Edwin M. Main.

The story of the marches, battles, and incidents of the Third United States Colored Cavalry; a fighting regiment in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-5 (Volume 2) online

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ajor ED. M. Main,
Third U. S. C. C.


Marches, Battles and Incidents



' A Fighting Regiment in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-5. ==

With official orders and reports relating thereto,
compiled from the Rebellion Records.

ED. M. MAIN, Late Major,


The Globe Printing Company, Louisville, Ky,

Two Copies Received

OCT 31 1908

CopyrijfM tl try

aASS q^ ' XXc, No.

intered according to Act of Congress in the year 1908, by


In the office of the librarian at Washington, D. C.


Organization 3

PREFACE The Story of the Black Regiment is the History of the Third

U. S. Colored Cavalry 21

The Black Regiment 25

Major E. M. Main 26

Chapter I. The Causes Leading to the War 29

Personal Sketches of Officers 46

Chapter II. The Organization of the Regiment 58

Chapter III, The Black Troopers in Battle 6|

Chapter IV. The Regiment goes into Winter Quarters 72

Major Cook Ordered to Roebuck Lake and Honey

Island 75

Lieutenant Colonel William T. Clark 75

Captain Andrew Ernbry 80

Chapter V. A Raid across the River in Louisiana and Arkansas. 81

Colonel Osband's Report 89

Lieutenant Colonel William T. Clark 91

Captain Richard Taylor 91

Chapter VI. The Yazoo Expedition, Jan. 31 to Mar. 10, 1864 92

Colonel Coates sends Dispatches to Vicksburg 97

Running the Blockade 100

A Reconnaissance 106

Chapter VII. . , The Expedition Returns to Yazoo City 108

- - '• ' Yazoo City and its Invironments Ill

A Running Fight on the Benton Road 112

Captain Howard Cook 117

Chapter VIII. The Storm Breaks 118

Homeward Bound 125

First Lieutenant Edwin Farley 124

Chapter IX. Correspondence between Brigadier General
L. S. Ross, Commanding Texas Brigade and Major
George C. McGee, Commanding Redoubt on Ben-
ton Road, Yazoo City, March 5, 1864 125

Chapter X. Roster of Commissioned and Non- Commissioned
Officers of the Third U. S. Colored Cavalry, show-
ing Rank and Service in Former Regiment 148

First Lieutenant and Adjutant, Francis E. Lovejoy . 15(i



Chapter XL The First Battalion at Goodrich's Landing 157

A Raid that left Death and Destruction in its Wake . 158
Lieutenant Shotzell brings down his man at 800

yards 102

A Raid across the River in Deer Creek Country 165

First Lieutenant F. W. Calais 166

Chapter XII. I'.xpedition to Benton and Black River April and

May, 1884 167

First Lieutenant Frederick Fernald 174

Chapter XIII. The Expedition to Jackson and Pearl River 175

Report of Maj. Gen. Henry W. Slocum, U. S. Army,

Commanding District of Vicksburg 177

First Lieutenant D. E. Potter 178

Chapter XIV. Grand Gulf Expedition July 11 to 20, 1861 179

The Grand Gulf Expedition 181

Chapter XV. Expedition from Vicksburg to Natchez, Fort Adams

and Woodville, September 21 to October 11, 1864.183

The Fight near Woodville, Miss 1»5

A Summary of the Twelve Days Scout 192

Chapter XVI. The Third U. S. Colored Cavalry thrown in the

Breach 199

Chapter XVII 205

Report of Col. E. D. Osband Commanding Expe-
dition 206

• Addenda 215-216

Chapter XVIII. The Grierson Raid, Dec. 21, 1861 to Jan. 13, 1865 .217

The Start 258

The Fight at Egypt Station 223

A Terrible Slaughter 227

Suffering Among the Prisoners 228

The Fight at Franklin 229

Headed for Vicksburg 234

Chapter XIX. A Report of the Grierson Raid from the Rebellion

Records 235

A Report of Capt. Anthony T. Search, Fourth Illinois

Cavalry 240

Chapter XX. Expedition in Southeastern Arkansas and North-

eastern Louisiana Jan. 26 to February 10, 1865. . . .243

Second Lieutenant David P. Shirfy 247

Chapter XXI. Report of Col. E. D. Osband, Commanding Cavalry

Expedition in Southeast Arkansas and Northeast

Louisiana, January 26 to February 10, 1805 249

Chapter XXII. Expedition Down the River from Memphis, Tenn.

to Fort Adams, Miss., April, May and June, 1865. 255

The Expedition starts Down the River 257

A Naval Officer's Experience on Horseback 261


Chapter XXIII. Reminiscences of the War by First Lieutenant Frank

W. Calais 269

Scouting Through the Cane Brakes of Mississippi.

