General Garfield received me very cordially, but, being constantly engaged in business, had no time for conversation; my full understanding with General Rosecrans and Captain Young, commissary of musters, rendered it unnecessary. He sent his respects to you, with the assurance he would give all the aid in his power.
In Captain Young, who was lately at Washington on business connected with this service, I hope to find an able co-operator. He is thoroughly in earnest and understands the necessities of his department. I expect to receive very valuable assistance from him.
General Rosecrans directed me to ask:
First. Can slaves of loyal citizens of Tennessee be enlisted in the Army without the consent of their masters?
Second. Will all enlisted men become freemen at the expiration of their term of military service?
Third. Do non-commissioned officers receive higher pay than privates? If so, how much?
A reply to these questions by telegram to me at Nashville is desirable. I think this will prove the best department in the country in which to commence thorough work. Its organization is said to be good, and I find the officers pride themselves on the exact performance of their duties. The citizens are in a much better state of preparation for the change than I had expected.
The negroes are physically superior to any I have seen, and appear bright and appear bright and intelligent.
General Rosecrans directed me to send North for colored men who could read and write a fair hand for non-commissioned officers, twenty to each regiment. I have already taken measures to obtain them. I inclose copy of my instructions.
I have the honor to be,very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEORGE L. STEARNS,
Major and Asst. Adjt. General, U. S. Vols.,
Commissioner for Organization of Colored Troops.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE CUMBERLAND, FIELD ORDERS,
Trenton, Ga., September 8, 1863.
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Major George L. Stearns, assistant adjutant-general, having reported to these headquarters, in accordance with orders of the Secretary of War, to take charge of the organization of colored troops in this department, is hereby ordered to proceed to Nashville and such other points within this department as may in his judgment be advisable for the accomplishment of the duty with which he is charged. He will be governed in the enlistment and organization of colored troops by law and the regulations established by the War Department, reporting any difficulties he may encounter to these headquarters and applying to the War Department for any instructions he may require.
The quartermaster's department will furnish transportation on his requisition for himself, his assistants, recruiting officers, and recruits, and will issue clothing and camp and garrison equipage on requisitions approved by him.
The subsistence department will issue rations to recruits for colored regiments on provision returns approved by him.