Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rallying with the Hearts of Lions

When Samuel Cable ran away from his owner in Brunswick, Missouri, he was exuberant. In 1863, he found himself in Massachusetts and decided to enlist in the 55th Massachusetts Infantry (a sister regiment of the famous 54th Massachusetts, notably profiled in the movie Glory). He was 21, eager to fight for the cause of freedom for other enslaved African-Americans, and especially for his wife, whom was still bound into servitude. In a eloquent letter transcribed below, he writes to his wife in the summer of 1863, and tells her why he fights for the Union:

An unidentified African-American Soldier (Library of Congress)

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 rally[-]
ing 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 now and i shall use my
utmost endeavor 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 living in the same cabin where 
you use to live. tell eliza i send 
her my best respect, and love
ike and sully likewise i would send 
you some money but i now it is 
impossible for you to git it 
i would like to see little jenkin, now 
but i no it is impossible at present 
so no more but remain your own
afectionate husband until death

                                 Samuel Cabble

An image of the letter, included in Samuel's service record at the National Archives (NARA) is below.

The Letter from Samuel Cable's service file at NARA

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