Collection: The Civil War
Date: May 2, 1863
Title: The Negro Troops in Florida.

W, April 20.

L. D. Stickney, United States Tax Collector of Florida and South Carolina, reported today to the Government the absolute success of the experiment of arming and organizing the slaves. He says that the late expedition which took and held Jacksonville, Florida, was composed entirely of black troops. They held the post two weeks, were engaged almost every day with superior numbers of the rebels, and in every instance drove them. Afterward, these black troops were reinforced by a white regiment—the 6th Connecticut volunteers— by no means favorable to negro soldiers. In an engagement with the rebel cavalry and artillery, the 6th Connecticut supported the 1st and 2d South Carolina (colored) After a severe engagement, in which the blacks were victorious, this white regiment declared it had no further prejudices against negroes who showed such pluck.

While our troops occupied Jacksonville, the rebel camp was eight miles distant. The commander of the United States forces before making an attack, wished to destroy a railroad bridge three miles in the rear of the enemy. A negro volunteered to perform this perilous feat. Taking three days' rations in his knapsack, a bottle of turpentine, a box of matches and a pair of Colt's revolvers, lie disappeared at night. The third day after he returned, having burned the bridge and reconnoitered the enemy's camp, go as to furnish much valuable information.

A former expedition up St. Mary's river, by five companies of the 1st Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, furnished equally conclusive evidence of the bravery of the negro troops. Marching at night through a thick wood, they were attacked by rebel cavalry. At the first discharge one man was killed and four wounded; but instead of a panic, the blacks promptly returned the fire, emptying twelve rebel saddles at the first discharge. The uniform testimony of all the officers is that the colored troops, when brought under fire, need check more than spur.


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