Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Uncovering the service and travails of Capt. Edward S. Daniels of 35th Infantry USCT, Part 1

I have decided to take the journey with Captain Edward S. Daniels beginning with when he enlisted with the 35th Infantry USCT on April 28, 1863.  Remember in the last post, we had discovered that he first enlisted and served with the 1st Massachusetts Infantry in May 1861.  See African Americans served in 1st Massachusetts Infantry in 1861 before USCT.   Well, Captain Daniels life as in the 35th Infantry USCT includes prison and illness in South Carolina. We will reveal his story as we travel through his Civil War record.

I feel an extensive review of his service will help us understand the life of a Captain in the USCTs, and we will discover resources to document more of the history of Civil War ancestors which we may have not previously considered.  Hopefully, at the end of this journey, we all will we wiser because of it.

His Civil War service record was on Footnote.  The second image in the file shows that he started in Company E of the 35th.  He was light skinned with grey eyes and auburn hair.  Born in Old Cambridge Massachusetts, and was a "jeweller."  He signed up for a period of three years.

Confusion about regiment names

After USCT regiments were officially recognized by the Federal government, names of the regiments which were formed previously were renamed.  While we know that Daniels was wounded while serving with the 1st Massachusetts Infantry, and mustered out in October of 1861, I have not as of yet been able to account for the time lapse between 1861 and his enlisting in the 35th in April 1863.  See Civil War Colored Troops: 35th Infantry (New York Military Museum)

I have, however, discovered that the 35th Infantry USCT was previously the 1st Regiment North Carolina Colored Volunteers which were organized in New Bern, North Carolina on June 30, 1863.  Daniels record says he enlisted with the 35th Infantry USCT in April 1863, but it was not organized until June of that year.  Image 5 of his file indicates that he enrolled in the 1st Regiment North Carolina Colored Volunteers on April 28, 1863 in Boston, Massachusetts and was mustered in on May 18, 1863 in New Bern, NC. See Thirty-fifth United States Colored Troops (First North Carolina Colored Volunteers)

Image 5, 35th US Colored Infantry » D » Daniels, Edward S (28) at

Colored Troop Under General Wild Liberating Slave in North Carolina, Son of the South

 Account of First North Carolina Colored Volunteers, December 16, 1863

History can reveal many gems to those who search it out.  It makes expanding a search really worthwhile.  I found an article at Chronicling America which illustrates the things that were truly important to African American troops and contraband.  It is entitled:
"General Wild's Expedition After Guerrillas"

"Enthusiasm of the Colored Regiment"

"They Hire Teachers to Attend Them in the War"

This account was submitted by Champlain, H. M. Turner from the camp near Portsmouth, Virginia on December 11, 1863.  Anyone who was not strong enough to enter battle stayed in the camps.

Turner says that six days previous Brigadier General Wild left on a expedition with his colored soldiers, "the first and 5th United States colored troops, the 2nd North Carolina Colored Volunteers, and detachments from the 55th Massachusetts and the 1st North Carolina."  It is not known if Company E, Daniels company was among them.

"The troops went off with a full determination never to be captured alive.  Hundreds of them when leaving waved their hats, and most clamorously halloed, death before imprisonment."

The troops from several companies pooled their money and paid teachers who traveled from all over $7 to $30 dollars a month to travel with their regiments to teach them during leisure hours.  How wonderful to be able to know that even though they had embarked on the most important fight for freedom, they made time for education.  Many of the teachers refused to be paid. To read this article in its entirety, see: Daily national Republican. (Washington, D.C.) 1862-1866, December 16, 1863, Image 1



Daily national Republican. (Washington, D.C.) 1862-1866, December 16, 1863, Image 1

Monday, January 31, 2011

African Americans served in 1st Massachusetts Infantry in 1861 before USCT

African Americans enlisted with the 1st Massachusetts Infantry in May 1861 before serving with the United States Colored Troops as officers according to "Massachusetts in the army and navy during the war of 1861-65, Volume 2" By Thomas Wentworth Higginson (included in second book below).  This dispels the falsehood that African Americans did not serve in the Union Army until the United States Colored Troops was organized.

