|St. Augustine in the Civil War
ab urbe condita - 296 to 300
Recruiting Black Regiments
St. Augustine in the Civil War
|Out from the mist of history marched a mighty army. The sable army of the oppressed had risen and truly it was a
Civil War where the dispossessed brother fought the inherited brother and forgotten son fought the forgetting father.
They arose with unknown last names and entered the world seeking to become equal.
"Our mas'rs dey had lib under de flag, dey got dere wealth under it, and ebrayting beautiful for dere chilen. Under it
dey hab grind us up, and put us in dere pocket for money. but de fus' minute dey tink dat ole flag mean freedom for
we colored people, dey pull it right down, and run up de rag ob dere own. But we neber desert de ole flag, boys,
neber; we had lib under it for eighteen hundred sixty-two years, and we'll die for it now." Corporal Prince Lambkin
33rd USCT from Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Army Life in a Black Regiment.
(To get to the St. Augustine section of this page follow the regiment pages below and more information will be added
to those pages as more pension records are transcribed.---Editor)
"Jesus make de blind to see,
Jesus make de cripple walk,
Jesus make de deaf to hear.
Walk in, kind Jesus!
No man can hender me."
The Government takes slow steps. At the beginning of the war there were no blacks in the army. The government
would not allow their enrollment. In August 1861 the U. S. Congress approved the First Confiscation Act. This act
allowed the government to free any slave that had been used to build Confederate fortifications or had been used in
any other way against the Union. Of course they had to find their way to Union lines. This act was in effect when the
Union armies took over St. Augustine so there was no blanket freedom of slaves at that point.
In September, 1861 the U. S. Navy allowed African-Americans to enlist.
General David Hunter and the Creation of the Regiment
General David Hunter as head of the Department of the South was instrumental in creating the first black regiments in
the United States. Unfortunately he was often ahead of the President When he entered the Department the army
was in the process of reducing Fort Pulaski.
On April 13, 1862 he ordered the slaves freed at Fort Pulaski and Cockspur Island. (See General Orders, No. 7)
On May 9, 1862 he issued General orders 11 which freed all the slaves in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. This
was an overreach which the President did not tolerate. President Lincoln responded on May 19 with a reversal of
See General Orders 11
See Lincoln's Response
General Hunter Creates the First Black Regiment
In May General Hunter once again feeling that he was authorized to proceed began the recruiting for the 1st black
regiment. His plan was to raise regiments and proceed across the deep south recruiting more regiments as the army
(See Hunter Order)
Unfortunately the method General Hunter chose to recruit his regiment was impressment. All freedmen (aged 18-45)
in the Port Royal area were required to become part of this regiment.
See Chase to Stanton, May 21, 1862
Pierce to Chase, May 12, 1862
Correspondence 2, 3, 4, 5 Relating to Impressment of Freedmen
Pierce to General Hunter May 12, 1862
G. M. Wells to Pierce May 12, 1862
L. G. Phillips to Pierce May 12, 1862
James D. Fessenden and the 1st South Carolina Regiment
Col Fessenden was the staff officer and aide to General Hunter. It would fall upon him to organize the 1st South
Carolina Regiment composed of men from South Carolina, Georgia and Florida James D. Fessenden (1833-82)
was one of three sons of Lincoln's second Sec. of the Treasury, William P. Fessenden. Fessenden began his Civil
War service as a captain of the 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters and from 1862 to 1863 served on David Hunter's staff
where he organized and commanded the first regiment of black troops fielded in the Civil War. .In May 1862
General Hunter started forming the 1st South Carolina.(which would be known as Hunter's regiment.) They were
never authorized and never paid. Company A of the 33rd USCT was composed mostly of the individuals left from
Hunter's 1st South Carolina.
General David Hunter Defends his Regiment on Congressional Inquiry
The First Black Soldiers - (from Appendix B. Higginson Army Life in a Black Regiment)
It is well known that the first systematic attempt to organize colored troops during the war of the rebellion was the so-
called "Hunter Regiment." The officer originally detailed to recruit for this purpose was Sergeant C. T. Trowbridge,
of the New York Volunteer Engineers (Col. Serrell). His detail was dated May 7, 1862, S. O. 84 Dept. South.
Enlistments came in very slowly, and no wonder. The white officers and soldiers were generally opposed to the
experiment, and filled the ears of the negroes with the same tales which had been told them by their masters, -- that
the Yankees really meant to sell them to Cuba, and the like. The mildest threats were that they would be made to
work without pay (which turned out to be the case), and that they would be put in the front rank in every battle.
Nobody could assure that they and their families would be freed by the Government, if they fought for it, since no
such policy had been adopted. Nevertheless, they gradually enlisted, the most efficient recruiting officer being
Sergeant William Bronson, of Company A, in my regiment, who always prided himself on this service, and used to
sign himself by the very original title, "No 1, African Foundations" in commemoration of his deeds.
By patience and tact these obstacles would in time have been overcome. but before long, unfortunately, some of
General Hunter's staff became impatient, and induced him to take the position that the blacks must enlist.
Accordingly, squads of soldiers were sent to seize all the able-bodied men on certain plantations, and bring them to
camp. (see below) The immediate consequence was a renewal of the old suspicion, ending in a wide-spread belief
that they were to be sent to Cuba, as their masters had predicted. The ultimate result was a habit of distrust,
discontent, and desertion, that it was almost impossible to surmount. All the men who knew anything about General
Hunter believed in him; but all knew that there were bad influences around him, and that the Government had
repudiated his promises. They had been kept four months in service, and then had been dismissed without pay. That
having been the case, why should not the Government equally repudiate General Saxton's promises or mine? As a
matter of fact, the Government did repudiate these pledges for year though we had its own written authority to give
them but that matter needs an appendix by itself.
The "Hunter Regiment" remained in camp on Hilton Head Island until the beginning of August, 1862, kept constantly
under drill, but much demoralized by desertion was then disbanded except one company. That company, under
command of Sergeant Trowbridge , then acting as Captain, but not commissioned, was kept in service, and was sent
(August 5, 1862) to garrison St. Simon's island, on the coast of Georgia. On this island (made famous by Mrs.
Kemble's description) there were then five hundred colored people, and not a single white man.
