Posts Tagged   recruiting

March 23, 1863

A letter from Shaw to his friend Charles Fessenden Morse, and a letter from Governor John A. Andrew:

Readeville [BCF]
March 23,1863

My dear Charley,

I received yours of the 19th today, and was very glad to hear your account of the review of 12th Corps, by Hooker. I have been expecting it for some time, as you said in yout last, that it was going to take place. I can imagine your feelings very easily, when the old regiment was complimented by the General, for I felt just so when Pope reviewed us at Little Washington, and I was on Gordon’s Staff. It sent a thrill through me to see their steady marching & well closed ranks. It is very encouraging to hear your favourable account of Hooker. It really seems as if he must do something this Spring. The army will start, at any rate, in better condition and spirits than ever before. Oh, how I wish I were going to be with you! I should like to make one successful & brilliant campaign with the 2d and the Army of the Potomac.

I don’t think the conscription will stop the raising of negro regiments, for every one seems to go in for having them drafted too. And then they are destined for a peculiar service, I think, that of drawing off the blacks from the plantations, and making the Proclamation of Emancipation a reality. People lately from England say the change of feeling there, is a wonder — and they attribute it almost entirely to the Proclamation.

I have been meaning to write to you, for the last week, especially to urge you, if you are offered a position on Slocum’s, or any other good man’s Staff not to refuse it out of feeling for the regiment. You must reflect that this war may last a long time, and that you owe it to yourself and to your friends & relatives to get the best rank and position you honourably can. If you get on a good Staff, you will be sure to rise, and if a military man doesn’t continually look for promotion, what interest can he have in his profession?

We have 350 men in camp today and expect to get 100 or more during the week. I think we shall be full in a month—unless something occurs to stop the recruiting. That is not likely though, as $50 bounty has just been offered, while hitherto we have had none.

Let me hear from you regularly, my dear Charley, as I depend upon it. Tom Robeson & Grafton are here, but I have not seen them yet.  Miss Haggerty is coming to Boston to stay with one of my Aunts, so that my prospects for the next few weeks is pleasant.

Your sincere friend,

Robert G. Shaw

p.s. I saw Miss Nellie Low today & had a walk & a talk with her. She asked after you with much interest.

Emilio discussed the Confederate outlaw proclamation and reactions to it ([BBR, p.16-17],

In the proclamation of outlawry issued by Jefferson Davis, Dec. 23, 1862, against Major-General Butler, was the following clause: —

“Third. That all negro slaves captured in arms be at once delivered over to the executive authorities of the respective States to which they belong, to be dealt with according to the laws of said States.”

The act passed by the Confederate Congress previously referred to contained a section which extended the same penalty to negroes or mulattoes captured, or who gave aid or comfort to the enemies of the Confederacy. Those who enlisted in the Fifty-fourth did so under these acts of outlawry bearing the penalties provided. Aware of these facts, confident in the protection the Government would and should afford, but desirous of having official assurances, George T. Downing wrote regarding the status of the Fifty-fourth men, and received the following reply:—

Black abolitionist George T. Downing wrote to Gov. Andrew concerning the status of recruits to the 54th Regiement. This is Gov. Andrew’s reply:


BOSTON, March 23, 1863.


DEAR SIR, —In reply to your inquiries made as to the position of colored men who may be enlisted into the volunteer service of the United States, I would say that their position in respect to pay, equipments, bounty, or any aid or protection when so mustered ia that of any and all other volunteers. I desire further to state to you that when I was in Washington on one occasion, in an interview with Mr. Stanton, the Secretary of War, he stated in the most emphatic manner that he would never consent that free colored men should be accepted into the service to serve as soldiers in the South, until he should be assured that the Government of the United States was prepared to guarantee and defend to the last dollar and the last man, to these men, all the rights, privileges, and immunities that are given by the laws of civilized warfare to other soldiers. Their present acceptance and muster-in as soldiers pledges the honor of the nation in the same degree and to the same rights with all. They will be soldiers of the Union, nothing less and nothing different. I believe they will earn for themselves an honorable fame, vindicating their race and redressing their future from the aspersions of the past.

