Susie King Taylor Essay

1167 Words Sep 12th, 2008 5 Pages
Susie King Taylor
In any war, there are people who are a part of the efforts that make it successful, but go unrecognized as a major “player” in it. The Civil War was no different and Susie (Baker) King Taylor is one of the many African-Americans that served in the “colored” regiments that helped the Union win the civil war. The fact that she was a woman makes her even more unique.
Susie Baker was born under the slave law in Georgia, in 1848. She was raised by her grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. It was Susie’s grandmother that ensured she learned to read and write. Susie was sent discretely to study with a friend of the family, and tutors were sought out wherever they could be found. Discretion was necessary because some southern
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Susie’s memoirs give us an idea of the difficulties the Black African-American volunteers faced. “The first suits worn by the boys were red coats and pants, which they disliked very much, for, they said, ‘The rebels see us, miles away.’” (p.15, Taylor) In addition, the first colored troops didn’t get any pay, and had to rely on what they “received from the commissary” to support themselves and their families. Because of this, “wives were obliged to support themselves and children by washing for the officers of the gunboats and the soldiers, and making cakes and pies which they sold to the boys in camp” (p.16, Taylor). It wasn’t until 1864, that the government “granted them full pay, with all the back pay due” (p.16, Taylor).
Despite these hardships, Susie Baker took over the responsibilities of teaching the regiment’s former slaves the lessons in reading and writing that she had secretly learned as a child. In addition, Susie also tended the men in the regiment who were sick or injured. She recounts that “In February, 1863 several cases of varioloid (small-pox) broke out among the men in the regiment. Many died of the disease, however Susie “was not in the least afraid of the small-pox” (p.17, Taylor) because she had been vaccinated. She also attributed her immunity to drinking sassafras tea all the time. She felt the tea kept her blood purged and kept her from getting sick. As in most wars the horrors that a

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