South Carolina Black Minister to the Commander of the Department of the South

Mitchelville S.C.  August 12 1864

Dear Sir   a bought (8) this evening I was Call a pon by a Man Who Stated that thair was three men in his house trubling his wife on the Pretence of hunting Recrutes which he Ses that he have paper indors by You   on my a Rival at the house i Saw the 3 men who had commited to Rape on the Person of his wife   there are as i Suppose to be officers of the 25 Ohio Reg & was under the influent of Licor   thay also took thair Sholder Straps of there Coat & Pin it on the inside   i have 4 or five witness if Requierd:  We have been trubled very often by these officers & Sailers & i think a stop aught to Put to it   Gen I Have the Honer to Remain your obediant Servant

Revd Abram Mercherson

ferther thay Say that thay are Recruteing colored men for Solders & thay had with them 3 Bottle of Licor of Sum Kind & thay gave Adam Bowin & Several others Sum of it   i genl Several of the 2nd US Batery men col here & thay Stand Redy to assist me in Keeping order in the Village if you will grant Promission   i Dont think that eny officers or Saler aught to have these Night Pass to come over to the Villag for thay will not Behave them Selves as men   these col Soildier over here gen are faithfull in the Discharge of there Duty   Sum of them i have none ever Since i arive on the island   Your obd. Servent   Revd A Mercherson

Revd Abram Mercherson to his exelency Maj. Gen. J. G. Foster, 12 Aug. 1864, M-268 1864, Letters Received, series 4109, Department of the South, U.S. Army Continental Commands, Record Group 393 Pt. 1, National Archives. By an endorsement of the same date, the department commander referred Mercherson's letter to the provost marshal general of the department: “The rule is for no men to be allowed to visit Mitchelville at night. Why is not this carried out? and who gives passes for this purpose.” No response has been found in the records of the Department of the South. The authority of Abram Mercherson over the freedpeople in Mitchelville may have been officially sanctioned. By October 1864, if not earlier, he was a magistrate; on the fourth of that month, the department's provost marshal general ordered that the guard of black soldiers stationed at Mitchelville be directed “to arrest persons whom Father Murchison (Magistrate) may designate for any riotous or disorderly conduct.” (Lt. Col. James F. Hall to Col. M. S. Littlefield, 4 Oct. 1864, vol. 209/475 DS, p. 62, Letters Sent by the Provost Marshal General, series 4270, Department of the South, U.S. Army Continental Commands, Record Group 393 Pt. 1, National Archives.)

Published in The Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: The Lower South, pp. 314–16.