away the families of discharged negroes by force and turn them over to the custody of the negro, although the latter may be their plain duty under some circumstances. Nearly every assistant provost-marshal read the order under which I visited them, and hence they well knew, and now know, that I was there for other purposes than to instruct them. I venture to say that not one of them has acted upon anything which they claim I have said as instructions, showing fully that they do not regard themselves as having received any instructions from me. It was chiefly my business to find out how the recruiting of colored men could be pushed more actively and vigorously, and my conversation with the provost-marshals was very free and general.
Among other things, I presume, I told nearly every one of them that the general commanding, in order to infuse life into the recruiting service, intended to issue orders to authorize assistant provost-marshals to use their detachments as recruiting parties to enlist negroes wherever found; to protect them in getting to the recruiting station, &c., and not only to authorize them thus to do, but to make it obligatory upon assistant provost-marshals thus to use their detachments. And in order to further the recruiting service, I tried to impress upon them the duty of protecting discharged soldiers in their undoubted right to their freedom; and also the families of such enlisted men, whether discharged or not, belonging to rebels (within the meaning of general orders), of whom the military authorities are the natural guardians and protectors.
Lieutenant Colonel and Asst. Provost-Marshal-General of the Dept.
Let this go to file till the report of General Guitar comes in.
W. S. R.,
OFFICE ASST. PROVOST-MARSHAL OF MONTGOMERY CO.,
Wellsville, Mo., March 10, 1864.
Brigadier General O. GUITAR,
Commanding District of North Missouri, Macon, Mo.:
GENERAL: in answer to yours of the 8th instant, received to-day, I have the honor to report that I have my information from a man by the name of William Graves, who came to my office in company with 2 negro men, who asserted that on the night of Thursday, February 25, 1864, they saw, about 7 miles from this post, and about 1 mile from Todd's Mill, a band of men. They estimated their number from 100 to 150. Among them was an old man of stout build, with very heavy beard and a hook instead of his left arm. Graves thought it was Cobb, he having seem him before. Graves is not here at this moment, but as soon as I can find him I will have the honor to send him to your headquarters.
On the night of February 26, a scout sent out by me in order to prevent rebels from patrolling the roads stopped at the house of one Caleb Berry, and learned that a band of 5 men stopped there the night before, and on leaving there went north. Lieutenant A. Kempinsky, who was the guide of that scout, reported to me also that