GENEALOGY EXPRESS

 

Welcome to
Black
History & Genealogy

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

CHAPTER II. -
WAR OF 1812
pg. 72 -
 

     While there is no intention of entering into an examination of the causes of the war between the United States and Great Britain in 1812, yet in order to carry out the design of the author to show that in this war, - like all others in which the government of the United States has been engaged, - the negro, as a soldier, took part, it is deemed necessary to cite at least one of the incidents, perhaps the incident, which most fired the national heart of America, and hastened the beginning of hostilities.
     The war between England and France gave to the American merchant marine interest in impetus that increased the number of vessels three-fold in a few years; it also gave command of the carrying trade of the West Indies, from which Napoleon's frigates debarred the English merchantmen.  In consequence England sought and used every opportunity to cripple American commerce and shipping.  One plan was to deprive American ships of the service of English seamen.  Her war vessels claimed and exercised the right of searching for English seamen on board American vessels.  During the year 1807, the English Admiral Berkeley, in command of the North American Station, issued instructions to commanders of vessels in his fleet to look out for the American frigate Chesapeake, and if they fell in with her at sea, to board her and search for deserters, as all English seamen in the American service were regarded by England.  With the instructions, were the descriptions of four sailors, three negroes and one white man, who were missing.

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     The persons who deserted from the Melampus, then lying in Hampton Roads, were William Ware, Daniel Martin, John Strachan, John Little and Melampus, the first three of these deserters offered themselves for enlistment, and  were received on board the Chesapeake, then at Norfolk, Va., preparing for sea.  The British consul at Norfolk, being apprized of the circumstance, wrote a letter to the American naval officer, requesting the men to be returned.  With this request, the officer refused to comply, and the British lost no time in endeavoring to procure an order from the American government for their surrender.  On receipt of the application, the Secretary of the Navy ordered an examination into the characters and claims of the men in question.  The examination resulted in proof that the three negroes, Ware, Martin and Strachan were natives of America.  The two former had "protections," or notarial certificates of their citizenship;*  Strachan had no "protection,"  but asserted that he lost it previous to his escape.  Such being the circumstances, the government refused to give the men up, insisting that they were American citizens, and though, they had served in the British navy, they were pressed into the service and had a right to desert it.
     The Chesapeake was one of the finest of the frigates in the American Navy, and after receiving an outfit requiring six months to complete at the Gosport Navy Yard, at Norfolk, Va., started for the Mediterranean.  The English frigate Leopard, which lay in the harbor at Norfolk when the Chesapeake sailed, followed her out to sea, hailed her and sent a letter to her commander, Commodore James Barron, demanding the surrender of the deserters.  Barron sent a note refusing to comply with the demand, whereupon the Leopard fired several broadsides

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* So indiscriminate were English officers in these outrages, that it sometimes happened that black men were seized as English seamen.  At that time the public opinion of the world was such, that few statesmen troubled themselves much about the rights of negroes.  But in another generation, when it proved convenient in the United States to argue that free negroes had never been citizens, it was remembered that the cabinets of Jefferson and Madison, in their diplomatic discussions with Great Britain, had been willing to argue that the impressment of a free negro was the seizure of an American citizen. - Bryant's History of the United States.

