St. Helena I.[BCF]
All the troops, excepting the coloured Regiments, are ordered to Folly Island. There will be a grand attack on Charleston, I suppose. I feel very much disappointed at being left behind, especially after Montgomery was promised by Genl Gilmore that we should have our share in it. I write you this lest you should see mention of the movement in the papers, & think we were in it.
I have not time to write to Annie, as the mail goes directly. Please send her this, or write to her.
Your loving Son
P.s. I sent you a box with some clothes & my old sword. Enclosed is receipt.
Posts Tagged recruiting
Mercury, May 18, 1863 [OAF]
Camp Meigs, Readville, May 16
—As we fondly expected last week, the 54th is now full, and as “Artemas” expresses it, “it slopt over,” so the spilt ones are now the germ of another regiment, the 55th. The Journal of Commerce, some weeks since, derided the idea of raising a colored regiment in the whole of the loyal States, but it was as near right that time as when it predicted McClellan would have to be recalled to save the nation from anarchy and ruin. These old fogy sheets seem to think if they modify their opinions to the humane and progressive spirit of the times, they lay themselves open to the charge of inconsistency; they lose sight of the fact that to be thoroughly consistent with their position as journalists, they should support what is right, regardless of party ties or Southern patronage. One who has any idea of the manner of mercantile transactions conducted in “Gotham,”might suspect the mercantile mouth-piece was largely interested in the rise and fall of sugar, cotton, turpentine and other tropical commodities.
The battalion of cavalry left last Tuesday for Washington; that battalion was the first ever escorted by a black regiment, and I can assure you they seemed not ashamed of their escort. Gov. Andrew was down to see them off, and it was by his request that the 54th was detailed to give them a parting salute. Who says the world does not move? Col. Maggi was at camp last Tuesday afternoon; he happened to be present during the battalion drill; he said the men drilled splendidly. I think he must be a competent judge. The papers say we are to leave here the 20th, but where we are going they seem to know no more than we do. We have got a band, or at least the instruments; there are fifteen men taken from the regiment to form a band; Professor Bond is the instructor; by the frequency of practice he is maintaining, he appears to be determined to make them equal to any band he has formed or taught during the war. W[h]arton A. Williams, one of our New Bedford boys, is to be Band Sergeant.
There is no more news of importance, so I will content myself till we march. The readers of the Mercury will be fully posted of our progress to our destination.
J. H. G.
I received your note, acknowledging my last from Lenox, this morning. Annie and I got to Boston, Saturday evening; coming the last part of the way with Mrs. Haggerty and Clem., having met them at Springfield. I found the regiment looking remarkably well; there are already one hundred men for the Fifty-fifth. Both the Hallowells refused the Colonelcy of it; but the Governor says Norwood must stay and help organize it, whether he wishes to or not; so he will be detailed by the War Department. I hope Mother and you will come on very soon. We shall get away next week without a doubt, if nothing unexpected turns up. General Wilde goes to New York Wednesday, and sails for Newbern on Friday.
We are settled at Mrs. Crehore’s, and ready to receive you whenever you can come. By this time, there must be some news from the coming baby.
Love to Mother and Nellie. I received Mother’s note at Lenox.
Your loving Son
Mercury, May 11, 1863 Gooding
Camp Meigs, Readville, May 9
—The past week has been one of progress with the 54th: 68 more men will make it a full regiment, if all the men are retained, which I think is rather doubtful, as there is about a dozen or more who, by the trying effects of camp life, are not physically able to be retained as good able soldiers. So far as physical ability is concerned and qualities of endurance as a regiment, the 54th will compare favorably with any ever raised in the State; indeed had every man been received who has applied, the regiment would have been filled at least three weeks since. Those having the raising of the regiment in charge are entitled to praise in not enlisting all sorts of men, regardless of their fitness to bear the hardships of military life, a striking contrast to the manner in which some of our regiments were raised. If they could only get 1000 men, they never thought of the fact that good sound men, although recruited slowly, would be better for themselves in the end. A number of regiments in the field, thinned out by sickness more than battle, had to be consolidated, so that the high “comish” in some cases will have to follow the unheroic paths of commerce or law once more. Surgeon General Dale paid an official visit to the camp last Monday and reviewed the battalion. He appears to seem satisfied that the boys will do.
