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Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Texas Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869

Extent:
32 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1869
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 32 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M821. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Texas, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869. The records consist of 10 volumes and some unbound documents. The volumes include letters and endorsements sent, orders issued, registers of letters received, and a "record of criminal offenses." The unbound documents consist primarily of letters and reports received.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M821.]

HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION

The Freedmen's Bureau, as the Bureau was commonly known, was established in the War Department by an act of March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507), and extended twice by the acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard, appointed Commissioner by the President in May 1865, served in that position throughout the life of the Bureau. In January 1869, in accordance with an act of July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), its operations in the States were terminated except for educational functions and collection of claims. Remaining activities were terminated June 30, 1872, as required by an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366).

Although the Bureau was part of the War Department, its work was primarily social and economic in nature. It cooperated with benevolent societies in issuing supplies to destitute persons and in maintaining freedmen's schools; supervised labor contracts between black employees and white employers; helped black soldiers and sailors to collect bounty claims, pensions, and backpay; and attended to the disposition of confiscated or abandoned lands and other property. In Texas, much of the Bureau's time and effort was expended in protecting freedmen from persecution, intimidation, and physical violence at the hands of whites or other freedmen.

The act of March 3, 1865, authorized the appointment of assistant commissioners to aid the Commissioner in supervising the work of the Bureau in the States. In Texas, operations began in September 1865 when Brig. Gen. Edgar M. Gregory took command as Assistant Commissioner and established headquarters at Galveston. Brig. Gen. Joseph Kiddoo relieved Gregory in May 1866 and was himself succeeded by Maj. Gen. Charles Griffin in January 1867, When Griffin died in office in September 1867, Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds assumed the duties of Assistant Commissioner but was absent from actual duty until November 1867; in the interim Lt. Charles Garretson, the Acting Assistant Adjutant General, acted as Assistant Commissioner. Upon his arrival, Reynolds moved the headquarters from Galveston to Houston, where it remained until the Bureau ended its operations in the State. In January 1869 Maj. Gen. Edward R. S. Canby succeeded Reynolds who subsequently resumed office in April and served until the Bureau, except for the Superintendent of Education, withdrew from Texas in May 1869.

Beginning in 1867 the Assistant Commissioners of Texas also served as the military commanders of Texas. The dual function of the Assistant Commissioners resulted in a succession of changes in the official headings used on correspondence and issuances. The title "Headquarters, Bureau R. F. & A. L." was changed in December 1867 to "Headquarters, Dist. Texas, Bureau R. F. & A. L." The heading "Headquarters, 5th Military Dist., Bureau R. F. & A. L." was used from August to December 1868, when the original heading was readopted. Although the Assistant Commissioners created and received records in both aspects of their dual capacities, they appear to have maintained separate sets of records for each.

The records that they created and received as military commanders of Texas are among Records of United States Army Continental Commands, 1821–1920, Record Group 393, and are not reproduced in this microfilm publication. The Assistant Commissioner's staff at various times consisted of an Assistant Adjutant General (or Acting Assistant Adjutant General), a Quartermaster and Disbursing Officer (or Assistant Quartermaster and Disbursing Officer, or Acting Assistant Quartermaster and Disbursing Officer), a Surgeon–in–Chief (or Chief Medical Officer), an Acting Assistant Inspector General (or Inspector), an Inspector of Schools, a Superintendent of Schools (or Superintendent of Education), and an Assistant Superintendent of Education. Upon occasion several of the offices were performed simultaneously by a single individual.

Subordinate to the Assistant Commissioner and his staff were the assistant superintendents, or subassistant commissioners as they later became known, who commanded the local field offices into which the state was divided for administrative purposes. Before 1867, one or more subassistant commissioners were assigned to particular county offices as was deemed appropriate by the Assistant Commissioner. On February 12, 1867, however, a circular letter issued by the Bureau headquarters in Washington directed that the states be divided into subdistricts consisting of counties designated by the Assistant Commissioner. Accordingly, on April 1, 1867, Assistant Commissioner Griffin issued a circular dividing Texas into 50 numbered districts (later called subdistricts); the number of these field offices was expanded to the maximum of 59 by August 1867.

Before this time, the activities of the Bureau had centered in the southeastern part of the state, but the numbered subdistricts represented an effort to distribute personnel and resources systematically throughout Texas. Each subdistrict was headed by a subassistant commissioner, some of whom had assistant subassistant commissioners as subordinates. The subassistant commissioners and their assistants were generally military officers or former military officers. At the outset of Bureau operations in Texas a number of Civil War Volunteer officers were utilized to fill the subordinate positions and were continued in office after they were mustered out of service. Other civilians, including citizens of Texas, also served in the subdistricts.

GENERAL RECORDKEEPING PRACTICES

The Assistant Commissioner corresponded extensively with his superior, Commissioner Howard, in the Washington Bureau headquarters, and with his subordinate officers in the field. Reports submitted to him by the subassistant commissioners and other subordinate staff officers provided the basis for reports to the Commissioner concerning Bureau activities in Texas. The Assistant Commissioner also corresponded with Bureau officials in other states, Army officers attached to the military commands in Texas, state officials and white citizens, and freedmen and other non–Bureau personnel. The letters varied in nature from complaints and reports of conditions to applications for jobs in the Bureau. Because the Assistant Adjutant General (or Acting Assistant Adjutant General) handled much of the mail for the Assistant Commissioner's office, outgoing letters often bore his signature and incoming communications were frequently addressed to him instead of the Assistant Commissioner.

The correspondence of the Assistant Commissioner was handled in accordance with typical 19th–century recordkeeping practices. Fair copies of outgoing letters were transcribed in letter books. Replies to incoming letters were frequently written on the letters themselves or on specially prepared wrappers. The replies, known as endorsements, were then copied into endorsement books, and the endorsed letter was returned to the sender or forwarded to another office. Endorsement books usually included a summary of the incoming letter and sometimes previous endorsements that were recorded on it. Incoming correspondence was frequently entered in registers of letters received. In addition to a summary of the contents of the incoming letters, the registers usually included such identifying information as the name and sometimes the office of the writer, the date of receipt, the date of the communication, the place of origin, and the entry number assigned at the time of receipt. The registered letters were folded for filing, generally in three segments, and the information recorded in the registers was transcribed on the outside flap of the letters.

The letters and endorsements sent, registers of letters received, and registered letters received, which are reproduced in this publication, are cross–referenced to each other by the use of various symbols. Letters sent are designated L. S. or L. B. followed by the page and sometimes the volume number. Endorsement books are variously designated E. B., E. M. B., E. & M., and E. & M. B. Registers of letters received are referenced as L. R. or R. L. R. followed by the appropriate file number and sometimes the volume number, or simply by the file number. Frequently the letter itself can be located among the series of registered letters received. Letters sent and endorsements are also cross–referenced to the previous and subsequent entries in their respective series by the use of a fractional symbol. The numerator denotes the previous letter to or endorsement by a particular individual and the denominator refers to the subsequent one. The symbols generally appear in the left margins of the pages, but sometimes within the space allotted for the entry.

The Assistant Commissioner utilized various types of issuances to convey information to staff and subordinate officers. General orders and circulars or circular letters related matters of general interest, including the implementation of Bureau policies throughout the state, duties of subordinate personnel, administrative procedures to be followed, relevant acts of Congress or issuances from Bureau headquarters in Washington, and the appointment or relief of staff officers. Special orders were used to communicate information of less general interest, such as duty assignments of individual field officers.

The letters sent, endorsements, registers of letters received, and issuances all have name indexes in the front of the volumes. These finding aids provide references mainly to personal names but also include a few other citations to places, groups, and titles of organizations.

The volumes reproduced in this publication were originally arranged by type of record and thereunder by volume number. Originally no numbers were assigned to series consisting of single volumes; later all volumes were arbitrarily assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office of the War Department after the records passed into its custody. In this microfilm publication the set of numbers last assigned are in parentheses and are useful as an aid in identifying the volumes. In some volumes, particularly in indexes and alphabetical headings of registers, there are a number of blank numbered pages that have not been filmed.
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M821
See more items in:
Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Texas Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/io34d7aea38-8b72-4c64-b7ce-259db86c8d1e
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m821
Online Media:

Americans All: Discrimination, racism, democracy, and freedom

Creator:
Todd, Tomlinson D., 1910 -1987  Search this
Names:
Kuroki, Ben, 1917-2015  Search this
Sinatra, Frank, 1915-1998  Search this
Spencer, Cornelia, 1899-1994  Search this
Taylor, Glen H. (Glen Hearst), 1904-1984  Search this
Webb, Alvin  Search this
Collection Collector:
Whitehead, Henry Preston, 1917-2002  Search this
Extent:
1 Sound discs (lacquer)
2 Digital files
Container:
Box 137
Type:
Archival materials
Audio
Sound discs (lacquer)
Digital files
Date:
1947 February 2
Collection Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
The Henry P. Whitehead collection is the physical property of the Anacostia Community Museum. Literary and copyright belong to the author/creator or their legal heirs and assigns. Rights to work produced during the normal course of Museum business resides with the Anacostia Community Museum. For further information, and to obtain permission to publish or reproduce, contact the Museum Archives.
Topic:
Japanese Americans  Search this
Race discrimination  Search this
Racism  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
African Americans  Search this
Social policy  Search this
Civil rights  Search this
Liberty  Search this
Poetry  Search this
Radio programs  Search this
Democracy  Search this
Collection Citation:
Henry P. Whitehead collection, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Michael A. Watkins.
See more items in:
Henry P. Whitehead collection
Henry P. Whitehead collection / Series 3: Tomlinson D. Todd / 3.4: "Americans All" / 3.4.2: Sound Recordings
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/qa753b6eed4-6aa9-404f-a1ad-971e855fa64a
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-06-042-ref1073

Make good the promises reclaiming Reconstruction and its legacies edited by Kinshasha Holman Conwill and Paul Gardullo ; foreword by Eric Foner ; preface by Spencer R. Crew ; contributions by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw ... [and seven others]

Editor:
Conwill, Kinshasha  Search this
Gardullo, Paul  Search this
Writer of foreword:
Foner, Eric 1943-  Search this
Writer of preface:
Crew, Spencer R. 1949-  Search this
Contributor:
Crenshaw, Kimberlé  Search this
Issuing body:
National Museum of African American History and Culture (U.S.),.)  Search this
Physical description:
224 pages illustrations (some color) 24 cm
Type:
Books
Exhibition catalogs
Illustrated books
Illustrated works
History
Catalogues d'exposition
Ouvrages illustrés
Place:
Southern States
États-Unis (Sud)
United States
Date:
2021
1863-1877
19th century
19e siècle
Topic:
African Americans--History  Search this
Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)  Search this
African Americans--Civil rights--History  Search this
African Americans--Social conditions  Search this
Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)--Influence  Search this
Noirs américains--Histoire  Search this
Noirs américains--Droits--Histoire  Search this
Noirs américains--Conditions sociales  Search this
HISTORY / Social History  Search this
HISTORY / African American & Black  Search this
HISTORY / United States / 19th Century  Search this
African Americans  Search this
African Americans--Civil rights  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1158548

Black Records Conference

Creator:
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum  Search this
Names:
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum  Search this
Howard University  Search this
Morgan State College  Search this
United States. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands  Search this
United States.. National Archives and Records Administration  Search this
Berry, Mary Frances  Search this
Bethune, Mary McLeod, 1875-1955  Search this
Billingsley, Andrew  Search this
Crouch, Barry A., 1941-  Search this
Gutman, Herbert G. (Herbert George), 1928-1985  Search this
Haley, Alex  Search this
Johnson, Anthony, c. 1600 - 1670  Search this
Logan, Rayford Whittingham, 1897-1982  Search this
Low, W. Augustus  Search this
McConnell, Roland C. (Roland Calhoun), 1910-2007  Search this
Pinkett, Harold T.  Search this
Smith, Elaine M., 1942-  Search this
Collection Creator:
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Extent:
6 Video recordings (open reel, 1/2 inch)
Type:
Archival materials
Video recordings
Museum records
Conferences
Place:
Anacostia (Washington, D.C.)
Washington (D.C.)
Texas
United States
Date:
1973
Scope and Contents:
Scholars, historians, and archivists speak about their experiences working in archives and with archival materials, specifically negro, black, and African American records. W. Augustus Low speaks about his experience working in archives and with archivists as well as his work with the Freedmen Bureau records, and researching Civil Rights and Anthony Johnson (Jamestown colonist); he also speaks about other scholars who used archives for their articles published in the Journal of Negro History, which Low is editor. Harold Pinkett presents his paper about how records useful for research enter the documentary preserve designated as archives; the formation of the National Archives; early development of archival standards; and scattered government records related to black experience. Mary Frances Berry speaks about her good and challenging experiences working with National Archives records for her research on black soldiers, and later law and policing as related to African Americans. Elaine M. Smith explains her research on Mary McLeod Bethune using the National Archives. Roland C. Connell describes his experience working for the National Archives, and later researching Andrew Jackson and the negro soldier; he also speaks about his experience working with the archives at Morgan State College. Barry A. Crouch speaks about researching the Texas Freedmen's Bureau, Reconstruction, crime, black prisoners, and black schools in the National Archives. Andrew Billingsley talks about conducting research on slavery and the Freedmen's Bureau at the National Archives and Howard University. Herbert G. Gutman speaks about his research and work about black families and freedmen. Alex Haley talks about his study of African American families and working with archival material. Other scholars and archival professionals speak about using oral histories, specifically oral tradition and eyewitness accounts, to research Afro-American experience; using presidential libraries as a source for research on Afro-Americans; and the work of the special advisory committee to the National Historical Publication Commission, a committee on the publication on the papers of blacks.
Conference. Part of Conference Recordings. AV003052: part 1, dated 19730603. AV003539: part 2, dated 19730603. AV000825: part 3, dated 19730603 and 19730604. AV000813: part 4, dated 19730605. AV003048: part 5, dated 19730605. AV003072: part 6, dated 19730605. Presentations often continue onto the following recording.
Local Numbers:
ACMA AV003539

ACMA AV000825

ACMA AV000813

ACMA AV003048

ACMA AV003072
General:
Title transcribed from physical asset.
Collection Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Some items are not accessible due to obsolete format and playback machinery restrictions. Please contact the archivist at acmarchives@si.edu.
Topic:
Archives  Search this
Public records  Search this
Oral history  Search this
Archivists  Search this
African American historians  Search this
Historians  Search this
African Americans  Search this
African American women  Search this
Civil rights leaders  Search this
African American families  Search this
Black people -- Study and teaching  Search this
Black people -- History  Search this
Slavery  Search this
Freedmen  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Crime  Search this
Schools  Search this
African American schools  Search this
African American military personnel  Search this
Racism  Search this
Civil rights  Search this
Genre/Form:
Video recordings
Museum records
Conferences
Citation:
Black Records Conference, Record Group AV09-021, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
ACMA.AV09-021, Item ACMA AV003052
See more items in:
Conference Recordings
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/qa7604bd4c9-365f-4bb8-843e-2b6bb09282ae
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-av09-021-ref506

Records of the Field Offices for the State of Kentucky, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872

Extent:
133 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1872
Summary:
This collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 133 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1904. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Kentucky headquarters for the Assistant Commissioner and his staff officers and the subordinate field offices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records, containing materials that include letters sent and received, monthly reports, registers of complaints, labor contracts, and other records relating to freedmen's claims and bounty payments.
Records Description:
These records consist of volumes and unbound records. The volumes reproduced in this publication were originally arranged by type of record and thereunder by volume number. No numbers were assigned to series consisting of single volumes. Years later, all volumes were arbitrarily assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office (AGO) of the War Department after the records came into its custody. In this publication, AGO numbers are shown in parentheses to aid in identifying the volumes. The National Archives assigned the volume numbers that are not in parentheses. In some volumes, particularly in indexes and alphabetical headings of registers, there are blank numbered pages that have not been filmed.

The volumes consist of letters and endorsements sent and received, press copies of letters sent, registers of letters received, letters and orders received, registers of freedmen court cases, special orders and circulars issued, registers of claimants, registers of complaints, marriage certificates, and monthly reports forwarded to the Assistant Commissioner. The unbound documents consist of letters and orders received, unregistered letters and narrative reports received, special orders and circulars issued, and general orders and circulars received. The unbound records also contain monthly reports; labor contracts; marriage certificates, and records relating to claims.

Some of the volumes contain more than one type of record, reflecting a common recording practice of clerks and staff officers of that period. In Series 4.6, for example, the volume of contracts for the Columbus field office also contains a register of marriages. Some other examples of additional series within volumes can be found in records of Series 4.18, 4.20, and 4.29. Researchers should read carefully the records descriptions and arrangements in the Table of Contents to make full use of these documents.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1904.]

HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedmen's Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507). The life of the Bureau was extended twice by acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). The Bureau was responsible for the supervision and management of all matters relating to refugees and freedmen, and of lands abandoned or seized during the Civil War. In May 1865, President Andrew Johnson appointed Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard as Commissioner of the Bureau, and Howard served in that position until June 30, 1872, when activities of the Bureau were terminated in accordance with an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366). While a major part of the Bureau's early activities involved the supervision of abandoned and confiscated property, its mission was to provide relief and help freedmen become self-sufficient. Bureau officials issued rations and clothing, operated hospitals and refugee camps, and supervised labor contracts. In addition, the Bureau managed apprenticeship disputes and complaints, assisted benevolent societies in the establishment of schools, helped freedmen in legalizing marriages entered into during slavery, and provided transportation to refugees and freedmen who were attempting to reunite with their family or relocate to other parts of the country. The Bureau also helped black soldiers, sailors, and their heirs collect bounty claims, pensions, and back pay.

The act of March 3, 1865, authorized the appointment of Assistant Commissioners to aid the Commissioner in supervising the work of the Bureau in the former Confederate states, the border states, and the District of Columbia. While the work performed by Assistant Commissioners in each state was similar, the organizational structure of staff officers varied from state to state. At various times, the staff could consist of a superintendent of education, an assistant adjutant general, an assistant inspector general, a disbursing officer, a chief medical officer, a chief quartermaster, and a commissary of subsistence. Subordinate to these officers were the assistant superintendents, or subassistant commissioners as they later became known, who commanded the subdistricts.

The Assistant Commissioner corresponded extensively with both his superior in the Washington Bureau headquarters and his subordinate officers in the subdistricts. Based upon reports submitted to him by the subassistant commissioners and other subordinate staff officers, he prepared reports that he sent to the Commissioner concerning Bureau activities in areas under his jurisdiction. The Assistant Commissioner also received letters from freedmen, local white citizens, state officials, and other non–Bureau personnel. These letters varied in nature from complaints to applications for jobs in the Bureau. Because the assistant adjutant general handled much of the mail for the Assistant Commissioner's office, it was often addressed to him instead of to the Assistant Commissioner.

In a circular issued by Commissioner Howard in July 1865, the Assistant Commissioners were instructed to designate one officer in each state to serve as "General Superintendents of Schools." These officials were to "take cognizance of all that is being done to educate refugees and freedmen, secure proper protection to schools and teachers, promote method and efficiency, correspond with the benevolent agencies which are supplying his field, and aid the Assistant Commissioner in making his required reports." In October 1865, a degree of centralized control was established over Bureau educational activities in the states when Rev. John W. Alvord was appointed Inspector of Finances and Schools. In January 1867, Alvord was divested of his financial responsibilities, and he was appointed General Superintendent of Education.

An act of Congress, approved July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), ordered that the Commissioner of the Bureau "shall, on the first day of January next, cause the said bureau to be withdrawn from the several States within which said bureau has acted and its operation shall be discontinued." Consequently, in early 1869, with the exception of the superintendents of education and the claims agents, the Assistant Commissioners and their subordinate officers were withdrawn from the states. For the next year and a half the Bureau continued to pursue its education work and to process claims. In the summer of 1870, the superintendents of education were withdrawn from the states, and the headquarters staff was greatly reduced. From that time until the Bureau was abolished by an act of Congress approved June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366), effective June 30, 1872, the Bureau's functions related almost exclusively to the disposition of claims. The Bureau's records and remaining functions were then transferred to the Freedmen's Branch in the office of the Adjutant General. The records of this branch are among the Bureau's files.

THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU IN KENTUCKY

ORGANIZATION

From July 1865 until June 1866, Maj. Gen. C. B. Fisk served as Assistant Commissioner for both Kentucky and Tennessee. Fisk appointed Bvt. Brig. Gen. John Ely to serve as chief superintendent for the Bureau at Kentucky (from March to June 1866). Ely established his headquarters at Louisville, Kentucky, and divided his operations into five subdistricts: Lexington, Louisville, Northwestern, Southern, and Central. Records relating to Kentucky created prior to Ely's tenure may be included among the files of the Assistant Commissioner for Tennessee.

In June 1866, Maj. Gen. Jeff C. Davis was appointed as the first Assistant Commissioner for Kentucky. Superintendents (or subassistant commissioners) employed under Davis were generally responsible for from 3 to 11 counties, and agents (civilian and military) from 1 to 3 counties. Agents received their orders directly from superintendents, and all superintendents were required to submit monthly reports of their activities to the Assistant Commissioner. Brig. Gen. Sidney Burbank succeeded Davis in March 1867 and was replaced by Maj. Benjamin Runkle, who served from January 1869 to May 1869 as Assistant Commissioner and superintendent of education. In August 1870, when superintendents of education were withdrawn from the states, Runkle served as claims agent for Kentucky until July 1871. H. H. Ray succeeded Runkle as claims agent, and served in this capacity until December 1871. P. J. Overley became the claims agent in January 1872 and remained in this position until the Bureau's operations in Kentucky were discontinued in April. The major subordinate field offices for the Bureau at Kentucky included those with headquarters at Bowling Green, Lebanon, Lexington, Louisville, and Paducah. For a list of known Kentucky subordinate field office personnel and their dates of service, see the Appendix.

ACTIVITIES

While the Freedmen's Bureau did not begin full operations in Kentucky until June 1866, its activities in the state generally resembled those conducted in other Southern states. The Bureau supervised labor contracts between planters and freedmen, administered justice, assisted freedmen in the establishment of schools, helped freedmen legalize marriages, and worked with black soldiers and their heirs in processing claims relating to military service.

The regulation of written labor agreements between planters and freedmen was a major concern of the Freedmen's Bureau. In a circular issued on July 24, 1865 (Circular Number 2), Assistant Commissioner Fisk told his subordinates that for both Kentucky and Tennessee freedmen must be free to choose their own employers and that wages were to be based on supply and demand rather than a fixed rate. Bureau officials were to negotiate and approve labor contracts and enforce violations by either party. Compulsory unpaid labor was strictly prohibited. In some areas of Kentucky, planters refused to enter into written agreements with freedmen, and freedmen themselves were reluctant to enter into annual agreements for fear of being reduced to slavery. However, with strong reservations, Bureau officers negotiated monthly agreements for them but encouraged freedmen to sign annual contracts that offered yearlong employment. Wages for monthly contracts ranged from $8 to $10 a month for adult male field hands, well below the state's average wage of $15 a month for men. However by the summer of 1866, with the Bureau's insistence, adult laborers in the tobacco region of the state received $25 per month and laborers in the farm belt areas earned $12 per month. In some Kentucky counties, freedmen received a third of the crops rather than wages. However, because of the shortage of laborers in the state, freedmen were able to demand higher wages, and thus over time the sharecropping system became less attractive.1

The Bureau worked to protect the rights and legal status of freedmen, which, despite the ending of slavery by the 13th Amendment, were still endangered by the persistence of the old slave codes. On May 30, 1865, Commissioner Howard issued Circular Number 5, authorizing Assistant Commissioners to establish courts in states where the old codes existed and the right of blacks to testify against whites was prohibited. Gen. Fisk subsequently announced to the citizens of Kentucky that freedmen courts would operate in the state as long as freedmen weren't given the same rights as whites. By 1867, as a result of several Federal court rulings, Bureau courts ceased to operate in Kentucky. When state courts denied black testimony, the agency, under provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, took cases involving freedmen to the U. S. District Court of Kentucky. In instances where freedmen lacked resources to pursue their cases in Federal court, the Bureau provided transportation for witnesses and other forms of assistance. Despite the Bureau's efforts to safeguard rights and secure justice for freedmen in Kentucky, admitting the testimony of blacks against whites still remained an issue in 1869 when Bureau Assistant Commissioners and their subordinates were withdrawn from the states. However, in January 1872, with a change in public opinion and pressure from the courts, the Kentucky State Legislature amended state law and allowed blacks to testify.

When Gen. John Ely began his duties as chief superintendent for Kentucky under Gen. Fisk's supervision, there were 30 freedmen schools and more than 2,000 students. The schools were organized and maintained by black churches, with black clergy as instructors. Freedmen schools faced widespread violence and white opposition, and in many cases, teachers and students were forced to abandon efforts to maintain school buildings. Ely and his subordinate assisted freedmen in reopening schools that had been forced to close.2 Under Maj. Gen. Jeff C. Davis, who replaced Ely in the summer of 1866, the number of freedmen schools increased to 54, with some 67 teachers and more than 3,200 students. Excluding the schools established at Lexington and Covington under the auspices of the Cincinnati Branch of the Western Freedmen's Aid Society and the Cincinnati Branch of the American Missionary Association, the freedmen schools were taught by black teachers who were supported by subscriptions from parents and black religious institutions. The Bureau, however, rented the building for the school at Lexington. Under Brig. Gen. Sidney Burbank, who succeeded Davis in March 1867, the number of freedmen schools increased to 96, accommodating about 5,000 students aged 6 – 18. By September 1868, in spite of continued violence and opposition, the Bureau had provided support for 135 day schools and 1 night school, serving more than 6,000 students.3

On February 14, 1866, the Kentucky State Legislature passed an act legalizing marriages freedmen had entered into during slavery and authorizing black ministers to solemnize such marriages. Nearly 2 weeks later, on February 26, 1866, Assistant Commissioner Fisk issued Circular Number 5, in accordance with the Kentucky law, directing those freedmen who sought to solemnize a marriage to the county clerk for a marriage license. If the county clerk refused to issue a license, Bureau officials in the subdistricts were authorized to solemnize marriages and issue marriage certificates. Local Bureau officers were required to maintain a register of freedmen marriages and forward a report of such marriages to the Assistant Commissioner at the end of each month. Subordinate Bureau officers were also told to notify persons living as man and wife who had not legalized their marriage, to report to the Bureau to take the necessary steps to do so. Persons who failed to comply were guilty of a misdemeanor and were to be punished by a fine and imprisonment.4 This publication reproduces marriage licenses, certificates, and registers of marriages for the Kentucky subdistricts at Augusta, Bowling Green, Columbus, Cynthiana, Owensboro, Paducah, Mt. Sterling, and Winchester. A single freedmen marriage license and a marriage certificate from Kentucky, filed in the Bureau's headquarters records, has been reproduced on roll 1 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M1875, Marriage Records of the Office of the Commissioner, Washington Headquarters of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1861–1869.

