Order by the Commander of a Brigade in the Left Wing, Department of the Gulf; and an Order by the Brigade Quartermaster

Camp Parapet [La.]  Sept [1862]

After this date all the male negroes, within and about the Camps, will be organized into squads of Fifty or less in number with the woman and children belonging to each squad, under the charge of a private Soldier, who will be furnished with a Roll Book, in which he will enter the names of his squad, designating the married and single and the number of children.

Rations will be drawn for those of the squads that show a disposition to work regularly and for their wives and children and for the sick and disabled.  The idle and worthless will not be fed

A. Commissioned Officer will be detailed to superintend (under the direction of the Qr. Master) all the negroes;  He will see that the men in charge of squads, report with them every morning at 7 oclock for work.  They will labor at such works as may be assigned them untill 12 Oclock when they will be dismissed for dinner untill 2 oclock P.M. at which hour they will resume labor, untill 6 oclock P.M.

Rations will be drawn for these squads, every third day; this to enable the chiefs of squads to designate the Idle and worthless men for whom if they miss Two days labor out of three no rations will be drawn.

The chiefs will designate those present and absent as is done by the Orderly Sergeants of Companies   The superintending Officer will have a careful supervision of these matters, as it is the only means in our power by which we can control the labor, and make the presence of these people useful.  They will be mustered for Inspection every sunday morning.

It is expected that it will require Twenty men to take charge of these people as chiefs of squads, and these should be sober, Careful & reliable men, who will conscientiously discharge their duties.

The superintending Officer will see that each squad, are at their alloted work regularly at the working hour.  The women attached to each squad, will Cook for all the men of the squads, so that no ablebodied men will be left in their quarters under any pretence to Cook.

The Commandants of Regts ands Corps will hand into the Quarter Masters Office Twenty four hours if possible in advance a statement of what work they may need to have done in or about their respective Camps for Cleanliness and Sanitary purposes   The Commanders of Regiments are requested to send in the names of Privates as chiefs of squads of the qualifications mentioned above for this duty.

It is intended that hereafter no soldier shall be set at any labor, not strictly military, that can be performed by negroes except as a punishment for offences.  For that purpose they will take their places in the working gangs with the negroes so that a soldier who misbehaves may understand what his position will be and govern himself accordingly.

The Chiefs of squads will present their ration returns to the superintending Officer,  this return will include those only who have made Two days work out of three, and the really sick.  This Officer will consolidate the returns, and draw from the Commissary the full amount needed

Quarter Master Hanks will call upon the Commandants of the Respective Regiments for Two Non Commissioned Officers from Each Regt to assist him in the duties above indicated

Thos W Cahill

[Camp Parapet, La.  September? 1862]

Instructions for the Non-Commissioned Officers in command of Contraband Colonies at Camp Parapet.


No transfers from one Colony to another will under any circumstances be allowed.


The Officer in command of the Colony will assign new arrivals to squads as his judgment may dictate.


A perfect system of registration will be complied with.  The name, age, residence, masters name, date of arrival, whether married or single, sex, No of Children, age of Children, their sex and “remarks” will be writen under their respective heads.

Under the head of “remarks” the cause of absence whether by death, desertion or transfer, and all else necessary to account fully for every member of the Colony will be carefully stated opposite their respective names


Roll calls will be at the same hours, as those of the Brigade,  immediately after retreat each day the commandants of Colonies will hand to the Supervising Officer a report of their commands showing fully their numerical and Sanitary condition.


The chiefs of squads will daily note upon their roll book the delinquents from duty and report the same to the chief of the Colony who will inquire into the cause of the delinquency, and unless a good and sufficient cause therefor is apparent, he will withold from said delinquent his rations for the next three days.


The Chiefs of squads will report promptly to the Quarter Master with their men for duty every morning (Sundays excepted) at 8 o:clock, and every afternoon at 2 o:clock.

Geo H Hanks

Order by Col. Thos W Cahill, Head Quarters Left Wing, Sept. [1862], filed with Lt. Geo H Hanks, Instructions for the Non-Commissioned Officers in command of Contraband Colonies at Camp Parapet, [Sept.? 1862], both filed as Sept. 1863, Letters Received, series 1860, Defences of New Orleans, U.S. Army Continental Commands, Record Group 393 Pt. 2 No. 95, National Archives. The final paragraph of Cahill's order is in his own handwriting. A notation on the wrapper erroneously dates the two orders as September 1863.

Published in The Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: The Lower South, pp. 377–80.