On the Altar of Freedom: A Black Soldier's Civil War Letters from the Front

On the Altar of Freedom: A Black Soldier's Civil War Letters from the Front

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Overview

On the Altar of Freedom: A Black Soldier's Civil War Letters from the Front by James Henry Gooding

On February 14, 1863, twenty-six-year-old seaman James Henry Gooding volunteered to serve in the Massachusetts 54th, the first regiment of black soldiers ever recruited for the Union army. Over the next twelve months, he posted a series of remarkable letters from the front to his hometown newspaper, the staunchly abolitionist New Bedford Mercury. Written with insight and literary flair, his letters provide a vidid portrait of the war as seen through the eyes of a black volunteer.

From basic training at Camp Meigs in Readville, Massachusetts, through campaigns in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida, Gooding faithfully records the activities of the 54th, including the legendary storming of Fort Wagner. He also voices the injustice felt by soldiers of his regiment over the issue of unequal pay, the refusal to promote deserving black enlistees to officer rank, and the deeply ingrained racism of whites in both the North and South.

Wounded and captured during the battle of Olustee, Florida, in February 1864, Gooding died later that year in Andersonville Prison.

In her introduction, Virginia M. Adams provides biographical details on Gooding's life and examines the antebellum history of New Bedford's large and articulate community of free blacks.

University of Massachusetts Press

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781558492028
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date: 04/06/1999
Pages: 200
Sales rank: 691,058
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Virginia M. Adams is librarian emerita of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society's Whaling Museum Library in New Bedford.

University of Massachusetts Press

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