Correspondence from Q. A. Gillmore to Bvt. Maj. Gen. C. Grover
DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
Hilton Head, S. C., May 10, 1865.
Bvt. Maj. Gen. C. GROVER,
Commanding District and Post of Savannah, Savannah, Ga.:
GENERAL: General Orders, No. 29, dated April 30 1865, from the headquarters U. S. forces, city of Savannah, establishing three free public schools for the education of white children in that city; appointing a board of education therefor, composed of residents of Savannah, with the mayor of that city, ex officio, as chairman; also appointing a superintendent of common schools, who, in conjunction with the board of education, is by such order directed to establish these free schools for white children, and providing that such superintendent shall receive an annual salary of $3,000 from the civil fund, is disapproved, and you are directed to revoke the same in general orders. Savannah is a captured city, occupied by national soldiers, and governed by the national military authority. The population of Savannah is equally divided, or very nearly so, between two races, the whites and the blacks, and the city is garrisoned alike by white and black soldiers. The white inhabitants, including nearly all the prominent men, have generally been disloyal during the rebellion, and many of them are avowedly so at the present time, while the colored people, with rare unanimity, have been true to the national flag and the national authority, and have never, except under armed compulsion, given aid and comfort to the insurgents. Both soldierly honor and simple justice require that, during our military occupation of this department, no unjust distinctions as to privileges and favors be made against a loyal race resident therein, which has furnished almost exclusively the only local defenders of our country's honor and flag. Whatever may be the policy which our Government may determine to pursue toward the leaders and the active aiders and abettors of the rebellion, our duty to those who have remained thoroughly and consistently loyal appears plain and unmistakable. I consider the general order referred to as unjust toward the blacks, in that it directs the mayor of Savannah ex officio to act in the matter of educating white children alone. The mayor of Savannah is bound to act, and is expected to act, with equal solicitude for the equal welfare and improvement of all classes of the residents of that city. If he cannot do that conscientiously he should, in honor, resign, and if he does not he will be removed. The order is deemed further unjust in that it appropriates money from what is called a "civil fund" for the benefit of a class and not of all. This civil fund is raised by the military authority and applied by them to civil uses, in defraying such expenses as are involved in the local government and management of Savannah. In various ways, direct and indirect, both whites and blacks contribute to it, and it must be used equally for all. The fact that Northern charity has in some degree ministered to the education of the children of the freedmen does not relieve the military authorities from making equal provision for all classes, where it helps any. I do not propose to interfere in any manner with questions of State policy, or to give official expression to partisan or peculiar opinions, but simply, during the military occupation of this department to enforce equally and exact military justice and extend equal and exact military protection to all loyal persons, without regard to color or race. You will adopt such measures as you think proper for the education of the children of Savannah, governing yourself, in so doing, by the principles herein above enunciated.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Q. A. GILLMORE,
Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding Department.
SOURCE: United States War Department. THE WAR OF THE REBELLION: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Volume 47, Part III. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.