I am, yours truly,


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March 21, 1863

A recruiting speech by Frederick Douglass, and a letter from Shaw to his father:

Picture of Frederick Douglass

A speech first given by Frederick Douglass in Rochester, NY on March 2, 1863, and later published in Douglass’s Monthly on March 21, 1863. Douglass recruited over 100 men for the regiment, including two of his sons, Lewis and Charles. In late March, he travelled with his sons and 50 other recruits to Readville to enlist them.

Men of Color, To Arms!

When first the rebel cannon shattered the walls of Sumter and drove away its starving garrison, I predicted that the war then and there inaugurated would not be fought out entirely by white men. Every month’s experience during these dreary years has confirmed that opinion. A war undertaken and brazenly carried on for the perpetual enslavement of colored men, calls logically and loudly for colored men to help suppress it. Only a moderate share of sagacity was needed to see that the arm of the slave was the best defense against the arm of the slaveholder. Hence with every reverse to the national arms, with every exulting shout of victory raised by the slaveholding rebels, I have implored the imperiled nation to unchain against her foes, her powerful black hand. Slowly and reluctantly that appeal is beginning to be heeded. Stop not now to complain that it was not heeded sooner. It may or it may not have been best that it should not. This is not the time to discuss that question. Leave it to the future. When the war is over, the country is saved, peace is established, and the black man’s rights are secured, as they will be, history with an impartial hand will dispose of that and sundry other questions. Action! Action! not criticism, is the plain duty of this hour. Words are now useful only as they stimulate to blows. The office of speech now is only to point out when, where, and how to strike to the best advantage. There is no time to delay. The tide is at its flood that leads on to fortune. From East to West, from North to South, the sky is written all over, “Now or never.” Liberty won by white men would lose half its luster. “Who would be free themselves must strike the blow.” “Better even die free, than to live slaves.” This is the sentiment of every brave colored man amongst us. There are weak and cowardly men in all nations. We have them amongst us. They tell you this is the “white man’s war”; and you will be “no better off after than before the war”; that the getting of you into the army is to “sacrifice you on the first opportunity.” Believe them not; cowards themselves, they do not wish to have their cowardice shamed by your brave example. Leave them to their timidity, or to whatever motive may hold them back. I have not thought lightly of the words I am now addressing you. The counsel I give comes of close observation of the great struggle now in progress, and of the deep conviction that this is your hour and mine. In good earnest then, and after the best deliberation, I now for the first time during this war feel at liberty to call and counsel you to arms. By every consideration which binds you to your enslaved fellow—countrymen, and the peace and welfare of your country; by every aspiration which you cherish for the freedom and equality of yourselves and your children; by all the ties of blood and identity which make us one with the brave black men now fighting our battles in Louisiana and in South Caroline, I urge you to fly to arms, and smite with death the power that would bury the government and your liberty in the same hopeless grave. I wish I could tell you that the Sate of New York calls you to this high honor. For the moment her constituted authorities are silent on the subject. They will speak by and by, and doubtless on the right side; but we are not compelled to wait for her. We can get at the throat of treason and slavery through the State of Massachusetts. She was the first in the War of Independence; first to break the chains of her slaves; first to make the black man equal before the law; first to admit colored children to her common schools, and she was first to answer with her blood the alarm cry of the nation, when its capital was menaced by rebels. You know her patriotic governor, and you know Charles Sumner. I need not add more.

