Vicksburg. Miss. Dec 16th 1865.
Sir Suffer me to address you a few lines in reguard to the colered people in this State, from all I can learn and see, I think the colered people are in a great many ways being outraged beyound humanity, houses have been tourn down from over the heades of women and Children–and the old Negroes after they have worked there till they are 70 or 80 yers of age drive them off in the cold to frieze and starve to death.
One Woman come to (Col) Thomas, the coldest day that has been this winter and said that she and her eight children lay out last night, and come near friezing after She had paid some wrent on the house Some are being knocked down for saying they are free, while a great many are being worked just as they ust to be when Slaves, without any compensation, Report came in town this morning that two colered women was found dead side the Jackson road with their throats cot lying side by side, I see an account in the Vicksburg. Journal where the (col[ored]) peple was having a party where they formily had one. and got into a fuss and a gun was fired and passed into a house. they was forbidden not to have any more but did not heed. The result was the house was fired and a guard placed at the door one man attemped to come out but was shot and throed back and burned five was consumed in the flames, while the balance saught refuge in a church and it was fired and burned. The Rebbles are going a bout in many places through the State and robbing the colered peple of arms money and all they have and in many places killing.
So, General, to make short of a long story I think the safety of this country depenes upon giving the Colered man all the rights of a white man, and especialy the Rebs. and let him know that their is power enough in the arm of the Government to give Justice, to all her loyal citizens–
They talk of taking the armes a way from (col[ored]) people and arresting them and put them on farmes next month1 and if they go at that I think there will be trouble and in all probability a great many lives lost. They have been accusing the colered peple of an insorection which is a lie, in order that they might get arms to carrie out their wicked designs–
for to my own knowledge I have seen them buying arms and munitions ever since the lins have been opened and carring them to the country. In view of these things I would suggust to you if it is not incompatible with the public interest to pass some laws that will give protection to the colered men and meet out Justice to traters in arms.
For you have whiped them and tried them and found out that they will not do to be depended upon, now if you have any true harted men send them down here to carrie out your wishes through the Bureau in reguarde to the freedmen. if not get Congress to stick in a few competent colered men as they did in the army and the thing will all go right, A trouble now with the colered peple on account of Rebs. after they have rendered the Government such great survice through the rebellion would spoil the whole thing–and it is what the Rebles would like to bring a bout, and they are doing all they can to prevent free labor, and reasstablish a kind of secondary slavery Now believe me as a colered man that is a friend to law and order, I blive without the intervention of the General governmt in the protection of the (col[ored]) popble that there will be trouble in Miss. before spring please excuse this for I could not have said less and done the subject Justice. infact I could say more, but a hint to the wise is soficient If you wish to drop me a line Direct Calvin. Holly. Vick Miss Box 2d yours Most Respectfully,
Calvin. Holly., colered
Privt. Calvin. Holly to Major General O. O. Howard, 16 Dec. 1865, H-72 1865, Registered Letters Received, series 2052, Mississippi Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives.
1. Recently enacted laws prohibited black Missisippians from possessing firearms and required them to have proof of employment by the second Monday of January, 1866, failing which they would be subject to arrest for vagrancy. (An Act to Confer Civil Rights on Freedmen, and for Other Purposes, 25 Nov. 1865, An Act to Amend the Vagrant Laws of the State, 24 Nov. 1865, and An Act to Punish Certain Offences Therein Named, and for Other Purposes, 29 Nov. 1865, all in Laws of the State of Mississippi, Passed at a Regular Session of the Mississippi Legislature, Held in the City of Jackson, October, November and December, 1865 (Jackson, Miss., 1866), pp. 82–86, 90–93, 165–67.)
Published in The Black Military Experience, pp. 754–56, in Free at Last, pp. 523–25, and in Freedom's Soldiers, pp. 167–69.