The black soldiers were sent down on the Ben De Ford, Captain Hallett. On arriving, Trowbridge was at once
informed by Commodore Goldsborough, naval commander at that station, that there was a party of rebel guerrillas
on the island, and was asked whether he would trust his soldiers in pursuit of them. Trowbridge gladly assented; and
the Commodore added, "If you should capture them, it will be a great thing for you.
They accordingly went on shore, and found that the colored men of the island had already undertaken the enterprise.
Twenty-five of them had armed themselves, under the command of one of their own number, whose name was John
Brown. The second in command was Edward Gould, who was afterwards a corporal in my own regiment. The rebel
party retreated before these men, and drew them into a swamp. There was but one path, and the negroes entered
single file. The rebels lay behind a great log, and fired upon them. John Brown, the leader, fell dead within six feet of
the log,---probably the first black man who fell under arms in the war,---several others were wounded, and the band
of raw recruits retreated; as did also the rebels, in the opposite direction. This was the first armed encounter, so far
as I know, between the rebels and their former slaves; and it is worth noticing that the attempt was a spontaneous
thing, and not accompanied by any white man. The men were not soldiers, nor in uniform, through some of them
afterwards enlisted in Trowbridge's company.
(I never knew till today that "John Brown," the only son of Uncle York, was the first negro soldier who fell in this
war. He was shot in a skirmish on St. Simon's Island, August 8, 1862. A singular coincidence of names. No wonder
our soldiers think him the hero of the John Brown hymn. Dr. Seth Rogers Diary)
The father of this John Brown was afterwards a soldier in my regiment; and, after his discharge for old age, was, for
a time, my servant. "Uncle York," as we called him, was as good a specimen of a saint as I have ever met, and was
quite the equal of Mrs. Stowe's "Uncle Tom." He was a fine-looking old man, with dignified and courtly manners,
and his gray head was a perfect benediction, as he sat with us on the platform at our Sunday meetings. He fully
believed, to his dying day, that the "John Brown Song" related to his son, and to him only.
The company remained two months at St. Simon's doing picket duty within hearing of the rebel drums, though not
another scout ever ventured on the island, to their knowledge. In papers captured later in Jacksonville there was a
letter from this very Hazard to some friend, describing the perils of that adventure, and saying, "If you wish to know
hell before your time, go to St.Simon's and be hunted ten days by niggers."
At last the news came that Major-General Mitchell had come to relieve General Hunter, and that Brigadier-General
Saxton had gone North; and Trowbridge went to Hilton Head in some anxiety to see if he and his men were utterly
forgotten. He prepared a report, showing the services and claims his men, and took it with him. This was early in
October, 1862. The first person he met was Brigadier-General Saxton, who informed him that he had authority to
organize five thousand colored troops, and that he (Trowbridge) should be senior captain of the first regiment.
This was accordingly done; and Company A of the First South Carolina could honestly claim to date its enlistment
back to May, 1862, although they never got pay for that period of their service, and their date of muster was
November 15, 1862.
The above facts were written down from the narration of Lieutenant-Colonel Trowbridge, who may justly claim to
have been the first white officer to recruit and command colored troops in this war. He was constantly in command
of them from May 9, 1862 to February 9, 1866.
Another view of the enforced enlistment (Letters from Port Royal written at the time of the Civil War)
While he was at Mr. Pierce's, writing, young Hazard Stevens came over with dispatches from General Hunter
ordering all the agents to send him in the morning all the able-bodied black men between the ages of 18 and 45,
capable of bearing arms, on the plantations. There was no explanation whatsoever of the reasons for the demand, no
hint of what was to be done with them, and nothing but our confidence in General Hunter's friendliness to the race
gave us a shadow of comfort. But that would avail little to the negroes, who would lose the confidence they are
beginning to feel in white men. Yet there was but one thing for us to do, and it was with heavy, aching hearts that at
midnight we separated. Companies of soldiers were to be sent from Beaufort in the night and distributed to the
different plantations to prevent the negroes from taking to the woods, so that we were not surprised at being roused
about two hours after by thundering knocks at the front door, echoing through all these empty rooms with a ghostly
sound. This proved to be Captain Stevens again, alone, who had stopped to enquire the way to some of the other
plantations he had to notify, and say that the soldiers would be here in about an hour. We had scarcely got to sleep
again before we all were roused by their arrival, and eight men, a Captain and Sergeant of the New York 79th
Highlanders, tramped through the house. Mr. Philbrick gave them a pail of water and some hardtack, for they had
had a long walk, and then they stretched themselves on the floor of one of our empty parlors as quietly as could be,
considering themselves in luxury.
We slept as best we could the rest of the night, and were up early to get the soldiers their breakfast and get ready for
the heart-sickening work. You never saw a more wretched set of people than sat down to our breakfast-table. I
could not eat, for about the first time in my life. Nothing had been said to any one. Joe saw the soldiers on the floor
when he opened the house door in the morning, and wore a sober face when we came down, but no one asked any
questions...When he had gone, Mr. G. began on Joe before he went to the field for the other hands telling him that
General Hunter had work at Hilton Head for a great many black men, that he did not know what for, but had
received orders in the night, and they must be obeyed and he must march; he had to go at once to his house for his
cap, say good-bye to his wife and come to us to leave his will, for he said he never expected to come back. We
made as light of the whole thing as we could, but did not dare to say anything (as we knew nothing) which might
make them feel afterwards as if we had deceived them, for the thing they dread is being made to fight, and we knew
that there had been men about trying to recruit for Hunter's pet idea, a regiment of blacks.
One man had been obtained on this island! We told Joe that Mr. Philbrick knew nothing about it and was going with
them himself, and gave him a letter Mr. Philbrick had written asking for him to be returned as a personal favor, as he
was a house-servant. He did the same thing with each of the drivers, for the good of the plantation crops. The men
were easily collected, ten here, and went off after all with much less emotion than we expected; the soldiers behaved
admirably, delighted with the treatment they had received, and cheering the negroes with tales of money and clothes,
treating them most kindly. Mr. Philbrick called all the hands together at Coffin's and told them the simple fact, all that
he himself knew, and named the men who were to go, and the whole thing was accomplished with much less
apparent suffering than we had supposed possible. Many of the men were not averse to trying their hands at life in
the world, for many of their number have been and still are at work for officers, etc., at Hilton Head and Bay Point,
etc., with most desirable pecuniary results, but they are afraid of being made to fight.