Massachusetts now welcomes you to arms as soldiers. She has but a small colored population from which to recruit. She has full leave of the general government to send one regiment to the war, and she has undertaken to do it. Go quickly and help fill up the first colored regiment from the North. I am authorized to assure you that you will receive the same wages, the same rations, and the same equipments, the same protection, the same treatment, and the same bounty, secured to the white soldiers. You will be led by able and skillful officers, men who will take especial pride in your efficiency and success. They will be quick to accord to you all the honor you shall merit by your valor, and see that your rights and feelings are respected by other soldiers. I have assured myself on these points, and can speak with authority. More than twenty years of unswerving devotion to our common cause may give me some humble claim to be trusted at this momentous crisis. I will not argue. To do so implies hesitation and doubt, and you do not hesitate. You do not doubt. The day dawns; the morning star is bright upon the horizon! The iron gate of our prison stands half open. One gallant rush from the North will fling it wide open, while four millions of our brothers and sisters shall march out into liberty. The chance is now given you to end in a day the bondage of centuries, and to rise in one bound from social degradation to the place of common equality with all other varieties of men. Remember Denmark Vesey of Charleston; remember Nathaniel Turner of Southampton; remember Shields Green and Copeland, who followed noble John Brown, and fell as glorious martyrs for the cause of the slave. Remember that in a contest with oppression, the Almighty has no attribute which can take sides with oppressors. The case is before you. This is our golden opportunity. Let us accept it, and forever wipe out the dark reproaches unsparingly hurled against us by our enemies. Let us win for ourselves the gratitude of our country, and the best blessings of our posterity through all time. The nucleus of this first regiment is now in camp at Readville, a short distance from Boston. I will under take to forward to Boston all persons adjudged fit to be mustered into the regiment, who shall apply to me at any time within the next two weeks.

Readville [BCF]
March 21, 1863

Dear Father,

Yours of the 18th Inst is received. I don’t think there is any chance for Mr. Wingate in my regiment. We have filled the list of Officers already. There will probably be some vacancies before we leave, but I don’t want to take any one whom I don’t know myself, and the Governor is averse to any but Massachusetts men, as there are a great many applications from his regiments.

Please tell Mother I received her note and will take her advice about Aunt Mary’s house. Charley and Effie arrived safely night before last. The latter found some beautiful bouquets awaiting her, and yesterday received a swarm of visitors.

We have received a large number of men lately from New York State & Pennsylvania. Mr. Stearns’ recruits are beginning to come in too. We are picking them carefully & shall have a very sound set. I expect to have, at least 450 in camp before the middle of next week. Don’t you think Brown had better give up his office in New York? We get finer men from the country, and there is no doubt of our filling up pretty rapidly.

Annie isn’t coming until next Wednesday and I am afraid she will put off her visit even longer than that, from what she writes me of her mother’s health. I suppose you are at the Island again by this time. Give my best love to George & Anna. I hope they are both well.

The snow here is still deep, and is making a good layer of mud for us. We can’t drill out of doors which is a great disadvantage as the barracks are crowded.

Give my love to Mother. I hope Nellie is having a pleasant time in Philadelphia. I suppose it is pretty gay there.

Your loving son

Robert G. Shaw

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March 17, 1863

Two letters from Shaw, one to his mother and one to his fiance.

Readville [BCF]

March 17,1863

Dearest Mother,

Your note of Sunday reached me to-day. I am sorry it was a mistake about your visit to Boston, though I was astonished at there being any thought of your leaving Anna just now.

I had a pleasant time at Lenox. Annie and I went to see Mrs. Charles and Willie Sedgwick. The day before the battle of Antietam her husband spent with us, and I had a great deal to tell them about him. His little girl wanted to hear all about her father. His mother is one of the most patriotic women I have seen, and seemed to feel proud that her son had died for his country.

The regiment continues to flourish. Men come in every day. Mr. Stearns, who is at home for a few days from Canada, says we can get more men than we want from there. The Governor thinks of getting authority to raise some more coloured regiments. If he does, I hope Frank Barlow can get the command. He is just the man for it, and I should like to be under him. Yesterday we had several officers out to take a look at the men; they all went away very much pleased. Some were very sceptical about it before, but say, now, that they shall have no more doubts of negroes making good soldiers. The Massachusetts Legislature has passed a bill appropriating $75,000 for each new regiment, ours included. The men will receive $50 bounty, and the rest will be used for recruiting purposes.

