Nashville Tenn October 8th 1865
Sir I have the honor to call your attention To the neccesity of having a school for The benefit of our regement We have never Had an institutiong of that sort and we Stand deeply inneed of instruction the majority of us having been slaves We Wish to have some benefit of education To make of ourselves capable of buisness In the future We have estableshed a literary Association which flourished previous to our March to Nashville We wish to become a People capable of self support as we are Capable of being soldiers my home is in Kentucky Where Prejudice reigns like the Mountain Oak and I do lack that cultivation of mind that would have an attendency To cast a cloud over my future life after have been in the United States service I had a leave of abscence a few weeks a go on A furlough and it made my heart ache to see my race of people there neglected And ill treated on the account of the lack of Education being incapable of putting Thier complaints or applications in writing For the want of Education totally ignorant Of the Great Good Workings of the Government in our behalf We as soldiers Have our officers Who are our protection To teach how us to act and to do But Sir What we want is a general system of education In our regiment for our moral and literary elevation these being our motives We have the Honor of calling your very high Consideration Respectfully Submitted as Your Most humble servt
1st Sergeant John Sweeny to Brigadier General Fisk, 8 Oct. 1865, S-82 1866, Registered Letters Received, series 3379, Tennessee Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives.
Published in The Black Military Experience, pp. 615–16, in Free at Last, p. 518, and in Freedom's Soldiers, pp. 161–62.