WAR DEPT., ADJT. GENERAL'S OFFICE, Numbers 128.
Washington, March 26, 1864.
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54. Colonel M. D. Hardin, Twelfth Pennsylvania Reserves, will at once relieve Brigadier General J. T. Copeland, U. S. Volunteers, in command of the depot for drafted men at Pittsburg, Pa.
On being relieved General Copeland will report in person without delay to the commanding general of the Department of the Missouri for assignment to duty.
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By order of the Secretary of War:
E. D. TOWNSEND,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
Alexandria, La., March 27, 1864.
ADJUTANT-GENERAL ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES,
Washington, D. C.:
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of 7th instant, relating to the organization of the negro troops in this department under General Orders, Numbers 47, and to state in reply thereto that the orders was issued while the army was upon the march at Opelousas. Up to the date of the order three regiments of negroes had been organized according to the provisions of the Army regulations. These regiments absorbed all the material that was available at that time. It became duting the campaign or last year to organize new regiments for instant service. The men, of course, were utterly unused to everything appertaining to military service, the negroes of Central and Northern Louisiana being, perhaps, less adapted for this service than those of any other State. The officers, with few exceptions, were necessarily taken from the tranks. These regiments being required for immediate service, it was necessary that the number of men should be limited, so that inexperienced officers might render wholly uninstructed troops available in the shortest possible time. The number of each company was limited to fifty, it being the intention as soon as more country opened to us to fill the regiments to the minimum or maximum number, and also to recruit from the plantations within the lines of the army, in accordance with the instructions which I had received from General Halleck. From these two sources the regiments we had formed could have been easily filled. A subsequent order from the Adjutant-General of the Army suspended the recruiting from the plantations within the lines of the army, and the extended siege operations at Port Hudson prevented our covering as much territory and getting as many recruits as had at first anticipated. From the moment these regiments were organized they entered active service, and have been from that day constantly in the presence of the enemy from Brashear to Port Hudson. Two brigades will participate in this campaign. I was conscious that there was a departure from the regulations of the Army upon this subject, but the necessities of the case seemed to justify it. These regiments did excellent service, and it is no more than just to say that the campaign of last year could hardly have been accomplished without their aid. The restriction as to numbers is in accordance with military experience in regard to the organization of recruits