Today in History:

66 Series I Volume XLI-III Serial 85 - Price's Missouri Expedition Part III


Port Hudson, La., September 5, 1864.


Assistant Adjutant-General:

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a communication from department headquarters in relation to the constant employment of colored troops on fatigue duty beyond and over their fair proportion, and beg leave to submit the following statement:

As I have been obliged to employ the colored troops on fatigue duty, by orders from department headquarters, after the most earnest representations on my part of the ill effects of such constant fatigue duty, and as I have not the control of the employment of troops at Morganza, I do not perceive that I have the power to correct the abuses complained of. As to the post of Port Hudson, if it is intended to state that the colored troops here are or have been unduly employed on fatigue duty under my command, I have to state that they have only been employed upon the fortifications in obedience to orders from department headquarters greatly against my views and wishes, or upon duty strictly necessary for the service of the post. Since I have reassumed command here I have labored to reduce all details whatever from the regiments to the smallest practicable limit. There are no effective troops now here other than colored troops.

As to the deficiencies in drill of colored troops at this post I must claim that they will compare favorably in that respect with any troops in this department; and further, that I have taken more pains with the instruction of troops under my command than any other officer of my grade in this department.

As to the poor condition of clothing of the men at this post complained of no complaint on this point has recently been made to me; but I beg leave to state that I have never been allowed long to retain who have been ordered to report to me for duty were hardly competent to perform the duties of clerks under supervision. Still, I believe I have generally managed to secure sufficient supplies to keep the men from much suffering.

The supply of books at this post has always been fully kept up, so far as they could possibly be obtained from department headquarters. There are and have been for a long time at these headquarters a considerable number of copies of Army Regulations for distribution, and if the commanding officer of the Eighty-fourth Regiment has none the fault is his own unless he left this post before the supply could be obtained.

As to the undue employment of colored troops on fatigue duty at Morganza, while I have no doubt whatever that they are intentionally so employed, I am not in command of the colored troops at that post, except for the purposes of uniform instruction, discipline, and inspection. To correct the abuses at that place it is only necessary that the existing orders be enforced by those having the requisite authority, which I cannot see that I possess. I am informed by the assistant inspector-general of colored troops, Department of the Gulf, that the complaint of the improper employment of colored troops is from the post at Morganza and not from this post.

I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding Post.