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into the Chesapeake.  Barron struck his colors without firing a shot, and permitted the officers of the Leopard to board his vessel and search her.   The British captain refused to accept the surrender of the Chesapeake, but took from her crew the three men who had been demanded as deserters; also a fourth, John Wilson, a white man, claimed as a runaway from a merchant ship.
     The white sailor, it was admitted by the American government, as a British subject, and his release was not demanded; he was executed for deserting the British Navy.  Of the negroes, two only were turned by the British government, the other one having died in England.  Says an American historian:
     "An outrage like this, inflicted not by accident or the brutality of a separate commander, naturally excited the whole nation to the utmost.
     President Jefferson very soon interdicted American harbors and waters to all vessels of the English Navy, and forbade intercourse with them.  He sent a vessel of war with a special minister to demand satisfaction.  The English Admiral hanged the deserter, and dismissed the three black men with a reprimand, blaming them for disturbing the peace of two nations.  That the outrage did not end in immediate war, was due partly to the fact that the Americans had no Nay to fight with."
     Nearly four years elapsed before the final settlement of the Chesapeake affair, and then the English government insisted upon its right to, and issued orders for the search for British sailors to be continued; thus a cause for quarrel remained.
     The principal grounds of war, set forth in a message of the President to Congress, June 1st, 1812, and further explained by the Committee on Foreign Relations, in their report on the subject of the message, were summarily:
     "The impressment of American seamen by the British; the blockade of her enemy's ports, supported by no adequate force, in consequence of which the American commerce had been plundered in every sea, and the great staples of the country cut off from their legitimate markets; and the British orders in council."
     On these grounds, the President urged the declaration of war.  In unison with the recommendation of the President, the Committee on Foreign Relations concluded their reports as follows:

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BLANK PAGE

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A NAVAL BATTLE

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     "Your committee, believing that the freeborn sons of America are worthy to enjoy the liberty which their fathers purchased at the price of much blood and treasure, and seeing by the measures adopted by Great Britain, a course commenced and persisted in, which might lead to a loss of national character and independence, feel no hesitation in advising resistence by force, in which the Americans of the present day will prove to the enemy and the world, that we have not only inherited that liberty which our fathers gave us, but also the will and power to maintain it.  Receiving on the patriotism of the nation, and confidently trusting that the Lord of Horse will go with us to battle in a righteous cause, and crown our efforts with success, your committee recommend an immediate appeal to arms."
     War was declared by Congress on the 17th of June, and proclaimed by the President on the second day following.
     The struggle was principally carried on upon the water, between the armed vessels of the two nations, consequently no great armies were called into active service upon the field.  This was indeed fortunate for America, whose military establishments at the time were very defective.  Congress called for twenty thousand men, but a very few enlisted.  The President was authorized to raise fifty thousand volunteers and to call out one hundred thousand militia for the defence of the seacoast and frontiers; but officers could not be found to nominally command the few thousand that responded to the call; which state of affairs was no doubt largely due to the opposition to the war, which existed in the New England States.
     Since the peace of 1783, a class of marine merchants at the North had vied with each other in the African slave trade, in supplying the Southern planters.  Consequently the increase in negro population was great; in 1800 it was 1,001,463, and in 1810, two years before war was declared, 1,377, 810, an increase of 376,347.  Of the 1,377,810, there were 1,181,362 slaves, and 186,448 free.  Of course their increase was not due solely to the importation by the slave trade, but the aggregate increase was large, compared with the increase of the white population for the same period.
     The free negroes were mainly residents of the Northern States, where they enjoyed a nominal freedom.  They

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entered the service with alacrity; excluded from the army they enlisted in the navy, swelling the number of those who, upon the rivers, lakes, bays and oceans, manned the guns of the war vessels, in defense of Free Trade, Sailor's Rights and Independence on the seas as well as on the land.  It is quite impossible to ascertain the exact number of negroes who stood beside the guns that won for America just recognition from the maritime powers of the world.  Like the negro soldiers in the Revolutionary war who served with the whites, so the whites, so the negro sailors in the war of 1812 served in the American Navy; in the mess, at the gun, on the yarn-arm and in the gangway, together with others of various nationalities, they achieved many victories for the navy of our common country.  The best evidence I can give in substantiation of what has been written, is the following letter from Surgeon Parsons to George Livermore, Esq., of the Massachusetts Historical Society:

