Song Celebrates Black Soldiers Enlisting

June 14, 1863/2013
Volume 4, Issue 24 (140 Issues Since 15 October 2010)

Song Celebrates Black Soldiers’ Enlisting

June 19, 1863. Serious sentiments of black soldiers about enlisting were expressed in a light vein by a song written by a private in the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment:

Freemont told them, when it first begun,
How to save the Union, and the way it should be done;
But Kentucky swore so hard, and old Abe he had his fears,
Till every hope was lost but the colored volunteers.

CHORUS. — O, give us a flag, all free without a slave,
We’ll fight to defend it, as our Fathers did so brave.
The gallant Comp’ny “A” will make the rebels dance,
And we’ll stand by the Union if we only have a chance.

McClellan went to Richmond with two hundred thousand brave;
He said, “keep back the niggers,’ and the Union he would save.
Little Mac he had his way — still the Union is in tears —
Now they call for the help of the colored volunteers.

CHORUS. — O, give us a flag, &c.

Old Jeff says he’ll hang us if we dare to meet him armed,
A very big thing, but we are not at all alarmed,
For he has first got to catch us before the way is clear,
And “that is what’s the matter with the colored volunteer.”

CHORUS. — O, give us a flag, &c.

So rally, boys, rally, let us never mind the past;
We had a hard road to travel, but our day is coming fast,
For God is for the right, and we have no need to fear, —
The Union must be saved by the colored volunteer.

CHORUS. — O, give us a flag, &c.

– Submitted by Peter A. Gilbert, executive director, Vermont Humanities Council

SOURCE

Published June 19, 1863 in The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist newspaper; quoted in James M. McPherson’s The Negro’s Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union, pp. 184-85.


Racial Violence Toward African American Soldier in Washington, DC

In the June 20, 1863 edition of The Christian Recorder, the oldest existing black periodical in America and the only one in the United States whose existence dated before the Civil War, a correspondent described an incident of violence toward an African American soldier in Washington, DC:

“Passing along 7th Street, a few evenings ago, I saw an excited rabble pursuing a corporal belonging to the 1st Colored Regiment, District vols., named John Ross. Among the pursuers, was a United States police officer. Ross protested against being dragged away by these ruffians, at the same time expressing his willingness to accompany the police officer to whatever place he might designate; claiming at the same time his (the police officer’s) protection from his assailants. But, shameful to say, that officer, after he had arrested Ross, permitted a cowardly villain to violently choke and otherwise maltreat him. After the melee, the corporal received some pretty severe bruises, whether from the policeman’s club or from the stones that were thrown by the mob, I will not say. He quietly walked to the central guard house with this conservator of the peace, amidst the clamoring of the mob, their yells and shouts of ‘Kill the black . . .’ &c., &c., ‘strip him, we’ll stop this negro enlistment,’ &c., &c., . . .”

– Submitted by Peter A. Gilbert, executive director, Vermont Humanities Council

SOURCE 

Quoted in James M. McPherson’s, The Negro’s Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union, pp. 180-81.

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Filed under Civil War Book of Days: 1863

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