Operational Report Correspondence from R. D. Mussey to Headquarters Commander for Organization, US Colored Troops
HDQRS. COMR. FOR ORGANIZATION U.S. COLORED TROOPS
Nashville, Tenn., October 10, 1864.
Maj. C.W. Foster,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Chief of the Colored Bureau,
Adjutant-General's Office, Washington, D.C.
MAJOR: In obedience to instructions from your office dated September 29, ultimo, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this office during the past year. In so doing, I shall, for the make of unity and to facilitate my work, commence with the arrival of my predecessor, Maj G. L. Stearns, assistant adjutant general, commissioner for organization U. S. Colored troops in the Department of the Cumberland:
- AT THE OUTSET
- WHAT HAD BEEN DONE
- SYSTEM OF RECRUITING
- OTHER REGIMENTS
- EXAMINING BOARD
- MEDICAL EXAMINING BOARD
- REMAINING UNAPPOINTED
- RECRUITING IN ADJACENT STATES
- RECRUITING IN LOYAL STATES
- THE PROSPECTS IN GEORGIA
- THE PROSPECTS IN TENNESSEE
- MILITARY EFFICIENCY OF THE TROOPS
- CONTRABAND CAMP
- PUBLIC OPINION
- RECRUITS FROM THE NORTH
- WORK OF OFFICE
Pursuant to orders from the War Department Major Stearns reported at the headquarters Department of the Cumberland in person to Major General Rosecrans, commanding the department, near Trenton, GA, on the 6ath of September, 1863. General Rosecrans thereupon issued orders recognizing Major Stearns' position and work and assigning him to duty. (See Ext. VII, Special Field Orders, 243, headquarters Department of the Cumberland, 1863). Major Stearns took post at Nashville and upon the 20th of September, 1863, I was detailed to duty as mustering officer for colored troops and directed to co-operate with Major Stearns in the organization of U. S. colored troops.
Major Stearns, on reporting at Nashville to Governor Johnson, with whom he was ordered to co-operate, found that the raising of colored troops was, if not opposed, regarding with distrust and suspicion by influential loyal Tennesseeans, and some time elapsed before harmonious relations were established between Major Stearns and these gentlemen. By the last of the month, however, the work began.
In July, 1863, General Rosecrans announced his policy of raising regiments of colored laborers and also made provisions for the proper treatment and payment of colored employee's in the staff departments of the army and of officers' servants. (See General Orders, No. 172 Headquarters Department of the Cumberland). Under this policy an examining board had been constituted, before which had appeared a large number of officers and enlisted men. A tabular result of this boards examination is annexed.
One regiment had been raised--the present Twelfth U. S. Colored Troops, then named the Second Alabama. This regiment was largely composed of laborers upon fortifications about Nashville, the remnants of the large force impressed in the summer of 1862 for the service. It does not come within the province of this report to comment upon the treatment which this body of men while laborers received. Special reports upon this matter have been made to the War Department. It is sufficient to say that the change from the irregular and irresponsible treatment they received as laborers to that they had as soldiers was very grateful to them.
These men were mustered in by Capt Howard E. Stansbury, U. S. Army, assistant commissary of musters for the department, who to a certain degree superintended the organization. A second regiment had been begun at Murfreesborough. Almost all of these men were, or had been laborers in the staff departments at Clarksville, Gallatin, Murfreesborough, or other points.
Major Stearns brought with him several experienced recruiting agents whose expenses, as well as those of an extraordinary character not allowed from the Government recruiting funds in raising troops were defrayed from a private fund raised chiefly in Massachusetts. Major Stearns stationed these agents at various eligible recruits to be brought to Nashville, to which place the fragment of the second regiment (now the Thirteenth U. S. Colored Troops) was ordered. His agents, by public meetings, by personal appeals, and by the employment of colored assistants, procured recruits freely. It was upon the 24th of September, 1863, that recruiting began; upon the ____ of ____ the Thirteenth U. S. Colored Regiment was filled.
