[Inclosure Numbers 2.] HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI, Saint Louis, Mo. September 26, 1863.
Brigadier General L. THOMAS,
Adjutant-General U. S. Army, Memphis, Tenn.:
GENERAL: I have received your letter of the 21st instant requesting me to give facilities to recruiting officers for colored regiments in Missouri, &c.
I am still desirous, as I always have been, to do all in my power to promote this object but I have recently met with difficulties and embarrassments which have rendered it necessary for me to stop recruiting for colored regiments in Missouri. The men who are early proper subjects for enlistments, as I understand the orders of the War Department,have nearly all left Missouri in one way or another. There are, doubtless, some left who are entitled to their freedom under the confiscation act, but much the larger number belong to men who have always been loyal, or who cannot be convicted of any disloyal act since the date f the confiscation act. I have heretofore taken it for granted that it was the desire of the War Department to enlist only such colored men as are legally entitled to their freedom, and it is now practically impossible for me or any other military officer to decide the nice legal questions involved in almost all cases which arise.
Moreover, it is found by experience that the recruiting officers do not even attempt to make any discrimination between the slaves of loyal and those of disloyal men, but go thought the country picking up all they can induce to go with them, and in some cases forcing them away.
the President has, I believe,the legal authority to receive
negroes into the service without regard to the loyalty of their masters. If it is his wish to exercise this authority in Missouri, I will cheerfully carry out your instructions on the subject.
Practically, it must be done without regard to the claims of loyal men, and if this policy is to be adopted it should be so declared, in order that the people may understand that it is the act of the Government.
The execution of this policy at the present time would occasion much hardship to the loyal farmers, on account of the consequent lorps. Yet they will submit to it without much complaint if the Government wants their slaves as troops.
Two or three months of the wishes of the Government in regard to this matter and I will carry them out without delay.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. M. SCHOFIELD,
WAR DEPT., PROVOST-MARSHAL-GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Washington, D. C., September 29, 1863-1.50 p. m.
I telegraphed Colonel Parrott to call on you and get a project of the orders you desire given to provost-marshals in reference to enlisting
54 R R-SERIES III, VOL III