In addition to assisting freedmen in solemnizing slave marriages and efforts to sustain the black family, the Bureau helped discharged soldiers, sailors, marines, and their heirs in claims for back pay, bounty payments, and pensions. In accordance with a law passed by Congress on March 29, 1867 (15 Stat. 26), making the Bureau the sole agent for payment of claims relating to black veterans, Bureau disbursing officers assisted freedmen in the preparation and settlement of military claims. In November 1866, in spite of the difficulties in locating veterans who fled the state for fear of violence, Assistant Commissioner Davis reported that he had forwarded more than 260 black soldiers' claims for back pay and bounty payments to Commissioner Howard's office in Washington, DC. In the following year, Assistant Commissioner Burbank reported that his office had assisted nearly 500 veterans with military claims, and in the fall of 1868, for the year ending October 10, 1868, that more than 1,100 received bounty payments through his office.5

ENDNOTES

1 House Ex. Doc. 70, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., Serial Vol. 1256, p. 48. See also Victor B. Howard, Black Liberation in Kentucky: Emancipation and Freedom, 1862–1884 (Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky, 1983), pp. 96 – 97.

2 See report of Maj. J. C. Davis, August 23, 1866, "Synopses of Letters and Reports Relating to Conditions of Freedmen and Bureau Activities in the States, January 1866–March 1869," Vol. 135, Records of the Commissioner, Record Group 105, NARA, pp. 294 – 395.

3 Ross A. Webb, "The Past Is Never Dead, It's Not Even Past: Benjamin P. Runkle and the Freedmen's Bureau in Kentucky, 1866–1870," The Register of Kentucky Historical Society Vol. 84, No. 4 (Autumn 1986), pp. 348 – 350.

4 See Victor B. Howard, Black Liberation in Kentucky, pp. 121 – 125.

5 Senate Ex. Doc. No. 6, 39th Cong., 2nd Sess., Serial Vol. 1276, p. 67; See also Annual Reports of the Assistant Commissioners, Kentucky, 1867 and 1868, Records of the Office of the Commissioner, Record Group 105, NARA.
Freedmen's Bureau Personnel in Kentucky:
This list provides the names and dates of service of chief medical officers and known Freedmen's Bureau personnel at selected subordinate field offices in Kentucky. Additional information regarding persons assigned to various field offices might be found among the Bureau's Washington headquarters station books and rosters of military officers and civilians on duty in the states and other appointment-related records.

LOUISVILLE

July 1866–Mar. 1867 -- Chief Medical Officer F. S. Town

Mar.–Nov. 1867 -- Chief Medical Officer W. R. De Witt, Jr.

Nov. 1867–June 1869 -- Chief Medical Officer R. A. Bell

BOWLING GREEN

July 1866–July 1867 -- Chief Subassistant Commissioner Charles F. Johnson

July–Dec. 1867 -- Chief Subassistant Commissioner Joseph C. Rodriguez

Jan.–Feb. 1868 -- Chief Subassistant Commissioner Louis A. Reynolds

Feb.–June 1868 -- Chief Subassistant Commissioner A. Benson Brown

BOWLING GREEN

Jan.–Mar. 1866 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner R. W. Thing (Superintendent)

Sept. 1866–July 1867 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner Joseph C. Rodriguez (Subassistant Comm.)

July–Dec. 1867 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner James A. Shepley (Subassistant Commissioner)

BRANDENBURG

Sept. 1866–June 1867 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner York A. Woodward (Superintendent)

May–June 1868 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner James A. Bolton (Subassistant Commissioner)

BURKSVILLE

Oct. 1866–July 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner George W. Kingsbury

COLUMBUS

Mar.–Apr. 1866 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner Lt. James F. Bolton (Superintendent, Paducah)

Apr. 1866–Mar. 1868 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner Lt. James F. Bolton (Superintendent)

Mar.–Apr. 1868 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner Lt. James F. Bolton (Subassistant)

Apr.–July 1868 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner Capt. Emerson H. Liscum (Subassistant)

COVINGTON

Jan. 1866–July 1868 -- Superintendent John L. Graham

DANVILLE

Jan.–May 1866 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner William Goodloe (Superintendent)

June 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner W. R. Roume (Superintendent)

Apr.–Aug. 1867 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner W. R. Roume (Subassistant)

Aug.–Dec. 1867 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner A. Benson Brown (Subassistant)

Dec. 1867–Apr. 1868 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner Martin Norton (Subassistant)

Feb.–June 1868 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner H. G. Thomas (Chief Subassistant)

GREENSBURG

Oct. 1866–Nov. 1866 -- Superintendent and Chief Agent George Duff (Superintendent)

Mar. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Superintendent and Chief Agent P. S. Reeves (Chief Agent)

HENDERSON

Feb.–May 1868 -- Chief Subassistant Commissioner James McCleery

May 1868 -- Chief Subassistant Commissioner V. H. Echorn

June–July 1868 -- Chief Subassistant Commissioner A. Benson Brown

HENDERSON

Jan.–Dec. 1866 -- Superintendent and Subassistant F. F. Cheaney (Superintendent)

Apr.–Sept. 1867 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Wells Bailey (Subassistant)

Jan.–July 1868 -- Superintendent and Subassistant V. H. Echorn (Subassistant)

LEXINGTON

Feb.–Mar. 1866 -- Chief Superintendent and Chief Subassistant John Ely (Chief)

Apr.–June 1866 -- Chief Superintendent and Chief Subassistant James H. Rice (Chief Superintendent)

June 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Chief Superintendent and Chief Subassistant R. E. Johnson (Chief Superintendent)

Aug.–Oct. 1866 -- Chief Superintendent and Chief Subassistant James H. Rice (Acting Chief Superintendent)

Oct. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Chief Superintendent and Chief Subassistant R. E. Johnson (Acting Chief Superintendent)

Apr. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Chief Superintendent and Chief Subassistant R. E. Johnson (Chief Subassistant)

LEXINGTON

June 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Superintendent and Subassistant James H. Rice (Superintendent)

Apr.–June 1867 -- Superintendent and Subassistant James H. Rice (Subassistant)

June–July 1867 -- Superintendent and Subassistant W. R. Montmolin (Acting Subassistant)

July–Oct. 1867 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Patrick H. Flood (Subassistant)

LOUISVILLE

July–Aug. 1865 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner S. A. Porter (Superintendent)

Aug.–Nov. 1865 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner H. A. McCaleb (Superintendent)

Nov. 1865 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner E. D. Kennedy (Acting Superintendent)

Mar.–Apr. 1866 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner Walter Babcock (Superintendent)

Apr. 1866 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner A. Benson Brown (Superintendent)

Apr. 1866–June 1866 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner C. H. Frederick (Superintendent)

June 1866 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner A. Benson Brown (Acting Superintendent)

July 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner C. H. Frederick (Superintendent)

July 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner A. Benson Brown (Assistant Superintendent)

Apr.–July 1867 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner R. W. Roberts (Subassistant)

July 1867–July 1868 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner J. Catlin (Subassistant)

July–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner J. Catlin (Chief Subassistant)

PADUCAH

Apr.–Dec. 1866 -- Chief Superintendent and Chief Subassistant Commissioner John H. Donovan (Chief Superintendent)

Aug. 1866 -- Chief Superintendent and Chief Subassistant Commissioner John F. Smith (Acting Chief Superintendent)

Dec. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Chief Superintendent and Chief Subassistant Commissioner W. James Kay (Chief Superintendent)

Apr.–June 1867 -- Chief Superintendent and Chief Subassistant Commissioner W. James Kay (Chief Subassistant)

June 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Chief Superintendent and Chief Subassistant Commissioner W. James Kay (Chief Subassistant)

Apr.–July 1868 -- Chief Superintendent and Chief Subassistant Commissioner P. T. Swaine (Chief Subassistant)

July–Dec. 1868 -- Chief Superintendent and Chief Subassistant Commissioner A. Benson Brown (Chief Subassistant)

PADUCAH (McCracken County)

Aug. 1865–Apr. 1866 -- Superintendent, Chief Agent, and Subassistant Commissioner A. M. York (Superintendent)

Apr.–Nov. 1866 -- Superintendent, Chief Agent, and Subassistant Commissioner John F. Smith (Superintendent)

Dec. 1866–Jan. 1867 -- Superintendent, Chief Agent, and Subassistant Commissioner Jas. Drysdale (Superintendent)

Feb.–Apr. 1867 -- Superintendent, Chief Agent, and Subassistant Commissioner C. D. Smith (Superintendent)

Apr. 1867 -- Superintendent, Chief Agent, and Subassistant Commissioner C. D. Smith (Chief Agent)

Apr.–May 1867 -- Superintendent, Chief Agent, and Subassistant Commissioner C. D. Smith (Subassistant)

May–Nov. 1867 -- Superintendent, Chief Agent, and Subassistant Commissioner C. D. Smith (Chief Agent)

May–July 1868 -- Superintendent, Chief Agent, and Subassistant Commissioner R. S. Egelston (Subassistant)

PARIS

Mar. 1866 -- Agent Joseph A. Hilduth

Mar.–May 1866 -- Agent Thomas I. Elliott

June–July 1866 -- Agent R. W. Hutchraft

RUSSELLVILLE

Mar. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner H. A. Hunter

Apr.–June 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner M. E. Billings

SMITHLAND

Mar. 1866–Jan. 1867 -- Agent J. Bone Thompson

Mar.–June 1867 -- Agent Solomon Littlefield

WINCHESTER

Feb. and Sept. 1866 -- Superintendent H. C. Howard

Feb.–June and Sept. 1866 -- Superintendent George W. Gist

Apr. 1866 -- Superintendent R. C. Nicholas
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M1904
See more items in:
Records of the Field Offices for the State of Kentucky, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/io358923399-4fa1-4983-ae13-15e5c99fc822
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1904
Online Media:

Records of the Field Offices for the State of South Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872

Extent:
106 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1872
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 106 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1910. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the South Carolina field offices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872, including previously unfilmed records of the Office of the Assistant Commissioner, and records of the offices of staff officers, subordinate officers, and subordinate field offices. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records, including letters and endorsements sent and received, orders and circulars, monthly reports, and other records relating to freedmen's complaints and claims.
Records Description:
These records consist of volumes and unbound records. The volumes reproduced in this microfilm publication were originally arranged by the Freedmen's Bureau by type of record and thereunder by volume number. No numbers were assigned to series consisting of single volumes. Years later, all volumes were assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office (AGO) of the War Department after the records came into its custody. In this microfilm publication, AGO numbers are shown in parentheses to aid in identifying the volumes. The National Archives assigned the volume numbers that are not in parentheses. In some volumes, particularly in indexes and alphabetical headings of registers, there are blank numbered pages that have not been filmed.

The volumes consist of letters and endorsements sent and received, registers of letters received, unregistered letters received, general and special orders and circulars received, registers of claimants for bounties and pay arrearages, and registers of indentures of apprenticeship. The unbound documents consist of letters and orders received, unregistered letters received and narrative reports received, special orders and circulars issued, general and special orders and circulars received, and other series.

A few series were created in 1862–64, prior to the formation of the Bureau, by Union military commanders and U. S. Treasury agents, and included in the Bureau records. Some of the volumes contain more than one type of record, reflecting a common recording practice of clerks and staff officers in that period. On Roll 32, for example, the Register of Letters Received, Vol. 1 (95), also contains a register of complaints. Researchers should read carefully the records descriptions and arrangements in the table of contents to make full use of these records.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1910.]

HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedmen's Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507). The life of the Bureau was extended twice by acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). The Bureau was responsible for the supervision and management of all matters relating to refugees and freedmen, and of lands abandoned or seized during the Civil War. In May 1865, President Andrew Johnson appointed Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard as Commissioner of the Bureau, and Howard served in that position until June 30, 1872, when activities of the Bureau were terminated in accordance with an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366). While a major part of the Bureau's early activities involved the supervision of abandoned and confiscated property, its mission was to provide relief and help freedmen become self-sufficient. Bureau officials issued rations and clothing, operated hospitals and refugee camps, and supervised labor contracts. In addition, the Bureau managed apprenticeship disputes and complaints, assisted benevolent societies in the establishment of schools, helped freedmen in legalizing marriages entered into during slavery, and provided transportation to refugees and freedmen who were attempting to reunite with their family or relocate to other parts of the country. The Bureau also helped black soldiers, sailors, and their heirs collect bounty claims, pensions, and back pay.

The act of March 3, 1865, authorized the appointment of Assistant Commissioners to aid the Commissioner in supervising the work of the Bureau in the former Confederate states, the border states, and the District of Columbia. While the work performed by Assistant Commissioners in each state was similar, the organizational structure of staff officers varied from state to state. At various times, the staff could consist of a superintendent of education, an assistant adjutant general, an assistant inspector general, a disbursing officer, a chief medical officer, a chief quartermaster, and a commissary of subsistence. Subordinate to these officers were the assistant superintendents or subassistant commissioners as they later became known, who commanded the subdistricts.

The Assistant Commissioner corresponded extensively with both his superior in the Washington Bureau headquarters and his subordinate officers in the subdistricts. Based upon reports submitted to him by the subassistant commissioners and other subordinate staff officers, he prepared reports that he sent to the Commissioner concerning Bureau activities in areas under his jurisdiction. The Assistant Commissioner also received letters from freedmen, local white citizens, state officials, and other non–Bureau personnel. These letters varied in nature from complaints to applications for jobs in the Bureau. Because the assistant adjutant general handled much of the mail for the Assistant Commissioner's office, it was often addressed to him instead of to the Assistant Commissioner.

In a circular issued by Commissioner Howard in July 1865, the Assistant Commissioners were instructed to designate one officer in each state to serve as "General Superintendents of Schools." These officials were to "take cognizance of all that is being done to educate refugees and freedmen, secure proper protection to schools and teachers, promote method and efficiency, correspond with the benevolent agencies which are supplying his field, and aid the Assistant Commissioner in making his required reports." In October 1865, a degree of centralized control was established over Bureau educational activities in the states when Rev. John W. Alvord was appointed Inspector of Finances and Schools. In January 1867, Alvord was divested of his financial responsibilities, and he was appointed General Superintendent of Education.

An act of Congress approved July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), ordered that the Commissioner of the Bureau "shall, on the first day of January next, cause the said bureau to be withdrawn from the several States within which said bureau has acted and its operation shall be discontinued." Consequently, in early 1869, with the exception of the superintendents of education and the claims agents, the Assistant Commissioners and their subordinate officers were withdrawn from the states.

For the next year and a half the Bureau continued to pursue its education work and to process claims. In the summer of 1870, the superintendents of education were withdrawn from the states, and the headquarters staff was greatly reduced. From that time until the Bureau was abolished by an act of Congress approved June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366), effective June 30, 1872, the Bureau's functions related almost exclusively to the disposition of claims. The Bureau's records and remaining functions were then transferred to the Freedmen's Branch in the office of the Adjutant General. The records of this branch are among the Bureau's files.

THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU IN SOUTH CAROLINA

ORGANIZATION

Bvt. Maj. Gen. Rufus Saxton, who directed the "Port Royal Experiment," was appointed Assistant Commissioner for South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida on June 10, 1865. Shortly after Saxton assumed his new duties, Howard appointed Assistant Commissioners for Georgia and Florida. Thus, by September 1865 Saxton was, for all practical purposes, Assistant Commissioner solely for South Carolina. Generally, the records pertaining to Georgia and Florida among those of the Assistant Commissioner of South Carolina were created during this period.

The organization of the Bureau in South Carolina was similar to that of the Bureau headquarters in Washington, DC. Saxton's original staff included an assistant adjutant general, an inspector general, a superintendent of education, an assistant quartermaster, a chief commissary of subsistence, and an aide–de–camp.

Officers subordinate to Saxton were responsible for administering the policies of the Bureau in the subdistricts of South Carolina. These subdistricts, as they finally evolved in February 1867, were Anderson, Beaufort, Columbia, Charleston, Lynn, Darlington, Edisto, Greenville, Georgetown, Hilton Head, the South Carolina side of the Savannah River, Unionville, and Williamsburg. The subdistricts were administered by subassistant commissioners. Officers or civilians serving under the subassistant commissioner were called agents.

During the period of the Bureau's existence in South Carolina, there were three Assistant Commissioners operating from three different cities. Gen. Rufus Saxton established his headquarters in Beaufort, but in September 1865 he moved his headquarters to Charleston. Bvt. Maj. Gen. Robert K. Scott succeeded Saxton in January 1866 and carried out the duties of Assistant Commissioner until July 1868 when he resigned to become Governor of South Carolina. Just before Scott resigned, the headquarters was moved to Columbia. Bvt. Col. John R. Edie assumed the position of Assistant Commissioner for South Carolina in August 1868 and served until May 1869. Bvt. Maj. Horace Neide, superintendent of education for South Carolina, acted as Assistant Commissioner until May 31, 1869, when the office was abolished in South Carolina.

Neide and his successor, Bvt. Maj. Edward L. Deane, served as superintendent of education until June 1870 when that office was discontinued. Many of the series of records begun by Assistant Commissioners that were continued by superintendents of education will be found with those of Assistant Commissioners. The Bureau functioned in South Carolina until June 1872, but its activities after June 1870 were mainly in the area of military claims.

ACTIVITIES

The major activities of the Freedmen's Bureau in South Carolina generally resembled those conducted in other states. The Bureau issued rations and provided medical relief to both freedmen and white refugees, supervised labor contracts between planters and freedmen, administered justice, and worked with benevolent societies in the establishment of schools.

When Rufus Saxton assumed office as the Assistant Commissioner for South Carolina, he found tens of thousands of freedmen and white refugees in dire need of relief. By mid–summer 1865, with help from the offices of the Commissary General of the Army, the Quartermaster General, and the Surgeon General, Saxton provided more than 300,000 rations, clothing, and medical supplies to nearly 9,000 destitute persons. In 1866, in an effort to encourage self–sufficiency and adhere to Commissioner Howard's policy of supplying relief only to the needy, Saxton's successor, Gen. Robert K. Scott, drastically reduced the number of rations issued and limited them to blacks and whites in hospitals and orphan asylums. Despite Scott's efforts, however, persistent crop storages and crop failures in 1866–67 required the agency to provide aid and other forms of relief to ward off large–scale starvation and destitution. In 1868, the Bureau adopted a crop–lien system in which planters (both black and white) were given rations to distribute to laborers, and a lien was placed against their crops as collateral for repayment for the value of the rations. While the crop lien plan was well–conceived and helpful for both the employers and their employees, many planters were unable, and in some cases unwilling, to repay their loans. By 1870, when the Bureau's relief program ended in South Carolina, most of the monies associated with the loans remained outstanding.1

To further aid and provide medical relief to the "Sick and Suffering," the Freedmen's Bureau in South Carolina established a medical department during the summer and fall of 1865. Under the guidance of the surgeon–in–chief, W. R. De Witt, the Bureau established several camps, dispensaries, and hospitals with a staff of 16 contract physicians and 29 attendants. In spite of limited funding resources, the agency treated more than 8,000 freedmen and white refugees, and by the end of 1866, it provided care for close to 5,000 whites and more than 40,000 blacks. In the latter part of 1868, Bureau hospitals were either closed or turned over to local officials, and dispensaries were discontinued. From its beginning in the summer of 1865 to 1868, the Bureau's medical department in South Carolina provided medical assistance to about 150,000 blacks and 20,000 whites.2

The regulation of written labor agreements between planters and freedmen was a major concern of the Freedmen's Bureau in South Carolina. In orders issued on August 28, 1865 (General Orders Number 11), Assistant Commissioner Saxton charged his subordinates with seeing that "Fair and Liberal" contracts were made between planters and freedmen. Officers were told that agreements that called for a share of the crop were best suited for both landlords and laborers. Many freedmen who believed that the Federal Government planned to divide their former owners' land among them, were reluctant to sign contracts. This was especially true among freedmen on the Sea Islands who had been issued possessory titles under Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's Special Field Orders Number 15, which set aside for the settlement of blacks "Islands from Charleston south, the abandoned rice–fields along the rivers for thirty miles back from the sea, and the country bordering the Saint John's River, Fla." Nonetheless, with the Bureau's insistence and the threat of being forcibly removed from land they occupied, some 8,000 contracts were signed, and nearly 130,000 freedmen worked under labor agreements between the years 1865 and 1866. On January 1, 1867, Saxton's successor, Gen. R. K. Scott, issued a circular (Circular Number 1) publishing model contracts for a share of the crop and wages. Under the terms of the contracts blacks were entitled to housing, rations, medical attention, fuel, and at least half of the crop. Freedmen who worked for wages were generally paid between $8 and $12 per month and were responsible for supplying their own rations. By the end of 1868, the Bureau closed its operations in South Carolina and thus brought an end to its free labor system.3

Safeguarding rights and securing justice for freedmen was also a priority of the Bureau. Following the Civil War, several Southern states, including South Carolina, enacted a series of laws commonly known as "Black Codes" that restricted the rights and legal status of freedmen. Freedmen were often given harsh sentences for petty crimes and in some instances were unable to get their cases heard in state courts. In a circular issued by Commissioner Oliver Otis Howard on May 30, 1865 (Circular Number 5), Assistant Commissioners were authorized, in places where civil law had been interrupted and blacks' rights to justice were being denied, to adjudicate cases between blacks themselves and between blacks and whites.4

However, before the Freedmen's Bureau's involvement in South Carolina, provost courts and special military commissions served as the primary institutions for administering justice. Established by the Department of the South in the summer of 1865, under General Orders Number 102, provost courts could impose fines up to $100 and sentences of two months (later increased to $500 and six months, respectively). These courts, although subject to change, consisted of one military officer and two civilians who handled cases generally involving larceny and assault and battery. Military commissions were responsible for overseeing more serious cases involving burglary and murder, and functioned under rules similar to those for military courts–martial. In an agreement reached in September 1865 with South Carolina's provisional governor Benjamin F. Perry, military courts were given responsibility over all cases involving blacks, and state courts were to handle cases involving whites. The Freedmen's Bureau courts, which began to assume a greater role in these issues after the passage of the second Freedmen's Bureau law (July 1866), were thus limited in their efforts to protect the rights of freedmen. After the South Carolina Legislature adopted a measure in October 1866 recognizing freedmen's rights and making black testimony admissible in state courts, all cases involving freedmen were turned over to state courts.5

When Reuben Tomlinson became superintendent of the education division of the Freedmen's Bureau in South Carolina in early summer 1865, he found more than nine schools with about 9,000 students already in operation along the coastal region. Tomlinson sought to expand the number of schools throughout the state and increase enrollment. In the summer of 1866, he reported that freedmen schools had increased to 54 with 130 teachers providing instruction for a daily average of more than 5,000 pupils. By June 1867, an additional 19 schools had been added to the system, along with 10 new teachers. During the 1866–67 school year, the Bureau provided nearly $25,000 (primarily for rent and school repairs) of the $107,000 spent on freedmen schools. However, by the end of the 1868 school term, the Bureau's educational efforts were on the decline. Limited funds, waning support from Northern benevolent societies, and a steady decrease in freedmen contributions reversed some of the early progress made in the establishment of the freedmen school system. The number of schools in operation during the 1868 and 1869 school terms dropped from 73 to 49. By the summer of 1870, with all funds exhausted, the Bureau's educational program in South Carolina came to a close, and its buildings were turned over to benevolent societies.6

ENDNOTES

1 Martin Abbott, The Freedmen's Bureau in South Carolina, 1865–1872 (North Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press, 1967), esp. pp. 37 – 48; see also Senate Ex. Doc. 6, 39th Cong., 2nd Sess., Serial Vol. 1276, pp. 112 – 113.

2 Abbott, The Freedmen's Bureau in South Carolina, pp. 10 – 50.

3 Howard C. Westwood, "Sherman Marched—and Proclaimed Land for the Landless," South Carolina Historical Magazine, Vol. 85 (1984): pp. 33 – 50; For a discussion of the "Free Labor" system in South Carolina, see Abbott, The Freedmen's Bureau in South Carolina, pp. 66 – 81; Senate Ex. Doc. 6, 39th Cong., 2nd Sess., Serial Vol. 1276, pp. 113 – 115.

4 House Ex. Doc. 11, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. Serial Vol. 1255, p. 45.

5 Abbott, The Freedmen's Bureau in South Carolina, pp. 99 – 105; Thomas D. Morris, "Equality, 'Extraordinary Law,' and The South Carolina Experience, 1865–1866," South Carolina Historical Magazine, Vol. 83 (1982), pp. 15 – 33.

6 Abbott, The Freedmen's Bureau in South Carolina, pp. 85 – 98; Senate Ex. Doc. 6, 39th Cong., 2nd Sess., Serial Vol. 1276, p. 115.
Freedmen's Bureau Personnel in South Carolina:
This list provides the names and dates of service of known Freedmen's Bureau personnel at selected subordinate field offices for South Carolina. Additional information regarding persons assigned to various field offices might be found among the Bureau's Washington headquarters station books and rosters of military officers and civilians on duty in the states and other appointment–related records.