All officers of these regiments had up to the battle of Chickamauga been appointed by General Rosecrans. The derangement of travel following that battle and the pressing demands of the army prevented prompt replies to Major Stearns requests for officers; consequently permission was granted to Governor Johnson and Major Stearns to appoint officers. (See letter from the Secretary of War dated _____.)
Recruits came in so freely that Major Stearns decided to raise four other regiments of infantry-respectively designated the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Seventeenth. The Fourteenth was organized at Gallatin, the Fifteenth was stated at Shelbyville, the Sixteenth at Clarksville, and the Seventeenth at Murfreesborough. It was a part of Major Stearns' plan to have the officer who was to command the regiment appointed first, that he might shape and tone the regiment from the beginning. The persons so appointed were in all cases commissioned officers, and though they did not draw pay as of the grade to which appointed, their local rank sufficed to give them command and the pay of their old grade to support them till entitled to muster in. Captains were to stay with their companies; the subalterns to recruit, if thought best.
His plan is developed in General Orders, No. 1, headquarters Commissioner for Organization U. S. Colored Troops, appended.*. Frequent scouts were ordered to be made by the nascent regiments. Upon these scouts all who desired, of the negroes found on the way, were recruited; none were pressed.
Troops, as soon as organized, were generally assigned to some duty at the post where raised, and their practical acquaintance with the duties of soldiers began at once.
The Twelfth and Thirteenth regiments were stationed on the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad as laborers, and as guards to other laborers.
About November 20, 1863, General Meigs, Quartermaster-General, then at Chattanooga, requested of Major Stearns what colored men could be spared for fatigue duty at Bridgeport, Ala. In accordance with this request four companies at the Fourteenth U. S. Colored Infantry were sent from Gallatin. They remained at Bridgeport engaged in fatigue duty till about the 1st of February, 1864 when the regiment was reunited at Chattanooga. At Chattanooga the regiment was set to work upon fortifications.
The Sixteenth Regiment U. S. Colored Infantry was ordered to Chattanooga about the 1st of April 1884, and also set at work upon the fortifications. The Fifteenth U. S. Colored Infantry late in March 1864, reported to Lieut. Col J. L. Donaldson, chief quartermaster, for duty at this place. The Seventeenth U. S. Colored Infantry reported to him for the same duty early in April of the same year. I subjoin a report from Brevet Brigadier-General Donaldson, showing the amount of duty performed by these men and the manner in which it was done.*
In February, 1864, Adjutant-General Thomas authorized the formation of an invalid or laboring regiment at this post, to be composed of men unfit for field duty, but fit for ordinary garrison duty. This regiment, the One Hundred and first, has done fatigue duty, and some of the so-to-speak business duties of soldiers.
The Adjutant-General also authorized the formation of such a regiment at Chattanooga about the same time. This regiment (the Forty-second) has been engaged chiefly the last summer in the hospital gardens. The Forty-second U. S. Colored Infantry did considerable fatigue duty at Chattanooga during its organization.
The Forty-second and One hundred and first are invalid or laboring regiments, composed of men unfit for field duty but fit for ordinary garrison duty, either enlisted as such or transferred to these from other regiments. The Forty-second Regiment was organized at Chattanooga, the One hundred and first Regiment at Nashville. There are in the Forty-second Regiment about 400 men, and in the One hundred and first about 600. The One hundred and first furnishes guards for the contraband camp at this place and Clarksville.
The Forty-fourth Regiment was authorized to be raised by Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, commanding Department of the Cumberland, under date of March 2, 1864. It was at Chattanooga for some time, but about the middle of July moved to Rome, Ga., where it was rapidly recruited to the minimum. It is now garrisoning Dalton, Ga.
The One hundredth Regiment is composed of the first colored men openly recruited in Kentucky. It was organized in June last. It was ordered to report to me for recruiting duty by the Adjutant-General, but there being a demand for more troops on the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad, on the 9th of August last it was turned over to Brigadier-General Webster, chief of staff to Major-General Sherman, and now nine companies are on that road. The other company is doing duty at Camp Foster, at his place.
