HEADQUARTERS U. S. COLORED TROOPS,
Morganza, La., August 22, 1864.
In obedience to command indorsed upon the statement of Lieutenant Howgate, I have the honor to report that early yesterday morning I received orders from your headquarters to move immediately two regiments of my command inside the fort. The most of the ground I found nearly two feet under water from the recent rains, and totally unfit for the camp of any troops. I called upon Lieutenant Howgate to tell him what my orders were, and to ask him to explain how he wished it drained, so the work expended in preparing it for camp would be of a permanent character and in accordance with the plan of the fort. He received me in a dry, disdainful, and contemptuous manner, and wholly unbecoming the character of a gentleman, or that which should regulate the official intercourse of officers. After waiting until my patience was exhausted for any rely whatever, he noticed me by saying that the order was highly injudicious and improper, and he should not have given any such order, and he would see that it was revoked. I told him I was not there to discuss the merits of my superior officers, but to seek how best to obey them. He replied he should exercise the right to criticize the orders of any one. I then remarked that I was there to receive any instructions or suggestions on preparing the fort for the reception of the troops. If he had none I should exercise my own discretion. I then left him, feeling insulted by the contemptuous manner in which I was treated and the orders spoken about under which I was acting. After waiting one day and a half without receiving any notice of desire to co-operate, I ordered Colonel Barrett to proceed to drain the fort and prepare it for two regiments as a camping-ground. I have done nothing but what I have had your written order to do. I have not made the general any trouble intentionally, nor have I the least desire to do so, but all this has been brought about by an officer who has no co-operation whatever, and whose management might be justly and severely criticized. Lieutenant-Colonel Pearsall to my knowledge has done the same amount of work with less time with one-half the number of men, and I only now complain because my command is kept from drill and other soldierly exercises which they very much need, puttering away at a piece of work which in competent hands would have been finished long ago. His dislike of the colored troops and the officers in command of them, but which the Government has seen fit to employ, is such as to utterly disqualify him for association with and direction of them, and were I the permanent, instead of the temporary, commander I would feel justified in asking to have him relieved and placed where his sensibilities would not be shocked by contact with U. S. soldiers whose skins happen to be a shade darker than his own. I am willing and anxious to co-operate in all that is good for the service and and obey unquestioned the orders of my superiors, and I feel exceedingly mortified to have to trouble the general commanding with this long letter; but in justice to myself and those I command I could do no less than make this plain statement, which will determined whether we have the right of soldiers and officers or not, and which, if we have not, the sooner we cease to expect them the more trouble we will avoid.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
H. N. FRISBIE,