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The
BLACK PHALANX;

A History of the

NEGRO SOLDIERS OF THE UNITED STATES
in the Wars of
1775-1812, 1861-'65,
By
Joseph T. Wilson
Late of the 2nd Reg't. La. Native Guard Vols. 54th Mass. Vols.
Aide-De-camp to the Commander-In-Chief G. A. R.
Author of
"Emancipation," "Voice of a New Race,"  "Twenty-Two Years of Freedom," etc., etc.
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56 Illustrations
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Hartford, Conn.:
American Publishing Company
1890

PART III.

CHAPTER II. -
BENEVOLENCE AN DFRUGALITY.
Pg. 508
 

     The negro troops gave striking evidence of both benevolence and frugality with the money they received.  They needed but to be shown an opportunity to contribute to some object, when they quickly responded.  Frequently, too, they fell easy victims to the crafty camp bummers and speculators, who were ever collecting means for some charitable object for the benefit of the negro race.  However, here it will be a pleasing duty to name some of the more conspicuous instances where their charity was well and nobly bestowed.  At the same time they deposited a vast aggregate sum of savings in different
banks established for this purpose.
     The 62nd Regiment contributed to a commendable project gotten up by its officers, who gave, themselves, $1,034.60, the regiment giving $3,966.50.  With this money the founding of a school was commenced, which eventually became a college known as the Lincoln Institute, situated at Jefferson City, Mo.  To this sum of $5,001.10, the 65th Regiment contributed $1,379.50, through the efforts of their officers.  The sum was soon increased to $20,000, and the Institute stands to-day a monument to the 62nd and 65th Phalanx Regiments.
     Professor Foster, in his history of this Institute, gives these interesting details:

     "Dr. Allen, a man of high character and influence, gave the scheme standing ground by declaring that he would give $100.  Both our field officers, Colonel Barrett and Lieutenant-Colonel Branson, though

[Pg. 509]


U. S. PAYMASTERS PAYING OFF PHALANX SOLDIERS

[Pg. 510] - BLANK

[Pg. 511]
neither was with us at the time, afterwards subscribed a like amount.  Others responded in the same spirit.  Officers and men entered into the work with enthusiasm.  The lieutenants gave $50 each; officers of higher rank, $100.  First Sergeant Brown, Co D, gave $75; Sergeants Curd, Bergamire, Alexander and Moore each gave $50, while the number
who gave 25, 20, 15, 10, and 5 dollars apiece is too great for me to recall their names on this occasion, but they are all preserved in our records. The total result in the 02nd Regiment was $1,034.60, contributed by the officers, and $3,960.50 by the colored soldiers.  The soldiers of the 65th Regiment afterwards added $1,379.50.  One of them, Samuel Sexton, gave $100 from his earnings as a private soldier at $13 per month, an example of liberality that may well challenge comparison with the acts of those rich men who, from their surplus, give thousands to found colleges.'"

     Colonel David Branson, late of the 62nd Regiment, in his dedicatory speech, said :

     "MY FRIENDS: - This, with one exception, has been the happiest 4th of July in my life. That exception was in 1863, when I saw the rebel flag go down at Vieksburg.  I felt the exultation of victory then, and I feel it to-day as 1 look upon this splendid building.  Looking in the faces of my old comrades of the 62nd Regiment here to-day, memory goes back to the past, when hundreds of you came to me at Benton Barracks, ragged, starving, and freezing—some did freeze to death—and emotions fill me that no language can express.  I cannot sit down and think of those scenes of suffering without almost shedding tears.  But happily those days are passed.  No more marching with sluggish step and plantation gait through the streets of St. Louis, Mo., amid the jeers of your enemies; no more crossing the Mississippi on ice; no more sinking steamers, and consequent exposure on the cold, muddy banks of the river; no more killing labor on fortifications at Port Hudson, Baton Rouge and Morganza; no more voyages over the Gulf of Mexico, packed like cattle in the hold of a vessel; no mere weary marches in the burning climate of Texas; no more death by the bullet, and no more afternoons on the banks of the Rio Grande, deliberating on the future education of yourselves when discharged from the army ; but peace and
prosperity here with the result of those deliberations before us.  Our enemies predicted, that upon the disbanding of our volunteer army— particularly the colored portion of it—it would turn to bands of marauding murderers and idle vagabonds, and this Institute was our answer."