The Fortieth Infantry have their history prior to Major Stearns reporting here. Governor Johnson had begun to raise a regiment of Tennessee troops (colored); one of two-companies were formed. These were turned over to me by the Adjutant-General, but circumstances induced me to request that the regiment be retained as an infantry regiment. This was ordered by the Adjutant-General upon the recommendation of the chief of the Colored Bureau. Two companies of the Fortieth are on duty on the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad. A detachment is doing duty upon the Louisville and Nashville Railroad near Gallatin. The regiment has about 400 men.
When Major-General Grant was at Knoxville last winter General Davis Tillson applied for permission to raise a regiment of colored artillery (heavy) for the defense of Knoxville. General T. wished a regiment of artillery, that he might retain control if it more readily than it were an infantry regiment. General Tillson was referred to this office by Major-General Grant, and the requisite authority and designation obtained from the Colored Bureau.
Recruiting has been conducted there as here, and assisted by the money of the Boston committee. The regiment now numbers about 1,700 men. A roster of officers is appended.* The Ninth U. S. Colored Artillery (Heavy) was authorized by the Adjutant-General last February. Desires to fill up regiments already organized prevented recruiting for this until recently. A company has been recruited at Clarksville, Tenn, and some 380 recruits sent from Ohio, have been assigned to this command, filling the battalion now which is under the command of Major Grosskopff.
There are some men for the second battalion. Josiah V. Meigs, a native Tennessean, received permission in January last to raise a battery of light artillery at this place. This is Battery A. Second U. S. Colored Artillery (Light). The battery is full and has been stationed here. It has but recently gotten horses. The men are pretty well advanced in the school of the piece and have had a few mounted drills.
I stated before that no impressment had been allowed in recruiting. In February last Adjutant-General Thomas authorized the impressment of negroes for military purposes. This, however, was soon countermanded.
The present rules governing recruiting are that any loyal owner resident in Kentucky and Tennessee may put his slave into service, and that any slave desiring to enlist may be recruited. Certificates, Forms No. 1 (Colored Bureau) are awarded whenever the owner desires. Frequent inquiries, by the way, are made as to the payment of the $300 compensation.
As already stated, upon Major Stearns reported here he found that an examining board had been in session at Stevenson. A tabular statement annexed shows their operations.*
The examining board at Nashville was originally organized in August, 1863, by General Gordon Granger, commanding District of the Cumberland, under orders from Major-General Rosecrans, commanding Department of the Cumberland. Subsequently the department commander assumed the control of it.
Brig. Gen. R. S. Granger; Colonel Lum, Tenth Michigan foot Volunteers; Colonel Stoughton, Eleventh Michigan Foot Volunteers; Colonel Hull; Thirty-seventh Indiana Foot Volunteers; Lieutenant Colonel Crane, Eighty-fifth Indiana Foot Volunteers, Major Dutton, One hundred and fifth Illinois Foot Volunteers; Major Grosskopff, Ninth U. S. Colored Artillery; Captain Kramer, Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry Volunteers, and Capt John O'Neil, Seventeenth U. S. Colored Infantry, have been, respectively, connected with the Board. Of these Colonel Lum, Lieutenant-Colonel Crane, and Major Dutton were for the longest time members of the Board.
At present Colonel Hull, Major Grosskopff, and Capt. O'Neill constitute the Board. Attention is invited to Major Grosskopff's report hereto attached.*
This Board, though not definitely under my orders, has reported weekly to me the results of its examinations, and persons desiring to appear before it make application to this office. A board for the examination of applicants for commissions in colored troops was organized last winter at Chattanooga. The names of the members of the Board and their actions are but imperfectly known to me, no direct report having been made. I believe, however, that Colonel Mindil, Thirty-third New Jersey Foot Volunteers, and Lieutenant Colonel Dunn, of an Indiana regiment, have presided over the Board. From the imperfect reports made to me I have compiled a table.
A medical examining board was organized here by the army medical director Department of the Cumberland last fall. Upon the request of Major Stearns, Surgeons Lawton and Taylor; U. S. Volunteers; Farquharson, Fourth Tennessee Volunteers; James, Fourth Ohio Cavalry Volunteers; Assistant Surgeons Gray and Bodine, U. S. Army have been connected herewith. I have upon their recommendations appointed six surgeons, seven assistant surgeons, and one or two hospital stewards.
