Voices of Emancipation: Understanding Slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction through the U.S. Pension Bureau Files

By Elizabeth A. Regosin; Donald R. Shaffer | Go to book overview

Introduction

In an oral account of his life, black Civil War veteran Frank Nunn (alias Charles Franklin Crosby), described the circumstances under which he enlisted in 86th United States Colored Infantry (USCI):

I enlisted in 1863.…

I was not free at the time of my enlistment. I ran away and enlisted. No
sir they did not examine me much. Just asked my age and I told them I was
eighteen but I was not that old. I told them that because I wanted to get
into the army. Q. How old were you at the time? A. Somewhere between
twelve and thirteen years of age but I was big for my age. I can't tell you
how tall I was but not near as tall as I am now.1

During his service in the USCI, the young runaway slave experienced combat. Crosby (who went by his alias after the war) continued:

They swore me in and gave me my blue uniform and gun and drilled me.
That was at Barrancas [Florida]. My gun was a Springfield. When I was
discharged, I turned it in. It used a cap and ball and we had to bite the end
off the cartridge. I cannot tell how long we stayed at Barrancas. I had been
in the service probably one week when we had a battle. It was at a place
called Pollard, Ala. That was not much of a fight, just a kind of brush but
after we started back to Barrancas, we had a fight that lasted two hours
and a half at Pine Bairn, a creek. I do not know, but I was told that there
were only 1200 of the enemy and that we killed 800 of them, including
their general, Clanton. We had only about five killed and wounded, I do
not know how many of each.2

Crosby's narrative also describes his role in the Union effort to take Montgomery, Alabama.

-1-

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