those weeks I felt a perfect exhilaration of health,
followed by a month or two of complete prostration, when the work was
done. This passing, I returned to duty, buoyed up by the fallacious
hope that the winter months would set me right again.

We had a new camp on Port Royal Island, very pleasantly situated, just
out of Beaufort. It stretched nearly to the edge of a shelving bluff,
fringed with pines and overlooking the river; below the bluff was a
hard, narrow beach, where one might gallop a mile and bathe at the
farther end. We could look up and down the curving stream, and watch the
few vessels that came and went. Our first encampment had been lower down
that same river, and we felt at home.

The new camp was named Camp Shaw, in honor of the noble young officer
who had lately fallen at Fort Wagner, under circumstances which had
endeared him to all the men. As it happened, they had never seen him,
nor was my regiment ever placed within immediate reach of the
Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts. This I always regretted, feeling very
desirous to compare the military qualities of the Northern and Southern
blacks. As it was, the Southern regiments with which the Massachusetts
troops were brigaded were hardly a fair specimen of their kind, having
been raised chiefly by drafting, and, for this and other causes, being
afflicted with perpetual discontent and desertion.

We had, of course, looked forward with great interest to the arrival of
these new colored regiments, and I had ridden in from the picket-station
to see the Fifty-Fourth. Apart from the peculiarity of its material, it
was fresh from my own State, and I had relatives and acquaintances among
its officers. Governor Andrew, who had formed it, was an old friend, and
had begged me, on departure from Massachusetts, to keep him informed as
to our experiment I had good reason to believe that my reports had
helped to prepare the way for this new battalion, and I had sent him, at
his request, some hints as to its formation.*

*COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS, Executive Department,

Boston, February 5, 1863.

To COL. T. W. HIGGINSON,
Commanding 1st Regt. S. C. Vols.,

Port Royal Id., S. C.

COLONEL,--I am under obligations to you for your very interesting
letter of January 19th, which I considered to be too important in its
testimony to the efficiency of colored troops to be allowed to remain
hidden on my files. I therefore placed some portions of it in the
hands of Hon. Stephen M. Weld, of Jamaica Plain, for publication, and
you will find enclosed the newspaper slip from the "Journal" of
February 3d, in which it appeared. During a recent visit at Washington
I have obtained permission from the Department of War to enlist
colored troops as part of the Massachusetts quota, and I am about to
begin to organize a colored infantry regiment, to be numbered the
"54th Massachusetts Volunteers."

I shall be greatly obliged by any suggestions which your experience may
afford concerning it, and I am determined that it shall serve as a
model, in the high character of its officers and the thorough discipline
of its men, for all subsequent corps of the like material.

Please present to General Saxton the assurances of my respectful regard.

I have the honor to be, respectfuly and obediently yours,

JOHN A. ANDREW, Governor of Massachusetts.

In the streets of Beaufort I had met Colonel Shaw, riding with his
lieutenant-colonel and successor, Edward Hallowell, and had gone back
with them to share their first meal in camp. I should have known Shaw
anywhere by his resemblance to his kindred, nor did it take long to
perceive that he shared their habitual truthfulness and courage.
Moreover, he and Hallowell had already got beyond the commonplaces of
inexperience, in regard to colored troops, and, for a wonder, asked only
sensible questions. For instance, he admitted the mere matter of courage
to be settled, as regarded the colored troops, and his whole solicitude
bore on this point, Would they do as well in line-of-battle as they had
already done in more irregular service, and on picket and guard duty? Of
this I had, of course, no doubt, nor, I think, had he; though I remember
his saying something about the possibility of putting them between two
fires in case of need, and so cutting off their retreat. I should never
have thought of such a project, but I could not have expected bun to
trust them as I did, until he had been actually under fire with them.
That, doubtless, removed all his anxieties, if he really had any.

This interview had occurred on the 4th of June. Shaw and his regiment
had very soon been ordered to Georgia, then to Morris Island; Fort
Wagner had been assaulted, and he had been killed. Most of the men
knew about the circumstances of his death, and many of them had
subscribed towards a monument for him,--a project which originated
with General Saxton, and which was finally embodied in the "Shaw
School-house" at Charleston. So it gave us all pleasure to name this
camp for him, as its predecessor had been named for General Saxton.

The new camp was soon brought into good order. The men had great
ingenuity in building screens and shelters of light poles, filled in
with the gray moss from the live-oaks. The officers had vestibules built
in this way, before all their tents; the cooking-places were walled
round in the same fashion; and some of the wide company-streets had
sheltered sidewalks down the whole line of tents. The sergeant on duty
at the entrance of the camp had a similar bower, and the architecture
culminated in a "Praise-House" for school and prayer-meetings, some
thirty feet in diameter. As for chimneys and flooring, they were
provided with that magic and invisible facility which marks the second
year of a regiment's life.

That officer is happy who, besides a constitutional love of adventure,
has also a love for the details of camp life, and likes to bring them to
perfection. Nothing but a hen with her chickens about her can symbolize
the content I felt on getting my scattered companies together, after
some temporary separation on picket or fatigue duty. Then we went to
work upon the nest. The only way to keep a camp in order is to set about
everything as if you expected to stay there forever; if you stay, you
get the comfort of it; if ordered away in twenty-four hours, you forget
all wasted labor in the excitement of departure. Thus viewed, a camp is
a sort of model farm or bit of landscape gardening; there is always some
small improvement to be made, a trench, a well, more shade against the
sun, an increased vigilance in sweeping. Then it is pleasant to take
care of the men, to see them happy, to hear them purr.

Then the duties of inspection and drill, suspended during active
service, resume their importance with a month or two of quiet. It
really costs unceasing labor to keep a regiment in perfect condition
and ready for service. The work is made up of minute and endless
details, like a bird's pruning her feathers or a cat's licking her
kittens into their proper toilet. Here are eight hundred men, every
one of whom, every Sunday morning at farthest, must be perfectly
_soigne_ in all personal proprieties; he must exhibit himself provided
with every article of clothing, buttons, shoe-strings, hooks and eyes,
company letter, regimental number, rifle, bayonet, bayonet-scabbard,
cap-pouch, cartridge-box, cartridge-box belt, cartridge-box
belt-plate, gun-sling, canteen, haversack, knapsack, packed according
to rule, forty cartridges, forty percussion caps; and every one of
these articles polished to the highest brightness or blackness as the
case may be, and moreover hung or slung or tied or carried in
precisely the correct manner.

What a vast and formidable housekeeping is here, my patriotic sisters!
Consider, too, that every corner of the camp is to be kept absolutely
clean and ready for exhibition at the shortest notice; hospital,
stables, guard-house, cook-houses, company tents, must all be brought to
perfection, and every square inch of this "farm of four acres" must look
as smooth as an English lawn, twice a day. All this, beside the
discipline and the drill and the regimental and company books, which
must keep rigid account of all these details; consider all this, and
then wonder no more that officers and men rejoice in being ordered on
active service, where a few strokes of the pen will dispose of all this
multiplicity of trappings as "expended in action" or "lost in service."

For one, the longer I remained in service, the better I appreciated the
good sense of most of the regular army niceties. True, these things must
all vanish when the time of action comes, but it is these things that
have prepared you for action. Of course, if you dwell on them only,
military life becomes millinery life alone. Kinglake says that the
Russian Grand-Duke Constantine, contemplating his beautiful
toy-regiments, said that he dreaded war, for he knew that it would spoil
the troops. The simple fact is, that a soldier is like the weapon he
carries; service implies soiling, but you must have it clean in advance,
that when soiled it may be of some use.