                                                                                  "PROVIDENCE, October 18, 1862.
     "MY DEAR SIR: - In reply to your inquiries about the employing of blacks in our navy in the war of 1812, and particularly in the battle of Lake Erie, I refer you to documents in Mackenzie's 'Life of Commodore Perry,' vol. i. pp. 166 and 187.
     "In 1814, our fleet sailed to the Upper Lakes to co-operate with Colonel Croghan at Mackinac.  About one in ten or twelve of the crews were black.
     "In 1816, I was surgeon of the 'Java, under Commodore Perry.  The white and colored seamen messed together.  About one in six or eight were colored.
     "In 1819, I was surgeon of the "Guerriere,' under Commodore Macdonough; and the proportion of blacks was about the same in her crew.  There seemed to be an entire absence of prejudice against the blacks as messmates among the crew.  What I have said applies to the crews of the other ships that sailed in squadrons.
                                                              Yours very respectfully,
                                                                     USHER PARSONS.
     Dr. Parsons had reference to the following correspondence between Captain Perry and Commodore Chauncey, which took place in 1813, before the former's victory on Lake Erie.  As will be seen, Perry expressed dissatisfaction as to the recruits sent him to man the squadron then

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on Lake Erie, and with which he gained a decisive victory over the British fleet, under command of Capt. Barley:
    
"SIR, - I have this moment received, by express, the enclosed letter from General Harrison.  If I had officers and men, - and I have no doubt you will send them, - I could fight the enemy, and proceed up the lake, but, having no one to command the 'Niagara' and only one commissioned lieutenant and two acting lieutenants, whatever my wishes may be, going out is out of the question.  The men that came by Mr. Champlin are a motley set, - blacks, soldiers, and boys.  I cann t think you saw them after they were selected.  I am, however, pleased t_ see any think in the shape of a man." - Mackenzie's Life of Perry, vol. 1, pp. 165, 166.
     Commodore Chauncey then rebuked him in his reply, and set forth the worth of the negro seaman:
     "SIR, - I have been duly honored with your letters of the twenty-third and twenty-sixth ultimo, and notice your anxiety for men and officers.  I am equally anxious to furnish you; and no time shall be lost in sending officers and men to you as soon as the public service will allow me to send them from this lake.  I regret that you are not pleased with the men sent you by Messrs Champlin and Forest; for, to my knowledge, a part of them are not surpassed by any seaman we have in the fleet:  and I have yet to learn that the color of the skin, or the cut and trimmings of the coat, can effect a man's qualifications or usefulness.  I have nearly fifty blacks on board of this ship, and many of them are among my best men; and those people you call soldiers have been to sea from two to seventeen years; and I presume that you will find them as good and useful as any men on board of your vessel; at least if you can judge by comparison; for those which we have on board of thsi ship are attentive and obedient, and, as I can judge, many of them excellent seamen; at any rate, the men sent to Lake Erie have been selected with a view of sending a fair proportion of petty officers and seamen; and I presume, upon examination, it will be found that they are equal to those upon this lake." - Mackenzie's Life of Perry, vol. 1. pp. 186, 187.

     The battle of Lake Erie is the most memorable naval battle fought with the British; of it Rossiter Johnson, in his "History of the War of 1812,"  in the description of the engagement, says:

     "As the question of the fighting qualities of the black man has since been considerably discussed, it is worth noting that in this bloody and brilliant battle a large number of Perry's men were negroes."
     It was not left to Commodore Chauncey and Perry, solely, to applaud them; there was not an American war

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vessel, perhaps, whose crew, in part, was not made up of negroes, as the accounts of various sea fights prove.  And they are entitled to no small share of the meed of praise given the American Seaman, who fought and won victory over the British.  Not only in the Navy, but on board the privateers,* the American negro did service, as the following extract will show:

     Extract of a Letter from Nathaniel Shaler, Commander of the private-armed Schooner Gov. Tompkins, to his Agent in New York.

