Juneteenth – TTG

For the Christian Recorder


City Point, Va., April 12th, 1865.

Mr. Editor:- I have just returned from the city of Richmond; my regiment was among the first that entered the city. I marched at the head of the column, and soon I found myself called  upon by the officers and men of my regiment to make a speech, with which, of course, I readily complied. A vast multitude assembled on Broad street and I was aroused amid the shouts of ten thousand voices and proclaimed for the first time in that city freedom to all mankind. After which the doors of all the slave pens were thrown open and thousands came out shouting and praising God and father or master Abe, as they termed him. In this mighty consternation I became so overcome with tears, that I could not stand up under the pressure of such fulness of joy in my own heart. I retired to gain strength so I lost many important topics worthy of note. 

Some people do not seem to believe that the colored troops were the first that entered Richmond. Why you need not feel at all timid in giving the truthfulness of my assertion to the four winds of the heavens, and let the angels re-echo it back to earth, that the colored soldiers of the Army of the James were the first to enter the city of Richmond. I was with them, and am still with them, and am willing to stay with them until freedom is proclaimed throughout the world. Yes, we will follow this race of men in search of Liberty through the whole island of Cuba. All the boys are well and send all their love to all the kind ones at home.

Yours in Christian love,

G. H. White, Chaplain 28th U.S.C.T.

Comment: In addition to being among the first Union soldiers to enter Richmond, the Illinois 28th Infantry Regiment USCT was one of the assaulting regiments at the Battle of the Crater. They lost half their men there. They paid their dues.

Their experience in Richmond witnessing the freeing of so many slaves foretold the experience they would fortuitously have months later on 19 June 1865 in Galveston, Texas. They embarked from City Point, Virginia in late May or early June en route to Texas for duty at Brazos Santiago and Corpus Christi, Texas. However, they ran into heavy weather sapping the steamers of coal and water. They arrived off Galveston Bar on 18 June and on the 19th went in to the wharf to replenish. Among other USCT regiments, the 28th was present for General Gordon Granger’s famous issuing of General Order No. 3 on what became known as Juneteenth. The events of that day probably paled in comparison to the tumultuous events of 3 April as described by Regimental Chaplain G.H. White.


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13 Responses to Juneteenth – TTG

  1. Pat Lang says:

    One should not forget the cynical hypocrisy of the Emancipation Proclamation issued by Lincol in 1863 after the Union “victory” in the bloodbath of Sharpsburg (Antietam). The EP freed only those slaves in Confederate territory controlled by the Union Army. Slaves in Union states; Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Delaware were not freed until ratification of the 13th Amendment after the war no matter what Grainger did. What the EP was really good for was prevention of French or British intervention to negotiate a compromise peace.

    • scott s. says:

      Maryland amended its constitution to eliminate slavery prior to the 13th, and I believe Missouri did as well (would have to look it up). Besides Delaware and Kentucky, the 13th ended slavery in Indian Territory.

      Grant hated Granger who had been at times in command in Kentucky where he latched onto Andrew Johnson for support. Post Lincoln assassination, that helped, but also made Granger a target for the Radicals who Grant was solicitous to. Grant created a new echelon in the command structure and put Sheridan over Granger (instead of long serving Canby who Grant also hated).

      Meanwhile here we will observe Juneteenth, though I don’t think King (Lot) Kamehameha V needed to free anyone. We just had our King Kamehameha (the Great) Day last week so between then and the 4th not much getting done it seems.

    • drifter says:

      Exigency and hypocrisy are not the same thing. Freeing the slaves was the right thing to do, even if pieces.

      • Ismoot says:

        I see. The end justifies the means

        • drifter says:

          The ends can justify appropriate means, but not simply any means. This is the actual implication of the moral fallacy, “the ends justify the means”.

          The Emancipation Proclamation was an appropriate means for defeating the rebellion. Part of what made it appropriate is that it liberated enslaved people. It would have been much less appropriate if it had, let’s say, enslaved Southern Whites alongside enslaved Blacks in a sort of tit for tat. This is because enslaving people is wrong.

    • TTG says:


      Absolutely true. Outside of the abolitionist crazies, the Union couldn’t care less about the peculiar institution of slavery. Northern manufacturers and mercantilists benefited from slavery as much as the Southern planters. But the abolitionists were vocal and were gaining influence. That alarmed the southern states, especially the planter class. Granger’s General Order No. 3 was just an administrative order implementing the EP in Texas. By that time, emancipation took on a life of its own far beyond a clever wartime political tactic.

      As an exercise in alternate history, how would things have turned out if the Confederacy reacted to the EP by immediately freeing the slaves and incorporated them into their army or if they beat Lincoln to the punch and freed the slaves shortly after withdrawing from the Union? Call it the Cleburne strategy. There’d still be a Civil War, but the Confederacy may have attracted foreign allies early on. The abolitionists would have been silenced. Or there may have been a three way Civil War among the Unionists, the Confederacy that freed the slaves and the southern planter class that simply could not abide by an emancipation of their slaves.

      • Fred says:


        As an alternative history what would have happened if Lincoln had not called for volunteers but let the states seceed? There wouldn’t have been a war, or a Lincoln reelection either. But freedom would have come anyway, just with a lot less death and destruction.

  2. Fred says:

    Congratulations to Joe Biden, he finally got it made a federal holiday. We all know our overburdened federal workers don’t have enough of those. Junteenth has been good electioneering fodder in some congressional districts for years At least it’s a distraction from the celebrations in month where Americans used to celebrate marriage and family. Except now when milk and gas are both $5+ a gallon, crime is out of control in many cities, and the border is wide open. I wonder if the targetted voters are paying attention to the cost of steak and ribs when they get ready to celebrate?

  3. Fourth and Long says:

    My favorite holiday is Freddie King’s birthday. (One of the Three Kings of Blues guitar, the others being B.B. King and Albert King.) Not sure if it’s an official Texas State holiday any longer but I fondly recall Governor Anne Richards making it so once upon a time.

    Freddie King: I Love the Woman.

    Freddie King: Big-Legged Woman.

  4. Le3M says:

    Juneteenth felll on Fathers Day. Hmm.

  5. Deap says:

    Good to be reminded how long former slaves have been freed in this country on Juneteenth. Time also for an accounting from that day forward into our century – what paths did various freed groups take. What post-emancipation choices were more successful than others. Did emancipated persons share common denominators or skill sets that provided moving more successfully or less successfully into this new status.

    Another missing chapter to bring to light is to the Return to Africa movement going on at the same time, and learn why some freed slaves chose to go back to Africa, and others chose to become US citizens. Tracking those two very different paths, and how it affected the fortunes of their future generations is a worthy topic for exploration today.

    One fascinating account is found in the book “Mississippi Africa”. A plantation owner’s distant relative became intrigued after recently recovering the plantation owner’s Last Will and Testament that had made provisions for their freed slaves who did choose to return to Africa.

    The author tracked these descendants back to Liberia today, and investigated what life had been like after their own ancestors return to Africa. How were these later generations faring in their re-adopted African homeland today. It was revealed their African lives were as complicated as those who chose to stay and become US Citizens. That Juneteenth, so many years ago.

    Human beings live complicated lives everywhere.

  6. Deap says:

    In fact Joe Biden celebrated Juneteenth weekend by falling off his bike … going off course in pursuit of another very young girl to sniff – new video shows the whole sequence of events. Not the Babylon Bee – the guy remains 70 shades of weird:


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