May 21, 1864
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

For the Christian Recorder.


MR. EDITOR:- I am greatly interested about the pay of our regiment (the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts.) Eleven months have nearly passed, and we have not received any pay yet. We have fatigue in drawing cannons and mortars from Morris Island to defend the stars and stripes, upon half rations. We work with great vigor and patience. We expected to receive our pay in December last. The pay was to have reached Morris Island. The Fifty-fourth Regiment were offered ten dollars per month; but they refused it like men. A few days after, the Paymaster came to Folly Island and offered the same amount to the fifty-fifth Regiment; but they also refused it, saying: "We will stay our three years out, and then go home like men to our homes and go to work."

On the 13th of March the Fifty-fifth Regiment had orders to go to Jacksonville, Fla., to reinforce General Seymour. The fifty-fifth reached there on the 15th of March. We marched out and went into camp. On the 19th the bugle sounded for us to strike tents to go up front to see Jim Finigin and his boys. The Fifty-fourth got to Olustee, near Lake City. There they met Johnny Reb, and fought like heroes. They re-captured the First North Carolina flag three times, and saved it for them. The gallant Fifty-fourth Massachusetts are the boys yet. Three cheers for them! The Fifty-fifth was too late to reinforce them. They reached Barbour's plantation on the 20th, and when they heard that Johnny had defeated the brave boys, they all wished that they had been there.

The question is this: What is the reason Congress will not pay the gallant and brave boys of the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Volunteers their thirteen dollars per month? They cannot say that they are not good fighting soldiers in the field. I rather think that it is the color and quality and citizenship of the United States that is the reason they want us to take ten dollars per month, and three deducted for clothing. No, never will I take it. You may sever my head from my body first. Give us our rights, and we will die under the stars and stripes for the glorious old Union.

"Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah!"

Folly Island, S.C., April 23, 1864.

This is ITEM #60847 from the Accessible Archives, Inc. Database and Web site at You or your organization must be a licensed subscriber to access the databases on its site. This letter is posted here with the kind permission of Mr. John Nagy, Accessible Archives, Inc.

Other Letters from Olustee
Battle of Olustee home page