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Glimpses Of The Nation's Struggle

Sixth Series- Volume 31(1)

 Papers Read Before The Minnesota Commandery Of The Military Order Of The Loyal Legion Of The United States

 January 1903-1908.


This paper by Lt. Col. Trowbridge detailing his experience with Manse Jolly after the war is important in that it is one of the few first-hand accounts of Manse's exploits after the Civil War(2).

Six Months In The Freedmen's Bureau With A Colored Regiment
Address By Lieut. Col. Chas. Tyler Trowbridge
Thirty-third Regiment U. S. C. T.
October 11, 1904.

What was to be done for or with the Negro now that he is free was the question that confronted the country at the close of the war. That question brought into existence what was known as the Freedman's Bureau and to that branch of the service I was assigned with my regiment in July, 1865, and given command of what was known as the sub-district of northwestern South Carolina which embraced the counties of Pickens and Anderson with headquarters at Anderson Court House. Anderson County cast 2400 votes in favor of carrying the Ordinance of Secession and there were 1800 either killed or wounded in the Confederate Army before the surrender to Grant at Appomattox. There was a large population of freed slaves who were very poor and destitute of clothing and who were most thoroughly hated by the whites who owned them prior to the war. You will readily see that for me to take a regiment of black soldiers into this community and begin the work of organizing a form of government that should require the Negro to stay on the plantation where he was born and work for his former master and require the old master to treat him humanely, not to say kindly, was a work that taxed my skill as an executive officer.

In order to reach my new station I was obliged to march from Hamburg, S. C., northward across that portion of the country that had been traversed by Sherman in his march to Columbia. It had been overrun by the cavalry in the search for Jefferson Davis so that the Railroad was for miles de­stroyed, bridges burned, and all kinds of forage and provisions had been consumed, so that it was little better than a desert. When we came in sight of the town where we were to make our headquarters we were met by a committee of the citizens who implored me not to bring them niggers into their town.

I saw at once that I had to take my stand, be very stern and resolute, or my authority as the Commander of the district would soon be defied. I told them that these men were not "niggers" but United States soldiers, and that I should march into the town and quarter my troops in the Court House, the length of time they would remain there to depend entirely upon the conduct of the townspeople themselves toward the men and their officers. Before night I had taken possession of the Court House, had posted a guard in the principal streets of the town, and taken up my own room in the Benson House, the only hotel in the place.

I began my duties by assigning Captain Sampson as Pro­vost Marshal in an office building convenient to the Court House, where all the returned Confederate soldiers were re­quired to come and take the oath of allegiance to the United States Government. One of the first persons to present himself was Captain John C. Calhoun, grandson of the great nulli­fier of South Carolina. I had met this ardent secessionist some two years before under a flag of truce at Port Royal Ferry, S. C. He had repeatedly declined to hold any com­munication with me because all Southern officers had refused to recognize an officer who commanded colored soldiers. But in this particular instance some of my men had captured a number of his company in one of their night expeditions over on the mainland. The purpose of this meeting was to bring some clothing and such other comforts as they might need before being sent north as prisoners of war. When, they ap­peared on the opposite bank of the river they asked to have a boat sent over for them as they were willing to waive their objections to me as a commander of black soldiers. A boat was sent and Captain Calhoun with two other officers were brought to our side of the river. When we had transacted the business for which the meeting was sought, we sat down for a little chat as to the probable length of time that would elapse before the end of the war would come. He said to me in that haughty southern style, "Major, your father and mine did the talking and it remains for you and me to fight, and the South will fight as long as there is a man to shoot a gun." He then politely requested me to return him to his own side of the river, which request I at once complied with. His ap­pearance at the office of my Provost Marshal was the first time that we had met after the surrender of Gen. Lee. He at once recognized me and said: "Colonel, I have come to take the d--Yankee oath". He was told to hold up his hand and be sworn. This done, he turned to me and said: "Now I am as good a Yankee as you are but I hate you worse than I ever did. Let's go and have a drink." This courtesy I de­clined with all the politeness of which. I was capable. Our interview closed by his inviting me to his plantation to dine with him as soon as I could find it convenient to do so; the only condition being that when I came I was not to talk politics. I never saw him again but I have no doubt that, if I could have found time to have visited him, I should have been treated with the utmost kindness and hospitality, for he was a true southern gentleman and I would have been made most welcome to the best he had.

