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 states such as Georgia and South Carolina had reenacted its Act of 1740, which imposed a penalty to anyone who taught slaves or caused slaves to be taught (p.65, Woodson).
In 1862, as the Civil War approached, Susie was sent back to the country to stay with her mother. When Fort Pulaski was taken, Susie’s uncle took her and the other seven members of his family, under the protection of the Union fleet to St. Catherine Island. Two weeks later they were taken by a gunboat to St. Simon’s Island, where Susie finally got to see the “Yankee.”
At the young age of fourteen Susie became a freedwoman. The ability to read and write helped Susie Baker land a job teaching school for the children on St. Simon’s Island. She taught the children during the day, but it was the adult Negroes that came to her by night, “eager to learn to read, to read above anything else” (p.11, Taylor).
In August of 1862, Captain C. T. Trowbridge came to St. Simon’s Island to find men to finish filling his regiment. In late October of the same year Captain Trowbridge received orders to evacuate everyone to the Beaufort, South Carolina. Trowbridge was considered a gentleman and staunch friend to the black Americans that formed the 1st South Carolina
Cited: Reminiscences of My Life in Camp. New York Public Library. 7 Apr.-May 2007 <http://digilib.nypl.org/dynaweb/digs/wwm97267/@Generic_BookTextView>. Leonard, Elizabeth. "Susie King Taylor." Shotgun 's Home of the American Civil War. 16 May 06. LSU Civil War Center. 10 Apr. 2007 <http://www.civilwarhome.com/susietaylor.htm>. Taylor, Susie K. Reminiscences of My Life in Camp. Boston: Taylor, 1902. 1-76. Woodson, Carter C. The Education of Negroes Prior to 1861. New York: Arno P, 1968. 65.