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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

PT II.

CHAPTER IV. -
OFFICERS of the PHLANX
pg. 166
 

     The character, qualifications and proficiency of the men, who, as officers, commanded the negro troops, may be judged by the process which they had to undergo in order to obtain commissions.  Unlike the officers of the white volunteers (with whom loyalty and dash were the essential qualifications) they were required to possess much more than an ordinary knowledge of military tactics.  Major-General Hunter, by whose order the first negro regiment with white officers was organized, commencing May, 1862, had an eye single to make up of the men who should be placed in command of the regiments.  As a beginning, Gen. Saxton addressed the following letter to Capt. T. W. Higginson, of the 51st Reg't. Mass. Volunteers, Beaufort, S. C., Nov. 5th, 1862:

     "MY DEAR SIR: - I am organizing the First Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers, with every prospect of success.  Your name has been spoken of in connection with the command of this regiment, by some friends in whose judgment I have confidence. I take great pleasure in offering you the position of Col. in it, and hope that you may be induced to accept.  I shall not fill the place until I hear from you, or sufficient time shall have passed for me to receive your reply.  Should you accept I enclose a pass for Port Royal, of which I trust you will feel disposed to avail yourself at once.  I am, with sincere regard,
                                          Yours truly,
                                                            R. SAXTON,
                                                                       Brig. Gen., Mill. Gov."
This was an excellent selection, and Captain Higginson's acceptance rather assured a fair trial for the men who should compose this regiment, as well as the quality of its officers.

[Pg. 167]

Major Martin R. Delaney, U. S. A.

[Pg. 168] - BLANK

[Pg. 169]

     The first Kansas regiment which recruited in that State, commencing in August, 1862, was also fortunate in having Colonel R. J. Hinton.
     General Butler
, at New Orleans, was prevented by circumstances surrounding him at the time, from choosing among the friends of the negro race, as was the case in the before mentioned regiments, men to command the first and second regiments organized by him in the above named city, in August, 1862.  He was only too glad to find white men of military capacity to take charge of the drilling and disciplining of the troops.  As an experiment he was more than lucky in the appointment of Colonels Stafford and Daniels to the command of these regiments, seconded by Lieut. Cols. Bassett and Hall, and Finnegass of the 3rd Regiment.  These officers proved themselves worthy of the trust reposed in them, and made these regiments, in drill and discipline, second to none in the Department of the Gulf.  Notwithstanding the captains and subordinate officers of the first and second regiments were men, who like those in a large majority of the white regiments had never made arms a profession, and, who, through American prejudice, had but very limited opportunities for acquiring even the rudiments of a common English education.  Several of them, however, being mulattoes, had had some training in the schools of the parishes, and some few in the higher schools of France, and in the Islands of the Carribean Sea.  Maj. Dumas, of the 2nd Regiment, whose slaves composed nearly one whole company, was a gentle man of fine tact and ability, as were others.
     Considering that they were all negroes, free and slave, their dash and manly courage, no less than their military aptitude, was equal, and in many instances superior, to those found in the regiments of Maine and New York.  The 3rd Regiment was officered by soldiers of undoubted character and pluck, as they proved themselves to be, during the seige of Port Hudson, especially Capt. Quinn, who won distinction and promotion, as the record shows.  The regiments raised thereafter were officered, more or less, by the non-commissioned officers of the white regiments,

[Pg. 170]
as a reward for gallantry and meritorious service upon the field, or on account of proficiency in drill.  This rule of selection held good throughout all the departments in the organizing of negro troops.  In May, 1863, President Lincoln, with a view of correcting an abuse that a certain commanding general had begun to practice in assigning inferior, though brave, men to the command of negro regiments ; and in keeping with his new policy of arming the negroes, for which Gen. Lorenzo Thomas, Adjutant General of the Army, had gone into the Mississippi Valley region to raise twenty regiments, he appointed a Board for the examination of those applying for commands in negro regiments.
     The "Record of the 7th Reg't. U.S. Colored Troops," in regard to the matter, says:  "That the labors of this Board contributed very materially to the success of the experiment of raising this class of troops, no one cognizant with the facts can doubt.  The operations of the Board can best be shown by quoting the following letter received from Gen. Casey in reply to some enquiries on the subject:

