Belle Boyde

Hurt's Battery, Second Company

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 James Henry Gooding's letter to Lincoln 

James Henry Gooding was a freeborn corporal of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. This letter was written to President Lincoln, protesting the unequal pay of African American soldiers in the Union army as a result of the Militia Act of July 1862, in which free African American soldiers began receiving less pay than white soldiers.

Morris Island [S.C.]. Sept 28th 1863.

Your Excelency will pardon the presumtion of an humble individual like myself, in addressing you. but the earnest Solicitation of my Comrades in Arms, besides the genuine interest felt by myself in the matter is my excuse, for placing before the Executive head of the Nation our Common Grievance: On the 6th of the last Month, the Paymaster of the department, informed us, that if we would decide to recieve the sum of $10 (ten dollars) per month, he would come and pay us that sum, but, that, on the sitting of Congress, the Regt would, in his opinion, beallowed the other 3 (three.) He did not give us any guarantee that this would be, as he hoped, certainly he had no authority for making any such guarantee, and we can not supose him acting in any way interested. Now the main question is. Are we Soldiers, or are we LABOURERS. We are fully armed, and equipped, have done all the various Duties, pertaining to a Soldiers life, have conducted ourselves, to the complete satisfaction of General Officers, who, were if any, prejudiced against us, but who now accord us all the encouragement, and honour due us: have shared the perils, and Labour, of Reducing the first stronghold, that flaunted a Traitor Flag: and more, Mr President. Today, the Anglo Saxon Mother, Wife, or Sister, are not alone, in tears for departed Sons, Husbands, and Brothers. The patient Trusting Decendants of Africs Clime, have dyed the ground with blood, in defense of the Union, and Democracy. Men too your Excellency, who know in a measure, the cruelties of the Iron heel of oppression, which in years gone by, the very Power, their blood is now being spilled to maintain, ever ground them to the dust. But When the war trumpet sounded o'er the land, when men knew not the Friend from the Traitor, the Black man laid his life at the Altar of the Nation, -and he was refused. When the arms of the Union, were beaten, in the first year of the War, And the Executive called more food. for its ravaging maw, again the black man begged, the privelege of Aiding his Country in her need, to be again refused, And now, he is in the War: and how has he conducted himself? Let their dusky forms, rise up, out the mires of James Island, and give the answer. Let the rich mould around Wagners parapets be upturned, and there will be found an Eloquent answer. 


Obedient and patient, and Solid as a wall are they. all we lack, is a paler hue, and a better acquaintance with the Alphabet. Now Your Excellency, We have done a Soldiers Duty. Why cant we have a Soldiers pay? You caution the Rebel Chieftain, that the United States, knows, no distinction, in her Soldiers: She insists on having all her Soldiers, or whatever, creed or Color, to be treated, according to the usages of War. Now if the United States exacts uniformity of treatment of her Soldiers, from the Insurgents, would it not be well, and consistent, to set the example herself, by paying all herSoldiers alike? We of this Regt. were not enlisted under any "contraband" act. But we do not wish to be understood, as rating our Service, of more Value to the Government, than the service of the exslave, Their Service is undoubtedly worth much to the Nation, but Congress made express, provision touching their case, as slaves freed by military necessity, and assuming the Government, to be their temporary Gaurdian:--Not so with us-- Freemen by birth, and consequently, having the advantage of thinking, and acting for ourselves, so far as the Laws would allow us. We do not consider ourselves fit subjects for the Contraband act. We appeal to You, Sir: as the Executive of the Nation, to have us Justly Dealt with. The Regt, do pray, that they be assured their service will be fairly appreciated, by paying them as american SOLDIERS, not as menial hierlings. Black men You may well know, are poor, three dollars per month, for a year, will suply their needy Wives, and little ones, with fuel. If you, as chief Magistrate of the Nation, will assure us, of our whole pay. We are content, our Patriotism, our enthusiasm will have a new impetus, to exert our energy more and more to aid Our Country. Not that our hearts ever flagged, in Devotion, spite the evident apathy displayed in our behalf, but We feel as though, our Country spurned us, now we are sworn to serve her.

Please give this a moments attention

James Henry Gooding

 School Days 
Rick Barram
Education Rep. RACW

 If anyone in the RACW pauses to think of the board position of Education Representative, the first and probably only thing about the position that would occur to them is that this is the person that deals with the schools or other public entities about how the club can help educate them about the Civil War. And if they thought that, they would be right. But another aspect of that is to help the RACW members to understand what the public and schools may be looking for and the power that we in the RACW have to offer it to them. So with this in mind I would like to offer a few snippets based on my years of reenacting and years of teaching history at both the high school and middle school level.

