Return to Port Royal Experiment
General T. W. Sherman Reports on Newly Freed Slaves
Port Royal Experiment
Port Royal, S. C., December 15, 1861.

Adjutant-General U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:

SIR: For the information of the proper authorities, and for fear lest the Government may be
disappointed in the amount of labor to be gathered here from the contrabands, I have the honor to
report that from the hordes of negroes left on the plantations but about 320 have thus far come in
and offered their services. Of these the quartermaster has but about 60 able-bodied male hands,
the rest being decrepit, and women and children. Several of the 320 have run off. Every
inducement has been held out to them to come in and labor for wages, and money distributed
among those who have labored. The reasons for this apparent failure thus far appear to be these:

1st. They are naturally slothful and indolent, and have always been accustomed to the lash; an aid
we do not make use of.

2d. They appear to be so overjoyed with the change of their condition that their minds are unsettled
to any plan.

3d. Their present ease and comfort on the plantations, as long as their provisions will last, will
induce most of them to remain there until compelled to seek our lines for subsistence.

Although comparatively few have thus far come in, it is therefore probable that in time many will,
and if they are to be received and taken care oft, some provision should be made to cover them.
They are a prolific race, and it will be found that for every able-bodied male there will be five to six
females, children, and decrepit. It is really a question for the Government to decide what is to be
done with the contrabands.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.
P. S.-Besides those who have come in there are many still on the plantations employed in gathering
General T. W. Sherman