Love to Father and Susie,

Your loving son,


Readville [BCF]
March 17,1863

My Dear Annie,
Your note of Monday reached me to-day. If I hadn’t written you such a very contemptible one yesterday, I should have thought yours was altogether too short.
To-night we received quite a large squad of men from Pittsfield. They seem to be very patriotic up there. We are beginning to get our men from Western New York and Canada now. Our recruiting agent up there says he can get enough to make two or three regiments, if the Governor is authorized to raise them; at any rate, we can fill ours up.

Effie will be here to-morrow, and I wish, dear Annie, you were coming too. However, a week is not a very long time. If you put off coming I shall begin to feel very melancholy. . ..

The other day I dined at H. Mason’s with seventeen officers, four of whom had to have their food cut up for them,being badly wounded in the arm, and several others had wounds in other parts. We had a very interesting time in talking over events of rhe past year. I have got the pup which Captain Scott brought me from Virginia, out here, and if he grows up to be a nice dog, I will leave him with you when I go off Yesterday I bought a full-bred English terrier, which is a beauty. . . .

There is a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, white-skinned, black preacher out here, who has great influence among the blacks. He wants to go as chaplain, and I think I shall take him; he looks so much like a white man, that I don’t believe there would be much prejudice against it. I think I should care very little for public opinion, if it did no harm to the regiment. It would be out of the question to have any black, field or line, officers at present, because of public
sentiment. It ruined the efficiency of the Louisiana coloured regiments. . . .

Good night, dearest Annie.
your affectionate Rob

Our men are to have $50 bounty from the State, according to a bill which has just passed the Legislature.

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March 3, 1863

James Henry Gooding enlisted in Company C of the reginment on February 14, 1863, and wrote regular letters as a war correspondent to the New Bedford Mercury. This is his first letter:

[Mercury, March 3, 1863]

Messrs. Editors:‚

—As the time draws near for the departure of the men Capt. Grace has recruited, for camp, and there is not a sufficient number to form a whole company, does it not behoove every colored man in this city to consider, rationally with himself, whether he cannot be one of the glorious 54th? Are the colored men here in New Bedford, who have the advantage of education, so blind to their own interest, in regard to their social development, that through fear of some double dealing, they will not now embrace probably the only opportunity that will ever be offered them to make themselves a people. There are a great many I must confess, who, Micawber-like, “are waiting for something to turn up”; but they will have to learn sooner or later, that if anything does “turn up” to their advantage, they will have to be the means of turning it up themselves; they must learn that there is more dignity in carrying a musket in defence of liberty and right than there is in shaving a man’s face, or waiting on somebody’s table. — Not that it is any degradation to perform those offices, but those who perform them are considered nothing but appendages to society; for in either case, the recipients of these favors could perform them for themselves on a “pinch.” Another class are those who argue “it won’t pay to go for a soger”; but I think there are not nine out of ten who will realize as much in a year here at home as a man will in the army in the same length of time. And again, if the colored man proves to be as good a soldier as it is confidently expected he will, there is a permanent field of employment opened to him, with all the chances of promotion in his favor. Such an event is not unlikely in this country, any more than it is in India and other colonial dependencies of England. In India the native militia is considered equal if not superior to the English soldiery in tactics and bravery, and there are natives holding the highest military positions. Our people must know that if they are ever to attain to any position in the eyes of the civilized world, they must forego comfort, home, fear, and above all, superstition, and fight for it; make up their minds to become something more than hewers of wood and drawers of water all their lives. Consider that on this continent, at least, their race and name will be totally obliterated unless they put forth some effort now to save themselves.

G. — One of the 54th

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February 25, 1863

Two letters from Shaw, to his sister and to his father:

Readville [BCF]
Feb. 25,1863

Dear Effie,

I got your Sunday’s letter last night. I have not seen Colonel Lowell since, but will deliver your message at first opportunity. We have forty Darks out here now, and expect some more from New York and New Bedford in a day or two. When I hear from Providence, Fortress Monroe, and Canada, I shall be able to tell how rapidly the regiment will be likely to fill up. I am not staying out here yet, but shall probably take up my quarters here, in ten days or a fortnight.

