I should also wish the engineer agency ordered to forward on Fort Taylor account at once after decidding to send the contrabands proper supplies of pork, cornr the negroes which may be sent to arrive with them or soon thereafter.
Should the plan of small houses be approved, and I think this would be mcuh the best inthelong run for negro families, I would ask you to send the inclosed note which will bring me an offer and speciaications from the person I sfhould procure them from a and whose special business is with ready-0 made houses. Shoud you be sure that as many as ten double houses for two families would be required it would be well could this be stated in forwarding this letter and my brother will communicate the fact to the builder referred to, which would save time.
I am able to add that Major Hill, the commandign officer at Key West, fully approves this plan of a contraband colony and offers to inclose it to the Adjutant-Geneal if desired as being for the advantage of the Government. I sahll show him this letter and he may address the proper authorities in conswquence. I shall request this believing that his approval will carry great wight should objections arise. This proposition is important not only in its bearing on the fort labor and on the local comunity but in its larger relations and inits application as a precedent. Having withed all these aspects and relations iwth as much care and candor as practicable in advance I do not hesitate to propose action being convinced that it will not only advantage the Government but be what the negroes might most rationally desire.
It will doubtyless harm the intersts of negro owners here but as I should not propose to reduce the rating of the best trtained negroes this would be no decieded hardshipl They too have so largely acted on the work and that the local force and special almost exclusive rights which they thought ivnaded by breinging out white laborers fromteh North that Ihave no objection to seeing the work made quite indepaendent of such assmptions. On the other hand it is now difficult to get house servants in town so that many families would be glad to hire female servants who may come with the proposed colony.
It is hardly necessary for me further to explain my ideas on this subject as from what I have said the main points can be appreciated and experience will enable the officer charged with their management to meet the practical difficulties which may arise.
Very respectfully, yours, &c.,
E. B. HUNT,
Captain of Engineers.
P. S. - The necssity of regular appropriations to keep the work in progress may Isuppose now be assumed as a safe basis for this colony. A filure of appropriation would leave matters no worse than now with these contrabands even were they here to the number of 200.
On further examination I am satisfied that we can put up a row of negro cabins from materials at command here chaeaper than to buy ready- made buildings. I therfore withdraw the inclosure referred to before. Major Hill ahs written to the Adjutant-General approving the proposal and urging that 100 more be sent for geenral use here.
51 R R- SER II, VOL I