In the Early Days fighting the New York Herald (June 27, 1862)
[The New York Herald would be the leader in its dislike to black regiments. These kind of reports would continue
throughout the war.]
The enlisting of negroes as soldiers, with the pay and ration of volunteers, is going on in this district with no great
success. A company of contrabands was formed here three or four weeks since, and numbered at one time, when
the intensity and zeal of the "innocents" culminated, nearly one hundred and fifty men. Since then the contrabands'
courage, like that of Bob Acres', has oozed out of their fingers' ends, and the company could scarcely turn out a
corporal's guard. The contrabands have no heart for the business, when they reflect upon the possibility of being
punctured by cold steel, or perforated by bullets, with the additional risk of shuffling off this mortal coil through the
simple and expeditious aid of a hangman's noose; and their fears, which increase in the same ration that they reflect
and inwardly digest, are rapidly changing their anxiety to take up arms to a deep seated disinclination to place
themselves in positions of danger. They are fond of the "pomp and circumstance of war," but prefer to enjoy it under
more favorable auspices than those likely to be afforded them in this department. So that the experiment is not like to
prove a brilliant success. There are enough arms her now to arm all the contrabands in the department, but it is
exceedingly questionable whether they will ever be placed in their hands. But we shall see what we shall see.
I sent you some general orders, issued by the Commanding General of the Department, and also by the General
Commanding the Northern district. General Order No. 8 dated Headquarters, Department of the South, &c., April
25th, 1862, while applying generally to an individual case of alleged cruelty to negroes, proclaims, incidentally,
martial law in the States of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. This has no particular significance in itself;---but, as
a basis for General Orders No. 11, it assumes great importance, and will doubtless receive great and universal
attention. General Orders No. 11 declares all slaves in the States of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida forever
free. The proposition upon which Gen. Hunter draws the conclusion and bases the declaration that all slaves in the
three States named above are free is "that slavery and martial law in a free country are altogether incompatible." He
has certainly succeeded in placing the question before the country in a way most favorable to his side, and the
discussion must be had on that proposition.
A call has been made in several regiments for volunteer drillmasters to undertake the instruction of the contrabands in
military duties. It has been responded to by numerous ambitious young men, and the supply at present seems likely to
exceed the demand. I do not think, from all I can gather, that the freed negroes are desirous of military distinction;
they do not "burn" so ardently as I had been led to suppose for the honors and the glories of war, but rather prefer
easily and lazily to "simmer" in the glaring sunlight or "swelter" in the grateful shade. They never will make good
soldiers. They have not that appreciation of the cause which would nerve them to the dangers of a contest in the field.
They have no confidence in themselves, nor are they fitted for the trust which the country should and does not repose
in its gallant armies. They like freedom better than slavery because freedom here is easier than slavery; but they think
very little more of a Union man than they do of a rebel. Their ambition is be clothed and fed, in return for which they
do not care to give to give any more of their labor than they are compelled to. With the side that exacts the least and
affords them the most, they cast their lot and their fortunes. As field hands and servants they may be usefully and
profitably employed, but for the men to fight our battles, win our victories and put to flight our battles, win our
victories and put to flight the rebel hots now in arms against the Union, the Constitution and the laws, we cannot look
to the slave huts of the South.
The Second Confiscation Act CHAP. CXCV. “An Act to suppress Insurrection, to punish Treason and
Rebellion, to seize and confiscate the Property of Rebels, and for other Purposes."
SEC. 11. And be it further enacted, That the President of the United States is authorized to employ as many persons
of African descent as he may deem necessary and proper for the suppression of this rebellion, and for this purpose
he may organize and use them in such manner as he may judge best for the public welfare.
(See Second Confiscation Act)
The same day the Congress passed the Militia Act of 1862 which authorized the recruitment of black regiments,
made a their families "forever free" (if their owners were participating in the Confederacy), and set their pay below
that of white soldiers.
While some troops would be authorized early - including the 1st South Carolina. The Emancipation Proclamation
specifically authorized the general enlistment of African American soldiers by the President on January 1st, 1863.
Hunter's Letter to Stanton
...Failing to receive authority to muster the First Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers into the service of the United
States, I have disbanded them. ....not only would this regiment have been accepted, but that many similar ones would
have been authorized to fill up the decimated ranks of the army and afford the aid of which the cause seems now so
much in need."
Order to Create Black Regiments
On August 25th, 1862, Secretary of War Stanton officially authorized the raising of the 5,000 black soldiers under
the command of Brigadier General Rufus Saxton.
(See Order to Create Black Regiments)
On September 22, 1862 Abraham Lincoln issued his preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation giving the
Confederacy 100 days to surrender. On January 1, 1863 he signed the Proclamation under his authority as
commander-in-chief and under the powers of the Second Confiscation Act. This act also allowed the organization of
black regiments on a national scale.
(See Emancipation Proclamation)
Doboy River Georgia, BEAUFORT, S.C., November 25, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to enclose for your information the report of our expedition to Doboy River, Georgia:
The expedition was composed of three companies of the First South Carolina Volunteers (colored), under the
command of Lieut. Col. Oliver T. Beard, Forty-eighth New York Volunteers, and was in every respect a success.
It gives me pleasure to bear witness to the good conduct of the negro troops. They fought with the most determined
bravery. Although scarcely one month since the organization of this regiment was commenced, in that short period
these untrained soldiers have captured from the enemy an amount of property equal in value to the cost of the
regiment for a year. They have driven back equal numbers of rebel troops, and have destroyed the salt-works along
the whole line of this coast.
Great credit is due to Lieutenant-Colonel Beard for his energy and skill in the management of this expedition.
I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
Hon. E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
General Saxton's Proclamation
A HAPPY NEW-YEAR'S GREETING TO THE COLORED PEOPLE IN THE DEPARTMENT OF THE
In accordance, as I believe, with the will of our Heavenly Father, and by direction of your great and good friend,
whose name you are all familiar with, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, and Commander-in-
Chief of the army and navy, on the 1st day of January, 1863, you will be declared "forever free." When, in the
course of human events, there comes a day which is destined to be an everlasting beacon-light, marking a joyful era
in the progress of a nation and the hopes of a people, it seems to be fitting the occasion that it should not pass
unnoticed by those whose hopes it comes to brighten and to bless. Such a day to you is January 1, 1863. I therefore
call upon all the colored people in this department to assemble on that day at the headquarters of the First Regiment
of South Carolina Volunteers, there to hear the President's Proclamation read, and to indulge in such other
manifestations of joy as may be called forth by the occasion. It is your duty to carry this good news to your brethren
who are still in Slavery. Let all your voices, like merry bells, join loud and clear in the grand chorus of liberty "We are
free," "We are free," "until listening, you shall hear its echoes coming back from every cabin in the land." "We are
free," "We are free."