Higginson explains that the list beginning on page 484 is far from complete.  He had difficulties at the time with being allowed to research at the Record and Pension Office in Washington.  It appears he was able to extract information from the Massachusetts regiment rolls where a record of the troops was recorded when they were promoted as officers to serve as USCT's.

Edward S. Daniels

He also explains that there are inaccuracies.  For this reason, I took the liberty of researching an officer, Edward S. Daniels, who enlisted May 23, 1862 and was a Private in Company A.  He was discharged on October 4, 1862 and later became a Captain with the 35th USCT Infantry until his discharge on May 18, 1866. See page 487.

Company A of the 1st Massachusetts was organized under Colonel Robert Cowdin on May 23, 1863.  Edward S. Daniels is also listed in the following book "First Regiment of Infantry, Massachusetts Volunteer Militia: Colonel Robert Cowdin," By United States Army on page 18.

History and documentation

You can read more about the history of the 1st Massachusetts Regiment here: Civil War in the East.  Edward S. Daniels' is also found in the U. S. Civil War Record and Profile database at  He was 26 when he first enlisted in May of 1861 and he was wounded while serving with the 1st Massachusetts Regiment.  A record of his service in both regiments is included.

For background on the 35th United States Colored Infantry, see the thesis, JUST LEARNING TO BE MEN: A HISTORY OF THE 35TH UNITED STATES COLORED TROOPS,1863-1866 by SHANA RENEE HUTCHINS and Thirty-Fifth United States Colored Troops (First North Carolina Colored Volunteers).

Daniels' Civil War Service Record is on Footnote.  It is a huge undertaking, but I would suggest that anyone who researches a Civil War soldier study the history of the regiments, battles, commanders, and biographies and records of fellow troops, etc. to be able to get an understanding of what your ancestor went through during the Civil War.  You may also find connections to other family members who served.

We will discuss Edward S. Daniels further in a future post.  He happened to be one of 800 prisoners exchanged and brought to Anapolis on March 7, 1865.  See CITIZEN PRISONERS RETURNED BY STEAMER GENERAL SEDGWICK AT ANNAPOLIS, MARCH, 7, 1865

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Take a look inside USCT complied service records: The Death Report

We will spend a few posts covering the type of records and information that may be found in the Compiled military service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served with the United States Colored Troops.    After the Bureau of Colored Troops was created in May 22, 1863, regiments of African American troops were officially recognized as United States Colored Troops.

With this designation came the required paperwork such as death reports.  When a soldier died, the commander was required to take an inventory of his possessions and complete a report which detailed his payments, money owed for clothing, etc.  Any pay that was due the soldier would be given to the next of kin or legal representative.  See Articles of War (19) Army Regulations on page 38 of M1818, Roll 96 below.

Private David McQuilley, born in Madison County, Mississippi,  enlisted on March 1, 1864 in Vicksburg, Mississippi.  He mustered in on March 23rd as a laborer with the 1st United States Colored Heavy Artillery, Company A to serve three years.   Almost two months later, he died from a disease in a regiment hospital. 

His commander provided an inventory of his effects which was clothing which had been provided for him:
  • one cap
  • one flannel shirt
  • one pair shoes
  • two blankets
  • one rubber poncho
He died owing one dollar.   Other men having the same surname of McQuilley enlisted on the same day as Private David McQuilley and they were also born in Madison County, Mississippi. Clayton McQuilley deserted.  Jacob McQuilley also joined on March 1, and served until May 20, 1866 with Peter McQuilley.

A Scott McQuilley also served until he died in March 1866.  You can review each of these compiled service records on images 30 through 101 below.  Scott and David McQuilley were 2 of 697 enlisted soldiers who died from disease from this regiment.  That's a staggering amount when you consider that only 124 died as the result of combat between when this regiment was organized on December 1, 1863 until it was mustered on May 20, 1866.  For more details, see American Civil War Regiments at Ancestry.

Compiled military service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served with the United States Colored Troops
artillery organizations
Published 1998 by National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC .
Written in English. (OpenLibrary)
5th United States Colored Heavy Artillery
M1818, Roll 96, McQuilley, Clayton-Mosley, Jacob 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

First Kansas Colored Volunteers: "...not a single coward among them."

