Governor of Massachusetts to the Secretary of War, Enclosing an Excerpt from a Letter from an Unidentified Correspondent

Boston [Mass.],  Dec 7, 1861

Dear Sir   I wish to call your attention to the enclosed copy of a recent letter from a reliable source, in relation to the use to which Massachusetts soldiers are being put, (as is alleged) by Brigadier General Stone.1  I cannot for a moment beleive that the War Department will countenance such proceedings, and I invoke your interpostion not only now, but for the future, for the issue of such orders as will secure the soldiers of this Commonwealth from being participators in such dirty and despotic work.  Massachusetts does not send her citizens forth to become the hunters of men or to engage in the seizure and return to captivity of persons claimed to be fugitive slaves, without any recognition of even the forms of law & I trust you will save our soldiers and our State from such dishonor, by the exercise of your official authority in such manner as will insure the protection of our men from such outrages in future and humanity itself from such infractions under color of military law and duty.  I remain with great respect Your Obedient Servant.

John A. Andrew



Poolesville Md  Nov 28, 1861

. . . .

On Saturday last an order came down from General Stone giving a description of two Fugitive Slaves and directing their return (in case they should enter our camp,) to their owners “whoever they might be”.  This order it appears was handed by Lieut Col Palfrey, to the Officer of the day, Mr Macy of Co I.  On Sunday morning several negroes came into Camp as usual for the purpose of selling cakes, pies &c to the Soldiers.

Although having eatables for sale, some of these negroes were themselves almost famished and were treated to a breakfast by the men of one of our German Companies.  About the time of guard mounting the vigilant eyes of Lieut Macy espied the negroes as they were disposing of their wares through the Company streets, and, leaving the new guard to be mounted as it might, he beckoned two of the negroes to the Guard house when he ordered them into arrest and then immediately detailed a file of Soldiers under a sergeant with loaded muskets to escort them to their supposed owners and deliver them up.

The procedure was therefore unknown to all save the officers who were parties to it and the parties who composed the escort had no knowledge that their prisoners were suspected fugitives.

John A. Andrew to Hon. Simon Cameron, 7 Dec. 1861, enclosing unsigned excerpt, 28 Nov. 1861, filed as M-1250 1861, Letters Received, series 12, Record Group 94, National Archives. Ellipses in manuscript. In the same file is a copy of a letter in which the Secretary of War suggested to General Nathaniel P. Banks, who commanded a division in the Army of the Potomac and was Stone's superior, that he issue “such directions . . . to the officers of your Division, as may prevent similar complaints for the future, of injustice and oppression to negroes visiting the camps in the exercise of lawful occupations.” (Simon Cameron to Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, 12 Dec. 1861.)

1. General Charles P. Stone, commander of the Corps of Observation at Poolesville, Maryland.

Published in The Destruction of Slavery, pp. 353–54, and in Free at Last, p. 19–21.