The Colored Volunteer

Song of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment (Colored)

Nicholas Biddle - an African American soldier -

 was the first union soldier  to be wounded in the American Civil War.
 Biddle was orderly to Captain James Wren of the Washington Artillery of Pottsville, PA.  He was hurt by a brick thrown by a mob on April 18, 1861.
 [CLICK the certificate to enlarge it.]

Nicholas Biddle

Nicholas Biddle [click picture above]

African American Civil War Soldier in Union Blue Uniform
Colored U.S. Troops, Authentic photo

Civil War Soldiers - reenactors
Colored U.S. Troops, re-enactors

Civil War Sailors - orginal shot
Colored U.S. Sailors, Authentic photo

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"The Colored Volunteer" or
"Oh Give us a Flag"

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Verse 1
Fremont [Footnote 1] he told them when the war it first begun
How to save the Union and the way it should be done.
But Kentucky swore so hard [2] and old Abe [3] he had his fears
Til every hope was lost but the colored volunteers

[chorus follows]
O give us a flag, all free without a slave.
We'll fight to defend it as our fathers [4] did so brave.
The Gallant Compn'y A [5] will make the rebels dance
And we'll stand by the Union if we only have the chance

Verse 2
McClellan [6] went to Richmond with two hundred thousand brave.
He said, "keep back the niggers [7]," and the Union he would save.
Little Mac [8] he had his way -- still the Union is in tears --
NOW they call for help of the colored volunteers.
[repeat chorus]

Verse 3
Old Jeff [9] says he'll hang us if we dare to meet him armed.
A very big thing, but we are not at all alarmed.
For he has first got to catch us before the way is clear[10].
And "that is what's the matter with the colored volunteer."
[repeat chorus]

Verse 4
So rally, boys, rally, let us never mind the past;
We had a hard road to travel, but our day is coming fast.
For God is for the right, and we have no need to fear --
The Union must be saved by the colored volunteer.
[repeat chorus]

Verse 5
Then here is to the 54th [11], which has been nobly tried,
They were willing, they were ready, with their bayonets by their side,
Colonel Shaw [12]led them on and he had no cause to fear,
About the courage of the colored volunteer.
[repeat chorus]

[1] John C. Fremont, Republican candidate for President in 1856, Army general officer, and best known explorer to that date, except for Lewis and Clark.
[2] Kentucky was a border [Northern] state during the war. She threatened to join the South if the Union used African American troops
[3] President Abraham Lincoln at first hesitated to use African American soldiers.
[4] The first man to fall in the American Revolution was an African American, Crispus Attucks, who died in the "Boston Massacre".
[5] Company A of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers [Colored]
[6] Major Gen McClellan commanded Union troops at the start of the war.
[7] This term was widely used at the time as a sign of disrepect. Proper usage at the time was 'colored'.
[8] See Footnote 6 above.
[9] Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederated States of America [the South]
[10] Meaning, they would "die before being taken prisoner."
[11] 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment (Colored)
[12] Commanding Officer of the Regiment

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