The following account appeared in the Daily National Republican. (Washington, D.C.) on November 10, 1862. 

Gen. Lane's Black Troops---They Fight Bravely.

The courage of the blacks, as fighting men, on land and water, has been illustrated in all our wars.  Their first fight in this war, which is described below, seems to have been a brave and successful affair:

Special correspondence of Chicago Tribune.

Leavenworth, Nov. 3 1862---The Kansas colored regiment had a fight with a guerillas commencing on Tuesday last and continuing several days in which the blacks were victorious.  The facts (as related as related to me by Lieut Lyon, of company A, First Kansas, colored.) are as follows:  The rebels, under Jackman and Cockrell, occupied and held an island at the head of the Osage river, at the junction of the Mari-de-zene and Mill Creek.  These two combining form the Osage river near Butler, Bates county, Missouri.  At this point the secesh keep a large quantity of stock guarded by these guerillas.  Major Henning, commander of Fort Scott, and provost marshal of Southern Kansas, ordered from Fort Lincoln a detachment of the colored regiment, (the regiment is stationed at Fort Lincoln,) 160 men from the First, Colonel Williams, and seventy men from the battalion of colored troops from Southern Kansas, under Captain Leamen, making 230--all under Captain Ward, acting commander of the regiment for the time being, the colonel being absent.

Arriving at the island, they found about 400 guerillas--the blacks took possession of Tootman's house, a noted guerilla by that name residing there---they surrounded the house and yard with a wall of rails, and named it Fort Africa.  The enemy were all mounted, and they made frequent attacks on the blacks.  The guerillas were reinforced with 200 men, and the blacks sent to Fort Scott for reinforcements and ammunition, meanwhile the 200 men, and the blacks were fighting the 600 secesh.  Up to Thursday night seven blacks were killed and eight wounded.  Capt. Crew, (white,) of Company A, was killed and his body was brought to Leavenworth yesterday.  Lieut. Gardner, (white,) the fighting Quaker, so-called, was wounded on our side, and up to the same time from fifteen to twenty of the guerillas were killed.  The number of wounded not known to my informant.  On Thursday night, the reinforcements from Fort Scott came on the ground, consisting of 150 cavalry and two pieces of artillery.  The guerillas immediately commenced retreating to the island, and down the river. It was the intention to attack them on the island the next morning, and break of the nest.  The final result I will send you when I get it.  Thus the first black blood has been spilled in fighting with the enemies of the Union.  I have several accounts from the scene of action, and they all agree that the blacks fought well--and not a single coward among them; but they were rather hard to handle and keep back, and they had to be held with a tight rein, like a pair of young fed horses, anxious to go--and go at the guerillas!

 "Daily National Republican. (Washington, D.C.) 1862-1866, November 10, 1862, Image 4." Chronicling America - The Library of Congress. The Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities. Web. 22 Jan. 2011. <>.
Account of first battle of First Kansas Colored Volunteers, column 1.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Valiant service of First Kansas Colored Volunteers recognized

Screenshot of Sons of the South: Slavery Pictures
Contention over enlisting slaves

Senator and General James H. Lane liberated and armed slaves long before the public and the Federal government thought it was feasible.

"The prejudice against the negro made even the most advanced philanthropist hesitate in such a policy, under the fear that the negro, like the Indian, would perpetrate barbarities in revenge for their hardships as slaves that would arouse the enmity of the civilized world against our country, and it was for that reason that Lane's policy was not to stand up in the Senate and advocate unconditional enlistment; and only when pressed by Pro-Slavery men did he break out in his real sentiments, bringing cheers from the galleries." See page 261, "Life of Gen. James H. Lane," by John Reed.