Betrayed by his dog ... 272

Ordered back to Vicksburg 278

A Plundered Plantation 275

In the Character of a Scout 277

Capture of a Rebel Quartermaster — He had Money

to burn 280

A Drumhead Court Martial, Swift Justice and a short

Shrift 281

Soldier Stabbed by a Cotton Buyer 282

Chapter XXIV. Reminiscences by Lieutenant Edwin Farley 283

Chapter XXV. Reminiscences by First Lieutenant A. H. Carson. . .287

A Scout to Carrollton and Blackhawk 287

Expedition to Jackson and Pearl River July, 1864 . .291

A Raid in the Deer£reek Country 296

The Expedition to Port Gibson, Natchez and Wood-

ville, September and October 299

Chapter XXVI. The Confederate Lieutenant's Dream .302

Chapter XXVII. Old Alf, the Wizard of the Black Regiment 304

Old Alf as a Scout— A Dash for Life 308

Old Alf Runs Amuck 313

A Perilous Undertaking 317

Chapter XXVIII. Little Bob, the Waif 320



Pursuant to the call, of date May 5, 1893, the following sur-
viving officers of the Third U. S. Colored Cavalry, met in club
room "A," Grand Pacific Hotel, Chicago; Lieut. Col. J. B. Cook,
Majors Charles' H. Ghapm and Ed. M. Main; Captains Andrew
Emery, C. C. Spaids, Randolph Grimes, Benjamin S. Wing and
Howard Cook ; Lieutenants Frank W. Calais, Edwin Farley and
Fred Fernalld, and proceeded to organize as the "Third U. S.
Colored Cavalry Organization," electing the following officers to
serve one year :

President, Lieut. Col. J. B. Cook; Vice President, Major
Charles H. Chapin ; Treasurer, Lieut. Edwin Farley ; Secretary,
Lieut. F. W. Calais ; Historian, Major Ed. M. Main.


Lieut. Col. J. B. Cook, Capt. Andrew Emery, F. W. Calais.

The following address, by Major Ed. M. Main, was then
ordered to be made part of the record and published in connec-
tion with the by-laws, which were adopted for the guidance and
control of this organization.


Mr. President and Comrades:

That the colored troops acquitted themselves with credit, has
been fully demonstrated, and that the success they achieved was
due to the patriotism and unflinching bravery of their white
officers, must also be admitted.

Tt is needless to say that without efficient white officers the
experiment with negro troops would have been a total failure.

The officers of negro troops have not received the credit tc*
which they are so deservedly entitled, and for which the great
service they rendered to the country in its darkest hour of peril

4 Third U. S. Colored Cavalry.

demands. Rising above the storm of prejudice then prevailing
against the negro troops, they came to the rescue at a time when
the Union was tottering on the brink of dissolution.

Voluntary enlistments had ceased in the loyal States, and
the Union army was wasting away before the invincible legions
of Uee and Johnston.

Scattered, as it was, over a vast territory, the Union army
was unable to face their opponents and, at the same time, hold
the already subjugated territory. At this period of the war, the
fact first dawned on the Northern mind that one of the greatest
elements of strength the South possessed consisted in her slave
population numbering four million souls, who tilled the soil
producing the sugar, rice, cotton and corn that fed and clothed
the confederate armies, and who also looked after the home in-
terests while the entire white male population flocked to the
support of the Southern standard.

But the usefulness of the negroes did not end here. In the
capacity of pioneers and teamsters, in fact, performing all the
various duties pertaining to an army, they formed a valuable
auxiliary to the Southern cause.

Then the negroes were 1 made the instruments for the destruc-
tion of the Union and for perpetuating their own enslavement.

It became apparent, therefore, that to save the Union, slavery
must be destroyed.

The people of the North failed to comprehend the true con-
dition of affairs, until they saw their own farms and workshops
deserted in consequence of the heavy drafts made for men to fill
up the depleted ranks of the Union army.

