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COL. E. WHITTLESEY, Ass't Commissioner.

Major General O. O. HOWARD,
Com'r Bureau Refugees, &c.

GENERAL :-In presenting my first quarterly report of the operations of this Bureau in North Carolina, which I have the honor to forward, I deem it proper to give a history of its


On the 22d of June I arrived at Raleigh, with instructions from you to take the control of all subjects relating to "Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands" within this State. I found these subjects in much confusion.-- Hundreds of white refugees, and thousands of blacks, were collected about this and other towns, occupying every hovel and shanty, living upon Government rations, without employment, and without comfort; many dying for want of proper food and medical supplies. A much larger number, both white and black, were crowding into the towns, and literally swarming about every depot of supplies, to receive their rations. My first effort was to reduce this class of suffering and idle humanity to order, and to discover how large a proportion of these applicants were really deserving of help. The whites, excepting "loyal refugees," were referred to the military authorities. To investigate the condition of refugees and freedmen, and minister to the wants of the destitute, I saw at once would require the services of a large number of efficient officers. As fast as suitable persons could be selected, application was made to the Department and District Commanders for their detail, in accordance with General Order No. 102, War Department, May 31, 1865. In many cases these applications were unsuccessful, because the officers asked for could not be spared. The difficulties and delays experienced in obtaining the help needed for a proper organization of my work will be seen from the fact that upon 34 written requests, in due form, only 11 officers have been detailed by the Department and District Commanders. With such assistance, however, as could be secured, I proceeded to divide the State into four general districts, viz: Eastern, Western, Southern,and Central. To the Eastern District I assigned, as Superintendent, Captain Horace James, A. Q. M., who was already on the ground, and had for a long time been in charge of "contrabands," under the appointment of military commanders of the district. Over the Central District, Capt. Beal, 9th Maine vols., was first appointed Superintendent, but he was soon relieved by Lt. Col. D. E. Clapp, 38th U. S. C. T. 

The Western District was placed under the supervision of Maj. Smith, 17th Mass. vols., who was, however, soon relieved to be mustered out with his regiment, and the vacancy has not yet been filled.

The Southern District remained without an officer until August 18, when Major Charles J. Wickersham, A. A. G., was assigned as its Superintendent.

The next step was the division of these four Districts into Sub-Districts. My first intention was to make each County a sub-district; but the impossibility of obtaining so large a number of officers as this would require compelled me to embrace from two to eight counties in each sub-district. The arrangement now made is as follows:

Eastern District has eight (8) sub-districts,
Central District has nine  (9) sub-districts,
Western District has six   (6) sub-districts,
Southern District has four (4) sub-districts,

For the 27 sub-districts the whole number of Ass't Superintendents (inclusive of citizen Agents) has been 33.-- The largest number at any specific time has been 20. The number on duty now is 15. Thus more than half of the State is still without an officer or representative of the Bureau.

My organization has been three times almost broken up by the mustering out of regiments to which my officers belonged. The only permanent officers, and such only can be useful in this service, are those detailed by order of the Secretary of War. With this brief history of my efforts to organize the Bureau, I proceed to state.


In my circulars Nos. 1 and 2, (copies of which are herewith enclosed,) the objects to be attained are fully stated. All officers of the Bureau are instructed

1st. To aid the destitute, yet in such a way as not to encourage dependence.

2d. To protect freedmen from injustice.

3d. To assist freedmen in obtaining employment and

nent provision must be made. Some of the women might earn their support as servants in northern families, if there were any organized agency for finding them employment, and means for transporting them north. Many children might be collected in Orphan Asylums saved from death and properly educated. And I earnestly recommend that the "Soldiers bounty fund" be expended in establishing such institutions. In this connection may be properly reported the efforts made in behalf of the sick. At the organization of the Bureau, many white refugees were found in a wretched condition. These were placed as far as possible, in hospitals. Some have died, others have recovered, and been sent back to their homes. But very few of this class now remain under our control. The reports prepared by Surgeon Hogan will show the condition of freedmen-hospitals. In the early part of the summer much suffering and mortality occured for want of medical attendance and supplies. This evil is now being remedied by the employment of Surgeons by contract. One is on duty Beaufort, another at Wilmington, and several others are expected soon.

