Return to Chase to Stanton
See also Port Royal Experiement
See also Department of the South
See also General David Hunter
No. 6
Pope's Plantation,
Saint Helena Island, May 13, 1862

Major-General Hunter,
Commanding Department of the South:

General: It seems important to advise you of the scenes transpiring yesterday in the execution of your
order for the collection and transportation of the able-bodied colored men from the islands to Hilton
Head. The colored people became suspicious of the presence of the companies of soldiers detailed
for the service, who were marching through the islands during the night. Some thought the rebels
were coming and stood guard at the creeks. The next morning (yesterday) they went to the fields,
some, however, seeking the woods. They were taken from the fields without being allowed to go to
their houses even to get a jacket, this, however, in some cases, being gone for by the wife. The
inevitableness of the order made many resigned, but there was sadness in all. As those on this
plantation wer called in from the fields, the soldiers, under orders, and while on the steps of my
headquarters, loaded their guns, so that the negroes might see what would take place in case they
attempted to get away. This was done in the presence of the ladies here. Wives and children
embraced the husband and father thus taken away, they knew not where, and whom, as they said,
they should never see again. On some plantations the wailing and screaming were loud and the
women threw themselves in despair on the ground. On some plantations the people took to the woods
and were hunted up by the soldiers. The school at Eustis was a scene of confusion, the children
crying, and it was found of no use to carry it on. The superintendents aided in the execution of the
order with moral influence and physical assistance, some of them walking many miles in the night to
guide the soldiers, but they all express great sorrow at what has been done and feel that the hold
which they had been slowly and carefully getting on their people has been loosened. They told the
negroes that General Hunter was their friend and meant well by them, and his orders must be
obeyed, but they disavowed responsibility for the act. The soldiers, it is due to them to say,
considering the summary manner in which they were called upon to act, and the speed required of
them, conducted themselves with as little harshness as could have been expected.

Such was yesterday; and it was a sad day with these simple-hearted and family-loving people, and I
doubt if the recruiting service in this country has ever been attended with such scenes before. I pray
you for the kindest attentions (and I know you will give them) to those who have gone to Hilton Head,
and for the immediate return of all who are not disposed to bear arms, in order that the suspense of
those who have gone and of those who have remained may be relieved. I shall go to Hilton Head
tomorrow (Wednesday) to visit them.

Your obedient servant,
Edward L Pierce,
Special Agent Treasury Department
Pierce to Major-General Hunter No. 6
May 13, 1862
War of the Rebellion Records
Major-General David Hunter