Doc. 148.-employment of slaves.
General Mercer's order.
C. S. Engineer's office, Savannah, Ga., Aug. 1, 1863.the Brigadier-General Commanding desires to inform the slaveholders of Georgia that he has received authority from the Secretary of War to impress a number of negroes sufficient to construct such additional fortifications as are necessary for the defence of Savannah. He desires, if possible, to avoid the necessity of impressment, and therefore urges the owners of slave property to volunteer the services of their negroes. He believes that, while the planters of South-Carolina are sending their slaves by thousands to aid the defence of Charleston, the slaveholders of Georgia will not be backward in contributing in the same patriotic manner to the defence of their own seaport, which has so far resisted successfully all the attacks of the enemy at Fort McAllister and other points. Remember, citizens of Georgia, that on the successful defence of Savannah depends the security of the interior of your State, where so much of value both to yourselves and to the Confederacy at large is concentrated. It is best to meet the enemy at the threshold, and to hurl back the first wave of invasion. Once the breach is made, all the horrors of war must desolate your now peaceful and quiet homes. Let no man deceive himself. If Savannah falls the fault will be yours, and your own neglect will have brought the sword to your hearthstones. The Brigadier-General Commanding, therefore, calls on all the slaveholders of Eastern, Southern, and South-Western Georgia, but especially those in the neighborhood of Savannah, to send him immediately one fifth of their able-bodied male slaves, for whom transportation will be furnished and wages paid at the rate of twenty-five dollars per month, the Government to be responsible for the value of such negroes as may be killed by the enemy, or may in any manner fall into his hands. By order of
General Grant's order.
headquarters Department of the Tennessee, Vioksburgh, Miss., August 1, 1863.General orders No. 50.--1. All regularly organized bodies of the enemy having been driven from those parts of Kentucky and Tennessee west of the Tennessee River, and from all of Mississippi west of the Mississippi Central Railroad; and it being to the interest of those districts not to invite the presence of armed bodies of men among them, it is announced that the most rigorous penalties will hereafter be inflicted upon the following class of prisoners, to wit: All irregular bodies of cavalry not mustered and paid by the confederate authorities; all persons engaged in conscription, or in apprehending deserters, whether regular or irregular; all citizens encouraging or aiding the same; and all persons detected in firing upon unarmed transports. It is not contemplated that this order shall affect the treatment due to prisoners of war, captured within the districts named, when they are members of legally organized companies, and when their acts are in accordance with the usages of civilized warfare. 2. The citizens of Mississippi, within the limits above described, are called upon to pursue their peaceful avocations, in obedience to the laws of the United States. Whilst doing so in good faith, all United States forces are prohibited from molesting them in any way. It is earnestly recommended that the freedom of negroes be acknowledged, and that, instead of compulsory labor, contracts upon fair terms be entered into between the former master and servants, or between the latter and such other persons as may be willing to give them employment. Such a system as this, honestly followed, will result in substantial advantages to all parties. All private property will be respected, except when the use of it is necessary for the Government, in which case it must be taken under the direction of a corps commander, and by a proper detail under charge of a commissioned officer, with specific instructions to seize certain property and no other. A staff officer of the Quartermaster or Subsistence Department will in each instance be designated to receipt for such property as may be seized, the property to be paid for at the end of the war, on proof of loyalty, or on proper adjustment of the claim, under such regulations or laws as may hereafter be established. All property seized under this order must be taken up on returns by the officer giving receipts, and disposed of in accordance with existing regulations. 3. Persons having cotton or other produce not required by the army, will be allowed to bring the same to any military post within the State of Mississippi, and abandon it to the agent of the Treasury Department at said post, to be disposed of in accordance with such regulations as the Secretary of the Treasury may establish. At posts where there is no such agent, the Post-Quartermaster will receive all such property, and, at the option of the owner, hold it till the arrival of the agent, or send it to Memphis, directed to Captain A. R. Eddy, A. Q. M., who will turn it over to the properly authorized agent at that place. 4. Within the county of Warren, laid waste by the long presence of contending armies, the following rules to prevent suffering will be observed: Major-General Sherman, commanding the Fifteenth army corps, and Major-General McPherson, commanding the Seventeenth army corps, will each designate a commissary of subsistence, who will issue articles of prime necessity to all destitute  families calling for them, under such restrictions for the protection of the Government as they deem necessary. Families who are able to pay for the provisions drawn will in all cases be required to do so. 5. Conduct disgraceful to the American name has been frequently reported to the Major-General commanding, particularly on the part of portions of the cavalry. Hereafter, if the guilty parties cannot be reached, the commanders of regiments and detachments will be held responsible, and those who prove themselves unequal to the task of preserving discipline in their commands, will be promptly reported to the War Department for “mustering out.” Summary punishment must be inflicted upon all officers and soldiers apprehended in acts of violence or lawlessness.