The whole number of sick under care of the Bureau has been 3771 during the quarter ending September 30.


Regarding this Bureau as the appointed instrument for redeeming the solemn pledge of the nation, through its chief magistrate, to secure the rights of freedmen. I have made every effort to protect them from wrong. Suddenly set free, they were at first exhilarated by the air of liberty, and committed some excesses. To be sure of their freedom, many thought they must leave the old scenes of oppression, and seek new homes. Others regarded the property accumulated by their labor as in part their own, and demanded a share of it. On the other hand, the former masters, suddenly stripped of their wealth, at first looked upon the freedmen with a mixture of hate and fear. In these circumstances some collisions were inevitable. The negroes were complained of as idle, insolent, and dishonest; while they complained that they were treated with more cruelty than when they were slaves. Some were tied up and whipped without trial, some were driven from their homes without pay for their labor, without clothing or means of support, others were forbidden to leave on pain of death,  and a few were shot, or otherwise murdered.-- All officers of the Bureau were directed, in accordance with your Circular No. 5, to investigate these difficulties between the two classes, to settle them by counsel and arbitration, as far as possible to punish light offences by fines or otherwise, and to report more serious cases of crime to the military authorities for trial. The exact number of cases heard and decided cannot be given.-- They have been so numerous that no complete record could be kept. One officer reported that he had heard and disposed of as many as 180 complaints in a single day. The method pursued may be best presented by citing a few of the cases, and the action thereon. From the report of Capt. James, for August, I quote the following:

"I forward to you, in his own language, a report of a case which occurred in Gates county, on the northern border of the State, far away from any influence of troops, and where the military power of the Government had been little felt. No doubt it illustrates others in similar localities far from garrisons and northern influences. The report will repay perusal, and appears to have been managed with admirable tact on the part of Capt. Hill. " Reports had reached me of the way in which David Parker, of Gates county, treated his colored people, and I determined to ascertain for myself their truth. Accordingly last Monday Aug, 20, accompanied by a guard of six men from this post, (Elizabeth City,) I proceeded to his residence, about 40 miles distant. He is very wealthy. I ascertained, after due investigation, and after convincing his colored people that I was really their friend, that the worst reports in regard to him were true. He had 23 negores on his farm, large and small. Of these 14 were field hands. They all bore unmistakable evidence of the way they had been worked. Very much undersized, rarely exceeding, man or woman, 4 feet 6 inches, Men and women of 30 and 40 years of age looking like boys and girls. It has been his habit for years to work them from sunrise to sunset, and often long after, only stopping one hour for dinner--food always cooked for them to save time. He had and has had for many years, an old colored man, one-eyed, and worn out in the service, for an overseer or "over-looker," as he called himself. In addition he has two sons at home, one of whom has made it a point to be with them all summer long,--not so much to superintend as to drive. The old colored overseer always went behind the gang with a cane or whip, and woe betide the unlucky wretch who did not do continually his part. He 

"That, whereas, David Parker and James Parker have heretofore maltreated their colored people, and have enforced the compulsory system instead of the free labor system. now, therefore, if they, each of them, shall hereafter well and kindly treat, and cause to be treated, the hired laborers under their or his charge, and shall adopt the free labor system in lieu of the compulsory system, then this bond to be void and of no effect, otherwise to remain in full force and effect, with good security."

Lt. Col. Clapp, Superintendent Central District, reports three cases of cruel beating, which have been investigated, and the offenders turned over to the military authorities for trial; besides very many instances of defrauding freedmen of their wages. 

