emy has a larger force on the Blackwater than we have at Suffolk. The Pennsylvania troops are perfectly raw, and have arms that are unfit for use. It would not do to put them in the field at present. General Peck will explain more fully. I will do all I can to keep enemy occupied in this quarter. With the exception of the Pennsylvania Militia, my force fit for duty is only about 19,000, in absence of Wessells' brigade, and I have a line of 70 miles in extent to protect.
JOHN A. DIX,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA, SEVENTH ARMY CORPS,
Fort Monroe, Va., December 13, 1862.
Honorable E. M. STANTON:
SIR: Complaints have been made by those who taken a strong interest in the condition of fugitives from service here, usually denominated " contrabands," that their labor since they have been employed by the United States has not been fully paid for. There are other grounds of complaint also, and with a view to remove them I desire to make the following suggestions, viz:
1st. The labor of these persons was not paid for until November 1, 1861, at which time a system of compensation was adopted under Major-General Wool. Before that time a large number of them had been employed and supplied with food and clothing. If the payment of wages was right after November 1 it would have been equally right before that time. The only difficulty is in ascertaining the exact amount of labor performed. Up to July 4, 1861, an accurate account was kept, and at the rate of $10 per month pe man they were then entitled to $970. From July 4 to November 1, 1861, no rolls were kept, and the amount of labor performed during the interval is uncertain. There are, however, some data for an estimate. The numbers employed July 4 and November 1 are known, and by assuming a mean number a proximation to the truth may be reached. I do not put this mean higher than 200. At the above rate of compensation they would have earned $2,000 per month for the respective months of July, August, September, and October -deducting four days from the first -named month- and amounting in the aggregate to $7,741.95.
While Captain Tallmadge, quartermaster (recently deceased), was charged with the employment and compensation of these persons some arrearages accumulated, which, for reasons that need not be mentioned, remain unpaid. On the 1st of March, 1862, there was due to them the sum of $1,171.75. Their earnings during the month of March amount to the sum of $2,450. Both these sums should be paid. Many of the persons who performed the labor on account of which these arrears accrued are no longer here and many of them will not be found. It is therefore respectfully suggested that after waiting a reasonable time (say six months) for the claimants to present themselves, the balance unclaimed shall become a fund for the relief and support of the poor who are fugitives from service.
There is admitted to be due from the subsistence department $152. There is also due from the hospital department the sum of $880 for the services of 220 colored nurses during the months of November and December, 1861, and January and February, 1862. In these two cases there will be the same difficulty in ascertaining the persons to whom the money is due, and the same disposition is recommended. The payment of these amounts requiring the order of the Secretary of War, as do also the three bills forwarded with an explanatory letter by the commanding