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[737] established by the admission of the former to testify before the courts on the same conditions as the latter.

Pending the discussion of these laws, public attention was again directed to the treatment of fugitive slaves by some new incidents. The troops under Butler, who occupied the counties adjoining New Orleans, were everywhere surrounded by these fugitives, whose number was much larger in that locality than in any other part of the South, in consequence, no doubt, of the extreme hardships of servile labor in that region. General Williams, who was stationed at Baton Rouge with his brigade, wishing, perhaps, to put an end to some abuses injurious to discipline, or thinking that he would thereby conciliate the good — will of the powerful proprietors in the neighborhood, published an order absolutely prohibiting such fugitives all access to his camps. This order was in open violation of the law of Congress, and Colonel Paine, of the Fourth Wisconsin, refused to execute it. His command was taken from him. Respect for the military authority required it, but equity also demanded that he should not be allowed to suffer for having obeyed the laws of his country, and he was speedily replaced at the head of the regiment.

We have said that in South Carolina the agents of the Treasury Department in charge of the negroes, having been unable to agree with the military authorities, had been recalled. These several agents had been replaced by a superior officer of the staff, General Saxton, who was himself placed under the orders of General Hunter with the rank of a military commander. By this action the government at Washington sustained Hunter in his conflict with the agents of the Treasury Department—a conflict originating in very serious causes, for it affected the question of slavery in its most vital points. We have seen that Mr. Cameron had authorized General Sherman to organize the negroes into squads and companies. The latter had at first only been employed in manual labor, such as the construction of forts, roads and wharves; but Hunter, on taking Sherman's place, saw that he could give a much wider interpretation to the Secretary's instructions. He substituted muskets for the pick-axes used by the detachments of negro laborers organized by his predecessor; and instead of making them dig the earth, he had them taught military exercises.

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