Chaplain of an Arkansas Black Regiment to the Adjutant General of the Army

Little Rock  Ark  Feb 28th 1865

The movements of the 54th during the month has interfered to some extent with our Sabbath services; and has also, rendered it impracticable to continue the day school.  On reaching this post from, Ft Smith, the Regt was divided, and five companies sent out towards Brownsville, to guard the Rail Road.  These have been ordered back to Little Rock and the ten companies, are now camped, on the north side of the river, doing guard, & provost, duty in & around Little Rock:  As soon as a building can be procured, I design to open a day school for such as are disposed to attend.

Weddings, just now, are very popular, and abundant among the Colored People.  They have just learned, of the Special Order No' 15. of Gen Thomas1 by which, they may not only be lawfully married, but have their Marriage Certificates, Recorded; in a book furnished by the Government.  This is most desirable; and the order, was very opportune; as these people were constantly loosing their certificates.  Those who were captured from the “Chepewa”; at Ivy's Ford, on the 17th of January, by Col Brooks, had their Marriage Certificates, taken from them; and destroyed; and then were roundly cursed, for having such papers in their posession.  I have married, during the month, at this Post; Twenty five couples; mostly, those, who have families; & have been living together for years.  I try to dissuade single men, who are soldiers, from marrying, till their time of enlistment is out: as that course seems to me, to be most judicious.

The Colord People here, generally consider, this war not only; their exodus, from bondage; but the road, to Responsibility; Competency; and an honorable Citizenship–  God grant that their hopes and expectations may be fully realized.  Most Respectfully

A. B. Randall

Chaplain A. B. Randall to Brig. Gen. L. Thomas, 28 Feb. 1865, R-189 1865, Letters Received, series 12, Adjutant General's Office, Record Group 94, National Archives.

1. Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas's order provided: “Any ordained minister of the Gospel, accredited by the General Superintendent of Freedmen, is hereby authorized to solemnize the rites of marriage among the Freedmen.” (Orders No. 15, 28 Mar. 1864, L. Thomas Letters & Orders, Generals' Papers & Books, series 159, Adjutant General's Office, Record Group 94, National Archives.)

Published in The Black Military Experience, p. 712, in Free at Last, pp. 221–22, in Freedom's Soldiers, pp. 154–55, and in Families and Freedom, pp. 163–64.