HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SUSQUEHANNA,
June 18, 1863.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: Milroy's 1, 700 reported this afternoon at Bedford, most of them, I fear, without arms. The rebels could not have been in much force near Hancock, or these men would have been captured. General Milroy leaves this evening to join his men. I may hold him in that section until he reorganizes. Their presence will be valuable. Some 4, 000 or 5, 000 militia are assembled at Altoona and other points west of this. They are not mustered yet. Men are mustered with the greatest difficulty. A better feeling exists this evening, however. I was obliged, in order to get companies, to give an order to muster them, even if not up to the minimum required by regulations and existing orders. It had to be done in order to prevent them from stampeding. You must sustain me, and I will endeavor to work it out all right in the end. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
D. N. COUCH,
PHILADELPHIA, PA., June 18, 1863.
(Received 11. 50 a. m.)
Honorable E. M. STANTON:
A special dispatch to the Philadelphia North American states that General Couch declined to receive colored troops, alleging that he has no authority to receive such troops for less than three years. Two companies here are ready to go for the emergency. Shall I forward them? Companies from other points can be forwarded. Shall they be sent?
GEO. L. STEARNS.
WAR DEPARTMENT, June 18, 1863-11. 20 a. m.
Major-General COUCH, Harrisburg:
You are authorized to receive into the service any volunteer troops that may be offered, without regard to color.
EDWIN M. STANTON.
June 18, 1863-12. 45 p. m.
Major GEORGE L. STEARNS, Continental Hotel, Philadelphia:
This morning I saw dispatch referred to in your telegram, and immediately telegraphed General Couch that he was authorized to receive troops without regard to color; but if there is likely to be any dispute about the matter, it will be better to send no more. It is well to avoid all controversy in the present juncture, as the troops can be well used elsewhere.
EDWIN M. STANTON.