Loulie has shown me several of Nellie’s letters. What good ones she writes. I am sorry you don’t see anything of Annie. I shall try to go on to New York on the 6th of March, and spend Saturday and Sunday at Susie’s. I spent last Sunday at Milton Hill with Henry Higginson and Charles Lowell. Monday evening, there was a small party at Clover Hooper’s, where I had a very pleasant time indeed, with Miss Ida, Miss Heath, &c. To-morrow evening, I am going to see old Mr. Quincy; he sent me word he should like to see me; the next evening, to the Sedgwicks in Cambridge. I have been somewhere almost every night.

Love to all.
Your loving Brother

Readville [BCF]
Feb. 25 1863

Dear Father,

I forgot to mention yesterday that a man is entitled to $2.00 per head for sound recruits sent to camp.  We have got our barracks all in order here, and can accommodate all the men that come now. I hope you will be able to send us some, before many days.

We have 40 here already and they look remarkably well in their uniforms. They are not of the best class of nigs—and if it weren’t for the want of state aid we should be able to get a much better set from the othet states. If you have any difficulty about making the arrangements I spoke of in my yesterday’s note, I wish you would let me know. Perhaps you can find a better man than Givens to do the work, and I think it would be well to get some white man who would interest himself in superintending the recruiting & take it off your hands. Doesn’t Mr. Gay know some one who would like a commission in the Regt & would be a good man to look after matters in N.Y.

Your loving son
R.G. S.

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February 24, 1863

Two letters from Shaw, to his friend Charles Fessenden Morse, and to his father:

Boston [BCF]
February 24,1863

My dear Charley,

I thought I would write to you again this morning to tell you what Lowell says of the battle of Antietam. Hooker’s & Mansfield’s attack on the right was intended only for a feint—and Burnside’s was to have been the true attack — which would have cut off their retreat to the Fords & driven them into the river or obliged them to make a flank march by the Hagerstown road in the face of Hooker’s & Mansfield’s Corps. Hooker got so sharply engaged that Sumner had to be sent to his support, instead of being held for a grand attack on the centre — and Burnside, as you know, did not do his work. This gives me a different idea of the battle from what I had before, and explains its plan.

Perhaps you already knew these facts. I was at a small party last night, where I saw Henry Hig. He goes away today and is very melancholy at the idea. Charley Horton is still on the town — but goes in a few days. I saw him yesterday on his way to a reception at Mrs. H. G. Otis’, with sash & belt & head well over to the right.

We have got 30 men out at Readeville—all washed & uniformed. They feel as big as all creation — and really look very well. We expect a good many from New York & Philadelphia, and shall know soon how many we can expect from Canada & Fortress Monroe. The thing is getting along very nicely.

With [love] to the fellows.
Your affectionate friend,

Robert G. Shaw

Boston [BCF]
Feb. 24,1863

Dear Father,

The regimental committee here have engaged a coloured man, named W. Wells Brown, to go to New York and help along the enlistments there. He will call at your office immediately after his arrival. Mr. Hallowell thinks that he and Givens had better enroll as many men as they can, and that you had better buy tickets in New York for their transportation. The only bounty they will receive is $100 from the United States at the expiration of their time of service. The pay is $13 per month, the same our white soldiers receive. You can probably make an arrangement with the Stonington Line to pay the men’s passage to Readville, and let them out there. Mr. Hallowell wants you to pay everything, and send the accounts to him for reimbursement. Can’t you engage some surgeon to examine them before they start, so that we need not be under the necessity of sending any back? Telegraph to Mr. Hallowell, 98 Federal Street, when a squad is shipped, the time of their departure, and their number. I suppose it had better be done as quietly as possible. Our agents start for Canada to-morrow. The want of State aid for the men’s families will be a great drawback to their enlistment in other States. Only Massachusetts men can get it. Mr. Hallowell will answer your letter to him. I have not received the one you mention having written to me.