I found as the days passed, that there was at that time somuch uncertainty as to what the policy of the government so much uncertainty as to what the policy of the Government would be towards the leading men of the South that many of this class went into hiding and kept out of the reach of those who were charged with the duties of reconstruction until they could be assured that the Government was disposed to be lenient and conciliatory toward them. This fear and distrust gradually wore away as they came to understand that I was their friend and only intended to help those who were really willing to accept the situation in good faith and would yield a willing obedience to the rules the government had pre-scribed for their conduct and to require a strict obedience from the lawless and disobedient. In a few days no less a person than the Hon. James L. Orr, who had at one time, before the war, been Speaker of the House of Representatives, called on me and asked what he could do to help repair the damage he had been doing for so many years. I told him that if he would go to Washington, get his political disabilities removed, come back to South Carolina, loyally lending his best efforts to the Government, and take a leading part in the cause of re-construction, we would make him Governor of the State. Act­ing on my suggestion, he left for Washington, secured his pardon from President Johnson, returned to his home and set about the work we had in hand. I, together with Capt. Samp­son, and Lieut. White were invited to his house to dine with him. While at dinner he said to me: "Colonel you and I ought to be friends for while I was a Senator in the Confeder­ate Senate I defended you. I will show you the notes of a speech I made while the question of officers of Negro troops in the Union Army was under discussion. Mr. Davis, our president, wanted a law enacted declaring all such persons outlaws, and demanding that they be turned over to the State Courts, and punished for inciting Negro insurrection accord­ing to the laws in the South before the war " Mr. Orr's contention was that for the South to enact such a law would be to introduce a new principle into international law not recognized by any Nation on earth. If they should presume to dictate to a nation that might be at war with them as to what the color of a soldiers skin should be, it would most assuredly militate against them as a young nation just struggling or recognition as a nation among the other nations of the world. As the question had never before been raised, his advice was for them to wait until their independence had been secured. His colleague, Barwell Rhett, took the opposite view and advocated the speedy passage of the measure, and it became the law. Mr. Orr was a most cordial and entertaining lost, giving us the best that his impoverished condition could afford; only complaining that all his servants had left him since the proclamation of freedom. The white ladies of the household were doing their own work, including cooking, an experience entirely new to the ladies of the South. From that time on Mr. Orr and myself were on terms of great friendship and he rendered me much aid while I was in command of the district.

I found within the two counties assigned to me a large lumber of persons engaged in distilling a very poor article of what they called Peach Brandy, which they made in very rude stills from the fruit that grew quite abundantly in all parts of that mountainous region. In order that I could guard against the danger of my soldiers getting this stuff and drinki­ng to excess, an order was issued requiring all persons en-raged in this kind of business to report to me for a license which I was willing to grant without expense to them. This brought to my headquarters within a day or two a crowd of the most forbidding outlaws that I had ever met. Each one of them had with him a keg or demijohn of the vilest whiskey that man ever drank, wishing me to accept it in payment of their license, protesting that that alone was all that they had to pay with. Each man received his license and a peremptory order to take his stuff out of the town and under no condi­tions was a drop to be sold to the enlisted men of the regiment under penalty of having the license revoked. I am glad to say that I never heard of an instance in which the order was disobeyed and we had no annoyance from drunkenness while we remained in that country.

Within a day or two after my arrival at Anderson I re­ceived a request to send a company of men to Walhalla, some forty miles north, as there was much lawlessness and con-fusion in the place. I at once ordered Capt. Parker with his company in connection with Lieut. Jerome B. Furman to march to that point. From information I had of the character of the people, I was most careful to instruct the officers to exercise great watchfulness for a few days and not expose themselves or their men, but to keep quietly in their quarters and to feel their way, trusting no man who might call on them unless it be the mayor or city councilmen. They reached the town partly by marching and partly by using as much of the Railroad as had been repaired. They took up their quarters in the principal hotel and set to work making themselves as comfortable as possible. As night came on and the evening meal was over, Lieut. Furman stepped out on the front porch when a tall, villainous looking ex-Confederate came up, bade him good-evening, and said: "We are glad to have you come into our town for we are absolutely without any kind of government. The town is full of desperate characters; we are living in constant fear of our lives and the presence of United States troops will no doubt soon restore order and be a blessing to us." His mode of speech and cordial manner threw the officer completely off his guard and he foolishly accepted an invitation to take a walk with his newly made acquaintance. They had only walked a few steps before the villain drew his revolver, shot the officer in the back, and as he fell, put the muzzle of his pistol to the head of the dying man and discharged two more bullets into his brain, and then disappeared into the darkness. I was at once sent for with a request to bring more troops. I immediately started with an-other company as fast as the cars would carry me.

