War of the Rebellion: Serial 124 Page 0820 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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needed, and then convert them into soldiers-and have so far succeeded well. We need more laborers now than can be obtained for the prosecution of works that are indispensable to sustain the rear of General Rosecrans" army. Major Stearm proposes to organize and place them in camp, where they, in fact, remain idle. This will to a very great extent impede the progress of the works and diminish the number of hands employed. All the negroes will quit work they can go into camp and do nothing. We must control them for both purposes. I must be frank in stating my opinion that Major Stearns" mission, with his notions, will give us no aid in organizing negro regiments in Tennessee. There are a number of persons running in from the other States who are anxious to raise such regiments for the simple purpose of holding the offices, without regard to the condition of the negro or the suppression of the rebellion. I must further state that we can organize colored regiments in Tennessee as well as we can others, and that we can find more men in Tennessee ready and willing to command than we can raise regiments to command in Tennessee. Will raise negro troops and lead them to battle. It will have much better influence upon the public mind. We are just now beginning to organize and put the State facilities in motion. It is exceedingly important for this question to be handled in such way as will do the least injury in forming a correct public judgment at this time. We hope, therefore, that the organization of negro regiments in Tennessee will be left to the general commanding this department and the Military Governor. I would respectfully ask that the President may be furnished a copy of this telegram. An early answer is respectfully asked.


NASHVILLE, September 17, 1863.

Major General ROSECRANS:

I have sent a telegram to the Secretary of War in regard to Major Stearns" mission to your department. I have expressed the opinion to him fully and freely that the commanding general of this department and Military Governor of Tennesshe negroes in Tennessee upon the public works or as soldiers as well without as with the aid of Major Stearns at this time. General, while we are just verging upon a reorganization of the State, it is important that this question should be handled with care, and we must have your aid and assistance. We are doing all we can to keep everything right in your rear. There have been some improper and injurious steps taken by those have been recruiting negro troops, of which I will apprise you more fully. I shall be with you in a few days, when I can confer with you fully in regard to the thorough organization of the State.


Military Governor.



Washington, D. C., September 18, 1863.

The following opinion of Colonel Joseph Holt, Judge-Advocate- General, is published for the information and guidance of all officers of this Bureau:

Opinion.-The right of a party drafted to insist on his exemption from service is a privilege which he may, waive, and which he certainly does waive when be