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In Their Own Words

July 20, 1863

Civil War Soldier Described Fighting Blacks in Union Army

A Georgia soldier wrote to his father from South Carolina, describing an encounter with African-American soldiers fighting for the Union.

“…We commenced the attack just at daybreak and fought them for two hours. We succeeded in whipping the land force, but the gunboats whipped us, I thought, as we left the field. There were six gunboats throwing grape and canister and shell at us all the time. We had not a single white man in all the Federal forces to fight, nothing but Negroes. … Poor wretches, their white officers left them at the first fire, and they had to stand and fight as best they could. …”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.),“Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), p. 253.