From the reports of Major Wickersham, Superintendent of Southern District, I quote the following:

August 25, A. S. Miller, Bladen county, states that Henry Miller (colored) neglects to support his family. Action, required Henry Miller to use his wages for the support of his wife and children who have no claims on their former master, and can look to no one else than the husband and father for support.

27th. Betsey Powell (colored) state that Mrs. Frank Powell, Columbus county, has driven her away without pay for her labor. Gave letter to Mrs. Powell directing her to pay Betsy for her labor since April 27, 1865.

29th. Len Shiner (colored) states that he made an agreement with Mr. David Russel, of Robeson county, to work and gather his crop, for which he was to recieve subsistence and one-third of the crop, when gathered, Mr. Russel driven him off and refuses to pay. Wrote to Mr. Russel directing him to comply with terms of agreement, or furnish satisfactory reasons for not doing so. These are but examples of hundreds of complaints heard and acted upon by Major Wickersham and other officers in the Southern District.
The following cases are taken from the report of Captain Barritt, Assistant Commissioner, at Charlotte.

Morrison Miller charged with whipping girl Hannah (colored). Found guilty. Action, ordered to pay said Hannah 50 bushels of corn towards supporting herself and children, two of said children being the offspring of Miller

Wm. Wallace charged with whipping Martha (colored). Plead Guilty. Action- Fined said Wallace $15, with assurance that if the above offense was repeated the fine would be doubled. 

Council Best attempts to defraud six families of their summer labor, by offering to sell at auction the crop on his leased plantation. Action--Sent military force and stopped the sale until contract with laborers was complied with.

A hundred pages of similar reports might be copied, showing, on the one side, that many freedmen need the presence of some authority to enforce upon them their new duties, and on the other, that so far from being true that "there is no county in which a freedman can be imposed upon." [Speech of Judge Reed in Constitutional Convention.] there is no county in which he is not oftener wronged, and these wrongs increase just in proportion to their distance from United States authorities.  There has been great improvement, during the quarter, in this respect.-- The efforts of the Bureau to protect the freedmen have done much to restrain violence and injustice. Such efforts must be continued until civil government is fully restored, just laws enacted, or great suffering and serious disturbance will be the result.


Contrary to the fears and predictions of many, the great mass of colored people have remained quietly at work upon the plantations of their former masters during the entire summer. The crowds seen about the towns in the early part of the season had followed in the wake of the Union Army. to escape from slavery. After hostilities ceased.these refugees returned to their homes. so that but few vagrants can now be found. In truth a much larger amount of vagrancy exists among the whites than among the blacks. It is the almost uniform report of officers of the Bureau that freedman are industrious.

The report is confirmed by the fact that out of a colored population of nearly 350.000 in the State only about 5000 are now receiving support from the Government. Probably some others are receiving aid from kind-hearted men who have enjoyed the benefit of their services from childhood. To the general quiet and industry of this people, there can be no doubt that the efforts of the Bureau have contributed greatly. I have visited some of the larger towns as Wilmington, New Berne, Goldsboro, and both by public addresses and private instructions, counseled the freedmen to secure employment, and maintain themselves. Captain James has made and extensive tour through the Eastern District for the same purpose, and has exerted a most happy influence. Lt. Col. Clapp has spent much of  

Proclamation of Amnesty, and our tenure of the few that remain is so uncertain, that I have not deemed it prudent to set apart any for use of refugees and freedmen, in accordance with the act of Congress, approved March 3, 1865. But many Freedmen are taking this matter into their own hands, and renting lands from the owner for one or more years. The following communication indicates an interesting movement in this direction. 

Kinston, N. C., August 16, 1865.

** Whereas, we, a portion of the freedmen of Lenoir county, in the State of North Carolina, being desirous of embracing every facility which the United States Government offers, to provide for ourselves the comforts of a permanent home, and whereas, we have felt the importance of mutual labor and mutual interests, and believing that industry is the basis of progress, and being desirous of becoming good citizens, showing that the labor spent on us, was not thrown away.

