conferred upon me to organize all the colored men in the department into regiments, and to appoint their officers for confirmation by the President, and to have them carefully drilled and exercised.
Third. Acting under you Special Field Orders, Numbers 15, Brevet Major-General Saxton has assumed control of all the recruiting, and is disposed to question the power delegated to me by the above orders. He has taken action in the calling of a mass-meeting of the colored men in Savannah antagonistic to the wishes that I understood you to express with regard to delaying such action until after all the quartermaster's and commissary's work necessary to the forwarding of your supplies had been completed. By haranguing said meeting, in company with the Rev. Mr. French, and informing the blacks that he intended establishing a camp of instruction for negro regiments in Savannah, he has tended to produce confusion, excitement, and an erroneous impression upon the colored people and upon the white inhabitants of the city which is prejudicial to the good order and well-bing of the city. General Grover objects to it as tending to confusion and affording opportunities, under cover of which incendiary attempts of secret spies may be made.
In addition to the above, General Saxton, also in opposition to General Grover's wishes, has appointed another mass-meeting of the negroes in Savannah on Thursday next. One consequence of this ill-judged action on General Saxton's part is, that the negroes generally prefer idleness to either work or enlisting, and only about 450 recruits have presented themselves thus far. It is reported that in private conversation General Saxton expressed a determination to carry out fully his ill-judged course, and that he could have the head cut off of any officer who opposed him. I would earnestly and respectfully urge upon the Major-general commanding, the necessity of changing paragraph 5 in Special Field Orders, Numbers 15, by omitting the last sentence, so as to leave the whole subject of recruiting where it was placed by the orders and instructions inclosed.
I cannot avoid expressing the conviction that this course is absolutely necessary to prevent serious interference on the part of General Saxton with the duties and prerogatives both of myself and the general officers under me.
Again earnestly soliciting your favorable attention to the above request, at your earliest convenience,
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER,
Major-General, Commanding Department of the South.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
Hilton Head, S. C., January 31, 1865.
Bvt. Brigadier General M. S. LITTLEFIELD,
Commanding Hilton Head District:
GENERAL: The Major-general commanding directs that you will order 300 men of the One hundred and forty-fourth New York Volunteers to be in readiness to embark at a moment's notice with ten days' rations, blankets, overcoats, and sixty rounds of ammunition on the person of each soldier, and forty rounds extra in cartridge-boxes.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. L. M. BURGER,