Army Life in a Black Regiment (Civil War)
Thomas Wentworth Higginson
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
"Army Life in a Black Regiment has some claim to be the best written narrative to come from the Union [side] during the Civil War. Higginson's picture of the battle which was the origin of "praise the Lord and pass the ammunition" and his reading of the Emancipation Proclamation to the black regiment are unsurpassed for eloquence." — historian Henry Steele Commager
Originally a series of essays, this important volume was written by a Union colonel from New England, in charge of African-American troops training on the Sea Islands off the coast of the Carolinas. A lively and detailed wartime diary, the book offers a refreshing portrait of life in the Union Army from an officer's point of view, recording opinions of other commanders and capturing the raw humor that develops among the men in combat. Higginson's descriptions of the soldiers, routines of camp life, and southern landscapes are unforgettable, as is the account of his near escape from a cannon ball.
An unusual historical document intended to introduce new generations of readers to an American past that should not be forgotten, Army Life in a Black Regiment will be invaluable to students of Black History and the American Civil War.
men an empty barrel for a stump, and they will do their own exhortation. December 11, 1862 Haroun Alraschid, wandering in disguise through his imperial streets, scarcely happened upon a greater variety of groups than I, in my evening strolls among our own campfires. Beside some of these fires the men are cleaning their guns or rehearsing their drill, beside others, smoking in silence their very scanty supply of the beloved tobacco, beside others, telling stories and shouting with laughter
visible the long, moving, shadowy column, seeming rather awful in its snakelike advance. There was a swaying of flags and multitudinous weapons that might have been camels’ necks for all one could see, and the whole thing might have been a caravan upon the desert. Soon we debouched upon the “Shell Road,” the wagon train drew on one side into the fog, and by the time the sun appeared the music ceased, the men took the “route step,” and the fun began. The “route step” is an abandonment of all
The tug, being thus abandoned, must of course be burned to prevent her falling into the enemy's hands. Major Strong went with prompt fearlessness to do this, at my order; after which he remained on the Enoch Dean, and I went on board the John Adams, being compelled to succumb at last, and transfer all remaining responsibility to Captain Trowbridge. Exhausted as I was, I could still observe, in a vague way, the scene around me. Every available corner of the boat seemed like some vast auction room
acting as captain, but not commissioned, was kept in service, and was sent (August 5, 1862) to garrison St. Simon's Island, on the coast of Georgia. On this island (made famous by Mrs. Kemble's description) there were then five hundred colored people, and not a single white man. The black soldiers were sent down on the Ben De Ford, Captain Hallett. On arriving, Trowbridge was at once informed by Commodore Goldsborough, naval commander at that station, that there was a party of rebel guerillas on
tent, on the avowed ground that they were released from duty by the refusal of the government to fulfill its share of the contract. The fear of such tragedies spread a cloud of solicitude over every camp of colored soldiers for more than a year, and the following series of letters will show through what wearisome labors the final triumph of justice was secured. In these labors the chief credit must be given to my admirable Adjutant, Lieutenant G. W. Dewhurst. In the matter of bounty justice is