Feby 20 1863
You have probably been looking for a letter from me for some days, but I have had so much to do that I couldn’t write. My interviews with the Govr have been very satisfactory — and we are getting along better than I expected we should. Cousin John helps us along a great deal with his advice — he has thought of several men for officers who I think will be the best we shall get. After discussing their characters, he will say “now, does any one know whether he’s enough nigger to him?” or “are his heels long eno’ for this work?”‘ He is very funny.
Evening. Your letter enclosing Mrs. Schuyler’s & Mr. Ward’s notes came this afternoon. Please thank them both when you see them. There was a meeting of the committee for the Col’d regt today and money was appropriated to aid enlistments in various places. We have got the camp going and shall send some men out tomorrow. At the meeting Richard Hallowell said it would please the coloured population to have some influential darkey on the committee‚—and Cousin John told him he would like to take in a nigger and turn him (H.) out, which naturally caused some merriment. I didn’t see the Governor’s mouth twitch, and I like him more every day. He is not only a liberal minded philanthropist, but a man of real practical good-sense, I think — and as kind-hearted as he can be. Some of the influential coloured men I have met please me very much. They are really so gentlemanlike & dignified. Please tell Father that I have been requested by the committee to ask him to find some responsible & respectable coloured men, who can help enlistments in New York & Brooklyn. As soon as he will notify me of his having met some such person or persons I will send him some tickets for their transportation to Massachusetts. They should be ascertained to be physically sound before being sent — and there should be no noise made about it, as N.Y authorities might object to our taking them from there. No recruiting office should be opened.
I shall write to you as often as ever dearest Mother, as I don’t intend to abandon you entirely for Annie, as you seem to think. Just now while I am so much engaged, my letters may be a little less frequent.
Ever your loving son,
Robert G. Shaw
Said nothing to C.S. The passage of the conscription act makes the raising of coloured troops less important, I think. I have received many notes of congratulation both on my engagement & my having taken the Regt. I have just been reading all the letters rec’d by Jim Savage’s family concerning him, and my head is full of those Cedar Mt. & Rappahannock days. Sad ones they were.
I spent last evening with Aunt Susan and family. It was very sad; they talked of Theodore a great deal, and seemed to find great comfort in it. They all bear the loss like true Christians; and when I think what a terrible blow it is to them, I cannot admire them sufficiently. The girls seemed lovely in their gentleness, and sweet way of speaking of Theodore. Uncle John is cheerful too; probably from feeling how much Aunt Susan has need of all the consolation he can give her. It is an immense comfort to them to talk of and remember Theodore’s beautiful and pure character. I shall go there again soon. They thought I had done a great thing in taking the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts. About this, I have had only good words from friends and foes of the project. As you say, the result is sure to be good when a man takes a firm stand for what he thinks is the right. Annie Agassiz, the Professor, and all the family, as well as many others, made the most complimentary remarks. I have spoken so much of this, not from egotism, but because the kindness of every one I have met, has made a great impression upon me. Tell Father, Homans has a
Second Lieutenancy in my regiment.
Your loving son
You will be astonished to hear, I suppose, (unless some one has mentioned it already) that I am engaged to Miss Annie Haggerty. Perhaps you remember that two years ago I told you she would be my “young woman” some time. Harry and I keep along pretty well together, don’t we? And we are both so unfortunate, as to have the prospect of being dragged off again to the tented field, when we want most horribly to stay at home. We are at home now together, he as Lieut. Col. of the 2d Mass. Cavalry, and I as a Nigger Col., for Gov. Andrew has given me the command of his black regiment. The conscription bill has passed so I advise Theodore not to come home, lest he be drafted. Tell him I will give him a position as chaplain if he would like to go into a good nigger concern.
I hope, dear Mimi, you and he and the baby are well, and are having a pleasant time. It seems as if we were to have continual war in this country. I pray God it may not be so, for there has been enough blood shed to atone for a great many sins.
Since I have been at home the misery and unhappiness caused by this war have struck me more forcibly than ever — for in active service one gets accustomed to think very lightly of such things. Last evening I went to see the Parkmans, and the way in which they bear Theodore’s loss is beautiful. You know how devoted they all were to him, and what a terrible blow his death must have been‚ — îand there are thousands of such cases on both sides.
Give my love to Theodore. I hope we shall see you safe at home before long‚ — before Harry and I go off again. All are well here.
Always your affectionate Cousin,
Robert G. Shaw