Return to St. Augustine and the Civil War
See also Department of the South
See also 33rd U. S.C.T.
See also General David Hunter
Congressional Inquiry into General David Hunter's
African-American Regiment - The 1st South Carolina
Regiment (Commonly called Hunter's Regiment)
June 9, 1862
War of The Rebellion Records
Resolution adopted by the House of Representatives June 9, 1862.

Resolved, That the Secretary of War be directed to inform this House if General Hunter of the
Department of South Carolina has organized a regiment of South Carolina volunteers for the defense of
the Union composed of black men (fugitive slaves) and appointed the colonel and other officers to
command them.

Second. Was he authorized by the Department to organize and muster into the Army of the United
States as soldiers the fugitive or captive slaves?

Third. Has he been furnished with clothing, uniforms, &c., for such force?

Fourth. Has he been furnished by order of the Department of War with arms to be placed in the hands of
these slaves?

Fifth. To report any orders given said Hunter and correspondence between him and the Department.

Response by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton
Washington, June 14, 1862.
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
SIR: ... I have the honor to inform the House-

1. That this Department has no official information whether General Hunter, of the Department of the
South, has or has not organized a regiment of South Carolina Volunteers for the defense of the Union
composed of black men-fugitive slaves-and appointed the colonel and other officers to command them.
In order to ascertain whether he has done so or not a copy of the House resolution has been transmitted
to General Hunter with instructions to make immediate report thereon.

2. General Hunter was not authorized by the Department to organize and muster into the Army of the
United States the fugitive or captive slaves.

3. General Hunter upon his requisition as commander of the [Department of the] South has been
furnished with clothing and arms for the force under his command without instructions as to how they
should be used.

4. He has not been furnished by order of the Department of War with arms to be placed in the hands of â
€œthese slaves.â€�

5. In respect to so much of said resolution as directs the Secretary “to report, to the House any
orders given said Hunter, and correspondence between him and the Department,� the President
instructs me to answer that the report at this time of the orders given to and correspondence between
General Hunter and this Department would, in his opinion, be improper and incompatible with the public

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Secretary of War.
Response General Hunter
Port Royal, S. C., June 23, 1862.
Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a communication from the Adjutant-General of the
Army, dated June 13, 1862, {p.821} requesting me to furnish you with the information necessary to
answer certain resolutions introduced in the House of Representatives June 9, 1862, on motion of the
Hon. Mr. Wickliffe, of Kentucky, their substance being to inquire:

1. Whether I had organized or was organizing a regiment of “fugitive slaves� in this department?

2. Whether any authority had been given to me from the War Department for such organization; and

3. Whether I had been furnished by the War Department with clothing, uniforms, arms, equipments, etc.,
for such a force?

Only having received the letter covering these inquiries at a late hour on Saturday night I urge forward my
answer in time for the steamer sailing to-day (Monday), this haste preventing me from entering as
minutely as I could wish upon many points of detail such as the paramount importance of the subject calls
for. But in view of the near termination of the present session of Congress and the widespread interest
which must have been awakened by Mr. Wickliffe’s resolutions I prefer sending even this imperfect
answer to waiting the period necessary for the collection of fuller and more comprehensive data.

To the first question therefore I reply that no regiment of “fugitive slaves� has been or is being
organized in this department. There is however a fine regiment of persons whose late masters are â
€œfugitive rebels “-men who everywhere fly before the appearance of the national flag, leaving their
servants behind them to shift as best they can for themselves. So far indeed are the loyal persons
composing this regiment from seeking to avoid the presence of their late owners that they are now one
and all working with remarkable industry to place themselves in a position to go in full and effective
pursuit of their fugacious and traitorous proprietors.

To the second question I have the honor to answer that the instructions** given to Brig. Gen. T. W.
Sherman by the Hon. Simon Cameron, late Secretary of War, and turned over to me by succession for
my guidance do distinctly authorize me to employ all loyal persons offering their services in defense of the
Union and for the suppression of this rebellion in any manner I might see fit or that the circumstances
might call for. There is no restriction as to the character or color of the persons to be employed or the
nature of the employment-whether civil or military-in which their services should be used. I conclude
therefore that I have been authorized to enlist “fugitive slaves� as soldiers could any such be found
in this department. No such characters however have yet appeared within view of our most advanced
pickets-the loyal slaves everywhere remaining on their plantations to welcome us, aid us and supply us
with food, labor and information. It is the masters who have in every instance been the “fugitives,�
running away from loyal slaves and loyal soldiers and whom we have only partially been able to see-
chiefly their heads over ramparts or rifle in hand dodging behind trees in the extreme distance. In the
absence of any “fugitive-master law� the deserted slaves would be wholly without remedy had not
the crime of treason given them the right to pursue, capture and bring back those persons of whose
protection they have been thus suddenly bereft.

To the third interrogatory it is my painful duty to reply that I never have received any specific authority
for issues of clothing, uniforms, arms, equipments and so forth to the troops in question. My general  
instructions from Mr. Cameron to employ them in any manner I might find necessary, and the military
exigencies of the department and the country being my only but in my judgment sufficient justification.
Neither have I had any specific authority for supplying these persons with shovels, spades and pickaxes
when employing them as laborers, nor with boats and oars when using them as lightermen; but these are
not points included in Mr. Wickliffe’s resolution. To me it seemed that liberty to employ men in any
particular capacity implied with it liberty also to supply them with the necessary tools and acting upon this
faith I have clothed, equipped and armed the only loyal regiment yet raised in South Carolina.

I must say, in vindication of my own conduct, that had it not been for the many other diversified and
imperative claims on my time and attention a much more satisfactory result might have been hoped for,
and that in place of only one, as at present, at least five or six well-drilled, brave and thoroughly-
acclimated regiments should by this time have been added to the loyal forces of the Union. The
experiment of arming the blacks, so far as I have made it, has been a complete and even marvelous
success. They are sober, docile, attentive and enthusiastic, displaying great natural capabilities for
acquiring the duties of the soldier. They are eager beyond all things to take the field and be led into action
and it is the unanimous opinion of the officers who have had charge of them that in the peculiarities of this
climate and country they will prove invaluable auxiliaries, fully equal to the similar regiments so long and
successfully used by the British authorities in the West India islands.

In conclusion I would say it is my hope-there appearing no possibility of other re-enforcements, owing to
the exigencies of the campaign in the Peninsula to have organized by the end of next fall, and to be able
to present to the Government, from 48,000 to 50,000 of these hardy and devoted soldiers.

Trusting that this letter may form part of your answer to Mr. Wickliffe’s resolutions,

I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major-General, Commanding.
Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War
Speaker of the House
Galusha A. Grow
Congressman Charles Wickliffe
General David Hunter