The Road to Frogmore
has several other couples whose lives and relationships are interesting and sometimes puzzling. Our second example concerns Dr. Seth Rogers
and Charlotte Forten Grimke.
Dr. Rogers was the white surgeon assigned to the !st South
Carolina Colored Regiment, stationed at Hilton Head in 1862. Before the war he had been a practicing
physician in Baltimore, where he ran a clinic that specialized in treating
victims of pneumonia. One of his
patients was a young woman from one of the city’s prominent free black
families. Charlotte Forten also happened to be in South Carolina in 1862, where
she had come as a volunteer to work with Miss Laura Towne and her new Penn
Charlotte Forten had trouble fitting into the Gideonite
group. The white missionaries saw her as
black, albeit one with a light skin, and the ex-slaves called her “that brown
gal,” – keeping their distance. When
Charlotte discovered that Dr. Rogers was in the area, she renewed their friendship
and for several months they were the talk of the community.
She baked him cookies and he tried to get her a job teaching
reading and writing to the black soldiers in his regiment. They went for long
rides in the woods and spent weeks visiting one another Nothing ever came of their relationship. Charlotte always insisted that she and his
wife were best friends and that both of them just felt homesick.. However their friendship raised more than a few
eyebrows among the missionaries.