CLAIMS DIVISION

Dec. 1866 -- Office for Colored Applicants for Bounties and Bounty Pensions A. McL. Crawford

Dec. 1866–Oct. 1867 -- Officer in Charge A. McL. Crawford

Jan. 1868 -- Agent in Charge John B. Dennis

Jan.–July 1868 -- Agent in Charge John B. Dennis

Aug. 1868–Jan. 1869 -- Subassistant Commissioner (6th Subdistrict, Charleston) W. H. Danilson

Jan.–May 1869 -- Clerk in Charge William F. De Knight

Sept. 1869–Feb. 1870 -- Claims Officer Capt. F. C. Von Schirach

Mar.–Oct. 1870 -- Agent Charles Garretson

ABBEVILLE COURT HOUSE

Mar. 1866–Oct. 1867 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner C. R. Becker

Oct.–Dec. 1867 -- Agent Charles S. Allen

Dec. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Agent C. C. Perry

Feb.–Apr. 1868 -- Agent O. H. Hart

May–Aug. 1868 -- Agent W. F. De Knight

Aug.–Nov. 1868 -- Clerk W. F. De Knight

AIKEN (Bureau District of Anderson)

Aug.–Oct. 1866 -- Acting Assistant Commissioner Benjamin P. Runkle

Oct. 1866 -- Acting Assistant Commissioner E. R. Chase

Oct. 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Acting Assistant Commissioner S. Walker

Feb.–Mar. 1867 -- Acting Assistant Commissioner S. Walker

Mar. 1867–Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner (Subdistrict at Aiken) S. Walker

AIKEN (Edgefield District)

Feb.–Aug. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. Devereux (at Hamburg)

Aug.–Sept. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner George P. McDougall (at Aiken)

Sept.–Nov. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner William Stone

Nov. 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner William Stone (Edgefield and Barnwell Districts)

Feb.–Dec. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William Stone

Jan.–Aug. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William Stone (Edgefield District)

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William Stone (2nd Subdistrict at Aiken)

ANDERSON COURT HOUSE (Anderson District)

Mar.–Sept. 1866 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner William Stone

Sept. 1866–Mar. 1867 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner G. P. McDougall

Mar.–Apr. 1867 -- Agent G. P. McDougall

Apr.–Sept. 1867 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner G. P. McDougall

BARNWELL (Barnwell District)

Mar.–May 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner E. R. Chase (at Barnwell)

June–Nov. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner E. R. Chase (at Aiken)

Mar. 1867–Apr. 1868 -- Agent William A. Nerland (at Barnwell)

BEAUFORT

Sept. 1865–Jan. 1866 -- Agent H. G. Judd

Feb.–Nov. 1867 -- Agent George W. Gile

Mar.–Aug. 1868 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner George W. Gile

Oct. 1868–April 1871 -- Collecting Agent C. H. Wright

BEAUFORT (Hospital)

Oct. 1865–Dec. 1868 -- Surgeon A. J. Wakefield

BEAUFORT (Contraband Department)

Apr.–June 1862 -- Superintendent of Contrabands, Department of the South Sam B. Broad

June–Oct. 1862 -- Superintendent of Contrabands, Department of the South James D. Strong

Oct. 1862–May 1863 -- Superintendent of Contrabands, Department of the South John E. Webster

May 1863–Jan. 1864 -- Clerk Robert M. Taitt

CHESTER

Feb.–June 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner D. D. Lind

July–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner M. J. De Forest

Jan.–July 1868 -- Agent M. J. De Forest

COLUMBIA (District of Columbia)

Jan.–Apr. 1866 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner William H. H. Holton (1st Subdistrict, District of West South Carolina)

Apr.–June 1866 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner William H. H. Holton (District of West South Carolina)

June–July 1866 -- Acting Assistant Commissioner William H. H. Holton (District of Columbia)

July 1866 -- Acting Assistant Commissioner Benjamin P. Runkle

July 1866–Jan. 1867 -- Acting Assistant Commissioner William J. Harkisheimer

Jan.–Feb. 1867 -- Acting Assistant Commissioner J. Durell Greene

Feb.–May 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. Durell Greene (District of Columbia)

June–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner William J. Harkisheimer (District of Columbia)

Oct.–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner William J. Harkisheimer (at Columbia)

Jan.–Dec. 1868 -- Agent William J. Harkisheimer (at Columbia)

DARLINGTON

Apr.–Dec 1866 -- Acting Assistant Commissioner George W. Gile

Jan.–Feb. 1867 -- Acting Assistant Commissioner George Pingree

Feb.–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner George Pingree

Dec. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George Pingree

Mar.–Apr. 1867 -- Agent M. J. De Forest

Jan.–Aug. 1868 -- Agent George Pingree

June 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner M. J. De Forest

Aug–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner George Pingree

GEORGETOWN

Nov.–Dec. 1865 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner A. J. Willard

Dec. 1865–Aug. 1866 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner B. F. Smith

Jan.–Oct. 1867 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner John Chance

Oct.–Dec. 1867 -- Aid–de–Camp E. W. Everson

Dec. 1867–July 1868 -- Agent W. Markwood

Aug. 1868–Jan. 1869 -- Clerk W. Markwood

GREENVILLE

Apr.–Oct. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner A. E. Niles

Oct. 1866–May 1867 -- Acting Assistant Commissioner J. W. De Forest

June–Dec. 1867 -- Acting Assistant Commissioner J. W. De Forest

Jan.–Feb. 1868 -- Agent W. R. Hoyt

Feb.–May 1868 -- Agent W. F. De Knight

May–July 1868 -- Agent Carroll Neide

Aug. 1868 -- Clerk Carroll Neide

HOPKINS TURN OUT

July–Aug. 1867 -- Acting Assistant Surgeon Samuel L. Orr

Sept. 1867 -- Acting Assistant Surgeon Samuel L. Orr (at St. Helena Island)

Oct. 1867 -- Acting Assistant Surgeon Samuel L. Orr (at Ladies Island)

JOHNS ISLAND

Oct. 1865–Mar. 1866 -- Acting Assistant Surgeon B. Burgh Smith (at St. Pauls Parish)

May–Sept. 1866 -- Acting Assistant Surgeon B. Burgh Smith (at Johns Island)

Dec. 1866–Sept. 1867 -- Acting Assistant Surgeon I. L. Beckett

Oct. 1867–May 1868 -- Acting Assistant Surgeon S. B. Thompson

Jan.–Apr. 1868 -- Special Agent S. B. Thompson

KINGSTREE

Jan.–Mar. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner A. E. Niles

Apr.–June 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner M. J. De Forest

June–Dec. 1867 -- Agent A. Swails

Jan.–Dec. 1868 -- Agent Garrett Nagle

LAURENSVILLE

Dec. 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner John R. Edie

Apr.–Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Alfred Smith

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Clerk Nathaniel Freeman

MARION

June 1866–Jan. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner George E. Pingree

June 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Agent J. E. Lewis

July–Aug. 1868 -- Agent William H. Lockwood

MONCKS CORNER

Jan.–Apr. 1866 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner F. W. Liedtke

Apr. 1866–Jan. 1867 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner F. W. Liedtke

May 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner F. W. Liedtke

MOUNT PLEASANT

Feb.–June 1866 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner D. T. Corgbin

July 1866–Mar. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Edward F. O'Brien

Apr.–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner E. W. Everson

Oct. 1867–Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Dailson

ORANGEBURG

Aug. 1865–Mar. 1866 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner E. A. Koylay

Mar.–July 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner L. C. Skinner

July 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner William H. H. Holton

Jan.–June 1868 -- Agent William H. H. Holton

June–July 1868 -- Agent Edmund S. Woog

Aug.–Nov. 1868 -- Clerk Joseph A. Greene

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Agent Robert Ahern

ROCKVILLE

Feb. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner E. W. Everson

Mar.–June 1866 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner J. E. Cornelius

June–Dec. 1866 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner J. E. Cornelius

Jan.–June 1867 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner E. W. Everson

June–Dec. 1867 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner Henry McHenry

SUMMERVILLE

Sept.–Oct. 1865 -- Subassistant Commissioner James C. Beecher

Nov. 1865–Jan. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner Daniel F. Towles

Apr.–May 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner James C. Beecher

June 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Garrett Nagle

Feb.–Apr. 1867 -- Agent Garrett Nagle

Apr.–Dec. 1867 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner Garrett Nagle

UNIONVILLE

June 1866–Mar. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner A. P. Caraher
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M1910
See more items in:
Records of the Field Offices for the State of South Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/io3d456b3d6-f1c8-4326-a71d-13d3d71c2343
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1910
Online Media:

Records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1864-1869.

Extent:
12 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1864-1869
Summary:
This collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 12 rolls of microfilm described in NARA publication M1026. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1864-69. The records consist of 18 bound volumes and nearly 2.4 meters (8 feet) of unbound documents. The bound volumes include letters, telegrams, and endorsements sent; registers of employees; accounts with freedmen schools; and other records. The unbound documents consist primarily of letters and telegrams sent and reports sent and received.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1026.]

HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION

The Freedmen's Bureau, as the Bureau was commonly known, was established in the War Department by an act of March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507) and extended twice by acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173) and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat.83). Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard, appointed by the President in May 1865, served as Commissioner throughout the life of the Bureau until it was terminated in accordance with an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366).

Although the Bureau was part of the War Department, its work was primarily social and economic in nature. Bureau officials cooperated with benevolent societies in issuing supplies to destitute persons and in maintaining freedmen's schools. Bureau officials also supervised labor contracts between black employees and white employers; helped black soldiers and sailors collection bounty claims, pensions, and backpay; and attended to the disposition of confiscated or abandoned lands and other property.

The act of March 3, 1865 authorized the appointment of assistant commissioners to aid the Commissioner in supervising the work of the Bureau in the States. In Louisiana, operations began in June 1865, when Chaplain Thomas W. Conway took command as Assistant Commissioner at Louisiana Bureau headquarters in New Orleans. Other Assistant or Acting Assistant Commissioners for the State of Louisiana were Generals Absalom Baird, R.C. Buchanan, James S. Fullerton, Edward Hatch, Joseph A. Mower, Philip H. Sheridan, and Lt. Col. William H. Wood. In accordance with an act of July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193) Bureau operations within the States were terminated January 1, 1869, except for educational functions and the collection of claims.

In a circular issued by Commissioner Howard on July 12, 1865, assistant commissioners were instructed to designate an officer in each state to serve as "general superintendent of schools." These officials were to "take cognizance of all that is being done to educate refugees and freedmen, secure proper protection to schools and teachers, promote method and efficiency, correspond with the benevolent agencies which are supplying his field, and aid the Assistant Commissioner in making his required reports." In October 1865, some degree of centralized control was established over Bureau educational activities in the States, when Rev. John W. Alvord was appointed Inspector of Finances and Schools. In January 1867 Alvord was divested of the financial responsibilities and was redesignated General Superintendent of Education.

In the two years following the April 1862 occupation of New Orleans by Union troops, various civilian and military organizations established schools to educate freedmen in Louisiana. A more systematic educational program began with Gen. Nathaniel Banks' order of March 22, 1864 (Department of the Gulf General Order 38), which established a Board of Education to govern the organization of freedmen's schools in Louisiana. B. Rush Plumly was appointed head of the Board; Lt. Edwin M. Wheelock was appointed supervisor. Schools under the Board's jurisdiction were supported mainly by a tax on citizens recently disloyal to the Union.

On June 29, 1865, Assistant Commissioner Conway was authorized to take charge of the schools in Louisiana on behalf of the newly created Freedmen's Bureau. He appointed Capt. H.R. Pease Superintendent of Education on July 5, 1865. Wheelock and Plumly were dismissed, but most of the other officers and enlisted men who had served as subordinate school officials under the old Board of Education were retained. Pease's successors as Superintendent of Education for Louisiana included Bvt. Maj. A. G. Studer; Lieutenants F. R. Chase, J. M. Lee, L. O. Parker, and H. H. Pierce; and E. W. Mason.

For administrative purposes, the Superintendent divided the state into seven divisions with an assistant superintendent in charge of each. The divisions were headquartered in Alexandria, Amite City, Bragg Home Colony, Greenville Colony, New Orleans, Shreveport, and Thibadeaux. Other officials included school directors, who were normally assigned to a parish; city superintendents of schools; and teachers. Bureau officials (sub-assistant commissioners, assistant subassistant commissioners, and agents) in charge of subdistricts and parishes acted as inspectors of the schools in their areas and submitted periodic reports to the Superintendent of Education and the Assistant Commissioner.

The schools maintained by the Bureau in Louisiana included day schools for children, night schools for adults, and Sabbath (Sunday) schools for both groups. Reading, writing, and arithmetic received the greatest emphasis in most Bureau schools. Teachers were recruited from the local white population, from among freedmen, and from the North. Among the more active national societies recruiting teachers from Northern States and otherwise aiding the freedmen in Louisiana were the Methodist Freedmen's Aid Society, the American Baptist Home Mission Society, the American Free Mission Baptist Society, and the American Missionary Association.

The Bureau's responsibility for education included establishing and maintaining schools and examining and appointing teachers. Bureau funds were used to pay for constructing and repairing school buildings, for renting properties used for educational purposes, and for providing teachers with transportation. Whenever possible, the Bureau also provided protection to teachers, pupils, and school property. Teachers' salaries were normally paid by northern aid societies, from taxes levied against the Southern populace, or from contributions by freedmen. Bureau policy dictated that, whenever possible, subscriptions were to be solicited from freedmen for the establishment of schools and that tuition was to be charged for each student attending. At various times, the Bureau in Louisiana raised money for schools through a 5-percent tax levied against all people in the state, a 5-percent tax levied against all freedmen or against freemen using the schools, and from a tuition collected from the students. The first plan failed because whites opposed it; the other two plans failed because freedmen were unable to pay a tax or tuition. Many schools in Louisiana failed because teachers did not receive funds to meet monthly expenses.

The correspondence received and sent by the Office of the Superintendent of Education is generally addressed to or signed by the Superintendent, the Acting Assistant Adjutant General, or the secretary to the Superintendent. The correspondents represented in the series include the Assistant Commissioner; teachers, school officials, subassistant commissioners, and other subordinate officials; Army officers attached to military commands in the state; state and local political officials; and white citizens and freedmen of the state. Many items of correspondence are addressed to the Superintendent of Education as the "General Superintendent of Education," the more formal title of his office. The shorter title is used in these introductory remarks.

Several series of records dated before July 1, 1865, are of the Board of Education, the predecessor of the Office of the Superintendent of Education in Louisiana.

The volumes reproduced in this publication were arbitrarily assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office (AGO) of the War Department after the records came into its custody. The AGO numbers are shown in parentheses only in the finding aid for this publication to aid in identifying the volumes on whose spines the numbers appear. The volume numbers without parentheses (throughout this publication) were assigned by the staff of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Sometimes a volume was used to record more than one type of information; e/g/ the volume containing registers of weekly and monthly statistical reports of schools also contains the register of employees. The contents of these volumes have been filmed as if they were separate items.

Numbered blank pages have not been filmed. All indexes are filmed immediately preceding the records to which they pertain.
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M1026
See more items in:
Records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1864-1869.
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/io3c84af07f-3c90-4e5e-acbf-e79a0502be15
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1026
Online Media:

Muster roll for Company K of the 24th Infantry Regiment

Created by:
United States Army, American, founded 1775  Search this
Subject of:
24th Infantry Regiment, American, 1869 - 1951  Search this
Medium:
ink on paper (fiber product)
Dimensions:
H x W: 20 1/2 x 32 in. (52.1 x 81.3 cm)
Type:
muster rolls
Date:
December 31, 1873
Topic:
African American  Search this
Buffalo Soldiers  Search this
Military  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. History, 1865-1877  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number:
2012.26.1
Restrictions & Rights:
Public domain
Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Classification:
Documents and Published Materials
Exhibition:
Double Victory: The African American Military Experience
On View:
NMAAHC (1400 Constitution Ave NW), National Mall Location, Community/Third Floor, 3 053
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/fd5a447bfb5-1ee8-4541-9aea-7b40724471cb
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmaahc_2012.26.1

Records of the Field Offices for the State of Virginia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872

Extent:
197,148 Digital files
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Digital files
Date:
1865–1872
Summary:
This collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 203 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1913. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Virginia field offices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872, including previously unfilmed records of the Virginia staff offices of the quartermaster and disbursing officer, and the subordinate field offices. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records, including letters and endorsements sent and received, orders and circulars, monthly reports, and other records relating to freedmen's complaints and claims.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1913.]

HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedmen's Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507). The life of the Bureau was extended twice by acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). The Bureau was responsible for the supervision and management of all matters relating to refugees and freedmen, and of lands abandoned or seized during the Civil War. In May 1865, President Andrew Johnson appointed Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard as Commissioner of the Bureau, and Howard served in that position until June 30, 1872, when activities of the Bureau were terminated in accordance with an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366). While a major part of the Bureau's early activities involved the supervision of abandoned and confiscated property, its mission was to provide relief and help freedmen become self–sufficient. Bureau officials issued rations and clothing, operated hospitals and refugee camps, and supervised labor contracts. In addition, the Bureau managed apprenticeship disputes and complaints, assisted benevolent societies in the establishment of schools, helped freedmen in legalizing marriages entered into during slavery, and provided transportation to refugees and freedmen who were attempting to reunite with their family or relocate to other parts of the country. The Bureau also helped black soldiers, sailors, and their heirs collect bounty claims, pensions, and back pay.

The act of March 3, 1865, authorized the appointment of Assistant Commissioners to aid the Commissioner in supervising the work of the Bureau in the former Confederate states, the border states, and the District of Columbia. While the work performed by Assistant Commissioners in each state was similar, the organizational structure of staff officers varied from state to state. At various times, the staff could consist of a superintendent of education, an assistant adjutant general, an assistant inspector general, a disbursing officer, a chief medical officer, a chief quartermaster, and a commissary of subsistence. Subordinate to these officers were the assistant superintendents or subassistant commissioners as they later became known, who commanded the subdistricts.

The Assistant Commissioner corresponded extensively with both his superior in the Washington Bureau headquarters and his subordinate officers in the subdistricts. Based upon reports submitted to him by the subassistant commissioners and other subordinate staff officers, he prepared reports that he sent to the Commissioner concerning Bureau activities in areas under his jurisdiction. The Assistant Commissioner also received letters from freedmen, local white citizens, state officials, and other non–Bureau personnel. These letters varied in nature from complaints to applications for jobs in the Bureau. Because the assistant adjutant general handled much of the mail for the Assistant Commissioner's office, it was often addressed to him instead of to the Assistant Commissioner.

In a circular issued by Commissioner Howard in July 1865, the Assistant Commissioners were instructed to designate one officer in each state to serve as "General Superintendents of Schools." These officials were to "take cognizance of all that is being done to educate refugees and freedmen, secure proper protection to schools and teachers, promote method and efficiency, correspond with the benevolent agencies which are supplying his field, and aid the Assistant Commissioner in making his required reports." In October 1865, a degree of centralized control was established over Bureau educational activities in the states when Rev. John W. Alvord was appointed Inspector of Finances and Schools. In January 1867, Alvord was divested of his financial responsibilities, and he was appointed General Superintendent of Education.

An act of Congress approved July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), ordered that the Commissioner of the Bureau "shall, on the first day of January next, cause the said bureau to be withdrawn from the several States within which said bureau has acted and its operation shall be discontinued." Consequently, in early 1869, with the exception of the superintendents of education and the claims agents, the Assistant Commissioners and their subordinate officers were withdrawn from the states.

For the next year and a half the Bureau continued to pursue its education work and to process claims. In the summer of 1870, the superintendents of education were withdrawn from the states, and the headquarters staff was greatly reduced. From that time until the Bureau was abolished by an act of Congress approved June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366), effective June 30, 1872, the Bureau's functions related almost exclusively to the disposition of claims. The Bureau's records and remaining functions were then transferred to the Freedmen's Branch in the office of the Adjutant General. However, the records of this branch are among the Bureau's files.

THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU IN VIRGINIA

ORGANIZATION

In Virginia, the Bureau's operations began in June 1865 when Assistant Commissioner Orlando Brown established his headquarters in Richmond. Brown served until May 1866, when he was succeeded by Maj. Gen. Alfred H. Terry, who remained in office until August 1866. Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield served from August 1866 to March 1867, when Orlando Brown again assumed office and served as both Assistant Commissioner and superintendent of education until May 1869.

From June 1866 to March 1867, Assistant Commissioners Terry and Schofield also served as military commanders of the Department of Virginia and its successor, the Department of the Potomac. Although the two generals created and received records in both capacities, they maintained separate sets of records for this period. Records created by Terry and Schofield while serving in their military capacities are found among the Records of United States Army Commands, 1821–1920, RG 393.

Beginning in September 1865, the Assistant Commissioner for the District of Columbia was responsible for Bureau operations in the Virginia counties of Alexandria, Fairfax, and Loudoun, and the Freedmen's Village near Arlington, VA. Bureau officers were assigned to supervise the activities of these districts. In August 1866, supervision of Loudoun County was transferred to the Assistant Commissioner for Virginia, and Alexandria and Fairfax Counties were similarly transferred in March 1867. Because officers in the above counties reported to the Assistant Commissioner of the District of Columbia, some records for Virginia are among his files.

From July 4, 1865 to April 14, 1867, the Virginia Bureau was divided into 10 districts, with an agent or superintendent in charge of each. Districts were further divided into subdistricts, each headed by an assistant superintendent. On April 15, 1867, the state was reorganized into 10 subdistricts, with a subassistant commissioner in charge of each. The subdistricts were divided further into divisions headed by assistant subassistant commissioners. Subdistrict headquarters were established at Alexandria, Fort Monroe, Fredericksburg, Gordonsville, Lynchburg, Norfolk, Petersburg, Richmond, Winchester, and Wytheville. On January 1, 1869, the 10 subdistricts were reorganized into 8 educational subdistricts, with an assistant superintendent of schools in charge of each. The heads of the various subdivisions supervised all Bureau activities, including education, in their respective areas and reported on educational matters to both the superintendent of education and the Assistant Commissioner.

ACTIVITIES

The major activities of the Freedmen's Bureau in Virginia generally resembled those conducted in other states. The Bureau issued rations and provided medical relief to both freedmen and white refugees, supervised labor contracts between planters and freedmen, administered justice, and worked with benevolent societies in the establishment of schools.

The Freedmen's Bureau's efforts to provide relief to both blacks and whites in Virginia began almost as soon as Orlando Brown assumed office as Assistant Commissioner for the state in June 1865. From late summer to early fall 1865, the Bureau issued more than 350,000 rations at a cost of nearly $33,000. By mid October 1865, however, the number of rations issued had declined from a previous 275,000 to less than 236,000. During the same period, the number of people receiving rations decreased from 16,298 to 11,622. In September 1866, with Commissioner Howard's limitation of government assistance to those persons in orphanages and hospitals, and the plan to relinquish relief efforts for the destitute to state and local government officials, the Bureau in Virginia issued rations to fewer than 5,000 individuals statewide. Because the Virginia Bureau in 1866 and 1867 was committed to reducing expenditures and providing limited relief for those in dire need, by late September 1868 a large number of freedmen in the state still remained impoverished.1

The Virginia Bureau also opened several hospitals for the sick and infirm. At various times, hospitals were established at Eastville, Drummondtown, Norfolk, Hampton, Yorktown, Petersburg, Farmville, Lynchburg, Danville, Richmond, and City Point. Under the direction of surgeon J. J. De Lamaster, 13 contract and 2 noncontract physicians provided treatment for more than 650 patients during 1865 and 1866. Two dispensaries administered more than 18,000 prescriptions for medicine. At Howard Grove Hospital near Richmond, Virginia, the Bureau opened a ward for the insane and a home for the aged and infirm. In the northern part of the state, homes were located for 139 inmates housed at an orphan asylum. By late October 1866, over 30,000 freedmen received medical aid from the Bureau in Virginia. By October 1867, that number increased to 50,000.2

The Bureau worked to make freedmen self–sufficient and to incorporate them into the new free–labor system in Virginia. Thousands of freedmen who crossed Union lines during the Civil War continued to seek support from the Freedmen's Bureau at war's end. With great demand for labor in some areas (especially in large cities) and not in others, and the Federal Government's determination to reduce dependency on government aid, the Virginia Bureau provided transportation for persons who were unable to find work in areas where they resided to locations where work was readily available. Those able–bodied freedmen who refused or did not apply for transportation would no longer receive rations. Under labor agreements approved by the Virginia Bureau, freedmen received rations (but no clothing) and wages that averaged about $9 per month. In some districts freedmen worked for a share of the crop. Often, however, with limited employment (especially during the winter months), low wages, inadequate shares of crops, and the failure of local officials to provide for the destitute, freedmen were constantly dependent upon the Bureau for subsistence.3

Safeguarding rights and securing justice for freedmen were major concerns of the Virginia Bureau. Following the Civil War, several Southern states, including Virginia, enacted a series of laws commonly known as "Black Codes" that restricted the rights and legal status of freedmen. Freedmen were often given harsh sentences for petty crimes and in some instances were unable to get their cases heard or to testify in state courts. In September 1865, Assistant Commissioner Orlando Brown established Freedmen's Bureau courts to adjudicate cases involving freedmen where the penalties did not exceed a $100 fine or three months in prison. The three–member court was composed, for the most part, of a Bureau agent, a planters' representative, and an individual selected by freedmen. In February 1866, the Virginia legislature amended laws that adversely affected the rights of freedmen, and thus by early May 1866, Bureau courts were discontinued, and both civil and criminal cases were turned over to state authorities. However, because of the failure of many local court officials to administer equal justice (especially in areas outside of large cities and towns), the Bureau in Virginia found it necessary to re–establish Bureau courts in certain areas of the state. In late May 1867, Maj. Gen. Schofield, who served as both Commander of the 1st Military District and Assistant Commissioner for Virginia, issued orders appointing military commissioners to oversee the administration of justice in Bureau subdistricts throughout Virginia, giving them exclusive jurisdiction and power to decide whether a case would be tried by a civil court or a military commission. Despite the establishment of military commissioners however, protecting the rights and securing justice for freedpeople still remained an enormous problem for the Bureau as late as the fall of 1868.4

The Freedmen's Bureau's educational activities in Virginia began with Assistant Commissioner Brown's appointment of Prof. W. H. Woodbury as Virginia's superintendent of schools for freedmen on June 20, 1865. By November, he had been replaced by Ralza Morse Manly, the assistant superintendent of schools (later education), who served until August 15, 1870, when all Bureau educational activities ceased.

