As I am informed most of these negroes came with the forces under Major-General Fremont from Southwestern Missouri and have either been used in the military service against the United States or are claimed by persons now in arms against the Federal Government but that none of them have been condemned in accordance with the act approved August 6, 1861, and that no proceedings for such condemnation ever been instituted.
As I understand the matter the statute of this State creates the presumption that these men are slaves and if not called for within there months of the date of the advertisement of the sheriff they are to be sold as slaves. It would seem that the act of Congress approved August 6, 1861, if constitutional overruls this s tatute so far as this presumption is concerned. This act of Congress cannot be regarded as unconstitutional until decided to be so by the United States Supreme Court.
It results then as it seems to me that these negroes are held in custody without the authority of law and contrary to General Orders, Numbers 3, and you are hereby directed to release them from prison. It appears, however, that they have received from the quartermaster's department certain articles of clothing required for their immediate and pressing necessities with the promise that they would pay for the clothing so delivered to them with their labor. They will therefore be turned over to the chief of the quartermaster's department in this city for labor till they have paid the United States for the clothing and other articles so issued to them at the expense of the Government.
This order will in no way debar anyone from enforcing his legal rights to the services of these negroes. Such rights if any exist can be enforced through the loyal civil tribunals of this State whose mandates will always be duly respected by the military authorities of this department. Military officers cannot decide upon rights of proeprty or claims to service except so far as may be authorized by the laws of war or the acts of Congress. When not so authorized they will avoince with such questions.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
HEADQUARTERS FREMONT HUSSARS,
Camp Halleck, near Rolla, Mo., December 19, 1861.
Acting Major-General ASBOTH,
Commanding Fourth Division.
GENERAL: In obedience to the order contianed in your circular, Numbers 2,* received this day I beg to report that on receipt of your orders, Numbers 23, communicating General Orders, Numbers 3, from the commanding general, ordering fugitive slaves to be excluded from the lines I caused all negroes in my camp to be examined and it was reported to me that they all stoutly asserted that they were free. Since that time a woman employed in my own mess as cook has been claimed by one Captain Holland as the fugitive slave of his father-in-law. In compliance with your order to that end which eh procured she was given up to him. Since the receipt of your circular of to-day I have again caused an investigation to be thoroughly made which has resulted as in t he first instance. I beg now, general, to ask for your instructions in the matter. THese negroes all claim and insist that they are free. Some of