HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
Hilton Head, S. C., February 2, 1865.
Honorable edwin M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: I have the honor to inclose my letter to General Sherman of the 31st ultimo,* with his indorsement thereon; also copies of the orders and instructions referred to in such letter, with copy of Brevet Brigadier-General Littlefield's letter to me, dated 30th of January. These inclosures are marked, respectively, 1, 2, 3, &c., to Numbers 9. I would respectfully ask that the last sentence of paragraph V, of Special Field Orders, Numbers 15, from General Sherman's headquarters, may be annulled, so as to leave the recruiting and organization of colored men in my hands and those of Brevet Brigadier-General Littlefield, where it was left by previous instructions of the War Department. I respectfully submit that the proposed change would disorganize the machinery now established, and would produce confusion and consequently necessary delay. By the orders inclosed you will see that I am directed to appoint officers provisionally. Numbers have been assigned to the new regiments by the bureau of which Colonel Foster is Chief, to wit, the One hundred and third, the One hundred and fourth, the One hundred and fifth, and the One hundred and twenty-eight. I have appointed officers in the One hundred and third, and the regiment is being efficiently organized. I am pushing this matter of enlistments, and shall, in any event, to all in my power to further the wishes of the Department. I would also suggest that to place this matter of organizing these regiments in other hands than those of the department commander might produce unnecessary complications. General Saxton's important duties as inspector under General Sherman's order will of necessity occupy much time and demand his constant care. In them he will receive my thorough support. The interests at stake are so great that they should be furthered by a hearty and soldierly co-operations between us. I aks this respectfully, as General Sherman informs me that the change specified in the above-mentioned paragraph of his order was made by your directions. I regret that there should seem to be any doubt of my interest in the arming of the colored race. I have since the first order on this subject was issued by the War Department been one of the most active in encouraging and enforcing the enlistment of these men. Every officer who has served with me will bear testimony to this. Among the earliest colored regiments organized were the First and Second North Carolina regiments; you will remember that they were raised under my personal supervision by Brigadier-General Wild. As a soldier, I wish to see our armies strengthened; as a citizen, to do that which will most benefit this unfortunate race, and fit them to rightly use that liberty with which the war has blessed them. Regarding the discipline which they will receive in the army as the greatest and most widely spread educational influence which can be brought to bear upon them, the policy of the Government in making soldiers of them commends itself alike to my judgment and my humanity. I need not say that whatever may be your decision, it will receive from me a soldier's acquiescence.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER,
*See p. 186.
14 R R-VOL XLVII, PT II