A Freedman’s First Act

On the return march of Col. Mix’s 3d  New York Cavalry from Winchester to Washington, a large number of male contrabands followed the regiment. They were not permitted to be turned back or molested by the commanding officer, Col. Mix. They built campfires and groomed horses for the troops, who in turn fed them from their rations.   Lieut. Chamberlain, of Rochester, adopted one of them, a fine looking boy of about twenty years, as his servant.  On reaching Washington, he gave him money to purchase an extra supper out of camp.  The negro went without the supper, and invested the money in a spelling book.  He has studied this intently every leisure hour, and although perfectly ignorant of the alphabet one week ago, he is now master of his letters.

(Liberator, May 15, 1862, pg.4)