Excerpt from The Black Brigade of Cincinnati: Being a Report of Its Labors and a Muster-Roll of Its Members; Together With Various Orders, Speeches, Etc Relating to It
At the request of many members of the Black Brigade, who desired to have in a convenient form for preservation, the report, muster-roll, orders, and addresses which are here presented, I have undertaken the compilation of this volume.
The Black Brigade was the first organization of the colored people of the North actually employed for military purposes. The conference of the loyal Governors at Altoona, where the organization of colored regiments in the North was first agreed upon, had not been held; Massachusetts had not yet issued the call which rallied the noble Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Regiments; colored men of the North were every-where contemptuously refused permission to participate in the great struggle which is opening the prison-doors to their brethren in the South. In no community was this exclusion more generally ratified by public sentiment than in Cincinnati.
In the South, General Butler, with that sublimity of common sense which characterizes all his actions, had employed, as laborers, the freedmen in the vicinity of Fortress Monroe, under the name of "Contrabands;" and, in an order dated August 24, 1862, nine days before the organization of the Black Brigade, he had called upon the free colored people of Louisiana to rally to the defense of the Union.
The city of Cincinnati always has been, and still is, pro-slavery. Nowhere has the prejudice against colored people been more cruelly manifested than here. Further north or further south the feeling is not so intense; but here it almost denies him the right of existence.
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