in the arrest of skulkers and deserters. To give Honorable employment to this meritorious class, who have suffered in the service of their country, and to liberate able-bodied soldiers from duty that can well be performed by the invalids was the purpose in organizing this corps. It now numbers over 20,000 officers and privates, who are fully employed; and their service has increased the strength of the armies in the field, while by their vigilance desertion from the Army has in a great measure been checked. The beneficial results anticipated from this organization have been more than realized. For the details in respect to this organization reference is made to the report of the Provost-Marshal-General which is also referred to for details in respect to the operation of the act enrolling and calling out the national forces, and the required amendments.
Immediately after the President's emancipation proclamation diligent efforts were commenced and have continued until the present time, for raising colored troops. The Adjutant-General was sent to the Mississippi Valley to organize the system there. A bureau, to have in charge all matters belonging to such troops,was organized in the War Department. The report of its chief shows what progress has been made.*
Over 50,000 men are now organized and in the ranks, and the number will rapidly increase as our armies advance into the rebel States. The raising of these troops has been retarded, first, by the military operations in progress; and second, by the removal of the slaves into the interior beyond reach of our recruiting agents. This obstacle it is hoped will soon be entirely overcome.
Many persons believed or pretended to believe, and confidently asserted, that freed slaves would not make good soldiers; that they would lack courage, and could not be subjected to military discipline. Facts have shown how groundless were these apprehensions. The slave has proved his manhood, and his capacity as an infantry soldier, at Miliken's Bend, at the assault upon Port Hudson and the storming of Fort Wagner. The apt qualifications of the colored man for artillery service have long been known and recognized by the naval service, and the subjoined extract, from an official report shows what he can do in cavalry service:
On the 17th instant thirty men of Company A, First Mississippi Cavalry (African) in connection with fifty men of the First Battalion, Fourth Illinois Cavalry, while on a scout up the Yazoo Valley, met, one mile beyond Satartia, 150 picked men of the First and Third Texas Cavalry. The First Mississippi behaved nobly neither lacking courage nor steadiness, firing with coolness and precision. The engagement lasted half an hour, the Texans being totally routed and demoralized, we capturing 28 stand of arms and 7 prisoners.
The colored troops have been allowed no bounty, and under the construction given by the Department they can only, by existing law, receive the pay of $10 per month, white soldiers being paid $13 per month, with clothing and a daily ration. Therequality and injustice in this distinction, and an amendment authorizing the same pay and bounty as white troops receive is recommend. Soldiers of the Union fighting under its banner, and exposing their lives in battle to uphold the Government, colored troops are entitled to enjoy its justness and beneficence.
The fortunes of war have brought within our lines a large number of colored women, children, and some aged and infirm persons. Their care, support, and protection rest a solemn trust upon the
*See p. 1111.