A full list of appointments to regiments of colored troops made at this office is annexed.* The total number made of all grades is 359. Besides these, between fifty and sixty names have been furnished to the Adjutant-General of the Army for appointment in Kentucky and other regiments, and also a few names to Brig. Gen A. L. Chetlain, commanding U.S. colored troops in Tennessee, for appointments into regiments in West Tennessee.
By far the largest portion of these appointments have been of men who have passed an examining board. A number are of men deserving, according to their commanders, a higher rank than that originally given to them.
There now remain unappointed of passed applicants before the Board in this place:
Colonels - 3
Lieutenant Colonels - 2
Majors - 9
Regimental Quartermasters - 20
First Lieutenants - 39
Second Lieutenants -63
Our great want is captains. These are needed to complete the organizations of regiments forming in the Department of the Cumberland. Eight captains for heavy artillery, eight captains of infantry, and lieutenants in proportion. The lieutenants, as will be seen by the above list, can be easily had.
And more especially detailed to superintend the recruiting in East and Middle Tennessee. I have recruited somewhat in Georgia, considerably in Northern Alabama, and slightly in North Carolina.
Prior to the advance of the armies of the Military Division of the Mississippi last spring we were able to get a few recruits from inside the enemies lines by means of negroes employed for that purpose. Some were also obtained for the First U. S. Colored Artillery from North Carolina. Recruiting in Northern Alabama, or the picket, was chiefly done by our agents, who accompanied cavalry expeditions. Some 300 were obtained for the Seventeenth U. S. Colored Infantry. One of our agents with General W. Sooy Smith, upon his expedition into northern Mississippi, brought back about 800 men, who were put into regiments in Memphis.
When recruiting stations were opened at Gallatin and Clarksville slaves ran away from their owners in Kentucky-some came from as far as from Louisville-to enlist. Eventually the Kentuckians saw that this losing of men to their quota did not pay. In March and April last I consulted with the acting assistant provost-marshal-general of Kentucky as to enlisting slaves there openly, and suggested that if under the new enrollment act negroes were drafted or volunteered they might be organized here, inasmuch as the people of Kentucky did not seem to be willing there should be armed negroes in their State. This was acceded to, and the recruiting was begun there in April.
By the time the One hundreth U. S. Colored Infantry was organized I had received numerous letters from loyal Kentuckians praying for the formation of colored regiments in their State.
A telegram of mine to the chief of the Colored Bureau requesting permission to recruit in that State, dated June 7, 1864, was answered by a direction to consult with the Adjutant-General at Louisville Ky. Pursuant to that order I visited General Thomas and General Burbridge. General Burbridge did me the honor to request that I might be sent into Kentucky to superintend the organization of colored troops there. But General Thomas preferred that I should remain in Tennessee. General Burbridge also declined the services of recruiting agents supported by the Boston committee military fund, upon the ground that their labors were superfluous, as recruiting was progressing so rapidly, and were calculated to awaken opposition from Kentuckians.
From that time to this, beyond an occasional answer to letters from Kentucky asking my opinion, &c, on certain matters connected with recruiting, and the furnishing of names of passed applicants to the Adjutant-General for appointment into Kentucky regiments, I have had nothing to do with recruiting colored troops in Kentucky.
Last winter a gentleman in Boston asked my opinion as to the propriety of Northern States filing their quotas by recruiting in the disloyal States.
Strong objections to the plan presented themselves to me, which I urged. The objections I presented have proven practically to be greater than I stated them.
About 400 recruits have been obtained from Georgia and Alabama for Northern States under the system and presented at the rendezvous here, Camp Foster.
The exceedingly competent surgeons detailed to examining duty there (by order of Clendenin, assistant medical director, and at my request), Dr. J. C. Elliott, One hundreth U. S. Colored Infantry, had rejected for disability about one-fourth of these men recruited. The number of agents registered with me is 237; this is a meager showing. I attribute it to- First. The disinclination of General Sherman to aid a system which enabled men to avoid personal military service, a disinclination, common to ninety-nine of every hundred of the officers and soldiers of his army.