That flag presentation didn’t come off, and it is very probable it won’t, or else it is such a big one it takes a long time to make it. Well, I suppose it is, and it will be bigger before we see it. By the papers we see Richmond is not taken yet; it would be a little strange if the 54th were destined to tear down Jeff. Davis’ nest. I think our boys would like such a job as that; they might not do it so scientifically as some, but they would never know when they were whipped, and that is the feeling which should pervade every man in the Union armies. Let every man feel that he has got a personal or family interest in this war, as the leaders of the South have, and with the immense armies, means and fleets the government have got, the rebellion would be speedily crushed. The American people, as a nation, knew not what they were fighting for till recently, and many have different opinions now as to the ends and results of the contest. But there is but two results possible, one is slavery and poverty and the other is liberty and prosperity. The latter can be preserved by oneness and singleness of purpose in regard to this contest, or the former will be sure, if love of place, prejudice and partisanship blind them so that they cannot see their way. Let every man of color consider that he has an interest in this war as well as the white man, and it will be well with them.
J. H. G.
Mercury, May 6, 1863 [OAF]
Camp Meigs, Readville, May 4
—The past week has been one of encouragement and interest to the 54th; our muster is now 868 men, and this week I hope to chronicle the pleasing intelligence, “the 54th is full.” We have sufficient reason to warrant us in saying that such will be the case. Fast Day was observed here by a respite from drilling in the forenoon, and a grand review in the afternoon. Indeed it looked like anything but a day of humiliation and prayer—it seemed more like a grand gala day, if judged by the number of visitors on the ground. The crowd was so great that the officers would allow no carriages within the fines. It would be safe to say that all Belknap street was here en masse. It was indeed a pleasant scene to see the “boys” who had friends to see them, demolishing the good things brought them with such a keen relish; you may be sure they thought not of fasting. In the afternoon Gov. Andrew and Secretary Chase visited the camp, which was the occasion of the review mentioned above. As the Governor entered the lines, attended by Brig. Gen. Pierce and staff, there arose a loud and enthusiastic cheer, long to be remembered. If there had been one present who asserts that black men are without military spirit, the spectacle in Camp Meigs last Thursday would have convinced him of his error.
Yesterday the men received their new arms. We are supplied with the Enfield rifle, made in 1853, so you may suppose they intend us to make good use of them; and I doubt not if the opportunity presents itself, they will be made good use of. There was quite a number of visitors here yesterday, including Gov. Berry, of New Hampshire.
We have a new style of cooking department here, to be experimented upon. It is a large wagon, covered similar to an omnibus, with a stove and all the appurtenances of a well ordered kitchen. It is intended to move on the march. It will be a very handy affair, if adopted. So the 54th will be supplied with all the modern improvements.
Last Thursday I could not but put the question to myself, when I saw so many strong, able-bodied looking young men, why are you not here? why come as spectators when there is ample chance for you to become actors? I felt a mingled feeling of joy and sorrow — joy, because I felt the men who stood as actors in the scene were superior, in the eyes of all patriotic men, to those who came to see the show; sorrow, because these men had the effrontery to come here and look patronizingly upon those who are on the eve of going to secure them a home hereafter. I must confess, it is enough to discourage real well wishers of the cause, to know that the “hub of the Universe” contributed only the small number of 80 men to a whole regiment. It is a fact though, and the only way to make it otherwise, is to send at least 100 more men here, whose interests are identified with the State. The regiment will be full; but it would be more credit to the State if it were filled by her own colored citizens. When the war is over, and those who are spared to return shall march through the grand thoroughfares of our principal cities, ragged, lame, shoeless, and a banner tattered and torn by hostile balls, they then will learn who holds the highest place in the affections of a grateful people. What better reward is possible to conceive than the blessings of those we left behind in sorrow and tears; time, that great solver of events, will teach them this; if they suffer now, they would suffer more in the future, if we do not try now to avert it. It is rumored we are to receive a flag today, but I cannot place any reliance in it. We have heard so many different rumors, about different subjects, that we are rather slow to believe anything we don’t see. (Money especially.)
J. H. G.