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50. General Samuel R. Curtis to Lincoln on fugitive slaves in military camps


50. General Samuel R. Curtis to Lincoln on fugitive slaves in military camps


Letter from General Samuel R. Curtis to Abraham Lincoln regarding military orders intended to keep fugitive slaves from being brought into military camps. January 31, 1863. Copy.




Becki Plunkett and Stephen Vincent


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State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines

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Special Collections: Samuel R. Curtis Papers

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H'd Q'rs [Headquarters,] Dept[.] of the Mo [Missouri][,] St[.] Louis[,] Jan[uar]y 31st 1863 Lincoln His Exc[ellanc]y Prest. [President] A. Mr[.] Broadhead at your instance brought me an order published by Genl[.] [Horatio Gouverneur] Wright's subordinate Gen'l [Gordon] Granger in Ky[.], which you wished me to consider as probably favorable to difficulties in Mo. The Union element in Ky[.] seems to evade or oppose your plans. The order excludes "all persons not belonging to the army" from our camps. This is Gen'l [Henry W.] Halleck['s] Order No[.] B in different words, and would not do in my command, where we are "taking the bull by the horns.["] If they would do so in Ky[.], I am confident you and all would have less trouble. A few snarling officers and rebel slaveholders oppose but the great mass demand that the acts of Congress and your proclamation shall appear a living reality. I am doing very little more than to hold the matter before the people as I am urged to do, by your most discrete and loyal friends. I claim that the success of my command, the popular demonstrations at the ballot box, the peace of Mo [Missouri], the public demonstrations, all demonstrate the propriety of such a policy. I earnestly try to prevent the gathering into my lines of any, especially the negroes of loyal citizens, and especially because they incumber my camps. There is no occasion for orders to exclude because the incumbrance prevents any considerable amount of such fugitives except in Arks [Arkansas] where thousands do come within our lines and I have tried to protect and use them for various purposes. I have no trouble with the soldiers, the people or the negroes; but a few officers[,] a few slaveholders and a few butternut politicians are constantly trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill and procuring a false impression somewhere. Mo [Missouri] can only be successful in her efforts to settle down quiet in the [U]nion, by allowing the [U]nion leaders and not the [U]nion doubters to hold the sway and direct public opinion. The slave power will be respected, but it cannot lead in this Dept. The people have resolved to carry out your war policy and I rejoice in their determination. I am Mr[.] Pres[iden]t Your ob[edien]t serv[an]t[,] S[.] R[.] Curtis[,] Maj[.] Gen'l