Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas among the Freedman

Here is the second and final Christmas story I will post from Frank Moore's The Civil War in Song and Story 1861-1865, found on page 22. It is not quite as detailed or expressive as the previous story, but still shows another perspective of what this holiday meant to some 146 years ago.(The story is told in dialect for the parts spoken by the African-Americans, so I have typed it just as it appears in the book.)

CHRISTMAS AMONG THE FREEDMEN - It is well understood that Christmas was the grand holiday of the slaves on the southern plantations. In some parts of the South, the colored people have this year, 1863, celebrated it with unusual zest. A correspondent writes home about one celebration by the soldiers of the Ninth Louisiana Regiment, corps D'Afrique, adn tells how they met and gave expression to their feelings, on Christmas day - their first free Christmas. After prayer, and speeches were in order, one man, says the correspondent, spoke about as follows:

"Fellow Soldiers of the Sebenth Regiment: I is mighty glad to enjoy dis portunity for enjoying dis first free Christmas in dis world what we live in. A year ago, where was we? We was down in de dark land of slavery. And now where are we? We are free men, and soldiers of the United States. And what have we to do? We have to fight de rebels so dat we never more be slaves. When de day of battle come what will we do? I speak for me, and I say for myself, I go and fight de rebels till de last man die. Yes, under de flags what was presented to us from New York, we fight till de last man die; and if I be de last man, what will I do? I hold up de flags, doing my duty. De President of de United States is one great man what has done more good dan any oder man what ever was borned. I bless de Lord we fight for  so good Commander. I have no more to say now and evermore - Amen."

Whether these troops were of the 9th or 7th regiment is unknown, and perhaps not important, but the "Corps d'Afrique" designation was unique to African American troops from Louisiana.

Here is an essay about the United States Colored Troops during the war.

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