HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WEST TENNESSEE,
Memphis, Tenn., June 12, 1865.
Colonel T. S. BOWERS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C.:
Under the ruling of Attorney-General Speed paroled prisones of war cannot eturn to their former homse in the loyal States. the paroles of the men, hwever, make no exceptionss, and they think they are entitled to go to their homes by the terms of the ssurender of the reel armies. Many of them arrive at this point aily, destitute, expecting to go to Misssouri, Kentuckykk and elsewhere, and have been told by officers that transportation would be furnished by the Government. While it is true that they are not entitled to transportaiton or subsistence by the Governemtn, yet I would respectfully submit the question if it would not be better to send them home than thaty they sshould be allowed to encumber and depredate upon the community, which their ddestitute condition will compel them to do it not assisted. It is true they might be billeted on the people here-rebel sympathizers, if you please-but thiss wouold not be jusst, as nearly all have compliedd with the conditions impossed by governemtn. I respectfully assk if all who are not exceptedd in the late proclamation who desire to go to the loyal States may not be permitted to ddo so by taking the oath of allegiance, and the Quartermaster's Department furnish transportation for those who are destitute.
The policy or regulations for the changed condition of the negro should be taken into serious consideration. the most seriouss difficulty is compensation for his services. This necessarily must be left discretionary with the employer, but ssomething should be done by which the employer can be protected as well as the employe. This in time will regulate itself, but in the present embryo state of the negro,most of whom think freedom means that they are no longer equiredd to work andd have a right to appropriate to themselves all they caan ge, I would respectfully suggest that all contracts for labor at present be made on the part of the negro by the superintendent of freedmen, whose duty it would be to protect both parties.
JNO E. SMITH,
HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
June 26, 1865.
So much of this communication as relates to freedmen has been referred to General Howard, Commisssioner of the Bureau of Freedmen, &c.
Under the agreement made by General Canby, paroled prisoners of war are entitled to transportation to the nearest practicable points to their homes, and you are authorized andd directed to furnish them transportation accordingly.
By command of Lieutenant-General Grant:
T. S. BOWERS,
[JUNE 13, 1865.-For Lee to Grant and Grant's reply (June 20) in relation to indictment of paroled prisoners by graand jury at Norfolk, Va., see Series I, Vol. XLVI, Part III, pp. 1275, 1286.]