Second. The scarcity of material.
Third. The difficulty of obtaining transportation from the point to this point of men enrolled. The system (if I may be permitted to criticize a measure passed by Congress) has this radical defect: The inequality of the bountless offered; consequent to this are bounty jumping, trafficking among agents, unfair measures in recruiting.
I believe desertions to have been induced by the system. I know that the honor of several officers has been compromised by it. Of the agents were men who cared nothing for the negro, had no interest in colored troops, and were only interested in making money for themselves, for very few of the many dollars of the bounties ever found their way in to the recruits' pockets; the agents fattened upon them. Practically, however, the system here, is at an end, General Webster, General Sherman's chief of staff, declining to grant any more passes to agents going South or substitute brokers going North.
I regard the prospects for recruiting in Georgia favorable. When our army resumes the offensive and penetrates into the Empire State of the South, the horde of negroes driven before Hood's army will be reached and made available. Some 5,000 laborers are wanted for the staff department in the field of General Sherman's armies, but when these are obtained (as I understand General Sherman's assurance and those of his subordinates) we shall be permitted to recruit.
Pursuant to authority given me last spring to recruit in Georgia and Northern Alabama, I kept till near the fall of Atlanta an agent in the front. Not so many negroes came in to Sherman' army as were needed to supply the natural decrease of teamsters, &c.
I do not think it advisable after the regiments now authorized here are completed to begin others. There can still be recruiting here, but not in such numbers as to warrant the formation of new regiments.
My plan for such recruiting, and it is sanctioned by Brig. Gen. A. Johnson, Military Governor of Tennessee, is:
First. To have all colored recruiting in this State placed under the control of one person. As it is, there are recruiting parties from the old regiments of who whereabouts, operations, and success I know nothing, unless they stumble into some place where I have parties recruiting for the new regiments.
Second. To have all recruits obtained sent to the general rendezvous here for examination, enlistment, and some drill before they are sent to the commands for which they are enlisted.
Third. To make recruiting successful here an armed force of one regiment or more is necessary. When Major Stearns came here his agents could recruit at the posts where troops were stationed. That source of supply has been exhausted, and the garrisons of the majority of the posts are too small to warrant them in making scouts for recruits. Wherever we have been able to send a force of, say, 80 or 100 men for a few days into the country, we have always got men, and the good conduct of the men upon such scouts has left a favorable impression on the people.
Fourth. Recruits should have some assurance that their families will not suffer from the abuse of disloyal owners whom they have left to enlist. I respectfully invite attention to the point here suggested.
Of the efficiency of these troops in action we have had but few opportunities to judge. The Fourteenth Infantry charged Wheeler's line at Dalton, Ga, handsomely upon his last raid and marched after him well.
During the present raid of Forrest the Fourteenth and Sixteenth Infantry have been in one fight to my knowledge where they behaved well, and at Lebanon during Wheeler's raid a detachment of the Fortieth U. S. Colored Infantry showed pluck.
For the appearance, drill, discipline, &c, of these regiments reference is respectfully made to the inspection reports of General Chetlain. The general sentiments of the people and those of the army with whom these regiments have been brought to contact is favorable to them. The material has been found plastic to a degree, the men all appear eager to learn and willing to do their duty, and, as a rule, the officers have been good; many have been weeded out; however, and there is still room for change for the better.
My experience in this work convinces me that these regiments can be made for many duties superior to white regiments. As guards they are remarkably faithful.
A regiments of colored troops did interior duty as guards in this town. When they were relieved by white troops the change was regretted by the officers in charge of the public stores where these men had stood sentries. For raiders in the enemy's country these colored troops will prove superior. They are good riders, have quicker eyes at night than white, and know all the byways.
When Major Stearns came into this department there was no organized provision for contrabands. Some were collected at Decherd, some at Stevenson, and about every army depot a crowd of blacks were congregated. The policy of the Governor and of army officers was to repress their coming into our lines. As we enlisted the able-bodied men, the woman and children required care, and contrabands came upon our hands. Major Stearns procured a deserted chapel a mile from the city, into which he put a few women and children soldiers' families, for whom no other provisions could be made. Rations were drawn for them, and as fast as possible they were hired out. This was a mere makeshift.