Within six months of assuming office, Manly had more than 136 teachers instructing some 8,000 pupils. The number of teachers soon increased to more than 200, with nearly 18,000 students under instruction. During the years 1866 and 1867, freedmen schools continued to improve and expand. By the fall of 1868, there were nearly 270 schools in operation, with more than 350 teachers providing instruction for some 20,000 pupils.5 Schools assisted or maintained by the Bureau in Virginia included day schools for children, night schools for adults, and Sabbath schools. Students received instruction in such subjects as reading, writing, arithmetic, and geography. Many teachers were recruited from the North by freedmen's aid societies that included the American Missionary Association, the New York National Freedmen's Relief Association, the New England Freedmen's Aid Society, the American Baptist Home Mission Society, the Friends Freedmen's Relief Association, and the American Freedmen's Union Commission. Teachers were also recruited from among the local white and black populations.

The Bureau's educational support for freedmen schools generally involved assistance in the establishment and maintenance of schools and the examination and appointment of teachers. Bureau funds were used to pay for construction and repair of school buildings, for rental of properties used for educational purposes, and for providing teachers with transportation. Teachers' salaries were usually paid by freedmen's aid societies; however, in some situations, salaries were partially subsidized by contributions from freedmen. Whenever possible, the Bureau solicited subscriptions from freedmen for the establishment of schools, and in some cases tuition was charged.

ENDNOTES

1 Mary J. Farmer, "Because They Are Women: Gender and the Virginia Freedmen's Bureau's War on Dependency," in The Freedmen's Bureau and Reconstruction: Reconsiderations, eds. Paul A. Cimbala and Randall M. Miller, (New York: Fordham University Press, 1999), 165 – 169; Annual Reports of the Assistant Commissioners, Virginia, October 8, 1867 [pp. 4 – 7], and October 19, 1868 [pp. 12 – 14], Records of the Office of the Commissioner, Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, Record Group (RG) 105, National Archives Building (NAB), Washington, DC.

2 Senate Ex. Doc. 6, 39th Cong., 2nd Sess., Serial Vol. 1276, 163 – 164; For further details on the medical activities of the Freedmen's Bureau in Virginia, see Annual Reports of J. J. De Lamater, Surgeon and Chief, Virginia, October 25, 1866 [pp. 1 – 34], and October 1, 1867 [pp. 1 – 23], Annual Reports, Virginia, RG 105, NAB.

3 Senate Ex. Doc. 6, Serial Vol. 1276, 161 – 162; see also Annual Reports, Virginia, October 8, 1867, [pp. 4 – 8], and October 19, 1868, [pp. 12 – 14].

4 George R. Bentley, A History of the Freedmen's Bureau (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1944), 152 – 153; Senate Ex. Doc. 6, Serial Vol. 1276, 165 – 167; Annual Reports, Virginia, October 8, 1867, [p. 3], and October 19, 1868, [pp. 2 – 8].

5 Senate Ex. Doc. 6, Serial Vol. 1276, 164 – 165; Annual Reports, Virginia, October 8, 1867, [pp. 9 – 14], and October 19, 1868, [pp. 16 – 18].
Freedmen's Bureau Personnel in Virginia:
This list provides the names and dates of service of known Freedmen's Bureau personnel at selected subordinate field offices for Virginia. Additional information regarding persons assigned to various field offices might be found among the Bureau's Washington headquarters station books and rosters of military officers and civilians on duty in the states and in other appointment–related records.

ALEXANDRIA

Oct. 1863–June 1865 -- Superintendent of Contrabands A. Gladwin

July–Nov. 1865 -- Superintendent James Ferree (5th District)

Nov. 1865–Jan. 1866 -- Superintendent Henry Alvord

Jan. 1866–Mar. 1867 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner S. R. Lee

Mar. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Subassistant Commissioner S. R. Lee (10th Subdistrict)

Jan.–Apr. 1869 -- Superintendent S. R. Lee (6th Educational Subdistrict of VA)

AMELIA COURTHOUSE

Oct. 1865–Aug. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent W. F. White

Aug. 1866–Jan. 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent James Drysdale

Jan. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner J. B. Clinton

APPOMATTOX COURTHOUSE

1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Louis Neswick

ASHLAND

1865–66 -- Ed Murphy

1867–68 -- Ira Ayers

BOWLING GREEN (Caroline County)

Jan. 1866–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent John Dwyer

Nov.–Dec. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner W. B. Pease

Jan.–Feb. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Hector Sears (at Fredericksburg)

Feb.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner F. S. Tukey

BOYDTON (Mecklenburg County)

Dec. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Lt. George T. Cook (at Clarksville)

Apr.–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Alexander D. Bailie (at Clarksville)

Nov.–Dec. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Alexander D. Bailie

Jan.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George W. Graham (3rd Division, 11th Subdistrict)

BUCKINGHAM COURTHOUSE (Buckingham County)

July–Aug. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. James P. Wogan

Sept.–Nov. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. Paul Kolbe

Dec. 1865–Apr. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. J. F. Dengler

May–Aug. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. W. James Kay

Jan.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Charles E. Fincke (at Maysville)

BURKESVILLE (Nottoway County)

July 1866–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. D. Jerome Connolly

Oct. 1867–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Lt. R. G. Rutherford

CHARLOTTE COURTHOUSE (Charlotte County)

Feb.–Apr. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. Louis Ahrens

May–June 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. Edwin Lyon

June–Sept. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. F. A. Page

CHARLOTTESVILLE (Albemarle County)

Jan.–Mar. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent James Joyes

June 1866–June 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. William L. Tidball

June 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Lt. A. F. Higgs

CHESTERFIELD COURTHOUSE (Chesterfield County)

July 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. Henry Eisenhill

Aug. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. John H. Kendall

Aug.–Oct. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. William Taylor

Oct.–Nov. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. William Kedlich

Dec. 1865–Jan. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. Dennis M. Carroll

Jan. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Col. James M. Powell

Jan.–Mar. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. W. James Kay

CHRISTIANBURG (Montgomery County)

May 1866–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. C. S. Schaeffer (8th District of VA)

CITY POINT (Prince George County)

July 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. John E. Herriot

Aug. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. William Hedges

Sept. 1865–Apr. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent R. P. Clayton

May–July 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. Charles H. Bird

Aug. 1866–Jan. 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. J. Arnold Yeckley

CULPEPER COURTHOUSE (Culpeper County)

Oct.–Nov. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. Earl Pierce

Dec. 1865–July 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. W. S. Chase

Aug. 1866–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Lt. W. MacNulty

CULPEPER

Jan.–Mar. 1869 -- Assistant Superintendent William R. Morse (4th Education Subdistrict)

CUMBERLAND COURTHOUSE (Cumberland County)

July–Aug. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. Curtis McCornish

May–Oct. 1865 -- Provost Marshall Capt. Oscar Fleichman

Oct.–Nov. 1865 -- Provost Marshall Lt. E. Steinmann Capt. D.

Dec. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Provost Marshall Jerome Connolly

DANVILLE (Pittsylvania County)

Aug. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. Moses Smith

Aug.–Oct. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. P. J. Hawk

Dec. 1865–Nov. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. J. F. Wilcox

Nov. 1866–July 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent Col. G. B. Carse

July 1867–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Lt. Andrew Mahoney

June–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William Leahey (at Pittsylvania Courthouse)

DRUMMONDTOWN

Dec. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. Charles W. Hite

Mar.–Sept. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Maj. George H. French

Oct. 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. Ed. Murphy

Feb.–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Maj. George P. Sherwood

Nov. 1867–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Maj. George P. Sherwood (at Eastville)

May–Aug. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner M. S. Reed (at Eastville)

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner D. B. White (at Eastville)

FAIRFAX COURTHOUSE (Fairfax County)

Aug.–Sept. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. George A. Armes

Sept. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. Sidney B. Smith (at Vienna)

Mar. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. J. O. Ross (at Vienna)

Nov. 1866–Mar. 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent O. E. Hine

Apr.–Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Lt. William Shields (at Falls Church)

Aug. 1867–Apr. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Lt. W. S. Chase (at Falls Church)

Apr.–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Lt. W. S. Chase (at Manassas)

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner John Raeburn

FARMVILLE

Sept.–Nov. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. W. H. Lea

Nov. 1865–Jan. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. R. C. Horner

Feb.–Apr. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. D. Jerome Connolly

May 1866–Apr. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Maj. John W. Jordan

Apr.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Thomas P. Jackson

Apr.–Aug. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Thomas Leahey (at Farmville 1st Division, 11th Subdistrict)

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Thomas Leahey (at Marysville 1st Division, 11th Subdistrict)

FREDERICKSBURG

Aug.–Nov. 1865 -- Superintendent Capt. D. W. Bohonon (10th District)

Dec. 1865–July 1866 -- Superintendent Maj. James Johnson (10th District)

July 1866–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent Maj. James Johnson (6th District)

July 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent Hector Sears (for Stafford and King George Counties)

Apr. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Superintendent Hector Sears (for Stafford, King George, and Spotsylvania Counties)

GOOCHLAND

Dec. 1865–Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Superintendent J. T. Wilson

Jan.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Superintendent E. C. Morse

GORDONSVILLE

Aug. 1865–June 1866 -- Superintendent Capt. T. Frank Crandon (4th District)

June 1866–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent Maj. William R. Morse (4th District)

HALIFAX COURTHOUSE

Nov. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Lt. David P. Scott (4th Subdivision, 11th District)

Feb.–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William Nutt (4th Subdivision, 11th District)

May–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner W. H. H. Stowell (4th Subdivision, 11th District)

HEATHSVILLE

May 1866–Apr. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. W. Busby (5th Division, 6th Subdistrict)

Apr.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Haskell (5th Division, 6th Subdistrict)

JERUSALEM (Southampton County)

May 1866–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Lt. A. G. Deacon (4th Division, 1st Subdistrict)

Jan.–Sept. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Mortimer Moulden (4th Division, 1st Subdistrict)

Sept.–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner C. S. Schaeffer (4th Division, 1st Subdistrict)

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Mortimer Moulden (4th Division, 1st Subdistrict)

KING WILLIAM COURTHOUSE

Feb.–June 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. John C. Chance (3rd Division, 3rd Subdistrict)

June 1866–July 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent Col. Frank Butts (3rd Division, 3rd Subdistrict)

July 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Superintendent C. P. Goodyear (3rd Division, 3rd Subdistrict)

LEESBURG (Loudoun County)

Mar. 1866–May 1868 -- Lt. Sydney B. Smith (3rd Division, 10th Subdistrict)

May–July 1868 -- Lt. Sydney B. Smith (at Warrenton)

July–Oct. 1868 -- Lt. Sydney B. Smith (at Middleburg)

LEXINGTON

Sept. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner C. Jerome Tubbs

Feb.–Nov. 1866 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner G. Carse

Dec. 1866–Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. W. Sharp

Jan.–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Douglas Frazer

Sept.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Jno. W. Jordan

LIBERTY

Oct. 1865–Apr. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner B. T. Shaum

Apr.– Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. F. Wilcox

LOUISA COURTHOUSE

July 1865–Aug. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. R. McMurray

Nov. 1865–July 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. James Ashworth

July–Nov. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. Jacob Roth

Jan. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Maj. M. S. Hopkins (at Gordonsville)

LUNENBURG COURTHOUSE

Sept. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. Alexander Blackman

Oct. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. Richard M. Homer

Nov. 1865–Jan. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. H. Treher

Jan.–July 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. J. Arnold Yeckley

Apr.–July 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Stowell

July–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William Austin

LYNCHBURG

Nov. 1865–Apr. 1867 -- Superintendent R. S. Lacey (7th District of VA)

Apr. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Agent R. S. Lacey

Jan–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner R. S. Lacey (7th Subdistrict of VA)

Jan.–Mar. 1869 -- Assistant Superintendent of Schools R. S. Lacey

Dec. 1865–Jan. 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. J. P. Wodell (4th Subdistrict, 7th District)

Jan. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. Louis W. Stevenson (1st Division, 7th District)

Jan.–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Superintendent J. F. Wilson (1st Division)

May–Aug. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. W. F. DeKnight (Subdistrict of Amherst County)

June–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Lt. L. A. Nesmith (1st and 6th Divisions, 7th District)

MADISON COURTHOUSE

Feb.–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Capt. Samuel W. Carpenter

Feb.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William Crea

MANCHESTER

Oct. 1865–Mar. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. L. Hoysradt

Apr.–Oct. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. T. W. Lord

July–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Samuel F. Maddox

MARION

Apr.–Aug. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. B. E. Hess

MATTHEWS COURTHOUSE

Apr. 1866–Mar. 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent E. A. Chandler

Apr.–July 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent F. K. Smith

July–Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. R. Williams

Aug. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. A. Chandler

Jan.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Thomas Rice

FORT MONROE

Sept. 1865–July 1866 -- Superintendent C. B. Wilder (9th District)

July–Sept. 1866 -- Superintendent C. B. Wilder (5th District)

Sept. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Superintendent S. L. Armstrong (5th District)

Apr. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Agent S. L. Armstrong (5th District)

Jan.–Sept. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner S. L. Armstrong (5th District)

Sept.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner S. L. Armstrong (at Hampton)

Jan.–Apr. 1869 -- Superintendent S. L. Armstrong (1st Education Subdistrict, Hampton)

NEW KENT COURTHOUSE

Mar.–Apr. 1866 -- Superintendent A. M. Brooks (at Barhamsville)

Apr. 1866–Dec. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner A. M. Brooks

Dec. 1867–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William H. Sloan

May–Aug. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. G. Townsend

NORFOLK

Mar.–June 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent for Negro Affairs, Fort Monroe C. H. Beirne

June–Sept. 1865 -- Superintendent A. S. Flagg (1st District, Fort Monroe)

Sept. 1865–June 1866 -- Superintendent A. S. Flagg (1st District, Norfolk)

June 1866–Mar. 1867 -- Superintendent William P. Austin

Mar. 1867–Jan. 1869 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. H. Remington

June–Aug. 1865 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Lt. John H. Keatley

Aug. 1865–May 1866 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Charles E. Johnston

Feb.–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Edward Murphy

ORANGE COURTHOUSE

July–Sept. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent M. C. Harris

Sept.–Oct. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent H. C. Buckman

Oct. 1865–Aug. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent John W. Barnes

Sept.–Oct. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent W. A. MacNulty

PALMYRA

Aug–Nov. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. C. E. Minor (at Columbia)

Dec. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. N. R. Bunker (at Columbia)

Jan–Oct. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent E. G. Budd

PETERSBURG

July–Aug. 1865 -- Superintendent Stuart Barnes (District of the Nottoway)

Aug. 1865–Sept. 1867 -- Superintendent Stuart Barnes (2nd District)

Sept. 1866–Sept. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. R. Stone

Sept.–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner James A. Bates

Oct. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. R. Stone

July 1865–Nov. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. E. H. Tobey

Dec. 1866–Jan. 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. J. A. Yeckley

Nov.–Dec. 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent Capt. J. L. Johnston

Dec. 1867–July 1868 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. H. K. W. Ayres

PRINCESS ANNE

Sept. 1865–May 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Thomas P. Jackson (at Norfolk)

May 1866–July 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent Morton Havens

July 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Superintendent Morton Havens

Jan.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Superintendent James Croft

RICHMOND

Apr.–June 1865 -- Quartermaster H. S. Merrell

June–Nov. 1865 -- Superintendent H. S. Merrell (District of Henrico)

Nov. 1865–June 1866 -- Superintendent H. S. Merrell (3rd District)

June–Nov. 1866 -- Superintendent John A. McDonnell (3rd District)

Apr.–May 1867 -- Superintendent John A. Bates (3rd District)

Apr.–May 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner John A. Bates

May 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Paul R. Hambrick

Jan.–Apr. 1869 -- Assistant Superintendent of Schools Paul R. Hambrick

Dec. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent E. B. Townsend (Subdistrict of Richmond)

Mar.–Apr. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent T. W. Lord

Apr. 1866–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Benjamin C. Cook

ROCKY MOUNT

Jan.–June 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent James Warden

Aug. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent William F. DeKnight (Subdistrict No. 3, 7th District)

Apr.–July 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William F. DeKnight

July–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William F. DeKnight (Subdistrict No. 3, 7th District)

Oct.–Dec. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Newton Whitten (4th Division, 7th Subdistrict)

Dec. 1867–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Augustus R. Egbert

SMITHFIELD

May 1865–Mar. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. L. W. L. McDaniels

Mar.–May 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. A. G. Deacon

STAUNTON

Mar.–May 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. George W. Cook (at Harrisburg)

May–Dec. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. George W. Cook (Subdistrict No. 10, 7th District, at Staunton)

Dec. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent Frederick S. Tukey (Subdistrict of Augusta and Highland)

Apr. 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Assistant Superintendent Thomas P. Jackson (4th Division, 9th Subdistrict)

Mar.–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner John W. Jordan

Sept.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Roswell Waldo

SUFFOLK

Dec. 1866–Nov. 1867 -- Agent John W. Barnes (3rd Division, 1st Subdistrict)

Nov. 1867–July 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Lt. George W. Fleming

July–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George W. Black

TAPPAHANNOCK

July–Oct. 1865 -- Provost Marshall Edgar B. Le Gro (at Warsaw)

Nov.–Dec. 1865 -- Provost Marshall Edgar B. Le Gro

Feb. 1866–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Lt. Watson R. Wentworth (3rd Division, 6th Subdistrict from April 1867)

WARRENTON

July 1866–Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Lt. W. S. Chase

Aug. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Capt. E. B. Gates (4th Division, 10th Subdistrict)

Jan.–Apr. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Morton Havens (4th Division, 10th Subdistrict)

May–July 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Lt. Sydney B. Smith (See Leesburg, VA)

WARSAW

Jan.–Dec. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Henry W. Ayres (4th Division, 6th Subdistrict from April 1867)

Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William B. Pease

Feb.–Mar. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner C. G. McClelland

Apr.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. W. Busby

WAVERLY

Dec. 1866–Mar. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner W. F. Wilcox (2nd Division, 2nd Subdistict from April 1867)

Apr.–July 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner P. M. McLaughlin

WILSON'S LANDING

Feb.–June 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent J. H. Remington

July–Sept. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Lt. Edward Murphy

WINCHESTER

Aug.–Sept. 1865 -- Superintendent Capt. H. Stover How (6th District, at Staunton)

Oct. 1865–May 1866 -- Superintendent Capt. H. Stover How (6th District)

May–Sept. 1866 -- Superintendent J. H. Remington (6th District)

Sept.–Nov. 1866 -- Superintendent J. H. Remington (9th District)

Dec. 1866–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner John A. McDonnel (9th District)

Dec. 1865–Apr. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent John P. How

Apr. 1866–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Capt. Gilbert R. Chandler (1st Division, 9th District)

WOODSTOCK

Mar. 1866–July 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. H. Hall (3rd Division, 9th District)

July–Aug. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner W. Lyreel

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Watkins James

WYTHEVILLE

Oct. 1865–June 1866 -- Superintendent B. C. Carter (8th District)

June–Dec. 1866 -- Superintendent George P. Sherwood (8th District)

Dec. 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Superintendent J. H. Remington (8th District)

Mar.–Aug. 1867 -- Superintendent William P. Austin (8th District)

Mar.–Aug. 1867 -- Superintendent H. G. Thomas (8th District)

Jan.–Mar. 1869 -- Assistant Superintendent of Schools H. G. Thomas (at Salem)

YORKTOWN

Jan. 1866–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner F. A. Massey (3rd Division, 5th District)

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Henry K. Ayers (3rd Division, 5th District)
Related Archival Materials note:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M1913
See more items in:
Records of the Field Offices for the State of Virginia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/io3d5cafbf9-eeca-4b79-98a8-000d44a65c37
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1913
Online Media:

Records of the Field Offices for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1863–1872

Extent:
111 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1863–1872
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 111 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1905. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the staff officers of the Assistant Commissioner and the subordinate field offices of the Louisiana headquarters of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1863–1872. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records containing materials that include letters sent and received, monthly reports, registers of complaints, labor contracts, and other records relating to freedmen's claims and bounty payments.
Records Description:
These records consist of volumes and unbound records. The volumes reproduced in this microfilm publication were originally arranged by type of record and thereunder by volume number. All volumes were assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office (AGO) of the War Department after the records came into its custody. In this microfilm publication, AGO numbers are shown in parentheses to aid in identifying the volumes. The National Archives assigned the volume numbers that are not in parentheses. No numbers were assigned to series consisting of single volumes. In some volumes, particularly in indexes and alphabetical headings of registers, there are blank numbered pages that have not been filmed.

The volumes consist of letters and endorsements sent and received, press copies of letters sent, registers of letters received, letters and orders received, registers of freedmen court cases, special orders and circulars issued, registers of claimants, registers of complaints, marriage certificates, and monthly reports forwarded to the Assistant Commissioner. The unbound documents consist of letters and orders received, unregistered letters and narrative reports received, special orders and circulars issued, and general orders and circulars received. The unbound records also contain monthly reports, labor contracts, marriage certificates, and records relating to claims.

Some of the volumes contain more than one type of record, reflecting a common recording practice of clerks and staff officers of that period. On Roll 67, for example, the volume of applications for laborers for Bragg Home Colony also contains a register of complaints. Some other examples of additional series within volumes can be found in records on Rolls 72, 78, and others. Researchers should read carefully the records descriptions and arrangements in the table of contents to make full use of these documents.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1905.]

HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedmen's Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507). The life of the Bureau was extended twice by acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). The Bureau was responsible for the supervision and management of all matters relating to refugees and freedmen, and of lands abandoned or seized during the Civil War. In May 1865, President Andrew Johnson appointed Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard as Commissioner of the Bureau, and Howard served in that position until June 30, 1872, when activities of the Bureau were terminated in accordance with an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366). While a major part of the Bureau's early activities involved the supervision of abandoned and confiscated property, its mission was to provide relief and help freedmen become self–sufficient. Bureau officials issued rations and clothing, operated hospitals and refugee camps, and supervised labor contracts. In addition, the Bureau managed apprenticeship disputes and complaints, assisted benevolent societies in the establishment of schools, helped freedmen in legalizing marriages entered into during slavery, and provided transportation to refugees and freedmen who were attempting to reunite with their family or relocate to other parts of the country. The Bureau also helped black soldiers, sailors, and their heirs collect bounty claims, pensions, and back pay.

The act of March 3, 1865, authorized the appointment of Assistant Commissioners to aid the Commissioner in supervising the work of the Bureau in the former Confederate states, the border states, and the District of Columbia. While the work performed by Assistant Commissioners in each state was similar, the organizational structure of staff officers varied from state to state. At various times, the staff could consist of a superintendent of education, an assistant adjutant general, an assistant inspector general, a disbursing officer, a chief medical officer, a chief quartermaster, and a commissary of subsistence. Subordinate to these officers were the assistant superintendents, or subassistant commissioners as they later became known, who commanded the subdistricts.

The Assistant Commissioner corresponded extensively with both his superior in the Washington Bureau headquarters and his subordinate officers in the subdistricts. Based upon reports submitted to him by the subassistant commissioners and other subordinate staff officers, he prepared reports that he sent to the Commissioner concerning Bureau activities in areas under his jurisdiction. The Assistant Commissioner also received letters from freedmen, local white citizens, state officials, and other non-Bureau personnel. These letters varied in nature from complaints to applications for jobs in the Bureau. Because the assistant adjutant general handled much of the mail for the Assistant Commissioner's office, it was often addressed to him instead of to the Assistant Commissioner.

In a circular issued by Commissioner Howard in July 1865, the Assistant Commissioners were instructed to designate one officer in each state to serve as "General Superintendents of Schools." These officials were to "take cognizance of all that is being done to educate refugees and freedmen, secure proper protection to schools and teachers, promote method and efficiency, correspond with the benevolent agencies which are supplying his field, and aid the Assistant Commissioner in making his required reports." In October 1865, a degree of centralized control was established over Bureau educational activities in the states when Rev. John W. Alvord was appointed Inspector of Finances and Schools. In January 1867, Alvord was divested of his financial responsibilities, and he was appointed General Superintendent of Education.

An act of Congress, approved July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), ordered that the Commissioner of the Bureau "shall, on the first day of January next, cause the said bureau to be withdrawn from the several States within which said bureau has acted and its operation shall be discontinued." Consequently, in early 1869, with the exception of the superintendents of education and the claims agents, the Assistant Commissioners and their subordinate officers were withdrawn from the states.

For the next year and a half the Bureau continued to pursue its education work and to process claims. In the summer of 1870, the superintendents of education were withdrawn from the states, and the headquarters staff was greatly reduced. From that time until the Bureau was abolished by an act of Congress approved June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366), effective June 30, 1872, the Bureau's functions related almost exclusively to the disposition of claims. The Bureau's records and remaining functions were then transferred to the Freedmen's Branch in the office of the Adjutant General. The records of this branch are among the Bureau's files.

THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU IN LOUISIANA

ORGANIZATION

On June 13, 1865, Commissioner Oliver Otis Howard appointed Chaplain Thomas W. Conway as the Assistant Commissioner for Louisiana. At the time of his appointment, Conway headed the military's Louisiana Bureau of Free Labor, which managed the affairs of freedmen employed on "Abandoned" plantations. Conway transferred the Bureau of Free Labor to the newly established Freedmen's Bureau Louisiana headquarters at New Orleans. The parishes of Madison, Carroll, Concordia, and Tenasas in northeastern Louisiana were reassigned in January 1866 from the jurisdiction of the Assistant Commissioner for Mississippi to that of the Assistant Commissioner for Louisiana. The other Assistant Commissioners or Acting Assistant Commissioners in Louisiana and their terms of office were Gen. James S. Fullerton, October 4 – 18, 1865; Gen. Absalom Baird, October 19, 1865–September 1866; Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, October 5–November 27, 1866; Gen. Joseph A. Mower, November 28, 1866–December 4, 1867; Lt. Col. William H. Wood, December 5, 1867–January 2, 1868; Gen. R. C. Buchanan, January 3–August 24, 1868; and Gen. Edward Hatch, August 25, 1868–January 1, 1869.