For this reason, Lane was not able to disclose his true desires to enlist former slaves, however, it is without question that he sought advance his ideals in Senate debate:

"I say to the gentleman from Iowa, that I wished to be understood, that the Government of the United States was not committed in this joint resolution to the policy of arming the slaves. Permit me here to say, however, and I wish it distinctly understood, that if I had the command of that army, while I would not commit the Government to the policy, I would say to every slave: "I have not arms for you; but if it is in your power to obtain arms from rebels, I will use you as soldiers against traitors."  See page 261, "Life of Gen. James H. Lane," by John Reed.
Permission from Lincoln himself

According to biographer, John Reed, six months after the above debate:

"...I was walking down Pennsylvania avenue, in Washington, with Lane, he told me that he had just received authority to organize three regiments of white and two of colored soldiers in Kansas; and when I asked in
amazement to see the order to enlist the colored troops, he informed me that it was a Verbal promise from the President that he would see that they were clothed and subsisted until such time as they could be brought into line armed and equipped for battle; and on August 4, 1862, he opened a recruiting office in Leavenworth for both white and colored troops. 

He stumped the entire State, appealing to the patriotism of the people, in a campaign of unparalleled energy and power; and in less than six weeks he had the Eleventh, Twelfth and Thirteenth Kansas regiments organized, and a nucleus for the First and Second Colored infantry, the First Colored Battery thrown in for good count, and all completed before the ides of October. He appointed all the officers, under the authority of the President—no recognition being given to the Kansas State Government. I am not explaining. I am only attesting a fact. Abraham Lincoln did it."  See pgs. 261 262,  "Life of Gen. James H. Lane," by John Reed.
Distinguished service recognized

The First Kansas Colored Volunteers,  made up largely of slaves from Arkansas and Missouri, became an official regiment on January 13, 1863.  It was later renamed the 79th Colored Infantry.   The following is an excerpt from the Committee on Military Affairs, page 71 of "Congressional serial set, Issue 2709", from May 15, 1890,  and it describes the valiant service of Lt Colonel James M. Williams and the First Kansas Colored Volunteers:

"The Committee on Military Affairs, to whom was referred the bill (S. 1037) authorizing the placing of the name of James M. Williams upon the retired list of the U. S. Army, with the rank of captain of cavalry, have examined the same and report:
The army record of James M. Williams, late captain of the Eighth Cavalry, shows that he entered the volunteer service in July, 1861, as captain of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry, and served therewith until September, 1862, when he accepted an appointment as lieutenant-colonel of the First Kansas Colored Volunteers—afterwards the Seventy ninth United States Colored Troops; that he was promoted to be colonel of that regiment and served therewith until May, 1864, when he took command of a brigade, retaining such command until near his muster out in October, 1865.
His record in the volunteer service was exceptionally good. He was among the first to approve the policy of utilizing the colored men as troops on the Union side and giving them the opportunity, by displays of courage and self-control, to demonstrate their fitness for the freedom that awaited them and the higher duties of citizenship with which they were to be invested. He enlisted, equipped, and mustered into service the First Kansas Colored Volunteers, which afterwards became distinguished as the Seventy-ninth United States Colored Troops. While in command of this colored regiment it participated in engagements at Cabin Creek in June, 1863, at Honey Springs in July, 1863, and at Poison Springs April, 1864, in which last action 40 per cent, of the men engaged were killed and wounded, and 22 per cent, were left dead on the field. Of an action at Elk Creek, C. N., in which the regiment was engaged July 17,1863, General Blunt, in his official report thus speaks.
Mush credit is due to all of them for their gallantry. The First Kansas Colored particularly distinguished it-self; they fought like veterans, and preserved their line unbroken throughout the engagement. Their coolness and bravery I have never seen surpassed; they were in the hottest of the fight, and opposed to Texas troops twice their number, whom they completely routed. One Texas regiment (the Twentieth Cavalry) that fought against them went into the fight with 300 men and came out with only 60. It would be invidious to make particular mention of any where all did their duty so well.
General McNeil, on assuming command of Fort Smith, Ark., November 2, 1863, bears the following testimony to the thoroughness of the drill and discipline of this regiment:
On Saturday I reviewed the First Arkansas Infantry Volunteers, First Colored Infantry Kansas Volunteers, and Rabbi's Battery. The negro regiment is a triumph of drill and discipline and reflects great honor on Colonel Williams, in command. Few volunteer regiments that I have seen make a better appearance. I regard them as firsts rate infantry."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

First Kansas Colored Volunteers' recruiter helped make Civil War about ending slavery

Flag of the First Kansas Colored Volunteers at Find A Grave 
The First Kansas Colored Volunteers were the first African Americans to be enlisted by the Union Army to serve in the Civil War and to engage in combat and die.  Their recruiter, United States Senator James H. Lane, was a forward thinker. He developed his ideas about slavery and war strategy long before President Lincoln.