R. SAXTON, Brig.-Gen. and Military Governor.
CAMP SAXTON--PROCLAMATION AND BARBECUE 1863 (from Susan King Taylor -
Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33d United States Colored Troops Late 1st S. C. Volunteers)
ON the first of January, 1863, we held services for the purpose of listening to the reading of President Lincoln's
proclamation by Dr. W. H. Brisbane, and the presentation of two beautiful stands of colors, one from a lady in
Connecticut, and the other from Rev. Mr. Cheever. The presentation speech was made by Chaplain French. It was
a glorious day for us all, and we enjoyed every minute of it, and as a fitting close and the crowning event of this
occasion we had a grand barbecue. A number of oxen were roasted whole, and we had a fine feast. Although not
served as tastily or correctly as it would have been at home, yet it was enjoyed with keen appetites and relish. The
soldiers had a good time. They sang or shouted "Hurrah!" all through the camp, and seemed overflowing with fun and
frolic until taps were sounded, when many, no doubt, dreamt of this memorable day.
Emancipation Day - (War-Time Letters From Seth Rogers, M.D. Surgeon of the First South Carolina Afterwards
the Thirty-third U.S.C.T. 1862-1863.)
January 1, 1863
This is the evening of the most eventful day of my life. Our barbecue was a most wonderful success. Two steamboats
came loaded with people from Beaufort, St. Helena Island and Hilton Head. Among the visitors were some of my
new acquaintances, [including] my friend, Mr. Hall of the voyage Delaware. But the dearest friend I found among
them was Miss [Charlotte] Forten, whom you remember. She is a teacher of the freed children on St. Helena Island.
Gen Saxton and his father and others came from Beaufort, and several cavalry officers hovered around the outskirts
of our multitude of black soldiers and civilians, and in the centre of all was the speakers' stand where the General and
our Colonel and some others, with the band, performed the ceremonies of the day. Several good speeches were
made, but the most impressive scene was that which occurred at the presentation of the Dr. Cheever flag to our
regiment. After the presentation speech had been made, and just as Col. Higginson advanced to take the flag and
respond, a negro woman standing near began to sing "America", and soon many voices of freedmen and women
joined in the beautiful hymn, and sang it so touchingly that every one was thrilled beyond measure. Nothing could
have been more unexpected or more inspiring. The President's proclamation and General Saxton's New Year's
greeting had been read, and this spontaneous outburst of love and loyalty to a country that has heretofore so terribly
wronged these blacks, was the birth of a new hope in the honesty of her intention. I most earnestly trust they not
hope in vain. [Charlotte Forten (1837-1914), a Philadelphia-born African American teacher whose parents and
grandparents were avid abolitionists, was one of the first teachers to travel to the Sea Islands after Union forces were
Col. H. was so much inspired by the remarkable thought of, and singing of, the hymn that he made one of his most
effective speeches. Then came Gen. Saxton with a most earnest and brotherly speech to the blacks and then Mrs.
Frances D. Gage, and finally all joined in the John Brown hymn, and then to dinner. A hundred things of interest
occurred which I have not time to relate. Everybody was happy in the bright sunshine, and in the great hope. The ten
oxen were hearty relish and barrels of molasses and water and vinegar and ginger were drunk to wash them down.
Mr. Hall, Miss Forten and some others took dinner with us. [Frances Dana Barker Gage was the mother of eight
children, four of whom served in the Union army, and an avid abolition, temperance, and women's rights activist. She
served in the U.S. Sanitary Commission and as superintendent of a South Carolina Freedmen's school.]
from Letters from Port Royal Written During the Civil War
From H. W.
Jan. 1,1863. We started [from R.'s] at ten o'clock with four oarsmen, under a cloudless sky, which remained
undimmed through the day. The men sang and we sang, as we wound our way through the marshbound creek,
reaching the Smith Plantation just as the Flora was landing her first load from the Ferry. We followed the crowd up
to the grove of live-oaks with their moss trimmings, which did not look so dreary under a winter's sun, but very
summer-like and beautiful. The regiment, which had been drawn up at the wharf to receive the guests from Beaufort,
escorted them to the platform in the middle of the grove, where we found it ” the regiment ” in a circle round the
stand, where they remained quiet and orderly as possible through the whole proceedings, which lasted about three
hours. Guests, white and colored, were admitted within the line, and as ladies we were shown seats on the platform.
The general arrived in his carriage with the Mission House 1 ladies.
It is simply impossible to give you any adequate idea of the next three hours. Picture the scene to yourself if you can,
” I will tell you all the facts,” but if I could transcribe every word that was uttered, still nothing could convey to you
any conception of the solemnity and interest of the occasion. Mr. Judd, General Superintendent of the Island, was
master of ceremonies, and first introduced Mr. Fowler, the Chaplain, who made a prayer, ” then he announced that
the President's Proclamation would be read, and General Saxton's also, by a gentleman who would be introduced by
Colonel Higginson. And he rose amid perfect silence, his clear rich voice falling most deliriously on the ear as he
began to speak. He said that the Proclamation would be read "by a South Carolinian to South Carolinians" a man
who many years before had carried the same glad tidings to his own slaves now brought them to them, and with a
few most pertinent words introduced Dr. Brisbane, one of the tax-commissioners here now, who read both
proclamations extremely well. They cheered most heartily at the President's name, and at the close gave nine with a
will for General " Saxby," as they call him. Mr. Zachos then read an ode he had written for the occasion, which was
sung by the white people (printed copies being distributed, he did not line it as is the fashion in these parts) to "Scots
wha hae." I forgot to mention that there was a band on the platform which discoursed excellent music from time to
time. At this stage of the proceedings Mr. French rose and, in a short address, presented to Colonel Higginson from
friends in New York a beautiful silk flag, on which was embroidered the name of the regiment and "The Year of
Jubilee has come!"
