Viewing page 212 of 282

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: Easter, 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, 88th U.S.C.T.

The Western District was placed under the supervision of Maj. SMITH, 17th Mass. vols.m who has 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 larges number at any specific time has been 20. The number on duty is now 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.

THE DESIGN AND WORK PROPOSED.
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 to not encourage dependence.
2d. To protect freedmen from injustice.
3d. To assist freedmen in obtaining employment and fair wages for their labor.
4th. To encourage education, intellectual and moral.
Under these four divisions the operations of the Bureau can best be presented.

RELIEF AFFORDED.
It was evident at the outset that large numbers were drawing rations who might support themselves. The street in front of the Post Commissary's office was blocked up with vehicles of all the descriptions peculiar to North Carolina, and with people who had come from the country around, in some instances from a distance of sixty miles, for Government rations. These were destitute whites, and were supplied by order of the Department Commander. - Our own Head-Quarters, and every office of the Bureau, was besieged from morning till night by freedmen, some coming many miles on foot, others in wagons and carts. -  The rations issued would scarcely last till they reached home, and in many instances were sold before leaving the towns, in exchange for luxuries. To correct these evils, orders were issued that no able-bodied man or woman should receive supplies, except such as were known to be industrious, and to be entirely destitute. Great care was needed to protect the Bureau from imposition, and at the same time to relieve the really deserving. By constant inquiry and effort the throng of beggars was gradually removed. The homeless and helpless were gathered in camps, where shelter and food could be furnished, and the sick collected in hospitals, where they could receive proper care.

The statistical reports prepared by Capt. ALMY, C.S., forwarded herewith, will show a steady and healthy decrease of the number of dependents from month to month. 
July there were issued 215285 rations val'd at $44994,56
August there were issued  156289 rations val'd at      32664,40
September there were issued 137350 rations val'd at      28706,15

Should no unforeseen trouble arise, the number will be still further reduced. But we have in our camps at Roanoke Island and New Berne, many women and children, families of soldiers who have died in the service, and refugees from the interior during the war, and for whom perma[[?]]

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 caunot 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 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 norther 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 negroes 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 had been brought up to work, and had not the least pity for any who could not work as well as he.

"Mr. Parker told me that he hired his people for the season; that directly after the surrender of Gen. Lee he called them up, told them they were free, that he was better used to them than to others, and would prefer hiring them, that he would give them board and two suits of clothing to stay with him till the 1st day of January 1866, and on Sunday suit at the end of that time, that they consented willingly-in fact preferred to remain with him, &c. But from his people I learned that though he did call them up, as stated, yet when one of them demurred at the offer, his son James flew at him and cuffed and kicked him; that after that, they were all "perfectly willing to stay," they were watched night and day; that they were actually afraid to try to get away. There was no complaint of the food, nor much of the clothing; but they were in constant terror of the whip. Only three days before my arrival, Bob had been stripped in the field and given fifty lashes, for hitting Adam, the colored over-looker, while James Parker stood by with a gun, and told him to run if he wanted to, he had a gun there. About four weeks before, four of them who went to church and returned before sunset, were treated to 25 lashes each. - Some were beaten or whipped almost every day. Having ascertained these and other similar facts, I directed him to call them up and pay them from the first of May last up to the present time. I investigated each case, taking into consideration age, family, physical condition, &c. - Estimating their work from $8 down, and saw him pay them off then and there, allowing for clothing and medical bill. I then arrested him and his two sons, and brought them here, except for Dr. Joseph Parker, whose sister is very sick, with all the colored people I though necessary as witnesses, intending to send them to New Berne, for trial. But on account of the want of immediate transportation I concluded to release them on their giving a bond in the sum of $2,000 to Col. E. WITTLESEY, Assistant Commissioner for the State of North Carolina, and to his successors in office, conditional as follows:

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 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. Where 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.
INDUSTRY.