Upon my arrival in the town I sent for the mayor, took him into the room where the body of the Lieutenant lay and said to him: "As this officer has been murdered I shall hold you responsible for his death, giving you ten hours to produce the murderer, or I will burn the town." I instructed him to go to the town hall, ring the bell, call the people together and state to them what I had told him. This he rather reluctantly complied with and in a few hours returned, saying that the people knew the man, but he was such a desperado that it was worth more than the value of any man's life to reveal it. I persisted until he gave me the name of the man. I then offered a reward of $2000 for his body dead or alive. I got the citizens to post the notice of the reward in all parts of the town. This action compelled the people to rely on me for protection from this notorious outlaw. They were from that moment, whether willingly or not, very friendly to me. At the funeral of my dead comrade, which was held the next day, the entire community turned out and I have never seen more flowers or more genuine expressions of sorrow than I wit­nessed at the burial of this gallant young officer who was laid in his last resting place at the foot of the mountain where he sleeps in an unmarked grave and is the only Union soldier that I know of in that faraway southern village. We knew nothing of his relatives, who were supposed to reside in Penn­sylvania. I believe his accounts have never been settled with the government to this day. Being satisfied in my own mind from what I had gathered during the (lay that the man I was looking for was not in that town, and finding the people willing to assist me in any way in their power to capture the perpetrator of this foul deed, I took a locomotive and returned to my headquarters at Anderson, leaving instructions that any information that might come in should be forwarded to me at once. This was on Thursday and on the next day a courier arrived saying that the man we wanted would be at church on Sunday at a little meeting house about twelve miles from Anderson. A description of a roan horse that he was riding when he was last seen was given. I at once despatched Lieutenant Searles with nine mounted men and instructed him to secrete his men and horses in a cornfield that I had been told was very near the church. So as soon as darkness came on he moved with great care, got his men in hiding and in the afternoon of Sunday the roan horse and his rider appeared. The horse was tied to a fence and as soon as the man entered the church a dash was made for the horse which being secured they made for the door of the church to capture the rider. He, however, being on the alert jumped out of a window and made his escape into the cornfield where all track of him was soon lost and the Lieutenant and his men returned to Anderson with the captured horse. That night, just after midnight, I heard the sound of horsemen in the street under my window and shortly a sound of footsteps in the hallway leading to my room was heard as if someone was coming in their bare feet. As soon as the person came to the door I found it to be an old colored woman who said in a low tone: "Don't go out of this room tonight for Mance Jolly is out there to kill you." She then disappeared as mysteriously as she had come. A moment later I heard the tramp of three men ap­proaching from the other end of the hallway. These three I took to be the party who were looking for me, so I determined to give them a warm reception. Planting myself in front of the door of my room I listened for them to make a demand upon me to open the door when I would shoot through the panel. To my great joy it turned out to be three of my own officers who had been warned by the same old colored woman of my danger, and' had come to caution me not to expose myself at the window for they would shoot me on sight from the street. Very soon, the alarm the woman had given reaching the Provost guardhouse, the guard came on the double-quick and the rebels hastily rode out of town. Next morning I had an engagement to meet the colored people on a plantation about three miles out of town for the purpose of arranging a contract between them and a Mr. Crawford Keyes, who had been their former owner, as to the wages he was to pay them, and requiring the Negroes to remain for a year in his employ. I was told by a number of people not to go alone as Jolly would most likely be looking for me. I determined to take with me a man who had been sheriff at Anderson Coun­ty and was now a wounded ex-Confederate soldier, by the name of Magee, who knew everybody in that country. He at first declined to go with me saying that undoubtedly Jolly was hiding near the town and as he was such a desperate character he would kill me as sure as he saw me. I insisted and he at last very reluctantly accompanied me. The weather was terribly hot so we started off early in the morning met the people, made the contract and returned to town. After I had had my breakfast I stepped out on the porch, leaving my pis­tol in my room, when up rode Jolly to the edge of the sidewalk, saying: "My name is Mance Jolly, the man you are looking for, now take me if you can." Then striking spurs to his horse he rode away.

A few days later I visited another plantation of colored people and there witnessed one of the most revolting effects of the accursed institution of slavery that I have ever wit­nessed. The master called his slaves; about three hundred in number, up in line before the plantation house. When I asked him if his people were all present he replied: "There is one more in the house, I will get her out." Stepping inside the door he soon returned dragging by the hand a lovely, delicate girl about nineteen years old as white as any woman I ever saw. He roughly ordered her to take her place in line and as she passed by where I was standing said: "Father, I never knew that I was a nigger before." I said to this wretch that we called a man, "Is that your child?" His reply was: "She is one of those house niggers." I finished my duties on that plantation with all possible haste, leaving this human monster and his wretched people with feelings of indescribable disgust and utter loathing for a man who had become so de-graded as to be guilty of such inhuman conduct, and longing for my term, of service in this horrible place to end. Next morning, just as the guard had been mounted for the day, and the men whose duty it was to remain at the guard-house had stacked arms, Jolly rode up alone to the guard, saying: "Tell your Colonel that unless he delivers my horse that his Men stole from me at the meeting house on Sunday, I will kill him and every man in his regiment before they get out of this country." He wheeled his horse and rode away. The Ser­geant of the guard commanded his men to take their guns and fire. Jolly lay over on the neck of his horse, which was run­ning at full speed, the man after him, keeping up the fusillade until he was out of town. The horse was wounded and soon died but the rider escaped.

