Archive for April, 2010
Mercury, April 27, 1863 [OAF]
Camp Meigs, Readville, April 25
—The past week’s report of the 54th is encouraging, if not stirring. The number of recruits for the past week is 66 making a total of 740 men. Indeed, to see the men on dress parade, one would think there was a full regiment, when there is not more than 630, the balance being required for guard or fatigue duties. The most of the companies are now quite proficient in the manual of arms, and perform the evolutions with as much precision as a great many older troops. Soldiers and officers from other camps say they never thought it possible for men to learn in so short a time as much as these men have. The camp was visited by several members of the Legislature the past week, who expressed themselves highly pleased with the efficiency, discipline and cleanliness of the men; and one gentleman paid us a compliment by saying our barracks looked neater than those on the other side of the railroad. But the praise for that is due to Col. Shaw, whose quick eye detects anything in a moment out of keeping with order or military discipline. It is the best way to begin, saving a deal of trouble in the end; without order, the best men on earth would be worthless for military purposes.
Rev. Mr. Jackson is still with us, laboring for the soles, if the uppers are neglected — because there are men in this regiment who forget that there are other combs besides Combe on the understanding. Now Messrs. Editors, we want some more New Bedford men; if they don’t make up their minds very soon, the gate will be shut; every week the number wanted becomes less, and will our New Bedford men see those from other States earning their right to manhood? Where are all the loud orators, whose patriotic appeals said go to the war, we are with you? Come out, ye brave men, we want to see ye. And where, oh! where are the leaders of men? Why don’t they send one representative to the war? so they can say, “We filled our quota.” Don’t let the Journal of Commerce, and other powerful organs, have a chance to tell the truth about you, when they say “The colored man don’t know what’s good for him.” Rise up from your lethargy, and prove by your works that they know not what they say, or else — go and bag your heads.
J. H. G.
April 24 1863
I ought to have written you long ago, that your man Vogelsang was accepted, and is a Sergeant in one of the new companies. He is very efficient. Mr. Wingate has probably told you the result of his visit. He didn’t like to accept the position of Second Lieutenant, which was the only one I could offer him. I told him, I would write him, if there was a chance of a higher rank for him, in my regiment. I liked his looks very much. Col. Wild has his name on his list.
You will see me in New York a week from today — and the day after that is the Wedding.
Everything continues to progress favourably with the 54th. We have now about 730 men. They are beginning to desert. There arc 17 -20 absent without leave. None caught yet. I shall set a detective at work tomorrow. Please honour a draft from Thos. B. Fox to the amount of $230. It is the Company fund sent you by Uzias[?] Goodwin, and which I have never paid to them. I don’t know that he will draw it now. My business correspondence is getting larger and larger, and tonight I have written six letters — some of them long. All our ordinance has come from Washington. I expect to get it out here tomorrow. We have Enfield Rifles. The Ladies’ committee have agreed to pay an instructor for a band, so I shall have one going before long.
Effie is well. She and Mrs. Lowell came out here today. The house is a very pleasant one. When Annie & I come back & Mother & Nellie come on, Mrs. L will go home, which will leave room for all of us.
There are three flag committees entrain for this regiment. One white and two black. They are all quarreling together, and are distracted by internal dissension at the same time. I wrote one of them today that if they didn’t settle their difficulties I should probably not accept a flag from either of them.
Love to Mother & Nellie
Mercury, April 21, 1863 [OAF]
Camp Meigs, Readville, April 18
—The past week has been marked by nothing extraordinary with us here, excepting a share of fine weather, which must be considered out of the “common order of things” compared with the mud and mire experienced all spring. The total number of men in camp is now 674, making an increase of 60 men for the week; but they do not come fast enough for the boys who are here. We want to get the regiment full, and show that we are men. Certainly there are some here who would be as well suited if they were away, and the majority of the men would be very glad if they were drummed out. They differ none though, in that respect, from other regiments. So long as patriotism was made a purchaseable article there were plenty of men to fill the ranks, but now, when it is not a “paying concern” nobody cares much about going. But our people must consider that their position is a very delicate one; the least false step, at a moment like the present, may tell a dismal tale at some future day. Let them consider that a chance to obtain what they have “spouted” for in “convention assembled” now presents itself by works, not by words! And let them remember that the Greeks lost their liberties by “too much talk”; thinking that talking would accomplish more than fighting; but they saw their mistake when it was too late. Let our people beware. Their fate will be worse than that of the Greeks, if they do not put forth an effort now to save themselves.
