View single post by Johan Steele
 Posted: Thu Feb 7th, 2008 01:45 pm
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Johan Steele
Life NRA,SUVCW # 48,Legion 352

Joined: Sat Dec 2nd, 2006
Location: South Of The North 40, Minnesota USA
Posts: 1065

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That doesn't quite mesh w/ my own research but I've come across the number of approx 7,000 black men acting in the roles of Pioneers for the Carolina's campaign. With the size of Sherman's Army that does make sense. It should also be mentioned that Sherman had no issue w/ those men taking part in the Grand Review; he viewed them as part of his Army and part of the reason it had been so succesful.

A couple of minor compaints and maybe why it doesn't mesh w/ my own research & knowledge on the sucbject. The men doing the loading and unloading ships at Savannah do not appear to have been the same men who went w/ Sherman through the Carolina's but to have been the men who did the job normally. They were well paid for their actions, many were formerly slaves who had never before been paid for their labor.

There seemes to have been an unofficial practice w/in Sherman's Army, any Negro who wants to get something back... put him w/ the Pioneers they never turn away an able back. Some of the fiercest skirmishing in the campaign had pioneers in the thick of it. And the use of the word disbanded in correlation w/ the pioneers isn't quite the right way of putting it; I've made the error in its use too. Sherman broke up the Pioneer Brigade and sent them back to their units in the AoC; Pioneers in Sherman's AoT were along the origianl lines of the pre-war army (20 or so per Regiment)under direct Regimental or Brigade control. Men who were pioneers in the Army of the Cumberland were still Pioneers they just no longer had a seperate chain of command or were under the direct control of the Army Commander.

I actually greatly appreciate the particular detail about the 135th USCT as it clears up a bit of confusion for me as I've seen them listed in different Divisions and Brigades on various Order of Battles and it has confused me quite a bit over the years. That would actually be an appropriate use for a Pioneer or Engineer Regiment and was consistant practice.

I'm gonna paraphrase something I read from a letter years ago. The letters were a collection from a rather racist, more than usual, Illinois Captain. He approached a group of pioneers and demanded some "nigs" to dig his company sinks. White Sgt in charge of the detail told him exactly where he could go as those were "his pioneers and exempt from such mundane detail." While the Captain took umbrage w/ the Sgt and tried to go over his head the Sgt was upheld if maybe scolded a touch for his choice of language. As in the regs Pioneers were exempt from all extra duties to include guard or pickett duty and all such sundry details.

My umbrage over the original contention about black men in Pioneer parties was not that there were none just her assertion that there were no soldiers working beside them... and any time anyone dared to ask for a source you got insulted. There were, quite a few and they were literally working side by side. I think the actual numbers would have been something like three to one but I don't know off hand.

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