General Thomas's order.
Vicksburgh, Miss., August 18, 1863.special orders No. 45.-Under instructions from the Secretary of War, the undersigned hereby announces his return to this region of the country for the purpose of continuing the organization into the military service of the United States of all able-bodied male persons of African descent, who may come within our lines, or who may be brought in by our troops, or who may already have placed themselves under the protection of the Federal Government; also to take such measures as may prove most beneficial for the welfare of all women, children, aged and infirm persons of African descent who may have sought refuge within our lines, or who may hereafter do so. In future all able-bodied male negroes of the above class will at once be organized by such officers as may be detailed for that duty, into the military service of the United States, when they will be assigned to regiments composed of persons of African descent now in process of formation or to be formed hereafter. It has become apparent that the system of receiving all negroes who may have sought the protection of our Government, and allowing them, in many instances, to remain in a state of almost inactivity, has become at times not only injurious to the interests of the service, but to the welfare of the negroes themselves, resulting in habits of idleness, sickness, and disease. It is further considered expedient that all children and families of negro descent who may hereafter be desirous of seeking refuge within the lines of the United States troops, be advised to remain on the plantations or elsewhere where they have heretofore been in a state of servitude, provided such place be under the control of the National troops. All such negroes will receive the protection of this Government while they remain in the locations that may be designated, and all such persons as may be authorized to occupy plantations or other places will be permitted to employ these families and children in any capacity most suited to their ability. All male negroes who are incapacitated by old age, ill health, or in any other respect, from serving in regiments of African descent, will be duly cared for and assigned as heretofore to the nearest camp for such persons. By order of the Secretary of War,
General Banks's order.
headquarters Department of the Gulf, New-Orleans, August 21, 1863.General order.--I. Colonel John S. Clark, Major B. Rush Plumley, and Colonel George H. Hanks are hereby appointed a commission to regulate the enrolment, recruiting, employment, and education of persons of color. All questions concerning the enlistment of troops for the Corps d'afrique, the regulation of labor, or the government and education of negroes, will be referred to the decision of this commission, subject to the approval of the commanding general of the department. II. No enlistments for the Corps d'afrique will be authorized or permitted, except under regulations approved by this commission. III. The Provost-Marshal General will cause to be enrolled all able-bodied men of color, in ac. cordance with the law of conscription, and such number as may be required for the military defence of the department, equally apportioned to the different parishes, will be enlisted for military service under such regulations as the Commission may adopt. Certificates of exemption will be furnished to those not enlisted, protecting them from arrest or other interference, except for crime. IV. Soldiers of the Corps d'afrique will not be allowed to leave their camps, or wander through the parishes, except upon written permission, or in the company of their officers. V. Unemployed persons of color, vagrants, and camp-loafers, will be arrested and employed upon the public works by the Provost-Marshal's department, without other pay than their rations and clothing. VI. Arrests of persons and seizures of property will not be made by colored soldiers, nor will they be charged with the custody of persons or property, except when under the command and accompanied by duly authorized officers. VII. Any injury or wrong done to the family of any soldier, on account of his being engaged in military service, will be summarily punished. VIII. As far as practicable, the labor of persons not adapted to military service will be provided in substitution for that of enlisted men. IX. All regulations hitherto established for the government of negroes, not inconsistent herewith, will be enforced by the Provost-Marshals of the different parishes, under direction of the Provost-Marshal General. 481]