Guide to the 1st South Carolina / 33 Rd U.S. Colored Troops Records
Processed by Special Collections staff; latest revision, D. Tambo and E. Fields
Department of Special Collections
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Phone: (805) 893-3062
Fax: (805) 893-5749
Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Guide to the 1st South Carolina / 33 Rd U.S. Colored Troops Records, ca. 1847-1923, 1983
Collection number: Wyles Mss 30
Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara
- Department of Special Collections
- Davidson Library
- University of California, Santa Barbara
- Santa Barbara, CA 93106
- Phone: (805) 893-3062
- Fax: (805) 893-5749
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- Processed by:
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- Date Completed:
16 January 2003
- Encoded by:
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© 2002 Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Title: 1st South Carolina / 33 Rd U.S. Colored Troops Records,
Date (inclusive): ca. 1847-1923, 1983
Date (bulk): (bulk 1850s-1860s)
Collection Number: Wyles Mss 30
United States. Army. Colored Infantry Regiment, 33rd (1864-1866)
1 linear foot
(1 document box and 4 map folders)
University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Department of Special Collections
Santa Barbara, California 93106-9010
Physical Location: Vault and Wyles Map Cabinet
Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or
quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given
on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply
permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.
1st South Carolina / 33 Rd U.S. Colored Troops Records. Wyles Mss 30. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library,
University of California, Santa Barbara.
Purchase, 1966, and ca. 1983-1984.
Unit History of the 1st. SC Volunteer Infantry/33rd U. S. Colored Troops
The First South Carolina Volunteer Infantry was first organized in the Department of the South by General David Hunter at
Hilton Head, South Carolina, in May of 1862. This first effort to form a black regiment met with failure, initially due to
two significant causes: first, Hunter had not received authorization from the War Department in Washington allowing the formation
of Black Units, and Second, the recruits were involuntarily inducted into the regiment in a manner reminiscent of their days
as slaves. As a result, the Regiment was ordered disbanded. Later, the First South Carolina was reorganized under General
Rufus B. Saxon. Attempts to recruit troops from Hilton Head's African-American population were difficult at first due to the
memory of the failed "Hunter Experiment." These obstacles were overcome and the first company was formed under the command
of Captain C.T. Trowbridge.
On November 10, 1862, Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson assumed command of the 1st S.C. It was under Higginson's command
that the 1st reached full strength and was drilled in fighting order. Higginson led the regiment on an expedition up the St.
Mary's River along the Georgia-Florida state line. This expedition lasted from 23 January to 1 February 1863. One of the most
significant actions the 1st participated in was the occupation of Jacksonville, Florida. In March of 1863, a squadron of five
steamboats made their way up the St. Johns River with the 1st S.C. and 2nd S.C. Volunteer Infantry on board. On March 10,
the forces occupied Jacksonville with no resistance.
On February 8, 1864, the regiment was redesignated the 33rd United States Colored Troops. Combined with two other regiments
(one white and one black), the 33rd made their first assault on a fortification at Battery Gregg on James Island, in Charleston.
The combined forces began their attack on July 2nd, 1864 and captured the fort that day. In December 1864, the 33rd participated
with the 55th Massachusetts at the Battle of Honey Hill, a costly defeat for federal forces. In the final year of their service,
the 1st S.C. was part of the union garrison of Savannah and Charleston. They mustered out of service on February 9, 1866 at
Fort Wagner, above the graves of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the men of the 54th Massachusetts.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson
Thomas Wentworth Higginson was born in Cambridge, MA, on December 23, 1823, the youngest child in a large and fairly prominent
family. He graduated from Harvard, second in his class, in 1841.
He became interested in the Transcendentalism and reform movements, especially abolitionism, that were prominent in New England
in the 1830s. Higginson thought that he would like to be a minister in order to address these issues. In 1843, he started
taking graduate courses at Harvard Divinity and finished in 1847.
Higginson spent three years lecturing in different cities. In 1852, he became pastor of the Free Church in Worcester. He became
friends with Abby and Stephen Foster, whose farm was a stop of the Underground Railroad, and Lucy Stone, a women's rights
activist. He was a founder of the city's Natural History Society and the Worcester Public Library. Higginson began his literary
career in Worcester, and he considered his time in Worcester (1852-1863) crucial to his development as a writer. He edited
Thalatta, an anthology of poetry, and an essay entitled "Saints and Their Bodies," which discussed the importance of exercise in order
to stay healthy. The essay appeared in the
Atlantic Monthly; he published many more articles in the magazine.
In 1853, Higginson escorted Stone and Abby Foster to the World's Temperance Convention in New York. When Higginson nominated
Susan B. Anthony and then Stone to serve on the committee on credentials, a debate erupted: some of the men present did not
feel that women should serve on the committee. Higginson said that if women were barred from participating in the World's
Temperance Convention, then it would only be a Half World's Convention. He left and invited people to attend a Whole World's
Convention he would hold at the same time. He quickly built himself a national reputation.
On May 26, 1854, Higginson participated in an attack on the Boston Courthouse in order to free a slave, Anthony Burns. A police
officer was killed in the attack and Burns was returned to slavery. Higginson was indicted, with many other people, for being
involved in the riot, but charges against him were later dropped. He continued abolitionist activities, including participation
in assisting Free Soil settlers in Kansas, and supporting John Brown's raid at Harper's Ferry. In 1862, he was chosen to lead
the First South Carolina Colored Volunteers, the first regiment of former slaves organized by the Union Army in the Civil
War. He served two years before being wounded and discharged in 1864.