Number 1:  A person doesn’t know what they don’t know. A frequently asked question in our camps and at our school days directed at our visitors is this, “Do you have any questions?” Almost invariably the answer comes back as “no.” The average person visiting our camps’ knowledge of the war is so shallow that they are either overwhelmed by what they see or perhaps too embarrassed to ask a question. At this point, it is up to us to teach them something…remember, they don’t know what they don’t know. So when I’m confronted with such a situation, I often ask a follow-up question, more specific this time…”do you know how to shoot a muzzle loading rifle.” Since the answer will almost always be “no,” I then ask if I could show them how. Now the answer is almost always, “yes.” Now I can teach them something and they come away more fulfilled. I am certainly not saying we all need to teach rifle firing, but we do need to find something that the average visitor can come away after a visit to our camp. The public will not ask but it is up to us to ensure a positive experience when visiting a RACW event.

Number 2: You don’t need to know everything, but know what you know. We can all be effective educators about the Civil War without knowing everything about it. The average private probably didn’t even know where he was half the time or if a great battle was about to happen or not…so don’t worry about all that. What you should know is: who are you, where are you from, why you are here (in the war that is) and something about your unit. By knowing these few things, you will match up nicely with most private soldiers of the war and be able to respond to a least 80% of questions the public asks. “My name is Private Giles McFarland and I’m from Mobile, Alabama and I joined up with the 8th Alabama Infantry cuz no damn Yankee is going come down here and take my darkies from me. That’s why I’m fighting this here war.” Pretty easy. If follow up questions start to get out of your comfort range then merely refer your guest to someone else within the company who may have the information needed.

School Day

Number 3:  Schools expect a quality product. In the past twenty years and certainly in the past five, the nature of school field trips has changed. Fueled by increased costs and increased expectations, more and more a field trips must be more closely connected to overall learning objectives than ever before. Unfortunately much of what is our stock and trade at school days does not match up well with modern U.S. History objectives. While kids and teachers often come away intrigued and excited, drill, musket firing, and women’s fashions don’t often reflect well with state standards. More and more teachers are looking for pieces of information or flashes of experience that the kids can take back to the class room and then use as the basis of a writing assignment or some other project. Often that will mean that we must provide the “why” about aspects of the war that we may not have done before. In past school days we have had stations devoted to “Confederate Political Position” and a talk by “John Brown” which provide fertile ground from later discussion back in the classroom. But while it isn’t necessary that every station at a school day presentation be so formal, let’s consider how some of these following could be worked in to what we do.

Union stuff: Preservation of Union. Abolition. Support/lack of support for Lincoln. Conditions in army.

Confederate stuff: Creation of new country. Why secede. Defense of institution of slavery. Conditions in army. Demands of home.

These are a few “idea based” aspects of what it means to be a soldier in the Civil War and can offer a teacher more meat for the classroom beyond just how to fire a musket. Let’s not drop the musket but we certainly can fill in better around the edges.


While everyone in the club may not see the methods of educating the public and school visitors the same, we must all acknowledge that if we are to live up to the RACW’s mission statement, then we ask a group cannot shy away from our responsibilities in this area.

Wounded Reb
 From the Tent of Dreams 
QMSgt Seamus “Shameless” O’Cooney
RACW Tent of Dreams/9th Reg’t VRC

[QMSgt. O'Cooney sends out copies of interest forms "Fresh Fish Forms" that visitors to the Tent of Dreams are encouraged to fill out to indicate if they would like more information about reenacting and the RACW. The Tent of Dreams (TOD) is a recruiting station that Sgt. O"Cooney with the help of others has been setting up at recent RACW events.]

Friends in Wool & Crinoline,

Fresh Fish Packets are mailed out to each unit’s recruiting rep.  I send packets to all who ask, and currently the following have asked for and receive mailed packet copies after events:

  • H. “Reliable” Wagner 42d VA CSA

  • Ken Janson Hurts Battery CSA

  • Joe Allison 8th Alabama Inf CSA/1st USSS

  • Rick Barram 72nd NYVI Reg’t

  • Don La Porta Federal Chief of Artillery

  • Steve Kerns Federal Cavalry

  • Tabitha Dubke Empress of the Civilian Corps

  • Whispering Dan Baldwin Grandmaster of the Noble 1st Btn 9th Reg’t USIC and VRC

If anyone else you requires a copy after events for your own recruiting follow-up, please send me their address & e-mail info.


Clearly we need to double our effort at the TOD, in an effort to increase the numbers of spectators who leave us their contact info. We are working on some ideas in the VRC camp.