     When Colonel Shaw, of the 54th Regiment, fell at Fort Wagner, the brave soldiers of that regiment gladly
contributed to a fund for a monument to his memory, but which, upon reflection, was appropriated to building

[Pg. 512]
the Shaw School at Charleston, S. C.  And yet all these sums sink into insignificance when compared to that contributed by the negro soldiers to the erection of a monument to the memory of President Lincoln, at the capitol of the nation;  seventeen hundred of them gave ten thousand dollars.  But let the record speak for itself, for it is only a people's patriotism that can do such things:

 CORRESPONDENCE AND STATEMENTS OF JAMES E. YEATMAN,
PRESIDENT OF THE WESTERN SANITARY COMMISSION, RELATIVE
TO THE EMANCIPATION MONUMENT.

"ST. LOUIS, April 26th, 1865.

"James E. Yeatman, Esq.
     MY DEAR SIR;  A poor negro woman, of Marietta, Ohio, one of those made free by President Lincoln's proclamation, proposes that a monument to their dead friend be erected by the colored people of the United States.  She has handed to a person in Marietta five dollars as her contribution for the purpose.  Such a monument would have a history more grand and touching than any of which we have account.  Would it not be well to take up this suggestion and make it known to the freed men?

     "Yours truly,                                          T. C. SMITH"

     Mr. Yeatman  says:
     "In compliance with General Smith's suggestion I published his letter, with a card, stating that any desiring to contribute to a fund for such a purpose, that the Western Sanitary Commission would receive the same and see that it was judiciously appropriated as intended.  In response to his communication liberal contributions were received from colored soldiers under the command of General J. W. Davidson, head-quarters at Natchez, Miss., amounting in all to $12,150. his was subsequently
increased from other sources to $16,242.

"MARIETTA, OHIO, June 29th, 1865.

Mr. James E. Yeatman, President Western Sanitary Commission, St. Louis:
    
"MY DEAR SIR:  I have learned, with the greatest satisfaction, through Brigadier-General T. C. H. Smith and the public press that you are devoting your noble energies in giving tone and direction to the collection and appropriation of a fund for the erection of the Freedmen's National Monument, in honor and memory of the benefactor and savior of their race.
     "The general also informs me that you desire, and have requested through him that the five dollars deposited with the Rev. C. H. Battelle, of this city, by Charlotte Scott, should be used as the original and foundation subscription for this most praiseworthy purpose; and Mr. Battelle assures me that he will most cheerfully remit it to you this day.  As a slave-holder by inheritance, and up to a period after the outbreak of the rebellion, and as an ardent admirer of our lamented president, the author of universal emancipation in America, I feel an enthusiastic interest in the success of the Freedmen's National Monument.  I hope it may stand unequalled and unrivalled in grandeur and magnificence.  It

[Pg. 513]
should be built essentially by freedmen, and should lie emphatically national.  Every dollar should come from the former slaves, every State should furnish a stone, and the monument should be erected at the capital of the nation.  Nothing could be better calculated to stimulate this downtrodden and abused race to renewed efforts for a moral and national status.
     "Charlotte Scott, whose photograph General Smith will forward, was born a slave in Campbell County, Virginia.  She is about sixty years old, but is very hale and active.  Her reputation for industry, intelligence, and moral integrity, has always been appreciated by her friends and acquaintances, both white and colored.  She was given, with other slaves, to my wife, by her father, Thomas H. Scott.  When we received the news of Mr. Lincoln's assassination, the morning after its occurrence, she was deeply distressed.  In a conversation with Mrs. Rucker, she said: 'The colored people have lost their best friend on earth, Mr. Lincoln was our best friend, and I will give five dollars of  my wages towards erecting a monument to his memory.'  She asked me who would be the best person to raise money for the purpose.  I suggested Mr. Battelle, and she gave him the five dollars.
                              "I am, my dear sir, truly and respectfully,
                                                            "WILLIAM P. RUCKER."
                                             "
MARIETTA, OHIO, June 29th, 1865.

