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[515] and arming became the order of the day, a number of Blacks quietly hired a public hall and commenced drilling therein, in view of the possibility of a call to active service, they were promptly notified by the Chief of Police that they must desist from these military exercises, or he could not protect them from popular indignation and assault. They had no choice but to do as they were bidden.

Gen. Hunter, while in command at Hilton Head, was the first to direct the organization of colored men as soldiers, soon after issuing his order of general Emancipation throughout his department, already recorded.1 This movement elicited2 from Mr. Wickliffe, of Ky., in the House, the following resolution of inquiry:

Resolved, That the Secretary of War be directed to inform this House if Gen. Hunter, of the Department of South Carolina, has organized a regiment of South Carolina volunteers for the defense of the Union, composed of Black men (fugitive slaves), and appointed the Colonel and other officers to command them. 2. Was lie authorized by the Department to organize and muster into the Army of the United States, as soldiers, the fugitive or captured slaves? 3. Has he been furnished with clothing, uniforms, etc., for such force? 4. Has he been furnished, by order of the War Department, with arms to be placed in the hands of these slaves? 5. To report any orders given said Hunter, and correspondence between him and the Department.

Secretary Stanton replied3 that Gen. Hunter had not been authorized to organize and muster into the service of the United States either fugitive or captured slaves, nor had he been furnished with clothing or arms for such slaves; and further, that the Government's orders to and correspondence with Gen. Hunter on this subject could not be published at this time without prejudice to the public welfare. But, some dayslater,4 he made a further report, covering a letter5 from Gen. Hunter, in reply to one addressed6 to him by the Adjutant-General, asking for information on the subject; wherein Gen. H. makes answer to Mr. Wickliffe's several inquiries as follows:

To the first question, therefore, I reply that no regiment of ‘fugitive slaves’ has been, or is being, organized in this department. There is, however, a fine regiment of persons whose late masters are ‘fugitive Rebels’--men who every where fly before the appearance of the national flag, leaving their servants behind them to shift as best they can for themselves. So far, indeed, are the loyal persons composing this regiment from seeking to avoid the presence of their late owners, that they are now, one and all, working with remarkable industry to place themselves in a position to go in full and effective pursuit of their fugacious and traitorous proprietors.

To the second question, I have tie honor to answer that the instructions given to Brig.-Gen. T. W. Sherman, by the Hon. Simon Cameron, late Secretary of War, and turned over to me by succession for my guidance, do distinctly authorize men to employ all loyal persons offering their services in defense of the Union and for the suppression of this Rebellion, in any manner I might see fit, or that the circumstances might call for. There is no restriction as to the character or color of the persons to be employed, or the nature of the employment, whether civil or military, in which their services should be used. I conclude, therefore, that I have been authorized to enlist ‘fugitive slaves’ as soldiers, could any such be found in this Department. No such characters, however, have yet appeared within view of our most advanced pickets; the loyal slaves every where remaining on their plantations to welcome us, aid us, and supply us with food, labor, and information. It is the masters who lave, in every instance, been the “ fugitives;” running away from loyal slaves as well as loyal soldiers; and whom we have only partially been able to see — chiefly their heads over ramparts, or, rifle in hand, dodging behind trees — in the extreme distance. In the absence of any “fugitive-master law,” the deserted slaves would be wholly without remedy, had not the crime of treason given them the right to pursue, capture, and bring back, those persons of whose protection


1 See page 246.

2 June 5, 1862.

3 June 14.

4 July 2.

5 Dated June 23.

6 June 13.

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