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    Civil War archive related to the 51st Infantry U.S. Colored Troops and U.S. Government leased plantations

    [51st Infantry U.S. Colored Troops]. U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Julian E. Bryant Archive, consisting of over eighty military documents, plus a journal, all dated between 1863 and 1864, most relating to the 51st Infantry U.S. Colored Troops. Julian Bryant, who advocated for the equitable treatment of black soldiers throughout the final years of the Civil War, served as an officer in the two units. He was also interested in the equitable treatment of black refugees freed by the U.S. Army. To that end, he served as an inspector of the conditions of freedmen refugees working on U.S. government leased plantations, many that had been abandoned by their owners and taken over by the U.S. government. Numerous documents in this collection are also related to that. This collection is clean with expected wear and only minor faults.

    Lt. Col. Bryant (1836-1865), nephew of abolitionist William Cullen Bryant, lived in Princeton, Illinois, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 18, 1861, as a second lieutenant, commissioned into 33rd Illinois Infantry regiment, Company "E". He served in the Vicksburg Campaign under General Ulysses S. Grant, and, in early 1863, he was promoted to a major in the newly formed 1st Mississippi Infantry (African Descent), tasked with bringing discipline to the former slaves who were new recruits. Bryant commanded his regiment of black soldiers at the Battle of Milliken's Bend on June 7, 1863. The lieutenant colonel and his regiment were then attached to Goodrich Landing, ten miles downriver from Vicksburg, Mississippi, until December 1864. In March 11, 1864, the 51st Regiment Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops, organized from the 1st Mississippi, and Bryant was promoted to lieutenant colonel. In the fall of 1863, Bryant was assigned as an inspecting officer of the conditions of the freedmen (contrabands), which included refugees working on government leased plantations in northeast Louisiana. His personal feelings were that the freedmen were being exploited. By January 1864, he was on another assignment to recruit black soldiers for a new colored regiment, the 46th U.S. Colored Infantry. On September 12, 1864, he left the 51st and was commissioned into Field & Staff of the 46th U.S. Colored Infantry. In February 1865, Bryant was sent on a new assignment at Brownsville, Texas, when, haplessly, he drowned in the Gulf of Mexico on May 14, 1865, less than a month after the Union had been restored.

    This archive consists of a large number of military letters and documents related to Bryant's service with the 51st U.S. Colored Troops, including the following: several morning reports for colored units (such as "Battery C 2nd U.S. Colored Arty. Light"); letters between military officers; over two dozen invoices of ordnance for the 51st U.S. Colored Infantry at Goodrich Landing (such as one dated May 17, 1864, for weapons (34 "Enfield rifled Muskets," swords, "bayonet scabbords," etc.) and accoutrements; several financial account reports for the 51st; various account lists; several abstracts of "Receipts from the Army"; lists of commissaries; a partly-printed report on the "History of the Command of 51st Regiment"; various other reports and invoices. Also included is a true copy dated September 27, 1864, notifying Lt. Charles Robinson of the 139th Illinois Infantry Volunteers that "the Examining Board has found you fitted for the position of Maj. of Infy. 2nd class in a Colored Regiment and recommended your appointment accordingly."

    Also included are a large number of letters and documents related to Bryant's time as an inspector of government-leased plantations, including the following: Bryant's tan leather-bound journal (4" x 6", circa November 1863, with handwritten "J. E. Bryant 1st Miss. Infty. U.S.A." on the cover) containing lists under the headings of "Names of Lessees" and "Infirmary Farms", as well as twenty pages listing details of numerous plantations, such as the Curry Plantation, which had 86 people (20 "ablebodied" and 17 sick), 4 acres of cotton, and 20 acres of corn. Bryant notes that there is "No school, no preaching." Numerous pages of expenses exist in the journal. Also related to Bryant's time as inspector: many orders regarding cotton (seizures and shipments); complaints of plantation owners, including one written from Madison Parish, Louisiana, on September 7, 1863, complaining that a "negro troops" had raided his "neighborhood" and took many things, including his buggy; letters among military officers regarding plantation supplies; dispatches to and from Major General Napoleon J. T. Dana; military invoices; and lists of plantation locations. Many more items exist in this extensive archive, which is worthy of much further research.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2014
    8th-9th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 895

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