                                                                             "BROOKLYN, Nov. 30th, 1875.
     *    *    *    "The Board for the Examination of candidates for officers in colored regiments, of which I was President, was appointed in May, 1863, and continued its duties about two years. This movement was, at first, very unpopular with a portion of the people of the country, as also with a large portion of the army.  I, although doubting at first with regard to the expediency of operating in large bodies with this species of force, determined, that so far as I was concerned, it should have a fair trial.
     "A system was adopted for the examination of candidates which did not allow influence, favor or affection to interfere with the enforcement of its provisions.  The Board examined nearly three thousand candidates, seventeen hundred of whom they recommended for commissions in various grades, from colonel down.
     " From my knowledge of the officers of white volunteers, gained in my duties connected with receiving and organizing, in the city of Washington, 300,000 of them, and also as commander of a division on the Peninsula, I have no hesitation in saying that the officers of the colored regiments, who passed the Board, as a body were superior to them, physically, mentally and morally.
      "From the concurrent reports received from various sources, there is but little doubt that the success of the colored troops in the field was brought about in no small degree by the action of the Board.

[Pg. 171]
     "The following is the copy of a letter which I addressed to a gentle man of Philadelphia, and which you may find of interest:
     'In conversation with you a few days since, I promised to elaborate somewhat the ideas which I expressed with regard to the appointment of officers of colored troops.
     'Military men, whose opinion is worth having, will agree in this, that to have good and efficient troops it is indispensable that we should have good officers.  The material for soldiers which the loyal States have furnished during this rebellion, I have no hesitation in saying, is the best that the world has ever seen. Such men deserve to have officers to command them who have been educated to the military profession.  But few men are really fit to command men who have not had such an education.  In default of this, as a sufficient number of such men cannot be found in the country, the number has to be made up from the best available material. In order to ascertain whether or not the aspirant possesses the proper knowledge and capacity for command, it is necessary that he be examined by a board of competent officers.  The fact that the life and death of the men of the regiment is intimately connected with the competency of its officers, is not sufficiently appreciated by the community.
     'The Board for the examination of officers of colored troops over which I preside, considers three things as indispensable before recommending a candidate, viz.: A good moral character, physical capacity, true loyalty to the country.  A person possessing these indispensable qualifications is now submitted to an examination as to his knowledge of tactics and capacity for command.
     'The following grades are entertained, viz.:

Colonel - 1st, 2d and 3d Class.
Major -                 "
1st Lieut. -             "
Lieut.-Colonel - 1st, 2d and 3d Class.
Captain -                        "
2d Lieut. -                      "

and the recommendations for appointment made according to the applicant's merits.
     'We have endeavored, to the best of our ability, to make this recommendation without partiality, favor or affection.  We consider alone, in making our awards, the ability of the person to serve his country in the duties appertaining to the office. If, in the opinion of the Board, the person is not possessed of sufficient knowledge or capacity to fill either of the above named to the advantage of his country, he is rejected, notwithstanding any influence he may be able to bring to bear in the ease.  Let it be remembered that zeal alone is not sufficient; but what we require for a good officer is zeal combined with knowledge.  No ordinary man can properly fill the office of colonel of a regiment.  To acquire that knowledge of tactics as would fit him to command his regiment, as it ought to be in all situations, requires much study and practice, and is by no means easy.  He should, besides, possess good administrative qualities, in order that affairs should run smoothly in his command, and the officers and privates be as contented and happy as circumstances admit.

