“I escaped unhurt from amidst that perfect hail of shot and shell.”

A Letter from the battlefield

Published: July 18, 2014

Morris Island, SC July 20

My Dear Amelia: I have been in two fights, and am unhurt. I am about to go in another I believe to-night. Our men fought well on both occasions. The last was desperate—we charged that terrible battery on Morris Island known as Fort Wagoner, and were repulsed with a loss of 300 killed and wounded. I escaped unhurt from amidst that perfect hail of shot and shell. It was terrible. I need not particularize the papers will give a better than I have time to give. My thoughts are with you often, you are as dear as ever, be good enough to remember it and I have no doubt you will.

- A letter from Lewis Douglass, eldest son of Frederick Douglass, to his fiancee Amelia Loguen. Douglass served in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the first black regiment raised in the Civil War. Their actions at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863 became a concrete rebuttal to racist assumptions that black soldiers would not stand and fight in battle. Lewis was appointed sergeant major of the regiment, the highest rank that black soldiers could achieve at the time, and went on to marry Amelia Loguen.

Letter via Library of Congress , picture of Lewis Douglass via National Parks Service, picture of Amelia Lougen via Onondaga Historical Society.

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