Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

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I want to see 200,000 black soldiers in the field, and then I shall think it time to have peace.

October 31, 2013

Adams Family Civil War letters; US Minister to the UK and his sons.

Charles Francis Adams, Jr., to his father

Foxville near Warrenton, Va.
On Picket, October 31, 1863

I write on a bread-box and in a grove, through which the wind blows freely; while about a hundred and fifty yards from here a squad of rebels are philosophically watching a squad of my men separated by the Rappahannock, here about three feet deep and thirty broad. I first picketed this ford the 31st of May last, and since then have done so frequently. Three weeks ago Monday a detachment of mine, under Captain Thayer and Ned Flint, were chizzled out of it by the enemy in a most surprising and amusing way, receiving their first announcement of danger in the form of a volley from the rear; and here I had the satisfaction of skirmishing half the night. It is a pretty, pleasant place, but I should not weep not to see it again. By the way Mamma wanted to know who Ned Flint is. He is n’t Mrs. Shiverick’s brother, but a son of Dr. Flint of Boston. He graduated two years before John, has wandered far and got but little but experience to show for it, and has now turned up as an officer in this regiment. In figure he is my height, fat and tough. In disposition he is energetic and lazy, shrewd and slow, brave, good natured and enduring, extremely temperate, thick skinned physically and morally as a rhinoceros, and withal the man of the most amusing and immovable self-poise I ever saw in my life. He is a very valuable and reliable officer and I really don’t see what I should have done without him this summer. Ned Flint reformed, made money and was lost on the Golden Gate in the Pacific.

Since I was last here my experiences have been multifarious. I see you always think our regiment is out of the way in action unless its name is mentioned. This regiment never is and never will be mentioned in reports: first, because we do not come from Pennsylvania or New York; and secondly, because we do not know any newspaper correspondents. But I do assure you we have done our share and been as frequently in action and suffered more heavily than most of the regiments you see mentioned so frequently.

Now I think the campaign is about over and things will remain, here and in the West, pretty much as they are until next spring — the Mississippi and Eastern Tennessee being the great results of the summer’s campaign. Is it not enough? In Virginia we have not made any progress for reasons obvious to every thinking man and painfully stamped on the heart and history of this fine army; but again we have foiled and held in check the confederates’ finest army and ablest generals. As for them they have nowhere, at best, done more than hold their own and, on the whole theatre of war, have lost ground enormously. That the crowning success was withheld from this summer’s campaign was a bitter disappointment to me, but, on second thought, seems right and good, for I see we are not ripe for it. The one good to result from this war must be the freedom and regeneration of the African race. Without that it will be barren of results. That can only be wrought out through the agency of the army — the black soldiers. They are coming but they are not here yet. Every disaster and every delay brings them on and the necessity and difficulty of raising more troops only forces their development. I want to see 200,000 black soldiers in the field, and then I shall think it time to have peace. The African question might yet take a step backward in the face of a final success won by white soldiers, but it never will after that success to which 200,000 armed blacks have contributed. . . .

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