HEADQUARTERS EXPEDITIONARY CORPS,
Port Royal, S. C., February 9, 1862.
To the ADJUTANT-GENERAL U. S. A.,
Washington, D. C.:
SIR: The imperative necessity of putting the blacks in the way of avoiding starvation before the planting season expires without a draw on the commissariat to an extent that would cripple the service, and for other reasons suggested in the general order which I herewith inclose, has induced me to the measures mentioned therein.
I would respectfully ask for a speedy reply to this communication, and should the plan be generally approved, then how far I shall be authorized to hire instructors. This is a point whereon I have entertained some doubts. I firmly believe, however, that the general agent of instruction should be employed by the Government, if not all the instructors; but the letter, the district or sub-instructors, may possibly be provided by the charities.
This step which I have taken is of vital importance, and to be beneficial for the present year must go into operation at once. The present condition of the blacks, daily increasing in numbers and daily diminishing in their resources, must be alleviated both for their own welfare and the great cause itself.
No correct census has yet been taken, but I estimate the number of blacks now on land in possession of our forces to be at least, 9,000, which is probably a low estimate.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. W. SHERMAN,
HEADQUARTERS EXPEDITIONARY CORPS, Numbers 9. Hilton Head, S. C., February 6, 1862.
The helpless condition of the blacks inhabiting the vast area in the occupation of the forces of this command calls for immediate action on the part of a highly-favored and philanthropic people.
The occupation of a large portion of this area of country on the of November last led to an address to the people of South Carolina, briefly setting forth the causes which led to it, its objects and purposes, and inviting all personal to the reoccupation in a loyal spirit of their lands and tenements and to a continuance of their avocations under the auspices of their legitimate Government and the protection of the Constitution of the United States.
The conciliatory an beneficent purposes of that proclamation, except in a few instances, have not only been disregarded, but houses of totally uneducated, ignorant, and improvident blacks have been abandoned by their constitution guardians, not only to all future chances of anarchy and starvation, but in such a state of abject ignorance and mental stolidity as to preclude all possibility of self-government and self-maintenance in their present condition.
Adequate provision for the pressing necessities of this unfortunate and now interesting class of people being therefore imperatively demanded even by the dictates of humanity alone, an addition duty next only in importance to that of the preservation of a world-revered Constitution and Union, is now forces upon us by an unnatural and wicked rebellion.