Telegraphic orders from the Secretary of the War Department upon the 19th of December, 1863, directed Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas to receive destitute women and children at Stevenson and Nashville and supply their necessities. Some rude provision was made at Stevenson by the post commandant. On January 26 last about a hundred infirm men and women and children were sent by rail from Stevenson to this place. They were dumped at the Chattanooga depot and left for hours between the tracks. I called at General Grant's headquarters and stated the fact. An order was issued directing the post commandant to provide for them. Capt Ralph Hurst, then in charge of the convalescent camp was charged by General Granger with the execution of the order. While the location, &c, of a contraband camp were being discussed the Adjutant-General visited this place and issued Order No. 2 placing Capt Hurst in charge of the contrabands of the Department of the Cumberland. It was the intention to have the camp properly located somewhere near Gallatin, and to have here only a camp of reception and distribution, but Captain Hurst established the permanent camp here.
The management, &c, of this and other camps having been made the subject of investigation by the Hon. Messrs. Hood and Bostwick, special commissioners of the War Department, their report will show, I think, that the terms of General Thomas' order as to the erection of huts and the detail of inspecting lieutenants were never compiled with. When Captain Hurst's term of service expired in June last Captain Barnard, Nineteenth U. S. Infantry, was appointed his successor and was also appointed colonel of the One hundred and first Infantry. I subjoin reports of his, showing the number of camps now under his charge, &c*. Legitimately and of detail I have never had anything to do with these camps. But as Colonel Barnard's regiment is not organized yet and still reports to me, I have had a quasi control of the matter, which I have endeavored to use to the best interest of the poor people.
The Treasury agents have in but one or two cases attempted to control or regulate contraband camps in this department. Military control seems the most appropriate for them. I have endeavored to select for officers of the One hundred and first U. S. Colored Infantry, from whom chiefly came the superintendents of these camps, men who have had experience in their old regiments as quartermaster and commissary sergeants, as possessing a better knowledge of business than other applicants.
Major Stearns' policy was wise and large. He deemed the question of colored troops to involve the question of the elevation and improvement of the race, and accordingly he endeavored to establish and foster a desire for education among the colored troops and among the colored people.
Accordingly, efforts were made to procure teachers for colored schools here; money was also raised through Major Stearns' exertions to establish on a permanent basis a school for colored girls in this city. The chaplains of the various regiments were also directed to make the instruction of the regiment a part and the principal part of their duty. Mr. W. F. Mitchels, a competent and hard-working gentleman, has been appointed by the Pennsylvania Freedman's Aid Association to superintend the establishment of schools in East and Middle Tennessee and in Northern Georgia and Alabama. The association employs able teachers, has ample funds, and will do. I trust very much good.
I have endeavored to aid it as well as all other similar organizations, through there are about this Pennsylvania association elements of moneyed security and of practicability which is my judgement render it superior to others. One of the teachers whom they have sent here, by the way, is the widow of the late Colonel Fribley, U. S. colored troops.
I have stated that when Major Stearns first began his work here he encountered opposition from prominent loyal Tennesseeans. Major Stearns, however, received assistance and encouragement from some citizens of standing, and with the assistance of these he endeavored to influence public opinion in the State.
By personal appeals, by public meetings, by publications in the papers, he presented this subject to the people of this city and State. Major Stearns' office was full of slave-owners, representing some $200,000 worth of slave property that requested the President to decree full, immediate, and uncompensated emancipation in Tennessee. Two of Major Stearns' agents were chiefly employed in influencing public opinion. I know these are slight causes, but I cannot but think they had an effect, and were to some extent instrumental in causing the great revolution in public opinion, patent in the last year. Whereas some then opposed, I know of no prominent loyal Tennessean who does not believe in, advocate, and encourage the raising of colored troops.
A few days since a State convention was held here by persons supposed (as Governor Johnson says in an official proclamation) to reflect the will of the Union men in their respective counties. This convention called on the Governor to enroll and call out the black militia of the State.
