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Steward, T. G. (Theophilus Gould) / The Colored Regulars in the United States Army
Produced by Suzanne Shell, Richard J. Shiffer, and the PG
Online Distributed Proofreading Team.



With a Sketch of the History of the Colored American, and an Account of
His Services in the Wars of the Country, from the
Period of the Revolutionary War to 1899.


Lieutenant-General Nelson A. Miles
Commanding the Army of the United States.

* * * * *

Twenty-fifth U.S. Infantry.

A.M.E. Book Concern,
631 Pine Street.


[Illustration: Chaplain T.G. Steward, D.D.]




The Importation of the Africans. Character of the Colored Population
in 1860. Colored Population in British West Indian Possessions. Free
Colored People of the South. Free Colored People of the North. Notes.


Early Literature of Negro Soldiers. Negro Soldiers in the War of the
Revolution. The War of 1812. Negro Insurrections. Negro Troops in the
Civil War. Notes. 57


Organization of Negro Regiments in the Regular Army. First Movement in
the War. Chickamauga and Tampa. Notes. 84



The Tenth Cavalry at Guasimas. The "Rescue of the Rough Riders." Was
there an Ambush? Notes. 116


The Capture of the Stone Fort by the Twenty-fifth Infantry. 150


Cavalry Division: The Ninth and Tenth Regiments. Kent's Division: The
Twenty-fourth Infantry. Forming under fire. A Gallant Charge. 191


Kent's Division. The Twenty-fourth Infantry. Forming Under Fire. A
Gallant Charge. 208


In the Trenches. The Twenty-fourth in the Fever Camp. Are Negro
Soldiers Immune? Camp Wikoff. 220


Gallantry of the Black Regulars. Diary of Sergeant Major E.L. Baker,
Tenth Cavalry. 236


The Ninth Ohio Battalion. Eighth Illinois. Twenty-third Kansas. Third
North Carolina. Sixth Virginia. Third Alabama. The Immunes. 282


By Captain Frank R. Steward, A.B., LL.B., Harvard, 49th U. S.
Volunteer Infantry. 299



The material out of which the story of the COLORED REGULARS has been
constructed has been collected with great pains, and upon it has been
expended a serious amount of labor and care. All the movements of the
Cuban campaign, and particularly of the battles, have been carefully
studied by the aid of official reports, and conversations and
correspondence with those who participated in them. The work has been
performed with an earnest desire to obtain and present the truth,
hoping that the reader will be inspired by it to a more profound
respect for the brave and skilled black men who passed through that
severe baptism of fire and suffering, contributing their full share to
their country's honor.

It is also becoming in this place to mention with gratitude the
encouragement given by the War Department both in granting me the time
in which to do the work, and also in supplying me with documents and
furnishing other facilities. By this enlightened course on the part of
the Department great aid has been given to historical science, and,
incidentally, very important service rendered to the cause of freedom
and humanity. A struggling people has been helped and further glory
reflected upon the Government. The President, himself, has manifested
a kindly interest in the work, and has wished that the story of the
black soldiers should be told to the world. The interest of the
Commanding General of the Army is shown in his letter.

Thus encouraged from official sources and receiving the most hearty
words of cheer from friends, of whom none has been more potent or more
earnest than Bishop B.W. Arnett, D.D., of the African M.E. Church, I
have, after five months of severe labor, about completed my task, so
far as I find it in my power to complete it; and trusting that the
majesty and interest of the story itself will atone for any defects in
the style of the narration, the volume is now offered to a sympathetic
public, affectionately dedicated to the men whose heroic services have
furnished the theme for my pen.

Wilberforce, Ohio, September, 1899.


Headquarters of the Army, Washington, August 5, 1899.

Rev. T.G. Steward, Chaplain 25th Infantry, Wilberforce, Ohio.

Dear Sir:--Your letter of the 20th ultimo was duly received, but my
time has been so much engrossed with official duties, requiring my
presence part of the time out of the city, that it has not been
practicable to comply with your request earlier; and even now I can
only reply very briefly.

You will remember that my acquaintance with negro character commenced
during the Civil War. The colored race then presented itself to me in
the character of numerous contrabands of war, and as a people who,
individually, yearned for the light and life of liberty. Ages of
slavery had reduced them to the lowest ebb of manhood. From that
degree of degradation I have been an interested spectator of the
marvelously rapid evolution of the down-trodden race. From the
commencement of this evolution to the present time I have been more or
less in a position to closely observe their progress. At the close of
the war I was in command of one of the very important military
districts of the South, and my concern for the welfare of all the
people of that district, not excluding the people of color, you will
find evidenced in the measures taken by me, more especially in regard
to educational matters, at that time. The first regiment which I
commanded on entering the Regular Army of the United States at the
close of the war was made up of colored troops. That regiment--the
40th Infantry--achieved a reputation for military conduct which forms
a record that may be favorably compared with the best regiments in the
service. Then, again, refer to my General Order No. 1, issued after
the fall of Santiago, and you will see that recognition is not
grudgingly given to the troops who heroically fought there, whether of
American, of African, or of Latin descent. If so early in the second
generation of the existence of the race in the glorious light of
liberty it produces such orators as Douglas, such educators as Booker
T. Washington, such divines as the Afro-American Bishops, what may we
not expect of the race when it shall have experienced as many
generations of growth and development as the Anglo-Saxons who now
dominate the thought, the inventive genius, the military prowess, and
the commercial enterprise of the world! Very truly yours,


[Illustration: Lieutenant-General Nelson A. Miles.]

