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		89
              The First U.S. Negro Regiment

[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
the country, but Prince distrusted the universal
Southern fiction that the Yankees would transport
him to Cuba, and there sell him, being somehow
persuaded that his freedom lay in their direction, and
this conviction he presently acted upon.  That mus-
cular mulatto, once a field hand, possesses such
strength that his owner required that he should pack
100 more pounds of cotton a day than his fellows  
hence, Jack s back is  callused  with lashes.  A
third has lived for six months together in the swamp
-- been hunted by the State militia   captured, pun-
ished, and set to double labor.  One day, his master
rode into the cotton-field, and perceiving but one-
half of the three-parts-done task, ordered Pompey to
strip, with the intention of administering the usual
stimulant.  Blinded with rage, he would not listen
to the true state of the case.  Stung by atrocious in-
justice into manhood, the slave rebelled, armed him
self with an ax, and defied  Massa.   For this, he
lay three months and three weeks in irons, in Beau-
fort jail, receiving forty lashes daily.  The marks
are on his body, to testify of it.  Subsequently, he
ran away, and, when opportunity occurred, joined
the Yankees.  He is just such a black man as South-
ern advertisements, ornamented with a neat little
cut of a negro running away, describe as  very
dangerous.   I hope he will prove so when brought
face to face with a whole generation of
 massa s. 
     All lies, these nigger stories!  says Pro-Slavery
Conservative Democracy.  Very good, gentlemen!
You won t have the negro at any price, we know;
let the South go on having him, and see what comes
of it.
    Mr. Gubby s sermon had an appropriate text from
Timothy, exhorting his hearers  to endure hardness
as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.   It was not above
the comprehension of his audience, who listened to
it attentively.  Then, on a request from the minis-
ter, one of the negroes prayed, his prayer being of a
touching and even eloquent character.
   He began by expressing thanks for the occasion,
for that the white man,  his superior in color,
thought it not robbery to come and teach dis nation
of bondmen de way out of bondage into liberty. 
He blessed those set over his companions, trusting
that the latter might learn from them their duty to
God and their country.  He exhorted them not to
expect the white man to come hither from  the cold
land of the North, where the cool winds blow free-
dom, to fight and bleed and die for the negro, except
the negro was willing to help himself.   He then
prayed for  his cruel old massa, who was some-
where dis blessed afternoon in de pine barrens of de
main land, fightin  to destroy this glorious country,
and to try to make dis people slaves forever,  im-
ploring for him repentance and a blessing.  He
added a benediction on the President of the United
States, trusting that though he might never see him
in the flesh, he might meet him in the next world,
 where all are equal.   With a final supplication for
the speedy return of peace, the prayer concluded.
   This negro s name was Columbus Simmans, a ser-
geant.   One of Nature s noblemen,  testified the
officer who gave me his name,  we can trust him
anywhere. 
  The prayer ended, the men marched to their tents,
stacked arms and returned, forming as before, when
they sang several hymns.  I thought I detected a
spice of the native African in their rendering of the
rhythm and chorusses, and am certain of it with re-
spect to the dances I witnessed at a later period in
the evening.  But the singing ended the day s de-
votions, the guests departed, and the regiment went
back to quarters, disporting themselves according to

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
their own pleasure until tattoo.  Then lights were
put out, and only the noise of the frogs and locusts
disturbed the silence that rested on Drayton
plantation.
   This letter is already atrociously long, yet I add a
few brief details as to the regiment.  To Gen.
Hunter belongs the honor of originating it.  The
men, gathered together from this and the adjacent
islands, have all been subjected to a surgical exam-
ination, but they are not yet mustered into the
United States service, consequently they receive no
pay.  We fed, however, and kindly treated, they
are willing and anxious to perfect themselves as
soldiers; only, accustomed to the license of planta-
tion life after working hours, they are often irked
by the necessary restraint.  Of course, therefore,
some run off at times to see wife or children, gener-
ally returning.  They work hard at the pier and
elsewhere, at the risk of undeserved derision, and
even brutality.  They are officered according to the
list appended below.  Too much credit can hardly
be given to these gentlemen   they are all young
men   for their  moral courage in assuming and re-
taining positions rendered onerous by responsibility
and unpleasant by the miserable prejudice attaching
to  a nigger regiment.   Where all are good, it
may be thought invidious to single out one; never-
theless, I would especially instance Capt. Charles
Trowbridge of Company A.  He was the first to
volunteer, the first to place a musket in the hands of
a South Carolina negro.  His whole soul is in the
work, his patience, his zeal and assiduity are equally
untiring.  If they be only seconded by half as
much on the part of those for whose benefit it is
intended, the negro regiment will be a success in-
deed, and an epoch in history.

          FROM SOUTH CAROLINA.
                           -------*-------

Visit to St. Helena and Other Islands   A
       Negro Crew and Song   Plantation
       Scenery, Life, and Negroes   A  Yankee 
       Government Agent and his Labors.

From Our Special Correspondent.
                                  Hilton Head, S. C., July 12, 1862.
I have just returned from a two days  excursion to
St. Helena and two of the adjacent islands.  Lacking
matter of more importance, I think my experience
may interest some of the readers of THE TRIBUNE,
as illustrative of the picturesque aspects of unmilitary
life in this region.  My letter will be one that might
be printed under any date during the present month,
and may be accepted as a prose pastoral, interluding
the great war epic apparently culminating at Rich-
mond.
   St. Helena Island is, as most of us learnt last
November, a considerable one, lying north-north-
east of Hilton Head, on the other side of Port Royal
harbor.  To reach it involves a sail or row of about
five miles.  In company with Capt. Charles Trow-
bridge, of the 1st South Carolina Volunteers (the
negro regiment), I was propelled thither by the stout
arms of eight colored men belonging to his command.
   We started from headquarters at early morning,
though the all-dominant sun made the long stretch of
level sand and banks of oysters (growing perpen-
dicularly, like strange geological vegetation), hot
enough beneath our feet.  I think a monstrous turtle,
captured some weeks ago, and lodged in a marine
hermitage, expressly constructed for him on the
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Twenty: page ninety-nine
Description:Newspaper clipping with description of the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, and a trip to St. Helena Island.
Date:1862-07-07
Subject:African Americans; African American troops; Civil War; Gubby; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Hunter, David; Jack; Journalism; Lincoln, Abraham; Magnolia Plantation (Charleston County, S.C.); Military; New York tribune.; Pompey; Prince (former slave); Prisoners; Prisons; Religion; Simmans, Columbus; Slaveholders; Slavery; Slaves; South Carolina Infantry Regiment, 1st (Union); St. Helena Island (S.C.); Trowbridge, Charles
Coverage (City/State):Hilton Head, South Carolina; Port Royal, South Carolina; Beaufort, South Carolina
Scan Date:2010-09-10

 

Volume
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Twenty
Description:Includes Gunn's descriptions of his experiences as a war correspondent for ""The New York Tribune"" at Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, especially Hilton Head, Port Royal, St. Augustine, Key West, and the end of his experiences with the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsular Campaign when he had to leave camp due to illness.
Subject:African Americans; Boardinghouses; Bohemians; Civil War; Diseases; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Marches (U.S. Army); Medical care (U.S. Army); Military; Military camp life; Peninsular Campaign (Va.); Travel; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York; Port Royal, South Carolina; Hilton Head, South Carolina; Key West, Florida; St. Augustine, Florida; Virginia
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2010 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.