The men had that year a Christmas present which they enjoyed to the
utmost,--furnishing the detail, every other day, for provost-guard
duty in Beaufort. It was the only military service which they had ever
shared within the town, and it moreover gave a sense of self-respect
to be keeping the peace of their own streets. I enjoyed seeing them
put on duty those mornings; there was such a twinkle of delight in
their eyes, though their features were immovable. As the "reliefs"
went round, posting the guard, under charge of a corporal, one could
watch the black sentinels successively dropped and the whites picked
up,--gradually changing the complexion, like Lord Somebody's black
stockings which became white stockings,--till at last there was only a
squad of white soldiers obeying the "Support Arms! Forward, March!" of
a black corporal.

Then, when once posted, they glorified their office, you may be sure.
Discipline had grown rather free-and-easy in the town about that time,
and it is said that the guard-house never was so full within human
memory as after their first tour of duty. I remember hearing that one
young reprobate, son of a leading Northern philanthropist in those
parts, was much aggrieved at being taken to the lock-up merely because
he was found drunk in the streets. "Why," said he, "the white corporals
always showed me the way home." And I can testify that, after an evening
party, some weeks later, I beard with pleasure the officers asking
eagerly for the countersign. "Who has the countersign?" said they. "The
darkeys are on guard to-night, and we must look out for our lives." Even
after a Christmas party at General Saxton's, the guard at the door very
properly refused to let the ambulance be brought round from the stable
for the ladies because the driver had not the countersign.

One of the sergeants of the guard, on one of these occasions, made to
one who questioned his authority an answer that could hardly have been
improved. The questioner had just been arrested for some offence.

"Know what dat mean?" said the indignant sergeant, pointing to the
chevrons on his own sleeve. "Dat mean _Guv'ment_." Volumes could not
have said more, and the victim collapsed. The thing soon settled
itself, and nobody remembered to notice whether the face beside the
musket of a sentinel were white or black. It meant Government, all the
same.

The men were also indulged with several raids on the mainland, under the
direction of Captain J. E. Bryant, of the Eighth Maine, the most
experienced scout in that region, who was endeavoring to raise by
enlistment a regiment of colored troops. On one occasion Captains
Whitney and Heasley, with their companies, penetrated nearly to
Pocataligo, capturing some pickets and bringing away all the slaves of a
plantation,--the latter operation being entirely under the charge of
Sergeant Harry Williams (Co. K), without the presence of any white man.
The whole command was attacked on the return by a rebel force, which
turned out to be what was called in those regions a "dog-company,"
consisting of mounted riflemen with half a dozen trained bloodhounds.
The men met these dogs with their bayonets, killed four or five of their
old tormentors with great relish, and brought away the carcass of one. I
had the creature skinned, and sent the skin to New York to be stuffed
and mounted, meaning to exhibit it at the Sanitary Commission Fair hi
Boston; but it spoiled on the passage. These quadruped allies were not
originally intended as "dogs of war," but simply to detect fugitive
slaves, and the men were delighted at this confirmation of their tales
of dog-companies, which some of the officers had always disbelieved.

Captain Bryant, during his scouting adventures, had learned to outwit
these bloodhounds, and used his skill in eluding escape, during
another expedition of the same kind. He was sent with Captain
Metcalf's company far up the Combahee River to cut the telegraphic
wires and intercept despatches. Our adventurous chaplain and a
telegraphic operator went with the party. They ascended the river, cut
the wires, and read the despatches for an hour or two. Unfortunately,
the attached wire was too conspicuously hung, and was seen by a
passenger on the railway train in passing. The train was stopped and a
swift stampede followed; a squad of cavalry was sent in pursuit, and
our chaplain, with Lieutenant Osborn, of Bryant's projected regiment,
were captured; also one private,--the first of our men who had ever
been taken prisoners. In spite of an agreement at Washington to the
contrary, our chaplain was held as prisoner of war, the only spiritual
adviser in uniform, so far as I know, who had that honor. I do not
know but his reverence would have agreed with Scott's
pirate-lieutenant, that it was better to live as plain Jack Bunce than
die as Frederick Altamont; but I am very sure that he would rather
have been kept prisoner to the close of the war, as a combatant, than
have been released on parole as a non-resistant.

After his return, I remember, he gave the most animated accounts of the
whole adventure, of which he had enjoyed every instant, from the first
entrance on the enemy's soil to the final capture. I suppose we should
all like to tap the telegraphic wires anywhere and read our neighbor's
messages, if we could only throw round this process the dignity of a
Sacred Cause. This was what our good chaplain had done, with the same
conscientious zest with which he had conducted his Sunday foraging in
Florida. But he told me that nothing so impressed him on the whole trip
as the sudden transformation in the black soldier who was taken prisoner
with him. The chaplain at once adopted the policy, natural to him, of
talking boldly and even defiantly to his captors, and commanding instead
of beseeching. He pursued the same policy always and gained by it, he
thought. But the negro adopted the diametrically opposite policy, also
congenial to his crushed race,--all the force seemed to go out of him,
and he surrendered himself like a tortoise to be kicked and trodden upon
at their will. This manly, well-trained soldier at once became a slave
again, asked no questions, and, if any were asked, made meek and
conciliatory answers. He did not know, nor did any of us know, whether
he would be treated as a prisoner of war, or shot, or sent to a
rice-plantation. He simply acted according to the traditions of his
race, as did the chaplain on his side. In the end the soldier's cunning
was vindicated by the result; he escaped, and rejoined us in six months,
while the chaplain was imprisoned for a year.

The men came back very much exhausted from this expedition, and those
who were in the chaplain's squad narrowly escaped with their lives.
One brave fellow had actually not a morsel to eat for four days, and
then could keep nothing on his stomach for two days more, so that his
life was despaired of; and yet he brought all his equipments safe into
camp. Some of these men had led such wandering lives, in woods and
swamps, that to hunt them was like hunting an otter; shyness and
concealment had grown to be their second nature.

After these little episodes came two months of peace. We were clean,
comfortable, quiet, and consequently discontented. It was therefore with
eagerness that we listened to a rumor of a new Florida expedition, in
which we might possibly take a hand.

Chapter 11
Florida Again?

Let me revert once more to my diary, for a specimen of the sharp changes
and sudden disappointments that may come to troops in service. But for a
case or two of varioloid in the regiment, we should have taken part in
the battle of Olustee, and should have had (as was reported) the right
of the line. At any rate we should have shared the hard knocks and the
glory, which were distributed pretty freely to the colored troops then
and there. The diary will give, better than can any continuous
narrative, our ups and down of expectation in those days.

"CAMP SHAW, BEAUFORT, S. C.,

February 7, 1864.

"Great are the uncertainties of military orders! Since our recall from
Jacksonville we have had no such surprises as came to us on Wednesday
night. It was our third day of a new tour of duty at the picket
station. We had just got nicely settled,--men well tented, with good
floors, and in high spirits, officers at out-stations all happy, Mrs.
---- coming to stay with her husband, we at head-quarters just in
order, house cleaned, moss-garlands up, camellias and jessamines in
the tin wash-basins, baby in bliss;--our usual run of visitors had
just set in, two Beaufort captains and a surgeon had just risen from a
late dinner after a flag of truce, General Saxton and his wife had
driven away but an hour or two before, we were all sitting about busy,
with a great fire blazing, Mrs. D. had just remarked triumphantly,
'Last time I had but a mouthful here, and now I shall be here three
weeks'--when--

"In dropped, like a bombshell, a despatch announcing that we were to be
relieved by the Eighth Maine, the next morning, as General Gillmore had
sent an order that we should be ready for departure from Beaufort at any
moment.

"Conjectures, orders, packing, sending couriers to out-stations, were
the employments of the evening; the men received the news with cheers,
and we all came in next morning."

"February 11, 1864.

