| American History Stories, Volume IV|
|by Mara L. Pratt|
|Stories of the great conflict from the time Lincoln became president and the southern states seceded, through the battles of Bull Run, Shiloh, Antietam, Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, until the close of the war. Includes poems, songs, and illustrations commemorating the events. Ages 8-12 |
FIRST NEGRO REGIMENT
 You have not forgotten how short a time ago it was that
the anti-slavery men in Boston had been mobbed; you have
not forgotten how bitter many Northerners felt towards
black men and women, and towards anti-slavery men and
women; you have not forgotten the Run-away Slave Law,
which allowed a slave owner to pursue his slaves into the
Northern States and take them wherever they were found.
All these feelings had been changing little by little
during these two years of war. Nowhere was there quite such
bitter feeling, and in Boston it seemed to have died away
Early in this year, after the Proclamation had been sent
forth, there began to be much talk of raising a negro army.
"Why not let these slaves fight for their own freedom?" the
people began to say.
"Niggers can't fight! Niggers don't know enough to
fight!" cried some, who did not quite believe in them yet.
"Whoever saw a nigger soldier?" cried another.
"Fancy a nigger trying to Forward, march! Right
wheel! Left wheel! Right about Face!" laughed some of the soldiers.
But for all this the "nigger" regiments were formed;
 and they proved as effective and as brave as those who
laughed at them, I have no doubt.
The first regiment of colored men was the Fifty-fourth
Massachusetts, Robert G. Shaw its colonel.
This regiment was to have been sent to the capital by
way of New York; but it was found that the feeling against
negroes was still strong in that city, so strong that there
began to be signs of mobs ready to attack this regiment if
they passed through that city.
These troops, therefore, were sent by way of water from Boston.
To show yoy how rapidly the feeling against these black
people died out, I must tell you that in only a few months
from this time, all New York turned out to cheer a colored
regiment that marched down Broadway on its way to the
war. Yes, indeed, they were cheered as long, and with as
much noise and hearty good-will as had Ellsworth's troops
been cheered two years before, when they marched down
this same street.
"To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late;
And where can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his Gods!"
—Indiana's Roll of Honor.
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