CAIRO, ILL., August 4, 1864.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
I have just returned from a visit to paducah, where I found everything progressing satisfactorily. The colored regiments there are not properly sheltered, as the materials for building huts cannot be obtained. I request that as this is a permanent position large-sized tents may be furnished them. At other places I have found the same state of things existing, particularly at Nashville, where the Thirteenth Infantry and some other troops are very poorly provided in this respect. All the number the quartermaster can possibly obtain he requires for other and more important purposes. General Paine, at Paducah, understands my views in regard to the colored women and children, and will exercise a judicious policy with them.
HDQRS. DEPT. VA. AND N. CAROLINA, Numbers 90.
In the Field, Va., August 4, 1864.
The recruitment of colored men as soldiers, to be counted in the quotas of the several States, is a settled rule of action by the Government.
There are unfilled regiments in this department sufficient to absorb all the colored men in the department not otherwise in the military service. Most of the colored men of age for military duty have either helpless parents or families dependent upon them, who in the absence of the labor of the soldier must be supported by the Government directly from the Treasury.
All the States provide in some form by law, either as 'State aid" or by bounties, for the families of their soldiers, or at worst they must be supported in county or State almshouses.
This burden of supporting the families of colored soldiers, by the act of enlisting men in this department, is thrown directly upon the United States, whose wards and charge, by the action of the war, the negroes have become.
The military administration of this department in enlisting colored recruits has heretofore undertaken to see to it that their families shall not suffer, and this aid is thus made a part of the pay of the soldier. But these soldiers have enlisted without bounty.
Now, however, the States enlist the recruit and throw the burden, which ought to have been borne by themselves, upon the United States, and are at the same time paying large bounties to the enlisted man, and in some cases, in fact, buying him as a substitute.
What guarantee shall the United States have for the good of the service of the recruit obtained by large rewards, or that his family shall be provided for hereafter?
To show that this is no inconsiderable a matter it is necessary to recur to a few statistics seen in the report of the superintendent of negro affairs in this department. There are not 71,253 negroes in this department, of which one-third are in the families of colored soldiers, 8,343 of whom have been enlisted in this department.
By a wise regulation the bounties paid by the Government to white soldiers have been put in installments to assure-
First. That a recruit shall not be swindled out of his bounty by the broker, as only one-third is paid when he can get hold of it.