                                                              AT SEA, Jan. 1, 1813.
     "Before I could get our light sails on, and almost before I could turn round, I was under the guns, not of a transport, but of a large frigate!  and not more than a quarter of a mile from her.  *       *     Her first broadside killed two men and wounded six others   *      *    My officers conducted themselves in a way that would have done honor to a more permanent service  *  *  *  The name of one of my poor fellows who was killed ought to be registered in the book of fame, and remembered with reverence as long as bravery is considered a virtue. He was a black man by the name of John Johnson. A twenty-four pound shot struck him in the hip, and took away all the lower part of his body. In this state, the poor brave fellow lay on the deck, and several times exclaimed to his shipmates, ' Fire away, my boy: no haul a color down' The other was a black man, by the name of John Davis, and was struck in much the same way. He fell near me, and several times requested to be thrown over board, saying he was only in the way of others.
     " When America has such tars, she has little to fear from the tyrants
of the ocean."—Nile's Weekly Register, Saturday, Feb. 20, 1814.
     As in the late war of the rebellion, the negroes offered their services at the outset when volunteers were called for, and the true patriots at the North sought to have their services accepted; but the government being in the control of the opponents of universal freedom and the extention of the rights of citizenship to the negro, the effort to admit him into the ranks of the army, even in separate  organizations, was futile.  At the same time American whites would not enlist to any great extent, and but for the tide of immigration, which before the war had set in from Ireland, the fighting on shore would prob-

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     *" Hammond Golar, a colored man who lived in Lynn for many years, died a few years since at the age of 80 years, lie was horn a slave, was a privateer "powder boy"  In the war of 1S12, and was taken to Halifax as a prisoner. The English Government, did not exchange colored prisoners because they would then he returned to Slavery, and Golar remained a prisoner until the close of the war "

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ably not have lasted six months; certainly the invasion of Canada would not have been attempted.
     The reverses which met the American army in the first year of the war, slackened even the enlistment that was going on and imperiled the safety of the country, and the defences of the most important seaports and manufacturing states. Battle after battle had been lost, the invasion of Canada abandoned, and the British had turned their attention southward. The war in Europe had been brought to a close, and Napoleon was a captive. England was now at liberty to reinforce her fleet and army in America, and fears were entertained that other European powers might assist her in invading the United States.  The negro soldier again loomed up, and as the British were preparing to attack New Orleans with a superior force to that of Gen. Jackson's, he sought to avail himself of every possible help within his reach. Accordingly he issued the following proclamation:

GENERAL JACKSON'S PROCLAMATION TO THE NEGROES.
                                                                            Headquarters, Seventh Military District,
                                                                                  Mobile, September 21, 1814.
To the Free Colored Inhabitants of Louisiana:
     Through a mistaken policy, you have heretofore been deprived of a participation in the glorious struggle for national rights in which our country is engaged. This no longer shall exist.
     As sons of freedom, you are now called upon to defend our most inestimable blessing. As Americans, your country looks with confident* to her adopted children for a valorous support, as a faithful return for the advantages enjoyed under her mild and equitable government.  As fathers, husbands, and brothers, you are summoned to rally around the standard of the Eagle, to defend all which is dear in existence.
     Your country, although calling for your exertions, does not wish yon to engage in her cause without amply remunerating you for the services rendered. Tour intelligent minds are not to be led away by false representations. Your love of honor would cause you to despise the man who should attempt to deceive you. In the sincerity of a soldier and the language of truth I address you.
     To every noble-hearted, generous freeman of color volunteering to nerve during the present contest with Great Britain, and no longer, there will be paid the same bounty, in money and lands, now received by the white soldiers of the United States, viz: one hundred and twenty-four dollars in money, and one hundred and sixty acres of land. The non

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commissioned officers and privates will also be entitled to the same monthly pay, and daily rations, and clothes, furnished to any American soldier.
     On enrolling yourselves in companies, the Major-General Commanding will select officers for your government from your white fellow-citizens. Your non-commissioned officers will be appointed from among yourselves.
     Due regard will be paid to the feelings of freeman and soldiers. You will not, by being associated with white men in the same corps, be exposed to improper comparisons or unjust sarcasm. As a distinct, independent battalion or regiment, pursuing the path of glory, you will, undivided, receive the applause and gratitude of your countrymen.
     To assure you of the sincerity of my intentions, and my anxiety to engage your invaluable services to our country, I have communicated my wishes to the Governor of Louisiana, who is fully informed as to the manner of enrollment, and will give you every necessary information on the subject of this address.
                                          Andrew Jackson, Major-General Commanding.
[Niles Register, vol. vii. p. 205. ]

     When the news of Gen. Jackson arming the free negroes reached the North it created no little surprise, and greatly encouraged those, who, from the commencement of hostilities, had advocated it.  The successes of the summer were being obliterated by the victories which the British were achieving.  The national capitol was burned; Maine had virtually fallen into their hands; gloom and disappointment prevailed throughout the country.  Enlistment was at a stand-still, and as the British were threatening with annihilation the few troops then in the field, it became evident that the States would have to look to their own defence.  New York again turned her attention to her free negro population; a bill was prepared and introduced in the legislature looking to the arming of her negroes, and in October, a month after Gen. Jackson issued his appeal to the negroes of Louisiana, the Legislature passed a bill of which the following are the most important sections:
     "An Act to authorize the raising of Two Regiments of Men of Color;
passed Oct. 24, 1814.

     "Sect. 1. Be it enacted by the people of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, That the Governor of the State lie, And he is hereby authorized to raise, by voluntary enlistment, two regi-

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ments of free men of color, for the defence of the State for three years,
unless sooner discharged.
     " Sect. 2. And be it further enacted, That each of the said regiments shall consist of one thousand and eighty able-bodied men; and the said regiments shall be formed into a brigade, or be organized in such manner, and shall be employed in such service, as the Governor of the State of New York shall deem best adapted to defend the said State.
     "Sect. 3. And be it further enacted, That all the commissioned officers of the said regiments and brigade shall be white men; and the Governor of the State of New York shall be, and he is hereby, authorised to commission, by brevet, all the officers of the said regiments and brigade, who shall hold their respective commissions until the council of appointment shall have appointed the officers of the said regiments and brigade, in pursuance of the Constitution and laws of the said State.
     "Sect. 6. And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for any able-bodied slave, with the written assent of his master or mistress, to enlist into the said corps; and the master or mistress of such slave shall be entitled to the pay and bounty allowed him for his service: and, further, that the said slave, at the time of receiving his discharge, shall be deemed and adjudged to have been legally manumitted from that time, and his said master or mistress shall not thenceforward be liable for his maintenance.—Laws of the State of New York, passed at tie Thirty-eighth Session of the Legislature, chap, xviii.
     The organization of negro troops was now fairly begun; at the South enlistment was confined to the free negroes as set forth in Gen. Jackson's Proclamation.  In New York, the slaves who should enlist with the consent of their owners were to be free at the expiration of their service, as provided in the Sixth section of the law quoted above.
     Animated by that love of liberty and country which has ever prompted them, notwithstanding the disabilities under which they labored, to enter the ranks of their country's defenders whenever that country has been assailed by foes without or traitors within, the negroes responded to the call of General Jackson and to that of New York, with a zeal and energy characteristic only of a brave and patriotic people.  Inspired by the hope of impartial liberty, they rallied to the support of that banner which Commodore Barron lowered when he failed to protect them from British aggression, but which Commodore Decatur gallantly and successfully defended.

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The forcible capture and imprisonment of Ware, Martin and Strachan, the three negroes taken from the Chesapeake, and who were recognized by the United States authorities as citizens of the republic, was sounded as the key-note and rallying cry of the war; the outrage served greatly to arouse the people.  The fact that the government sought to establish the liberty of the free negroes, and the further fact that she regarded them as citizens, heightened their indignation at the outrage committed by the British, and appealed to their keenest patriotic sensibilities.  New York was not long in raising her two battalions, and sending it forward to the army, then at Sacket's Harbor.
     On the 18th of December, 1814, following the issuing of his Proclamation, Gen. Jackson reviewed the troops under his command at New Orleans, amounting to about six thousand, and of this force about five hundred were negroes, organized into two battalions, commanded by Maj. Lacoste and Maj. Savory. These battalions, at the close of the review, says Parton, in his Life of Jackson,  had read to them by Edward Livingston, a member of Jackson's staff, the following address, from the Commander of the American forces:

     "To the Embodied Militia.—Fellow Citizens and Soldiers:  The General commanding in chief would not do justice to the noble ardor that has animated you in the hour of danger, he would not do justice to his own feeling, if he suffered the example you have shown to pass with out public notice.