Love to Mother and the girls.
Your affectionate son,

Robert G. Shaw

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February 23, 1863

A letter from Shaw to his fiance:

Boston [BCF]
Feb. 23, (Monday) 1863

Dearest Annie,

We have opened the camp at Readville, got the barracks in good order, and sent twenty-seven men out there. I have a good quartermaster, who has got all the necessary stores out there, and seems to be attending to his business in the most satisfactory manner. Captain Edward Hallowell, a brother of the Lieutenant-Colonel, is in command of the camp. Day before yesterday he had the men all washed and uniformed, which pleased them amazingly. They are being drilled as much as is possible in-doors, for it is too cold out there to keep them in the open air for any length of time. These twenty-seven men are all from Philadelphia and Boston.

From other recruiting-offices we hear very good accounts, and the men seem to be enlisting quite fast. Governor Sprague has authorized a recruiting-office to be opened in Providence for this regiment. We have an officer at Fortress Monroe, but he has to be very secret about his work; and to-day three men are going on a campaign into Canada. By these different means we expect, or rather hope, to fill our ranks pretty rapidly. We are getting men from Pennsylvania, NewYork, Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. So far, they are not of the best class, because the good ones are loath to leave their families, while there is a hope of getting a bounty later. Now, they receive only the $100 from the Federal government at the expiration of their term of enlistment.

Hallowell and I get along together in the pleasantest way. I like Governor Andrew more and more every day. As Charles Lowell says: “It was worth while to come home, if it were only to get acquainted with him.” … All my mornings are spent in the State-House; and as in-door, furnace-heated work does not agree with me, I shall get out to Readville as soon as possible.

Good bye for the present, my darling.

Always your loving Rob

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February 19, 1863

An entry from Emilio [BBR] describing the early recruiting efforts:

Much the larger number of recruits were obtained through the organization and by the means which will now be described. About February 15, Governor Andrew appointed a committee to superintend the raising of recruits for the colored regiment, consisting of George L. Stearns, Amos A. Lawrence, John M. Forbes, William I. Bowditch, Le Baron Russell, and Richard P. Hallowell, of Boston; Mayor Howland and James B. Congdon, of New Bedford; Willard P. Phillips, of Salem; and Francis G. Shaw, of New York. Subsequently the membership was increased to one hundred, and it became known as the “Black Committee.” It was mainly instrumental in procuring the men of the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Infantry, the Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry, besides 3,967 other colored men credited to the State. All the gentlemen named were persons of prominence. Most of them had been for years in the van of those advanced thinkers and workers who had striven to help and free the slave wherever found. The first work of this committee was to collect money; and in a very short time five thousand dollars was received, Gerrit Smith, of New York, sending his check for five hundred dollars. Altogether nearly one hundred thousand dollars was collected, which passed through the hands of Richard P. Hallowell, the treasurer, who was a brother of the Hallowells commissioned in the Fifty-fourth. A call for recruits was published in a hundred journals from east to west. Friends whose views were known were communicated with, and their aid solicited; but the response was not for a time encouraging

With the need came the man. Excepting Governor Andrew, the highest praise for recruiting the Fifty-fourth belongs to George L. Stearns, who had been closely identified with the struggle in Kansas and John Brown’s projects. He was appointed agent for the committee, and about February 23 went west on his mission. Mr. Stearns stopped at Rochester, N. Y., to ask the aid of Fred Douglass, receiving hearty co-operation, and enrolling a son of Douglass as his first recruit. His headquarters were made at Buffalo, and a line of recruiting posts from Boston to St. Louis established.

Soon such success was met with in the work that after filling the Fifty-fourth the number of recruits was sufficient to warrant forming a sister regiment.

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February 16, 1863

Two letters from Shaw, to his fiance Annie and to his Father; description of initial recruiting from Emilio [BBR 9,10]; one of the recruiting ads.

Boston [BCF]

Feb. 16,1863, Monday

Dearest Annie,

I arrived here yesterday morning, after a very uncomfortable night in the sleeping-car. I have been at work all day, looking over papers with Hallowell, and talking with Governor Andrew. We have decided to go into camp at Readville, and not at Worcester. It is near enough to Boston to make the transportation of supplies an easy matter, and we see no reason to apprehend any trouble from the white soldiers stationed there. Now that it is decided that coloured troops shall be raised, people seem to look upon it as a matter of course, and I have seen no one who has not expressed the kindest wishes for the success of the project. Governor Andrew’s ideas please me extremely, for he takes the most common-sense view of the thing. He seems inclined to have me do just what I please.

