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Central RR Doboy Sound Cumberland Sound Sapelo Island St. Simon’s Island Brunswick C u m b e r l a n d I s . St. Andrews Sound Fernandina Jacksonville St. Mary's River S t . J o h n ' sRiver SatillaRiver Darien A l t a m a h a River St. Simon's Sound St. Mary’s Jekyll Island Atlantic Ocean Florida RR Brunswick & Florida R R Savannah & G ulf RR N S E W 0 miles 10 5 G e o r g i a F l o r i d a Southeastern Georgia and northern Florida coastline Joint Army-Navy Operations 233 troops, redesignated all black regiments as United States Colored Troops (USCT). Among the first units to join the Union Army in May 1863 was the Second Infantry Regiment, South Carolina Colored Volunteers, organized at Beaufort and Hilton Head and commanded by Colonel James M. Montgomery. This unit later became the Thirty-fourth U.S. Colored Troops. The first regiment of black troops to be raised in the North was mustered into federal service on May 13, 1863, as the Fiftyfourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers. In early June 1863 the Fifty-fourth went south and arrived in Port Royal after a seven-day voyage from Boston. Among its members was twenty-seven-year-old James Henry Gooding, a native of Troy, New York, who had gone to sea in 1856 with the New Bedford whaling fleet. Instead of joining the Union Navy, Gooding walked into the Bedford recruiting office on Valentine’s Day 1863 and enlisted in the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment. An educated, well-traveled black man, Gooding recorded his experiences in letters sent to the New Bedford Mercury. After landing on June 8, 1863, at Beaufort, South Carolina, the Fiftyfourth Massachusetts marched to a campground about a quarter mile out of town. “Our reception was almost as enthusiastic here in Beaufort , as our departure from Boston was,” Gooding recalled. Their arrival caused a quite a stir. “When the 54th marched through the streets of this town, the citizens and soldiers lined the walks, to get a look at the first black regiment from the North,” According to Gooding, “The contrabands did not believe we were coming; one of them said, ‘I neber bleeve black Yankee come here help culer men.’” Noting that the Copperhead press had spun tales “that the slaves were better satisfied in their old condition than under the present order of things,” Gooding told readers that the contrabands “appear to understand the causes of the war better than a great many Northern editors.”6 In reporting the safe arrival of the Fifty-fourth to Governor Andrew of Massachusetts, General Hunter referred to a dispatch he had received from Montgomery of the Second South Carolina Volunteers. Hunter then revealed to the governor his overall strategy: “Col. Montgomery’s is but the initial step of a system of operations which will rapidly compel the rebels either to lay down their arms and sue for the restoration to the Union or to withdraw their slaves into the interior, thus leaving desolate the most fertile and productive of their counties along the Atlantic seaboard.” Montgomery had just returned from a raid up the Combahee River into the interior with 250 soldiers of the Second South Carolina Volunteers and a section of the Third Rhode Island battery. They had advanced twenty-five miles into the interior, burned a bridge across 234 Bluejackets and Contrabands the Combahee River, and liberated a vast amount of cotton, rice, and other property. Montgomery had also brought back with him 727 slaves and five horses. These former slaves, still clothed in “their field suits of dirty gray,” were accompanied by a tiny black woman, known to some as “Moses” but to most as Harriet Tubman. According to sources, the slaves had come running to the river at the sound of the gunboats’ whistles. Among the slaves “carried off by the Yankees” were 199 men, women, and children from Cypress Plantation.7 Hunter included the newly arrived Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, commanded by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, in his plan to reclaim coastal counties for the Union. On June 9, 1863, the men of the Fifty-fourth reported to Montgomery on St. Simon’s Island. The following day, leaving two companies to guard their camp, the Fifty-fourth boarded the John Adams with five companies of Montgomery’s Second South Carolina Volunteers. “We landed on the main land, at a small town, named Darien...


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