[Sumter District, S.C.] Nov 21 the 1866
Dear Sir I have take this great opportunity of writing thes few Lines to in form you of the condition of the poor freedman in Sumter District and in Bishopville they all agreed that they cant not Live at the third for If they worke at the third another year they children and them Self must starve with Honger and with nakedness and they all concluded if the goverment will help them this year according to the promis they would at wants [once] go and ocapy the Land in Florida at wants all of the commitee mens say not that they wants the goverment to Support them but they wants tor Support the goverment and they all Says that if the United State will Stand up to them this year and give them tim this year to get the Land Clean, and prepar it they all Says that they think in the course of two year they will be abal to make cotton Enought to pay the goverment Back for all the help and Also all of the Peopel is Weating now at the word By the generl permission and they all concluded to Send two men out to Florida to Look at the goverment Land and to fined out the condition of the Land and how our fear Would be this year all of the freedmen and Women praying for the helping hand of the goverment thist year and feel that God Will Bless and help them to till the Land of Florida and make cotton Enought to pay the goverment for the Land and for the finding Ration thist year.
and Also the White men all meet togather in Bishopville and agree to not pay the freemen no cotton money untill January So the can get to Bound them uppon that third again: and the Colered Committee ask or Beg the Generl to Pleas to give the two men A Passport to Florida to Look at the Land So we all can Be Reedy to go By January 1867 yours true Servant
Kelly Mosses to mr Generl Scott, 21 Nov. 1866, Unregistered Letters Received, series 2923, SC Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives. Marks following many words that seem not to serve as punctuation have been omitted. The letter addressed the assistant commissioner, General Robert K. Scott, as “Agant of the State.” No reply has been found in the letters-sent volumes of Scott's office, but a January 3, 1867, endorsement on a later letter reported that “[t]he Rev Mr Kelly Moses has been to Florida and located lands for these people” and asked General O. O. Howard, the Freedmen's Bureau commissioner, to grant them transportation. In response to that request, the bureau's chief quartermaster informed Moses that “action upon the application cannot be taken at this office, until information is received in regard to the particular point from which the people wish to start.” (Endorsement by Bt Maj Genl R. K. Scott, 3 Jan. 1867, on letter of Kelly Moses, [2 Jan. 1867], vol. 21, p. 6, Endorsements Sent, series 2919, SC Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives; Bt Brig. Genl Henry M Whittelsey to Kelly Moses, 8 Jan. 1867, vol. 70, p. 139, Letters Sent, series 167, Chief Quartermaster, Washington Headquarters, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives.) Meanwhile, a large number of the people for whom Moses sought transportation had gathered at the Maysville station on the Wilmington and Manchester Railroad, “expecting to go to Florida on what they call government land” and waiting for Moses to return from Charleston with a transportation order. Hearing of their presence at the station, a planter in search of workers for his properties in Mississippi went there to try to recruit them. “They say they will wait for three days,” he informed General Scott on January 9, “& if they do not then get off, will all go with me–” “Please let me know if the Government will furnish the transportation they expect,” he asked; “if not I can get them at once.” An adjutant responded on January 12, informing the planter that General Scott had applied for transportation to Florida for the people in question, which “will undoubtedly be furnished them within ten days, but if they wish to accompany you to Mississippi there is nothing to prevent it . . . , providing you take them at your own expence, and make a fair contract with them.” (John. C. Calhoun to Genl R. K. Scott, 9 Jan. 1867, C-38 1867, Registered Letters Received, series 2922, SC Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives; Bvt Maj Edw L Deane to J. C. Calhoun Esq, 12 Jan. 1867, vol. 12, p. 14, Letters Sent, series 2916, SC Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives. It is not known whether any or all of the freedpeople succeeded in reaching Florida, but Kelly Moses himself was soon on his way there; in a note of January 15, General Scott's adjutant recommended to the bureau's assistant commissioner for Georgia that “the bearer Kelly Moses, Freedman, may be furnished transportation within the limits of your District, en route from this City to Madison Co. Florida.” (Bvt Maj. Edw. L. Deane to Bvt Maj. Genl D. Tillson, 15 Jan. 1867, Unregistered Letters Received, series 632, GA Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives.)
Published in Land and Labor, 1866–1867, pp. 948–49.