"Now", the flag sergeant cried,
"Through death and hell betide,
Let the whole nation see
If we are fit to be
Free in this land; or Ground
Down, Like the whining hound-
Bound with red stripes of pain
In our old chains again!"
Oh! What a shout there went
From the black regiment!
From "The Black Regiment" by George Henry Boker
In this 3rd part of my posts on Black History, I would like to tell of Capt. Andre' Cailloux and the Native Guards of La.
They were the first black regiment that was mustered in by the Union Army during the Civil War.
I am interested in these guys because of the connection that I have with them in history. My family fought at the siege of Port Hudson, La. during the war and one did not return. They were in the 1st Al. Vol. Reg. Inf.
They were with the troops from Arkansas had these men as their worthy foe.
The native guards charged the hill that the Alabamians and those from Arkansas held.
So great was their bravery that the confederates risked their lives to carry water to the wounded blacks on the fields. News of the attack and their bravery filled the northern papers. Making way for other blacks to be enlisted. Swelling the ranks of the Union.
But unknowing to the north, the south also took notice and many petitioned the Confederate congress to enlist slaves. Capt. W. C. Oates told congress that if his troops thought they were fighting to keep blacks enslaved, they would pack and go home. The south did start enlisting blacks but it was to late in the war.
Their actions also showed whites that blacks were not under-evolved humans and not more monkey than man.
That they could do what white man could do.
Too bad this lession was not remembered in later years during World War 1 and 2.
Andre' Cailloux was the Captain, who received his civil and military education in Paris, that lead the attack of the Native Guards. He advanced with his arm shattered from a shot and when he advanced forward a cannon shattered the rest of him. His bravery made history in making him the first Black officer killed in American History.
Links of interest:
Andre' Cailloux at Wikipedia
Article Commemorating Andre' Cailloux's Death at Port Hudson
The Black Regiment by George Henry Boker