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Department of State, Washington, Dec. 4, 1861.
To Maj.-Gen. Geo. B. Mcclellan:
General: I am directed by the President to call your attention to the following subject:

Persons claimed to be held to service or labor under the laws of the State of Virginia, and actually employed in hosthe service against the Government of the United States, frequently escape from the lines of the enemy's forces, and are received within the lines of the Army of the Potomac.

This Department understands that such persons, afterward coming into the city of Washington, are liable to be arrested by the city police, upon the presumption, arising from color, that they are fugitives from service or labor.

By the 4th section of the Act of Congress approved August 6, 1861, entitled “An act to confiscate proeprty used for insurrectionary purposes,” such hostile employment is made a full and sufficient answer to any further claim to service or labor. Persons thus employed and escaping are received into the military protection of the United States; and their arrest as fugitives from service or labor should be immediately followed by the military arrest of the parties making the seizure.

Copies of this communication will be sent to the Major of the City of Washington and to the Marshal of the District of Columbia, that any collision between the civil and military authorities may be avoided.

I am, General, your very obedient,


Maj.-Gen. Burnside, having established himself on Roanoke Island, issued,1 conjointly with Com. Golds-borough, a Proclamation, in which he said:

The Government asks only that its authority may be recognized; and we repeat, in no manner or way does it desire to interfere with your laws, constitutionally established, your institutions of any kind whatever, your property of any sort, or your usages in any respect.

Maj.-Gen. Buell, soon after establishing himself at Nashville, Tenn., thus demonstrated his undoubted devotion to the “constitutional guaranties;” making no distinction between Rebels and loyal citizens:

headquarters Department of the Ohio. Nashville, March 6, 1862.
dear Sir: I have had the honor to receive your communication of the 1st instant, on the subject of fugitive slaves in the camps of the army.

It has come to my knowledge that slaves sometimes make their way improperly into our lines; and in some instances they may be enticed there; but I think the number has been magnified by report. Several applications have been made to me by persons whose servants have been found in our camps; and, in every instance that I know of, the master has recovered his servant and taken him away.

I need hardly remind you that there will always be found some lawless and mischievous persons in every army; but I assure you that the mass of this army is lawabiding, and that it is neither its disposition nor its policy to violate law or the rights of individuals in any particular.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

D. C. Buell, Brig.-Gen. Commanding Department. Hon. J. R. Underwood, Chairman Military Committee, Frankfort, Ky.

Gen. Joseph Hooker, commanding on the Upper Potomac, issued2 the following order:

To brigade and regimental commanders of this division:

Messrs. Nally, Gray, Dunnington, Dent, Adams, Speake, Price, Posey, and Cobey, citizens of Maryland, have negroes supposed to be with some of the regiments of this division: the Brigadier-General commanding directs that they be permitted to visit all the camps of his command, in search of their property; and, if found, that they be allowed to take possession of the same, without any interference whatever. Should any obstacle be thrown in their way by any office or soldier in the division, he will be at once reported by the regimental commander to these headquarters.


Hereupon, some fifteen mounted civilians rode up to the camp of Brig.-Gen. Sickles's Excelsior Brigade, having just fired two pistol-shots, with evident intent to kill, at a negro running off; and thus created no little excitement among the soldiers; who, though generally enlisted with

1 Feb. 18, 1862.

2 March 26, 1862.

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