Just as Colonel Higginson had taken the flag and was opening his lips to answer (his face while Mr. French was
speaking was a beautiful sight), a single woman's voice below us near the corner of the platform began singing "My
Country, 'tis of thee." It was very sweet and low” gradually other voices about her joined in and it began to spread
up to the platform, till Colonel Higginson turned and said, "Leave it to them," when the negroes sang it to the end. He
stood with the flag in one hand looking down at them, and when the song ceased, his own words flowed as
musically, saying that he could give no answer so appropriate arid touching as had just been made. In all the singing
he had heard from them, that song he had never heard before” they never could have truly sung "my country" till that
day. He talked in the most charming manner for over half an hour, keeping every one's attention, the negroes'
upturned faces as interested as any, if not quite as comprehending. Then he called Sergeant Rivers and delivered the
flag to his keeping, with the most solemn words, telling him that his life was chained to it and he must die to defend it.
Prince Rivers looked him in the eye while he spoke, and when he ended with a "Do you understand?" which must
have thrilled through every one, answered most earnestly, "Yas, Sar." The Colonel then, with the same solemnity,
gave into the charge of Corporal Robert Sutton 1 a bunting flag of the same size; then stepping back stood with
folded arms and bare head while the two men spoke in turn to their countrymen. Rivers is a very smart fellow, has
been North and is heart and soul in the regiment and against the "Seceshky." He spoke well; but Sutton with his plain
common sense and simpler language spoke better. He made telling points; told them there was not one in that crowd
but had sister, brother, or some relation among the rebels still; that all was not done because they were so happily
off, that they should not be content till all their people were as well off, if they died in helping them; and when he
ended with an appeal to them to above all follow after their Great Captain, Jesus, who never was defeated, there
were many moist eyes in the crowd.
General Saxton then said a few words, regretting that his flag had not arrived as he intended, and introduced Mrs.
Gage, who spoke to them of her visit to St. Croix and how the negroes on that island had freed themselves, and
telling them that her own sons were in the army; she might any day hear of their death, but that she was willing they
should die in the cause and she hoped they were ready to die too. Quartermaster Bingham led the regiment in singing
"Marching Along." Mr. Judd had written a hymn which he and a few friends sang. Judge Stickney spoke. The whole
regiment then sang " John Brown," and was dismissed in a few words from the Colonel to the tables for the twelve
roasted oxen,1 hard bread, and molasses and water, except one company and certain corporals whom he
mentioned, who came to the foot of the steps to escort the colors.
Lieutenant Duhurst was waiting to escort us to dinner at his mess-table. We walked into the old fort, part of the walls
of which are still standing, made of oyster-shells and cement, very hard still. It was built, say the authorities, in 1562,
half a century before the Pilgrims landed.
The 33rd USCT Regiment (or the 1st South Carolina Regiment) was filled with ex St. Augustine and St. Johns
County slaves. Company A of the regiment was raised by General Hunter in May 1862. This was before approval
from Lincoln and was abandoned. In November 1862, the 33rd, was reconstituted under Col Thomas Wentworth
Higginson. The regiment consisted of ten companies of about 86 men each. On January 1st, 1863 at the Camp
Saxton Emancipation Proclamation Celebration the regimental colors were given to the 33rd Regiment. The troops
were official and paid.
Before muster, 3 companies on Expedition along the coast of Georgia and Florida on during November 3-10, 1862.
Spalding's, on Sapello River, GA, November 7 (Company "A"). Doboy River Island until March 1863. Expedition
from Beaufort up the St. Mary's River in Georgia and Florida during January 23 - February 1. Skirmish at Township
on January 26. Expedition from Beaufort to Jacksonville, FL, on March 23-31. Skirmish near Jacksonville on March
29. At Beaufort, SC, until January 1864. Expedition up South Edisto River during July 9-11, 1863. Action at
Williston Bluff, Pon Pon River on July 10. Expedition to Pocotaligo, SC, during November 23-25 (Companies "E"
Skirmish near Cunningham's Bluff on November 24. (Companies "C" and "K" at Hilton Head, SC, until September,
1863, returning to Beaufort, SC; Companies "A" & "F" moved to Hilton Head, SC, during January, 1864.
Expedition to Jacksonville, FL, during February 6-8.They were present at Township, Mill Town Bluff, Hall Island,
Jacksonville and John's Island. Duty at Port Royal Island, S.C., District of Beaufort, S.C., till July, 1864. Expedition
to James Island, S.C., June 30-July 10. James Island near Sessionville, July 2. Duty on Folly and Morris Islands
operating against Charleston, S.C., to November. Demonstration on Charleston & Savannah Railroad December 6-
9. Devaux's Neck, December 6. Tillifinny Station, December 9. Ordered to Folly Island, December 9. Near
Pocotaligo Road, December 20. At Pocotaligo, S.C., till February, 1865. Occupation of Charleston till March 8.
Moved to Savannah, Ga., March 8, and duty their till June 6. Moved to August, Ga. Duty there and at various points
in the Dept of the South till January, 1866. Mustered out January 31, 1866..
On February 8th 1864 the regiment became the 33rd USCT.
The regiment was mustered out at Fort Wagner on February 9, 1866.
The following regiments would be organized in the Department of the South. Links below contain information about
the regiments, St. Augustine members and some pension records.
33rd USCT - (Beaufort - January 31, 1863 as 1st South Carolina Colored Volunteers)
34th USCT - (Beaufort and Hilton Head - May 23, 1863 - December 31, 1864 as 2nd South Carolina Colored
21st USCT - (Hilton Head - June 19, 1863-October 1, 1864 as 3rd and 4th South Carolina Colored Volunteers)
Battery G, 2nd USCLA - (Hilton Head - May 18, 1864)
103th USCI - (Hilton Head - March 10, 1865)
104th USCI - (Beaufort - April 28 - June 25, 1865)
128th USCI - (Hilton Head - April 23-29, 1865
Expedition to Florida (Letters from Beaufort During the Civil War)
March 5. C. came home at night with the news that the First South Carolina Volunteers started on an expedition 1 to-
day which Colonel Higginson considers of very great importance, which will have very great results, or from which
they will probably never return. Also that drafting has begun in Beaufort by Hunter's orders.
