Black Sergeant to the Secretary of War

Fort Halleck  Columbus–Ky.  Aprile 27th 1864

I Sir by way of Introduction was made 1st. Sergeant of Co. C which was then denominated as 2nd Tenn Heavey Artillery now as 3d United States Heavey Artillery, as I wish to state to you, the facts which can be Relied, upon as I am fully able to prove if necessary   I may say to you this Reg. is a coloured one of Southern Birth consequently have no Education,  not so with my self   I was Freeborn and Educated to some extent which makes me know   we know that we have never had our Just Rights, by the Officers who command us,  the white officers of other Reg. here persuaded me to Join when there were no Reg. of coloured here to Join so I consented and being the first to sign my name in this Reg.  They promiced to pay us the same wages as was paid the whites & Rations & clothing the same   they have given us clothing & Rations sufficient for the time but have not paid us our Money according to promice   the white privates tell us we Should get the same pay as they do but none of us has yet   we never have been paid more than Seven Dollars per Month   they now say that is all we are allowd by the Govornment of the United States   Many of these people have Families to support and no other means of doing it than what they get in this way.  Such of those that are not able Bodied men are employed on Govornment work and are paid Ten Dollars per Month   We who belong to this Reg. have done more work than they on Fatigue and other wise the very Labour that was appointed for them   we have had to toil day and night when necessity demands it,  I may say to you at the presant our Regimental officers are nearly played out   they have been Turned out and their places have not been furnished with other commanders   now Hon. Secretary of war I wish to ask you not only for my own Satisfaction but at the Request of my Reg. is Seven Dollars per month all we Soldiers are to get or may we Expect in the final settlement to get our full Rights as was promiced us at the first

If we are to Recieve as much as White Soldiers or the Regular thirteen Dollars per Month then we Shall be Satisfied and on the field of Battle we will prove that we were worthy of what we claim for our Rights

With this Statement I may close by Requesting your Answer to this for the many Anxious and disappointed men of this Reg.  I am Sir your obedient Servant

Wm. J. Brown

PS) Direct yours to me in care of Co. C. 3d U States Heavey Arty. Care of Lieut. Adams of Co. A. 3d U. States Heavey Arty.

Wm. J. Brown to Honourable Secretary of War, 27 Apr. 1864, B-582 1864, Letters Received, series 360, Colored Troops Division, Adjutant General's Office, Record Group 94, National Archives.

Published in The Black Military Experience, pp. 377–78, and in Free at Last, pp. 467–68.