BUREAU OF FREE LABOR, DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, June 3, 1865.
Lieutenant Colonel C. T. CHRISTENSEN,
SIR: I beg leave very respectfully to report that in accordance with the instructions of the major-general commanding I proceeded to Montgomery and other interior points in the State of Alabama to establish offices and promote the welfare and industry of the freedmen. I established an office in Montgomery, and left two officers with suitable instructions to carry out the regulations. I issued a plan for the government of labor and freedmen, which encouraged the freedmen and satisfied the planters. I made a request to Major-General Smith for the assignment of a farm colony purposes. He assured me that it should be granted. I found at Pollard, Greenville, Sparta, and Evergreen, the same as at Montgomery, a perfect reign of idleness on the part of the negroes and of persecution and violence on that of the whites. The bitterness of the old slave-holders and their determination to persecute and murder the freedmen leaves in my heart but one solemn impression, and that is that the only means of saving them lies in the military power of the Government. The returned rebel soldiers are the worst. They are filled with a spirit of lawlessness and hate. This state of things chills and disheartens the freedmen. I met the difficulty in the best possible way, and assured the planters on the one hand that the freedmen must work, but that on the other they must not be persecuted or murdered because they are free or because the Government of the United States had been triumphant. I have established an office at Selma and issued the same regulations and instructions as at Montgomery; also at Demopolis and Meridian, Miss., and Baldwin County, Ala. I am pained at the scenes I witnessed along my route. I saw freedmen whose ears were cut off by former slave-holders. I have seen others whose throats were cut, and still others whose heads were mutilated in a most barbarous and shocking manner. May I not request the attention of the commanding general to the necessity, mentioned by me in a former communication, of having provost-marshals and a sufficient guard at each county seat to enforce order and secure proper police arrangement for the country? I am confident that the freedmen will work under Government protection. Indeed, I know I can stimulate fair industry in them under our plan of working, but their bodies must be shielded by the power of the Government or thousands will be slain. My duties here being very great and more pressing just now than usual, I had to work almost night and day in order to reach here by the 1st day of this month. I will take immediate steps for the operation of our system in Shreveport and Western Louisiana. If I do not meet the necessity of every point as early as might be desired, may I ask the indulgence of the commanding general for the reason that my labors are necessarily very arduous and my present field of operation exceedingly broad.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOMAS W. CONWAY,
General Superintendent Bureau of Free Labor, Dept. of the Gulf.
WASHINGTON, June 4, 1865.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
I would respectfully recommend the promotion of General J. H. Wilson and his assignment to the command of the Department of Georgia.