[Pg. 172]
     Nor can too much trouble be taken properly to prepare persons to fill the responsible position of officers.  Each State should have its military academy. In the meantime much good can be done by instituting a school for the instruction of persons (especially those who have had some experience in the service) who may have the requisite capacity and zeal to serve their country with advantage.  Eschew all humbuggery and mere pretension, and let merit be the test of advancement.
     'Let it be impressed deeply on the conscience of every man of influence and authority that when he places in command an incompetent officer he is guilty of manslaughter.  The country has lost millions of treasure and thousands of lives by the incompetency of officers.  We have many enemies on earth besides the Southern rebels.  The fate of free institutions, not only in our own country, but in other lands, the destiny of millions unborn, depend upon our ability to maintain this contest to a successful issue against all our enemies, both foreign and domestic.
     'The system of examination instituted by this Board, in my opinion, should be extended to the white as well as colored troops.
     'Many of those who have been unsuccessful in the examination before the Board have, no doubt, in some cases, felt aggrieved, as also their friends.
     'We have established a system of examination for officers, the good effects of which are already apparent in the colored organizations in the field. In the performance of this responsible, and not always agreeable duty, of presiding over this Board, I have always endeavored to be guided by conscientious regard for the good of the country, and I have every confidence that a just and intelligent people will award their approbation.
     Of course this did not apply to regiments raised at the North, generally.  They were officered by the elite, such as Col. lt. G. Shaw, of the 54th Massachusetts, a former member of the 7th New York Regiment, and upon whose battle monument his name is carved.  Cols. James C. Beecher, Wm. Birney and a host of others, whose names can now be found on the army rolls, with the prefix General, commanded these regiments.  Of those who commanded Southern regiments this is equally true, especially of those who served in the 9th, 10th, 18th and 19th Corps.  Col. Godfred Weitzel, who in March, 1865, had been promoted to Major General of Volunteers, commanded the 25th Corps of 30,000 negro soldiers.  The select corps of officers intended to officer Gen. Ullman's brigade of four regiments to be raised at New Orleans by order of the War

[Pg. 173]

Capt. S. B. Hall, U. S. A.

[Pg. 174] - BLANK

[Pg. 175]
Department, dated January 1863, as well as the battalion, which he was also ordered to raise for scouting purposes, the following March, included many men of rank.  To command a negro regiment or company was at this
date a coveted prize, for which men of wealth and education contended.  The distinction which they were continually winning for their officers, frequently overcame the long-cherished prejudice of West Point, and the graduates of this caste institution now vied for commissions in negro regiments, in which many of them served during the Rebellion and since.
     It was the idea of Gen. Banks when organizing the Corps d' Afrique to appoint even the non-commissioned officers from the ranks of white regiments, and he did so in several instances.  His hostility to negro officers was the cause of his removing them from the regiments, which Major General Butler organized at New Orleans in 1862.  In organizing the Corps d' Afrique, the order, No. 40, reads:
     "The Commanding General desires to detail for temporary or permanent duty, the best officers of the army, for the organization, instruction, and discipline of this Corps. With them he is confident that the Corps will render important service to the Government.  It is not established upon any dogma of equality or other theory, but as a practical and sensible matter of business.  The Government makes use of mules, horses, uneducated white men in the defence of its institutions; why should not the negro contribute whatever is in his power, for the cause in which he is as deeply interested as other men?  We may properly demand from him whatever service he can render. "
     At first it was proposed to pay the officers of negro troops less than was paid the officers of white soldiers, but this plan was abandoned.  Toward the close of the war nearly all the chaplains appointed to negro regiments were negroes; non-commissioned officers were selected from the ranks, where they were found as well qualified as those taken from the ranks of white regiments. In the 10th and 18th Corps it was a common thing for the orderly sergeants to call their company's roll from memory, and the records of many companies and regiments are kept at the War Department in Washington, as mementoes of their efficiency.

