In Whitman's Hand

Letters Written for Soldiers

About this Item

Title: Samuel S. Frayer to Lorenzo Thomas, 21 July 1863

Date: July 21, 1863

Whitman Archive ID: loc.05028

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839-1919, Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Ashlyn Stewart and Kevin McMullen

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Fort Bennet,
July 21st 1863

Adjutant General Thomas,

General: I have the honor to forward this my application for an officer's position in one of the Colored Regiments now forming in the District of Columbia.1

I have been in the military service of the government as a private since the beginning of the war—enlisted first in the 8th New York Militia 19th April 1861, for three months—subseqently on the 25th August 1862, in the 2d New York Artillery for three years—& am still in the regiment. I was born in the state of New York, am in sound health, and 26 years of age.

Herewith please see testimonials from my officers.

I have the honor General to remain &c.
Samuel S Frayer2
co E 2d New York Vol Artillery


1. African Americans could join the Union army beginning in July 1862 when Lincoln signed the Militia Act. The first United States Colored Troops (USCT) regiment officially entered the army on September 27, 1862. Though they received older uniforms, worse equipment, and lower pay than white soldiers, and were barred from becoming officers, African Americans joined the effort and helped make the Civil War unmistakably a fight for liberation and freedom. [back]

2. Frayer was a young New Yorker from Albany who worked as a stage driver before joining the military. Frayer's ambition to lead colored troops went unfulfilled, and he remained with his New York artillery unit until just days before the end of the war, when he died from a bullet wound to the head. [back]


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