1 June 1863: “instead of belonging to Massa John Brown, they now belong to Massa Uncle Sam”

Item: news article, New York Herald, 1 June 1863, page 5, column 1.

from New York Herald, page 5, column 1



Progress of the Negro Enlistments.

Important Order on the Subject from Major General Foster,

&c., &c., &c.

Correspondence of Mr. Samuel R. Glen.

NEWBERN, N.C., May 26, 1863.

The Rebels Gone Back—The Remains of Colonel J. Richter Jones—The Negro Brigade—How it Progresses—Important Order from Major General Foster—The Officers—Views Pro and Con—Enterprising House, &c., &c., &c.

Since my last, per the Emilie, nothing of an important character has occurred. As was anticipated, the rebels retired from before the works of the late Colonel Jones, of the Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania, during the night of the 23d, and nothing was to be seen of them on the 24th, although they kept up a semblance of their presence by keeping their camp fires burning all night. The embalmed body of the lamented Colonel Jones will be taken North by the Albany, in charge of Captain Cecil Clay and Lieutenant A. A. Clay, both relatives of the deceased, and officers in the fifty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers. Suitable and impressive ceremonies were paid to the remains of the departed hero by Major General Foster and the chief officers in this district of his department.

The enlistments in General Wild’s proposed colored brigade are progressing under better auspices than was at first supposed would be the case. The recruits on the first day numbered fifty-six; on the second, one hundred and fifty; one the third, one hundred, and at about the same rate for the days following. Instead of receiving any opposition from the commanding and post officers, those engaged in the undertaking have expressed their thanks kindly to Major General Foster and his chief officers, including Quartermaster Biggs, for the willingness they have exhibited to facilitate the operations of enlistment, in obedience to orders from the War Department.

The following order has been issued by Major General Foster relative to enlistments for the colored brigade in his department: —


In obedience to orders from the War Department, Brig. Gen. E. A. Wild, United States Volunteers (a gallant and accomplished soldier and gentleman), has arrived in this department for the purpose of raising a brigade of colored troops. General Wild will establish recruiting offices at such points as he may select, and all district commanders, commanding officers of posts, and other officers and men, are hereby enjoined and ordered to afford to General Wild, his officers and men, every facility and aid in the performance of their duties, and in carrying out fully and in good faith the orders of the government. The Commanding General expects that this order will be sufficient to insure the prompt obedience (the first duty of a soldier) of all officers and soldiers in this department to the orders from the War Department.

By command of Major General J. G. FOSTER.
Southard Hoffman, Assistant Adjutant General.

The promulgation of the above order is calculated to allay the feeling of repugnance and irritation which was fast growing in every district of the department against the enrolment of colored troops. It imparts to the subject an air of official authority and responsibility which our troops, bound ever to respect the mandates of their superior officers, are not likely to heedlessly disregard. The advocates of the colored brigade only claim a fair trial for their experiment, unobstructed by the natural prejudices of the white troops, and say that they will stand or fall by the result. They do not object to fair and impartial criticism—to that more powerful weapon, unlicensed and illiberal ridicule—provided the credit they may justly be entitled to shall not be withheld. There is one thing calculated to impair whatever of good may eventually result from the undertaking—if any good is destined to come of it—and that is, the senseless cry and impetuous and misguided zeal of those Northern fanatics who talk, write and act as if there were no other interests involved in the great contest than the elevation of the negro. It is no wonder the white soldier and the white citizen becomes exasperated when these reckless agitators spur and hound on the blacks in a hasty race for premature emancipation, when they have scarcely been able to instill into their minds even an imperfect idea of the first principles of civilization and freedom. I have seen a great many blacks freed by the ordinary course of events during the progress of the war in the South, and but very few of the great mass of the ignorant class have any other idea of the alleviation in their situation than that they have only changed masters; that instead of belonging to Massa John Brown, they now belong to Massa Uncle Sam, who is obliged to feed, clothe, house and doctor them as their old massa did. If some of this class of persons, or the whole of them, were lodged in Fort Warren, or Lafayette, or anywhere else, so that they could be kept out of the way of harming the cause of the Union by alienating the affections of the white troops from their love and devotion to the old flag, and stirring up angry and resentful feelings all over the country, it would be of vast benefit to the republic and a merciful response to the cry of suffering humanity wherever tyranny exists. But if the honest advocates of the enlistment of negro troops only ask a trial for the sake of showing to the country what their proteges are capable of doing as warriors fighting inspired by the “battle cry of freedom,” there are many who distrust the policy from first to last, but are yet willing to give them a chance. A few weeks will demonstrate their practicability or impracticability in the Department of North Carolina.


Brigadier General E. A. Wild, United States Volunteers, has been in the war since its commencement. He went out as captain in the First Massachusetts Volunteers; was at the first Bull run battle, and several sanguinary engagements since. He has lost one arm, and the other has been wounded in the service of the Union.
Lieutenant Colonel—J. C. Beecher, commanding regiment in Newbern.
Major—Archibald Bogle, of Melrose, Mass., lately a Lieutenant in one of the Massachusetts regiments (the Seventeenth).
Adjutant—Wm. C. Manning.
Assistant Surgeon—J. V. DeGrasso (colored).
Quartermaster—James T. Drayton.
Captains—Company A, J. N. Croft, of New York, formerly a police officer, and subsequently First Lieutenant in the Sixty seventh New York Volunteers. Captain Croft is acting recruiting officer in North Carolina.
Captains of Companies not Numbered—Wm. Emerson, of Roxbury; Edward S. Daniels, of Cambridge; Henry McIntyre, of Boston; Jonah C. White, Jalan Gates, Massachusetts.

It is understood that the colored regiment from Massachusetts, at first destined for this department, will be sent to the Department of the South. The next enlisted will probably be sent hither.

It should be stated that it was not the surgeon of the colored brigade who was so summarily treated by the quartermaster of the Fifth Rhode Island for improperly overhauling papers in his desk, but a colored boy who accompanied the surgeon and did not know any better, or was becoming infected with a disease prevalent in some localities, and known by the title that a white man is as good as a negro so long as he behaves himself.

Among the most extensive and enterprising mercantile firms in the Department of North Carolina, if not the very first on the list, is that of W. C. Hamilton & Co., who have been engaged in business here since the capture of the place, and have won the confidence both of the commanding and other government officers and the public by their just and honorable dealings on all occasions. Scrupulously careful not to infringe in any way upon the government regulations regarding trade at this post, they have been able to maintain a good business in all seasons, whether of dulness or prosperity. A report that a cargo of goods fresh from New York is on the way up the river, consigned to the house of W. C. Hamilton & Co., is hailed as tidings of great joy by the citizens of Newbern, cramped as they sometimes are for supplies.

Item Citation: The New York Herald, 1 June 1863, page 5, column 1.  Wilson Library, North Carolina Collection.  Call number C071 N561.

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