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Negro troops turned over to State authorities.

In the assault on battery Wagner, on the 18th ult., twenty-four negro soldiers, belonging to the 54th Massachusetts regiment, were captured by our troops. The following letter, published in the Charleston Mercury, will explain itself:

Hdq's Dep't of S. C., Ga., and Fla.,

Charleston, S. C., Aug. 12, 1863.
Col. R. B. Rhett, Jr., Editor of Mercury:
In the Mercury of this date you appear to have written under a misapprehension of the facts connected with the present status of the negroes captured in arms on Morris and James Islands, which permit me to state as follows:

"The Proclamation of the President, dated December 24th, 1862, directed that all negro slaves captured in arms should beat once delivered to the Executive authorities of the respective States to which they belong, to be dealt with according to the laws of said States."

An informal application was made by the State authorities for the negroes captured in this city; but as none of them, it appeared, had been slaves of citizens of South Carolina, they were not turned over to the civil authority, for at the moment there was no official information at these headquarters of the act of Congress by which "all negroes and mulattoes who shall be engaged in war, or be taken in arms against the Confederate States, or shall give aid or comfort to the enemies of the Confederate States," were directed to be turned over "to the authorities of the State or States in which they shall be captured, to be dealt with according to the present or future laws of such State or States."

On the 21st of July, however, the Commanding General telegraphed to the Secretary of War for instructions as to the disposition to be made of the negroes captured on Morris and James Islands, and on the 22d received a reply that they must be turned over to the State authorities, by virtue of the joint resolution of Congress in question.

Accordingly, on the 29th July, as soon as a copy of the resolution or act was received, his Excellency Governor Bonham was informed that the negroes captured were held subject to his orders, to be dealt with according to the laws of South Carolina.

On the same day (29th July) Governor Bonham requested that they should be retained in military; custody until he could make arrangements to dispose of them; and in that custody they still remain, awaiting the orders of the State authorities.

Respectfully, your obd't serv't,

Thomas Jordan,
Chief of Staff.

The Mercury, commenting on the statements in this letter, says:

‘ Two weeks have elapsed since these prisoners have been put at the disposition of the State authorities. The cause of delay assigned is the want of a Magistrate in St. Andrew's Parish to form a Court of Freeholders for the trial, and a vacancy in the Provost Marshal's Court. The Status of the negro and of the white soldier — of the institutions of the South and the conduct of this war — are all involved in this business. We cannot, of course, pit ourselves against negroes; we cannot ignore and belle our own social organization; we cannot countenance or tamely permit this species of warfare. Therefore, the sooner this matter is settled the better.

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