By Edwin S. Redkey
The Civil battle stands bright within the collective reminiscence of the yankee public. There has consistently been a profound curiosity within the topic, and particularly of Blacks' participation in and reactions to the warfare and the war's final result. nearly 200,000 African-American infantrymen fought for the Union within the Civil battle. even though such a lot have been illiterate ex-slaves, numerous thousand have been good informed, loose black males from the northern states. The 129 letters during this assortment have been written via black squaddies within the Union military throughout the Civil struggle to black and abolitionist newspapers. they supply a special expression of the black voice that was once intended for a public discussion board. The letters inform of the men's stories, their fears, and their hopes. They describe intimately their military days--the pleasure of wrestle and the drudgery of digging trenches. a few letters provide shiny descriptions of conflict; others protest racism; nonetheless others name eloquently for civil rights. Many describe their conviction that they're combating not just to unfastened the slaves yet to earn equivalent rights as voters. those letters supply a unprecedented photograph of the warfare and in addition demonstrate the brilliant expectancies, hopes, and finally the calls for that black infantrymen had for the future--for themselves and for his or her race. As first-person records of the Civil struggle, the letters are powerful statements of the yank dream of justice and equality, and of the human spirit.
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Additional resources for A Grand Army of Black Men: Letters from African-American Soldiers in the Union Army 1861-1865
Seven and a half o'clock; a halt has been made for the night; we are exposed to a drenching rain. We expect hard work tomorrow. March 14. M. - We are engaging the rebels. They are behind water and sand batteries. The fight is waxing warm. Many brave souls have been sent to their last account; and a larger number of traitors have been made to bite the dust. I forbear to name the locality. The fleet is also engaged. M. - The rebels are fighting like devils; they do not give an inch; their slaves are working their guns.
So say I. When the proposition is fully endorsed by our people, and I 22 A Grand Army of Black Men think that it will shortly be, I hesitate not to say that the good people of Albany will turn their steps to Hayti. LETTER 10 (G. E. , 26th Pennsylvania Infantry, Union Mills, Virginia, November 20, 1862; WAA, December 5, 1862) This letter was probably written by George E. Stephens, a cabinetmaker from Philadelphia. Stephens later joined the 54th Massachusetts regiment and rose to the rank of first lieutenant.
24 A Grand Army of Black Men LETTER I I (H. Ford Douglas, [Co. G,] 95th Illinois Infantry, Colliersville, Tennessee, January 8, 1863; Frederick Douglass's Monthly, February 1863) Hezekiah Ford Douglas, a preacher from Chicago, joined a white regiment in July 1862. His unit fought in Tennessee and Louisiana. Later, he would be sent to recruit a black regiment in Louisiana, and eventually he was promoted to be captain of an artillery battery from Kansas. In this letter he praised the Emancipation Proclamation, which had just become official on January 1, 1863.