When the ^question of giving the negroes a chance to fight
for their own freedom was at last determined upon by the Federal
Government, a great howl of rage and indignation went up from
the South, which, being echoed by their Northern allies, "Copper-
heads," aroused a bitter prejudice against the measure, which,
spreading through our own army, created widespread dissatisfac-

The idea of commanding negro troops was at first severely
ridiculed, and the prejudice was so great that but few men
could be found who possessed the moral courage to face the
obliquy, which threatened to overwhelm all who accepted posi-

Third U. S. Colored Cavalry. 5

tions in colored regiments. There were, however, a few com-
missioned and non-commissioned officers in some of the white
regiments, whose patriotism and courage could stand the test.
These men, stepping into the breach, formed the nucleus of
what ultimately became an army of nearly 200,000 well organ-
ized, finely drilled and highly disciplined troops. These troops,
as fast as organized and equipped, took the field and, by their
conduct under fire, soon won the respect of the whole army.
The prejudice against them disappeared, at least in the army,
and thereafter, white and colored soldiers fought side by side,
mingling their blood in a common pool on many hard fought

As this branch of the service grew in favor, positions in
colored regiments were eagerly sought after. But as the stand-
ard of admission was high, many applicants suffered disap-

The officers of colored troops were selected from the best
men in the white regiments, being chosen for their bravery
and soldierly qualities. These qualifications being established
by previous faithful and meritorious service in their old regi-
ments, a rigid examination before a board of army officers,
expert in military tactics, was required to test their fitness to
command. Without these qualifications, influence had no weight
in securing these positions, and it is not too much to say that
in no other branch of the service did the officers reach a higher
standard of excellence, and in patriotism and bravery, the officers
of colored troops had no peers.

In the early days of the war, the South discussed the ques-
tion of using the negroes as soldiers. But the proposi-
tion did not, seemingly, meet with general favor, through fear,
probably, of trusting arms in their hands, and for the further
reason that their services could be utilized in other ways with
almost equal effect. The Southerner, true to the instincts of
his chivalric nature, would shoulder his gun and fight valiantly,
but he scorned the menial duty of driving teams and building
breast works.

So all that sort of work was performed by the negroes,
leaving all the white men free for duty in the ranks.

6 Third U. S. Colored Cavalry.

It is on record, however, that in New Orleans during the
first days of the war, negroes were enlisted in the Confederate
service, being organized into companies and regiments, armed
and drilled.

In a letter to the Confederate Congress, under date of Feb-
ruary, 1865, urging the enrollment of negro troops, General
Lee said .

In answer to your second question, I can only say that, in
my opinion under proper circumstances the negroes will make
efficient soldiers. I think we could at least do as well with them
as the enemy, and be attaches great importance to their assistance.

Under good officers and good instructions, I do not see why
they should not become soldiers. They possess all the physical
qualifications, and their habits of obedience constitutes a good
formulation for discipline.

They furnish a more promising material than many armies
of which we read in history, which owed their efficiency to
discipline alone."

In the "Rebellion Records," Series 1, Vol. XLVI, p. 1315,
we find the following:

Camp Forty-ninth Georgia Regiment,

Near Petersburg, March 15, 1865.
Col. W. B. Taylor,

Assistant Adjutant-General :

Sir — The undersigned, commissioned officers of this regiment,
having maturely considered the following plan for recruiting
this regiment, and having freely consulted with the enlisted men,
who almost unanimously agree to it, respectfully submit it,
through you, to the commanding general for his consideration :

First : That our companies be permitted to fill up their
ranks with negroes to the maximum number under the recent
law of Congress.

Second : That the negroes in the counties of Georgia which
our companies hail from be conscribed in such numbers and un-
der such regulations as the War Department may deem proper.

Third : That after the negroes have been so conscribed,
an officer or enlisted man from each company be sent home
to select from the negro conscripts such Who may have own-
ers or may belong to families of whom representatives are in

Third U. S. C. C.

Third U. S. Colored Cavalry. 7

the company, or who from former acquaintance with the men
may be deemed suitable to be incorporated in these companies.
For the purpose of carrying out more effectually and promptly
the plan as indicated under the third head, it is respectfully
suggested that each man in the regiment be required to furnish
a list of relatives, friends or acquaintances in his county of
whom it is likely that negroes may be conscribed, so as to
facilitate the labors of the officer or man who may be detailed
to bring the negroes to the regiment.

When in former years for pecuniary purposes, we did not
consider it disgraceful to labor with negroes in the field or
at the same work bench, we certainly will not look upon it
in any other light at this time, when an end so glorious as
our independence is to be achieved.