Headquarters of the Army,
Siboney, Cuba, July 16, 1898.

General Field Orders No. 1.

The gratifying success of the American arms at Santiago de Cuba and
some features of a professional character both important and
instructive, are hereby announced to the army.

The declaration of war found our country with a small army scattered
over a vast territory. The troops composing this army were speedily
mobilized at Tampa, Fla. Before it was possible to properly equip a
volunteer force, strong appeals for aid came from the navy, which had
inclosed in the harbor of Santiago de Cuba an important part of the
Spanish fleet. At that time the only efficient fighting force
available was the United States Army, and in order to organize a
command of sufficient strength, the cavalry had to be sent dismounted
to Santiago de Cuba with the infantry and artillery.

The expedition thus formed was placed under command of Major-General
Shafter. Notwithstanding the limited time to equip and organize an
expedition of this character, there was never displayed a nobler
spirit of patriotism and fortitude on the part of officers and men
going forth to mantain the honor of their country. After encountering
the vicissitudes of an ocean voyage, they were obliged to disembark on
a foreign shore and immediately engage in an aggressive campaign.
Under drenching storms, intense and prostrating heat, within a
fever-afflicted district, with little comfort or rest, either by day
or night, they pursued their purpose of finding and conquering the
enemy. Many of them, trained in the severe experience of the great
war, and in frequent campaigns on the Western plains, officers and men
alike exhibited a great skill, fortitude, and tenacity, with results
which have added a new chapter of glory to their country's history.
Even when their own generals in several cases were temporarily
disabled, the troops fought on with the same heroic spirit until
success was finally achieved. In many instances the officers placed
themselves in front of their commands, and under their direct and
skillful leadership the trained troops of a brave army were driven
from the thickets and jungles of an almost inaccessible country. In
the open field the troops stormed intrenched infantry, and carried and
captured fortified works with an unsurpassed daring and disregard of
death. By gaining commanding ground they made the harbor of Santiago
untenable for the Spanish fleet, and practically drove it out to a
speedy destruction by the American Navy.

While enduring the hardships and privations of such campaign, the
troops generously shared their scanty food with the 5,000 Cuban
patriots in arms, and the suffering people who had fled from the
besieged city. With the twenty-four regiments and four batteries, the
flower of the United States Army, were also three volunteer regiments.
These though unskilled in warfare, yet, inspired with the same spirit,
contributed to the victory, suffered hardships, and made sacrifices
with the rest. Where all did so well, it is impossible, by special
mention, to do justice to those who bore conspicuous part. But of
certain unusual features mention cannot be omitted, namely, the
cavalry dismounted, fighting and storming works as infantry, and a
regiment of colored troops, who, having shared equally in the heroism
as well as the sacrifices, is now voluntarily engaged in nursing
yellow-fever patients and burying the dead. The gallantry, patriotism
and sacrifices of the American Army, as illustrated in this brief
campaign, will be fully appreciated by a grateful country, and the
heroic deeds of those who have fought and fallen in the cause of
freedom will ever be cherished in sacred memory and be an inspiration
to the living.

By command of Major-General Miles:

Brigadier-General, United States Volunteers.


To write the history of the Negro race within that part of the western
world known as the United States of America would be a task to which
one might devote a life time and still fail in its satisfactory
accomplishment. The difficulties lying in the way of collecting and
unifying the material are very great; and that of detecting the inner
life of the people much greater. Facts and dates are to history what
color and proportion are to the painting. Employed by genius, color
and form combine in a language that speaks to the soul, giving
pleasure and instruction to the beholder; so the facts and dates
occurring along the pathway of a people, when gathered and arranged by
labor and care, assume a voice and a power which they have not
otherwise. As these facts express the thoughts and feelings, and the
growth, of a people, they become the language in which that people
writes its history, and the work of the historian is to read and
interpret this history for the benefit of his fellow men.

Borrowing a second illustration from the work of the artist, it may be
said, that as nature reveals her secrets only to him whose soul is in
deepest sympathy with her moods and movements, so a people's history
can be discovered only by one whose heart throbs in unison with those
who have made the history. To write the history of any people
successfully one must read it by the heart; and the best part of
history, like the best part of the picture, must ever remain
unexpressed. The artist sees more, and feels more than he is able to
transfer to his canvas, however entrancing his presentation; and the
historian sees and feels more than his brightest pages convey to his
readers. Nothing less than a profound respect and love for humankind
and a special attraction toward a particular people and age, can fit
one to engage in so sublime a task as that of translating the history
of a people into the language of common men.

