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Old March 5th, 2021, 05:52 PM
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The following quote is taken from Horace Porter's book, Campaigning with Grant. Porter served as an aide-de-camp to Grant from the end of April of 1864 to the end of the war. This occurred on the occasion of President Lincoln's first visit to Grant following the initial attack on Petersburg, Virginia.

Quote:
After a while General Grant said "Mr. President, let us ride on and see the colored troops, who behaved so handsomely in Smith's attack on the works in front of Petersburg last week." " Oh, yes," replied Mr. Lincoln ; " I want to take a look at those boys. I read with the greatest delight the account given in Mr. Dana's despatch to the Secretary of War of how gallantly they behaved. He said they took six out of the sixteen guns captured that day. I was opposed on nearly every side when I first favored the raising of colored regiments; but they have proved their efficiency, and I am glad they have kept pace with the white troops in the recent assaults. When we wanted every able-bodied man who could be spared to go to the front, and my opposers kept objecting to the negroes, I used to tell them that at such times it was just as well to be a little color-blind. . . . .

The camp of the colored troops of the Eighteenth Corps was soon reached, and a scene now occurred which defies description. They beheld for the first time the liberator of their race—the man who by a stroke of his pen had struck the shackles from the limbs of their fellow-bondmen and proclaimed liberty to the enslaved. Always impressionable, the enthusiasm of the blacks now knew no limits. They cheered, laughed, cried, sang hymns of praise, and shouted in their negro dialect, " God bress Massa Linkum ! " " De Lord save Fader Abraham!" "De day ob jubilee am come, shuah."

They crowded about him and fondled Ms horse; some of them kissed his hands, while others ran off crying in triumph to their comrades that they had touched his
clothes. The President rode with bared head; the tears had started to his eyes, and his voice was so broken by emotion that he could scarcely articulate the words of thanks and congratulation which he tried to speak to the humble and devoted men through whose ranks he rode. The scene was affecting in the extreme, and no one could have witnessed it unmoved.
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