Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.
BATTLE OF THE CRATER.
Capt. J. Q. Adams, 30th U. S. C. T., Refutes the Charge That Officers of Colored Regiments Were Drunk.
EDITOR NATIONAL TRIBUNE: In the issue of June 14 Comrade Peter P. Miller, Co. F, 51st Pa., makes the statement that at the battle of the Crater the officers of the colored troops that came under his observation were drunk.
I was an officer in the 30th U. S. Colored Troops. Our regiment led the Colored Division in that charge. I was there, and was wounded. I did not see a single officer of colored troops in the slightest degree under the influence of liquor. I was a temperance crank, and had previously canvassed the following colored regiments: Col. Wright’s, 27th; Col. Stearn’s, 39th; Col. Hall’s, 43d; Col. Perkins’s, 19th; Col. Campbell’s, 23d; Col. Russell’s, 28th; Col. Brass’s, 29th, and Col. Ross’s, 31st, all regiments of Gen. Ferrero’s Colored Division, and I did not find a drinking officer.
Of the regiment to which I had the honor to belong, 22 officers are still living, and not a drinking man among the lot; not only that, but each is a trusted and time-honored citizen.
Our Colonel, Gen. Delavan Bates, is living at Aurora, Nebr. He has been Mayor of that city, and holds important positions of trust.
Lieut.-Col. H. A. Oakman was born and still lives in Marshfield, Mass. He has been a member of the Massachusetts Legislature, is Selectman of that town, and holds a position in the Boston Custom House. Maj. A. J. Smith, 1906 North Eleventh street, Philadelphia, Pa., is a retired merchant and Christian gentleman. Adjt. C. B. Sanders, Lowell, Mass., is a prominent physician and valued citizen. Surgeon A. M. Peables, Auburn, Me., has practiced medicine in that city since the war, and has acquired wealth and fame. Capt. J. G. Butler, Oswego, Ill., went into the ministry after the war, where he is still engaged, preaching to Presbyterians. Capt. H. B. Howell, Medina, N. Y., did the same. Lieut. S. W. Edgerton studied theology after the war, and for a long time was Chaplain of Sing Sing Prison. Lieut. S. R. Goddard, Omaha, Nebr., went into the ministry. Lieut. Alonzo Plummer took up law, has a fine practice in Benton Harbor, Mich., was Mayor of that city, Director of the First National Bank, etc. Lieut. G. M. Allen took up law and now has a large practice in Denver, Col. Capt. Edwin Melaney settled in Neponset, Ill., bought a farm, and is a wealthy and honored citizen. Capt. Geo. T. Woodward, Lowell, Mass., is a sedate, courteous gentleman. Capt. D. E. Proctor, Wilton, N. H., is a successful merchant; has served in the New Hampshire Legislature, and in 1891 was Department Commander of New Hampshire. Capt. Andrew Davidson, Cooperstown, N. Y., was Deputy Commissioner of Pensions, proprietor of the Cooperstown Republican, and recently placed in charge of the Soldiers’ Home, Bath, N. Y. Capt. Chas. N. Swift, 82 John st., New York City, is a worthy member of a successful business firm. Capt. Eben Whitney, 119 Main street, Elizabeth, N. J., has been in the mail service since the war. He is a pronounced advocate of temperance and exemplary Christian gentleman. Capt. Geo. A. Herbert, Mount Vernon, N. Y., is the buyer for a large silk importing house, and spends most of his time in France. He is a man of strict integrity. Lieut. Free S. Bowley, 2123 Howard street, San Francisco, Cal., (lately deceased), was a locomotive engineer since the war and was known as a writer to every reader of The National Tribune. Lieut. J. E. Bowen is Postmaster of Central Falls, R. I. Lieut. Frank Barrows, Sharpsburg, Md., is Government Superintendent of Antietam Cemetery. Lieut. Ira B. Quimby, 322 Cross street, Malden, Mass., is and always was a temperance worker and exemplary Christian gentleman. Lieut. Gardner O. North, 65 High street, is a leather merchant, and, like all the other officers has no use for liquor.
These men are all moral in fiber, granite in nature. They were manhood’s noblest types; the nobility of life; nobility of manhood, fashioned into characters beyond criticism, and especially that of drunkenness.
I served a few days as Post Adjutant at Camp Birney, Baltimore, Md., where some of these regiments were raised, and in a letter (still preserved) to my home I said:
“The officers of these regiments are the finest body of young men mentally, morally and physically, that I have ever seen collected together. They would do credit to West Point as cadets.”
In another letter, dated Feb. 11, 1864 (still preserved):
“ I was examined yesterday by Carey’s Board and passed for a First Lieutenant in the first class. The examination on tactics and general information was very severe. It was conducted by Col. Livingston, of the 76th N. Y., and Capt. J. F. Moore, of the 6th Wis. The physical examination of the Surgeon was also very carefully performed, who said colored troops needed better officers than white troops.”—J. Q. ADAMS, Captain 30th U. S. Colored Troops, Boston, Mass.1
- Adams, J. Q. “Battle of the Crater.” National Tribune 25 June 1903. 3:5. ↩