The Governor has ordered their enrollment, and recently has ordered that in all cases coming before the courts the blacks shall be held to be free, a most sweeping and thorough edict of emancipation , for any slave has only to get before a court to be pronounced judicially free, and so go upon the records.
Incidentally to the operations of this office it may be mentioned that last fall impressment of negroes to labor on fortifications, &c, was frequent. Major Stearns procured volunteer laborers, and from these and from rejected recruits prior to the formation of labor regiments we furnished the Government about 10,000 days' labor, besides procuring several volunteers for the gun boats.
In the last two months I have received from Ohio some 700 recruits to fill up regiments in service here. These have been assigned to the Ninth U. S. Colored Artillery, as before stated, and to the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Regiments U. S. Colored Infantry.
When we came here there was a contraband hospital in this place under the charge of Doctor Ronayne, in which, despite the doctor's exertions, and he worked faithfully, the rate of mortality was large. Into this, along with contrabands of all sorts, colored soldiers were put. A new general hospital for colored troops is now building here. It will be completed in a few weeks. It is fully equal to any of the hospitals here. When completed I have forward a full description of it. The thanks of the colored soldiers who shall be inmates of this building are due to Doctor W. Clendenin, surgeon, U. S. Volunteers, assistant medical director of this department, for his exertions to procure this hospital, and the interest he has shown in their welfare and that of their race. Until Doctor Clendenin came here the colored nurses in the hospitals had never received any pay. He remedied that evil.
I find by reference to my books that up to the 1st Instant there have been sent from this office 1,062 official letters and 1,224 indorsements, besides references of application to the examining board.
The mustering of these troops and officers has been done chiefly by Lieutenant Ernest, Thirteenth U. S. Colored Infantry, under my supervision. He has not had clerical force enough to keep his records and returns up with the work done.
I desire to put upon record my appreciation of the courtesy and assistance extended to me by the general commanding the Military Division of the Mississippi and the departments thereof and their respective staffs.
I also desire to make special recognition of the valuable assistance given to this organization by Brigadier-General Webster, chief of staff to General Sherman; Lieutenant Colonel Bowers, assistant adjutant general on the staff of (then Major, now Lieutenant) General Grant, commanding the Military Division of the Mississippi: Capt J. Bates Dicksion, assistant adjutant-general on the staff of Major-Generals Rosecrans and Thomas successively commanding the Department of the Cumberland; Lieutenant-Colonel (now Brevet Brigadier General) Donaldson chief quartermaster of this department, and his chief assistant, Capt J. F. Rusling; Surgeon Clendenin, U. S. Volunteers; Mr. J. C. Mercer, editor of the Nashville Times, and Mr. Fowler, comptroller of the State. These gentlemen have personally aided my predecessor and myself with advice and sympathy, and officially with all the resources at their command, and have been constant and true friends to the colored troops.
My assistant, Captain Cochrane, has been invaluable. While an enlisted man he was detailed to Major Stearns as secretary and was familiar with Major Stearns operations in the East, and has been connected with the operations here from their inception. Faithful, intelligent, energetic, and interested in the work, he has done much to make the work here the success which I think it has been.
Originally coming here as Major Stearns' mustering officer, when he left for Washington in November last, appointed temporarily, and upon his resignation, fully his successor, I have endeavored to carry out the work he so well began. I have striven to do so with as great freedom from personal motives and as much singleness of purpose as I could, and I feel very grateful for the confidence with which the Adjutant-General and yourself have honored me.
I regard and have regarded the organization of colored troops as a very important social, humanitarian, as well as military measure, and as a providential means of fitting he race freed by this war for their liberty.
I have endeavored to impress this view upon the officers appointed to these organizations and upon the men themselves, showing them that their recognition as men would follow the soldier, and I have now, after a year's labor in this department, more hope and more faith, than ever in the capability of the negro to make a good soldier and a good citizen.
I have the honor, major, to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
R. D. MUSSEY
Colonel 100th, U. S. Colored Infantry
Commissioner for Organization U. S. Colored Troops