News of 54th Mass., soldier killed in battle

[Mercury, March 9, 1864]

Jacksonville, Fla., Feb.25, 1864

Messrs. Editors: I am pained to inform you that Corporal James H. Gooding was killed in battle on the 20th inst. at Olustee Station. He was one of the Color Corporals and was with the colors at the time. So great was the rout of our troops that we left nearly all our dead and wounded on the field. The fight lasted four hours. We were badly beaten that night, and the next day we kept falling back, until we reached Jacksonville. The fifty-fourth did honor to themselves and our city. All concede that no regiment fought like it.

James H. Buchanan, of New Befford, was killed; and Sergeant Wharton A. Williams, also of our city, was wounded in the hand. Many others of Co. C were wounded; but none of them from our city.

The regiment is pleased to learn that the bill to pay them $13 per month passed.

The total loss of the regiment, I am unable to give you at this time. All we want now is more troops; with them we would go forward again and drive the rebels from the State.

Your friend/James W. Grace/Captain Fifty-Fourth Regiment

Corporal James Gooding was not killed at Olustee, but only wounded in the thigh. However, he was taken prisoner and sent to Andersonville. It was there, on July 19, 1864, that he died.

Corporal James Henry Gooding, 54th Massachussetts, was a soldier-reporter who reported events to the citizens of New Bedford, MA.

  • Additional reading:On the Altar of Freedom: A Black Soldier’s Civil War Letters From the Front. By James Henry Gooding.

    John Ransom’s Andersonville Diary/Life Inside the Civil War’s Most Infamous Prison,
    by John Ransom

    Andersonville: The Last Depot (Civil War America), by William Marvel

    Web sites:

  • Regimental History for the 54th
  • Letter from Captain James W. Grace
    February 25, 1864
  • 54th Massachusetts Infantry*******************************************
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