Saint Philip, and Fort Jackson, with a report of the affair from Colonel Charles W. Drew, commanding the post of Fort Jackson.*
I have the honor to be, with much respect, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief, U. S. Army.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, December 17, 1863.
GENERAL: I have the honor to transmit the report of a commission appointed to investigate the occurrences at Fort Jackson on the evening of the 9th instant. The evidence is reported in full. Upon the conclusion of the report by the commission, a court-martial has been appointed consisting of the following officers: Colonel F. S. Rutherford, Ninety-seventh Illinois Volunteers; Colonel Chickering, Third Massachusetts Cavalry; Lieutenant Colonel Richard Fitz Gibbons, Ninth Connecticut Volunteers; Major Maloney, First U. S. Infantry; Major Frederick Frye, Ninth Connecticut Volunteers; Lieutenant [Charles A.] Hartwell, Eleventh U. S. Infantry, colonel commanding Fifth Corps d'Afrique; Captain [John L.] Swift, Third Massachusetts Cavalry, judge-advocate.
Their session will commence immediately, at Fort Jackson, by a trial of all parties derelict in duty in this affair. Such measures will be taken as will prevent its repetition hereafter.+ Upon full consideration of this matter in all its aspects, I am confirmed in the opinion I expressed to you upon my first report. There is nothing presented therein to impair the confidence of the Government in the efficiency and reliability of black troops. The conduct of the soldiers is inexcusable, and must be punished with such severity as to prevent its recurrence.
It is apparent, however, that the want of discretion, of a spirit of justice and of capacity to deal with men of this class manifested by some of the officers, whose conduct was the immediate cause of the outbreak, was such as could hardly be expected to produce any other result than that which occurred. The punishment to which the men were subjected for a considerable length of time before the revolt was contrary to the rules of war, and contrary to the orders constantly given in this department. They may justly be classed as among the cruel and unusual punishments interdicted by the Constitution.
The Fourth Regiment, Corps d'Afrique, stationed at Fort Jackson, was the first organized by me in this department. The commanding officer, Colonel Charles W. Drew, was commissioned on the 29th of December, 1862, thirteen days after I assumed command. It has been among the best disciplined and the best instructed regiments of this class of troops. It was for a long time stationed at Baton Rouge, and received the commendation of all officers and citizens who had opportunity to witness its parades. Colonel Drew has been deemed an excellent officer, but it appears from the evidence reported by the commission that he has been derelict in reporting the conduct of some of his subordinate officers, and in giving full information of the condition and the discipline of his command. We were unable to obtain from him full reports of this affair at the time of its occurrence. This is the only fault that appears in his official conduct. All the officers connected with this regiment
+See General Orders, No. 90, p.476.