Therefore, be it, and it is hereby, resolved that we form ourselves into a society to purchase homes by joint stock, and for other purposes to be hereafter staated.

Be it further resolved, That we raise ten thousand dollars for the purchase of homesteads, and that the said sum be raised by the 1st of January 1868. And be it resolved, That this society shall be composed of the best and most reliable freedmen in Lenoir county. And it is further purposed to raise the required amount, in the following manner, viz: two hundred and fifty men will compose the society, each to be assessed the sum of forty-eight dollars per annum, to be paid in monthly installments of four dollars each.

JAMES HARGATE,} Committee.

I am also endeavoring to purchase for rent, for a long period, the lands upon which houses have been erected by freedmen, so that they may not lose what has been expended. The most important local interest of this kind is the Trent River settlement. The village was carefully laid out by Capt. James, and now contains a population of nearly 3000, - all but about 300 self-supporting. "Although," says Capt. James, "in interest a part of the city of New Berne, it lies outside of the corporate limits, and therefore came under no municipal regulations." I therefore issued an order erecting it into a separate municipality. I impose a small tax upon the trades and occupations of the people, and a very moderate ground rent upon the lots, to raise a fund for meeting the necessary expenses of maintaining the settlement. They pay these sums with pleasure, deeming them an evidence of citizenship. From the fund thus raised the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, a Clerk, six nurses in hospital, and some fifteen mechanics and laborers employed about the settlement, are paid. A good market is now nearly completed, the stalls in which have been taken up beforehand at high rates. It needs only the power to sell these people their lots of land to induce them to put more permanent improvements on them. The settlement, as such, is by all confessed to be well ordered, quiet, healthy, and better regulated than the city proper.


The quarter has been one of vacation, rather than active work in this department. Still some progress has been made, and much done to prepare for the coming autumn and winter. Rev. F.A. Fiske, a Mass. teacher, has been appointed Superintendent of Education, and has devoted himself with energy to his duties. From his report it will be seen that the whole number of schools, during the whole or any part of the quarter is 63, the number of teachers 85, and the number of scholars 5624. - A few of the schools are self-supporting, and taught by colored teachers but the majority are sustained by Northern Societies and Northern Teachers. The officers of the Bureau have, as far as practicable, assigned buildings for their use, and assisted in making them suitable. But the time is nearly past when such facilities can be given. The Societies will be obliged, hereafter, to pay rent for school rooms, and for teachers homes. The teachers are engaged in a noble and self-denying work. - They report a surprising thirst for knowledge among the colored people, - children giving earnest attention and learning rapidly; and adults, after the days work is done, devoting the evenings to study. In this connection it may be mentioned, as a result of moral instruction, that 512 marriages have been reported an registered, and 42 orphans provided with good homes.


The financial condition of the Bureau is clearly presented in the reports of Capt. James, who, in addition to his duties as Superintendent of the Eastern District, has acted as Financial Agent, with the assistance of Capt. Seely, A.Q.M. The duties of the department have been very great, and have been faithfully discharged by these officers. In July, Col. Heaton, Agent of the U.S. Treasury, turned over to the Bureau a large amount of real estate in Wilmington, New Berne and adjoining counties which had been leased for terms varying from one month to one year. The collection of rents from several hundred lessees of tenements and farms has been a laborious work. But the examination and adjustment of claims for this property, and the restoration of it in accordance with the President Amnesty Proclamations has been more trying and perplexing. Nearly all, however, is now out of our hands, and unless a reexamination of these claims is forced upon us by application for rents, on the ground that the property was not abandoned, we shall be able, hereafter, to devote all our time to our appropriate work.

The following summary of operations presents the leading facts of the foregoing report:

Receipts for the Quarter..... $44913.24
Current expenses..... $4250.34

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