1863 June 27: The Gallantry of the Colored Regiments
The following articles are from the June 27, 1863, issues of The Prescott Journal and The Polk County Press. As was typical of Northern newspapers of the time, both newspapers use the “N” word to describe the African-American soldiers, so be warned that word appears in several of the following articles.
From The Prescott Journal:
How They Fought.
A correspondent of the New York Tribune, from New Orleans, makes the following mention of the 2d Louisiana colored regiment:
“I should be guilty of inexcusible [sic] reticence did I fail to chronicle the gallntry [sic] of two Louisiana colored regiments—the First, Col. Stafford,¹ and the Second, Col. Nelson.² A New Orleans Copperhead informed me that they fought like tigers. Six times did they charge upon the foritfications [sic], clambering over a huge abattis and marching unitedly forwards, while at each stop the concentrated fire of the adjacent batteries lessend [sic] their ranks with a fearful rapidity. Fully fifty per cent. of their number where [sic] left dead upon the brush-heaps to denote their bravery. The remainder received at the hands of the commanding General and his battle stained comrades, that generous appreciation which their deeds had earned. A revolution in sentiment toward colored troops took place upon that field of carnage which in itself was a glorious victory.
When the colored regiments were first formed, many applications were made by white men for commissions in those regiments possible, under the impression that they were merely to do ordinary garrison duty in comparative safety ; but the recent hard fought battles in which they have should be entrusted with the command of colord [sic] soldiers, as they press forward into the thickest of the fight, and seem to know no danger. Who will longer doubt that the colored population of the United States is an element of strength in the war, which it is wicked to allow Rebels to monopolize?—La Crosse Rep[ublican].
From The Polk County Press:
THE NEGRO.—Negroes are now helping to fight our battles in the South ; they are helping the rebels fight us ; they are helping fight the battles of France in Mexico ; and even the Imperial Capital of France is now in part garrisoned by negroes. The proud Court of Napoleon III does not appear to observe that there is anything abnormal in having the guard of the palace mounted by the “nigger.” The negro race is in a fair way to learn to fight.
— Each negro soldier enlisted and sent into the field diminishes by one the number of white men to be drafted. Any squeamish fellow who objects to having his fighting done by a “nigger,” should at once report himself to the nearest recruiting officer and volunteer.—Prescott Journal.
1. Spencer H. Stafford. A lawyer before the Civil War, Stafford was a captain in the 20th regiment of New York state militia, and deputy provost marshal of New Orleans before becoming colonel of the 1st Louisiana Native Guards.
2. John A. Nelson was colonel of the 3rd regiment. The colonel of the 2nd Louisiana Native Guard Volunteers was Nathan W. Daniels.
Daniels wrote Thank God My Regiment an African One: The Civil War Diary of Colonel Nathan W. Daniels; the UWRF Library has a copy of the 1998 reprint (E 510.5 2nd .D36 1998), the book is also available digitally on Google Books. The UWRF Library also has The Louisiana Native Guards: The Black Military Experience During the Civil War, by James G. Hollandsworth, Jr., Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1995 (E 540.N3 H65 1995), as well as numerous books about Black regiments from other states.