A Letter From General Ballou


In this letter from General Ballou, I felt that the main argument is for the validity of, and respect for, a “colored training camp.” He uses words that reinforce this notion. He talks about how, “our mission was the attain­ment of success in making colored officers,” and uses phrases like, “The men stood by me like bricks.” He is emphasizing that his men were just as worthy of respect as any other. One interesting aspect of this compared to The New Freewoman is that I did not notice made-up words and, in fact, the language in this work seemed relatively formal.

4 thoughts on “A Letter From General Ballou

  1. I agree with the notion that the article is about colored training camps and their importance. I also like the mentioning of the author’s word choice for his argument.
    However, I think that the importance of the italicized words should also be included. The author emphasizes certain emotions such as how he “knew” and “believed” certain aspects of the “experiment” and “mission.” These words specifically fulfill the author’s purpose and help to convey the feeling and motive behind the article.

    • I agree with both of you. There is significant in the italicized words. The way the author uses them to portray his stance on the issue that colored training camps are just as significant as any other. And to comment on the original post. I think it should be mentioned that because of General’s position on the issues he has built a ‘trust’ with his men. And in a time of war trust between soldiers keeps them alive.

  2. The General’s intentions behind this letter seem fairly obvious given the strong language he used like you pointed out. I like your thought about the Freewoman in reference to formal and made-up language. It seems that instead of trying to emphasize thoughts by making up words to fit the context, the general instead used metaphors and more formal language than you would usually see.
    In reference to how this letter compares to the New Freewoman, what stood out to me was how this general is advocating people of color in a similar way how the Freewoman is supporting women. However, instead of explaining ways that white people may discriminate, the general simply tells of how he convinced them to treat people of color with respect. In this way, the general prevented any discrimination before it happened and I do believe with the language he used, he is sincere in his claim to believe that all of his men are equal to him. It’s a very controversial topic to speak about in his time. Like the New Freewoman, this general seems to speak in a bold way without any filters.

    • I think your reply builds very well on the original post about this article. One other difference between this article and the New Freewoman (at least for me) is how well I could understand this article. Many pieces in the New Freewoman were either too complex or used too many made-up words for me to understand it well after the first read. On the other hand, this letter was very clear and I never felt lost or confused while reading it.
      While the general does appear to care about the rights of people of color, it could be possible he acted as he did to simply secure success of the camp. He does speak highly of his colored soldiers, but he also says that he has “nothing to do with policies outside the military” and that he will always “counsel avoidance of that invasion [of rights] when there is nothing to be gained by it.” These two lines and his images of the camp as an experiment make it seem possible that he simply wanted to camp to succeed, and so he made the best logical choice to help the camp succeed. While I also believe that the general is honest in what he says, it would be interesting to check his other writings to check the consistency of his opinions on the colored soldiers.

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