“Black bellied Yankees” The Battle of Fort Blakely

Written on:April 14, 2012
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An auction house has a Civil War letter (at the appalling cost of $3,500) written by Frederick M. Crandal (1831-1911), a Union colonel who was in command of the 48th Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops during the Battle of Fort Blakely (April 9, 1865).

Partial Transcript”

“I recd your letter as this craft was sailing from Mobile. I was glad to hear that you still survive & that the ‘Bloody Old 1st Arkansas’ was running still … I saw by the New Orleans papers that there is an occasional row with the police & knew that your Regt had not forgotten entirely its early & excellent training. We have had hard marching & hard fighting. A week in trenches & a successful charge. The ‘Black bellied Yankees’ made their mark … everyone gives us credit for doing well & I think we did excellently well.… My loss was not very heavy, not over thirty all told. The other Regts in my Brigade suffered much more severely on the last charge, I being held in reserve & not being under fire but a few moments, they did gallantly… We are part of an expedition going into the upper country. We are now about 200 miles up the Alabama … I got 125 recruits in Blakely more than the whole division beside. This puts my aggregate something over 800 … I intend to have a thousand men before we get back. I don’t suppose there is any chance of you getting along, for [Gen. John P.] Hawkins tried hard enough before he left New Orleans, but Canby has no respect for persons. Gen Hawkins can get no favors from him any more than anyone else & I don’t think he would favor any body if he knew it … I came near being drowned the other night, falling over board from a small boat as I was coming from Gen. Steeles boat. I went under a steam boat & came out on the other side & had to do some rapid swimming to catch the boat. I saw two men drowned about an hour ago & no one could help them. There have been 6 men drowned that I know of since we started. The current is very swift & there is little chance for a man with his clothes on. I have no doubt you find your self led off by the fascinations of the fair Cyprians now & then. Virtuous as I am I found my self no match for their seductive arts when I was in the Crescent City … May you live a thousand years…”

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