Many have suggested we hide Fowler during public hours.

As previously recommended, I strongly suggest that every unit assign/elect its OWN recruiting committee, so that the commander of the unit can delegate that task (i.e., the recruiting follow up calls and e-mails that seal the deal & fill your rosters!) I would then communicate directly with that person/committee, rather than overwhelming each unit commander with more work after each event.

In addition, that committee could begin to organize “Living History skit books” and set up clinics on Friday evenings at events to practice Living History in a less haphazard, and more organized manner that weekend. With brief practice, we could be doing many more skits in every street, and with planning, we can avoid duplicating presentations across the Mason Dixon line.

If anyone from other units is considering “retiring from powder-burning” for reasons of Low-T, low agility, poor health or high risk, consider staying in wool as an Invalid until you are ready to return to your home unit! Let us NOT lose veteran Reenactors for such minor reasons as “He could die if … !”

I do feel that we would draw MORE HIGH-QUALITY & 1st CLASS CHARACTER younger folks (of both the men and women kind) to the TOD, if we had representatives of your units, from those character-categories (engaging, eager, bold in presenting Living History, etc), visiting the TOD at occasional and brief times – especially during LIVING HISTORY times between battles.

For example, if we had two young handsome and argumentative fellows shaving at the TOD, arguing politics, the relative merits of bachelorhood vs. marriage after the war, or showing off their military bearing under arms, I am CONFIDENT that we’d draw more of the same-age fellows/ladies that we seek – of musket age, employed, eager, obsessed with history - yet rational about it.

When our more splendid dandies - Rick or Henry or Ken or LaPorta and the Ladies of the Township are lounging about the TOD area, for example, we often will get more questions (“What kind of bird died to give up THAT huge feather on that fellow’s flap-brimmed Australian cowboy hat?) and much greater public interest (I guess - like folks who slow down to gawk at a car accident?) in THEIR units and background … so consider scheduling your eager young Reenactors to walk by the TOD, and ask them to engage the folks there for maybe 10-20 minutes, and I am sure we can scoop MORE loose folks toward YOUR camps! It also makes our jobs of selling the GRAND ILLUSION to folks in shorts and t-shirts on a warm summer day, much easier!

At Hawes Ranch we tried to use the new TOD/DVD player to engage the folks at the TOD table, when warm-blooded recruiters were busy with other folks – but it was not a fair test, because the bright sunlight made viewing the small screen nearly impossible, even in shade. No one seemed to want to watch a screen with so much live-action stuff to see inside the gate – would you want to watch a film about cannons or cavalry while some live ones were sited only fifty yards away on the hill top?). I could see the technology being of much greater use at Gun Shows, school days (i.e., between skits or as we are setting up to present Living History) or some other in-door venues. Thanks are due to Tom Hubbard, Whisperin’ Dan Baldwin, Henry Reliable Wagner, and Joe Allison and the RACW Board for following through with the DVD player idea to increase recruiting efforts. Has any Reenactor ever said, “No thanks – I already have too much gear!”?

I must express my gratitude as always to those who support the TOD concept, and who visit the TOD during events to support active recruiting!

For the Hawes Ranch Event...
Special thanks also go out by .69 cal. Buck & Ball to Pappy & Lilly for their support attention and efforts through the whole event, to all of our unit commanders and their staff, and to Howler Fowler, Lt. Norm the Sky Blue Ghost of the Carolina Coast - our good Lt. Hewitt being AWOL on “French Leave” from Hawes Farm - with the completely predictable result that once again his Corps d'Invalides were found to be besotted and deranged for the entire event.

Thanks go out also to Tom (another new Invalid at Yreka) and Becky McCarthy and to Kathleen Samantha Jeannette and Tabitha and their Many Masterful Minions in Hoops & Petticoats, for being such forbearing neighbors for the week. All helped guide the incoming crowds and all gave much in the effort to bring the late summer of 1863 to our visiting guests.

Another note of thanks must be given to Holly & Ken and The Thrown Together Band, who brought their own harmonies & song stylings of the period to the TOD area on Sunday - while folks were captive audiences - waiting to embark on the trains to leave, and for folks just arriving at the event gate … HUZZAH f’r our Inveterate Confederate Joyous Noise Brigade!

Respectfully Submitted,
I Shall Remain

Your Most Humble & Obedient Servant,

QMSgt Seamus “Shameless” O’Cooney

RACW Tent of Dreams/9th Reg’t VRC


Publication Information

The Shoulder Arms' editor is Ken Janson who will be happy to receive any help/suggestions/submissions you might have to offer.


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