Letter of Spotswood Rice to His Children and Kittey Diggs


Letter of Spotswood Rice to His Children and Kittey Diggs


Spotswood Rice


Spotswood Rice had been the slave of Benjamin Lewis in Missouri. He enlisted in the 67th US Colored Infantry in early February 1864. He wrote the following letter (with some assistance) in September 1864 from Benton Barracks Hospital in St. Louis where he was being treated for chronic rheumatism. Rice addressed the first half of the letter to his children. He intended the second half for their mistress Kittey Diggs.


Spotswood Rice to His Children and Kittey Diggs, September 3, 1864, Freedmen and Southern Society Project, accessed February 15, 2007, http://www.history.umd.edu/Freedmen/sampdocs.htm.




[Benton Barracks Hospital, St. Louis, Mo. September 3, 1864]

My Children

I take my pen in hand to rite you A few lines to let you know that I have not forgot you and that I want to see you as bad as ever    now my Dear Children I want you to be contented with whatever may be your lots    be assured that I will have you if it cost me my life    on the 28th of the mounth. 8 hundred White and 8 hundred blacke solders expects to start up the rivore to Glasgow and above there thats to be jeneraled by a jeneral that will give me both of you    when they Come I expect to be with, them and expect to get you both in return. Dont be uneasy my children    I expect to have you. If Diggs dont give you up this Government will and I feel confident that I will get you    Your Miss Kaitty said that I tried to steal you    But I'll let her know that god never intended for man to steal his own flesh and blood. If I had no cofidence in God I could have confidence in her    But as it is If I ever had any Confidence in her I have none now and never expect to have    And I want her to remember if she meets me with ten thousand soldiers she [will?] meet her enemy    I once [thought] that I had some respect for them but now my respects is worn out and have no sympathy for Slaveholders. And as for her cristianantty I expect the Devil has Such in hell    You tell her from me that She is the frist Christian that I ever hard say that aman could Steal his own child especially out of human bondage

You can tell her that She can hold to you as long as she can    I never would expect to ask her again to let you come to me because I know that the devil has got her hot set againsts that that is write    now my Dear children I am a going to close my letter to you    Give my love to all enquiring friends    tell them all that we are well and want to see them very much and Corra and Mary receive the greater part of it you sefves and dont think hard of us not sending you any thing    I you father have a plenty for you when I see you    Spott & Noah sends their love to both of you    Oh! My Dear children how I do want to see you

[To Kittey Diggs]

I received a leteter from Cariline telling me that you say I tried to steal to plunder my child away from you    now I want you to understand that mary is my Child and she is a God given rite of my own and you may hold on to hear as long as you can but I want you to remembor this one thing that the longor you keep my Child from me the longor you will have to burn in hell and the qwicer youll get their    for we are now makeing up a bout one thoughsand blacke troops to Come up tharough and wont to come through Glasgow and when we come wo be to Copperhood rabbels and to the Slaveholding rebbels for we dont expect to leave them there root neor branch    but we thinke how ever that we that have Children in the hands of you devels we will trie your [vertues?] the day that we enter Glasgow    I want you to understand kittey diggs that where ever you and I meets we are enmays to each orthere    I offered once to pay you forty dollers for my own Child but I am glad now that you did not accept it    Just hold on now as long as you can and the worse it will be for you    you never in you life befor I came down hear did you give Children any thing not eny thing whatever not even a dollers worth of expencs    now you call my children your pro[per]ty    not so with me    my Children is my own and I expect to get them and when I get ready to come after mary I will have bout a powrer and autherity to bring hear away and to exacute vengencens on them that holds my Child    you will then know how to talke to me    I will assure that and you will know how to talk rite too    I want you now to just hold on to hear if you want to    iff your conchosence tells thats the road go that road and what it will brig you to kittey diggs    I have no fears about geting mary out of your hands    this whole Government gives chear to me and you cannot help your self

Spotswood Rice


  • How had Rice’s relationship with Diggs changed with the war?
  • How had Rice’s thoughts on slavery changed?
  • How had Rice’s relationship with his children changed?
  • What brought about Rice’s changes?
  • Who did Rice think freed the slaves?
  • How might Diggs have responded to receiving this letter?