General Saxton has passed his word to the people here that they shall not be forced into the army ”I don't see what
is to be the upshot of it” they will lose all confidence in us. Anywhere but here! Saxton himself gave Colonel
Montgomery leave to draft in Florida and Key West, but he had no need to ”more recruits offered than he could
bring away with him. I don't wish to find fault with my commanding general, but I have yet to be shown the first thing
Hunter has done.
More Drafting (Letters from Beaufort During the Civil War)
March 14. This drafting business is simply folly. Hunter is an ignorant, obstinate fool. General Saxton is very much
opposed to the measure, especially after promising the men again and again that they would not be taken unless they
were willing to go; but he says he has done all he can to dissuade Hunter without any effect, and if he should go
further in the matter, either he or Hunter would have to go home, and he is not willing at this crisis to raise this
additional difficulty. Hunter's order was published in the New South last Monday. For a full week before the negroes
had been anxiously questioning us about this strange news that "they want to take we to make soldiers." Up to
Monday I was able to tell them that I had heard such stories, but did not believe them; but Tuesday night, when I got
home, I told them how matters stood, and they confessed that for a full week before hardly a man on the plantation
under sixty years of age had slept in his bed. A strange white face drives them from the field into the woods like so
many quails; they will not go to church, they will not go to the Ferry. Two Sundays ago I happened to ask one of the
elders at church, to make talk merely, how soon the next Society meeting took place at Pine Grove. It was last
Saturday evening. My question to Demus was reported at the meeting, they immediately became suspicious of some
trap to catch them, they
H. W., commenting more mildly, says (Mar. 18): "He certainly has not a clear idea of what the superintendents and
teachers are doing, and unfortunately classes them as in opposition to himself, as preferring the agricultural to the
military department. This I do not think is the case, but they most of them feel his want of wisdom in dealing with the
subject, which has made his own especial object as well as theirs harder to accomplish."
Abraham Lincoln Commends General Hunter on Jacksonville and USCT Troops
Washington, P. 0., April 1, 1863.
My DEAR SIR: I am glad to see the accounts of your colored force at Jacksonville, Fla. I see the enemy are driving
at them fiercely, as is to be expected. It is important to the enemy that such a force shall not take shape and grow
and thrive in the South, and in precisely the same proportion it is important to us that it shall. Hence the utmost
caution and vigilance is necessary on our part. The enemy will make extra efforts to destroy them, and we should do
the same to preserve and increase them.
More Drafting (Letters from Port Royal during the Civil War)
May 2.] At church yesterday a squad of soldiers with their officer came from Land's End to the service, when a
general stampede took place among the men, and women too, jumping from the windows and one man even from
the gallery into the midst of the congregation."
In accordance with Hunter's order, referred to above, Saxton issued a general order to superintendents, which bade
them send to Captain Hooper a list of all able-bodied freedmen between eighteen and fifty on the plantations, and
instructed them to urge the negroes to enlist by appealing to "their reason, sense of right, their love of liberty and their
dread of returning to the rule of their late masters," adding: "The General Commanding expects to form a pretty
correct judgment of the comparative efficiency of the different superintendents and the amount of influence for good
they are capable of exerting over their people, by the proportion of the whole number subject to draft which they are
able to bring in without the aid of physical force." Referring to this last sentence as a "mean insinuation,"
For my people, I know there is about as much use in asking them to enlist as in requesting my horse, a very intelligent
animal, to drink salt water. I hope they will draft, they may possibly enlist, the loafers at Hilton Head and Beaufort,
and those whose proximity to camps, or general worthless character, prevents them from taking much interest in their
crops. But these men, who have been paid up in full for last year's crop, and have seen that their crop, slim as it was,
brought them a fair compensation, are bound to show a crop this year. Crop-raising is their business, their trade, and
they intend to show what they can do at it this year for the Government, which protects them, for me, who "see them
justice" (they have a vague idea that I reap a certain percentage from their crop ” they say, "You will have a bigger
crop of cotton than Mr. Philbrick, sir they also think that if I "overlook" four hundred hands, I ought to get more pay
than a man who only sees to two hundred), and last, and principally, for themselves. They have not been learning
cotton raising, perforce, all these years for nothing. Now their enforced knowledge comes out in tending a crop of
which they are to own a share, and the little tricks of the trade, which had to be watchfully enforced in the old time,
are now skillfully produced, especially in the food crops, which are more evidently their own. I let them go ahead
very much as they choose; I make regulations for the good of all, as in the matter of carts, oxen, etc., but the minutiae
I do not meddle with, except as a matter of curiosity and acquirement of knowledge. They work well, some of them
harder than in the old time; the lazy ones are stimulated to exertion for their own benefit, the energetic ones race like
Order Establishing the USCT Bureau
United States Colored Troops
Adjutant General's Office
Washington, May 22, 1863
GENERAL ORDERS, No. 143.
I. A Bureau is established in the Adjutant General's Office for the record of all matters relating to the organization of
Colored Troops. An officer will be assigned to the charge of the Bureau, with such number of clerks as may be
designated by the Adjutant General.
II. Three or more field officers will be detailed as Inspectors to supervise the organization of colored troops at such
points as may be indicated by the War Department in the Northern and Western States.
III. Boards will be convened at such posts as may be decided upon by the War Department to examine applicants
for commissions to command colored troops, who, on application to the Adjutant General, may receive authority to
present themselves to the board for examination.
IV. No persons shall be allowed to recruit for colored troops except specially authorized by the War Department;
and no such authority will be given to persons who have not been examined and passed by a board; nor will such
authority be given any one person to raise more than one regiment.
V. The reports of Boards will specify the grade of commission for which each candidate is fit, and authority to recruit
will be given in accordance. Commissions will be issued from the Adjutant General's Office when the prescribed
number of men is ready for muster into service.
VI. Colored troops may be accepted by companies, to be afterwards consolidated in battalions and regiments by the
Adjutant General. The regiments will be numbered seriatim, in the order in which they are raised, the numbers to be
determined by the Adjutant General. They will be designated: "-- Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops."
VII. Recruiting stations and depots will be established by the Adjutant General as circumstances shall require, and
officers will be detailed to muster and inspect the troops.
VIII. The non-commissioned officers of colored troops may be selected and appointed from the best men of their
number in the usual mode of appointing non-commissioned officers. Meritorious commissioned officers will be
entitled to promotion to higher rank if they prove themselves equal to it.