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 freedmen 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 they efforts of the Bureau have contributed greatly. I have visited some of the larger towns as Wilmington, New Bern, Goldsboro, and both by public addresses and private instructions, counseled the freedmen to secure employment, and maintain themselves. Captain James has made an extensive tour through the Eastern District for the same purpose, and has exerted a most happy influence. Lt. Col. Clapp has spent much of his time visiting the county seats of the Central District, and everywhere been listened to by all classes with deep interest. Other officers have done much good in this way. They have visited plantations, explained the difference between slave and free labor, the nature and the solemn obligation of contracts. The chief difficulty met with has been a want of confidence between the two parties. The employer, accustomed only to the system of compulsory labor, is slow to believe that he can secure fruitful services by the stimulus of wages. The laborer is unwilling to trust the promises of those for whom he has toiled all his days without pay. Hence but few contracts for long periods have been effected. The bargains for the present year are generally vague, and their settlement as the crops are gathered in requires much labor. In a great majority of cases the land-owners seem disposed to do justly, and even generously. And when this year's work is done, and the proceeds divided, it is hoped that a large number of freedmen will enter into contracts for the coming year. They will, however, labor much more cheerfully for money, with prompt and frequent payments, than for a share of the crop, for which they must wait 12 months. A large farmer in Pitt county hires hands by the job and states that he never saw negroes work so well. - Another in Lenoir county pays monthly, and is satisfied so far with the experiment of free labor. Another obstacle to long contracts was found in the impression which had become prevalent to some degree, i.e., that lands were to be given to freedmen by this Government. To correct this false impression I published Circular, No. 3, and directed all officers of the Bureau to make it as widely known as possible. From the statistical reports enclosed, it will be seen that during the quarter 257 written contracts for labor have been prepared and witnessed, that the average rate of wages, when paid in money, is from $8 to $10 per month, that - farms under the control of the Bureau, and cultivated for the benefit of freedmen; that - acres are under cultivation and - laborers employed. Many of the farms were rented by agents of the Treasury as abandoned lands, previous to the establishing of this Bureau, and were transferred to us with the leases upon them. Nearly all have been restored to their owners, under the President's

[[?]]ure, 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.

EDUCATION.
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 is 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 and registered, and 42 orphans provided with good homes.

FINANCES.
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 out appropriate work.
The following summary of operations presents the leading facts of the foregoing report:
Receipts for the Quarter..............$ 44913 24
Current expenses......................$ 4350 34
For soldiers' families from bounty fund 7977 25
Remitted to Treasury..............21584 17 33911 76

Balance credited October 1, 1865......$11001 48
Farms..................................     128
Acres on farms cultivated..............    8540 
Acres of Pine lands worked, about......  50,000
Freedmen employed on farms.............    6102
Contracts witnessed....................     257
Freedmen employed under them...........    1847
Marriages registered...................     512
Orphans apprenticed....................      42
Schools established....................      63
Teachers employed......................      85
Scholars attending.....................    5624
Cases of crime reported for trial......      12
Cases of difficulty settled, reported in full 257
Cases not reported in writing, several thousand
Rations issued......................... 508,924
Value of, dollars....................106,365,11
Hospitals..............................      14
Sick in hospitals and &c., attended by direction of
     the Bureau........................  54,441
Deaths, whole No. of freedmen reported in hospitals,
    camps, and towns adjoining.........   2,680
Reports of sick and deaths embrace all cases in the vicinity of stations, and with which the Bureau has in any way been connected.
Estimated crops - Cotton 858,700 lbs; Corn 32,715 bushels; Sweet Potatoes 1,000 bushels; Turpentine, 5,700 bbls.; Tar 5,808 bbls,

The number of men engaged in fishing cannot be ascertained.

Many of the officers in command of troops in this Department have given me their hearty support; and my own subordinates have been faithful and zealous in the discharge of their duties. I am specially indebted to Lt. F. H. Beecher, A. A. A. General, for his industry, to Capt. Thomas P. Johnson, A. Q. M., Capt. Geo C. Almey, C.S., and Surgeon M. K. Hogan, for their efficient management of their respective departments.

Very Respectfully,
E. WHITTLESEY,
Col. & Ass't Commissioner.
Raleigh, N.C., October 15, 1865.
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact transcribe@si.edu.