[Pg. 176]

     Such were the men who commanded the Black Phalanx.  The following are the names of the negro commissioned officers of the Butler Louisiana Regiments:

ROSTER OF NEGRO OFFICERS OF THE LOUISIANA NATIVE GUARD
VOLUNTEER REGIMENTS

FIRST REGIMENT

Capts. Andrew Cailloux,
 "         Henry L. Rey
 "         James Lewis,
Lieuts. Lewis Petit,
 "         J. E. Moore,
 "         F. Kimball,
 "         Louis D. Lucien
Luis A. Snaer,
Edward Carter,
James H. Ingraham,
Ernest Sougpre,
Wm. Harding,
V. Lesner,
John Depass,
Joseph Follin,
Aleide Lewis,
J. G. Parker,
John Hardman,
J. D. Paddock,


SECOND REGIMENT

Major F. E. Dumas,*
Capts. E. A. Bertinnean,
 "         W. P. Barrett,
 "         William Bellez,
 "         Samuel J. Wilkerson
Lieuts. Octave Rey,
 "         Ernest Murphy,
 "         Louis Degray,
 "         Alphonso Fluery,
 "         Theo. A. Martin,
 "         Peter O. Depremont,

Hannibal Carter,
S. W. Ringgold,
Monroe Menllim,
R. H. Isabella,
J. P. Lewis,
Calvin Glover,
George T. Watson,
Rufus Kinsley,
Soloman Hoys,

E. P. Chase,
P. B. S. Pinchback,
Joseph Villeverde

Jasper Thompson,
J. Wellington,
Joseph Jones,
Ernest Hubian,
Alfred Arnis


THIRD REGIMENT.

Capts. Jacques Gla,
 "         Joseph C. Oliver,
 "         John J. Holland,
Lieuts. Paul Paree,
 "         Eugene Rapp,
 "         E. Moss,
 "         G. W. Talmon,
Peter A. Gardner,
Charles W. Gibbons,

Morris W. Morris,
E. T. Nash,
Chester W. Converse,
Octave Foy,
Leon G. Forstall,
Samuel Laurence,

Emile Detrege,
Alfred Bourgooan,
G. B. Miller,
Chas. Butler.


NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS.
74th U. S. C. T. Co. I, 2d LA. N. G.

Sergts. Joseph Boudraux,
 "          Louis Martin,
Corpls. Paul Bonne,
 "          Joseph Toolmer,
 "          As "muster in" roll show. 
Andrieu Vidal,
jessy C. Wallace,
Thos. William,
Louis Ford,
Joseph Bellevue,

Joseph Labeaud,
Peter Fleming,


74th U. S. C. T.  Co. D, 2nd N. G.

1st Sergts. Joseph Francois,
 "               Francois Remy,
Corpls. Dorsin Sebatier,
 "          Adolphe Decoud,
 "          Joseph Armand,
 " As "muster out: rolls show.
Adolph Augustin,
Louis Duquenez,
Auguste Martin,
Oscar Samuel,
Achilles, Decoud.
John Frick,

Lucien Boute,
Andre Gregoire


75th U. S. C. T.  Co. F, 3rd N. G.

Sergts. Hy. White,
 "         Frank Nichols,
Robert Williams, Mathew Roden,

---------------
     *Capt. F. E. Dumas organized a company of his own slaves, and attached it to this regiment.  He was promoted to the rank of Major, and commanded two companies at Paseagoula, Miss., during the fight.  He was a free negro, wealthy, brave and loyal.

[Pg. 177]


Top:  Capt. P. B. S. Pinchback  2d L. A. Vols.
Middle Left: Surgeon A. G. Augusta
Middle Right:  Lt. James M. Trotter  55th Mass. Vol.
Bottom: Lt. W. H. Dupree  55th Mass. Vols.

[Pg. 178] - BLANK

[Pg. 179]

Corpls. Alfred Kellie,
     As mustered out.
Phillip Craff, Julius Vick,


73rd U. S. C. T.   Co. A. 1st LA. N. G.

Sergts. Joseph R. Forstall,
 "          Numa Brihou,
Corpls. John G. Seldon,
 "          Joseph Francois
 "          Francois Remy
Edmond Tomlinson,
Edward P. Ducloslange,
Thelesphore J. Sauvinet,
Antonion Segura,
Ernest Brustic,
Edgar Thezan,

Alonzo Tocca,
Auguste Martin,


73rd U. S. C. T.  Co. B, 1st LA. N. G.

