would, in his opinion, be incompatible with the public welfare. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.
War Department, Washington, July 2, 1862.sir: On reference to the answer of this Department of the fourteenth ultimo to the resolution of the House of Representatives of the ninth of last month, calling for information respecting the organization by General Hunter, of the Department of South-Carolina, of a regiment of volunteers for the defence of the Union, composed of black men, fugitive slaves, etc., it will be seen that the resolution had been referred to that officer with instructions to make an immediate report thereon. I have now the honor to transmit herewith the copy of a communication just received from General Hunter, furnishing information as to his action touching the various matters indicated in the resolution. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
headquarters Department of the South, Port Royal, (S. C.,) June 23, 1862.sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a communication from the Adjutant-General of the army, dated June thirteenth, 1862, requesting me to furnish you with the information necessary to answer certain resolutions introduced in the House of Representatives, June ninth, 1862, on motion of the Hon. Mr. Wickliffe, of Kentucky, their substance being to inquire-- First. Whether I had organized or was organizing a regiment of “fugitive slaves” in this department? Second. Whether any authority had been given to me from the War Department for such organization? and Third. Whether I had been furnished, by order of the War Department, with clothing, uniforms, arms, equipments, etc., for such a force? Only having received the letter covering these inquiries at a late hour on Saturday night, I urge forward my answer in time for the steamer sailing to-day (Monday)--this haste preventing me from entering as minutely as I could wish upon many points of detail, such as the paramount importance of the subject calls for. But, in view of the near termination of the present session of Congress, and the widespread interest which must have been awakened by Mr. Wickliffe's resolutions, I prefer sending even this imperfect answer to waiting the period necessary for the collection of fuller and more comprehensive data. 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 the 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 me to employ all loyal persons offering their services in defence 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 have 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 they have been thus suddenly bereft. To the third interrogatory it is my painful duty to reply that I never have received any specific authority for issues of clothing, uniforms, arms, equipments, and so forth, to the troops in question — my general instructions from Mr. Cameron to employ them in any manner I might find necessary, and the military exigencies of the department and the country being my only, but, in my judgment, sufficient justification. Neither have I had any specific authority for supplying these persons with shovels, spades, and pickaxes when employing them as laborers, nor with boats and oars when using them as lightermen; but these are not points included in Mr. Wickliffe's resolution. To me it seemed that liberty to employ men in any particular capacity implied with it liberty also to supply them with the necessary tools; and acting upon this faith I have clothed, equipped and armed the only loyal regiment yet raised in South-Carolina. I must say, in vindication of my own conduct, that had it not been for the many other diversified
Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, Washington:
Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, Washington: