Chaplain Turner: June 24, 1865

Chaplain Turner

Headquarters First U.S.C.T.

Roanoke Island
June 14, ‘65



Christian Recorder: June 24, 1865


MR. EDITOR: On the 3d instant our Division was aroused from its quiet slumbers by dashing orderlies galloping in every direction, with marching orders. Thus we were all soon in a great stir, getting ready to leave Goldsboro, where we had rested pleasantly for several weeks. Our entire Division having been assigned to coast duty, in consequence of an idea cherished by the commanding General that colored troops are better adapted to the climate on the sea coast in hot weather than white troops, therefore, the three Brigades were respectively assigned as follows:--

First Brigade, consisting of 1st, 30th and 107th U.S.C.T., to Morehead City and vicinity, while my (1st) regiment came to Roanoke Island.

Second Brigade, consisting of 4th, 5th and 39th U.S.C.T., went to Wilmington and vicinity.

Third Brigade, consisting of the 6th, 37th and 27th U.S.C.T., went to Wilmington and vicinity.

We left Goldsboro, to the displeasure of all parties, both white and colored being opposed to our going.

Taking the cars, we arrived in Newbern on the afternoon of the same day. Shortly after my arrival, I was met by the Rev. Mr. Hood, of the Zion church, who offered me the comforts of his house, and extended me a most cordial welcome to the city. I went to his house, stayed all night, tried to preach in his splendid church, and had a pleasant time generally. Mrs. Hood is a beautiful lady, very prepossessing, highly cultivated, and reflects honor upon the parsonage. I admire Brother Hood’s taste in selecting a partner very much; for ministers generally pick and choose a great deal, and then marry the most homely ladies. I find Brother Hood a strong advocate for union between our two connections. He informed me that the name proposed for our connection after its union is, the United African Methodist Episcopal Church. I would suggest that its name be simply, United Methodist Episcopal Church.

I suppose some will think I have fallen a devotee to the sophistry of Brother Lynch. But as he is recognised as the champion of that theory, I acknowledge myself a devotee of his irrefutable arguments; for it is destined to popularize him if it takes fifty years—though I have no idea that he ever presumed on such a thing as popularity in his advocacy of the subject. I make those assertions for him. I believe not only the African Church, but all other religious and moral institutions designated by local terms, are destined to die out. That little word “Unity” is going to eat up and annihilate, in God’s own good time, every other phrase or sentence expressing man’s upward march. All others will be but as dry stubble before the hungry flames.

Roanoke Island is a very nice place, healthy, salubrious, and full of living resources. There has been a system of fraud going on here for some time with contraband stores, provisions, &c. Colonel J. H. Holman has put several under arrest, and black things are coming to light which would startle you. Government agents here seem to have been making their own money, while the freed people were undergoing a practical course of starvation. But the hero of the fighting First U.S.C.T. is making everything within a hundred square miles tremble if the least guilt is apparent. Those who are innocent are in great suspense, fearing that someone will call their names.

Several colored men, who have been working in the Commissary Department since General Burnside took the place, nearly three years ago, have been arrested and put under guard, while white agents have been sent to Newbern and elsewhere under negro guards. I should not be surprised if some Colonels are arrested and brought to trial. Roanoke Island being a sort of out-of-the-way place, parties have been doing as they pleased. There are about 4,000 colored people here, of whom I shall speak hereafter. My work is so great now, that I will have to give you short notes.

H. M. T.