"For three days we have watched the river, and every little steamboat
that comes up for coal brings out spy-glasses and conjectures, and
'Dar's de Fourf New Hampshire,'--for when that comes, it is said, we go.
Meanwhile we hear stirring news from Florida, and the men are very
impatient to be off. It is remarkable how much more thoroughly they look
at things as soldiers than last year, and how much less as home-bound
men,--the South-Carolinians, I mean, for of course the Floridians would
naturally wish to go to Florida.

"But in every way I see the gradual change in them, sometimes with a
sigh, as parents watch their children growing up and miss the droll
speeches and the confiding ignorance of childhood. Sometimes it comes
over me with a pang that they are growing more like white men,--less
naive and less grotesque. Still, I think there is enough of it to last,
and that their joyous buoyancy, at least, will hold out while life does.

"As for our destination, our greatest fear is of finding ourselves
posted at Hilton Head and going no farther. As a dashing Irish officer
remarked the other day, 'If we are ordered away anywhere, I hope it will
be either to go to Florida or else stay here!'"

"Sublime uncertainties again!

"After being ordered in from picket, under marching orders; after the
subsequent ten days of uncertainty; after watching every steamboat that
came up the river, to see if the Fourth New Hampshire was on board,--at
last the regiment came.

"Then followed another break; there was no transportation to take us. At
last a boat was notified.

"Then General Saxton, as anxious to keep us as was the regiment to go,
played his last card in small-pox, telegraphing to department
head-quarters that we had it dangerously in the regiment. (N. B. All
varioloid, light at that, and besides, we always have it.)

"Then the order came to leave behind the sick and those who had been
peculiarly exposed, and embark the rest next day.

"Great was the jubilee! The men were up, I verily believe, by three in
the morning, and by eight the whole camp was demolished or put in
wagons, and we were on our way. The soldiers of the Fourth New Hampshire
swarmed in; every board was swept away by them; there had been a time
when colored boards (if I may delicately so express myself) were
repudiated by white soldiers, but that epoch had long since passed. I
gave my new tent-frame, even the latch, to Colonel Bell; ditto
Lieutenant-Colonel to Lieutenant-Colonel.

"Down we marched, the men singing 'John Brown' and 'Marching Along'
and 'Gwine in de Wilderness'; women in tears and smiles lined the way.
We halted opposite the dear General's; we cheered, he speeched, I
speeched, we all embraced symbolically, and cheered some more. Then we
went to work at the wharf; vast wagon-loads of tents, rations,
ordnance, and what-not disappeared in the capacious maw of the
Delaware. In the midst of it all came riding down General Saxton with
a despatch from Hilton Head:--

"'If you think the amount of small-pox in the First South Carolina
Volunteers sufficient, the order will be countermanded.'

"'What shall I say?' quoth the guilty General, perceiving how
preposterously too late the negotiation was reopened.

"'Say, sir?' quoth I. 'Say that we are on board already and the
small-pox left behind. Say we had only thirteen cases, chiefly
varioloid, and ten almost well.'

"Our blood was up with a tremendous morning's work done, and, rather
than turn back, we felt ready to hold down Major-General Gillmore,
commanding department, and all his staff upon the wharf, and vaccinate
them by main force.

"So General Saxton rode away, and we worked away. Just as the last
wagon-load but one was being transferred to the omnivorous depths of the
Delaware,--which I should think would have been filled ten times over
with what we had put into it,--down rode the General with a fiendish joy
in his bright eyes and held out a paper,--one of the familiar rescripts
from headquarters.

"'The marching orders of the First South Carolina Volunteers are hereby
countermanded.'

"'Major Trowbridge,' said I, 'will you give my compliments to
Lieutenant Hooper, somewhere in the hold of that steamer, and direct him
to set his men at work to bring out every individual article which they
have carried hi.' And I sat down on a pile of boards.

"'You will return to your old camping-ground, Colonel,' said the
General, placidly. 'Now,' he added with serene satisfaction, 'we will
have some brigade drills!'

"Brigade drills! Since Mr. Pickwick, with his heartless tomato-sauce and
warming-pans, there had been nothing so aggravating as to try to solace
us, who were as good as on board ship and under way,--nay, in imagination
as far up the St. John's as Pilatka at least,--with brigade drills! It
was very kind and flattering in him to wish to keep us. But unhappily we
had made up our minds to go.

"Never did officer ride at the head of a battalion of more wobegone,
spiritless wretches than I led back from Beaufort that day. 'When I
march down to de landin',' said one of the men afterwards, 'my knapsack
full of feathers. Comin' back, _he lead_!' And the lead, instead of the
feathers, rested on the heart of every one.

"As if the disappointment itself were not sufficient, we had to return
to our pretty camp, accustomed to its drawing-room order, and find it a
desert. Every board gone from the floors, the screens torn down from the
poles, all the little conveniences scattered, and, to crown all, a cold
breeze such as we had not known since New-Year's Day blowing across the
camp and flooding everything with dust. I sincerely hope the regiment
would never behave after a defeat as they behaved then. Every man seemed
crushed, officers and soldiers alike; when they broke ranks, they went
and lay down like sheep where their tents used to be, or wandered
disconsolately about, looking for their stray belongings. The scene was
so infinitely dolorous that it gradually put me in the highest spirits;
the ludicrousness of the whole affair was so complete, there was nothing
to do but laugh. The horrible dust blew till every officer had some
black spot on his nose which paralyzed pathos. Of course the only way
was to set them all at work as soon as possible; and work them we did,--I
at the camp and the Major at the wharf,--loading and unloading wagons and
just reversing all which the morning had done.

"The New Hampshire men were very considerate, and gave back most of what
they had taken, though many of our men were really too delicate or proud
to ask or even take what they had once given to soldiers or to the
colored people. I had no such delicacy about my tent-frame, and by night
things had resumed something of their old aspect, and cheerfulness was
in part restored. Yet long after this I found one first sergeant
absolutely in tears,--a Florida man, most of whose kindred were up the
St. John's. It was very natural that the men from that region should
feel thus bitterly, but it shows how much of the habit of soldiers they
have all acquired, that the South Carolina men, who were leaving the
neighborhood of their families for an indefinite time, were just as
eager to go, and not one deserted, though they knew it for a week
beforehand. No doubt my precarious health makes it now easier for me
personally to remain here--easier on reflection at least--than for the
others. At the same time Florida is fascinating, and offers not only
adventure, but the command of a brigade. Certainly at the last moment there
was not a sacrifice I would not have made rather than wrench myself and
others away from the expedition. We are, of course, thrown back into the
old uncertainty, and if the small-pox subsides (and it is really
diminishing decidedly) we may yet come in at the wrong end of the
Florida affair."

"February 19.

"Not a bit of it! This morning the General has ridden up radiant, has
seen General Gillmore, who has decided not to order us to Florida at
all, nor withdraw any of this garrison. Moreover, he says that all which
is intended in Florida is done,--that there will be no advance to
Tallahassee, and General Seymour will establish a camp of instruction in
Jacksonville. Well, if that is all, it is a lucky escape."

We little dreamed that on that very day the march toward Olustee was
beginning. The battle took place next day, and I add one more extract to
show how the news reached Beaufort.

"February 23, 1864.

"There was the sound of revelry by night at a ball in Beaufort last
night, in a new large building beautifully decorated. All the collected
flags of the garrison hung round and over us, as if the stars and
stripes were devised for an ornament alone. The array of uniforms was
such that a civilian became a distinguished object, much more a lady.
All would have gone according to the proverbial marriage-bell, I
suppose, had there not been a slight palpable shadow over all of us from
hearing vague stories of a lost battle in Florida, and from the thought
that perhaps the very ambulances in which we rode to the ball were ours
only until the wounded or the dead might tenant them.

