into the northeastern counties of North Carolina. Our navigation on the Dismal Swamp Canal had been interrupted, and the Union inhabitants plundered by the guerrillas.
General Wild took the most stringent measures, burning the property of some of the officers or guerrilla parties, and seizing the wives and families of others as hostages for some of his negroes that were captured, and appears to have done his work with great thoroughness, but perhaps with too much stringency. The effect has been, however, that the people of Pasquotank, Currituck, Camden, Perquimans, and Chowan Counties have assembled, and all passed resolutions similar to those which I inclose, which were passed by the inhabitants of Pasquotank County, and three of the counties have sent committees to me with theri resolutions. These resolutions are signed by 523 of the inhabitanrs of the county, an average vote being 800, and every prominent man, I am informed by the committee who presented them, that had not signed them had left and gone across the lines.
The guerrillas have also bee withdrawn from these counties, to the relief of the inhabitants.
I have promised the committees of the several counties that so long as they remain quiet, keep out the guerrillas, and stop blockade running, that they shall be afforded all possible protection by us, and be allowed to bring their products into Norfolk and receive goods in exchange.
Until I can get sufficient force organized to make it safe to throw my lines them, I have further informed them I shall not require that oath of allegiance.
I think we much indebted to General Wild and his negro troops for what they have done, and it is but fair to record that while some complaints are made of the action authorized by General Wild against the inhabitants and their property, yet all the committees agree that the negor soldiers made no unauthorized interferences with property or persons, and conducted themselves with propriety.
I find between some of the officers in this department in command of white soldiers, a considerable degree of prejudice against the colored troops, and in some cases impediments have been thrown in the way of their recruiting, and they interfered with on their expeditions. This I am investigating, and shall punish with the most stringent measures, trusting and believing my action will be sustained by the Department. I also find some incompetent officers in the negro regiments. The Board of Examination cannot always develop the character of the officer, although it may make some possible guess at his requirements.
I shall take leave, therefore, to report for dismissal those who in my judgement, upon investigation, are not fit for the service. The negro troops, to have a fair chance, ought to have first-class officers,for from their habits of obedience and discipline, they are more apt to depend upon their officers than are white soldiers.
I beg leave to inclose* a copy of General Wild's report, and also the original proceedings of the citizens of Pasquotank.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, yours,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
*See Part I, p.911.