HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA,
November 22, 1862.
Honorable E. M. STANTON;
SIR: I have received your order appointing Dr. Le Grand Russell "special commissioner to take charge of the colored refugees from the enemy at Fortress Monroe and its vicinity," and shall do all in my power to aid him in the proper discharge of his duties.
The peculiar phraseology of the order suggests the propriety of stating that all the negroes here are not refugees from the enemy. On the contrary, there are a number who are fugitives from the service of Union men, who have been persecuted by the secessionists for their fidelity to the Government of the United States, and a few who belong to persons residing in district which have never been in possession of the insurgents. Some Union families in this neighborhood have lost all their negroes, whom I have, in obedience to the act of Congress, refused to give up. It will be troublesome to separate one class from the other, and assuming that the order was not intended to make any distinction, I shall, unless otherwise directed, put Dr. Russell in charge of both.
I avail myself of the opportunity of stating that under authority I opened negotiations with the Governors of the States of Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, with a view to provide a temporary asylum for the contrabands here until the Government could make some permanent provision for them. The proposition was received with such marked disfavor by Governor Andrew, of Massachusetts, that I decided, notwithstanding a very kind and prompt response from General Sprague, of Rhode Island, to retain them here and make suitable provision for them for the winter. Accordingly I withdrew the sick from the hospital at Newport News and sent over a thousand of the colored fugitives there. But the very day they were removed from their encampment, where they were dying rapidly, I was advised that the Irish Legion, under General Corcoran, would arrive on the following day. Their tents had been so injured in New York by a storm on the eve of their departure that they were obliged to be put under cove, and, having no place for them but Newport News, I was compelled to remove the colored people again. They were sent to Craney Island, and the quartermaster is, under my instructions, erecting barracks for them. They will all be covered in the course of the coming week.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN A. DIX,
FORT MONROE, VA., November 23, 1862.
A reconnaissance was made from Williamsburg yesterday toward the Chickahominy. Killed 2 and captured 6 of the enemy and took 11 horses. No loss on our side.
JOHN A. DIX,