Letter Tells Of Black Soldiers


I have been researching my grandfather’s Civil War regiment with the help of many penpals. One of them, Doug Adams of Pennsylvania, sent me a copy of a letter he viewed while doing research at the National Archives.

The below excerpts from one of these letters concerns colored troops in the Confederate army. It was written by William Craine, Co. H, 1st New York Volunteer Infantry and sent to his mother.

"Camp Butler, Newport News, April 1862 … There are one or two regiments of Negroes fighting against us and our men caught one of them and cut his throat from ear to ear. … Our men say they will kill every Negro that they see between here and Yorktown."

There is another comment that the men cannot understand why the Negroes are fighting against the Union army. These letters are in William’s pension files. He survived the war and I assume he passed away later as his mother must have applied for a survivor’s pension as I cannot think of any other reason for these letters to be in his pension file.

Obviously this adds more fuel to the fire regarding the controversy that has been going on wtihin the pages of your publication.

Ed Coyne
Dorchester, Mass

Source: "Civil War News" – October 2005