HEADQUARTERS EXPEDITIONARY CORPS,
Port Royal, S. C., December 15, 1861.
General LORENZO THOMAS,
Adjutant-General U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
SIR: For the information of the proper authorities, and for fear last the Government bay be disappointed in the amount of labor to be gathered here from the contrabands, I have the honor to report that from the hordes of negroes left on the plantations but about 320 have thus far come in and offered their service. Of these the quartermaster has but about 60 able-bodied male hands, the rest being decrepit, and women and children. Several of the 320 have run off. Every inducement has been held out to them to come in and labor for wages, and money distributed among these who have labored. The reasons for this apparent failure thus appear to be these:
1st. They are naturally slothful and indolent, and have always been accustomed to the lash; an aid we do not make use of.
2nd. They appear to be so overjoyed with the change of their condition that their minds are unsettled to any plan.
3rd. Their present ease and comfort on the plantations, as long as their provisions will last, will induce most of them to remain there until compelled to seek our lines for subsistence.
Although comparatively few have thus far some in, it is therefore probable that in time many will, and if they are to be received and taken care of, some provision should be made to cover them. They are a prolific race, and it will be found that for every able-bodied male there will be five to six females, children, and decrepit. It is really a question for the Government to decide what is to be done with the contrabands.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. W. SHERMAN,
P. S.-Besides those who have come in there are many still on the plantations employed in gathering cotton.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE, EXPED'Y CORPS,
Beaufort, S. C., December 16, 1861.
Captain LOUIS H. PELOUZE,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General E. C., Port Royal, S. C.:
SIR: I inclose, for the information of the brigadier-general commanding, reports received from Colonel B. C. Christ last evening and early this morning, in regard to affairs at Port Royal Ferry, an also a report from Mr. Rockwell, * received early this morning.
From these reports it will appear that the channel of the river is not obstructed sufficiently to prevent the passage of the lighter-draught gunboats, and that the enemy has no guns in position. I have endeavored to make all portions of the command vigilant and attentive, especially at the ferry, and an having nightly careful inspections of the pickets and camps in that quarter.
The gunboat which went up Port River day before yesterday did not proceed to the ferry, but made the main-land some three and one half miles to the right of or below the ferry yesterday morning was anchored off of Lane's Point, Ladies Island. At 8 o'clock last evening
* Not found.