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AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE CIVIL WAR – ETHERIDGE, Richard H. Autograph letter signed (“Richard H. Eatheridge R.C.S. 36 U.S.C.T.”), Brazos, Santiago, Tex., 23 August 1866 to Oren A. Hendrick.
AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE CIVIL WAR – ETHERIDGE, Richard H. Autograph letter signed (“Richard H. Eatheridge R.C.S. 36 U.S.C.T.”), Brazos, Santiago, Tex., 23 August 1866 to Oren A. Hendrick.

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AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE CIVIL WAR – ETHERIDGE, Richard H. Autograph letter signed (“Richard H. Eatheridge R.C.S. 36 U.S.C.T.”), Brazos, Santiago, Tex., 23 August 1866 to Oren A. Hendrick.

One page, 235 x 198 mm, on lined paper. [With:] Carte-de-visite photograph of Etheridge (65 x 100mm.), full-length in uniform, with elements hand-tinted in blue and red, together with a period envelope enclosing the same. Light soiling.

A rare letter from an African-American Civil War soldier, writing to his former captain, honoring his sacrifice “for the rights and elevation of the Colored race.” Enclosed with the soldier’s full-length portrait on a hand-tinted carte-de-visite sent as a remembrance. Etheridge writes to his former captain, Oren A. Hendrick, while stationed on the Rio Grande River, in August 1866, guarding against a potential invasion by Mexican forces loyal to Maximillian. Recalling their shared service during the Civil War, Etheridge writes, in full: “I have the honor to tend here with my kind regards for your future welfare trusting that in days to come the enclosed business may be the means of bringing to you pleasant recollections of days past when you Sacrificed all in your power for the rights and elevation of the Colored race and I trust that you may receive your just reward in Heaven is the Constant prayer of Your humble Servant...” A remarkable and poignant letter.

Etheridge was born into slavery, but was apparently free and living on Roanoke Island prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. He enlisted in the 36th United States Colored Infantry in October 1863 at Portsmouth, Virginia. The regiment saw action at the siege of Petersburg, New Market heights, Fair Oaks, Dutch Gap, the occupation of Richmond and the Appomattox Campaign. In May 1865, the regiment moved to the Rio-Grande on the U.S.-Mexican border to guard against a potential invasion by Maximillian. He received his discharge in October 1866. After his return to North Carolina’s outer banks, he gained local fame as the “Keeper” of the African-American crew for the U.S. Lifesaving Service at Pea island. (Bryant, The 36th Infantry United States Colored Troops in the Civil War: A History, 2012, p. 16) His former captain, Oren A. Hendrick (d.1890), was a native of Agwam, Massachusetts. (Ibid, 138).

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