September 22, 1862: Lincoln Issues Notice of Emancipation Proclamation

Today is the 159th anniversary of the issuance of the notice by Lincoln of the Emancipation Proclamation, to take effect on January 1, 1863, Lincoln doing so after the Union victory at Antietam on September 17, 1862.  Reaction was, to say the least, mixed.  In the North the abolitionists were enraptured.  Most Northern opinion was favorable, although there was a substantial minority, embodied almost entirely in the Democrat party, that completely opposed this move.  Opinion in the Border States was resoundingly negative.  In the Confederacy the Confederate government denounced the proposed Emancipation Proclamation as a call for a race war.  Today, almost all Americans view the Emancipation Proclamation as a long overdue ending of slavery.  At the time it was very much a step into the unknown, and the consequences impossible to determine.  Lincoln had converted the War for the Union into a War for the Union and against Slavery.  It remained to be seen as to whether the War, whatever its objectives, could be won.  Here is the text of Lincoln’s announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation: (more…)

Published in: on September 22, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on September 22, 1862: Lincoln Issues Notice of Emancipation Proclamation  
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March 5, 1864: Ovation for a Black Regiment

26th United States Colored Troops

Following the draft riots in New York City in July 1863 where blacks were hunted and murdered in the streets by mobs, the Union League of New York City helped the blacks of the city recover from the devastation inflicted upon them, and in December 1863 received permission to sponsor the raising of a black regiment.  The regiment was duly raised, the 26th Infantry, United States Colored Troops.  They would see service on the South Carolina coast, fight in several engagements, and be mustered out on August 28, 1865.  On March 5, 1864, they paraded before a crowd of 100,000 New Yorkers, white and black, and a reporter from the New York Times marveled at the change from just nine months before: (more…)

January 23, 1863: Expedition of First South Carolina Volunteers

First South Carolina Volunteers

The first black regiment organized with the blessing of the Federal government, the First South Carolina Volunteers consisted of former slaves from the coast of South Carolina, most of whom spoke the Gullah dialected.  The commander of the regiment was Colonel Thomas Higginson, a Unitarian Minister and abolitionist, who had been one of the Secret Six backers of John Brown for his Harper Ferrys raid.  Here is his report of the expedition of the regiment that began on January 23, 1863:

ON  BOARD STEAMER  BEN DE FORD, February 1, 1863.

GENERAL: I have the honor to report the safe return of the expedition under my command, consisting of 462 officers and men of the First Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, who left Beaufort on January 23, on board the steamers John Adams, Planter, and Ben De Ford:

The expedition has carried the regimental flag and the President’s proclamation far into the interior of Georgia and Florida. The men have been repeatedly under fire; have had infantry, cavalry, and even artillery arrayed against them, and have in every instance come off not only with unblemished honor, but with undisputed triumph. (more…)

Published in: on January 23, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on January 23, 1863: Expedition of First South Carolina Volunteers  
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October 29, 1862: Battle of Mound Island


The first battle involving black troops, the battle of Mound Island in Bates County Missouri, was fought on October 29, 1862.  The First Kansas Colored Volunteers, consisting of run away slaves from Missouri and Arkansas, was formed in August of 1862.  At this time blacks were not allowed to join the Union army, and the First Kansas was not mustered into Federal service until January 13, 1863 as the 79th United States Colored Troops.

The First Kansas was sent to the Toothman Homestead in Bates County to break up a Confederate guerilla force.  Finding the Confederates in greater strength than anticipated, the First Kansas fortified the Toothman Homestead with fence rails.  Tuesday October 28 was spent in skirmishing around the Toothman Homestead. (more…)

Published in: on October 29, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on October 29, 1862: Battle of Mound Island  
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December 9, 1863: Mutiny at Fort Jackson

Corps d'Afrique

Fort Jackson, one of two forts guarding the Mississippi route to New Orleans, seemed to have a predilection for mutinies during the Civil War.  In 1862 the Confederate garrison mutinied after it was placed under siege by the Union.  On December 9, 1863 a mutiny occurred by the black troops of the Fourth Regiment Infantry of the Corp d’Afrique, caused by the brutal whipping of two drummer boys by Lieutenant Colonel  Augustus W. Benedict, who had engaged in ill treatment of his men prior to this incident.  About half the regiment mutinied.  No one was killed, but the disturbance lasted from the afternoon until 7:30 PM.  In the aftermath a military commission was appointed to investigate the mutiny, and punish the guilty.  Benedict was cashiered from the service.  The ringleaders of the mutiny were sentenced to punishments ranging from 30 days confinement to execution.  Go here to read an account of the mutiny which occurred in the New York Times.  Here is the report of the commission: (more…)

