Louisiana Black Soldier to the Secretary of War

Fort Jefferson  Tortugas Fla.  May 1865

Sir   I have the honor to respectfully request that I may be released from imprisonment   I have ben in imprisonment six months and over. and if I should remain here six years. I could not be more sory of having done rong then I am know. althou I though mysalfe somewhat justified doing what I have done, at the time.  I persume you honor has been enform in what manner of treatment the 73. U.S.C.T. has ben subject to doing the short-period of the first years servise.  when I enlisted I had no other entention then perform my duty faithfully as a soldier. and would fermily have done so if we had not ben treatted in such ill manner and was subject to all kinds of missrepresentations.  My crme was (dissertion)   not wishing to justify mysalf althou I though at the time that one breack of enlissment was quite sufficient to justify another perticulurly when it was transacted on the part of the gov.  Althou most of us are free men and was before the war yet the most of us have nothing more then is required to support our family from day to day as we labor for it.  althou I am now but seventeen years old I have my old mother to support and as such expectted that the gov. or its agents in this department would comply with its agreement I could have something to support my relitives.  I persume your honor has been enformed that Gel Buttler promas my regt $13.00 per month $58.00 Bounty and I suppose his promasses should have been kept   if a genl promas or assureance is paid no respect to how much less could there be expectted of a poor soldier (pri.)   I do not wish to justify my in and act of dissertion for I dont think it write wrere a soldier can get a redress to his grevences other wise but we tried every way and could not get no redress   after having been some 8. moth in servise when pay day came we were in dept to the gov. at the rate thay ware to settle with us.  I hope you will comply with my request   should you require my cerviseses any longer into U.S. servise I am willing to act in any capasity your honor may see fit to have me to perform   Very Respectfully Your obt servt

Warren D. Hamelton

Warren D. Hamelton to Hon. E. M. Stanton, May 1865, H-285 1865, Letters Received, series 360, Colored Troops Division, Adjutant General's Office, Record Group 94, National Archives.

Published in The Black Military Experience, p. 384–85, and in Free at Last, pp. 485–86.