*   *   *   *   *

     "Fellow-citizens, of every description, remember for what and against whom you contend. For all that can render life desirable—for a country blessed with every gift of nature—for property, for life—for those dearer than either, your wives and children—and for liberty, with out which, country, life, property, are no longer worth possessing; as even the embraces of wives and children become a reproach to the wretch who could deprive them by his cowardice of those invaluable blessings.

*   *   *   *   *

     "To the Men of Color.—Soldiers I From the shores of Mobile I collected you to arms,— I invited you to share in the perils and to divide the glory of your white countrymen. I expected much from you; for I was not uninformed of those qualities which must render yon so formidable to an invading foe. I knew that you could endure hunger and thirst, and all the hardships of war. I knew that you loved the

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land of your nativity, and that, like ourselves, you had to defend all that is most dear to man. But you surpass my hopes. I have found in you, united to these qualities, that noble enthusiasm which impels to great deeds.
     "Soldiers ! The President of the United States shall be informed of your conduct on the present occasion ; and the voice of the Representatives of the American nation shall applaud your valor, as your General now praises your ardor. The enemy is near. His sails cover the lakes. But the brave are united; and, if he finds us contending among ourselves, it will be for the prize of valor, and fame its noblest reward."— Giles's Register, vol. vii. pp. 345, 346.
     Thus in line with the white troops on the soil of Louisiana, amid a large slave population, the negro soldiers were highly praised by the commanding General.  The British had already made their appearance on the coast near the mouth of the Mississippi, and at the time of their landing, General Jackson went out to meet them with two thousand one hundred men; the British had two thousand four hundred.  This was on the 23rd of December.  The two armies met and fought to within a few miles of the city, where the British general, Pakenham, who had arrived with reinforcements, began on the 31st to lay seige.  On Jan. 8th the short but terrible struggle took place which not only taxed the energies and displayed the great courage of both forces, but made the engagement one of historic interest.  In the short space of twenty-five minutes seven hundred of the British were killed; fourteen hundred were wounded and four hundred were taken prisoners.  The American army was so well protected that only four were killed and thirteen wounded.  It was in this great battle that two battalions of negroes participated, and helped to save the city, the coveted prize, from the British.  The two battalions numbered four hundred and thirty men, and were commanded by Maj. Lacoste and Maj. Savory. Great Britain also had her negro soldiers there,—a. regiment imported from the West Indies which headed the attacking column against Jackson's right.—they led her van in the battle; their failure, with that of the Irish regiment which formed also a part of the advance column, lost the British the

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battle.  The conduct of the negro soldiers in Gen. Jackson's army on that occasion has ever been applauded by the American people.  Mr. Day, in Nell's "Colored Patriots of the American Revolution," says:

     " From an authenticated chart, belonging to a soldier friend, I find that, in the battle of New Orleans, Major-General Andrew Jackson, Commander-in-Chief, and his staff, were just at the right of the advancing left column of the British, and that very near him were stationed the colored soldiers.  He is numbered 6, and the position of the colored soldiers 8.  The chart explanation of No. 8 reads thus:— '8. Captains Dominique and Bluche, two 24 pounders; Major Lacoste's battalion, formed of the men of color of New Orleans and, Major Daquin's battalion, formed of the men of color of St. Uomingo, under Major Savary, second in command. '
     " They occupied no mean place, and did no mean service.
     " From other documents in my possession, I am able to state the number of the 'battalion of St. Domingo men of color' to have been one hundred and fifty; and of Major Lacoste's battalion of Louisiana men of color,' two hundred and eighty.
     " Thus were over four hundred ' men of color' in that battle.  When it is remembered that the whole number of soldiers claimed by Americans to have been in that battle reached only 3600, it will be seen that the 'men of color' were present in much larger proportion than their numbers in the country warranted.
     "Neither was there colorphobia then. Major Blanche's battalion of uniformed volunteer companies, and Major Lacoste's ' men of color,' fought together; so, also, did Major Daquin's 'men of color,' and the 44th, under Captain Baker. "

     Hon. Robert C. Winthrop, in his speech in Congress on the Imprisonment of Colored Seamen, September, 1850, bore this testimony to their gallant conduct:

     "I have an impression, that, not, indeed, in these piping times of peace, but in the time of war, when quite a boy, I have seen black soldiers enlisted, who did faithful and excellent service.  But, however it may have been in the Northern States, I can tell the Senator what happened in the Southern States at this period.  I believe that I shall be borne out in saying, that no regiments did better service, at New Orleans, than did the black regiments, which were organized under the direction of General Jackson himself, after a most glorious appeal to the patriotism and honor of the people of color of that region; and which, after they came out of the war, received the thanks of General Jackson, in a proclamation which has been thought worthy of being inscribed on the pages of history."

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     Perhaps the most glowing account of the services of these black American soldiers, appeared in an article in the New Orleans Picayune:

     "Not the least interesting, although the most novel feature of the procession yesterday, was the presence of ninety of the colored veterans who bore a conspicuous part in the dangers of the day they were now for the first time called to assist in celebrating, and who, by their good conduct in presence of the enemy, deserved and received the approbation of their illustrious commander-in-chief.  During the thirty-six years that have passed away since they assisted to repel the invaders from our shores, these faithful men have never before participated in the annual rejoicings for the victory which their valor contributed to gain.  Their good deeds have been consecrated only in their memories, or lived but to claim a passing notice on the page of the historian.  Yet, who more than they deserve the thanks of the country, and the gratitude of succeeding generations?  Who rallied with more alacrity in response to the summons of danger?  Who endured more cheerfully the hardships of the camp, or faced with greater courage the perils of the fight?  If, in that hazardous hour, when our homes were menaced with the horrors of war, we did not disdain to call upon the colored population to assist in repelling the invading horde, we should not, when the danger is passed, refuse to permit them to unite with us in celebrating the glorious event, which they helped to make make so memorable an epoch in our history.  We were not too exalted to mingle with them in the affray; they were not too humble to join in our rejoicings.
     "Such, we think, is the universal opinion of our citizens.  We conversed with many yesterday, and, without exception, they expressed approval of the invitation which had been extended to the colored veterans to take part in the ceremonies of the day, and gratification at seeing them in a conspicuous place in the procession.
     "The respectability of their appearance, and the modesty of their demeanor, made an impression on every observer, and elicited unqualified approbation.  Indeed, though in saying so we do not mean disrespect to say one else, we think that they constituted decidedly the most interesting portion of the pageant, as they certainly attracted the most attention."

     It was during the rebellion of 1861-65 that the author saw one of the colored drummers boys of that column beating his drum at the head of a negro United States regiment marching through the streets of New Orleans in 1862.
     The New York battalion was organized and marched to the reinforcement of the American army at Sacket's

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Harbor, then threatened by the enemy.  This battalion was said to be a fine looking body of men, well drilled and disciplined.  In Congress Mr. Martindale, of New York, said in a speech delivered on the 22nd January, 1828, before that body:
     "Slaves or negroes who had been slaves were enlisted as soldiers in the war of the Revolution; and I myself saw a battalion of them, - as fine marital looking men as I ever saw attached to the Northern army in the last war (1812), - on its march from Plattsburg to Sacket's Harbor, where they did service for the country with credit to New York and honor to themselves."

     As in the dark days of the Revolution, so now in another period of national danger, the negroes proved their courage and patriotism by service in the field.  However, the lamentable treatment of Major Jeffrey* is evidence that these services were not regarded as a protection against outrage.
     In the two wars in which the history of the negroes has been traced in these pages, there is nothing that mitigates against his manhood, though his condition, either bond or free, was lowly.  But on the contrary the honor of the race has been maintained under every circumstance in which it has been placed.

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*See page 50

[Pg. 93] - PART II. - THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES - CHAPTER I. - PUBLIC OPINION

 

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