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[179]

General Grant, with his usual gentleness toward the needy and his fertility in expedients, introduced at once a plan of relief. He selected a fitting superintendent, John Eaton, Chaplain of the Twentyseventh Ohio Volunteers, who soon was promoted to the colonelcy of a colored regiment, and later for many years was Commissioner of the U. S. Bureau of Education. He was then constituted Chief of Negro Affairs for the entire district under Grant's jurisdiction. The plan which Grant conceived the new superintendent ably carried out. There were all around Grand Junction, when our operations opened, large crops of cotton and corn ungathered. It was determined to harvest these, send them North for sale, and place the receipts to the credit of the Government. The army of fugitives, willingly going to work, produced a lively scene. The children lent a hand in gathering the corn and the cotton. The superintendent, conferring with the general himself, fixed upon fair wages for this industry. Under similar remuneration woodcutters were set at work to supply with fuel numerous Government steamers on the river. After inspection of accounts, the money was paid for the labor by the quartermaster, but never directly to the fugitives. The superintendent, controlling this money, saw to it first that the men, women, and children should have sufficient clothing and food; then Colonel Eaton built for them rough cabins and provided for their sick and aged, managing to extend to them many unexpected comforts. General Grant in his memoirs suggests this as the first idea of a “Freedmen's Bureau.” It was, doubtless, a harbinger of that larger institution which Congress subsequently provided for the wants of the millions of the emancipated, but it was not the

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