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In 1862 military necessity enabled Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton to pry from a hesitant President Lincoln the authority to enlist black troops in the Union army. The pioneer regiment of ex-slaves was to secure the beachhead tenuously held at Beaufort, off the South Carolina coast. The commanding officer chosen for the First South Carolina Volunteers was Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a militant human rights activist, writer and lecturer, and former...
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