The following is an account of Charles Grandy found on ‘Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938’.
Charles Grandy was born in 1842 in Mississippi. As an infant Grandy was sent to Norfolk and then on to Virginia where he was made to start working at 5 years’ old working on cotton and other crops. His labour was brutal and the long hours were hard on his young body. Frequently he would fall asleep from sheer exhaustion before reaching his living quarters. Due to the strenuous labour and young age he got an injury to his arm which wasn’t treated correctly and therefore became deformed. Fear of being whipped or being sent away to the south for failing to obey a command had him working with only his one good hand in the fields for several years.
When Grandy heard news of war and that he’d be allowed to sign up he, and a handful of other slaves, decided to escape and join the Northern army. Escaping at midnight they made a run for it risking their lives and being caught to travel North. Eventually, Grandy came across a Yankee soldier who took him to camp where he became cook. Asking what wages he’d accept Grandy asked for little as all he wanted was to not return to a life of slavery.
Grandy was eventually made a soldier and remained one until the end of the war. By the time of this account he had become educated and took great pleasure from religion.
Grandy’s account of his life is demonstrative of how desperate to be free of a life of slavery he, and other slaves, ran away to enlist in a war not knowing what the outcome would be.