Slaves, strength of Confederate Army

Most officers in the Union Army were very conservative, according to John Speer in "The Life of General James H. Lane (Book is included below).  They saw slavery as an acceptable institution. Lane believed African Americans should not be subjected to slavery and should be educated.

The North entered the war with the strong intent of preserving the Union, but they failed to recognize the Achilles' heel of the South.  They sought to appease slaveholders by upholding slavery in the states where it currently existed.  The Confederate Army relied heavily on the menial tasks of slaves in battle, in the fields, and in other arenas for forced labor. Slaves were caretakers over families while the slaveholder was away fighting.  They were a strong support under the enemy's subjection.

Lane's progressive thinking

Lane sought early to cut off the strength of the Confederate Army. He was not about to defend a country who upheld slavery. A story he often sold illustrates his understanding of military strategy:

"In the school of Kentucky on the line of the Hoosiers and Corncrackers, when I was a boy, we fought prize fights at the country schools for the mastery. I had practiced till I was proud and vain of my proficiency; but there was one Joe Darrah, a boy of my age, whose skill and muscle I had failed to overcome. One Saturday night, when we boys were in swimming, poor Joe knocked his shin upon a rock, and I had him show his sore, and I marked well the spot that was wounded, and was ready whenever he should have the temerity to enter the contest. The time came the next Saturday night; up came Joe and the combat commenced. The first opportunity. I kicked Joe on the shin, and he fled the field bellowing like a calf. I tell you, comrades and fellow-citizens, that slavery is the sore shin of the Confederacy, and you miss the opportunity of your lives, if you fail to kick it whenever and wherever you can. When the slaveholder comes into camp whining about his constitutional rights, and begging you to help catch his slaves, kick him on his sore shin."  See Life of Gen. James H. Lane: "the liberator of Kansas.
Enemies in the Union

Unionist began to turn against one another.  Many became vehement enemies of Lane and sought his life.  Some believed that to put guns in the hands of former slave would destroy the Union.  In reality, the Union had already been compromised with secession and seizure of Federal property.

In the next post, we will examine the steps Lane took in helping to free slaves and formed the first African American infantry amid great protest between August and October of 1862.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Black Brigade: Violent beginning, valiant end

City of Cincinnati on September 27, 1862. Visit Sons of the South

When Union forces were defeated at Richmond, Kentucky on August 30, 1862, Cincinnati, Ohio lay vulnerable to an attack by rebel forces.  There was no one to defend Cincinnati.  When Fort Sumter fell, citizens of Cincinnati and African Americans of Cincinnati began meeting for the purpose of defending the city should the need arise.

They organized the "Home Guard" which incited certain citizens of Cincinnati, and the police took the keys of the schoolhouse.  When they selected a different location, they were required to take down the American flag because they were not considered citizens.  They were discouraged from getting involved in a war that mobs believed did not concern them.

Eventually on September 1, 1862, the city was put under martial law by General Lewis Wallace calling for laborers and soldiers to secure the city.  Mayor George Hatch called on all citizens and aliens to come to the voting places to enroll.  African Americans did not vote at that time so they had to place to report, and they believed as they had been previously told to stay out of the business of the war.

They did not know the reference to aliens meant them.  They were violently and forcibly removed from their home by the Cincinnati police without notice and herded across the river to a mule pen at the point of bayonet.  No explanation was given to family members.  No time was allowed to prepare supplies for living in an outdoor camp.  The African American troops were concerned that they were getting dangerously close to the Kentucky border where they could be captured and forced into slavery.

