a force not exceeding 5,000 able-bodied men from among the contrabands in this department, common laborers to be paid not exceeding $8 per month and mechanics not to exceed $10 per month, to be furnished with soldier's ration, for each class. The men to be uniformed, armed, and officered by men detailed from the Army.
My reasons for asking this authority are the following: Along the entire coast occupied by our forces, one or two places excepted, the people suffer greatly from fear of attack by their rebel matters, in the event of which the expect no mercy at their hands. This fear contracts more or less their individual labors, as well as paralyzing their efforts for social and moral improvement. The rebellion would be very greatly weakened by the escape of thousands of slaves with their families from active rebel masters if they had such additional security against recapture as these men, judiciously posted, would afford them. On the withdrawal of our troops form Edisto it became necessary to remove 1,500 people, and most of them from loved homes of many years, to Saint Helena Island, where neither proper accommodations nor adequate employment for them. Six hundred and ninety-seven acres of cotton, 835 access of corn, and 300 access potatoes, the product of months of labor, were abandoned, and unless destroyed or gathered by our forces may fall into the hands of the rebels.
With such protection as the Navy will afford the people could return in safety, and guarded by these men, as well as assisted in the field work by them, the people could secure all those crops, a good harvest of fight and oranges, as well as comfortable homes for their suffering families.
Six hundred people from Georgetown, above Charleston, and 175 from Hutchinson's Island, for lack of sufficient protection, have also been transferee to this overpopulated field, and necessary embarrassing somewhat our efforts to carry out your wishes with regard to improving their condition. On the coast of Georgia is Saint Simon's Island, a beautiful sea island, with a colonel of 400 very interesting refugees, gathered and protected by the Navy alone, and thus far sustained without any expense to the Government. This island has been guarded for a long time by negro pickets; it is an important rendezvous, and the Navy ask for additional protection. A few rebels have already landed, with the intention, it has been reliable ascertained, of slaughtering every man, woman and child on the island. They were vigorously attacked by the negro pickets, and during the action which ensued 2 of the latter were killed and 1 wounded. The rebels fled, and it is believed succeeded in making their escape from the island. What their loss was is not known. I think some of them must have been killed. So near is this island to the main-land that tow or three rebel flags can be sen with the naked eye constantly floating, while the smoke of their salt manufactories blackens the sky day and night. With a proper guarantee against recapture an immense number of men now busily at work in adhering in corps, manufacturing salt, &c., could be withdrawn from the enemy, and thereby very materially increase our power over these traitors to our country. In two or three places contrabands have been employed by the Government for several months without receiving anything save their rations for it, no pay roll having been kept. In other cases slaves reputed to belong to rebel masters have been employed, and at high rates, whose wages were paid to agents of these masters. (Among these cases are the slaves of ex-Senator Mallory, of Florida). All these abuses would be speedily corrected by the arrangement contemplated in this request. Thus organized, disciplined, and constantly employed, the men would escape demoralization among themselves, and working with and for the