"General Gillmore only came, I supposed, to put a good face upon the
matter. He went away soon, and General Saxton went; then came a rumor
that the Cosmopolitan had actually arrived with wounded, but still the
dance went on. There was nothing unfeeling about it,--one gets used to
things,--when suddenly, in the midst of the 'Lancers,' there came a
perfect hush, the music ceasing, a few surgeons went hastily to and
fro, as if conscience-stricken (I should think they might have
been),--then there 'waved a mighty shadow in,' as in Uhland's 'Black
Knight,' and as we all stood wondering we were 'ware of General
Saxton, who strode hastily down the hall, his pale face very resolute,
and looking almost sick with anxiety. He had just been on board the
steamer; there were two hundred and fifty wounded men just arrived,
and the ball must end. Not that there was anything for us to do; but
the revel was mistimed, and must be ended; it was wicked to be
dancing, with such a scene of suffering near by.

"Of course the ball was instantly broken up, though with some murrmurings
and some longings of appetite, on the part of some, toward the wasted
supper.

"Later, I went on board the boat. Among the long lines of wounded, black
and white intermingled, there was the wonderful quiet which usually
prevails on such occasions. Not a sob nor a groan, except from those
undergoing removal. It is not self-control, but chiefly the shock to the
system produced by severe wounds, especially gunshot wounds, and which
usually keeps the patient stiller at first than any later time.

"A company from my regiment waited on the wharf, in their accustomed
dusky silence, and I longed to ask them what they thought of our Florida
disappointment now? In view of what they saw, did they still wish we had
been there? I confess that in presence of all that human suffering, I
could not wish it. But I would not have suggested any such thought to them.

"I found our kind-hearted ladies, Mrs. Chamberlin and Mrs. Dewhurst, on
board the steamer, but there was nothing for them to do, and we walked
back to camp in the radiant moonlight; Mrs. Chamberlin more than ever
strengthened in her blushing woman's philosophy, 'I don't care who wins
the laurels, provided we don't!' "

"February 29.

"But for a few trivial cases of varioloid, we should
certainly have been in that disastrous fight. We were confidently
expected for several days at Jacksonville, and the commanding general
told Colonel Hallowell that we, being the oldest colored regiment,
would have the right of the line. This was certainly to miss danger
and glory very closely."

Chapter 12
The Negro as a Soldier

There was in our regiment a very young recruit, named Sam Roberts, of
whom Trowbridge used to tell this story. Early in the war Trowbridge had
been once sent to Amelia Island with a squad of men, under direction of
Commodore Goldsborough, to remove the negroes from the island. As the
officers stood on the beach, talking to some of the older freedmen, they
saw this urchin peeping at them from front and rear in a scrutinizing
way, for which his father at last called him to account, as thus:--

"Hi! Sammy, what you's doin', chile?"

"Daddy," said the inquisitive youth, "don't you know mas'r tell us
Yankee hab tail? I don't see no tail, daddy!"

There were many who went to Port Royal during the war, in civil or
military positions, whose previous impressions of the colored race
were about as intelligent as Sam's view of themselves. But, for once,
I had always had so much to do with fugitive slaves, and had studied
the whole subject with such interest, that I found not much to learn
or unlearn as to this one point. Their courage I had before seen
tested; their docile and lovable qualities I had known; and the only
real surprise that experience brought me was in finding them so little
demoralized. I had not allowed for the extreme remoteness and
seclusion of their lives, especially among the Sea Islands. Many of
them had literally spent their whole existence on some lonely island
or remote plantation, where the master never came, and the overseer
only once or twice a week. With these exceptions, such persons had
never seen a white face, and of the excitements or sins of larger
communities they had not a conception. My friend Colonel Hallo-well,
of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts, told me that he had among his men
some of the worst reprobates of Northern cities. While I had some men
who were unprincipled and troublesome, there was not one whom I could
call a hardened villain. I was constantly expecting to find male
Topsies, with no notions of good and plenty of evil. But I never found
one. Among the most ignorant there was very often a childlike absence
of vices, which was rather to be classed as inexperience than as
innocence, but which had some of the advantages of both.

Apart from this, they were very much like other men. General Saxton,
examining with some impatience a long list of questions from some
philanthropic Commission at the North, respecting the traits and habits
of the freedmen, bade some staff-officer answer them all in two
words,--"Intensely human." We all admitted that it was a striking and
comprehensive description.

For instance, as to courage. So far as I have seen, the mass of men
are naturally courageous up to a certain point. A man seldom runs away
from danger which he ought to face, unless others run; each is apt to
keep with the mass, and colored soldiers have more than usual of this
gregariousness. In almost every regiment, black or white, there are a
score or two of men who are naturally daring, who really hunger after
dangerous adventures, and are happiest when allowed to seek them.
Every commander gradually finds out who these men are, and habitually
uses them; certainly I had such, and I remember with delight their
bearing, their coolness, and their dash. Some of them were negroes,
some mulattoes. One of them would have passed for white, with brown
hair and blue eyes, while others were so black you could hardly see
their features. These picked men varied in other respects too; some
were neat and well-drilled soldiers, while others were slovenly,
heedless fellows,--the despair of their officers at inspection, their
pride on a raid. They were the natural scouts and rangers of the
regiment; they had the two-o'clock-in-the-morning courage, which
Napoleon thought so rare. The mass of the regiment rose to the same
level under excitement, and were more excitable, I think, than whites,
but neither more nor less courageous.

Perhaps the best proof of a good average of courage among them was in
the readiness they always showed for any special enterprise. I do not
remember ever to have had the slightest difficulty in obtaining
volunteers, but rather in keeping down the number. The previous pages
include many illustrations of this, as well as of then: endurance of
pain and discomfort. For instance, one of my lieutenants, a very daring
Irishman, who had served for eight years as a sergeant of regular
artillery in Texas, Utah, and South Carolina, said he had never been
engaged in anything so risky as our raid up the St. Mary's. But in truth
it seems to me a mere absurdity to deliberately argue the question of
courage, as applied to men among whom I waked and slept, day and night,
for so many months together. As well might he who has been wandering for
years upon the desert, with a Bedouin escort, discuss the courage of the
men whose tents have been his shelter and whose spears his guard. We,
their officers, did not go there to teach lessons, but to receive them.
There were more than a hundred men in the ranks who had voluntarily met
more dangers in then" escape from slavery than any of my young captains
had incurred in all their lives.

There was a family named Wilson, I remember, of which we had several
representatives. Three or four brothers had planned an escape from the
interior to our lines; they finally decided that the youngest should
stay and take care of the old mother; the rest, with their sister and
her children, came in a "dug-out" down one of the rivers. They were
fired upon, again and again, by the pickets along the banks, until
finally every man on board was wounded; and still they got safely
through. When the bullets began to fly about them, the woman shed
tears, and her little girl of nine said to her, "Don't cry, mother,
Jesus will help you," and then the child began praying as the wounded
men still urged the boat along. This the mother told me, but I had
previously heard it from on officer who was on the gunboat that picked
them up,--a big, rough man, whose voice fairly broke as he described
their appearance. He said that the mother and child had been hid for
nine months in the woods before attempting their escape, and the child
would speak to no one,--indeed, she hardly would when she came to our
camp. She was almost white, and this officer wished to adopt her, but
the mother said, "I would do anything but that for _oonah_," this
being a sort of Indian formation of the second-person-plural, such as
they sometimes use. This same officer afterwards saw a reward offered
for this family in a Savannah paper.

