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[191] apart to accomplish this work; and we unanimously felt inexpressible gratitude to him, looking upon him as a man who should be honored for the faithful performance of his duty. Some of us called upon him immediately upon his arrival, and it is probable that he did not meet the Secretary with more courtesy than he did us. His conduct and deportment toward us characterized him as a friend and a gentleman. We have confidence in General Sherman, and think what concerns us could not be in better hands. This is our opinion now, from the short acquaintance and interview we have had.

As a result of this investigation and after considerable meditation upon the perplexing problem as to what to do with the growing masses of unemployed negroes and their families, and after a full consultation with Mr. Stanton, General Sherman issued his Sea-Island Circular, January 16, 1865. In this paper the islands from Charleston south, the abandoned rice fields along the rivers for thirty miles back from the sea, and the country bordering the St. Johns River, Fla., were reserved for the settlement of the negroes made free by the acts of war, and the proclamation of the President.

General Rufus Saxton, already on the ground, was appointed Inspector of Settlements and Plantations; no other change was intended or desired in the settlements on Beaufort Island which had, for three years been established.

The inspector was required to make proper allotments and give possessory titles and defend them till Congress should confirm his actions. It was a bold move. Thousands of negro families were distributed under this circular, and the freed people regarded

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