Published in: on December 9, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on December 9, 1863: Mutiny at Fort Jackson  
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December 13, 1863: Skirmish at Meriwether’s Ferry, Bayou Boeuf, Arkansas


In studying the Civil War it is good to recall that their were countless skirmishes fought throughout the War, most utterly forgotten today.  One such minor skirmish was fought on December 13, 1863.  The report on the skirmish is well written and is interesting since it was the first time in action of the First Mississippi Cavalry, a Union regiment consisting of black former Mississippi slaves.  Here is the report: (more…)

Published in: on December 13, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on December 13, 1863: Skirmish at Meriwether’s Ferry, Bayou Boeuf, Arkansas  
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The season of freedom – introduction: the men of Milliken’s Bend

Milliken's Bend



A guest post by commenter Fabio Paolo Barbieri on the battle of Milliken’s Bend during the campaign to take Vicksburg:


Many of us have seen an excellent movie called GLORY, telling the story of the doomed but heroic assault by the black troops of the 53rd Massachusetts against the formidable coastal confederate Fort Wagner. With due respect for those brave men, that movie had the wrong subject. If they wanted to tell the story of black victims of oppression and dehumanization, taking up arms and proving themselves men on the battlefield, there is an episode that does it much better than even the fight for Fort Wagner; I mean the battle of Milliken’s Bend (June 7, 1863).As the situation of Vicksburg was growing dire, and Grant’s wide-ranging operations had driven any hope of support far away (taking of Jackson and battles of Champion Hill and of Big Black River Bridge, mid-May), the Confederates pinned their last hopes on attempts to break Grant’s inevitably long supply lines. A union depot was known to exist at Milliken’s Bend, upriver from Vicksburg, and an elite unit, General John Walker’s Texas cavalry division, was dispatched to destroy it.

The Texans attacked late in the night of June 6-7. The garrison at Milliken’s Bend had had some advance warning of their arrival, and were reinforced by the experienced white troops of the 23rd Iowa; but the bulk of the local garrison was made up of two nominal regiments, the Louisiana Ninth and Eleventh: black volunteers, most of them escaped slaves, who had been enlisted for only a few weeks, with as much training as could have been expected for that period, officered by white soldiers promoted directly from private for the purpose, frequently illiterate, and often armed with out-of-date, broken-down Austrian rifles. Numerically, the defenders and the attackers were about equal, but given the different levels of skill and training of the Texans, the outcome would have seemed to be inevitable. The Texans broke the Union line, screaming “No quarter! No quarter!”, and the Iowans and the Louisianans became separated from each other, each understandably convinced that the other had left. (more…)

October 29, 1862: Battle of Mound Island

The First Kansas Colored Volunteers was formed of escaped slaves from Missouri and Arkansas in August of 1862.  Because blacks could not officially join the Union Army at the time, the regiment was not mustered into Federal service until January 13, 1863.  Eventually it would be designated the 79th United States Colored Troops.

On October 27, 1862, the First Kansas was sent to the Toothman Homestead in Bates County, Missouri to break up a Confederate guerilla force near there.  The First Kansas found more guerillas than anticipated, supported by Confederate Missouri State Guards, and fortified the Toothman Homestead.  October 28 was spent in skirmishing.

On the 29th a skirmish between a First Kansas patrol and the Confederates led to a general engagement.  The Confederates withdrew.  The First Kansas sustained casualties of 8 killed and 11 wounded.  Confederate losses are uncertain although the First Kansas claim to have inflicted around 40 casualties. (more…)

29th Infantry Regiment, United States Colored Troops

Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters US, let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder, and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth or under the earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizenship in the United States.

Frederick Douglass

By General Order No. 143 on May 23, 1863, the United States War Department established the Bureau of Colored Troops for the enlistment of blacks in the Union Army.  Several volunteer regiments of blacks predated the creation of the United States Colored Troops, but most blacks who served in the Union army did so as part of the United States Colored Troops.  By the end of the war some 178,000 blacks had volunteered to serve, and they made up 10% of the Union army, forming 135 infantry regiments, 6 regiments of cavalry, 1 light artillery regiment, 13 heavy artillery regiments and one independent artillery battery.

One of the infantry regiments was raised in Illinois, the 29th Infantry regiment.  The regiment entered into service at Quincy, Illinois on April 24, 1864.  On May 24, 1864 it arrived in Virginia, and served at Alexandria as part of the Washington defences until June 15, 1864.

Attached to the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, Ninth Corp until September 1864, and then the 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, Ninth Corp until December 1864, the regiment participated in the following engagements:   the Battle of the Crater, Weldon Railroad, Poplar Grove Church and Boydton Plank Road. (more…)

Published in: on April 19, 2012 at 6:59 am  Comments (2)  
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