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22441Re: [civilwarwest] Letter from a USCT

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  • philip@twinoaks.org
    Oct 30, 2000
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      To: <adco@...>
      From: "Bob Huddleston" <adco@...>
      Date sent: Sun, 29 Oct 2000 18:10:27 -0700
      Send reply to: civilwarwest@egroups.com
      Subject: [civilwarwest] Letter from a USCT

      Thanks for the great post.

      > When doing research every now and then one stumbles across something
      > so powerful that you are taken aback and just sit and stare at it.
      > This is one of those times. I was sitting Friday in the Old Army
      > Records room at the National Archives. A professor from the University
      > of Detroit was being introduced to the Civil War CMSR and Pension
      > records of the United States Colored troops from a couple of staffers
      > who have been working extensively with the files.
      > The letter pasted below is in the file of Private Samuel Cabel (or
      > “Cabelle” as he spelled it), Co. G, 55th Massachusetts Volunteer
      > Infantry (Colored). He enlisted on June 5, 1863 at Readville, MA and
      > was described on the company records as being 21 years old, light
      > complexion, “grey” eyes, and black hair. Cabel told the Massachusetts
      > people that he was from Keokuk, IA, but in reality he was an escaped
      > slave from Brunswick, MO. His occupation was given as a waiter.
      > On August 29, 1865, Pvt. Cabel was mustered out at Charleston, SC.
      > Included in his service file is a letter to his wife back in Missouri.
      > As you read it, remember that it was illegal for slaves to learn to
      > read and write.
      > But not only could Cabel write but obviously his wife could read – and
      > write. And Cabel's handwriting is very clear and readable, even if he
      > is a little original in his spelling!
      > I questioned if someone else might have written the letter for him and
      > the NARA staffers informed us that they think the literacy rate among
      > the soldiers was a lot higher than has been previously thought. Almost
      > all of the men from slave states signed their enlistment papers with
      > an “X” – perhaps at that moment their trust level with whites was not
      > very high.
      > But, the staff said, very quickly the men are writing letters and
      > signing documents. Now that Uncle Sam had actually put them in a blue
      > uniform and handed them a Springfield, the rules had changed.
      > The letter is undated but must be from June or July 1863.
      > It is reproduced as written – and my spell check did not like that one
      > little bit!
      > Take care,
      > Bob
      > 10643 Sperry Street
      > Northglenn, CO 80234-3612
      > 303.451.6376 adco@...
      > Fax: 303.452.3051
      > Dear wife i have enlisted in the army i am now in the state of
      > Massachusetts but before this letter reaches you i will be in north
      > carolina and though great in the present national difficulties yet i
      > look forward to a brighter day when i shall have the opertunity of
      > seeing you in the full enjoyment of freedom i would like to no if you
      > are still in slavery if you are it will not be long before we shall
      > have crushed the system in that now opreses you for in the course of
      > three months you shall be at liberty. great is the outpouring of the
      > colored people that is now rallying with the hearts of lions against
      > that very curse that has separated you and me yet we shall meet again
      > and oh what happy time that will be when this ungodly rebellion shall
      > be put down and the curse of our land is trampled under our feet i am
      > a soldier endeavry to strike at the rebellion that so long has kept us
      > in chains. write to me just as soon as you get this letter tell me if
      > you are in the same cabin where you use to live. tell eliza i send her
      > my best respects and love ike and sully likewise i would send you some
      > money but i now it is impossible for you to get it i would like to see
      > little Jenkins now but i no it is impossible at present so no more but
      > remain your own afectionate husband until death
      > Samuel Cabble
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