By Edwin S. Redkey
The Civil warfare stands shiny within the collective reminiscence of the yankee public. There has regularly been a profound curiosity within the topic, and in particular of Blacks' participation in and reactions to the battle and the war's consequence. nearly 200,000 African-American infantrymen fought for the Union within the Civil struggle. even though such a lot have been illiterate ex-slaves, a number of thousand have been good expert, loose black males from the northern states. The 129 letters during this assortment have been written via black infantrymen within the Union military through the Civil struggle to black and abolitionist newspapers. they supply a special expression of the black voice that was once intended for a public discussion board. The letters inform of the men's reviews, their fears, and their hopes. They describe intimately their military days--the pleasure of strive against 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 scuffling with not just to loose the slaves yet to earn equivalent rights as voters. those letters provide a rare photograph of the conflict and in addition exhibit the brilliant 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 battle, the letters are robust statements of the yankee dream of justice and equality, and of the human spirit.
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Extra resources for A Grand Army of Black Men: Letters from African-American Soldiers in the Union Army 1861-1865
And so this question of the colonization of the negro; it will be settled by laws over which war has no control. Now is the time for you to finish the crowning work of your life. Go to work at once and raise a Regiment and offer your services to the government, and I am confident they will be accepted. They say we will not fight. I want to see it tried on. You are the one to me of all others, to demonstrate this fact. I belong to company G, 95th Regiment Illinois volunteers Captain Eliot N. Bush - a Christian and a gentleman.
General Seymour, who had disobeyed orders by challenging the enemy, and who had then managed the battle badly, was removed from command. The army fortified Jacksonville and Palatka on the St. Johns River and settled in for the rest of the war. Of the eight Union regiments engaged at the Battle of Olustee, three were black. The 8th USCI was at the focus of the first Rebel attack, and although everyone said it fought well, it lost heavily and had to retreat. The 54th Massachusetts replaced the 8th on the firing line and helped prevent a complete collapse of the Union forces.
You can estimate something of the importance of our victory, by a recent speech made by the rebel President, Jeff. Davis, in which he said that if he was defeated at Manassas, at Richmond, and elsewhere, he would fall back upon Roanoke Island, and hold it, against the combined forces of the world. And well might he say so, for it was a strong position, and determined troops, in a good cause, would have baffled us for weeks - yes, I may say for months; but their cause was that of the Devil, and they themselves were cowards - hence, our success is not to be marvelled at.