"Mr. J. E. Yeatman.
    
"DEAR SIR:  I was providentially called upon by Charlotte Scott, formerly a slave of Dr. W. P. Rucker, now living in this place, to receive the enclosed $5, as the commencement of a fund to be applied to rearing a monument to the memory  of Hon. Abraham Lincoln.
    
"I received her offering, and gave notice through the press that I would receive other donations, and cheerfully do what I could to promote so noble an object.  Other persons have signified their willingness to give when the measure is fully inaugurated.
     "By the advice of General T. C. H. Smith I herewith forward you her contribution, and 1 hope to here from you upon its receipt, that I may show to Charlotte and others that the money has gone in the right direction. After hearing from you 1 hope to be able to stir up the other colored folks on this subject.
     "I rejoice, dear sir, that I have some connection with this honorable movement in its incipiency.  I shall not fail to watch its progress with thrilling interest, and hope to live until the top stone shall be laid amid the jubilant rejoicing of emancipated millions crying 'Grace, grace unto it.'
                            Very Respectfully Yours,
                                                     
"C. D. BATTELLE."

     "The publication of the note of Mr. Yeatman, and the first communication received concerning the colored woman's proposed offering, brought the following letters and contributions, showing how generously the proposition of Charlotte Scott was responded to by the colored troops stationed at Natchez, Miss.  These contributions have been duly
deposited for safe keeping towards the Freedmen's National Monument to Mr. Lincoln.
                       HEAD-QUARTERS 6TH U. S. COLORED HEAVY ARTILLERY.
                                    "FORT McPHERSON, Natchez, May 19th, 1865. }

"James E. Yeatman, President Western Sanitary Commission, St. Louis:
    
"DEAR SIR:  I hereby transmit to you, to be appropriated to the monument to be erected to the late President Lincoln, the sum of four thousand two hundred and forty-two dollars, the gift from the soldiers

[Pg. 514]
and freedmen of this regiment.  Allow me to say that I feel proud of my regiment for their liberal contribution in honor of our lamented chief.
Please acknowledge receipt.
                         "Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                                       "JOHN P. COLEMAN.
     "Lieutenant-Colonel commanding 6th U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery.
     "
Amounts as donated by their respective companies:  "Company A, $515; Company B, $594; Company C, $514; Company D, $464; Company E, $199; Company F, $409; Company G, $284; Company H, $202; Company I, $423; Company K, $231; Company L, $142; Company M, $354.  Total, $4,242."

                         "HEAD-QUARTERS 70TH U. S. COLORED INFANTRY
                                                              "RODNEY, MISS, May 30th, 1865.}
"Brevet Major-General J. W. Davidson, commanding District of Natchez, Miss.:
     "GENERAL:  I have the honor to enclose the sum of two thousand nine hundred and forty-nine dollars and fifty cents as the amount collected, under your suggestion, for the purpose of erecting a monument to the memory of President Lincoln. Every dollar of this money has been subscribed by the black enlisted men of my regiment, which has only an aggregate of six hundred and eighty-three men.  Much more might have been raised, but 1 cautioned the officers to check the noble generosity of my men rather than stimulate it.  Allow me to add that the soldiers expect that the monument is to be built by black people's money exclusively.  They feel deeply that the debt of gratitude they owe is large, and any thing they can do to keep his 'memory green' will be done cheerfully and promptly.
     " If there is a monument built proportionate to the veneration with which the black people hold his memory, then its summit will be among the clouds—the first to catch the gleam and herald the approach of coming day, even as President Lincoln himself first proclaimed the first gleam as well as glorious light of universal freedom.
     "I am, general, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                                                     "W. C. EARLES,
                                     "
Colonel 70th United States Colored Infantry."

