Diary of Orrin Brown, Chattanooga, Tennessee
There was a collored man killed this morning down near the river upon examination it was decided that he was killed by the stroke of a sling-shot, I went down to see him, he was a Cavalryman. Myselfe and Conrad went out speculating buying and selling Bread and pies and we made over $2 apiece clear. I found Stephen Bowen and John Leffler in the street today and glad I was too to see some one that I had ever seen before I came into the service. John was trying to get a furlough to go home. The day has been verry warm but it looks like rain this evening.
Black Soldiers in the Civil War
The movie Glory is about all I know about the role African-American troops played in the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln and Congressional leaders initially resisted accepting free blacks or former slaves into the Union service, believing it would antagonize the border states. In fact, the Confederates threatened to enslave any captured black soldiers. A number of volunteer regiments were raised from free black men, starting in March 1863 with the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry featured in the Academy Award-winning movie. Wikipedia discusses the US Colored Troops (USCT) regiments:
The United States War Department issued General Order Number 143 on May 22, 1863, establishing the Bureau of Colored Troops to facilitate the recruitment of African-American soldiers to fight for the Union Army…
Approximately 175 regiments composed of more than 178,000 free blacks and freedmen served during the last two years of the war. Their service bolstered the Union war effort at a critical time. By war’s end, the men of the [US Colored Troops regiments] USCT composed nearly one tenth of all Union troops. The USCT suffered 2,751 combat casualties during the war, and 68,178 losses from all causes. Disease caused the most fatalities for all troops, black and white. USCT regiments were led by white officers, and rank advancement was limited for black soldiers.
In a measure of desperation, the Confederate Army did begin accepting slaves into the Southern Army, but not until 1865. While I seem to recall the movies showing Buffalo Soldiers serving on the frontier while the white soldiers were away fighting the war, the first black regiments were not posted Out West until after the war.
On another note, a friendly reminder that I’m following the Civil War diary of my ancestor Orrin O. Brown. Thank you for your patience during this 150th anniversary remembrance.
Civil War Daily today discusses Federal correspondence on 1 November 1864 on Confederate troop movements and General Thomas’ ability to control the situation in West Tennessee while Sherman marched toward the sea. While in retrospect it seemed a foregone conclusion, the whole plan could have gone a different direction at any moment. It was, indeed, a large game of chess—to go chase after the minor pieces (Hood) and clear a section of the board? Or to wage a pawn storm across Georgia on a path directly to the King (Robert E. Lee) and the Confederate Capital in Richmond?