That day's mail brought an order from headquarters for me to turn the command over to an officer of the First Marine Infantry and proceed to Charleston and prepare to muster out my regiment whose term of service would soon expire. It re­quired a few days to bring in the outlying companies that had been stationed throughout the remote portions of the district and collect the number of cars necessary to transport the regi­ment and all the baggage. It was indeed a great relief co feel that I should soon be on my way home. By Sept. 5th all was in readiness and we were busy all day loading the train and cooking rations, or at least what we could obtain, for our journey out of this wretched, unhappy, rebellious country. It was late in the afternoon when the train was ready to pull out. I was stepping aboard, ready to give the signal to the conduc­tor to start when I saw a company of colored people coming from the town bearing what I thought was a stretcher contain­ing a sick person. I waited for them and when they reached the platform I found they were tenderly bearing a white Union soldier of the 4th Ohio Cavalry. He said: "They shot me (meaning rebel soldiers) out of my saddle last April when we were scouring the country for Jeff Davis, took my horse and all I had, then left me alone to die. These kind colored people have nursed and cared for me ever since. I heard that you were leaving this country for the North and I begged them to fetch me to the train and I now ask you to take me with you.

I have a wife and little ones living in Sandusky, Ohio. I want, if I can, to see them before I die." I found that he had been shot through the neck, the ball injuring the spinal column so that his entire body below the shoulders was completely paralyzed and utterly helpless. I had him carried onto the train and we laid him as carefully as we could in the aisle of the car. Just as the men were doing this, Mr. James L. Orr, with whom I had dined a few weeks before came to the train and handed me the following letter, commending my conduct while in command of the district. The letter, which is as follows, speaks for itself:

Anderson, Sept. 5th, 1865.

Lt. Col. Trowbridge,
33rd U. S. C. T. Anderson, S. C.


Sir:
Your command having been relieved from duty in the district, it is due to you that I should express to you not only my' own but the sentiment of approval by the people of the Department at the manner in which you have discharged your duties as Commandant. The general sentiment of the public
is that you have faithfully endeavored to do justice to all classes and conditions of society and in administering military law you have sought to extend impartial justice to all. You carry - with you from here the good wishes of the community for your personal and official success in life. I desire also to bear willing testimony to the kindness, courtesy and official integrity of Captain Sampson, Provost Marshal, and Lieuten­ant White, Adjutant, who have so ably seconded you in your administration of the department.

I am sir,
Very respectfully yours,
James L. Orr.

Mr. Orr told me in a whisper, that since writing that letter he had been put in possession of information that led him to believe that my entire regiment would be annihilated before we could get out of the country. He could not upon his life, give the plot away, as it would cost him his life if it should be known that he had mentioned it to me. "But," said he, "in token of my friendship for you I will give you this pistol that I have carried for many years to defend yourself with," handing me a fine ivory-handled pistol that had been in his possession during his sojourn in Washington when he was Speaker of the House of Representatives before the war; and likewise when Colonel of the 7th S. C. Infantry in the Con-federate Army, as well as his companion in the Confederate Senate. He said: "Whether you live to get to Charleston or not, all the plans we have agreed upon for the future shall be faithfully carried out on my part." Bidding me goodnight he hurried away.

I well knew that his warning to me meant danger ahead; so I made my plan to meet whatever might turn up. I had a little black Sergeant whose name was Fred Brown of Company D. a man of splendid nerve and every inch a soldier. I handed him the pistol and told him to take four men of his company with him on the engine and if he saw anything that looked suspicious on the part of the man who was holding the throttle to blow his head off. I then gave the signal for the train to pull out, not knowing, of course, what danger we might meet at any moment. Night had covered the earth with darkness which much increased the intensity of the situation. We had not made over two miles of our journey when we had to cross a trestle bridge about one hundred feet high over a stream of running water. When we had reached the middle of the bridge someone pulled the coupling pin and the engine ran away leaving the entire train at a standstill. Then a sharp volley of musketry was opened on the cars from both banks of the ravine. Our men were prevented from returning the fire or in any way defending themselves as the men could not leave the cars, there being no room beside the train to stand on, and darkness so completely shut us in that we were entirely at the mercy of our foes. I remember having said to myself, if Sergeant Brown is yet alive he will come .to our relief. We had not long to wait before we heard above the rattle of musketry the welcome sound of the engine backing down. The coupling pin was dropped in and we were pulled out of the fight. When the engine struck the train Brown's pistol was at the ear of the engineer who had been in the plot for our destruction but had been discovered by the little black Sergeant, the hero who had the true instinct to act with that kind of intelligent bravery at the proper time to save the lives of the entire regiment which would have been entirely annihilated; for, as I afterward discovered, the plot was to set fire to the bridge and thus destroy the train and everyone on board. During the remainder of the journey to Newberry the end of the Railroad line, that Johnny Reb engineer received his orders from Sergeant Brown. I have often thought that when the impartial historian shall sit down to write the story of the neglected heroes of the Great War for freedom, that he will devote at least one page to this noble black soldier whose conduct on this occasion should give him an honored place among the world's gallant men. Then perhaps the millions of American people who read his story will hang their heads in shame when they recall the fact that this hero and his com­rades who remained in the South were disfranchised and de-barred from the rights of American citizenship by the same class of people who were the prime movers in this dastardly attempt at the wholesale murder of my regiment months after Lee had surrendered the last of the Confederate Army and the perpetrators of this crime were enjoying the privileges of full citizenship.

When we were safely out of our affair on the bridge I went to look after the poor wounded white soldier and found him quite cheerful. He said it was the first fight he had been in for four years that he could not take a hand in. When we arrived at Newberry we were obliged to leave the poor fellow with the colored people who had been his benefactors since the day he was wounded, as we had no ambulance to transport one so severely wounded from Newberry to Columbia, the Railroad between these points not having been repaired since Sherman destroyed it on his march to Raleigh in the February before. I never heard of him after we parted at Newberry.

Upon our arrival at Columbia we had hoped to receive fresh supplies of rations enough to carry us to the end of our journey, but we found that at the earnest request of the Andrew Johnson government-or misgovernment-at Wash­ington, the General commanding the department had released the military control of the only Railroad reaching that city and turned it over to the former owners. As they had no love for Yankee soldiers they' found it quite to their advantage to decline to transport army rations while there were so many other things needed for the re-building of the wilderness that Sherman had left after his march through the Carolinas. I found the 25th Ohio Infantry stationed at the post and when I made requisition for rations to feed my men there was but three-quarters of a pound of salt pork per man including the Ohio troops. The Colonel commanding refused to let me have a ration. I at once told him that my men were on the verge of starvation and I would have my portion or I would -take it by force. This brought him to terms and just three-quarters of a pound of salt pork per man was secured for the regi­ment. On this I commenced my march to Orangeburg, thirty-two miles away. I compelled the men to eat the pork without cooking, as I knew if it was cooked it would not satisfy their hunger. We started on our march; the weather was awfully hot and nothing in sight to eat short of the thirty-two mile march. But this was my only hope for relief and off we started on a race for life.

After making about ten miles we reached a plantation house. I halted the men in a piece of woods for a rest and to wait for the cool of the afternoon. The owner of the place came to me and said that he had but two logs left on his plantation and implored me to see that they were not killed. He invited me to dine with him which I gladly did; while at the dinner table a colored servant came and said to my host that the soldiers wanted to borrow the big iron kettle that he had for boiling sugar cane as they wanted to make some coffee in it. The planter looked at me and I at him, but of course I said not a word. The boys got the loan of the kettle, I got a corn-bread dinner and left the house with as little ceremony as possible. I rejoined the regiment where the coffee was be­ing made; but upon close inspection I found that fresh pork instead of coffee was boiling at a furious rate. I asked no questions but gave the men time to finish their cooking, re-turned the kettle with thanks, and off we started for another long, hard, hungry march. By dark I found that we had made about fifteen miles or covered half the distance from Columbia to the point where we could get rations. I found the men were weary and exhausted and so I halted for the night at a farm house, the planter agreeing to furnish the of­ficers only with supper at a dollar each and permitting them to lie on the floor in the house, if I would detail a strong guard to protect his sweet potato field so that his potatoes should not be disturbed. I ordered Company K. to be posted around the field with orders to shoot anybody that might molest the growing crop.

I then turned in for a sleep and almost every half hour for the early part of the night a shot was fired and the old planter would awaken me to say "Them was mighty good guards, as they were shooting someone all the time." I thought, you don't know Company K. as well as I do. I think there were about thirty officers that ate their supper and paid their dollar for his corn bread and sorghum and for the privilege of sleeping on the hard floor for a part of the night. We paid him more good money than he had probably seen since Sumter was fired upon in April '61 and with it he could purchase more real comforts than he had had since the war began. I did not take time to look over the potato patch nor did I care .to even if there had been daylight to do so; but I will venture to say that there was not a single potato left in his field, not-withstanding the vigilance of Company K. A little after midnight we sounded the reveille, the regiment fell into line and we began our march through a sandy, barren, pine country with a very small supply of water. By ten o'clock that morn­ing the men began to fall out exhausted and lie down by the, roadside. We had eleven miles to go yet before food could be had. I became quite alarmed lest many of them should perish from starvation and was put to my wit's end to arouse them sufficiently without resorting to cruelty to finish the march to where supplies could be secured. 'Tis said that " music hath charms" and knowing that we had a company cook by the name of Jim Lercy, a fat, jolly fellow belonging to Company C. who could play the fiddle, I thought I would try the power of music with these weary, tired men whose love for music was almost a ruling- passion. I ordered Jim to mount my horse; so with camp cooking utensils, saucepans, coffee-pots, etc strapped to his back, with the fiddle on top of all, he mounted, took the fiddle, and soon the notes of the instrument were wafted on the wings of a gentle breeze back to the men lying prostrate by the roadside. As they heard the old tunes which Jim had played around the camp-fire in the happier days of our regimental life, they began to forget their fatigue and in a very short time every man was on his feet and marching with a new impulse and energy that was marvelous to behold. Surely the wonderful power of music to transform a regiment of weary, exhausted and hungry men into hilarious, joyous soldiers who completed the last eleven miles of their march with mirth and joyousness was demon­strate as never before. I shall always believe that Jim Lercy'sfiddle and my horse saved many a life that clay. The men used to say "only for the fiddle and de hoss we would all have died in the wilderness." We finished our wearisome march before nightfall; a good supper was cooked and eaten, and all the men were safely encamped and enjoyed the much needed sleep and rest. From Orangeburg we took the cars for Charleston harbor with headquarters at Battery Wagner on Morris Island in front of whose frowning ramparts we had spent so many weary months the year before while they were still in the hands of the Confederacy. Here, by a singular fate of war, it was our fortune to end our army life as a regiment in the month of February following. The regiment having been assigned to the several stations, including Moultrie, Sumter and Castle Pinckney, I was allowed a twenty days' leave of absence and went north to meet dear ones from whom I had been separated so long. I left full instructions in a quiet way to give as many of the men as could be spared from duty, a short leave of absence to look after the interests of Mr. Orr whom we had set our hearts upon making Governor at the coming fall election.