When Conway took over as Assistant Commissioner, the state was divided into districts that were composed of one to three parishes and commanded by either an agent or superintendent. In April 1867, the state was reorganized into seven subdistricts headed by subassistant commissioners. Subassistant commissioners were required to file monthly inspection reports of their respective jurisdictions with the Assistant Commissioner. Agents or assistant subassistant commissioners, who were responsible for one to two parishes, received their instructions from and reported to subassistant commissioners. The major subordinate field offices for the Bureau in Louisiana included those with headquarters at Baton Rouge, Franklin, Monroe, Natchitoches, New Orleans, Shreveport, and Vidalia. For a list of known Louisiana subordinate field office personnel and their dates of service, see the appendix.

ACTIVITIES

The major activities of the Freedmen's Bureau field office in Louisiana generally resembled those conducted in other states. The Bureau provided various forms of relief to both freedmen and white refugees, supervised labor contracts, assisted freedmen in the establishment of schools, administered justice, helped freedmen locate land, and assisted blacks with military claims for back pay, bounty payments, and pensions.

Between June and September 1865, the Bureau in Louisiana issued some 455,290 rations to destitute freedmen and 157,691 to white refugees. With no appropriated funds from Congress, the Bureau relied on several sources to carry out these activities: income from confiscated property, requisitioned supplies from the army, aid from benevolent societies, and a three–dollar tax on black adult laborers. Despite the Bureau's efforts, however, tens of thousands of freedmen and refugees remained in dire straits throughout the state. The lack of available funds, continuous flooding, crop failures, and disease severely hampered the Bureau's relief programs. On March 30, 1867, Congress appropriated monies for a "Special Relief Fund" (15 Stat. 28). The fund authorized the Secretary of War, through the Freedmen's Bureau, to issue provisions and rations to destitute persons in Southern states, including Louisiana.

In response to the act, Commissioner Howard issued a circular on April 3, 1867 (Circular Number 11), that set aside $500,000 for the purpose.1 The agency maintained homes for refugees and orphans. Hundreds of refugees were housed in two hotels in New Orleans (the Commercial and the Western Verandah) and later the Marine Hospital. While most of the residents were from Louisiana, some were from Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. Beginning in 1865, the Bureau provided assistance to several privately run orphan asylums in New Orleans and other areas of the state until its work for orphans was discontinued in September 1865. The Bureau also provided medical aid to freedmen and white refugees. In 1866, to help combat such diseases as cholera, yellow fever, and smallpox, seven doctors, on average, served under the Bureau in Louisiana: five at the New Orleans hospital and one at both the Shreveport hospital and the Rost Home Colony. The Bureau also maintained numerous dispensaries throughout the state. In spite of the closure of the Rost Home Colony hospital and most of the Bureau's dispensaries by the end of 1867, the agency in 1868 treated more than 8,500 freedmen for various infectious diseases. At the Rost Home Colony—one of the most successful of the four "Home Colonies" established in Louisiana—Bureau officials also issued rations and clothing, established a school, provided employment, and compiled a variety of personal data about individuals who arrived and departed from the Colony. Both the New Orleans and the Shreveport hospitals maintained registers of patients and the sick and wounded.2

The regulation of written labor agreements between planters and freedmen was a major concern of the Freedmen's Bureau. In a circular issued on December 4, 1865 (Circular Number 29), Bureau officials in Louisiana outlined the rules governing the free labor system in the state. Freedmen could choose their employers, and all contracts were to be approved by a Bureau agent. Wages were not set, but the circular declared that it was the freedmen's "Duty" to "obtain the best terms they can for their labor." Freedmen were required to work 26 days per month, consisting of 10–hour days in the summer and 9–hour days in the winter. Any work time exceeding 6 hours beyond the normal workday would constitute an additional day's work. In addition to wages, freedmen were also entitled to receive rations, clothing, "Comfortable" living quarters, and medical attention, and each family was to receive a half–acre plot to maintain a garden. Five percent of the freedman's monthly wages was to be retained by the employer for the purpose of sustaining schools for the freedman's children. In cases where freedmen desired to work for a share of the crop, employers were required to have sufficient amounts of provisions available for freedmen and their families each month. Also, employers who entered into share agreements were obligated to pay Bureau agents 1/20 of the amount of the freedmen's share of the crop each month for the benefit of freedmen schools.3

In the two years following the April 1862 occupation of New Orleans by Union troops, various civilian and military organizations established schools to educate freedmen in Louisiana. Gen. Nathaniel Banks's order of March 22, 1864 (Department of the Gulf General Order 38), established a board of education to govern the organization of freedmen's schools. B. Rush Plumly was appointed head of the board, and Lt. Edwin M. Wheelock became supervisor. Schools under the board's jurisdiction were supported mainly by a tax on citizens recently disloyal to the Union. On June 29, 1865, Assistant Commissioner Conway took charge of the schools, and on July 5, 1865, replaced Plumly and Wheelock with Capt. H. R. Pease as superintendent of education. Pease's successors included Bvt. Maj. A. G. Studer, Lt. F. R. Chase, J. M. Lee, L. O. Parker, H. H. Pierce, and E. W. Mason.

Pease divided the state into seven school districts, placing military and civilian personnel in charge. Under these officers were school directors responsible for each parish and "Canvassers" who collected the school tax for each district. At the time of his arrival, there were some 126 freedmen schools, with 230 teachers and approximately 19,000 students. However, with limited funds and intense opposition to the school tax, Circular Number 34, dated December 27, 1865, directed that all schools be "suspended until such time as it may be found practicable to re-establish them on a permanent and self–supporting basis."4

In February 1866, then–Assistant Commissioner Baird sought to make schools self–supporting through a tuition plan. Despite Baird's new plan and congressional appropriations of 1866 and 1867 for freedmen education in the South, the Freedmen's Bureau's educational programs in Louisiana continued to face financial difficulties. In June 1868, Congress authorized the Bureau to sell school buildings to private groups that were willing to maintain freedmen schools, and the Bureau entered into cooperative agreements with such groups as the American Missionary Society, the Methodist Freedmen's Aid Society, and the Free Mission Baptists. Under the agreements, the Bureau provided monies for construction of the school buildings, and the religious organizations maintained the schools. In 1870, the cooperation between the Bureau and religious groups led to significant progress in the establishment of numerous freedmen schools in Louisiana. Despite their efforts however, freedmen schools continued to suffer from the effects of limited resources, lack of competent teachers, and a segregated school system.5

Safeguarding rights and securing justice for freedmen was of paramount concern to the Freedmen's Bureau. Following the Civil War, several Southern states enacted a series of laws, commonly known as "Black Codes," that restricted the rights and legal status of freedmen. Freedmen were often given harsh sentences for petty crimes, and in some instances were unable to get their cases heard in state courts. Assistant Commissioners were directed to "adjudicate, either themselves or through officers of their appointment, all difficulties arising between Negroes themselves, or between Negroes and whites or Indians."6 Assistant Commissioner Conway issued Circular Number 15 (September 15, 1865), authorizing his subordinates to establish freedmen courts in cases where freedmen were not receiving just treatment. Conway's successors—Fullerton, Baird, and Sheridan—believed that civil officers in most parishes administered justice impartially in freedmen cases, and so abolished the special tribunals as unnecessary. Nevertheless, Bureau officers were still required to represent freedmen in court cases and refer the most extreme cases of injustice to United States courts. In the latter part of 1866, fearing that freedmen's rights were not being adequately protected, Assistant Commissioner Joseph Mower re–instituted some Bureau judicial functions that had been previously suspended by his predecessors. William H. Wood, who succeeded Mower, told Bureau agents during his tenure that only in cases where the evidence clearly showed the civil court's failure to administer justice, were they to become involved. Wood's replacement, Gen. Robert C. Buchanan, like Fullerton, Baird, and Sheridan, continued the policy of leaving matters of justice to civil authorities. By the time Gen. Edward Hatch assumed office as Assistant Commissioner in 1868, Louisiana had restored its constitutional relations with the Federal Government, and matters concerning justice were returned to the state.7

The Southern Homestead Act (14 Stat. 66), approved by Congress on June 21, 1866, made available for public settlement 46 million acres of public lands in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Six million acres of this Federal land was located in Louisiana. The act specifically prohibited discrimination against applicants due to race, and thus offered Louisiana freedmen and others an opportunity to become landowners. Only persons who headed households or were former United States soldiers were eligible to apply. A five–dollar application fee was required of all applicants, which allowed them to settle on an 80–acre tract and gain permanent possession after five years of cultivation. Generally, the Freedmen's Bureau, through "Locating Agents," assisted interested freedmen in finding plots, and provided them with one-month subsistence, free transportation to their prospective tracts of land, and seeds for initial planting. By January 1867, J. J. Saville, as locating agent, found homesteads for 87 freedmen, 73 whites, and 14 soldiers. However, because the New Orleans land office was closed, only 7 were able to file applications. While limited resources and the lack of suitable lands for settlement hindered freedmen in their effort to acquire land, freedmen also faced intense opposition from whites who opposed black land ownership. Freedmen were thus encouraged by Bureau officials in Louisiana to settle on land in large numbers in order to protect themselves from intense opposition by whites.8

An act of Congress on June 14, 1864, authorized the payment of bounties, not to exceed $100, to black soldiers who had entered the military after June 15, 1864, and who were free on April 19, 1861 (14 Stat. 126). Amendments in 1866 dropped the requirement of freedom at enlistment and offered additional bounties of $100 for those blacks who had signed on for three years, and $50 for individuals who enlisted for two years. To assist black soldiers and their heirs in filing bounty and other military claims against the Federal Government, a claims agency was initially established in the United States Sanitary Commission. On July 14, 1865, Commissioner Howard authorized Freedmen's Bureau officials to act as agents of the Commission and to assist it in filing for black military claims. However, freedmen often rejected the free services of the agency and paid fees to private claims agents, believing that they would receive their money quicker. In 1867, concerned about abuse and fraud in the settlement of black military claims, Congress passed a law making the Freedmen's Bureau the sole agent for payment of claims of black veterans (15 Stat. 26). From October 31, 1866, through September 30, 1867, the Bureau in Louisiana settled claims amounting to just $1,489.73. However, one year later, 240 veterans' claims amounting to $52,058 were settled, with 484 remaining to be resolved.9

ENDNOTES

1 Howard A. White, The Freedmen's Bureau in Louisiana (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1970), 64 – 76.

2 Ibid., 76 – 85; For a discussion of the establishment and activities at Rost Home Colony, see Michael F. Knight, "The Rost Home Colony: St. Charles Parish, Louisiana," Prologue 33, No. 1 (Fall 2001): 214 – 220; Records relating to the Freedmen's hospital at New Orleans have been reproduced on Records of the New Orleans Field Offices, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1483, Rolls 1 – 7); For Shreveport hospital records, see Roll 101 in this publication.

3 House Ex. Doc. 70, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. Serial Vol. 1256, pp. 30 – 33.

4 White, The Freedmen's Bureau in Louisiana, pp. 166 – 175; See also House Ex. Doc. 70, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., Serial Vol. 1256, pp. 35 – 36.

5 White, The Freedmen's Bureau in Louisiana, 176 – 200.

6 House Ex. Doc. 11, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., Serial Vol. 1255, pp. 45 – 46.

7 White, The Freedmen's Bureau in Louisiana, 134 – 165.

8 Ibid., 59 – 63.

9 Howard A. White, The Freedmen's Bureau in Louisiana, pp. 160 – 162; See also, Annual Reports of the Assistant Commissioners, Louisiana, October 5, 1868 [pp. 19 – 20], Records of the Office of the Commissioner, Record Group 105, National Archives Building, Washington, DC.
Freedmen's Bureau Personnel in Louisiana:
This list provides the names and dates of service of known Freedmen's Bureau personnel at the Plantation Department and selected subordinate field offices in Louisiana. Where noted, officers served at two locations. Additional information regarding persons assigned to various field offices might be found among the Bureau's Washington headquarters station books and rosters of military officers and civilians on duty in the states and other appointment–related records.

PLANTATION DEPARTMENT

July 1865–May 1866 -- Superintendent Capt. Frank Bagley

May–Sept. 1866 -- Superintendent C. R. Stickney

Oct. 1866–June 1867 -- Assistant Quartermaster W. B. Armstrong

ABBEVILLE

Apr. 1867–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner A. N. Murtagh

ALEXANDRIA

June 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent S. G. Williams

May–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner S. G. Williams

Nov. 1867–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George Buttrick

June–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner H. P. Hathaway

ALGIERS

May 1865–Apr. 1866 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen William E. Dougherty

May 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent Richard Folles

Apr. 1867–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Richard Folles

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Isaac Stathem

AMITE

Sept.–Dec. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent H. H. Rouse

Dec. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent Edward Ehrlich

Feb.–Apr. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent W. K. Tillotson

Apr.–Nov. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent James Hough

Nov. 1866–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner James Hough

May–Nov. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George F. Austin

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Joseph D. Buckley

BATON ROUGE

May–June 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 2nd Subdistrict George F. Schager

July 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 2nd Subdistrict William H. Webster

Jan.–June 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 2nd Subdistrict Frank D. Garretty

July–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 2nd Subdistrict Charles Hill

Feb.–Apr. 1866 -- Agent M. J. Sheridan

July 1866 -- Agent E. C. Phetteplace

Oct. 1866 -- Agent Abner Doane

Jan.–May 1867 -- Agent William H. Webster

July 1867-Jan.1869 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William H. Webster

Feb.–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George Inness

June–July 1968 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Charles Hill

July–Nov. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner S.H.B. Schoonmaker

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. Woods Coleman

BAYOU SARA

Dec. 1865 -- Agent C. W. Hawes

Jan. 1865–May 1866 -- Agent A. H. Nickerson

May–Sept. 1866 -- Agent G. M. Ebert

Sept.–Oct. 1866 -- Agent Richard M. Leake

Nov.–Dec. 1866 -- Agent Alexander M. Massie

Jan.–May 1867 -- Agent E. T. Lewis

May–June 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. T. Lewis

June–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner A. Finch

Oct. 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner A. Finch (also St. Francisville)

Mar.–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George C. Dunwell (also St. Francisville)

May–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Robert M. Davis

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner F. W. Gibson (also St. Francisville)

CARROLLTON

Apr.–May 1867 -- Agent Elijah Guion

May–Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. J. Saville

Sept. 1867–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George Bruning

May–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William Wright

CLINTON

Feb. 1866 -- Agent A. W. Hayes

May 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent James DeGrey

Apr. 1867–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner James DeGrey

May–July 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George C. Dunwell

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner H. E. Barton

COLUMBIA

Feb.–Dec. 1866 -- Agent William H. Webster

Dec. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent William M. Todd

Apr.–July 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William M. Todd

Aug. 1867–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. J. Sullivan

June–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Charles De Lowenstrom

DONALDSONVILLE

Feb. 1866 -- Agent A. Milliken

Mar.–June 1866 -- Agent St. Clair Mandeville

June–July 1866 -- Agent Henry Krause

Aug.–Oct. 1866 -- Agent Alexander M. Massie

Mar. 1866 -- Agent J. D. Rich (also St. James)

Apr.–Oct. 1866 -- Agent John H. Brough (also St. James)

Nov. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent John H. Brough (also Donaldsonville)

Apr. 1867–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner John H. Brough

Sept.–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Victor Benthien

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner James H. Dobie

FRANKLIN

June–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 3rd Subdistrict S. W. Purchase

Dec. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 3rd Subdistrict J. W. Keller

Jan.–Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 3rd Subdistrict W. F. Lynch

Feb.–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 3rd Subdistrict William H. Webster

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 3rd Subdistrict Victor Benthien

Dec. 1864–July 1865 -- Provost Marshal Sidney E. Shepard (also Brashear City)

July–Sept. 1865 -- Provost Marshal Sidney E. Shepard (also Franklin)

Sept. 1865 -- Provost Marshal E. P. Bishop

Sept.1865–Jan 1866 -- Provost Marshal Charles E. Merrill

Jan.–Apr. 1866 -- Agent Charles E. Merrill

May 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent J. W. Keller

Apr.–Dec. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. W. Keller

Jan.–Feb. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George C. Dunwell

Feb.–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner R. W. Mullen

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner W. F. Loan

HAMMOND STATION

May–July 1866 -- Agent James A. Hudson (also Springfield)

June–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Francis Garrett (also Hammond Station)

Nov. 1867–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner P. H. Murphy

HOMER

Dec. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William Stokes

HOUMA

Dec. 1865–Jan. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent George H. Harris

Jan.–May 1866 -- Agent Henry S. Wadsworth

June 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent George A. Ludlow

Apr.–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George A. Ludlow

Dec. 1867–July 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William Woods

July–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner M. W. Morris

JESUITS BEND

Jan.–Apr. 1863 -- Provost Marshal Silas Sawyer (also St. Bernard Parish)

Aug.–Oct. 1864 -- Provost Marshal William Bragg

Oct.–Nov. 1864 -- Provost Marshal Capt. George Breuning

May 1864–July 1865 -- Provost Marshal Lt. Charles Brooks

Sept.–Dec. 1865 -- Provost Marshal Charles W. Gardiner (also De Cros Station)

Feb.–June 1866 -- Agent Charles W. Gardiner

June 1866–Mar. 1867 -- Agent George F. Schayer (also Aliance Plantation)

Apr. 1867 -- Agent George F. Schayer

May–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Theodore Jaques

Dec. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Edward S. Wilson

Jan.–Aug. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. H. Hosner

LAKE PROVIDENCE

Jan. 1866–May 1867 -- Agent George W. Rollins

May–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George W. Rollins

Oct. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Thomas H. Hannon

Jan.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. H. Masters

MADISONVILLE

Oct. 1866 -- Agent A. J. Rose

Nov. 1866–May 1867 -- Agent W. H. R. Hangen

May 1867–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner W. H. R. Hangen

Sept.–Nov. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner W. H. R. Hangen (also Covington)

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Thomas H. Jenks, Jr. (also Covington)

MANSFIELD

Mar. 1867–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. J. Walsh

May–Aug. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Michael Cary

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Edward Henderson

MARKSVILLE

Mar–Aug. 1866 -- Agent Amos S. Collins (also Evergreen)

Aug. 1866–May 1867 -- Agent Amos S. Collins (also Marksville)

May 1867–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Amos S. Collins

May–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Cyrus H. Ross

MILLIKEN BEND

May 1864 -- Assistant Provost Marshal D. McCall

Nov.–Dec. 1864 -- Provost Marshal Benjamin F. Cheney

May–Sept. 1867 -- Assistant Subasistant Commissioner C. P. Varney

Sept.–Dec. 1867 -- Assistant Subasistant Commissioner T. F. Cummins

Jan.–Feb. 1868 -- Assistant Subasistant Commissioner A. J. Baby

Feb.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subasistant Commissioner John S. Shaw

MONROE

Mar. 1867–Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of 5th Subdistrict Samuel C. Gold

Mar. 1867–Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of 5th Subdistrict W. W. Webb

Aug.–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of 5th Subdistrict John H. Bowen

Sept.–Oct 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent Frank Morey

Feb.–Mar. 1866 -- Agent J. H. Wisner

Apr. 1866 -- Agent H. A. Pease

May 1866–Jan. 1867 -- Agent Joseph Burns

Feb.–June 1867 -- Agent Frank Morey

June–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Charles C. Swenson

Nov. 1867–Apr. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner W. R. Wheyland

Apr.–Aug. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Edward K. Russ

Aug.–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Edward K. Russ (also Trenton)

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner H. L. Irwin (also Trenton)

MONTGOMERY

June 1867–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner D. W. White

NAPOLEONVILLE

May–Nov. 1865 -- Provost Marshal J. W. Greene

Dec. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Agent Francis S. Dodge

Feb. 1866–May 1867 -- Agent A. C. Ellis

May–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner O. H. Hempstead, Jr.

Nov. 1867–May 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner John W. Sword

May–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Julius Lovell

NATCHITOCHES

June 1867–May 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 4th Subdistrict James Cromie

May–July 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 4th Subdistrict Isaac N. Walter

July 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 4th Subdistrict N. B. McLaughlin

July–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 4th Subdistrict G. A. Hewlett

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 4th Subdistrict Theodore W. De Klyne

Feb.–Apr. 1866 -- Agent W. H. Henderson

May 1866–May 1867 -- Agent James Comie

May 1867–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Charles Miller

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. H. Hosner

NEW IBERIA

Dec. 1865–Jan. 1866 -- Agent Edmund C. Burt (also St. Martinsville)

Jan. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent William H. Cornelius (also St. Martinsville)

Apr.–July 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William H. Cornelius (also St. Martinsville)

Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner I. W. Keller (and A. A. C. Leblanc, Clerk, St. Martinsville)

Sept.–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner L. Jolissaint

Nov. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner John T. White

NEW ORLEANS

May 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner for Orleans Parish Left Bank A. N. Murtagh

June–Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner for Orleans Parish Left Bank L. Jolissaint

Sept. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner for Orleans Parish Left Bank W. H. Cornelius

Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner for Orleans Parish Left Bank John T. White

Nov. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner for Orleans Parish Left Bank L. Jolissaint

Apr.–Dec. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Comissioner for St. Bernard and Plaquemine Parishes Ira D. M. McClary (also Kenilworth Plantation)

Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Comissioner for St. Bernard and Plaquemine Parishes Oscare A. Rice (also Chofield Plantation)

Jan.–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Comissioner for St. Bernard and Plaquemine Parishes P. J. Smalley (also Chofield Plantation and P. O. Lock Box 841)

June–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Comissioner for St. Bernard and Plaquemine Parishes H. M. Whittmore (also Merritts Plantation)

NEW ROADS

Mar. 1866 -- Agent Thomas H. Hopwood (see Labatuts Landing)

Apr.–July 1866 -- Agent Thomas H. Hopwood

July 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent H. F. Wallace

Apr.–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner H. F. Wallace

Nov. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner M. Basso (also Point Coupee)

Feb.–Apr. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner C. J. Lorigan (also Waterloo)

Apr.–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner C. J. Lorigan (also New Roads and Waterloo)

July–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Victor Benthien

PLAQUEMINE

Jan. 1865 -- Provost Marshal M. Masicot

Feb.–Oct. 1865 -- Provost Marshal Nelson Kenyon

Oct. 1865 -- Provost Marshal James M. Eddy

Dec. 1865 -- Agent A. R. Houston

Feb.–Apr. 1866 -- Agent J. C. Stimmell

May 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent F. A. Osbourn

Apr.–Dec. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner F. A. Osbourn

Jan.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. Charles Merrill

ST. JOSEPH

Aug.–Oct. 1865 -- Agent David L. Jones

Nov. 1865 -- Agent A. Roberts

Nov.–Dec. 1865 -- Agent A. Hemingway

Jan.–Feb. 1866 -- Agent R. D. Mitchell

Feb. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent J. H. Hastings

Apr.–May 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. H. Hastings

May 1867–Aug. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Edward Henderson

SHREVEPORT

May 1867–July 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 7th Subdistrict Martin Flood

Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 7th Subdistrict Frank D. Garretty

Oct.–Dec. 1865 -- Assistant Superintendent D. H. Reese

Dec. 1865–Apr. 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent L. Horrigan

May–June 1866 -- Agent E. E. Williams

June 1866 -- Assistant Superintendent William P. Hagardon

June 1866–May 1867 -- Assistant Superintendent Martin Flood

May 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Thomas F. Monroe

Sept. 1869–Sept. 1870 -- Superintendent of Education James McCleery

SPARTA

Dec. 1866–Feb. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner E. W. Dewees

Feb.–June 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George Schayer

June–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Edward Newell Bean

THIBODEAUX

Aug. 1866 -- Agent C. P. M. Taggart

Feb.–Mar. 1867 -- Agent S. A. Kohly

Mar.–Apr. 1867 -- Agent J. D. Rich

May–June 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. D. Rich

June–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. A. A. Robinson

Nov. 1867–Apr. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Francis Sternberg

Apr.–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Nelson Bronson

Sept.–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner I. H. Van Antwerp

Oct.–Nov. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William S. MacKenzie

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner William Hollenback

TRINITY

May 1867–July 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner M. Johnson Lemmon (also Prairie Landing)

Aug. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. H. H. Camp (also Mossy Farm Plantation)

Sept.–Nov. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. H. H. Camp (also Trinity)

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Van R. K. Hilliard

VERMILLIONVILLE

Jan. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent S. W. Purchase

May 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner S. W. Purchase

May 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Edward Lindemann

Jan.–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Oscar A. Rice

VERNON

May 1867–Sept. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner W. Bishop

VIDALIA

May–June 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 6th Subdistrict J. H. Hastings (also St. Joseph)

June–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 6th Subdistrict J. H. Hastings (also Vidalia)

Nov. 1867–July 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 6th Subdistrict George W. Rollins

July–Aug 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 6th Subdistrict Frank D. Garretty

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner of the 6th Subdistrict George W. Rollins

Aug.–Sept. 1865 -- Agent J. H. West

Feb. 1868–Apr. 1867 -- Agent B. B. Brown

Apr.–June 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner B. B. Brown

June–Oct. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner George H. Dunford

Sept. 1867–July 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Christian Rush

July–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Alexander Hamilton
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M1905
See more items in:
Records of the Field Offices for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1863–1872
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/io3715385ab-bad6-45b7-9cdc-0f1ce227fe93
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1905
Online Media:

Records of the Field Offices for the State of Mississippi, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872

Extent:
65 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1872
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 65 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1907. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Mississippi headquarters for the Assistant Commissioner and his staff officers and the subordinate field offices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872. The files contain some pre–Bureau record series, dated 1863–1864, that were created by military commanders and U. S. Treasury agents who dealt with refugees and freedmen during the Civil War. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records, containing materials that include letters sent and received, monthly reports, registers of complaints, and other records relating to freedmen's claims and bounty payments.
Records Description:
These records consist of volumes and unbound records. The volumes reproduced in this publication were originally arranged by the Freedmen's Bureau by type of record and thereunder by volume number. No numbers were assigned to series consisting of single volumes. Years later, all volumes were assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office (AGO) of the War Department after the records came into its custody. In this publication, AGO numbers are shown in parentheses to aid in identifying the volumes. The National Archives assigned the volume numbers that are not in parentheses. In some volumes, particularly in indexes and alphabetical headings of registers, there are blank numbered pages that have not been filmed.

