[SEPTEMBER 28, 1865.-For report of Bvt. Major General Rufus Ingalls, U. S. Army, chief quartermaster of Armies operating against Richmond, of operations during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1865, see Series I, Vol. LI, Part I, p. 251.]
WASHINGTON, D. C., October 5, 1865.
Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: Your special instructions to me dated March 25, 1863, require that I should proceed to the Mississippi River and inspect the troops operating in the field against the rebel forces, to examine into all operations in cotton connected with the troops, and to announce to the army the policy of the General Government respecting the negro race held in bondage in the States in rebellion.
I reported to you from time to time the condition of the troops and their determination to meet and beat the enemy. On the 23rd of June I reported to you in relation to operations in cotton, showing what frauds I had detected, and the difficulties I had to contend with in obtaining correct information whereby the guilty persons with in obtaining correct information whereby the guilty persons might be brought to trial. My operations in this respect were of little practical value, and I only excited opposition; and I discovered that this opposition acted injuriously upon the third and most important part of my duties-your instructions respecting the blacks. The present report in intended to give the results in the organization of colored troops. You undoubtedly recollect that the determination to send me on this duty was a sudden one, and the purpose was only unfolded to me the day prior to the date of the instructions, and you urged expedition in the matter. The subject was new to me, and I entered upon the duty by no means certain of what I might be able to effect. Still, as more of my military service was performed in the slave States, and I was perfectly familiar with plantation life-I felt that I knew the peculiarities of the colored race-I could, with the blessing of Divine Providence, at least do something to alleviate the condition of the numerous thousands who would come within our military lines for protection.
At Cairo, Ill., I first came in contact with what were then called contrabands-over 1,500 men, women, and children huddled together in insufficient quarters, the helpless drawing rations from the Government, and the able-bodied men employed in the various departments of the Government as laborers to the extent they were required. Compensation, $10 per month and one ration per day. I found the mortality of the place had been very great, especially among the children-measles, diarrhea, and pneumonia being the prevailing diseases-and this subsequently I found to be the case at all other points visited by me where large numbers were collected. Cairo was not a proper place for them, and they were soon removed to Island Numbers 10, in the Mississippi River, below this place. March 29 I reviewed the troops and announced to some extent the policy of the Government, and having up to the 1st of April carefully considered the whole subject, I on that day communicated to you my views. These views were subsequently enlarged as I came in more immediate contact with large bodies of troops and thousands of negroes. With but very few exceptions I had the troops paraded, and after a review had them brought together in mass and announced the purpose of my mission.