Here I want to record the fact that I found Gen. Daniel E. Sickles in command, who upon a report of the conduct of the Railroad officials in refusing or neglecting to transport Gov­ernment rations, seized all the Railroads of the State and com­pelled them to withhold all other kinds of freight until the army in his department had been supplied. I always admired this grand old comrade for this action and whenever we meet at National G. A. R. encampment we always speak of the days when we served together in the Carolinas.

One company of the regiment was stationed at the jail in. the city of Charleston and on my return from my leave of absence, I found that we had three white men as prisoners for the murder of six members of the 1st Maine Regiment that had relieved me at Anderson only a month before. One of them was Crawford Keyes, the man between whom and his former slaves I had made the contract at the time I took the old sheriff with me. He was charged, in connection with his son and another man, with having killed the detachment of soldiers who were guarding a flat boat loaded with cotton at the headwaters of the Savannah River and attempting to run it down the river to Augusta for the purpose of selling it. The Murder was discovered and the men were caught with the boat and cargo in their possession. The proof of their guilt was thoroughly established at the trial held in Charleston. Theywere convicted on Thursday, on Friday Gen. Sickles approved the findings of the Court and ordered the execution on Satur­day. But all South Carolina had the ear of Andrew Johnson and he telegraphed a respite and ordered them to be sent to Darlington to be tried by a jury of their peers. Of course they were acquitted and soon returned to their homes in Anderson Co. I heard years afterward that the two young men had died and that the old slave master, the leader in this foul murder, was still living but stone blind and living a life of wretched poverty and disgrace.

Nearly all of the few months that remained of my army life was spent prompting the election of Mr. James L. Orr to the Governorship of what we hoped would prove recon­structed South Carolina. In the month of November the State election was held under the reconstruction act, and to my great joy my esteemed friend was elected Governor of South Carolina. He came to Charleston on his way to Colum­bia to be inaugurated. I, together with Sergeant Brown, called on him at the Mills House. After a most cordial greet­ing, Sergeant Brown returned to the new Governor of South Carolina the pistol which he had given me at the depot at Anderson Court House the night we left that town and which was used with such good effect in the fight on the trestle bridge.

While we were making out our final muster roll, we re­ceived word that General Grant was coming to visit Charles-ton and the Forts in the harbor, so we spent some time in cleaning up the companies and preparing the garrison to re­ceive the General. He arrived accompanied by Gen. Sickles and staff, who were dressed in full uniform with all the splen­dor of gold lace and shining accouterments while the Generalof all the armies in the Union was in plain citizen's dress. Here at Fort Sumter I had the distinguished honor of meeting the man who had led our armies to victory, for the first time in my life. I had a man in Company I. by the name of Rochen­baugh the most unsoldierly looking man in the regiment, but an excellent company cook. I was so anxious that he be kept out of sight that I ordered him kept in the cookhouse on the bombproof where General Grant would not see him. To my chagrin and utter dismay as soon as the General came on shore and had acknowledged the salute of the companies that had been drawn up to receive -him, as I took his arm to escort him over the Fort, he insisted on seeing where the food was cooked. In spite of my efforts to steer him away from the cookhouse, he made straight for it. The first thing his eyes met was this ungainly soldier that I had tried to keep hidden from him. With a most awkward attempt at a military salute, he received the Commander-in-chief of all the Armies of the Union, who, after complimenting him upon the cleanli­ness of his cook house and cooking utensils bade him good-day and said to me: "Colonel, we will now see the Fort."

After a leisurely walk over the battered and battle-torn ram-parts of, that historic fortification where the first shot was fired and the war begun, he said his time was up and he would bid me good day. My officers asked me to request him to leave his autograph for them. He cheerfully complied and seating himself at a table he wrote his name six times, one for each officer present. As soon as he had left a contention arose as to who should keep the pen he had used. I settled the matter by keeping it myself as a souvenir of our first meeting with General Grant.