I used to think that I should not care to read "Uncle Tom's Cabin" hi
our camp; it would have seemed tame. Any group of men in a tent would
have had more exciting tales to tell. I needed no fiction when I had
Fanny Wright, for instance, daily passing to and fro before my tent,
with her shy little girl clinging to her skirts. Fanny was a modest
little mulatto woman, a soldier's wife, and a company laundress. She had
escaped from the main-land in a boat, with that child and another. Her
baby was shot dead in her arms, and she reached our lines with one child
safe on earth and the other in heaven. I never found it needful to give
any elementary instructions in courage to Fanny's husband, you may be sure.

There was another family of brothers in the regiment named Miller. Their
grandmother, a fine-looking old woman, nearly seventy, I should think,
but erect as a pine-tree, used sometimes to come and visit them. She and
her husband had once tried to escape from a plantation near Savannah.
They had failed, and had been brought back; the husband had received
five hundred lashes, and while the white men on the plantation were
viewing the punishment, she was collecting her children and
grandchildren, to the number of twenty-two, in a neighboring marsh,
preparatory to another attempt that night. They found a flat-boat which
had been rejected as unseaworthy, got on board,--still under the old
woman's orders,--and drifted forty miles down the river to our lines.
Trowbridge happened to be on board the gunboat which picked them up, and
he said that when the "flat" touched the side of the vessel, the
grandmother rose to her full height, with her youngest grandchild in her
arms, and said only, "My God! are we free?" By one of those coincidences
of which life is full, her husband escaped also, after his punishment,
and was taken up by the same gunboat.

I hardly need point out that my young lieutenants did not have to teach
the principles of courage to this woman's grandchildren.

I often asked myself why it was that, with this capacity of daring and
endurance, they had not kept the land in a perpetual flame of
insurrection; why, especially since the opening of the war, they had
kept so still. The answer was to be found in the peculiar temperament of
the races, in their religious faith, and in the habit of patience that
centuries had fortified. The shrewder men all said substantially the
same thing. What was the use of insurrection, where everything was
against them? They had no knowledge, no money, no arms, no drill, no
organization,--above all, no mutual confidence. It was the tradition
among them that all insurrections were always betrayed by somebody. They
had no mountain passes to defend like the Maroons of Jamaica,--no
unpenetrable swamps, like the Maroons of Surinam. Where they had these,
even on a small scale, they had used them,--as in certain swamps round
Savannah and in the everglades of Florida, where they united with the
Indians, and would stand fire--so I was told by General Saxton, who had
fought them there--when the Indians would retreat.

It always seemed to me that, had I been a slave, my life would have been
one long scheme of insurrection. But I learned to respect the patient
self-control of those who had waited till the course of events should
open a better way. When it came they accepted it. Insurrection on their
part would at once have divided the Northern sentiment; and a large part
of our army would have joined with the Southern army to hunt them down.
By their waiting till we needed them, their freedom was secured.

Two things chiefly surprised me in their feeling toward their former
masters,--the absence of affection and the absence of revenge. I
expected to find a good deal of the patriarchal feeling. It always
seemed to me a very ill-applied emotion, as connected with the facts
and laws of American slavery,--still I expected to find it. I suppose
that my men and their families and visitors may have had as much of it
as the mass of freed slaves; but certainly they had not a particle. I
never could cajole one of them, in his most discontented moment, into
regretting "ole mas'r time" for a single instant. I never heard one
speak of the masters except as natural enemies. Yet they were
perfectly discriminating as to individuals; many of them claimed to
have had kind owners, and some expressed great gratitude to them for
particular favors received. It was not the individuals, but the
ownership, of which they complained. That they saw to be a wrong which
no special kindnesses could right. On this, as on all points connected
with slavery, they understood the matter as clearly as Garrison or
Phillips; the wisest philosophy could teach them nothing as to that,
nor could any false philosophy befog them. After all, personal
experience is the best logician.

Certainly this indifference did not proceed from any want of personal
affection, for they were the most affectionate people among whom I had
ever lived. They attached themselves to every officer who deserved love,
and to some who did not; and if they failed to show it to their masters,
it proved the wrongfulness of the mastery. On the other hand, they
rarely showed one gleam of revenge, and I shall never forget the
self-control with which one of our best sergeants pointed out to me, at
Jacksonville, the very place where one of his brothers had been hanged
by the whites for leading a party of fugitive slaves. He spoke of it as
a historic matter, without any bearing on the present issue.

But side by side with this faculty of patience, there was a certain
tropical element in the men, a sort of fiery ecstasy when aroused,
which seemed to link them by blood with the French Turcos, and made
them really resemble their natural enemies, the Celts, far more than
the Anglo-Saxon temperament. To balance this there were great
individual resources when alone,--a sort of Indian wiliness and
subtlety of resource. Their gregariousness and love of drill made them
more easy to keep in hand than white American troops, who rather like
to straggle or go in little squads, looking out for themselves,
without being bothered with officers. The blacks prefer organization.

The point of inferiority that I always feared, though I never had
occasion to prove it, was that they might show less fibre, less tough
and dogged resistance, than whites, during a prolonged trial,--a long,
disastrous march, for instance, or the hopeless defence of a besieged
town. I should not be afraid of their mutinying or running away, but of
their drooping and dying. It might not turn out so; but I mention it for
the sake of fairness, and to avoid overstating the merits of these
troops. As to the simple general fact of courage and reliability I think
no officer in our camp ever thought of there being any difference
between black and white. And certainly the opinions of these officers,
who for years risked their lives every moment on the fidelity of their
men, were worth more than those of all the world beside.

No doubt there were reasons why this particular war was an especially
favorable test of the colored soldiers. They had more to fight for than
the whites. Besides the flag and the Union, they had home and wife and
child. They fought with ropes round their necks, and when orders were
issued that the officers of colored troops should be put to death on
capture, they took a grim satisfaction. It helped their _esprit de corps_
immensely. With us, at least, there was to be no play-soldier. Though
they had begun with a slight feeling of inferiority to the white troops,
this compliment substituted a peculiar sense of self-respect. And even
when the new colored regiments began to arrive from the North my men
still pointed out this difference,--that in case of ultimate defeat, the
Northern troops, black or white, would go home, while the First South
Carolina must fight it out or be re-enslaved. This was one thing that
made the St. John's River so attractive to them and even to me;--it was
so much nearer the everglades. I used seriously to ponder, during the
darker periods of the war, whether I might not end my days as an
outlaw,--a leader of Maroons.

Meanwhile, I used to try to make some capital for the Northern troops,
in their estimate, by pointing out that it was a disinterested thing in
these men from the free States, to come down there and fight, that the
slaves might be free. But they were apt keenly to reply, that many of
the white soldiers disavowed this object, and said that that was not the
object of the war, nor even likely to be its end. Some of them even
repeated Mr. Seward's unfortunate words to Mr. Adams, which some general
had been heard to quote. So, on the whole, I took nothing by the motion,
as was apt to be the case with those who spoke a good word for our
Government, in those vacillating and half proslavery days.

At any rate, this ungenerous discouragement had this good effect, that
it touched their pride; they would deserve justice, even if they did not
obtain it. This pride was afterwards severely tested during the
disgraceful period when the party of repudiation in Congress temporarily
deprived them of their promised pay. In my regiment the men never
mutinied, nor even threatened mutiny; they seemed to make it a matter of
honor to do then: part, even if the Government proved a defaulter; but
one third of them, including the best men in the regiment, quietly
refused to take a dollar's pay, at the reduced price. "We'se gib our
sogerin' to de Guv'ment, Gunnel," they said, "but we won't 'spise
ourselves so much for take de seben dollar." They even made a
contemptuous ballad, of which I once caught a snatch.

"Ten dollar a month!
Tree ob dat for clothin'l
Go to Washington
Fight for Linkum's darter!"

