Kentucky Black Sergeant to the Tennessee Freedmen's Bureau Assistant Commissioner

Nashville Tenn  October 8th 1865

Sir   I have the honor to call your attention To the neccesity of having a school for The benefit of our regement   We have never Had an institutiong of that sort and we Stand deeply inneed of instruction the majority of us having been slaves   We Wish to have some benefit of education To make of ourselves capable of buisness In the future   We have estableshed a literary Association which flourished previous to our March to Nashville   We wish to become a People capable of self support as we are Capable of being soldiers   my home is in Kentucky Where Prejudice reigns like the Mountain Oak and I do lack that cultivation of mind that would have an attendency To cast a cloud over my future life after have been in the United States service   I had a leave of abscence a few weeks a go on A furlough and it made my heart ache to see my race of people there neglected And ill treated on the account of the lack of Education being incapable of putting Thier complaints or applications in writing   For the want of Education totally ignorant Of the Great Good Workings of the Government in our behalf   We as soldiers Have our officers Who are our protection To teach how us to act and to do   But Sir What we want is a general system of education In our regiment for our moral and literary elevation   these being our motives We have the Honor of calling your very high Consideration   Respectfully Submitted as Your Most humble servt

John Sweeny

1st Sergeant John Sweeny to Brigadier General Fisk, 8 Oct. 1865, S-82 1866, Registered Letters Received, series 3379, Tennessee Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, & Abandoned Lands, Record Group 105, National Archives.

Published in The Black Military Experience, pp. 615–16, in Free at Last, p. 518, and in Freedom's Soldiers, pp. 161–62.