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[179] the Department that he should not attack, and that he was willing to turn over the command to General Anderson, who would attack, if ordered. Then the War Department seems to have done nothing further about the matter.

Barton's brigade, with some artillery and cavalry, embarked for Pilatka up the St. John's on the 9th, and occupied the place the next day.

With a return to the monotony of camp the question of pay again became a source of discontent. False rumors of Congressional action in behalf of the men came, but to be soon contradicted. By every mail they received letters setting forth the sufferings of their families. The officers, jealous of the good name and behavior of the regiment, were in fear of some overt act such as had occurred in other regiments, where colored soldiers had refused duty and suffered punishment. At this time an officer of the Fifty-fourth wrote,—

‘Sometimes we almost despair about our men in the matter of pay and proper recognition. We cannot but think it needs only to be thoroughly understood—this case of ours—to have justice done us. . . . These men were enlisted either legally under the Act of July, 1861, and they should then be paid as soldiers, or illegally, and then they should be mustered out of the service. . . . Think of what the men do and suffer; think of their starving families. There is Sergeant Swails, a man who has fairly won promotion on the field of battle. While he was doing the work of government in the field, his wife and children were placed in the poorhouse.’

In a letter to Hon. Wm. Whiting, Solicitor of the War Department at Washington, Lieutenant-Colonel Hooper wrote,—

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