This "Lincoln's daughter" stood for the Goddess of Liberty, it would
seem. They would be true to her, but they would not take the half-pay.
This was contrary to my advice, and to that of other officers; but I now
think it was wise. Nothing less than this would have called the
attention of the American people to this outrageous fraud.*

* See Appendix.

The same slow forecast had often marked their action in other ways. One
of our ablest sergeants, Henry Mclntyre, who had earned two dollars and
a half per day as a master-carpenter in Florida, and paid one dollar and
a half to his master, told me that he had deliberately refrained from
learning to read, because that knowledge exposed the slaves to so much
more watching and suspicion. This man and a few others had built on
contract the greater part of the town of Micanopy in Florida, and was a
thriving man when his accustomed discretion failed for once, and he lost
all. He named his child William Lincoln, and it brought upon him such
suspicion that he had to make his escape.

I cannot conceive what people at the North mean by speaking of the
negroes as a bestial or brutal race. Except in some insensibility to
animal pain, I never knew of an act in my regiment which I should call
brutal. In reading Kay's "Condition of the English Peasantry" I was
constantly struck with the unlikeness of my men to those therein
described. This could not proceed from my prejudices as an abolitionist,
for they would have led me the other way, and indeed I had once written
a little essay to show the brutalizing influences of slavery. I learned
to think that we abolitionists had underrated the suffering produced by
slavery among the negroes, but had overrated the demoralization. Or
rather, we did not know how the religious temperament of the negroes had
checked the demoralization. Yet again, it must be admitted that this
temperament, born of sorrow and oppression, is far more marked in the
slave than in the native African.

Theorize as we may, there was certainly in our camp an average tone of
propriety which all visitors noticed, and which was not created, but
only preserved by discipline. I was always struck, not merely by the
courtesy of the men, but also by a certain sober decency of language.
If a man had to report to me any disagreeable fact, for instance, he
was sure to do it with gravity and decorum, and not blurt it out in an
offensive way. And it certainly was a significant fact that the ladies
of our camp, when we were so fortunate as to have such guests, the
young wives, especially, of the adjutant and quartermaster, used to go
among the tents when the men were off duty, in order to hear their big
pupils read and spell, without the slightest fear of annoyance. I do
not mean direct annoyance or insult, for no man who valued his life
would have ventured that in presence of the others, but I mean the
annoyance of accidentally seeing or hearing improprieties not intended
for them. They both declared that they would not have moved about with
anything like the same freedom in any white camp they had ever
entered, and it always roused their indignation to hear the negro race
called brutal or depraved.

This came partly from natural good manners, partly from the habit of
deference, partly from ignorance of the refined and ingenious evil which
is learned in large towns; but a large part came from their strongly
religious temperament. Their comparative freedom from swearing, for
instance,--an abstinence which I fear military life did not strengthen,--
was partly a matter of principle. Once I heard one of them say to
another, in a transport of indignation, "Ha-a-a, boy, s'pose I no be a
Christian, I cuss you sol"--which was certainly drawing pretty hard upon
the bridle. "Cuss," however, was a generic term for all manner of evil
speaking; they would say, "He cuss me fool," or "He cuss me coward," as
if the essence of propriety were in harsh and angry speech,--which I
take to be good ethics. But certainly, if Uncle Toby could have
recruited his army in Flanders from our ranks, their swearing would have
ceased to be historic.

It used to seem to me that never, since Cromwell's time, had there
been soldiers in whom the religious element held such a place. "A
religious army," "a gospel army," were their frequent phrases. In
their prayer-meetings there was always a mingling, often quaint
enough, of the warlike and the pious. "If each one of us was a praying
man," said Corporal Thomas Long in a sermon, "it appears to me that we
could fight as well with prayers as with bullets,--for the Lord has
said that if you have faith even as a grain of mustard-seed cut into
four parts, you can say to the sycamore-tree, Arise, and it will come
up." And though Corporal Long may have got a little perplexed in his
botany, his faith proved itself by works, for he volunteered and went
many miles on a solitary scouting expedition into the enemy's country
in Florida, and got back safe, after I had given him up for lost.

The extremes of religious enthusiasm I did not venture to encourage, for
I could not do it honestly; neither did I discourage them, but simply
treated them with respect, and let them have their way, so long as they
did not interfere with discipline. In general they promoted it. The
mischievous little drummer-boys, whose scrapes and quarrels were the
torment of my existence, might be seen kneeling together in their tents
to say their prayers at night, and I could hope that their slumbers were
blessed by some spirit of peace, such as certainly did not rule over
their waking. The most reckless and daring fellows in the regiment were
perfect fatalists in theur confidence that God would watch over them,
and that if they died, it would be because theur time had come. This
almost excessive faith, and the love of freedom and of their families,
all co-operated with their pride as soldiers to make them do their duty.
I could not have spared any of these incentives. Those of our officers
who were personally the least influenced by such considerations, still
saw the need of encouraging them among the men.

I am bound to say that this strongly devotional turn was not always
accompanied by the practical virtues; but neither was it strikingly
divorced from them. A few men, I remember, who belonged to the ancient
order of hypocrites, but not many. Old Jim Cushman was our favorite
representative scamp. He used to vex his righteous soul over the
admission of the unregenerate to prayer-meetings, and went off once
shaking his head and muttering, "Too much goat shout wid de sheep." But
he who objected to this profane admixture used to get our mess-funds far
more hopelessly mixed with his own, when he went out to buy chickens.
And I remember that, on being asked by our Major, in that semi-Ethiopian
dialect into which we sometimes slid, "How much wife you got, Jim?" the
veteran replied, with a sort of penitence for lost opportunities, "On'y
but four, Sahl"

Another man of somewhat similar quality went among us by the name of
Henry Ward Beecher, from a remarkable resemblance in face and figure
to that sturdy divine. I always felt a sort of admiration for this
worthy, because of the thoroughness with which he outwitted me, and
the sublime impudence in which he culminated. He got a series of
passes from me, every week or two, to go and see his wife on a
neighboring plantation, and finally, when this resource seemed
exhausted, he came boldly for one more pass, that he might go and be
married.

We used to quote _him_ a good deal, also, as a sample of a certain
Shakespearian boldness of personification in which the men sometimes
indulged. Once, I remember, his captain had given him a fowling-piece to
clean. Henry Ward had left it in the captain's tent, and the latter,
finding it, had transferred the job to some one else.

Then came a confession, in this precise form, with many dignified
gesticulations:--

"Cappen! I took dat gun, and I put bun in Cappen tent. Den I look, and
de gun not dar! Den Conscience say, Cappen mus' hab gib dat gun to
somebody else for clean. Den I say, Conscience, you reason correck."

Compare Lancelot Gobbo's soliloquy in the "Two Gentlemen of Verona"!

Still, I maintain that, as a whole, the men were remarkably free from
inconvenient vices. There was no more lying and stealing than in average
white regiments. The surgeon was not much troubled by shamming sickness,
and there were not a great many complaints of theft. There was less
quarrelling than among white soldiers, and scarcely ever an instance of
drunkenness. Perhaps the influence of their officers had something to do
with this; for not a ration of whiskey was ever issued to the men, nor
did I ever touch it, while in the army, nor approve a requisition for
any of the officers, without which it could not easily be obtained. In
this respect our surgeons fortunately agreed with me, and we never had
reason to regret it. I believe the use of ardent spirits to be as
useless and injurious in the army as on board ship, and among the
colored troops, especially, who had never been accustomed to it, I think
that it did only harm.

The point of greatest laxity in their moral habits--the want of a high
standard of chastity--was not one which affected their camp life to
any great extent, and it therefore came less under my observation. But
I found to my relief that, whatever their deficiency in this respect,
it was modified by the general quality of their temperament, and
indicated rather a softening and relaxation than a hardening and
brutalizing of their moral natures. Any insult or violence in this
direction was a thing unknown. I never heard of an instance. It was
not uncommon for men to have two or three wives in different
plantations,--the second, or remoter, partner being called a "'broad
wife,"--i.e. wife abroad. But the whole tendency was toward marriage,
and this state of things was only regarded as a bequest from "mas'r
time."

I knew a great deal about their marriages, for they often consulted me,
and took my counsel as lovers are wont to do,--that is, when it pleased
their fancy. Sometimes they would consult their captains first, and then
come to me in despairing appeal. "Cap'n Scroby [Trowbridge] he acvise me
not for marry dis lady, 'cause she hab seben cbil'en. What for use?
Cap'n Scroby can't lub for me. I mus' lub for myself, and I lub he." I
remember that on this occasion "he" stood by, a most unattractive woman,
jet black, with an old pink muslin dress, torn white cotton gloves, and
a very flowery bonnet, that must have descended through generations of
tawdry mistresses.

I felt myself compelled to reaffirm the decision of the inferior court.
The result was as usual. They were married the next day, and I believe
that she proved an excellent wife, though she had seven children, whose
father was also in the regiment. If she did not, I know many others who
did, and certainly I have never seen more faithful or more happy
marriages than among that people.

The question was often asked, whether the Southern slaves or the
Northern free blacks made the best soldiers. It was a compliment to
both classes that each officer usually preferred those whom he had
personally commanded. I preferred those who had been slaves, for their
greater docility and affectionateness, for the powerful stimulus
which their new freedom gave, and for the fact that they were
fighting, in a manner, for their own homes and firesides. Every one of
these considerations afforded a special aid to discipline, and
cemented a peculiar tie of sympathy between them and their officers.
They seemed like clansmen, and had a more confiding and filial
relation to us than seemed to me to exist in the Northern colored
regiments.

So far as the mere habits of slavery went, they were a poor preparation
for military duty. Inexperienced officers often assumed that, because
these men had been slaves before enlistment, they would bear to be
treated as such afterwards. Experience proved the contrary. The more
strongly we marked the difference between the slave and the soldier, the
better for the regiment. One half of military duty lies in obedience,
the other half in self-respect. A soldier without self-respect is
worthless. Consequently there were no regiments in which it was so
important to observe the courtesies and proprieties of military life as
in these. I had to caution the officers to be more than usually
particular in returning the salutations of the men; to be very careful
in their dealings with those on picket or guard-duty; and on no account
to omit the titles of the non-commissioned officers. So, in dealing out
punishments, we had carefully to avoid all that was brutal and
arbitrary, all that savored of the overseer. Any such dealing found them
as obstinate and contemptuous as was Topsy when Miss Ophelia undertook
to chastise her. A system of light punishments, rigidly administered
according to the prescribed military forms, had more weight with them
than any amount of angry severity. To make them feel as remote as
possible from the plantation, this was essential. By adhering to this,
and constantly appealing to their pride as soldiers and their sense of
duty, we were able to maintain a high standard of discipline,--so, at
least, the inspecting officers said,--and to get rid, almost entirely, of
the more degrading class of punishments,--standing on barrels, tying up
by the thumbs, and the ball and chain.

In all ways we had to educate their self-respect. For instance, at
first they disliked to obey their own non-commissioned officers. "I
don't want him to play de white man ober me," was a sincere objection.
They had been so impressed with a sense of inferiority that the
distinction extended to the very principles of honor. "I ain't got
colored-man principles," said Corporal London Simmons, indignantly
defending himself from some charge before me. "I'se got white-gemman
principles. I'se do my best. If Cap'n tell me to take a man, s'pose de
man be as big as a house, I'll clam hold on him till I die, inception
[excepting] I'm sick."

But it was plain that this feeling was a bequest of slavery, which
military life would wear off. We impressed it upon them that they did
not obey their officers because they were white, but because they were
their officers, just as the Captain must obey me, and I the General;
that we were all subject to military law, and protected by it in turn.
Then we taught them to take pride in having good material for
noncommissioned officers among themselves, and in obeying them. On my
arrival there was one white first sergeant, and it was a question
whether to appoint others. This I prevented, but left that one, hoping
the men themselves would at last petition for his removal, which at
length they did. He was at once detailed on other duty. The
picturesqueness of the regiment suffered, for he was very tall and fair,
and I liked to see him step forward in the centre when the line of first
sergeants came together at dress-parade. But it was a help to discipline
to eliminate the Saxon, for it recognized a principle.

Afterwards I had excellent battalion-drills without a single white
officer, by way of experiment; putting each company under a sergeant,
and going through the most difficult movements, such as
division-columns and oblique-squares. And as to actual discipline, it
is doing no injustice to the line-officers of the regiment to say that
none of them received from the men more implicit obedience than
Color-Sergeant Rivers. I should have tried to obtain commissions for
him and several others before I left the regiment, had their literary
education been sufficient; and such an attempt was finally made by
Lieutenant-Colonel Trowbridge, my successor in immediate command, but
it proved unsuccessful. It always seemed to me an insult to those
brave men to have novices put over their heads, on the ground of color
alone; and the men felt it the more keenly as they remained longer in
service. There were more than seven hundred enlisted men in the
regiment, when mustered out after more than three years' service. The
ranks had been kept full by enlistment, but there were only fourteen
line-officers instead of the full thirty. The men who should have
filled those vacancies were doing duty as sergeants in the ranks.

In what respect were the colored troops a source of disappointment? To
me in one respect only,--that of health. Their health improved, indeed,
as they grew more familiar with military life; but I think that neither
their physical nor moral temperament gave them that toughness, that
obstinate purpose of living, which sustains the more materialistic
Anglo-Saxon. They had not, to be sure, the same predominant diseases,
suffering in the pulmonary, not in the digestive organs; but they
suffered a good deal. They felt malaria less, but they were more easily
choked by dust and made ill by dampness. On the other hand, they
submitted more readily to sanitary measures than whites, and, with
efficient officers, were more easily kept clean. They were injured
throughout the army by an undue share of fatigue duty, which is not only
exhausting but demoralizing to a soldier; by the un-suitableness of the
rations, which gave them salt meat instead of rice and hominy; and by
the lack of good medical attendance. Their childlike constitutions
peculiarly needed prompt and efficient surgical care; but almost all the
colored troops were enlisted late in the war, when it was hard to get
good surgeons for any regiments, and especially for these. In this
respect I had nothing to complain of, since there were no surgeons in
the army for whom I would have exchanged my own.

And this late arrival on the scene affected not only the medical
supervision of the colored troops, but their opportunity for a career.
It is not my province to write their history, nor to vindicate them,
nor to follow them upon those larger fields compared with which the
adventures of my regiment appear but a partisan warfare. Yet this, at
least, may be said. The operations on the South Atlantic coast, which
long seemed a merely subordinate and incidental part of the great
contest, proved to be one of the final pivots on which it turned. All
now admit that the fate of the Confederacy was decided by Sherman's
march to the sea. Port Royal was the objective point to which he
marched, and he found the Department of the South, when he reached it,
held almost exclusively by colored troops. Next to the merit of those
who made the march was that of those who held open the door. That
service will always remain among the laurels of the black regiments.