IX. All personal applications for appointments in colored regiments, or for information concerning them, must be
made to the Chief of the Bureau; all written communications should be addressed to the Chief of the Bureau, to the
care of the Adjutant General.
BY ORDER OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR:
Assistant Adjutant General
Protection for African-American Soldiers
GENERAL ORDERS No. 252.
WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Washington, July 31, 1863.
The following order of the President is published for the information and government of all concerned:
"Washington, D.C., July 30, 1863.
"It is the duty of every government to give protection to its citizens of whatever class, color, or condition, and
especially to those who are duly organized as soldiers in the public service. The law of nations and the usages and
customs of war as carried on by civilized powers permit no distinction as to color in the treatment of prisoners of war
as public enemies. To sell or enslave any captured person on account of his color, and for no offense against the laws
of war, is a relapse into barbarism and a crime against the civilization of the age.
"The Government of the United States will give the same protection to all its soldiers; and if the enemy shall sell or
enslave any one because of his color, the offense shall be punished by retaliation upon the enemy's prisoners in our
"It is therefore ordered, that for every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the laws of war a rebel soldier
shall be executed; and for every one enslaved by the enemy, or sold into slavery, a rebel soldier shall be placed at
hard labor on the public works and continued at such labor until the other shall be released and receive the treatment
due to a prisoner of war.
By order of the Secretary of War:
E. D. TOWNSEND,
Reorganizing the Regiments
Headquarters Department of the South In the Field Folly Island S C
December 14 1863
Maj Gen HW Halleck General in Chief US Army Washington D C
I desire to urge upon the attention of the Government certain simple measures for bettering the condition of the
colored people of this department colored soldiers in particular
The policy of the Government in organizing regiments of colored troops upon this coast and the value and general
efficiency of that class of soldiers has had a fair trial and a successful issue under my own eye The wisdom of the
course pursued under my uniform rule to treat the white and the colored soldier alike has been fully vindicated upon
the field of battle and in the trenches Every vestige of the prejudice and ill feeling which existed between the white
and the colored troops of this command during a period of inactivity has disappeared under the excitements of an
active campaign of Which the labors and dangers were shared alike by both classes
I request attention to the following points
First The colored volunteers in this department are derived from the States of South Carolina Georgia and Florida
and in forming them into regiments they should be designated as United States colored regiments with the
appropriate numbers This would materially simplify the organizations and increase their efficiency
Second A board for the examination of candidates for commissions in colored regiments should be appointed in this
Third The pay of the white soldier and of the colored soldier should be the same All distinctions calculated to raise in
the mind of the colored man a suspicion that he is regarded as an inferior being should be scrupulously avoided Every
dictate of sound policy suggests this course even if we regard the matter as still an experiment of doubtful results
which it is not
Fourth The families of colored soldiers should be provided for by allowing them to locate upon and cultivate land in
advance of the regular survey and sale thereof This is important as a military measure by making the soldier
contented with his lot by securing to him a home for his family during the war and for himself when the war is over
I enclose herewith the duplicate of a letter addressed this day to the Secretary of War recommending the
consolidation under Colonel Littlefield Fourth South Carolina Volunteers of fragments of the Third Fourth and Fifth
South Carolina Volunteers
Brig Gen Rufus Saxton who had commenced the organization of the Fifth South Carolina Volunteers under his
special authority from the War Department to raise 5,000 South Carolina volunteers offers no objection to this plan
There are urgent reasons why it should be carried into immediate effect
Very respectfully your obedient servant
QA GILLMORE Major General Commanding
Consolidation and Name Change
Headquarters Department of the South
In the Field Folly Island S C
December 14 1863
Hon E.M. Stanton Secretary of War Washington D C
I have the honor to invite your attention to certain features in the existing system of organization of colored troops in
this department which I consider as very objectionable and calculated to seriously impair if not wholly destroy the
usefulness of these troops in the public service
There are now nominally five regiments of South Carolina colored troops only one of which the First South Carolina
Volunteers Col TW Higginson has ever reached the minimum number of men required by law The others are as
follows Second South Carolina Volunteers Col James Montgomery about 540 men Third South Carolina Volunteers
Lieut Col AG Bennett about 300 men organized by Major General Hunter for labor in the quartermaster's
department for which they have been used until quite recently Fourth South Carolina Volunteers Col MS Littlefield
about 150 men Fifth South Carolina Volunteers organization just commenced.
Of the four regiments last mentioned not one has the requisite number of men to give it efficiency and the present rate
of recruiting furnishes no ground fer expecting that they will be filled within a reasonable time
I therefore consider it in the highest degree important that some system of consolidation be adopted Upon
consultation with Brigadier General Saxton the following seems to mo to be the one best calculated to secure the
efficiency of these troops viz to break up the Third South Carolina Volunteers and transfer the men to the Second
and Fourth the latter to be designated as the Third under Colonel Littlefield all the commissioned officers of the three
separate organizations to be transferred into the new one.
I will add that the nomenclature of these regiments is not a matter to which I attach very much importance It has been
suggested to me that they be added to the organization of United States colored troops inasmuch as the men
composing them are drawn from different States and it is urged that the present designation seriously interferes with
recruiting in Florida and Georgia
If the above proposition be approved I respectfully request that authority may be granted me to carry it into effect
and that any new regiments of colored troops that may be raised in this department be designated as United States
colored troops with their appropriate numbers
I have the honor to be very respectfully your obedient servant
QA GILLMORE Major General Commanding
Washington City, December 22, 1863.
Ordered, that Major-General Gillimore, commanding the Department of the South, be, and is hereby, authorized
First. To enlist and organize all the colored troops that can be recruited within his department, the said enlistments to
be in accordance with the rules and regulations of the service and of the War Department relating to the organization
of colored troops and such further orders as may from time to time be given by the Department.
Second. General Gillmore is authorized to appoint a board for the examination of white persons to officer the
regiments and companies so raised by him, and to make provisional appointments of the persons passed by said
board and appointed by him, reporting their names to this Department for its approval, and, if approved, such
persons will be commissioned by the President, as in other cases of colored troops. He may also appoint a mustering
officer and have the officers and troops mustered in at such times as he may deem proper.