The history of the American Negro differs very widely from that of any
people whose life-story has been told; and when it shall come to be
known and studied will open an entirely new view of experience. In it
we shall be able to see what has never before been discovered in
history; to wit: the absolute beginning of a people. Brought to these
shores by the ship-load as freight, and sold as merchandise; entirely
broken away from the tribes, races, or nations of their native land;
recognized only, as African slaves, and forbidden all movement looking
toward organic life; deprived of even the right of family or of
marriage, and corrupted in the most shameless manner by their powerful
and licentious oppressors--it is from this heterogeneous protoplasm
that the American Negro has been developed. The foundation from which
he sprang had been laid by piecemeal as the slave ships made their
annual deposits of cargoes brought from different points on the West
Coast, and basely corrupted as is only too well known; yet out of it
has grown, within less than three hundred years, an organic people.
Grandfathers, and great-grandfathers are among them; and personal
acquaintance is exceedingly wide. In the face of slavery and against
its teaching and its power, overcoming the seduction of the master
class, and the coarse and brutal corruptions of the baser overseer
class, the African slave persistently strove to clothe himself with
the habiliments of civilization, and so prepared himself for social
organization that as soon as the hindrances were removed, this vast
people almost immediately set themselves in families; and for over
thirty years they have been busily engaged hunting up the lost roots
of their family trees. We know the pit whence the Afro-American race
was dug, the rock whence he was hewn; he was born here on this soil,
from a people who in the classic language of the Hebrew prophet, could
be described as, No People.

That there has been a majestic evolution quietly but rapidly going on
in this mass, growing as it was both by natural development and by
accretion, is plainly evident. Heterogeneous as were the fragments, by
the aid of a common language and a common lot, and cruel yet partially
civilizing control, the whole people were forced into a common outward
form, and to a remarkable extent, into the same ways of thinking. The
affinities within were really aided by the repulsions without, and
when finally freed from slavery, for an ignorant and inexperienced
people, they presented an astonishing spectacle of unity. Socially,
politically and religiously, their power to work together showed
itself little less than marvellous. The Afro-American, developing from
this slave base, now directs great organizations of a religious
character, and in comprehensive sweep invites to his co-operation the
inhabitants of the isles of the sea and of far-off Africa. He is
joining with the primitive, strong, hopeful and expanding races of
Southern Africa, and is evidently preparing for a day that has not yet

The progress made thus far by the people is somewhat like that made by
the young, man who hires himself to a farmer and takes his pay in
farming stock and utensils. He is thus acquiring the means to stock a
farm, and the skill and experience necessary to its successful
management at the same time. His career will not appear important,
however, until the day shall arrive when he will set up for himself.
The time spent on the farm of another was passed in comparative
obscurity; but without it the more conspicuous period could never have
followed. So, now, the American colored people are making history, but
it is not of that kind that gains the attention of writers. Having no
political organizations, governments or armies they are not performing
those deeds of splendor in statesmanship and war over which the pen of
the historian usually delights to linger. The people, living, growing,
reading, thinking, working, suffering, advancing and dying--these are
all common-place occurrences, neither warming the heart of the
observer, nor capable of brightening the page of the chronicler. This,
however, is, with the insignificant exception of Liberia, all that is
yet to be found in the brief history of the Afro-American race.

The period for him to set up for himself has not yet come, and he is
still acquiring means and training within a realm controlled in all
respects by a people who maintain toward him an attitude of absolute
social exclusion. His is the history of a people marching from nowhere
to somewhere, but with no well-defined Canaan before them and no Moses
to lead. It is indeed, on their part, a walk by faith, for as yet the
wisest among the race cannot tell even the direction of the journey.
Before us lie surely three possible destinies, if not four; yet it is
not clear toward which one of these we are marching. Are we destined
to see the African element of America's population blend with the
Euro-American element and be lost in a common people? Will the colored
American leave this home in which as a race he has been born and
reared to manhood, and find his stage of action somewhere else on
God's earth? Will he remain here as a separate and subordinate people
perpetuating the conditions of to-day only that they may become more
humiliating and exasperating? Or is there to arise a war of races in
which the blacks are to be exterminated? Who knows? Fortunately the
historian is not called upon to perform the duties of prophet. His
work is to tell what has been; and if others, building upon his
presentation of facts can deduce what is to be, it is no small tribute
to the correctness of his interpretations; for all events are parts of
one vast system ever moving toward some great end. One remark only
need be made. It is reasonable to presume that this new Afro-American
will somehow and somewhere be given an opportunity to express that
particular modification of material life which his spiritual nature
will demand. Whether that expression will be made here or elsewhere;
whether it will be higher or lower than what now surrounds us, are
questions which we may well leave to the future.

No people can win and hold a place, either as a nation among other
nations, or as an elementary component of a nation, merely by its own
goodness or by the goodness of others. The struggle for national
existence is a familiar one, and is always initiated by a display of
physical force. Those who have the power seize territory and
government, and those who CAN, keep possession and control. It is in
some instances the backing up of right by might, and in others the
substituting of right by might. Too often the greatest of all national
crimes is to be weak.

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