Chapter 13
Conclusion

My personal forebodings proved to be correct, and so were the threats of
the surgeons. In May, 1864, I went home invalided, was compelled to
resign in October from the same cause, and never saw the First South
Carolina again. Nor did any one else see it under that appellation, for
about that time its name was changed to the Thirty-Third United States
Colored Troops, "a most vague and heartless baptism," as the man in the
story says. It was one of those instances of injudicious sacrifice of
_esprit de corps_ which were so frequent in our army. All the pride of
my men was centred in "de Fus' Souf"; the very words were a recognition
of the loyal South as against the disloyal. To make the matter worse, it
had been originally designed to apply the new numbering only to the new
regiments, and so the early numbers were all taken up before the older
regiments came in. The governors of States, by especial effort, saved
their colored troops from this chagrin; but we found here, as more than
once before, the disadvantage of having no governor to stand by us.
"It's a far cry to Loch Awe," said the Highland proverb. We knew to our
cost that it was a far cry to Washington in those days, unless an
officer left his duty and stayed there all the time.

In June, 1864, the regiment was ordered to Folly Island, and remained
there and on Cole's Island till the siege of Charleston was done. It
took part in the battle of Honey Hill, and in the capture of a fort on
James Island, of which Corporal Robert Vendross wrote triumphantly in a
letter, "When we took the pieces we found that we recapt our own pieces
back that we lost on Willtown Revear (River) and thank the Lord did not
lose but seven men out of our regiment."

In February, 1865, the regiment was ordered to Charleston to do provost
and guard duty, in March to Savannah, in June to Hamburg and Aiken, in
September to Charleston and its neighborhood, and was finally mustered
out of service--after being detained beyond its three years, so great was
the scarcity of troops--on the 9th of February, 1866. With dramatic
fitness this muster-out took place at Fort Wagner, above the graves of
Shaw and his men. I give in the Appendix the farewell address of
Lieutenant-Colonel Trowbridge, who commanded the regiment from the time
I left it. Brevet Brigadier-General W. T. Bennett, of the One Hundred
and Second United States Colored Troops, who was assigned to the
command, never actually held it, being always in charge of a brigade.

The officers and men are scattered far and wide. One of our captains
was a member of the South Carolina Constitutional Convention, and is
now State Treasurer; three of our sergeants were in that Convention,
including Sergeant Prince Rivers; and he and Sergeant Henry Hayne are
still members of the State Legislature. Both in that State and hi
Florida the former members of the regiment are generally prospering,
so far as I can hear. The increased self-respect of army life fitted
them to do the duties of civil life. It is not in nature that the
jealousy of race should die out in this generation, but I trust they
will not see the fulfilment of Corporal Simon Cram's prediction. Simon
was one of the shrewdest old fellows in the regiment, and he said to
me once, as he was jogging out of Beaufort behind me, on the Shell
Road, "I'se goin' to leave de Souf, Cunnel, when de war is over. I'se
made up my mind dat dese yere Secesh will neber be cibilized in my
time."

The only member of the regiment whom I have seen since leaving it is a
young man, Cyrus Wiggins, who was brought off from the main-land in a
dug-out, in broad day, before the very eyes of the rebel pickets, by
Captain James S. Rogers, of my regiment. It was one of the most daring
acts I ever saw, and as it happened under my own observation I was glad
when the Captain took home with him this "captive of his bow and spear"
to be educated under his eye in Massachusetts. Cyrus has done credit to
his friends, and will be satisfied with nothing short of a
college-training at Howard University. I have letters from the men, very
quaint in handwriting and spelling; but he is the only one whom I have
seen. Some time I hope to revisit those scenes, and shall feel, no
doubt, like a bewildered Rip Van Winkle who once wore uniform.

We who served with the black troops have this peculiar satisfaction,
that, whatever dignity or sacredness the memories of the war may have to
others, they have more to us. In that contest all the ordinary ties of
patriotism were the same, of course, to us as to the rest; they had no
motives which we had not, as they have now no memories which are not
also ours. But the peculiar privilege of associating with an outcast
race, of training it to defend its rights and to perform its duties,
this was our especial meed. The vacillating policy of the Government
sometimes filled other officers with doubt and shame; until the negro
had justice, they were but defending liberty with one hand and crushing
it with the other. From this inconsistency we were free. Whatever the
Government did, we at least were working in the right direction. If
this was not recognized on our side of the lines, we knew that it was
admitted on the other. Fighting with ropes round our necks, denied the
ordinary courtesies of war till we ourselves compelled then: concession,
we could at least turn this outlawry into a compliment. We had touched
the pivot of the war. Whether this vast and dusky mass should prove the
weakness of the nation or its strength, must depend in great measure, we
knew, upon our efforts. Till the blacks were armed, there was no
guaranty of their freedom. It was their demeanor under arms that shamed
the nation into recognizing them as men.

APPENDIX

Appendix A

Roster of Officers

FIRST SOUTH CAROLINA VOLUNTEERS,

Afterwards Thirty-Third United States Colored Troops.

Colonels

T. W. HIGGINSON, 51st Mass. Vols., Nov. 10, 1862; Resigned,

Oct. 27, 1864. WM. T. BENNETT, 102d U. S. C. T., Dec. 18, 1864; Mustered out

with regiment

Lieutenant-Colonels

LIBERTY BILLINGS, Civil Life, Nov. 1, 1862; Dismissed by Examining
Board, July 28, 1863.

JOHN D. STRONG, Promotion, July 28, 1863; Resigned, Aug. 15, 1864.

CHAS. T. TROWBRIDGE, Promotion, Dec. 9, 1864; Mustered out, &c.

Majors

JOHN D. STRONG, Civil Life, Oct. 21, 1862; Lt-Col., July 28, 1863. CHAS.

T. TROWBRIDGE, Promotion, Aug. 11, 1863; Lt.-Col., Dec.
9, 1864.

H. A. WHTTNEY, Promotion, Dec. 9, 1864; Mustered out, &c.

Surgeons

SETH ROGERS, Civil Life, Dec. 2, 1862; Resigned, Dec. 21, 1863.

WM. B. CRANDALL, 29th Ct, June 8, 1864; Mustered out, &c.

Assistant Surgeons

J. M. HAWKS, Civil Life, Oct 20, 1862; Surgeon 3d S. C. Vols.,

Oct. 29, 1863.

THOS. T. MINOR, 7th Ct., Jan. 8, 1863; Resigned, Nov. 21, 1864.

E. S. STUARD, Civil Life, Sept. 4, 1865; Mustered out, &c.

Chaplain

JAS. H. FOWLER, Civil Life, Oct. 24, 1862; Mustered out, &c.

Captains

CHAS. T. TROWBRIDGE, N. Y. Vol. Eng., Oct. 13, 1862; Major,
Aug. 11, 1863.

WM. JAMES, 100th Pa., Oct. 13, 1862; Mustered out, &c.

W. J. RANDOLPH, 100th Pa., Oct. 13, 1862; Resigned, Jan. 29,
1864.

H. A. WHITNEY, 8th Me., Oct. 13, 1862; Major, Dec. 9, 1864.

ALEX. HEASLEY, 100th Pa., Oct 13, 1862; Killed at Augusta, Ga.,
Sept. 6, 1865.

GEORGE DOLLY, 8th Me., Nov. 1, 1862; Resigned, Oct. 30, 1863.

L. W. METCALF, 8th Me., Nov. 11, 1862; Mustered out, &c.

JAS. H. TONKING, N. Y. Vol. Eng., Nov. 17, 1862; Resigned, July
28, 1863.

JAS. S. ROGERS, 51st Mass., Dec. 6, 1862; Resigned, Oct. 20, 1863.

J. H. THIBADEAU, Promotion, Jan. 10, 1863; Mustered out, &c.

GEORGE D. WALKER, Promotion, July 28, 1863; Resigned, Sept
1, 1864.

WM. H. DANILSON, Promotion, July 28, 1863; Major 128th
U. S. C. T., May, 1865 [now 1st Lt 40th U. S. Infantry].

WM. W. SAMPSON, Promotion, Nov. 5, 1863; Mustered out, &c.

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