                                                                       "DISTRICT OF NATCHEZ, May 21st, 1865.
"Hon. James E. Yeatman:
     "Upon seeing your suggestions in the Democrat I wrote to my colonels of colored tropps, and they are responding most nobly to the call Farrar's regiment, 6th United States Heavy Artillery, sent some $4,700.  They money here spoken of has been turned over to Major W. C. Lupton, Pay-master U. S. A., for you.  Please acknowledge receipt through the Missouri Democrat.  The idea is, that the monument shall be raised to Mr. Lincoln's memory at the national capital exclusively by the race he has set free.           Very truly yours,
                                                                         " J. W. DAVIDSON,
Brevet Major-General

               "HEAD PAY DEPARTMENT, NATCHEZ, MISS., June 15th, 1865.
"James E. Yeatman, Esq., President Western Sanitary Commission, St. Louis:
     "SIR:  The colored soldiers of this district, Brevet Major-General Davidson commanding, feeling the great obligations they are under to our late president, Mr. Lincoln, and desiring to perpetuate his memory, have contributed to the erection of a monument at the national capital, as follows:

[Pg. 515]
70th United States Colored Infantry, Colonel W. C. Earle ........................ $2,949.50
Three Companies 63d U. S. Colored Infantry - A, C, and E -
          Lieutenant-Colonel Mitchell ..........................................................
263.00
Freedmen of Natchez .............................................................................. 312.38
  ____________
                    Total............................................................................ $3,529.85

     "Added to this Major John P. Coleman, of the 6th United States Colored Heavy Artillery, (those that Forrest's men did not murder at Fort Pillow), stationed here, has sent you nearly five thousand dollars for the same fund, and the 57th United States Colored Infantry desire me, at the next pay-day, to collect one dollar per man, which will swell the amount to nearly ten thousand dollars.  This is a large contribution from not quite seventeen hundred men, and it could have been made larger— many of the men donating over half their pay, and in some instances the whole of it—but it was thought best to limit them.
     " Will you please publish this, that the colored soldiers and their friends may know that their money has gone forward, and send me a copy of the paper.
                                                       "I am, sir, with regard,
                                            "W. C. LUPTON,
Pay-master United States Navy."

     "These noble contributions are a striking evidence of the favor with which this movement is regarded by the colored people, and especially the brave soldiers (the Phalanx who fought to maintain their freedom) of this oppressed race who have been fighting to carry out the proclamation of their benefactor, securing them their liberty."

     There is still another evidence of the appreciation of freedom by the negro soldiers in their frugality.  After the enlistment of colored troops became general, and they began to receive pay and bounties, the officers commanding them readily discovered the necessity of providing a better place for keeping the money paid them than in their pocket-books and in the soldier's knapsack.  Every pay day these soldiers would carry sums of money to their officers for safe keeping, until thousands of dollars were thus deposited, which were often lost in battle.  In August, 1804, General Rums Saxton, military governor of South Carolina, after mature deliberation as to the best means to be adopted for the safe keeping of these soldiers' monies, established a bank in his department.  General Butler established a similar one at Norfolk, Va., about the same time.  At the organization of the Freedmen's Savings and Trust company, chartered by act of Congress, these institutions transferred to the Freedmen's Bank all the monies on deposit in them, as the war had ceased, and the troops and officers were being mustered out of the United States service.  The Butler Bank at Norfolk in July, 1865, trans

[Pg. 516]
ferred $7,890.  In December the Saxton Bank at Beaufort transferred $170,000. Thus the sum of $177,890, belonging to soldiers in two departments only, was placed to their credit, subject to their order, in the new national bank, called into existence by like motives.  This bank had branches at these places.  Had similar banks been established in the other departments an enormous sum would have been collected.  The Freedman's bank, how ever, took the place of these military banks, and had the confidence of the soldiers who continued to deposit in its various branches throughout the south.   When that institution collapsed in 1874, of the many millions of dollars deposited in it, it is estimated that two-thirds of the amount was the savings of the Phalanx.  There is now in the vaults of the national government more than a quarter of a million of dollars belonging to the Phalanx, held as unclaimed bounty and pay—an ample sum from which to erect a suitable monument to commemorate the heroic devotion and patriotic endeavor of those who fell in Freedom's cause.  This money doubtless belongs to those who on the battle-fields and in hospitals died for the country's 'honor.  These are some of the lessons taught by the history of the Black Phalanx.

[Pg. 517] - CHAPTER III. - BIBLIOGRAPHY
 

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