left; it is, "Refer the matter to the nearest agent of the Freedmen's Bureau at Meridian." They then reply, "Howshall they be restrained meanwhile, during the pendency of the reference?" And you can recur to no law but that of force again, which is slavery. I have grown satisfied that there is, and can be, no such thing as their freedom is not to make them free, and the continuous rigors of necessity and restraints of authority, inseparable respectively from their own circumstances and the self-defensive action of society, constitutes essentially the substance of slavery still. As Federal soldiers, we can neither recognize slavery nor its equivalent and are left helpless lookers-on, while the broken ship and crazed cres are drifting on the rocks together. I see but one remedial plan. That is, to compel by some intimate, close-fitting system of prescriptions every able-bodied negro to work, the adoption of some appropriate use of law for the government of the class, under which the courts can administer restraints and confirm rights, and the thorough, careful policing of the entire area of the slave States by mounted soldierly in support of the jurisdiction of the courts; that soldiery to be intimately subdivided and finally assigned to certain territorial limits. I presume that so comprehensive a measure will not be taken until some great and fatal mischief has indicated its necessity. Meanwhile, what am I to do, or to attempt toward restraining the vagrancy and violence of the negroes, and the cruelty and heartlessness of the bad masters? Starving people are coming in from every direction, from five to sixty miles away, for relief. I am clean worn out with their wan and haggard beggary. I would rather face an old-fashioned war-time skirmish line any time than the inevitable morning eruption of lean and hungry widows that besiege me at sun up and ply me until night with supplications that refuse to be silenced.
I have avoided reporting the seemingly petty annoyances incident to a command of this kind and should say nothing now, were I not of the opinion that the major-general commanidng would be pleased to know as near as possible the condition of the people. Thus far my whole object has been simply to keep order, and will continue to be, until further instructions are received. To this end, so far as it has been in my power, I have encouraged the citizens, who have shown a disposition to engage in peaceful pursuits, and at the same time have given those who are prone to evil, to understand that further depredations would not be tolerated, and the offenders would be summarily dealt with. The instructions already received, in regard to distributing among the poor the Confederate corn found in this district, have already been carried into effect, and much suffering has been alleviated from this source. The relation at present existing between the freedmen and their former masters is, as a matter of course, a source of aggravation to the latter, and no doubt a great deal of inconvenience is experienced and perhaps occasional wrongs committed. This undoubtedly accounts for the fact that the people are very anxious to ascertain the policy to be enforced in regard to the freedmen. And for the benefit of all concerned, I would earnestly request that I may be furnished at an early day, or from time to time, such directions as will enable me to carry out the wishes of the major-general commanding.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brevet Major-General, Commanding.
HEADQUARTERS SIXTH DIVISION, CAVALRY CORPS,
MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Pulaski, Tenn., June 22, 1865.
Brigadier General W. D. WHIPPLE:
I have the honor to state, for the information of the major-general commanding, that on last week I sent to the neighborhood of Lewisburg and Cornersville a small party of cavalry with instructions to hunt down
65 R R-VOL XLIX, PT II