From this time on our attention was fully occupied with preparing the muster rolls of the regiment until Feb. 9th. 1866. On that date, standing as nearly as we could ascertain on the grave of that gallant young hero, Col. Robt. G. Shaw of the 54th Massachusetts Colored Regiment, who fell at the head of his regiment on the night of July 18th, 1863, and who was "buried in the same grave with his niggers," as was stated in the Charleston papers of the next day, I issued the following farewell order to my regiment:

Headquarters, 33rd U. S. C. T.
Late 1st So. Car. Volunteers, Morris Island, S. C., Feb. 9th, 1866.
 
Comrades:

The hour is at hand when we must separate forever and nothing can ever take from us the pride we feel when we look back upon the history of the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, the first black regiment that ever bore arms in defense of freedom on the Continent of America.

On the 9th day of May, 1862, at which time there were nearly four millions of your race in a bondage sanctioned by the laws of the land and protected by our flag-on that day in the face of floods of prejudice that well-nigh deluged every avenue to manhood and true liberty, you came forth to do battle for your country and your kindred. For long and weary months without pay or even the privilege of being recognized as soldiers, 'you labored on, only to be disbanded and sent to your homes without even a hope of reward. And when our country, necessitated by the deadly struggle with armed traitors, finally granted you an opportunity to again come forth in the defense of the Nation's life, the alacrity with which you responded to the call gave abundant evidence of your readiness to strike a blow for the liberty of our race. And from that little band of hopeful, trusting and brave men, 'who gathered at Camp Saxton on Port Royal Island in the fall of 1862, amidst the terrible prejudices surrounding us. has grown an army of a hundred and eighty six thousand black soldiers whose valor and heroism has won for your race a name which will live as long as the undying pages of history shall endure; and by whose efforts, united with those of the white man, armed rebellion has been conquered, the millions of bondmen have been emancipated, and the fundamental law of the land has been so altered as to remove forever the possi­bility of human slavery being re-established within the borders of redeemed America. The flag of our land, restored to its rightful significance now floats over every foot of our ter­ritory from Maine to California and beholds only freemen. The prejudices which formerly existed against you are well nigh rooted out. Soldiers, you have done your duty and acquitted yourselves like men, who, actuated by such enobling motives could not fail, and as the result of your fidelity and obedience you have won your freedom. And oh how great the reward.

It seems fitting to me that the last hours of our existence should be passed amidst the unmarked graves of your com­rades at Fort Wagner. Near you rest the bones of comrade Shaw buried by an enemy's hand in the grave with his black soldiers who fell by his side, where in the future your child­ren's children will come on pilgrimages to do homage to the ashes of those that fell in this glorious struggle. The flag which was presented to us by the Rev. George B. Cheever and his congregation of New York City on the 1st day of January, 1863 the day when Lincoln's immortal proclamation was given to the world-and which you have borne so nobly through the war, is now to be rolled up forever and deposited in our Na­tion's Capitol. And while there it shall rest with the battles in which 'you have participated inscribed upon its folds, it will be a source of pride to us all to remember that it has never been disgraced by a cowardly faltering in the hour of danger or polluted by a traitor's touch. Now that you are to lay aside your arms and return to the peaceful avocations of life, I adjure you by the associations and history of the past and the love you bear for your liberties to harbor no feeling of hatred in your hearts toward your former masters, but to seek in the paths of honesty, virtue, sobriety and industry and by a willing obedience to the laws of the land, to grow up to the full stature of American citizens. The church, the schoolhouse, and the right to be forever free are now secured to you and every prospect before you is full of hope and en­couragement. The Nation guarantees to you full protection and justice and will require from you in return that respect for law and orderly deportment which will prove to every one your right to all the privileges of freemen.

To the officers of the regiment, I would say: Your toils are ended, your mission is fulfilled, and we separate forever. The fidelity, patience and patriotism with which you have dis­charged your duties to your men and to your country entitle you to a far higher tribute than any words of thankfulness which I can give you from the bottom of my heart.

You will find your reward in the proud conviction that the cause for which you have battled so nobly has been crowned with abundant success.

Officers and soldiers of the 33rd United States Colored Troops, once the First South Carolina Volunteers, I bid you farewell.

By order of

Lt. Col. C T. Trobridge, Commanding Regiment.

E. W. Hyde, 1st Lieutenant 33rd U. S. C. T. and Acting Adjutant.

After the regiment was discharged, I remained in service until March 7th, 1866, settling my accounts, and on that date I received my honorable discharge, which was signed by Gen. Charles Devens, one of Massachusetts most distinguished sol­diers. I took off the Union blue and hurried to my northern home after more than four years service in the field. I took my place once more in the ranks of private citizenship and en­deavored to make my way in the business world with thou-sands of others who, like myself, had abandoned our all at home to enter the army when our country called us to the field of war. During the maudlin, vacillating, my-policy adminis­tration of Andrew Johnson, the struggle for a foothold in the race of life for the returned Union soldiers was not altogether one of pleasure or profit, but this unfortunate and mis­erable administration drew to an end and the American Na­tion once more called the hero who had led us to victory, in war; called him to the chair of the Chief Executive Head of our Nation. Our hopes revived and things went more smoothly with the soldier-citizen.

