Baltimore [Md.], December 15th. 1864.
Colonel: I have the honor to report, that in compliance with Your instructions of December 2d– 1 I proceeded to the lower counties of the Eastern Shore and put forth a circular, of which I enclose copy, that I posted the same and in some cases executed it.– I found, that the binding-out had been very general and began as early as October last; masters having manumitted their slaves under 21 years of age for that purpose. I found, that the spirit of the apprentice law had been very generally disregarded, no attention being paid to whether parents could or could not support or to their wishes as to binding out. They were told, that they must select masters, willing or unwilling. In some cases the apprentices were at the time at hired service at good wages,–some 10– to 12$ per month. That many parents had rented small farms, expecting to have the labor of their childern;– that many poor tenants had made their arrangements to use this labor and are disappointed by the course pursued; That the apprenticing works advantageously only for the rich slave holder–generally disloyal–and disadvantageously for the poor white tenant and colored man. I could burden this report with cases, but deem it unnecessary, peticularly as I have not the names at hand. The feeling among our friends in Somerset and Worcester seemed to be, that the law, executed in its proper spirit is a good one, but that, as these gross abuses have attended it, something should be done.
Having on my arrival at Salisbury on Sunday last learned of Your Counter-instructions of the 8th inst.–2 I came to this City. . . .
I have not deemed it necessary to post any counter circulars. With Respect Your Obedt. Servt
Henry H Lockwood
Brigadier-General Henry H. Lockwood to Lieut. Col. S. B. Lawrence, 15 Dec. 1864, enclosing circular by Brigadier General Henry H. Lockwood, 6 Dec. 1864, L-414 1864, Letters Received, series 2343, Middle Department & 8th Army Corps, U.S. Army Continental Commands, Record Group 393 Pt. 1, National Archives.
1. The instructions had directed the brigade commander to transfer his headquarters temporarily to Cambridge, Maryland, to protect white unionists and newly freed slaves, and to “break up the practice now prevalent of apprenticing young negroes without the consent of their parents, to their former masters.” (Saml. B. Lawrence to Brig. Genl. H. H. Lockwood, 2 Dec. 1864, in The Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: The Upper South, pp. 522–23.)
2. The “Counter-instructions” of December 8 had directed the brigade commander not to enforce the instructions regarding apprenticeship until further orders. (The Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: The Upper South, pp. 523n.)
Lockwood's letter is published in The Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: The Upper South, p. 532, and in Free at Last, pp. 374–75. His circular is published in The Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: The Upper South, p. 527, and in Families and Freedom, p. 212.