We sincerely believe that the adoption throughout our army
of the course indicated in the above plan, or something similar
to it, will insure a speedy availability of the negro element
in our midst for military purposes and create, or rather cement,
a reciprocal attachment between the men now an service and
the negroes highly beneficial to the service and which would
probably not be otherwise obtained.

We have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient
servants, J. T. Jordon, Colonel.

J. B. Duggan, Major.

M. Newman, Adjutant.

L. E. Veal, First Lieutenant Company A,

L. L. Williams, Captain Companies B and G.

C. R. Walden, Lieutenant Company B.

A. G. Brooks, Lieutenant Company F.

S. J. Jordon, Lieutenant Company H.

Wm. T. Mullally, Captain Company I.

R. S. Anderson, Captain Company G.

( First indorsement)

Headquarters Thomas' Brigade
March, 18. 1865.
Respectfully forward, Approved.

Edward L. Thomas.


8 Third U. S. Colored Cavalry.

(Second indorsement)

Headquarters Wilcox Light Division,
March 21, 1865
Respectfully forwarded, believing that the method proposed
within is the best that can be adopted.

C. M. Wilcox,


(Third indorsement)

Headquarters Third Corps, Army Northern Virginia.

March 22, 1865.
Respectfully forwarded.

The plan proposed is commended as worthy of attention and

H. Heath,

Major-General, Commanding.

(Fourth indorsement)

March, 27, 1865.
Respectfully returned.
The commanding general commends the spirit displayed
by this regiment. The plan of organization which has been
regarded most favorably proposed a consolidation of the reg-
iments of ten companies, as they now exist, into six companies,
and that the regimental organization be maintained by attaching
to the six thus formed' four companies of colored troops. Each
regiment would then preserve its identity. Perhaps this plan
would be equally acceptable to ,the forty-ninth Georgia Regiment.
By command of General Lee.

W. H. Taylor,

Assistant Adjutant-General

War Department, C. S. Army,

Adjutant and Inspector General's Office,

Richmond, Va., March 15, 1865.
Majors J. W. Pegram and Thomas P. Turner:
(Through General Bwell.)
Sirs : — You are hereby authorized to raise a company or

Third U. S. Colored Cavalry. 9

companies of negro soldiers under the provision of the act
of Congress approved March 13, 1865.

When the requisite number shall have been recruited they
will be mustered into the service for the war, and muster-rolls
forwarded to this office. The companies when organized will
be subject to the rules and regulations governing the Pro-
visional Army of the Confederate States.

By command of the Secretary of War ;

John W. Riely,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

Under the above mentioned law the organization of colored
troops was commenced. But it was too late, the cordon was
tightening around the doomed Confederacy. The closing scene
at Appomattox was drawing near. We ihave .never heard
any disparaging remarks about negroes serving in the Con-
federate army. Had the South succeeded in putting her proposed
200,000 negro troops in the fiell'd, their praisie would now be
linked with that of the Confederate soldiers.

From a Southern standpoint, it was all right for the negroes
to fight for the Southern Confederacy, but for them to fight
for the Union and freedom, was held as a great outrage and
an infringement on the divine rights of the South. The fact
is, negroes have fought in every war this country has been
engaged in, except, perhaps, the war with Mexico.

In the revolution, the negroes fought valiantly in the ranks
with white soldiers, and in the war of 1812, at the battle of
New Orleans, they fought shoulder to shoulder with the men
from Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana, under
that great Democratic soldier and statesman, Andrew Jackson.

The limit of Southern arrogance was reached when Jeff
Davis issued his decree declaring negro troops and their white
officers outlaws, placing them outside the pale of civilized warfare.

This inhuman act, followed by the Fort Pillow massacre,
shocked the civilized world, and evoked a spirit that drove
its author forth, shorn of his brief authority, a fugitive from

The proverb, "Truth is mighty and will prevail", was never

10 Third U. S. Colored Cavalry.

more fully exemplified than was shown in the happy termination
of the war.

That Divine Providence which shapes the destinies of men
and of nations, through her chosen instruments, worked the
slaves' redemption from bondage.

Speaking through the loyal hearts of the North, it was the
inspired hand of Lincoln that penned the emancipation proc-
lamation, striking the chains from four million human beings.

The black man's day of jubilee had come. John Brown's
soul was marching on. The recruiting offices were thrown open
for the enlistment of colored soldiers.

Did they improve the opportunity thus offered to strike a
blow in their own behalf? Yea, the 186,097 enlistments that
followed testify that they did.

