Dear Natalie, I have past trough hell blindfolded and survived the war on Fort Wagner in July 1864. All the challenges given to me were arduous and brutal. Nothing compares to this, put every time I think about you it makes it go away. When I think about you memories reminisce in my head. As you know by know I had become a volunteered for the Union army in Boston, Massachusetts in November 1862. My squad was the 54 Massachusetts Regiment.
Life in the camp was grueling and painful it was not a day at the park like I thought. We sleep in tents out side in the forest and we had to share them with other soldiers. I shared my tent with three other men their names were Trip, Thomas, and John Rawlins. We eat what I called glue in a plate it was not the best food I tasted put it kept me alive and it was the best the Union had to give us, or wanted to give to us. Most of the men were not happy put then again who wouldnt be.
They promise us that we were to have uniforms and boots put they did not come until Rawlins ask a white man named Robert G. Shaw witch was dressed up like he was going out. Rawlins showed Robert G. Shaw the mens feet gust by looking at them he wanted to spew. Some of the men did not even have shoes. Some of the men grew blisters and had bacteria in their feet because of the marching in the mud all the time.
So Robert G. Shaw asks, days past nothing happened. He asks and asks until he got tired of asking and not getting an answer. He when up to building and I followed as soon as I followed everybody ran up to the building. We herd things breaking and crashing down to the floor and a lot of yelling and I herd other voice saying yes colonel as you please put stop this. I soon realized that the other voice was talking to the white man that went inside from them on I stop calling him white man stared to call him colonel.
Finally the colonel came out with a straight face and turns and smirk at me. A day past and w received boots Rawlins was on the carriage giving them out. One of the men in camp over heard a rumor about why they didnt want to give us guns he said that they were scared that we mite rebel against the Union. A day after what he said we received the guns. Put we had not received the uniforms. The training was not easier put more difficult as the days past.
The second in command Cabot Forbes was teaching us how to us a musket a soldier from our squad was showing of his accuracy at shooting the bottles. Colonel Shaw came out to see how we were doing. He went up to the soldier that was shooting and say shoot the man proceeded and shoot the bottle with ease. Now he asks Cabot for his gun and she said shoot again, colonel shoot up into the air and startled the man put he kept on going. Colonel said faster faster to the man while he was reloading until the man drooped the musket and look at each other.
Colonel Shaw wanted to speak with Cabot put did not know want he said put it looks to me as if they were arguing about us or something else. The next day a man which I never herd or seen before was yelling and saying obscenities to one of the soldiers while we were marching. I really did not like what he was saying to him, so I went up to him without knowing the punishment. I struck him and a fight broke out some of the white men about five of them came down on me and apprehended me. I was tied to a carriage and the colonel came out side to see what was happening the man that I fought said sir may I proceed the colonel agreed to the punishment. The man pulled out a whip with seven or more whips attach to it.
He struck me about ten times I screamed the first two times put then I kept the screams to my self and my eyes were filed with tears of hate. When the whipping was coming to the end I saw blood on the mans faces as he walk away from me and said untie him. I saw a pool of blood on the ground near were I was whippet. My skin was pilled off my back and my back was opened up so mush that the bleeding did not stop until the next day. Colonel Shaw send me to the get healed they put salt rags on my wounds I was yelling vulgarity as they were doing this. Colonel received a letter from Abraham Lincoln that said something about us.
I did not under stand so I ask Trip what he meant. Trip said me that who ever was captured in war was to be killed at site and any white person leading the black soldiers was also to be killed at site. In addition, if we were to be captured we would have to return to being a slave in the south or face death. Colonel Shaw also said anybody that is whiling to leave is welcome to just wait to pick up your check tomorrow. The next say Colonel Shaw was called by Cabot and went out side to see how many people had stayed to his surprised everybody was there. The same day we were going to get our check of thirteen dollar put they lowed it to ten dollars and a lot of people did not mind at fist.
However, when I said we are proved to be soldiers, proved to wear the uniform and also too proud to accept the racism we see all around everybody stared to listen to me and I rip up my check. Black march as far as the white man does, bleed as mush and die as soon. So why should they be paid less for the same work All the soldiers ripped up the check as I looked at colonel Shaw I smirk at him and she also ripped his check and everybody followed him and nobody received money. When this was finishing colonel Shaw came up to me and gave me the first Union soldier uniform. Days past, training was at its peck of difficulty this was not an easy task we were training how to battle face to face combat. I never knew how many days we were camp put we finally went south.
The days seemed endless and dull. We past a Town were Rawlins family lived. We settled there for the night. In the morning we were put to labor.
I thought to my self this is war. Colonel Shaw awarded Rawlins the head of the 54 th regiment. We had orders to take out a village in was pitiful the soldiers from the other regiments were attacking like monkeys they stole things from the village and Colonel was forced to tell us to burn the village down so we proceeded. We were not happy with this put orders are orders. Days past Colonel Shaw came and said to us we were finally put to battle we were going to fort Charleston, SC to battle against the Confederates. The attack was almost suicidal, particularly given the battle strategies of the day, which involved disciplining troops to keep on marching into fire.
We surfed a blood bath. Nevertheless, we remained disciplined soldiers to the end. I got stabbed and shoot in my left leg I kept on fighting. I later heard that our performance on that day July 18 1863 encouraged the north to recruit other blacks to its rank, 180, 000 in all and have been decisive in turning the tide of the war. We had not rested and Colonel Shaw once again told us if we were up to the challenge and we say yes so he told us that we were are going to attack fort Wagner next.
The next day we march down up to the fort while every white and Black soldier was cheering for us. That it self made me want to cry but I didnt. This was almost like committing suicide there was a slight chance that any body would survive but we went on anyway. Marching up the ocean path a lot of soldiers were dead because of the canons that were shooting at us. I was beside Colonel Shaw when he died I pulled him down when he got shoot put he stud back. Finally died in my hands I battled all the way up not getting shoot once.
Cabot and his men were right in front of me when they blew up into pieces Rawlins attack put as he saw that he could not do anything more so we retreated. Rawlins and me help Trip back to our fort he got shoot in both his legs and could not walk. The battle was the sickest thing I have ever seen dead body parts were everywhere and bodies missing heads because of the canons. Sweetheart I have send you this letter to tell you I will be home ok and tell my little sun that Im ok From.