Third. The troops so raised may consist of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, and in such proportions as General
Gillmore may deem most beneficial for the service, their pay and allowance to be in accordance with the act of
Congress and the rules and regulations of the service respecting colored troops; but a bounty may be allowed, not to
exceed the sum of $10, payable out of the fund for procuring substitutes, as in the case of recruits in the Department
Fourth. All other authority for raising colored troops within the department aforesaid shall be subject to the direction
of Major- General Gillmore until further orders.
Fifth. That General Gillmore is authorized, under the foregoing regulations, to procure recruits from Key West, or in
the States of Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, not, however, so as to interfere with the engineer service at Key West.
Sixth. All the colored troops now in the Department of the South, or that may be recruited therein, or that shall be
sent forward, may be organized in such brigades, divisions, and corps as General Gillmore may deem most
advantageous to the service, he making report to Major Foster, chief of bureau in the War Department for organizing
Seventh. The colored troops to be called United States troops, and numbered by regiments in consecutive order as
By order of the Secretary of War: E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General.
General Order No. 44.
Hilton Head, S. C, March 26, 1864.
I. In accordance with orders from the War Department, the First and Second Regiments South Carolina and the
First Regiment North Carolina Volunteers (colored) will hereafter be known and designated, respectively, as the
Thirty-third, Thirty-fourth, and Thirty- fifth Regiments U. S. Colored Troops.
By command of Maj. Gen. Q. A. Gillmore:
ED. W. SMITH, Assistant Adjutant-General.
Continue to page 5
|Abraham Lincoln 1862
|Col. James D.
|Col. Thomas Wentworth Higginson
Secretary of War
|Dress Parade of the 33rd USCT
Library of Congress
|Lt Col Charles T. Trowbridge
|General Q A Gillmore
Dept of South
|St. Augustine of Hippo
|Like us on
|Dr. John M. Hawks
Founding of the
| David Hunter's Payouts for "Hunter's Regiment"
House Documents Executive 13th
Paid Robert Hamilton, Sergeant, Company D, 100th Pennsylvania voluntters for services as
drill master for 1 South Carolina from May 12 to August 12, 1862 $36.80 (Robert Hamilton,
Captain, Company D. 33 USCT.)
Paid George S Veon, Corporal, Company D, 100th Pennsylvania volunteers drill master
from May 12 to August 12, 1862 $36.00.
Paid James Pomeroy, Corporal, Company B, 100th Pennsylvania volunteers, drill master
from May 12 to August 12, 1862 $36.00.
Paid John D. B. Goddard, drill master from May 12 to August 9, 1862 $35.20
Paid Patrick Starr, 1st Regiment New York Engineers, for services drilling contrabands
from July 2 to August 17, 1862 $18.00 (Started as Private - rank out artificer (a serviceman
trained in mechanics).
Paid Robert G. Christy, Corporel, Company H, 100th Pennsylvania volunteers, for services
as drill master from May 12 to August 14, 1862 $37.00. (Would muster out as a Lieutenant).
Paid Robert W. Weller, First Sergeant Company C, 100th Pennsylvania volunteers, drill
master from May 12 to August 18, 18662. $37.60. (Would muster out as First Lieutenant)
Paid Richard Harris, Company H. 1st Regiment, New York Volunteer Engineers, for same
from May 27 to August 11, 1862 $32.00 (Would muster out as Corporal).
Paid W. Jones, drillmaster from May 12 to August 18, 1862 $39.60
Paid Edward Benson, Private, Company H, 1st Regiment New York Engineers, drillmaster
May 27 to August 11, 1862 $32.00 (Would muster out Artificer)
Paid Jesse Fisher, Company E, 48th New York volunteers drillmaster from July 3 to
August 11, 1862 $17.20. (Later 33rd Regiment USCT Company I, First Lieutenant)
Paid Alexander M. Randolph, private, Company F. 100th Pa Volunteers drillmaster, May
12 to August 19, 1862 39.00 (Would be killed at Petersburg, Va., July 30, 1864.)
Paid William J. Randolph, Sgt, Company F, 100th Pa Volunteers, drillmaster, May 12 to
August 19, 1862. (Captain 33rd USCT)
Paid Thomas C. Randolph, Sergeant Company F, 100th Pa volunteers, drillmaster from
May 12 to August 19, 1862 $39.60. (Mustered out with company July 24, 1865)
Paid Henry A. Beach for services as teacher in 1st South Carolina volunteers from July 18
to August 17, 1862 $12.00 (Henry Beach would later come into the 33rd as a Commissary
Sergeant and be promoted to First Lieutenant African American Civil War Memorial Plaque
Number B - 49.)
Paid S. G. Alfred, Company F, 100th Pa volunteers, drillmaster from May 12 to August 19,
Paid Israel F. Stickle Company I, 1st Regiment, New York Engineers, Private,drillmaster
May 16 to August 15, 1862 $30. (Mustered out Sergeant).
Paid W. P. Churchill drillmaster May 9 to June 10, 1862 $12.
Paid John F. Grace, Corporal Company G, 100th Pa Vol for services as first Lieutenant in
1st South Carolina from May 12 to 30, 1862
Paid Charles W. Hooper Private, Company E, 1st Regiment, New York Engineers, for
services as drill master from May 23 to August 10, 1862 $31. (would muster out an
Artificer). Second Lieutenant 33rd Regiment USCT would muster out a Captain.
Paid James Irvine, Sergeant 48th NY Vol for services as chaplain from July 18 to Sept 5,
1862 $19. (This unit was awash in ministers: Colonel Perry, Major Beard, Captain Knowles
Paid Robert M Gaston, Corporal, Company F, 100th Regiment, PA Infantry, drillmaster,
May 12 to September 5, 1862 $6. (Joined Company F 33rd USCT as a Second Lieutenant,
Promoted to First Lieutenant.)
Paid James F. Johnston, corporal Company G, 100th Pa vol., drillmaster, May 12 to
September 5, 1862 $6
Paid John F. Grace, corporal Company G, 100th Pa vol for services as first lieutenant from
June 1 to 30, 1862 $12 He would become a 2nd Lieut in the 100th Pa. Infantry.
Paid Charles T. Trowbridge, sergeant 1st New York engineers, drillmaster from June 16 to
August 6, 1862 $20. 33rd USCT.
Paid Charles T. Trowbridge, sergeant 1st N.Y. Engineers, drillmaster May 8 to June 15,