The justice of emancipation was made manifest in the light
of a new inspiration, crowning the Union arms with a succession
of brilliant victories, which covered the slave oligarchy with
confusion and irretrievable defeat.

Thanks to the spartan band of heroes who could not be
swayed by fear, favor or prejudice, the work of enrolling col-
ored troops went on apace ; companies, regiments and brigades
were quickly organized and equipped.

With but little instruction in the way of drill, these troops
took the field, and while the country was debating the question,
"will the black troops fight," the problem was solved ait Fort
Wagner, Port Hudson and Milliken's Bend, where they were
pitted against the serried ranks of the Confederacy.

From these battle fields the report went forth, even from
unwilling critics that "the colored troops fought nobly."

Being outlawed by the enemy, the knowledge that, if cau-
tured no quarter would be given, nerved your arm to strike for
victory. Knowing what fate awaited you if overcome in battle
no vision of prison-pens haunted your dreams.

Often far out in the enemies' country, surrounded by over-
powering numbers, cut off from any possible chance of support,
thrown upon your own resources, left to fight the battle single
handed and unaided, knowing that you had a cruel and merciless
foe before and around you. Yet undaunted you faced death

Third U. S. Colored Cavalry. 11

and, like brave men and patriots, conscious of the justice of
your cause, trusted the issue to the God of battles.

When time shall have obliterated sectional prejudices, future
historians, rewriting the story of the great struggle for national
existence, will carefully adjust the scales of justice.

In one side will be justice, forbearance, and a due regard for
the rights of mankind. In the other side will be injustice,
arrogance and oppression, intolerance and cruelty, chains and
slavery, and misery unspeakable mingled with the groans of
captives in chains, the agonized cry of Union soldiers sick and
dying in foul prison-pens, at whose sufferings pitying angels
weep, and devils dance with glee. Which side think you, will re-
ceive the approving sentence, "Well done, thou good and faithful

Nearly all the white regiments have had written and published
a history of the part they took in the great struggle. The ser-
vices rendered by the colored troops have also been eloquently
set forth by different writers.

In these latter publications, the Third U. S. Colored Cavalry
has received but a passing notice, while some of the colored
regiments are given a prominence which places them in the
front ranks of that veteran army.

Without detracting from the well-earned' fame of any, we
can confidently enter the lists and compete for honors with any
regiment, white or black, that served in the Western army.

The Third U. S. Colored Cavalry enjoyed the proud dis-
tinction of being ranked among the finest cavalry regiments in
the army of the Tennessee.

Many of its brilliant achievements are mentioned in general
orders of the war department. The history of the regiment
will show* a long list of brilliant victories and no defeats. Its
record is blameless, no stain dims the glory of its conquests.
Though aggressive, the regiment never violated the laws of
honorable warfare. It gave and took blow for blow. In a fail
and open field the regiment acknowledged no superior. Before
the whirlwind of its charge no equal number of troops could
stay its course.

If an important point was to be held, requiring the highest
standard of discipline and courage, the regiment was invariably

12 Third U. S. Colored Cavalry.

singled out for the duty. The reputation of the regiment was
such that its presence at a critical time inspired almost un-
bounded confidence.

If the regiment was sent to perform a certain duty, or to
hold a position, on the successful defense of which depended
important results, no one doubted their ability to fulfill the trust
if in the power of that number of troops to do so.

No enemy could surprise and raid a camp over which the
regiment stood guard. No sudden onslaught of the enemy could
break and stampede their lines; they might be driven back by
overpowering numbers, but only after a stubborn resistance,
retiring in good order.

The unflinching bravery of the officers and the high standard
of discipline maintained, precluded the possibility of 'breaking their
organization. On the retreat, the regiment was as formidable
as when advancing. In point of discipline and ready control
under all circumstances, no regiment approached a higher stand-
ard of excellence.

Whether leading the advance, standing in the deadly breach,
or covering the retreat of a defeated and disheartened army,
the regiment, with unbroken front, never wavered.

The black troops inspired by the dash and daring of their
offieers, seemed to rise equal to any emergency. The name of
the "Black Regiment" was potent, in the Mississippi valley. Its
battle cry on a closely contested field, like the blast of Roderic's
bugle horn, was worth a thousand men.

The enlisted men were far above the average of those in
colored regiments. Having thousands of likely young colored
men to choose from, none but the finest specimens of physical
manhood were accepted, care being taken to enlist none but

Online LibraryEdwin M. MainThe story of the marches, battles, and incidents of the Third United States Colored Cavalry; a fighting regiment in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-5 (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 28)