Col. Isaac Shepard Authorizes Recruitment of 1st Mississippi Regt. African Descent (Former Slaves)
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Special order of the colonel commanding the African Brigade authorizing new recruiting efforts in Louisiana for Bryant’s 1st Mississippi Regt. of African Descent. “Major J. E. Bryant of the 1st Reg Miss. Infantry of African descent, is hereby ordered to proceed to Grand Gulf, Haines’ Bluff, or any other locality in front where he may deem it prudent, to recruit for his Regiment…”. Shepard allows eight (white) soldiers from Sherman’s Corps to be enlisted as Lieutenants. ISAAC SHEPHARD.
Autograph Manuscript Signed. Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana, May 25, 1863. 1 p.
HeadQuarters African Brigade
Milliken’s Bend, La. May 25, 1863.
I., and all officers are requested to furnish him proper facilities for feeding and transporting recruits.
II, 2d Lt. Geo. White of the same Regiment is ordered on the same duty to act under Maj. Bryant’s dictation.
III. Maj. Bryant is hereby authorized to enlist eight soldiers from Maj. Gen. Sherman’s Corps, as Lieutenants; and any person not exceeding that number whom he may give written authority to, shall be recommended to the Adjutant General of the Army for appointment.
Isaac I. Shepard. / Colonel Cdng African Brigade.
Born in Natick, Massachusetts, Isaac Shepard was a well-known abolitionist in the years preceding the Civil War. At the time he wrote this letter, Shepard was colonel of the 51st USCT, but he was soon promoted to brigadier general for his untiring efforts in recruiting, arming and equipping numerous black regiments consisting of runaway slaves and contrabands.
Julian Bryant (d. 1865), the nephew of famed journalist, editor, and poet William Cullen Bryant, enlisted in the 33rd Illinois Regiment at the outset of the Civil War. He served in the Missouri-Arkansas theater, then was reassigned to Sherman’s Corps in the Vicksburg campaign, during which he was promoted to major of a newly organized regiment, the 1st Mississippi Infantry (African Descent). He and his green regiment fought at Milliken’s Bend, a brutal engagement where colored soldiers and white officers of colored regiments were targeted by the Confederate Army. With the help of his uncle, Bryant participated in the campaign to allow colored units equal responsibilities, including combat, with regular white units. Julian Bryant achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel in command of the 51st U.S. Colored Troops (formerly 1st Mississippi) in March 1864. In September he was named colonel of the 46th U.S. Colored Troops. On May 14, 1865, shortly after being reassigned to Brazos Santiago, Texas, Bryant drowned while swimming in the Gulf of Mexico.
April 1983 Civil War Times Illustrated article on Col. Bryant at