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

April 3, 2017 | American Literature | By admin | 0 Comments

By Edwin S. Redkey

The Civil struggle stands bright within the collective reminiscence of the yank public. There has continuously 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. virtually 200,000 African-American infantrymen fought for the Union within the Civil battle. even supposing such a lot have been illiterate ex-slaves, a number of thousand have been good knowledgeable, loose black males from the northern states. The 129 letters during this assortment have been written through black infantrymen within the Union military in the course of the Civil conflict to black and abolitionist newspapers. they supply a special expression of the black voice that used to be 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 supply vibrant descriptions of conflict; others protest racism; nonetheless others name eloquently for civil rights. Many describe their conviction that they're struggling with not just to loose the slaves yet to earn equivalent rights as voters. those letters provide a rare photo of the battle and likewise exhibit the intense expectancies, hopes, and eventually the calls for that black squaddies had for the future--for themselves and for his or her race. As first-person records of the Civil conflict, the letters are robust statements of the yank dream of justice and equality, and of the human spirit.

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Massachusetts (Colored), and a detachment of Engineers (New York Volunteers), who were engaged in constructing rifle-pits and stockades. A post having been established here, in command of Colonel Tilghman, of the Third United States Colored Troops, the Eighth reported to him, and was kept constantly on picket duty till the 19th. M. on Friday, February 19th, and advance eleven miles to Barbour. Barbour is about one and a half miles north-west of the railroad. This place has been a slave plantation, and was owned by one Moses Barbour, whose slaves, numbering one hundred, were driven to the front by the enemy on his retreat to Lake City.

We are going down to Dixie's Land, to carry the sword and the constitution; you will hear from us before long. We expect to take Secesh, box him up, label him "dead," and send him to Bunker Hill, on or before the Fourth ofJuly. Then the banner of liberty will go up. Our government has surrendered Messrs Mason and Slidell,4 but we will not give up the South, for it has cost us too much, and her vast territory can and must be converted into free soil for free men, irrespective of color. All went well with the proscribed Americans here, up to the 25th inst, when an accident painful to relate happened to one of our number.

After occupying Jacksonville on February 7, the Union troops quickly pushed westward along the railroad toward Lake City. They took an important rail junction at Baldwin on February 9. Gillmore put Brigadier General Truman Seymour in command of local operations, ordering him to fortify Baldwin against an expected rebel attack, and not to advance any farther until more troops and supplies arrived. Gillmore then returned to South Carolina to expedite reinforcements. Seymour, however, was eager for a fight, and he disobeyed 3.

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