As one of the race, I beseech you not to trust to a fancied security, laying comfort to your minds, that our condition will be bettered, because slavery must die. It depends on the free black men of the North, whether it will die or not — those who are in bonds must have some one to open the door; when the slave sees the white soldier approach, he dares not trust him and why? because he has heard that some have treated him worse than their owners in rebellion. But if the slave sees a black soldier, he knows he has got a friend; and through friendship, he that was once a slave can be made a soldier, to fight for his own liberty. But allow that slavery will die without the aid of our race to kill it — language cannot depict the indignity, the scorn, and perhaps violence, that will be heaped upon us; unthought of laws will be enacted, and put in force, to banish us from the land of our birth; and European governments, who now dare not recognize the Southern Confederacy, will call the ostracism a just measure. Now is the time to act — emulate the men of Pennsylvania, who have left their homes in numbers to shame the colored men of the “Old Bay State,” the “Cradle of Liberty.” This regiment should be filled now, with what is wanted to fill it, 326 more men, from Massachusetts; and if our people will only take hold of the matter in earnest it can be done. Let the young women drive all those young loungers off to the war, and if they won’t go, say “I’m no more gal of thine.” There are a plenty of young men in Boston, New Bedford, and other smaller places in the State to fill this regiment up in a very short time. We want them to feel as though they must go, not go purposely for a bounty, but go for honor, duty and liberty.
We were beautifully sold last Wednesday. It was rumored about the Camp that Governor Andrew was to visit the Camp; so the boys all thought of course they must have everything in apple-pie order; we had the barracks all cleaned and hung with holly, and everything looked splendidly. But it turned out that some of the companies wanted to prove which was the smartest.
J. H. G.
April 17 1863
About half a mile from here I have discovered a very nice house kept by a lady who takes boarders. So, if I find it best to return here immediately after our marriage, Annie will come & live there. Both she & I want you to come too, for I don’t want to go away without seeing something more of you than I have. I shall ask Clem to come too. Annie will come there, at any rate, after we leave Lenox—and if you refuse this invitation I shall begin to think you don’t want to see me. It is a very pretty place, and you can have a private table & parlour & everything else.
I saw Effie at Milton Hill last night. She looks a little tired, but otherwise well.
Your loving son,
Robert G. Shaw
April 17 1863
I received yours of the 14 inst. enclosing recommendation from citizens of Haverhill, for Wingate. I will hand it to the Governor today. The others he already has. The only notice he ever takes of such papers is to hand them to me. Every officer who has been appointed since I arrived, has been chosen by me, and I like to see them before I take them. Couldn’t Wingate come on here? There may be more vacancies than I expected, if Genl Foster doesn’t come out safe — and John White, whom I expected, can’t come. I showed Charles Lowell your letter in Effie’s presence & I think she read it herself.
Your loving son
I hope you will come to Boston before I go.
April 14 1863
Annie received your note this morning, and showed it to me. I am very glad, of course, that you feel perfectly satisfied about our marriage. She and I agree that it is much better to have it as quiet as possible. If it were to be a Show Wedding, I should wear my uniform, as you wish, but under the circumstances it would be very inconvenient, as I should have to change it before we went away. You don’t seem to appreciate how unpleasant it is to wear a uniform in public. If I were not on duty here, I shouldn’t wear one in Boston, ever.
Everything, as regards the regiment, is going on swimmingly, as usual. We have 630 men, and shall probably have over 700 before the week is out. I don’t remember whether I told you that Col. Wild has been ordered to raise, and take command of a brigade of coloured troops at Newbern. He is an excellent man. He lost his arm at Antietam and, I am afraid, may not be able to remain in active service, though he is determined to try it.
We have decided to have the wedding on Saturday 2d of May—and I think, by that time, there will be no objection to my taking a week’s vacation. Edward Hallowell, who has just returned from Philadelphia, says he heard Susie was at Uncle Robert’s. Is it so? I suppose Robert M. will be home before long. Mrs. Haggerty and Clem arc here, and the change of air is doing them a great deal of good. I am getting very fond of them. When we come back from Lenox, I hope Uncle Henry Grew, will invite Annie to stay at his house a little while, as it is close to my camp.
Ever your loving son,
Robert G. Shaw
P.S. Tell Father I bought a good horse today for $300. The reason I have drawn so much money is because I have had to pay several times for the regt.