A Grand Army of Black Men: Letters from African-American by Edwin S. Redkey

By Edwin S. Redkey

The Civil warfare stands vibrant within the collective reminiscence of the yank public. There has consistently been a profound curiosity within the topic, and in particular of Blacks' participation in and reactions to the struggle and the war's final result. nearly 200,000 African-American squaddies fought for the Union within the Civil conflict. even if so much 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 by way of black infantrymen within the Union military through the Civil battle to black and abolitionist newspapers. they supply a different expression of the black voice that was once intended for a public discussion board. The letters inform of the men's reports, their fears, and their hopes. They describe intimately their military days--the pleasure of wrestle and the drudgery of digging trenches. a few letters supply shiny descriptions of conflict; others protest racism; nonetheless others name eloquently for civil rights. Many describe their conviction that they're battling not just to loose the slaves yet to earn equivalent rights as electorate. those letters supply a unprecedented photo of the struggle and in addition show 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 battle, the letters are powerful statements of the yankee dream of justice and equality, and of the human spirit.

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The bullets fairly rained around us; when I got there the poor fellows were falling down around me, with pitiful groans. Our pickets only numbered about 250 men, attacked by about 900. It is supposed by the line of battle in the distance, that they were supported by reserve of 3,000 men. We had to fire and retreat toward our own encampment. One poor Sergeant of ours was shot down along side of me; several others were wounded near me. God has protected me through this, my first fiery, leaden trial, and I do give Him the glory, and render my praises unto His holy name.

This was not all; there not being transportation enough for all the regiment, everyone was anxious to know if he or some one else was to go. But that matter was soon settled by a small man, generally 38 A Grand Army of Black Men known as the Colonel, who ordered three companies, A, C, and I, under the gallant leadership of Lt. Col. S. transport, Peconic, then at Pawnee Landing, these, with our brigade commander, J[ames] C. Beecher, Col. , and his staff officers, composed the cargo on board of the above named transport.

Ira Berlin, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie Rowland, The Black Military Experience, series II, Volume I of Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 18611867 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1982) 534-538. Peter Burchard, One Gallant Rush (New York, St. Martins Press, 1965) 130-131. , 1894) passim. William Wells Brown, The Negro in the American Rebellion (Boston, Lee & Shepard, 1867) 209. South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida 29 from Europe, and they took cotton out to earn money for the rebel cause.

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