The volumes consist of letters and endorsements sent and received, press copies of letters sent, registers of letters received, letters and orders received, registers of freedmen issued rations, special orders and circulars issued, registers of bounty claimants, and monthly reports forwarded to the Assistant Commissioner. The unbound documents consist of letters and orders received, unregistered letters and narrative reports received, special orders and circulars issued, and general orders and circulars received. The unbound records also contain monthly reports; amnesty oaths; applications of freedmen for rations; and records relating to claims, court trials, property restoration, and homesteads.

A few series were created in 1863–1864, prior to formation of the Bureau, by Union military commanders and U. S. Treasury agents, and included in the Bureau records. Some of the volumes contain more than one type of record, reflecting a common recording practice of clerks and staff officers in that period. In Series 2.2, for example, the Registers of Letters Received also contain a register of criminal cases maintained by the judge advocate of the district of Vicksburg. Researchers should read carefully the records descriptions and arrangements in the finding aid to make full use of these records.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1907.]

HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedmen's Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507). The life of the Bureau was extended twice by acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). The Bureau was responsible for the supervision and management of all matters relating to refugees and freedmen, and of lands abandoned or seized during the Civil War. In May 1865, President Andrew Johnson appointed Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard as Commissioner of the Bureau, and Howard served in that position until June 30, 1872, when activities of the Bureau were terminated in accordance with an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366). While a major part of the Bureau's early activities involved the supervision of abandoned and confiscated property, its mission was to provide relief and help freedmen become self–sufficient. Bureau officials issued rations and clothing, operated hospitals and refugee camps, and supervised labor contracts. In addition, the Bureau managed apprenticeship disputes and complaints, assisted benevolent societies in the establishment of schools, helped freedmen in legalizing marriages entered into during slavery, and provided transportation to refugees and freedmen who were attempting to reunite with their family or relocate to other parts of the country. The Bureau also helped black soldiers, sailors, and their heirs collect bounty claims, pensions, and back pay.

The act of March 3, 1865, authorized the appointment of Assistant Commissioners to aid the Commissioner in supervising the work of the Bureau in the former Confederate states, the border states, and the District of Columbia. While the work performed by Assistant Commissioners in each state was similar, the organizational structure of staff officers varied from state to state. At various times, the staff could consist of a superintendent of education, an assistant adjutant general, an assistant inspector general, a disbursing officer, a chief medical officer, a chief quartermaster, and a commissary of subsistence. Subordinate to these officers were the assistant superintendents, or subassistant commissioners as they later became known, who commanded the subdistricts.

The Assistant Commissioner corresponded extensively with both his superior in the Washington Bureau headquarters and his subordinate officers in the subdistricts. Based upon reports submitted to him by the subassistant commissioners and other subordinate staff officers, he prepared reports that he sent to the Commissioner concerning Bureau activities in areas under his jurisdiction. The Assistant Commissioner also received letters from freedmen, local white citizens, state officials, and other non–Bureau personnel. These letters varied in nature from complaints to applications for jobs in the Bureau. Because the assistant adjutant general handled much of the mail for the Assistant Commissioner's office, letters were often addressed to him instead of to the Assistant Commissioner.

In a circular issued by Commissioner Howard in July 1865, the Assistant Commissioners were instructed to designate one officer in each state to serve as "General Superintendents of Schools." These officials were to "take cognizance of all that is being done to educate refugees and freedmen, secure proper protection to schools and teachers, promote method and efficiency, correspond with the benevolent agencies which are supplying his field, and aid the Assistant Commissioner in making his required reports." In October 1865, a degree of centralized control was established over Bureau educational activities in the states when Rev. John W. Alvord was appointed Inspector of Finances and Schools. In January 1867, Alvord was divested of his financial responsibilities, and he was appointed General Superintendent of Education.

An act of Congress, approved July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), ordered that the Commissioner of the Bureau "shall, on the first day of January next, cause the said bureau to be withdrawn from the several States within which said bureau has acted and its operation shall be discontinued." Consequently, in early 1869, with the exception of the superintendents of education and the claims agents, the Assistant Commissioners and their subordinate officers were withdrawn from the states.

For the next year and a half the Bureau continued to pursue its education work and to process claims. In the summer of 1870, the superintendents of education were withdrawn from the states, and the headquarters staff was greatly reduced. From that time until the Bureau was abolished by an act of Congress approved June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366), effective June 30, 1872, the Bureau's functions related almost exclusively to the disposition of claims. The Bureau's records and remaining functions were then transferred to the Freedmen's Branch in the office of the Adjutant General. The records of this branch are among the Bureau's files.

THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU IN MISSISSIPPI

ORGANIZATION

The first Assistant Commissioner of Mississippi was Col. Samuel Thomas, who established his headquarters at Vicksburg in June 1865. Before his appointment to the Freedmen's Bureau, Colonel Thomas served in Mississippi within Chaplain John Eaton's Freedmen's Department of the Department of Tennessee. The functions and activities of the Freedmen's Department in Mississippi were similar to those of the later Bureau. Although the size and organization of the Mississippi office varied from time to time, the Assistant Commissioner's staff usually included an acting adjutant general, an assistant inspector general, and a surgeon in chief, a superintendent of education, a disbursing officer, and a chief commissary of subsistence.

At the start of operations in Mississippi, officers subordinate to the Assistant Commissioner were organized in a hierarchical manner. The state of Mississippi and the parishes of Madison, Carroll, Concordia, and Tenas in northeastern Louisiana were divided into the Western, Southern, and Northern Districts, with an acting assistant commissioner in charge of each district. Subassistant commissioners in charge of subdistricts, which usually encompassed several counties, reported directly to the acting assistant commissioners, who, in turn, reported to the Assistant Commissioner. In January 1866, the Louisiana parishes were placed within the jurisdiction of the Assistant Commissioner for Louisiana. In March 1866, the three districts were discontinued; thereafter, the subassistant commissioners or the civilian agents in charge of subdistricts reported directly to the Assistant Commissioner.

Colonel Thomas was succeeded by three other officers who acted as both Assistant Commissioners and military commanders in Mississippi. In April 1866, Gen. Thomas J. Wood was appointed Assistant Commissioner for Mississippi; he was succeeded in January 1867 by Gen. Alvan C. Gillem. In March 1869, Gen. Adelbert Ames was appointed Assistant Commissioner; he established his headquarters at Jackson and supervised the closing of the office of the Assistant Commissioner. Gen. Ames's appointment was revoked on April 30, 1869. The major subordinate field offices for the Bureau at Mississippi included those with headquarters at Jackson, Lauderdale, Natchez, and Vicksburg. For a list of known Mississippi subordinate field office personnel and their dates of service, see the Appendix.

ACTIVITIES

The major activities of the Freedmen's Bureau in Mississippi generally resembled those conducted in other states. The Bureau issued rations to both freedmen and white refugees, supervised labor contracts between planters and freedmen, administered justice, worked with benevolent societies in the establishment of schools, provided assistance in legalizing freedmen marriages, and assisted, to a limited extent, in locating land for freedmen.

The Freedmen's Bureau sought to prevent widespread starvation and destitution in Mississippi by issuing more than 180,000 rations to both whites and blacks in 1865, and 170,000 rations to blacks and white refugees in 1866. Also in 1866, Commissioner Howard ordered an end to rations except for freedmen in Bureau hospitals and orphanages. By December 1868, the Bureau's relief efforts in Mississippi ceased.1

The regulation of written labor agreements between planters and freedmen was a major concern of the Freedmen's Bureau in Mississippi. In General Orders Number 5 (July 29, 1865), Assistant Commissioner Thomas outlined the rules governing the free labor system in the state. He specified that all contracts between freedmen and planters must be in writing and approved by the Bureau. Contracts were not to exceed one year, and any contracts involving wages must allow for food, clothing, and medical attention. The Bureau settled disputes. Between 1865 and 1866, numerous freedmen complained of inadequate compensation for their labor. Freedmen who worked for "Shares" (for a portion of the crop) found themselves in debt to planters at the end of the season, and thus forced to contract for the next year to pay their obligations. Blacks who worked for wages were frequently cheated of their pay and in some instances, like those who worked for shares, were "Driven Off" once the crops were harvested. Assistant Commissioner T. J. Wood, who replaced Thomas in 1867, instituted a plan by which freedmen contracted with planters for a portion of the crop. Freedmen were to receive one–third of the crop, and planters were to supply land, stock, tools and food. Clothing, medicines, and the cost of rations provided to children too young to work would be taken from the freedmen's share of the crop at the end of the year. By 1868, a modified version of the "Share System" became the most prevalent kind of labor agreement in Mississippi. Freedmen who worked land provided by the planters paid a stipulated rent or a certain amount of cotton or corn for the use of the land. By and large, this labor arrangement allowed freedmen to rely less on credit from planters and more on their own resources for supplies.2

Safeguarding rights and securing justice for freedmen was also of great concern to the Bureau. Following the Civil War, several Southern states, including Mississippi, enacted a series of laws commonly known as "Black Codes," which restricted the rights and legal status of freedmen. Under Mississippi law, for example, blacks could not rent or lease land outside cities and towns, thus restricting their ability to become independent farmers. Freedmen who were not lawfully employed by the second Monday of each January were considered vagrants, and as such, were subject to fines and imprisonment. Freedmen were prohibited from owning firearms without a license, and black children who were deemed orphans could be bound out as apprentices without their parents' permission. Assistant Commissioner Thomas issued General Orders Number 8 (September 20, 1865), which offered Mississippi judicial officials the opportunity to try freedmen cases in local courts (without interference from the Bureau) if they would afford blacks the same "Rights and Privileges" as whites. In October 1865, after Mississippi officials agreed to accept his offer, Thomas ordered that all cases relating to freedmen were to be handled by Mississippi judges and magistrates. However, it was not until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 that the Freedmen's Bureau in Mississippi was able to achieve some degree of equal justice for freedmen.3

From July 1865 to July 1866, the educational activity of the Bureau in Mississippi was under the direction of Dr. Joseph Warren. Following his resignation, the duties of the superintendent of education were performed by Assistant Commissioners for eight months, until H. R. Pease assumed the duties of the office on May 18, 1867. Pease found that some 63 teachers were employed in the major towns and villages by various educational and benevolent associations, and that another 31 teachers, who received aid from the Bureau, were employed by freedmen. Many of the schools, however, lacked adequate buildings, and in schools in areas where the black population was small, freedmen were unable to support teachers' salaries. Teachers and trustees had difficulty collecting tuition from pupils, and, with no teaching standards, some teachers were unfit to teach. The Bureau cooperated with educational and benevolent societies, and encouraged freedmen to contribute to the support of their schools by paying a monthly tuition. By December 1868, the number of pupils attending freedmen schools increased from over 2,000 in October 1867 to more than 6,000, and the number of freedmen schools increased from 47 to 115. Teachers commissioned by educational societies increased from 13 to 23; and teachers supported by freedmen and the Bureau went from 34 to 101. Assistant Commissioner Gillem reported that during the year ending October 1868, more whites were beginning to take an active role in assisting blacks in building schools and supporting teachers.4

The Bureau in Mississippi was very active in documenting and solemnizing marriages of freedmen. Continuing a practice started by military officials and civilians during the Civil War, Assistant Commissioner Samuel Thomas issued Circular Number 1 (July 3, 1865) authorizing his officers to keep a record of marriages of persons of color and gave instruction on how to maintain marriage registers. Returns of marriage certificates forwarded to the Office of the Commissioner by Assistant Commissioner Thomas include such information as the color of persons marrying, complexion of parents, and the number of years the couple had been living together as man and wife. The certificates also include data about the number of years the couple lived with another person, how they were separated, and the number of children by a previous connection. Marriage records in the records of the Mississippi Office of the Assistant Commissioner provide similar information. The registers for Davis Bend, Vicksburg, and Natchez, Mississippi, document the registration of more than 4,600 freedmen from Mississippi and northern Louisiana. Over half of the soldiers registering marriages for Natchez were members of the 6th Mississippi Heavy Artillery of the U. S. Colored Troops. Nearly all of the soldiers registering marriages for Davis Bend served with the 64th Colored Infantry. The Mississippi subdistrict field office also registered freedmen marriages or issued licenses and certificates in the subdistricts of Brookhaven, Columbus, Davis Bend, Goodman, Grenada, Jackson, and Pass Christian.5

The Southern Homestead Act (14 Stat. 66), approved by Congress on June 21, 1866, made available for public settlement 46 million acres of public lands in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Nearly 5 million acres of this Federal land was located in Mississippi. Because the act specifically prohibited discrimination against applicants due to race, it offered an opportunity for Mississippi freedmen and others to become landowners. Generally, the Freedmen's Bureau assisted interested freedmen through "Locating Agents" in finding plots, and provided them with one–month subsistence, free transportation to their prospective tracts of land, and seeds for the initial planting. In Mississippi, as in other public land states in the South, most freedmen were under labor agreements at the time of the act and were unable to take advantage of land opportunities. Because Mississippi had no land office, Bureau officials were unable to secure maps and other records relating to the quality and location of public lands in the state. By 1868, feeling that much of the public land for Mississippi was of poor quality and "Unfit for Agricultural Purposes," Bvt. Brig. Gen. Alvan C. Gillem, who replaced Thomas Wood in early 1867 as Mississippi Assistant Commissioner, made no effort to survey public lands. A land office was eventually opened in August 1868. By then, however, the Freedmen's Bureau, for all practical purposes, had been discontinued.6

ENDNOTES

1 William C. Harris, Presidential Reconstruction in Mississippi (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1967), p. 84; Annual Reports of the Assistant Commissioners, Mississippi, October 10, 1867, p. 20, and December 12, 1868, pp. 11 – 12, Records of the Office of the Commissioner, Record Group 105, NARA.

2 House Ex. Doc. 70, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., Serial Vol. 1256, pp. 167 – 168; Annual Reports, Mississippi, October 10, 1867, pp. 4 – 11, and December 12, 1868, pp. 3 – 4.

3 Donald G. Nieman, "The Freedmen's Bureau and the Mississippi Black Code," The Journal of Mississippi History XL, No. 2 (May 1978): pp. 92 – 99; House Ex. Doc. 70, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 101 – 102.

4 Annual Reports, Mississippi, October 10, 1867, pp. 27 – 34; see also, the report for December 12, 1868, [pp. 12 – 17].

5 For a discussion of Mississippi marriage registers, see Herbert G. Gutman, The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1790–1925 (New York: Vintage Books, 1976), pp. 18 – 24. The Mississippi marriage registers are reproduced in National Archives Microfilm Publication M826, Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Mississippi, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869, Roll 42. Compiled service records for the 6th Mississippi Heavy Artillery, USCT, have been reproduced on microfilm publication M1818, Compiled Military Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served with the United States Colored Troops: Artillery Organizations, Rolls 109 – 133. For returns of marriage certificates forwarded to the Office of the Commissioner, see microfilm publication M1875, Marriage Records of the Office of the Commissioner, Washington Headquarters of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1861–1869, Rolls 2 and 3.

6 Warren Hoffinagle, "The Southern Homestead Act: Its Origins and Operation," The Historian; A Journal of History, XXXII, No. 4 (1970): 618 – 620.
Freedmen's Bureau Personnel in Mississippi:
This list provides the names and dates of service of known Freedmen's Bureau personnel at selected subordinate field offices in Mississippi. Additional information regarding persons assigned to various field offices might be found among the Bureau's Washington headquarters station books and rosters of military officers and civilians on duty in the states and other appointment–related records.

ABERDEEN

Sept.–Nov. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Stuart Eldridge

Dec. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner William K. White (Agent at Okolona)

BROOKHAVEN

Mar.–Apr. 1866 -- Subcommissioner Z. B. Chatfield

Apr.–June 1866 -- Subcommissioner Robert P. Gardner

June 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Subcommissioner W. Eldridge

Apr.–July 1867 -- Subcommissioner W. Eldridge

July–Nov. 1867 -- Subcommissioner E. C. Gilbrath

Dec. 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Agent A. K. Long

Mar.–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner E. E. Platt

Oct.–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner George Haller

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner John D. Moore

COLUMBUS

Mar. 1866–Mar. 1867 -- Subcommissioner George S. Smith

Mar.–May 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner George S. Smith

May–June 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. G. Sprague

June–Aug. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner George S. Smith

Aug.–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner William K. White

Dec. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Bartholomew

Jan.–Mar. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner James Kelly

Mar.–Sept. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Bartholomew

Sept.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner James Kelly

CORINTH

Mar.–Aug. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner John D. Moore

Aug.–Sept. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner George S. Smith

Oct. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Loyd Wheaton

EAST PASCAGOULA

Feb.–Mar. 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner R. D. Mitchell

July 1866–Nov. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner George W. Corliss

Mar.–Apr. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Allen P. Huggins (Agent at McKutt)

Apr.–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Allen P. Huggins (Agent at Greenwood)

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner E. E. Platt (Subassistant Commissioner at Greenwood)

FRIARS POINT

May–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Eldridge

Nov. 1868–Jan. 1869 -- Subassistant Commissioner D. M. White

GOODMAN

July–Aug. 1867 -- Agent H. W. Barry

Sept.–Nov. 1867 -- Agent Charles A. Shields

GREENVILLE

Mar.–Apr. 1867 -- Subcommissioner William L. Ryan

Sept.–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner William L. Tidball

Dec.–1867–May 1868 and May–July 1868 -- Agent Thad K. Preuss

July–Aug. 1868 -- Agent Andrew Thomas

Sept.–Dec. 1868 -- Agent Samuel Goozee

GRENADA

Mar.–Apr. 1866 -- Subcommissioner S. Marvin

Apr.–Oct. 1866 -- Subcommissioner Silas May

Oct. 1866–July 1867 -- Assistant Subcommissioner James N. Shipley

Aug.–Sept. 1867 -- Assistant Subcommissioner D. M. White

Oct. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner William Shields

Feb.–Mar. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles Walden

Mar.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner William Wedemeyker

HOLLY SPRINGS

Sept.–Dec. 1867 -- Subcommissioner John Power

Dec. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Agent H. H. Service

Jan.–Oct. 1868 -- Subcommissioner John Power

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Clerk H. A. Cooper

JACKSON — Acting Assistant Commissioner of the Northern District of Mississippi

July 1865–Mar. 1866 -- Acting Assistant Commissioner of the Northern District of Mississippi R. S. Donaldson

JACKSON

Jan.–Mar. 1866 -- Subcommissioner Thomas Smith

Mar.–Nov. 1866 -- Subcommissioner H. Gardner

Dec. 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Subcommissioner H. R. Williams

Feb.–Aug. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Robert P. Gardner

Aug.–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Samuel S. Sumner

Dec. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Allen P. Heuggins

Feb.–Dec. 1868 -- Agent Joseph B. Holt

LAKE STATION

Sept.–Oct. 1867 -- Agent Charles Walden

Nov. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner George W. Corliss

Feb.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner George W. Corliss (also at Forest)

LAUDERDALE

Apr.–July 1866 -- Subassistant Commissioner Henry E. Rainals

July 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner D. M. White

Mar. 1866–Aug. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Joseph W. Sunderland

Aug. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner John D. Moore

Feb.–Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner John D. Moore (at Meridian)

Sept.–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner John D. Moore (at DeKalb)

Feb.–Apr. 1868 -- Agent John D. Moore

Apr.–Dec. 1868 -- Agent O. C. French

LEXINGTON

Aug.–Sept. 1867 -- Agent H. W. Barry

Dec. 1867 -- Agent C. A. Shields

LOUISVILLE

Sept. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Agent John Williams

Feb.–July 1868 -- Agent John Williams (at Durant)

July–Sept. 1868 -- Agent H. H. Service (at Durant)

MACON

Oct.–Dec. 1865 -- Subcommissioner Louis H. Gest

July–Sept. 1867 -- Agent William H. Ross

Oct. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Agent George S. Smith

MAGNOLIA

Aug.–Nov. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner York A. Woodward

Dec. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner (also at Woodville)

MERIDIAN

Aug. 1865 -- Subcommissioner C. W. Clark

Sept.–Nov. 1865 -- Subcommissioner E. L. Buckwalter

Jan.–July 1866 -- Subcommissioner John J. Knox

June–Aug. 1866 -- Subcommissioner James W. Sunderland

July–Dec. 1866 -- Subcommissioner Henry E. Rainals

Jan.–Feb. 1867 -- Subcommissioner James W. Sunderland

July–Sept. 1867 -- Subcommissioner Thomas H. Norton

Sept. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Agent Andrew Thomas

Feb.–July 1868 -- Agent (also Agent at Hickory)

NATCHEZ, Southern District of Mississippi

Mar.–July 1865 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen George D. Reynolds

July 1865–Mar. 1866 -- Acting Assistant Commissioner George D. Reynolds

NATCHEZ

Mar. 1866 -- Subcommissioner A. Kemper

July 1866–June 1867 -- Subcommissioner E. E. Platt

July 1867–Apr. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner James Biddle

Apr.–Aug. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner George Haller

Sept. 1868–Jan. 1869 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles A. Wikoff

OKOLONA

Aug.–Sept. 1865 -- Subcommissioner J. M. Buel

Jan.–Mar. 1866 -- Subcommissioner W. F. DuBois

Nov.–Dec. 1867 -- Subcommissioner W. H. Eldridge (See Tupelo)

Dec. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Subcommissioner William K. White (See Aberdeen)

OXFORD

May–June 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Edward B. Rossiter

June–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Thad. K. Preuss

PASS CHRISTIAN

Feb. 1866 -- Subcommissioner A. L. Hemingway

Apr.–June 1866 -- Subcommissioner John D. Moore

June 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Subcommissioner Robert P. Gardner

Feb.–Mar. 1867 -- Subcommissioner John D. Moore

Mar.–July 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner George W. Corliss

July–Sept. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles Hyatt

Nov. 1867 -- Agent M. Lathrup (Agent)

PHILADELPHIA

Sept. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Robert P. Gardner

PORT GIBSON

May–July 1865 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen at Rodney D. F. Hart

July–Aug. 1865 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen at Claiborne County D. F. Hart

Sept.–Nov. 1865 -- Subcommissioner H. O. Stavis

Nov. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Subcommissioner James M. Babcock

Feb. 1866 -- Subcommissioner J. T. Hanna

June–Sept. 1867 -- Agent A. S. Alden

Dec. 1867–May 1868 -- Agent W. H. Eldridge (at Port Gibson) (See Tupelo)

Dec. 1868 -- Agent A. K. Long

SARDIS

Dec. 1867 -- Agent D. S. Harriman (also at Panola)

Dec. 1867–July 1868 -- Agent M. Lathrop (at Panola)

Aug. 1868 -- Agent M. Lathrop (at Sardis)

Sept. 1868 -- Clerk H. A. Cooper

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Clerk James H. Pierce

SKIPWITHS LANDING

Aug.–Oct. 1865 -- Subcommissioner S. G. Swain

Nov. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Subcommissioner O. B. Foster

STARKVILLE

Sept. 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Agent Charles A. Sullivan

Mar.–July 1868 -- Agent C. L. Currier Coss

TUPELO

July–Nov. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Eldridge

Nov.–Dec. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Eldridge (at Okolona)

Dec. 1867–May 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Eldridge (at Port Gibson)

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Agent H. A. Kelly

VICKSBURG, Western District of Mississippi

June 1865 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen George D. Reynolds

June 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Assistant Commissioner J. H. Weber

VICKSBURG

Feb.–Mar. 1866 -- Subcommissioner S. G. Swain

May 1866 -- Subcommissioner J. K. Byers Fielding

July–Oct. 1866 -- Subcommissioner Neale George

Jan.–Mar. 1867 -- Subcommissioner W. Corliss

Apr.–July 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. H. Chapman

July 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner E. E. Platt

Mar.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. H. Chapman

VICKSBURG

Sept.–Oct. 1864 -- Special Agent of the Treasury Department T. C. Callicot

Oct. 1864–July 1865 -- Special Agent of the Treasury Department C. A. Montross

WINCHESTER

Aug.–Dec. 1865 -- Subcommissioner William R. Gallian

May–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner J. Whitney

WOODVILLE

Jan.–Feb. 1866 -- Agent William R. Gallian

Aug.–Nov. 1867 -- Assistant Subcommissioner George Haller

Dec. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Assistant Subcommissioner (See Magnolia)

YAZOO CITY

June–July 1865 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen Ozro B. Foster

July–Oct. 1865 -- Subcommissioner Ozro B. Foster

Oct.–Nov. 1865 -- Subcommissioner Charles W. Clarke

Dec. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Subcommissioner Leonard P. Woodworth

Mar.–May 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner D. M. White

May–Oct. 1867 -- Agent Alan P. Huggins

Oct. 1867–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner D. M. White

Oct.–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner W. H. Eldridge
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M1907
See more items in:
Records of the Field Offices for the State of Mississippi, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/io314229527-610c-4dfd-8503-db634c116720
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1907
Online Media:

Records of the Field Offices for the State of Tennessee, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872

Extent:
89 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1872
Summary:
This collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 89 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1911. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Tennessee field offices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872. Included are the records of the offices of staff officers and subordinate field offices. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records, including letters and endorsements sent and received, orders and circulars, monthly reports, and other records relating to freedmen's complaints and claims.
Records Description:
These records consist of volumes and unbound records. The volumes reproduced in this publication were originally arranged by the Freedmen's Bureau by type of record and thereunder by volume number. No numbers were assigned to series consisting of single volumes. Years later, all volumes were assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office (AGO) of the War Department after the records came into its custody. In this publication, AGO numbers are shown in parentheses to aid in identifying the volumes. The National Archives assigned the volume numbers that are not in parentheses. In some volumes, particularly in indexes and alphabetical headings of registers, there are blank numbered pages that have not been filmed.

The volumes consist of letters and endorsements sent and received, registers of letters received, unregistered letters received, general and special orders and circulars received, registers of claimants for bounties and pay arrearages, and registers of indentures of apprenticeship. The unbound documents consist of letters and orders received, unregistered letters received and narrative reports received, special orders and circulars issued, general and special orders and circulars received, and other series.