The Gazette published the following protest:

"Let our colored fellow-soldiers be treated civilly, and not exposed to any unnecessary tyranny, nor to the insults a race which they profess to regard as inferior.  It would have been decent to have invited the colored inhabitants to turn out in defense of the city.  Then there would have been an opportunity to compare their patriotism with that of those who were recently trying to drive them from the city.  Since the services of men are required from our colored brethren, let them be treated like men."  See Ohio Genealogy Express.
General Wallace was apprised of the situation, and on September 4, 1862, he sent William M. Dickson, a 34 year old lawyer to take command of the African American forces at Fort Mitchell.  General Wallace knew that Dickson would treat the African Americans fairly.

After arriving at Fort Mitchell, Colonel Dickson sent relieved the police and sent the troops home to ease their families and adequately prepare to return the next day. They were presented a national flag with the inscription, "The Black Brigade of Cincinnati" by Captain Lupton, assistant to Colonel Dickson: 

"I have the kind permission of your commandant, Colonel Dickson, to hand you, without formal speech or presentation, this national flag - my sole object to encourage and cheer you on to duty.  On its broad folds is inscribed, 'THE BLACK BRIGADE OF CINCINNATI.'  I am confident that, in your hands, it will not be dishonored.
    "The duty of the hour is work - hard, severe labor on the fortifications of the city.  In the emergency upon us, the highest and the lowest alike owe this duty.  Let it be cheerfully undertaken.  He is no man who now in defense of home and fireside, shirks duty.
    "A flag is the emblem of sovereignty - a symbol and guarantee of protection.  Every nation and people are proud of the flag of their country.  England, for a thousand years, boasts her Red flag and Cross of St. George;  France glories in her Tri-color and Imperial Eagle; ours the 'Star-spangled Banner,' far more beautiful than they - this dear old flag! - the sun in heaven never looked down on so proud a banner of beauty and glory.  Men of the Black Brigade, rally around it!  Assert your manhood, be loyal to duty, be obedient, hopeful, patient.  Slavery will soon die; the slaveholders' rebellion, accursed of God and man, will shortly and miserably perish.  There will then be, through all the coming ages, in a very truth, a land of the free - one country, one flag, one destiny.
    "I charge you, Men of the Black Brigade of Cincinnati, remember that for you, and for me, and for your children, and your children's children, there is but one Flag, as there is but one Bible, and one GOD, the Father of us all." See Ohio Genealogy Express.
The Black Brigade became the first group of African American troops in the North to be employed by the military.  They were a group of at least 1000 men, but records have been lost and only 706 are known.  See the Muster Roll of the Black Brigade of Cincinnati.

The men of the Black Brigade performed many jobs in defending Cincinnati. The main tasks they were in charge of were making military roads, digging trenches and riffle-pits, felling forests, and building forts and magazines. During their first week of service, The Black Brigade received no compensation for their labor. The second week they were given $1.00 per day, and the third week they received $1.50 per day. They never actually participated in combat; however, at one point they were only a mile away from the line of battle, unarmed, with only the cavalry between them and the Confederate troops. There was only one casualty among the Black Brigade, which was an accident that occurred while cutting down trees. By September 11, Confederate troops were retreating back into Kentucky. During a speech, General Wallace declared, "When the history of Cincinnati during the past two weeks comes to be written up, it will be said that it was the spades and not the guns that saved the city from attack by the Rebels."

By September 20, the Black Brigade was sent back home to their families. They presented Dickson with a ceremonial sword to thank him for his leadership and kindness. Colonel Dickson accepted the gift and led his troops through the streets of Cincinnati proudly, with music playing and banners flying. After their service to the Black Brigade many of those men went on to become part of colored regiments for the Union Army. In fact, Powhatan Beaty, member of the Black Brigade was one of less than twenty African-American men to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor for his service and bravery in the U.S. Army. The men who so readily helped defend Cincinnati went unnoticed for the most part. The white troops, the Squirrel Hunters, have been honored by the state. However one of the most important rolls in defending Cincinnati too often goes unnoticed. See Black Brigade of Cincinnati.
 During this point of the war, African Americans were not allowed to serve from Ohio, so members of the Black Brigade went on to serve in different regiments on different battlefields.

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