With much affection, your


Boston [BCF]
Feb. 16,1863

Dear Father,

I arrived here yesterday morning. Things arc going along very well, and I think there is no doubt of our ultimate success. I took a long drive with the Governor, and liked him very much. His views about the regiment are just what I should wish. We have decided to go into camp at Readville; as we think it best to plunge in without regard to outsiders. We shall have to do it some time, and it is best to begin immediately; I do not apprehend any trouble out there. We have a great deal of work before us, but every one seems anxious to give us a helping hand, and applications for commissions come in, in shoals. The more money we can get, the better; the transportation of men from other States will cost a great deal.
I will write to Mother soon.

In haste,
Your affectionate Son

In five days [after the Boston Journal ad] twenty-five men were secured; and Lieutenant Appleton’s work was vigorously prosecuted, with measurable success. It was not always an agreeable task, for the rougher element was troublesome and insulting. About fifty or sixty men were recruited at this office, which was closed about the last of March. Lieutenant Appleton then reported to the camp established and took command of Company A, made up of his recruits and others afterward obtained.

Early in February quite a number of colored men were recruited in Philadelphia, by Lieut. E. N. Hallowell, James M. Walton, who was subsequently commissioned in the Fifty-fourth, and Robert R. Corson, the Massachusetts State Agent. Recruiting there was attended with much annoyance. The gathering-place had to be kept secret, and the men sent to Massachusetts in small parties to avoid molestation or excitement. Mr. Corson was obliged to purchase railroad tickets himself, and get the recruits one at a time on the cars or under cover of darkness. The men sent and brought from Philadelphia went to form the major part of Company B.

New Bedford was also chosen as a fertile field. James W. Grace, a young business man of that place, was selected as recruiting officer, and commissioned February 10. He opened headquarters on Williams Street, near the post-office, and put out the United States flag across the street.Colored ministers of the city were informed of his plans; and Lieutenant Grace visited their churches to interest the people in his work. He arranged for William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Frederick Douglass, and other noted men to address meetings. Cornelius Rowland, C. B. H. Fessenden, and James B. Congdon materially assisted and were good friends of the movement. While recruiting, Lieutenant Grace was often insulted by such remarks as, “There goes the captain of the Negro Company! He thinks the negroes will fight! They will turn and run at the first sight of the enemy! ” His little son was scoffed at in school because his father was raising a negro company to fight the white men.

At camp the New Bedford men, — some seventy-five in number,—with others from that place and elsewhere, became Company C, the representative Massachusetts company.

Watson W. Bridgee …[his] headquarters were at Springfield, and he worked in Western Massachusettts and Connecticut. When ordered to camp, about April 1, he had recruited some seventy men.

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February 15, 1863

Captain Shaw arrived in Boston on February 15, and at once assumed the duties of his position. Captain Hallowell was already there, daily engaged in the executive business of the new organization; and about the middle of February, his brother, Edward N. Hallowell, who had served as a lieutenant in the Twentieth Massachusetts Infantry, also reported for duty, and was made major of the Fifty-fourth before its departure for the field.

Line-officers were commissioned from persons nominated by commanders of regiments in the field, by tried friends of the movement, the field officers, and those Governor Andrew personally desired to appoint. This freedom of selection, — unhampered by claims arising from recruits furnished or preferences of the enlisted men, so powerful in officering white regiments, — secured for this organization a corps of officers who brought exceptional character, experience, and ardor to their allotted work. Of the twenty-nine who took the field, fourteen were veteran soldiers from three-years regiments, nine from nine-months regiments, and one from the militia; six had previously been commissioned. They included representatives of well-known families; several were Harvard men; and some, descendants of officers of the Revolution and the War of 1812. Their average age was about twenty-three years.

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