A few series were created in 1862–1864, prior to formation of the Bureau, by Union military commanders and U. S. Treasury agents, and included in the Bureau's records. Some of the volumes contain more than one type of record, reflecting a common recording practice of clerks and staff officers in that period. In Series 2.3, for example, the volume of special orders issued also contains a register of medical officers. Researchers should read carefully the descriptions of records and arrangements in the table of contents to make full use of these records.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1911.]

HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedmen's Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507). The life of the Bureau was extended twice by acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). The Bureau was responsible for the supervision and management of all matters relating to refugees and freedmen, and of lands abandoned or seized during the Civil War. In May 1865, President Andrew Johnson appointed Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard as Commissioner of the Bureau, and Howard served in that position until June 30, 1872, when activities of the Bureau were terminated in accordance with an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366). While a major part of the Bureau's early activities involved the supervision of abandoned and confiscated property, its mission was to provide relief and help freedmen become self–sufficient. Bureau officials issued rations and clothing, operated hospitals and refugee camps, and supervised labor contracts. In addition, the Bureau managed apprenticeship disputes and complaints, assisted benevolent societies in the establishment of schools, helped freedmen in legalizing marriages entered into during slavery, and provided transportation to refugees and freedmen who were attempting to reunite with their families or relocate to other parts of the country. The Bureau also helped black soldiers, sailors, and their heirs collect bounty claims, pensions, and back pay.

The act of March 3, 1865, authorized the appointment of Assistant Commissioners to aid the Commissioner in supervising the work of the Bureau in the former Confederate states, the border states, and the District of Columbia. While the work performed by Assistant Commissioners in each state was similar, the organizational structure of staff offices varied from state to state. At various times, the staff could consist of a superintendent of education, an assistant adjutant general, an assistant inspector general, a disbursing officer, a chief medical officer, a chief quartermaster, and a commissary of subsistence. Subordinate to these officers were the assistant superintendents or subassistant commissioners as they later became known, who commanded the subdistricts.

The Assistant Commissioner corresponded extensively with both his superior in the Washington Bureau headquarters and his subordinate officers in the subdistricts. Based upon reports submitted to him by the subassistant commissioners and other subordinate staff officers, he prepared reports that he sent to the Commissioner concerning Bureau activities in areas under his jurisdiction. The Assistant Commissioner also received letters from freedmen, local white citizens, state officials, and other non–Bureau personnel. These letters varied in nature from complaints to applications for jobs in the Bureau. Because the assistant adjutant general handled much of the mail for the Assistant Commissioner's office, it was often addressed to him instead of to the Assistant Commissioner. In a circular issued by Commissioner Howard in July 1865, the Assistant Commissioners were instructed to designate one officer in each state to serve as "General Superintendents of Schools." These officials were to "take cognizance of all that is being done to educate refugees and freedmen, secure proper protection to schools and teachers, promote method and efficiency, correspond with the benevolent agencies which are supplying his field, and aid the Assistant Commissioner in making his required reports." In October 1865, a degree of centralized control was established over Bureau educational activities in the states when Rev. John W. Alvord was appointed Inspector of Finances and Schools. In January 1867, Alvord was divested of his financial responsibilities, and he was appointed General Superintendent of Education.

An act of Congress approved July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), ordered that the Commissioner of the Bureau "shall, on the first day of January next, cause the said bureau to be withdrawn from the several States within which said bureau has acted and its operation shall be discontinued." Consequently, in early 1869, with the exception of the superintendents of education and the claims agents, the Assistant Commissioners and their subordinate officers were withdrawn from the states.

For the next year and a half the Bureau continued to pursue its education work and to process claims. In the summer of 1870, the superintendents of education were withdrawn from the states, and the headquarters staff was greatly reduced. From that time until the Bureau was abolished by an act of Congress approved June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366), effective June 30, 1872, the Bureau's functions related almost exclusively to the disposition of claims. The Bureau's records and remaining functions were then transferred to the Freedmen's Branch in the office of the Adjutant General. The records of this branch are among the Bureau's files.

THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU IN TENNESSEE

ORGANIZATION

In Tennessee, the Bureau's operations began on July 1, 1865, when Brig. Gen. Clinton B. Fisk took command as Assistant Commissioner. General Fisk originally divided Tennessee into three subdistricts with headquarters at Nashville, Memphis, and Chattanooga. Later, two additional subdistricts were added with headquarters at Pulaski and Knoxville. The subdistricts were further subdivided into agencies with boundaries that usually coincided with county lines. Among the more significant of these additional local offices were those headquartered at Columbia, Gallatin, Jackson, Kingston, Lebanon, Murfreesboro, Purdy, Springfield, and Trenton. In addition, from July 1865 to June 1866, the Assistant Commissioner of Tennessee also had jurisdiction over Kentucky and the northern part of Alabama.

Brig. Gen. John R. Lewis succeeded Fisk in September 1866, and served to December 1866; Maj. Gen. William P. Carlin served from January 1867 to October 1868; and Lt. Col. James Thompson served from October 1868 to May 1869 (the last several months as superintendent of education). At that time, in accordance with the act of July 25, 1868, Bureau operations were terminated except for educational functions and the collection of claims.

ACTIVITIES

The major activities of the Freedmen's Bureau in Tennessee generally resembled those conducted in other states. The Bureau issued rations and provided medical relief to both freedmen and white refugees, supervised labor contracts between planters and freedmen, administered justice, and worked with benevolent societies in the establishment of schools.

From July 1865 through October 1866, the Freedmen's Bureau issued nearly 150,000 rations to both freedmen and white refugees in Tennessee and Kentucky. In addition, several charitable organizations contributed significant amounts of corn, clothing, and fuel to aid the destitute. A special $10,000 relief fund was authorized by Congress for the Bureau's use in the event of major destitution in the state. To treat the sick and poor, Tennessee Bureau officials opened dispensaries and/or hospitals in Chattanooga, Murfreesboro, Nashville, and Memphis, Tennessee; and in Kentucky, hospitals at Columbus and Camp Nelson, and a dispensary at Louisville. Beginning in late summer 1867 through early fall 1868, the Bureau's ration–relief program was, by and large, limited to a small hospital at Nashville and an orphan asylum at Memphis.1

The regulation of written labor agreements between planters and freedmen was a major concern of the Freedmen's Bureau in Tennessee. Like in most states under its control, labor contracts between the two parties had to be approved by Bureau officials and usually lasted for one year. Freedmen who worked for wages generally received $150 – $180 per year, including clothing and housing. About half of the freedmen who signed labor agreements in 1866 in Tennessee worked for a share of the crop. During the year ending in the fall of 1866, Tennessee Bureau officers registered some 20,000 contracts that included approximately 50,000 adults and children. While there were no general rules involving the enforcement of labor agreements, the Bureau's Tennessee office made use of provost courts, military commissions, freedmen courts, and local courts to resolve disputes between freedmen and planters. By 1868, labor conditions in Tennessee worsened. An increase in outrages against freedmen and continued attacks from the recently organized Ku Klux Klan threatened to undermine the free labor system and destabilize Tennessee communities. By 1869, with assistance from the Bureau, some degree of calm was returned to the state and most freedmen were working under contracts earning as much as $150 per year.2

Safeguarding rights and securing justice for freedmen was also a priority of the Freedmen's Bureau in Tennessee. Following the Civil War, many laws in the state restricted the rights and legal status of freedpeople. Freedmen were often given harsh sentences for petty crimes and excluded from giving testimony in state courts. Under federal law, the Freedmen's Bureau was authorized to adjudicate all cases where freedmen were being denied the same rights as whites. When Gen. Clinton B. Fisk assumed office as Assistant Commissioner for Tennessee, he immediately established freedmen courts (Bureau courts) to insure justice for blacks. In January 1866, in an effort to remove the need for Bureau courts, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a measure allowing freedmen testimony. However, suspicious of the state's motives and its sincerity to administer equal justice to blacks in local courts, Fisk continued to operate Bureau courts until May 1866. When Bureau courts were discontinued, freedmen had to rely on state officials to protect their rights. In an 1868 report to Commissioner Howard on the operations and conditions in Tennessee, then–Assistant Commissioner W. L Carlin reported that "justice [by civil authorities regarding freedmen] has been impartially administered in the matters arising out of [labor] contracts . . . [but] the enforcement of the laws in criminal cases has been very imperfect."3

The Bureau's educational activity in Tennessee was under the direction of Assistant Commissioner Fisk until the appointment of Lt. Col. Alexander M. York as superintendent of education on July 28, 1865. York was succeeded on August 23 by John Ogden, who served until May 1866. Ogden's successor, Rev. David Burt, served until April 1868, at which time Bvt. Lt. Col. James Thompson assumed the office in addition to his Assistant Commissioner duties. In May 1869, Bvt. Lt. Col. Charles E. Compton assumed the educational duties until July 1870, when all of the Bureau's educational activities in the state ceased.

Within months of his arrival at Nashville as Assistant Commissioner, General Fisk had charge of about 75 schools and more than 260 teachers who were instructing nearly 15,000 students in Tennessee and Kentucky. The Bureau in Tennessee provided rent, construction, and repair of school buildings, and employment and transportation for teachers. The daily operation of the schools was shared by the Freedmen's Bureau, benevolent societies, and, over time, by freedmen themselves. To improve the quality of education for black students and increase the number of qualified teachers, the Bureau sought to establish teacher training schools. On January 9, 1866, with funds provided by the American Missionary Association of New York City and the Western Freedmen's Aid Commission of Cincinnati, Ohio, Fisk University was established as the first teacher training school for blacks in Tennessee. Working closely with the Freedmen's Bureau, the university had an enrollment of more than 800 students by year's end.

Despite the Bureau's goal to provide freedmen with a sound education, teachers and pupils came under repeated attacks from hostile whites, and many schools were either damaged or destroyed. In 1866, the Bureau spent much of its resources repairing and constructing new schoolhouses in Nashville, Tullahoma, Springfield, Memphis, Chattanooga, Clarksville, Smyrna, Shelbyville, and other locations. With a February 1867 act of the Tennessee legislature, black schools that had been formerly maintained by the Freedmen's Bureau, freedmen, and benevolent societies, were all placed under the newly created Tennessee school system by 1868. By the end of 1869, some 100,000 freedmen students were attending "Separate and Segregated" schools maintained and funded by the state.4

ENDNOTES

1 Senate Ex. Doc. No. 6, 39th Cong., 2nd Sess., Serial Vol. 1276, 133 – 136; The Bureau's relief efforts in Tennessee are also explained in Annual Reports of the Assistant Commissioners, Tennessee, September 30, 1867 [pp. 5 – 6], and October 10, 1868 [p. 4], Records of the Commissioner, Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, RG 105, National Archives Building, Washington, DC.

2 Weymouth T. Jordan, "The Freedmen's Bureau in Tennessee," The East Tennessee Historical Society's Publications, 11 (1939): 54 – 55; See also Senate Ex. Doc. No. 6, 39th Cong., 2nd Sess., Serial Vol. 1276, 130.

3 Jordan, "The Freedmen's Bureau in Tennessee," 50 – 51; Annual Reports of the Assistant Commissioners, Tennessee, September 30, 1868 [p. 7]. See also Monthly and Narrative Reports of Operations and Conditions, Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Tennessee, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M999, Rolls 16 – 18).

4 Jordan, "The Freedmen's Bureau in Tennessee, 55 – 58; See also Frank M. Hodgson, "Northern Missionary Aid Societies, The Freedmen's Bureau and Their Effect on Education in Montgomery County, Tennessee, 1862–1870," The West Tennessee Historical Society [Memphis] Papers, XLIII (December 1889): 45.
Freedmen's Bureau Personnel in Tennessee:
This list provides the names and dates of service of known Freedmen's Bureau personnel at selected subordinate field offices for Tennessee. Additional information regarding persons assigned to various field offices might be found among the Bureau's Washington headquarters station books and rosters of military officers and civilians on duty in the states and in other Tennessee appointment–related records.

OFFICES OF STAFF OFFICERS

Feb.–May 1866 -- Superintendent of Education John Ogden

Sept. 1866–Apr. 1868 -- Superintendent of Education D. Burt

May 1868–May 1869 -- Superintendent of Education James Thompson

May 1869–July 1870 -- Superintendent of Education C. E. Compton

BOLIVAR

Sept.–Oct. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner T. H. Reeves

BROWNSVILLE

Mar.–Apr. 1867 -- Agent I. L. Poston

Apr.–Sept. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner I. L. Poston

CHARLOTTE

Nov. 1865–Apr. 1866 -- Superintendent A. P. Nicks

CHATTANOOGA

Aug. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Superintendent N. B. Lucas

Mar.–Oct. 1866 -- Superintendent F. E. Trotter

Oct. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Superintendent M. H. Church

Apr.–Oct. 1867 -- Superintendent Samuel Walker (also at Knoxville)

Apr. 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner James M. Johnson

Mar.–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner James M. Johnson

Nov. 1868–Feb. 1869 -- Disbursing Officer for Claims James M. Johnson

Feb.–May 1869 -- Disbursing Officer for Claims James Ware (also at Cleveland)

CLEVELAND

Jan. 1866–Aug. 1867 -- Superintendent James Ware

COLUMBIA

Nov. 1868 -- Agent H. A. Eastman

Nov. 1868–Apr. 1869 -- Agent T. H. Reeves

May 1869–Mar. 1871 -- Disbursing Officer of Claims John L. Wilson

FRANKLIN

Mar.–July 1866 -- Superintendent George E. Judd

GALLATIN

Mar.–June 1867 -- Superintendent James M. Hopkins

July 1867–Nov. 1868 -- Superintendent Henry C. McQuiddly

Dec. 1868–Nov. 1869 -- Agent and Disbursing Officer of Claims Isaac Porter

JACKSON

Jan. 1867 -- Superintendent G. E. Green

Mar.–Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Alvin Allen

JOHNSONVILLE

Aug. 1867 -- Agent John Enoch

Nov. 1867–Apr. 1869 -- Agent John L. Wilson

JONESBORO

Feb.–May 1867 -- Superintendent Herman Bokum

June–Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Linus T. Squire

KINGSTON

Oct. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Charles R. Simpson

Feb. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Charles R. Simpson (also at Shelbyville)

KNOXVILLE

Aug. 1865–July 1866 -- Special Agent John Henry

July–Sept. 1866 -- Superintendent J. W. Groisbick

Apr.–Oct. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner Samuel Walker

Oct. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Samuel Walker

Dec. 1868–Feb. 1871 -- Disbursing Officer of Claims Samuel Walker

Feb.–June 1871 -- Agent Samuel Walker

LEBANON

Oct. 1865–May 1866 -- Agent S. B. F. C. Barr

Aug. 1866–Apr. 1867 -- Agent W. H. Goodwin

Apr.–May 1867 -- Agent J. M. Tracy

June 1867–Feb. 1868 -- Agent K. J. Sample

MEMPHIS, The Subdistrict of Memphis

July–Sept. 1865 -- Superintendent Davis Tillson

Dec. 1865–Jan. 1866 -- Superintendent A. T. Reeve

Feb.–July 1866 -- Chief Superintendent Benjamin P. Runkle

July 1866–Mar. 1867 -- Chief Superintendent John S. Palmer

Mar. 1867–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner John S. Palmer

Nov. 1868–Dec. 1870 -- Disbursing Officer for Claims John S. Palmer

Dec. 1870–Apr. 1872 -- Disbursing Officer for Claims Mark Edwards

PROVOST MARSHAL OF FREEDMEN

Sept.–Oct. 1865 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen A. T. Reeve

Oct.–Nov. 1865 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen T. H. Ward

Jan.–Mar. 1866 -- Provost Marshal of Freedmen S. S. Garrett

MURFREESBORO

Aug.–Oct. 1866 -- Agent James M. Tracy

Sept. 1866–June 1868 -- Agent J. K. Nelson

July–Oct. 1868 -- Agent John Dean

Nov.–Dec. 1868 -- General Claim Agent George E. Judd

Feb.–June 1869 -- Disbursing Officer of Claims George E. Judd

NASHVILLE, The Subdistrict of Nashville

July–Sept. 1866 -- Chief Superintendent J. R. Lewis

Oct. 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Chief Superintendent M. Walsh

Mar. 1867 -- Subassistant Commissioner M. Walsh

Mar. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles R. Simpson

Apr.–July 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner George E. Judd

July–Nov. 1868 -- Acting Subassistant Commissioner Joseph W. Gilray

Dec. 1868–Jan. 1869 -- Inspector Joseph W. Gilray

NASHVILLE

June 1866–May 1867 -- Superintendent John Lawrence

June 1867–Apr. 1872 -- Superintendent J. B. Coons

PARIS

May–Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Jesse A. Brown

Aug.–Sept. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner L. T. Squire

PULASKI

Aug. 1866–Apr. 1868 -- Superintendent George E. Judd

Apr.–Nov. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner Charles R. Simpson

PURDY

Jan. 1867–Jan. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Fielding Hurst

Sept.–Oct. 1868 -- Subassistant Commissioner T. H. Reeves (also at Bolivar)

SPRINGFIELD

Aug. 1865–Dec. 1866 -- Superintendent D. D. Holman

Feb.–Mar. 1867 -- Superintendent James H. Stickney

Mar.–Aug. 1867 -- Agent Henry W. Barr

TRENTON

Dec. 1866–Aug. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. A. Blakemore

Aug.–Sept. 1867 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner J. M. Tracy

Sept. 1867–Apr. 1868 -- Assistant Subassistant Commissioner Isaac Porter (also at Dyersburg)

May–Oct. 1868 -- Agent Isaac Porter (also at Humboldt)

WAYNE COUNTY

Mar.–July 1866 -- Superintendent John L. Fowler

WINCHESTER

Oct. 1865–Feb. 1866 -- Agent Frederick A. Loughmiller
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M1911
See more items in:
Records of the Field Offices for the State of Tennessee, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/io339465026-73cb-4a1b-a49e-8b7e8b78fa9a
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1911
Online Media:

Records of the Field Offices for the State of Missouri, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872

Extent:
24 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1872
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 24 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1908. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Office of the Disbursing Officer for Missouri, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872. The records of the disbursing officer are the only field records for Missouri, but they reflect his overall responsibility for freedmen affairs in the state. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records, containing materials that include letters sent and received, registers of marriages, and other records relating to freedmen's claims and bounty payments.
Records Description:
These records consist of volumes and unbound records. The volumes reproduced in this publication were originally arranged by the Freedmen's Bureau by type of record and thereunder by volume number. No numbers were assigned to series consisting of single volumes. Years later, all volumes were assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office (AGO) of the War Department after the records came into its custody. In this publication, AGO numbers are shown in parentheses to aid in identifying the volumes. The National Archives assigned the volume numbers that are not in parentheses. In some volumes, particularly in indexes and alphabetical headings of registers, there are blank numbered pages that have not been filmed.

The volumes consist of letters and endorsements sent and received, press copies of letters sent, registers of letters received, registers of bounty claimants, and a marriage register. The unbound documents consist of registered letters, registered letters received by endorsement, and unregistered letters received.
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M1908
See more items in:
Records of the Field Offices for the State of Missouri, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/io3813b0826-3151-47b1-9017-7cca5f2b344a
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1908
Online Media:

Records of the Field Offices for the State of Arkansas, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872

Extent:
23 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1872
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 23 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1901. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Arkansas staff offices and subordinate field offices of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872. These records consist of bound volumes and unbound records, containing materials that include letters and endorsements sent and received, monthly reports, applications of freedmen for rations, and other records relating to freedmen's claims and homesteads.
Records Description:
These records consist of volumes and unbound records. The volumes reproduced in this microfilm publication were originally arranged by type of record and thereunder by volume number. No numbers were assigned to series consisting of single volumes. Years later, all volumes were arbitrarily assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office (AGO) of the War Department after the records came into its custody. In this microfilm publication, AGO numbers are shown in parentheses to aid in identifying the volumes. The National Archives assigned the volume numbers that are not in parentheses. In some volumes, particularly in indexes and alphabetical headings of registers, there are blank numbered pages that have not been filmed.

The volumes consist of letters and endorsements sent and received, press copies of letters sent, registers of letters received, letters and orders received, registers of freedmen issued rations, special orders and circulars issued, registers of bounty claimants, and monthly reports forwarded to the Assistant Commissioner. The unbound documents consist of letters and orders received, unregistered letters and narrative reports received, special orders and circulars issued, and general orders and circulars received. The unbound records also contain monthly reports; amnesty oaths; applications of freedmen for rations; and records relating to claims, court trials, property restoration, and homesteads.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1901.]

HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedmen's Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of Congress on March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507). The life of the Bureau was extended twice by acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). The Bureau was responsible for the supervision and management of all matters relating to refugees and freedmen, and of lands abandoned or seized during the Civil War. In May 1865, President Andrew Johnson appointed Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard as Commissioner of the Bureau, and Howard served in that position until June 30, 1872, when activities of the Bureau were terminated in accordance with an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366). While a major part of the Bureau's early activities involved the supervision of abandoned and confiscated property, its mission was to provide relief and help freedmen become self-sufficient. Bureau officials issued rations and clothing, operated hospitals and refugee camps, and supervised labor contracts. In addition, the Bureau managed apprenticeship disputes and complaints, assisted benevolent societies in the establishment of schools, helped freedmen in legalizing marriages entered into during slavery, and provided transportation to refugees and freedmen who were attempting to reunite with their family or relocate to other parts of the country. The Bureau also helped black soldiers, sailors, and their heirs collect bounty claims, pensions, and back pay.

The act of March 3, 1865, authorized the appointment of Assistant Commissioners to aid the Commissioner in supervising the work of the Bureau in the former Confederate states, the border states, and the District of Columbia. The Bureau's operations began in Arkansas in May 1865, when Brig. Gen. John W. Sprague took command as Assistant Commissioner. By order of Commissioner Howard in Circular No. 5, dated May 30, 1865, he established headquarters at St. Louis, MO, the next month. Bvt. Maj. Gen. Edward O. C. Ord relieved Sprague in October 1866 and was succeeded by Bvt. Maj. Gen. Charles H. Smith in March 1867.

When Sprague arrived in St. Louis, his jurisdiction encompassed areas outside Arkansas, including Missouri, Indian Territory, parts of Kansas (around Fort Leavenworth and Fort Scott), and Illinois (around Quincy and Cairo). By September 1865, Commissioner Howard felt that the laws of Missouri afforded enough protection to freedmen for the Bureau's activities to cease there. On October 16, 1865, Sprague received orders from Commissioner Howard to transfer headquarters from St. Louis to Little Rock, Arkansas, and operations of the Bureau were by-in-large withdrawn from Missouri. However, in April 1867 Frederick. A. Seely was assigned as a disbursing officer for Missouri with headquarters at St. Louis, a position he held until February 1872. Although much of Seely's work related to the processing and payment of claims, he was also in charge of freedmen's affairs in Missouri. The headquarters remained in Little Rock until the Bureau's activities were terminated. While the work performed by Assistant Commissioners in each state was similar, the organizational structure of staff officers varied from state to state. At various times, the staff could consist of a superintendent of education, an assistant adjutant general, an assistant inspector general, a disbursing officer, a chief medical officer, a chief quartermaster, and a commissary of subsistence. Subordinate to these officers were the assistant superintendents, or subassistant commissioners as they later became known, who commanded the subdistricts. The major subordinate field offices for the Bureau at Arkansas, for example, included those with headquarters at Arkadelphia, Augusta, Batesville, Camden, Lewisburg, Devall's Bluff, Fort Smith, Hamburg, Hampton, Helena, Jacksonport, Lake Village and Luna Landing, Lewisville, Little Rock, Madison, Magnolia, Marion, Monticello, Napoleon, Osceola, Ozark, Paraclifta, Pine Bluff, Princeton, South Bend, Union, and Washington. Under the direct supervision of the subassistant commissioners were the civilian and military agents. Occasionally, the Bureau retained military officers in a civilian capacity after the termination of their military service. For a list of known Arkansas subordinate field office personnel and their dates of service, see the Appendix.

The Assistant Commissioner corresponded extensively with both his superior in the Washington Bureau headquarters and his subordinate officers in the subdistricts. Based upon reports submitted to him by the subassistant commissioners and other subordinate staff officers, he prepared reports that he sent to the Commissioner concerning Bureau activities in areas under his jurisdiction. The Assistant Commissioner also received letters from freedmen, local white citizens, state officials, and other non–Bureau personnel. These letters varied in nature from complaints to applications for jobs in the Bureau. Because the assistant adjutant general handled much of the mail for the Assistant Commissioner's office, it was often addressed to him instead of to the Assistant Commissioner.

In a circular issued by Commissioner Howard in July 1865, the Assistant Commissioners were instructed to designate one officer in each state to serve as "General Superintendents of Schools." These officials were to "take cognizance of all that is being done to educate refugees and freedmen, secure proper protection to schools and teachers, promote method and efficiency, correspond with the benevolent agencies which are supplying his field, and aid the Assistant Commissioner in making his required reports." In October 1865, a degree of centralized control was established over Bureau educational activities in the states when Rev. John W. Alvord was appointed Inspector of Finances and Schools. In January 1867, Alvord was divested of his financial responsibilities, and he was appointed General Superintendent of Education.

An act of Congress, approved July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), ordered that the Commissioner of the Bureau "shall, on the first day of January next, cause the said bureau to be withdrawn from the several States within which said bureau has acted and its operation shall be discontinued." Consequently, in early 1869, with the exception of the superintendents of education and the claims agents, the Assistant Commissioners and their subordinate officers were withdrawn from the states.

For the next year and a half the Bureau continued to pursue its education work and to process claims. In the summer of 1870, the superintendents of education were withdrawn from the states, and the headquarters staff was greatly reduced. From that time until the Bureau was abolished by an act of Congress approved June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366), effective June 30, 1872, the Bureau's functions related almost exclusively to the disposition of claims. The Bureau's records and remaining functions were then transferred to the Freedmen's Branch in the office of the Adjutant General. The records of this branch are among the Bureau's files.