With the end of the Johnson regime, came also the end of the term of office of Gov. Orr of South Carolina who had honestly and faithfully tried to administer the affairs of his office so that justice might be done to all classes. He received little or no encouragement from the old slave-master in-habitants of the State, who, in place of coming to his aid, taking a leading part in the politics of the State and helping to so shape the affairs that reconstruction would be all that its citizens had hoped for, sulked in their tents and did all that lay in their power to hinder and discourage the Governor to the end of his term, at which time he came out of office com­pletely ostracized socially and politically and much depressed and discouraged. When this condition was made known to Gen. Grant he appointed him Minister to St. Petersburg, Rus­sia, where he died. When his body was sent home for burial it was laid in state in the rotunda of the City Hall in New York. I was permitted to see the encoffined form of my old friend who had befriended me in the Confederate Senate and who had lent me his pistol to defend my life with when a soldier in the far-off mountains of South Carolina.

I doubt if anyone of the vast throng who viewed the lifeless remains of that grand old southern gentleman on that oc­casion knew how James L. Orr came to receive his appoint­ment as Minister to St. Petersburg as well as I did.

The story of my experiences with a Negro regiment in the Freedman's Bureau would not be complete if I neglected to say that I have twice met and had a reunion with Sergeant Brown since the close of the war. The first time was in 1884 when on a steamer returning from a trip to the sunny land of `Florida, by way of Port Royal. From the deck I saw among a gang of colored men who were loading cotton, my little black hero. I hastened on shore, we recognized each other and in a moment he threw his arms around me, and the re-union was such as only old comrades can understand who have braved danger together in days gone by. But this meet­ing soon ended, as it required but a few moments for the freight to be put on board. The steamer put out to sea and I, from the upper deck, waved a good-by to one of the most heroic soldiers that I had under my command. The pas­sengers had noticed me and the meeting on the wharf. Two young ladies who seemed inclined to attract attention, took occasion when they strolled past to say, so that the bystanders could hear them: "Did you see that old white man kiss that nigger?" I turned upon them and said with all the scorn I could inject into my look and action, "Young ladies, if you had had the experience that I had once with that black man you would know a good thing when you met it and kiss it too." I told the passengers the story of the night on the trestle bridge with the Negro I had just left on the wharf. I was from that time until we reached New York a kind of lion on deck while the simple young women sought the seclu­sion of their stateroom and we saw no more of them. Six years later I happened to be in Beauford, S. C. and made diligent inquiry for Sergeant Brown. I learned that he was very sick at his home a few miles out of town. Taking a carriage, I soon arrived there and found him sitting near the ashes of his smoldering fire suffering from a severe attack of dropsy with feet dreadfully swollen, and quite feeble nearing the end of life's journey but glad indeed to see me again. After leav­ing some means with which to add to his comfort I bade him a soldier's farewell. Returning to Beaufort where as many of the old members of the regiment as could be found were holding a campfire, I made arrangements with them to care tenderly for our Comrade Brown until his march of life should be ended and then to see that his remains were borne with military honors to the National Cemetery close by the town of Beaufort; requesting them to send the bill to me for settlement. One more will thus be added to the 9241 dead heroes that sleep under the pine and cypress in the southland until the final reveille is sounded and the march of Eternity is begun.

In closing the story of my life in the Freedman's Bureau I will detain you just long enough to say: When the Na­tional Republican Convention met in Minneapolis that nominat­ed Benjamin Harrison for the second time for President, I had the pleasure of meeting the delegates from Anderson County, S. C., some of whom admitted that they participated in the attack on my regiment at the trestle bridge and that Mance Jolly, who planned the attack, was compelled because of his lawlessness in South Carolina after the army had been with-drawn to leave the State. He went to Texas and there, after being detected in some crime for which the officers of the law were pursuing him, hoping to escape capture by jumping in a creek and swimming to the other shore, was drowned. His body was never recovered and no doubt furnished food for the fish of the sea.

Note: While attending the recent encampment of the G. A. R. at Boston, I met some of my old comrades who in-formed me that Sergeant Brown had recently died and re­ceived a soldier's burial at the hands of our comrades and his remains are now resting in the National Cemetery at Beaufort, South Carolina.


Notes:

1. Aug. Davis, Publisher, Minneapolis, Minn, 1909
ISBN 1-56837-187-X (Volume3l)
ISBN 1-56837-001-6 (65Volume Set)

2. This document was converted from a PDF document and during the conversions a number of letters were not converted properly. It was necessary to run a spell check and hopefully all the errors were caught. The spelling of Manse as "Mance" was per the original document (Ed.)