He continued his writing in Newport. Emily Dickinson sent four poems to Higginson after reading an essay he wrote in the
Atlantic Monthly, which was meant to encourage aspiring writers. Higginson and Dickinson corresponded until her death in 1886. In 1890, the
Dickinson family asked Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd to edit Dickinson's poems.
Army Life in a Black Regiment, which combines military history and personal experience, was published in 1870. Higginson hoped to correct what he viewed
as Northern misconceptions about freed slaves by sharing his stories of their performance as soldiers.
When his wife died in 1877, he returned to Cambridge and remarried, Mary Thacher of Newton, MA in 1879. Their daughter, Margaret,
was born in 1880. During the 1880s Higginson served in the state legislature. He fought for civil service reform and encouraged
religious and cultural pluralism and tolerance.
Despite his old age, Higginson and his family traveled through Europe in 1901. Higginson and Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) met
in 1905 through the Dublin Society and became good friends. He continued to write until his death on May 9, 1911. Decades
after his death he was known mainly for editing Emily Dickinson's poems. In the 1960s, when reform movements attracted more
attention in that turbulent decade again, his works were given more serious study.
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection contains various materials relating for the most part to the history and organization of the 1st. SC Volunteer
Infantry, later designated the 33rd U. S. Colored Troops. A significant portion of the material is related to Thomas Wentworth
Higginson who served as the unit's commander between 1862 and 1864. There are both original primary source materials in the
form of documents, correspondence (including items from William Lloyd Garrison and Horace Greeley) and secondary source materials,
mostly photocopies, including such things as regimental histories.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
United States. Army. Colored Infantry Regiment, 33rd (1864-1866)
Some related printed sources include:
Armitage, Jeffrey Sturges, -
The Thomas Wentworth Higginson Papers: Documenting the Transformation from Slave to Union Army Soldier 1862 to 1865, Thesis, (A.L.M., Government), Harvard University, (1991).
Berlin, Ira (ed.) -
Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867. Series II: The Black Military Experience (1982). Includes multiple references to Halpine, Higginson, and Hunter.
Blight, David W.,
Beyond the Battlefield: Race, Memory & the American Civil Wa
Brown, William Wells -
The Negro in the American Rebellion (1867).
Cornish, Dudley Taylor -
The Sable Arm: Negro Troops in the Union Army, 1861-1865 (1956).
Fleetwood, Christian A. -
The Negro as Soldier (1895).
Higginson, Thomas Wentworth -
Army Life in a Black Regiment and Other Writings (1896).
Higginson, Thomas Wentworth -
The Complete Civil War Journal and Selected Letters (2000).
Higginson, Thomas Wentworth -
The Magnificent Activist: The Writings of Thomas Wentworth Higginson (2000).
McPherson, James M. -
Marching Toward Freedom: The Negro in the Civil War, 1861-1865 (1967).
Meyer, Howard N. -
Colonel of the Black Regiment: The Life of Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1967).
Murphy, Francis J,
Thomas Wentworth Higginson As Lecturer: A Case Study of Public Lecturing on Science and Other Subjects During the Nineteenth
Pearson, Elizabeth Ware (ed.) -
Letters from Port Royal Written at the Time of the Civil War (1906). Includes numerous references to Higginson and Hunter.
Quarles, Benjamin -
The Negro in the Civil War (1953).
Smith, John David, (ed.),
Black Soldiers in Blue: African American Troops in the Civil War Era, (2002).
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (1880-1891).
Wesley, Charles H., and Patricia W. Romero -
Negro Americans in the Civil War: From Slavery to Citizenship (1970)
Other Sources of Information:
Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Archives and Special Collections:
Box 1: 1
Confederate Currency, 4 items; all issued Richmond, Va
Box 1: 2
General - various officers, including: Col. W.W.H. Davis, Gen. Hunter and others, 1863-1865, 1868, n.d.
Box 1: 3
Garrison, William Lloyd - 1 note (ANS), with quotes by Wendell Phillips and William Lloyd Garrison, possibly signed by them,
Box 1: 4
Greeley, Horace - 1 letter (ALS), describing his plan to attend a convention, June 21, 1854
Box 1: 5
Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, 1847, 1870-1910
Box 1: 6
Diary of Ann Baxter (later married C. J. Brown of Epson, N.H.) - 1864
Box 1: 7
Documents - includes: travel, discharge, and equipment-related documents., issued by
Box 1: 8
Photographs - cartes de visite and other, of officers including Higginson, Hunter, and Saxton
Box 1: 9
Miscellany - postcard, 1905
Box 1: 10 - 20
Reference Materials [mainly photocopies]
Box 1: 10
Correspondence - including several letters from Gen. Hunter to President Lincoln and Gen. Grant, 1861-1865
Box 1: 11
Documents - Mustering Out Rolls (originals in oversize), 1864-1866
Box 1: 12
Histories (of various regiments and relating to participation of Colored/Negro Troops in Civil War); all photocopies with
reference to units organized, 1861-1864
Box 1: 13 - 16
Officers (biographies, histories, photos, writings)
Box 1: 13
Halpine, Charles G., 1862
Box 1: 14
Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, 1854, 1863, 1923
Box 1: 15
Hunter, David, 1861, 1863
Box 1: 16
Trowbridge, Charles Tyler, n.d.
Box 1: 17
Civil War Scenes (copies, some from New York Historical Society), ca. 1861-1864
Box 1: 18
Officers (copies), ca. 1860s
Box 1: 19
Troops (copies), ca. 1860s
Box 1: 20
Miscellany - includes photocopy of a handwritten speech or sermon, unsigned, n.d.; newspaper clipping on letters of former
L.A. Times, May 1983
Map Cabinet 1: 3
Oversize Documents - Mustering Out Rolls for 33rd U.S. Colored Troops, 1864-1866