War of the Rebellion: Serial 124 Page 0043 UNION AUTHORITIES.

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V. PUBLIC-Numbers 23.

AN ACT to promote the efficiency of the Commissary Department.

Be in enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That there be added to the Subsistence Department of the Army one Brigadier- general, to be selected from the Subsistence Department, who shall be Commissary-General of Subsistence, and by regular promotion one colonel, one lieutenant-colonel, and two majors, the colonels and lieutenant-colonels to be assistant commissaries-general of subsistence; and that vacancies in the above-mentioned grades shall be filled by regular promotion in said department. And the vacancies created by promotions herein authorized may be filled by selections from the officers of the regular or volunteer force.

Approved February 9, 1863.

By order of the Secretary of War:




Washington, February 11, 1863.

Honorable J. P. USHER,

Secretary of the Interior:

SIR: Respecting the number of free colored persons in the United States of the arms-bearing age, I have the honor to submit tabular statements, herewith accompanying, which show the number of such persons of eighteen and under forty-five, and hypothetically the proportion in the free States which may be supposed available from this population upon the data furnished by the number of white persons who have entered the military service from the various States and Territories. In my opinion the number of colored persons in the free States physically conditioned to bear arms is less a given population than the number of whites, from the fact that the free colored population in the North is made to hold its numbers by supply from the South rather than by that natural increase from generation incident to good conditions.

This view is sustained by the current reports on mortality, which in many instances prove the number of deaths among the free colored to be greater than the births. The increase among this population in Massachusetts from 1840 to 1850 was less than 5 per cent., and from 1850 to 1860 less than 6 per cent. In Maine and New Hampshire, Vermont and New York they have actually decreased, which fact, taken in connection which the small aggregate increase of 12 per cent., North and South, in ten years from all causes, proves beyond question that the race would not advance in the Northern States but by artificial conditions, and that physically it is under its present circumstances neither equal to the slave nor free population.

In my opinion the number of the free colored population has always been overestimated from the fact of their concentration in cities and large towns and their employment in outdoor avocations, whereas if employed in factories and trades and on farms they would escape observation and be almost lost sight of. I am equally convinced that while climate has much to do with their physical condition, their general mode of life, incident to caste and condition, had probably equal effect upon their vitality. Be the reasons what they may, the fact is evident that the colored population in the Northern and Western States holds an inferior place physically to the whites, and could hardly be relied upon to sble-bodie men. From the tables it appears that the whole number of free