Sergts. Faustin Zenon
 "         Joseph Alfred
Louis Francois,
Wm. Armstrong,
August Bartholenny
     Arthur Gaspard was a Sergeant at "muster in" of company; discharged for wounds.
Dec. 10th, 1863.
Corpls. Alphonse Barbe,
 "          Louis Gille

Albert Victor.

Wm. John Baptist
     These were non-commissioned officers of Co. B. at "muster out."


73rd U. S. C. T.     Co. H. 1st LA. N. G.

Capt. Henry L. Rey.
1st Sergt. Henry Mathien,
4th Sergt. Felix Mathien
Corpls. Ernest Hewlett,
   "        Felix Santini,
   "        Narcis Hubert,
2nd Sergt. Armand Daniel,
5th   "        Lucien Dupre.
    Frank Dehomme,
    Celestine Ferrand,
    Caliste Dupre
     3rd Sergt. J. B. Dupre.

D. J. Marine,
Augueste Campbell,
       As "muster in."


73rd U. S. C. T.     Co. G, 1st LA. N. G.

Sergts. Theodule Drinier,
    "      Gustave St. Leger,
Corpls. Edward Louis,
    "      John Thompson,
    "      John Marshall
Peter Pascal,
Armand Le Blanc.
Cherry Fournette,
Perrin Virgile,
Soloman Fisher.
Peter Robin,

Townsen Lee,
William Charity.
     The above were the non-commissioned officers at "muster out' of Company.
     Corporal W. Heath, killed at Port Hudson.


74th U. S. C. T.     Co. G, 2nd LA. N. G.

Sergts. Thos. Martin,
    "       Louis Martin,
Corpls. Martin Forstals,
    "       Joseph Naroce,
    "       Ernest Butin,
Etiennne Duluc
J. B. Lavigne,
Emile Duval,
Poin Paree,*
Pierre Jignac.
Arthur Frilot,

Gustave Ducre,
Jerome Alugas,
  * Deserted Oct. 5th, 1863.  


OTHER REGIMENTS.

Surgeons U. S. Army. - Dr. W. P. Powell Dr. A. T. Augusta.
Major, Martin R. Delaney. Capt. O. S. B. Wall
Lieuts. 55th Regt. - James M. Trotter,     Chas. L. Mitchell,     W. H. Dupree,
    "                  J. F. Shorter.
   

     There were a number of negroes commissioned during the war whose record it has not been possible to obtain.  Quite a number of mulattoes served in white regiments, some as officers; they were so light in complexion that their true race connection could not be told.  This is true of one of the prominent Ohioans of to-day, who served on the staff of a Major General of volunteers.  There were several among the Pennsylvania troops, and not a few in

[Pg. 180]
the New York and Massachusetts regiments.  While lying on a battle-field wounded and exhausted, an officer of the brigade to which the writer belonged, rode up, passed me his canteen, and enquired if I knew him.  A negative answer was given.   "I am Tom Bunting," he replied."  You know me now, don't you? We used to play together in our boyhood days in Virginia; keep the canteen.  I will let your people know about you."  So saying he dashed away to his command; he belonged to a Massachusetts regiment.  There was quite a large number of mulattoes who enlisted under Butler, at New Orleans, and served in white regiments ; this is also true of the confederate army.  The writer has an intimate acquaintance now living in Richmond, Va., who served in a New York Regiment, who, while marching along with his regiment through Broad street, after the capture of that city, was recognized by his mother, and by her was pulled from the ranks and embraced.  A man who became United States Marshal of one of the Southern States after the war, was Captain in the 2nd Louisiana Native Guards Regiment.  Numerous instances of this kind could be cited.

[Pg. 181]

SERG'T W. H. CARNEY - Co. C, 54th Mass. Vols.

[Pg. 182] - BLANK

[Pg. 183] - CHAPTER V. - DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF
 

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