Constrained by limited resources, Southern opposition, and the politics of Reconstruction, the Bureau faced an enormous challenge in its efforts to assist the freedmen and refugees. Its relief efforts, without question, saved thousands of southerners from starvation. Its attempts to assist freedmen to become self-sufficient, to provide public education, administer justice, and, to a lesser degree, to provide land, all worked with varying degrees of success to lessen the difficulties during the transition from slavery to freedom. One of the Bureau's greatest legacies is the body of records it created and received during the course of its operations. These records are arguably some of the most important documents available for the study of the Federal Government's policies, efforts to reconstruct the South, and Southern social history and genealogy.

THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU IN ARKANSAS

The major activities of the Freedmen's Bureau in Arkansas and Missouri generally resembled those conducted in other states. The Bureau issued rations to both freedmen and white refugees, supervised labor contracts between planters and freedmen, administered justice, worked with benevolent societies in the establishment of schools, and assisted freedmen in locating land.

To prevent widespread starvation and destitution in Arkansas and Missouri, the Freedmen's Bureau issued some 1,705,055 rations to both blacks and whites from June 1865 to September 1866. In May 1865, prior to the Bureau's relief efforts in the Arkansas district, the Federal Government had issued 75,097 rations to refugees and 46,845 to destitute freedmen. After late October 1865, the Bureau's ration–relief efforts were discontinued in Missouri. Because civil authorities in the Arkansas district failed to provide medical assistance to the "Destitute and Starving," the Bureau, with assistance from Northern societies, established asylums, hospitals, and various kinds of relief camps. By the fall of 1866, with two commissioned medical officers, contract physicians, and male and female attendants, the Bureau had treated more than 100 refugees and over 1,500 freedmen. In late October 1866, Assistant Commissioner John W. Sprague reported that Arkansas hospitals alone had given medical aid to 3,260 people, nearly 200 of them freedmen. By the end of June 1868, Bureau hospitals in Arkansas had treated four times as many patients as in previous years, and greatly curtailed the attacks of smallpox and cholera.1

The regulation of written labor contracts between planters and freedmen was a major concern of the Bureau in Arkansas. In Circular Number 16, issued October 26, 1865, Commissioner Sprague outlined the rules governing the free labor system in Arkansas. Sprague ordered that all contracts in the Arkansas district were to be in writing with the approval of a Bureau official. Labor agreements were not to exceed 1 year, and no fixed rates were to be established. A 10–cent fee paid by the planter was required for each laborer. Generally, men could earn $16 per month, women $10, and children $6. First–class laborers could earn $20 per month, and received room and board, medical attention, and other essentials. In some cases, freedmen worked for a share of the crop. Whatever the agreement, subordinate Bureau officers were required to keep a record of labor contacts that they approved and witnessed, and freedmen were free to seek employment where they wished. Bureau officials often encouraged freedmen to give special consideration to employers who offered schools for their children.2

In response to Commissioner Howard's orders of July 12, 1865, concerning the education of refugees and freedmen, Assistant Commissioner Sprague appointed William M. Colby as general superintendent of refugee and freedmen schools. Colby was instructed "to cooperate with the state authorities and if possible work out a general system of education for those classes." Colby faced a great deal of opposition from southern whites who felt that freedmen taught by "evil emissaries from the North" encouraged social equality, an idea that they vehemently opposed. In spite of this bitter opposition, however, Bureau officials in Arkansas furnished buildings for schools, and sent agents throughout the district to advise freedmen about education. From November 1865 to September 1866, working with such groups as the Indiana Friends and the Western Department of the American Freedmen's Aid Commission, the Bureau paid more than 30 percent of the cost for instructing freedmen in the alphabet, arithmetic, geography, and writing. By the summer of 1868, there were more than 30 teachers and over 1,000 pupils attending some 27 day and night schools. Some 118 teachers were instructing over 1,800 students in 24 Sabbath schools.3

In January 1869, Bvt. Maj. Gen. Charles H. Smith, then Assistant Commissioner for Arkansas, reorganized the education branch into three districts, with an assistant superintendent for each, for the purpose of cooperating with State officials in the transfer of the Bureau schools to the State's system. William M. Colby, David C. Casey, and James T. Watson were appointed to these new positions. General Smith held the position of chief superintendent of education. The Assistant Commissioner's office was abolished in April 1869, and Commissioner Howard reappointed Colby as the superintendent of education on May 1, 1869. Colby held that position until July 1870. By that time the Bureau had turned over most of the schools to the State Board of Education.

When Commissioner Sprague established his headquarters in St. Louis, several benevolent societies had already begun work on the establishment of schools for freedmen in Missouri. In 1864, the American Missionary Society established a freedmen school at Warrensburg, and the Western Freedmen Aid Society (WFAC) assisted military officials in the education of freedmen at Benton Barracks. By the time disbursing officer Frederick A. Seely opened his office in Missouri in 1867, there were more than 1,000 students attending some 30 schools in St. Louis alone. Seely, however, did provide support and assistance to local groups in the construction of additional schools in St. Louis, Warrensburg, Kansas City, Westport, and Carondolet.4

Safeguarding rights and securing justice for freedmen was of paramount concern to the Freedmen's Bureau. Following the Civil War, several Southern states enacted a series of laws commonly known as "Black Codes," which restricted the rights and legal status of freedmen. Freedmen were often given harsh sentences for petty crimes and in some instances were unable to get their cases heard in state courts. In a circular issued by Commissioner Howard on May 30, 1865, Assistant Commissioners were directed to "adjudicate, either themselves or through officers of their appointment, all difficulties arising between Negroes themselves, or between Negroes and whites or Indians." In the Arkansas district, freedmen were tried in both provost courts and freedmen courts. Freedmen courts were used when Bureau officials determined that freedmen were being treated unjustly. A freedmen court consisted of a Bureau official and two citizens of a given county. The three–member court had jurisdiction over all matters involving labor disputes and other cases relating to freedmen and refugees that did not exceed $300, 30 days in prison, or a fine of $100. In October 1865, Sprague appointed civilian superintendents to administer justice, especially in instances where freedmen were denied the right to testify in courts. Superintendents were told to follow state court procedures and laws as long as the laws made "no distinctions on account of color." By summer 1866, despite continued allegations of mistreatment of freedmen, all cases except those relating to labor contracts were being handled by state courts or military authorities. In 1867, when reconstruction acts placed Arkansas under the fourth military district, both state and Bureau courts were put under military supervision.5

The Freedmen's Bureau in the Arkansas district sought, with limited success, to secure land for refugees and freedmen. It intended to establish freedmen on lands under its control that had been abandoned or confiscated. However, its efforts were nullified by President Andrew Johnson's Amnesty Proclamation of May 29, 1865, which provided pardons and the restoration of lands to Confederates who took an oath of allegiance to the Federal Government. To minimize the impact of Johnson's Proclamation, the Bureau required that refugees and freedmen occupying land under cultivation be allowed to remain on the land until crops were harvested or just compensation was rendered. It also required that existing lease agreements be honored until they expired and that refugees and freedmen would not be moved from the land until arrangements could be made for them elsewhere. There was no complete effort to restore lands to their original owners in Arkansas until the Freedmen's Bureau was withdrawn from the State.6

The Southern Homestead Act (14 Stat. 66), approved by Congress on June 21, 1866, made available for public settlement 46 million acres of public lands in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Nine million acres of this Federal land was located in Arkansas. Because the Act specifically prohibited discrimination against applicants due to race, it offered an opportunity for Arkansas freedmen and others to become landowners. Generally, the Freedmen's Bureau, through "Locating Agents," assisted interested freedmen in finding plots, and provided them with 1–month subsistence, free transportation to their prospective tracts of land, and seeds for the initial planting. Despite his concerns that a large percentage of the Arkansas land was worthless and that many freedmen who were under labor agreements for the year would not be able to take full advantage of the Southern Homestead Act, Assistant Commissioner Sprague hired Dr. W. W. Granger as locating agent for Arkansas freedmen. By early summer 1867, Granger had located 1.5 million acres of land available for entry (application) and recommended more than 400,000 acres for settlement. By fall 1867, Granger reported that of the 243 tracts he had surveyed, freedmen had entered 116 of the 143 that were suitable for settlement. A total of 26,395 entries were made in Arkansas under the Southern Homestead Act during the 10 years of the Act's existence. Less than 11,000, however, were carried to completion. Of the approximately 250 freedmen who eventually made land entries, only 25 percent completed them. Whites made most of the entries in Arkansas, and many of the freedmen who sought land there came from Georgia.7

ENDNOTES

1 Thomas S. Staples, Reconstruction in Arkansas, 1862–1874 (New York: 1923), pp. 205 – 207.

2 House Ex. Doc. 70, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., Serial Vol. 1256, pp. 77 and 255.

3 Thomas S. Staples, Reconstruction in Arkansas, pp. 207 – 210.

4 Richard O. Curry, ed. Radicalism, Racism, and Party Realignment: The Border States during Reconstruction (Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1969), pp. 258 – 259.

5 House Ex. Doc. No. 11, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., Serial Vol. 1255, p. 45; Staples, Reconstruction in Arkansas, 1862–1874, pp. 211 – 215.

6 House Ex. Doc. 70, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 70 – 71.

7 Paul A. Cimbala and Randall M. Miller, eds., The Freedmen's Bureau and Reconstruction: Reconsiderations (New York: Fordham University Press, 1999), pp. 73–77; see also Claude F. Oubre, Forty Acres and a Mule: The Freedmen's Bureau and Black Land Ownership (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1978), p. 109.
Freedmen's Bureau Personnel in Arkansas:
This list provides the names and dates of service of known Freedmen's Bureau personnel at selected subordinate field offices in Arkansas. Additional information regarding persons assigned to various field offices might be found among the Bureau's Washington headquarters station books and rosters of military officers and civilians on duty in the states and other appointment–related records.

ARKADELPHIA (Clark County)

July–Dec. 1865 -- Superintendent and Agent William A. Stuart

Dec. 1865–Oct. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent William A. Britton

Oct. 1866–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Anthony E. Babricht

AUGUSTA (Woodruff County)

Nov. 1865–Nov. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent John Thorp

Nov. 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Lt. Sebastian Geisreiter

BATESVILLE (Independence County)

Dec. 1865–ca. June 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Reuben Harplam

July 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Capt. William Brian

Apr. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Capt. Walter O. Lattimore

Apr.–Nov. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Capt. Albert H. Andrews

Nov.–Dec. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Lt. John Harold

Dec. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Capt. William J. Lyster

CAMDEN (Ouchita County)

July 1865–June 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Lewis H. Carhart

June–Oct. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Nathan Cole

Oct. 1866–July 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Joseph L. Thorp

DEVALL'S BLUFF (Prairie County)

June 1865 -- Superintendent and Agent Willis Davis

July 1865–July 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent William McCullough

July–Dec. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Hiram Willis

Dec. 1866–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent William McCullough

FORT SMITH (Sebastian County)

Oct. 1865–Mar. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Francis Springer

Mar.–May 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Thomas Abel

May–Aug. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Sebastian Geisreiter

Aug. 1866–May 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Charles Banzhaf

May–Aug. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Elihu G. Barker

Aug.–Oct. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Charles Banzhaf

Nov. 1867–Aug. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Pinkney Lugenbeel

HAMBURG (Ashley County)

Mar.–July 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Lt. Fred A. Tencate

July 1866–Oct. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Lt. Isaiah S. Taylor

Nov. 1867–July 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent George Towle

July–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Sebastian Geisreiter

HAMPTON (Calhoun County)

Oct. 1865–Aug. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent John Scroggins

HELENA (Phillips County)

1864–65 -- Superintendent and Agent H. Sweeney (Superintendent of Freedmen)

1867 -- Superintendent and Agent H. Sweeney (Superintendent)

1869–71 -- Superintendent and Agent James T. Watson (Claims Agent)

JACKSONPORT (Upper White River District)

Jan.–Mar. 1866 -- General Superintendent J. M. Bowler

Mar. 1866–Mar. 1867 -- General Superintendent J. T. Watson

JACKSONPORT (Jackson County)

May–Aug. 1865 -- Superintendent and Agent Jonas Lindale (also Provost Marshal for the Department of Arkansas)

Aug.–Oct. 1865 -- Superintendent and Agent William Tisdale (also Provost Marshal for the Department of Arkansas)

Oct.–Dec. 1865 -- Superintendent and Agent J. M. Bowler

Dec. 1865–Mar. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Robert Anderson

Mar. 1866–Feb. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent A. S. Dyer

Feb. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent William Brian

LAKE VILLAGE AND LUNA LANDING (Chicot County)

July–Oct. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Thomas Abel

Nov. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent S. Geisreiter

Dec. 1866–June 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent S. Hersey

July–Dec. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent G. Benson

Dec. 1867–Nov. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent A. G. Cunningham

LEWISBURG (Conway County)

Feb.–Mar. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent John Vetter

June 1866–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent William Morgan

LEWISVILLE (Lafayette County)

Oct. 1866–June 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent Nathan Cole

July 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent V. V. Smith

LITTLE ROCK (Pulaski County)

Feb.–Sept. 1865 -- Superintendent and Agent J. Raines (Superintendent of Freedmen until July 1865)

Nov. 1865–July 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent W. Tisdale

July 1866–Sept. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent F. Gross

Aug. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent James T. Watson

Sept. 1867–Aug. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent A. S. Dyer

LITTLE ROCK

Jan.–Mar. 1864 -- Superintendent of Freedmen W. G. Sargent (Superintendent at Helena)

Apr. 1864–Nov. 1865 -- Superintendent of Freedmen W. G. Sargent

MADISON (St. Francis County)

Apr.–Sept. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent A. S. Dyer

Oct. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Williams

MARION (Crittenden County)

Sept. 1866–Oct. 1867 -- Agent James R. Walker

Oct. 1867–Aug. 1868 -- Agent E. G. Barker

Sept.–Dec. 1868 -- Agent Main

MONTICELLO

July 1865–ca. Jan. 1866 -- General Superintendent for the South Eastern District of Arkansas E. G. Barker (Agent)

Jan. 1866–Jan. 1867 -- General Superintendent for the South Eastern District of Arkansas E. G. Barker (General Superintendent)

MONTICELLO (Drew County)

Jan.–Oct. 1866 -- Agent G. Duvall

OSCEOLA (Mississippi County)

Apr. 1866–Oct. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Eli Mix

PARACLIFTA (Sevier County)

Dec. 1865–Dec. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent A. W. Ballard

Dec. 1866–Oct. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Hiram Willis

PINE BLUFF (Arkansas River District)

July 1866–Jan. 1867 -- General Superintendent William J. Dawes

Jan.–Feb. 1867 -- General Superintendent William D. Hale

Feb. 1867 -- General Superintendent William J. Dawes

PINE BLUFF (Jefferson County)

Dec. 1864–Nov. 1865 -- Superintendent and Agent S. W. Mallory (Superintendent of Freedmen until July 1865)

Dec. 1865–Jan. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent D. H. Williams

Jan.–Mar. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent A. Coats

Mar.–Sept. 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent E. Wallace

Sept. 1866–Mar. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent S. Geisreiter

Mar.–May 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent W. J. Dawes (Agent)

May1867–July 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent S. Geisreiter (Agent)

Aug.–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent R. W. Barnard

PRINCETON (Dallas County)

1866 -- Superintendent and Agent Stubblefield

1866–68 -- Superintendent and Agent George W. Mallett

SOUTH BEND (Arkansas County)

May 1866–June 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent William D. Hale

June–Sept. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent S. Hersey

Sept. 1867–Mar. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent A. Coats

Mar.–July 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent DeWolf

UNION (Fulton County)

Oct. 1866–Sept. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent Simpson Mason

Sept.–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent John Martin

WASHINGTON (South West District of Arkansas)

Nov. 1865–Oct. 1866 -- General Superintendent E. W. Gantt

Oct. 1866–Mar. 1867 -- General Superintendent F. Thibant

WASHINGTON (Hemstead)

July–Dec. 1865 -- Superintendent and Agent John R. Montgomery

Dec. 1865–July 1866 -- Superintendent and Agent James Williams

July 1866–Dec. 1867 -- Superintendent and Agent F. Thibant

Dec. 1867–Dec. 1868 -- Superintendent and Agent C. C. Gilbert
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M1901
See more items in:
Records of the Field Offices for the State of Arkansas, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/io356a15ba6-8282-46e2-a7c5-15f30617731c
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1901
Online Media:

Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869

Extent:
36 Reels
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Reels
Date:
1865–1869
Summary:
The collection is comprised of digital surrogates previously available on the 36 rolls of microfilm described in the NARA publication M1027. These digital surrogates reproduced the records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–69. The records consist of 43 bound volumes and 10.8 meters of unbound documents. The bound volumes include letters and endorsements sent, orders and circulars issued and received, registers of letters received, and other records. The unbound documents consist primarily of letters and reports sent and received.
Historical Note:
[The following is reproduced from the original NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1027.]

HISTORY AND ORGANIZATION

The Freedmen's Bureau, as the Bureau was commonly known, was established in the War Department by an act of March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 507), and extended twice by acts of July 16, 1866 (14 Stat. 173), and July 6, 1868 (15 Stat. 83). Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard, appointed Commissioner by the President in May 1865, served in that position until June 30, 1872, when activities of the Bureau were terminated in accordance with an act of June 10, 1872 (17 Stat. 366). Although the Bureau was a part of the War Department, its work was primarily social and economic in nature. Bureau officials cooperated with benevolent societies in issuing supplies to the destitute and in maintaining freedmen's schools; supervised labor contracts between black employees and white employers; helped black soldiers and sailors collect bounty claims, pensions, and backpay; and attended to the disposition of confiscated or abandoned lands and property.

The act of March 3, 1865, also authorized the appointment of assistant commissioners to aid the Commissioner in supervising the work of the Bureau in the States. In Louisiana, operations began in Tune 1865 when Assistant Commissioner Thomas W. Conway established his headquarters in New Orleans. The names and terms of the other Assistant Commissioners or Acting Assistant Commissioners in Louisiana are as follows: Gen. James S. Fullerton, October 4 – 18, 1865; Gen. Absalom Baird, October 19, 1865–September 7, 1866; Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, October 5–November 27, 1866; Gen. Joseph A. Mower, November 28, 1866–December 4, 1867; Lt. Col. William H. Wood, December 5, 1867–January 2, 1868; Gen. R. C. Buchanan, January 3-August 24, 1868; and Gen. Edward Hatch, August 25, 1868-January 1, 1869. In accordance with an act of July 25, 1868 (15 Stat. 193), Bureau operations within the States were terminated on January 1, 1869, except for educational functions and the collection of claims.

The organization of the Bureau's staff in Louisiana was similar to that of the Bureau's headquarters in Washington, D. C. The Assistant Commissioner's staff consisted at various times of a Superintendent of Education, an Assistant Adjutant General, an Acting Assistant Adjutant General, an Inspector General, an Assistant Inspector General, a Surgeon-in-Chief, a Provost Marshal General of Freedmen, and a Chief Quartermaster. Subordinate to these officers were the subassistant commissioners who commanded the subdistricts. Under supervision of the subassistant commissioners were civilian and military superintendents, assistant subassistant commissioners, and agents.

Originally, Louisiana was divided, for administrative purposes, into several districts with an agent or superintendent in charge of each. On April 19, 1867, the State was reorganized into seven subdistricts with a subassistant commissioner in charge of each. Subdistrict headquarters were established at Baton Rouge, Franklin, Monroe, Natchitoches, New Orleans, Shreveport, and Vidalia.

The correspondence received and sent by the Office of the Assistant Commissioner is generally addressed to or signed by the Assistant Commissioner, Assistant Adjutant General, or the Acting Assistant Adjutant General. Occasionally, the Inspector General, the Assistant Inspector General, or the Superintendent of Education signed outgoing correspondence. The major correspondents in the series were General Howard; staff officers, subassistant commissioners, and other subordinate officers of the Bureau in Louisiana; Army officers attached to military commands in Louisiana and neighboring States; Louisiana political officials; white citizens and freedmen in Louisiana; and officials of the Bureau in other States.

The volumes reproduced in this microfilm publication were arbitrarily assigned numbers by the Adjutant General's Office (AGO) of the War Department after the records came into its custody. In the table of contents, the AGO numbers are shown in parentheses to aid in identifying the volumes because these numbers appear on the spines of the volumes. The volume numbers without parentheses were assigned by the National Archives and Records Service (NARS) staff. Numbered blank pages have not been filmed.
Related Materials:
See also Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection
Provenance:
Acquired from FamilySearch International in 2015.
Restrictions:
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: cor-intellectualproperty@ldschurch.org.
Topic:
American South  Search this
Freedmen's Bureau  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. history, 1865-1877  Search this
Slaves -- Emancipation  Search this
Citation:
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.FB.M1027
See more items in:
Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1869
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/io3fd9af0c0-1d62-4818-981f-9d1a2dc0da13
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-fb-m1027
Online Media:

Marriage license and certificate for James Trumbo and Catherine Williams

Issued by:
Commonweath of Kentucky, American, founded 1792  Search this
Printed by:
John P. Morton & Co., Printers, American, 1826 - 1943  Search this
Subject of:
James Trumbo, American  Search this
Catharine Williams, American  Search this
Medium:
ink on paper, adhesive
Dimensions:
H x W: 10 1/2 x 8 1/4 in. (26.7 x 21 cm)
Type:
marriage certificates
marriage licenses
Place used:
Gallatin County, Kentucky, United States, North and Central America
Date:
October 6, 1866
Topic:
African American  Search this
Baptist  Search this
Emancipation  Search this
Families  Search this
Law  Search this
Marriage customs and rites  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. History, 1865-1877  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number:
2012.46.9.1
Restrictions & Rights:
Public domain
Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Classification:
Slavery and Freedom Objects
Documents and Published Materials-Business and Legal Documents
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/fd58dddbd90-8101-4631-929d-502567deb84f
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmaahc_2012.46.9.1
Online Media:

Letter of marriage consent to Florian Cox from John A. Cox

Written by:
John A. Cox, American  Search this
Received by:
Florian Cox, American  Search this
Subject of:
James Trumbo, American  Search this
Catharine Williams, American  Search this
Medium:
ink on paper
Dimensions:
H x W: 8 x 5 in. (20.3 x 12.7 cm)
Type:
letters (correspondence)
Place made:
Gallatin County, Kentucky, United States, North and Central America
Date:
October 6, 1866
Topic:
African American  Search this
Emancipation  Search this
Families  Search this
Marriage customs and rites  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. History, 1865-1877  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number:
2012.46.9.2
Restrictions & Rights:
Public domain
Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Classification:
Slavery and Freedom Objects
Documents and Published Materials-Business and Legal Documents
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/fd5bdf718d3-19cf-41f4-b4a2-a8b744ce5196
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmaahc_2012.46.9.2
Online Media:

Make good the promises Reconstruction and its legacies : exhibition guide, September 24, 2021-August 21, 2022

Title:
Exhibition guide, September 24, 2021-August 21, 2022
Issuing body:
National Museum of African American History and Culture (U.S.),.)  Search this
Physical description:
30 pages illustrations (some color) 23 cm
Type:
Books
Exhibition catalogs
History
Place:
Southern States
United States
États-Unis (Sud)
États-Unis
Date:
2021
1863-1877
19th century
19e siècle
Topic:
African Americans--History--Exhibitions  Search this
Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)--Exhibitions  Search this
African Americans--Civil rights--History--Exhibitions  Search this
African Americans--Social conditions--Exhibitions  Search this
Exhibition catalogs  Search this
Noirs américains--Histoire--Expositions  Search this
Noirs américains--Droits--Histoire--Expositions  Search this
Noirs américains--Conditions sociales--Expositions  Search this
Catalogues d'exposition  Search this
African Americans  Search this
African Americans--Civil rights  Search this
African Americans--Social conditions  Search this
Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)  Search this
Call number:
E185.2 .M364 2021
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1159309

Radical Members of the South Carolina Legislature

Created by:
Unidentified  Search this
Subject of:
George W. Dusenberry, American, died 1869  Search this
Whitefield J. McKinlay, American  Search this
Elias Evander Dickson, American, 1832 - 1909  Search this
Charles McDuffie Wilder, American  Search this
William R. Hoyt, American  Search this
Benjamin Franklin Randolph, American, died 1868  Search this
David Harris, American  Search this
James P. Mays, American  Search this
Justus K. Jillson, American, 1839 - 1881  Search this
Hutson J. Lomax, American  Search this
Benjamin Franklin Jackson, American  Search this
William M. Thomas, American  Search this
Henry W. Webb, American, died 1869  Search this
Benjamin A. Boseman Jr., American, 1840 - 1881  Search this
Reuben Tomlinson, American  Search this
Jonathan Jasper Wright, American, 1840 - 1885  Search this
Francis DeMars, American  Search this
William J. Brodie, American  Search this
Eben Hayes, American  Search this
Lawrence Cain, American  Search this
Henry J. Maxwell, American, 1837 - 1906  Search this
James Martin, American, died 1868  Search this
Wilson Cooke, American  Search this
Franklin F. Miller, American  Search this
Prince R. Rivers, American, 1824 - 1887  Search this
Hiram W. Duncan, American  Search this
Lemuel Boozer, American, 1809 - 1870  Search this
Powell Smythe, American  Search this
John B. Wright, American  Search this
Franklin Israel Moses Jr., American, 1838 - 1906  Search this
Sancho Saunders, American  Search this
Samuel Nuckles, American  Search this
John Hannibal White, American, 1828 - 1878  Search this
Barney Burton, American  Search this
Henry L. Shrewsbury, American  Search this
Edward Charles Mickey, American  Search this
James A. Henderson, American  Search this
Henry E. Hayne, American, born 1840  Search this
Junius S. Mobley, American  Search this
James Hutson, American  Search this
Sen. William Beverly Nash, American, 1822 - 1888  Search this
Abraham W. Smith, American  Search this
Charles H. Pettengill, American  Search this
John B. Hyde, American  Search this
Samuel J. Lee, American, 1844 - 1895  Search this
William M. Simons, American, 1810 - 1878  Search this
John A. Chestnut, American  Search this
Harry McDaniel, American  Search this
John Gardner, American  Search this
Stephen Atkins Swails, American, 1832 - 1900  Search this
Wade Perrin, American, died 1870  Search this
Burrell S. James, American  Search this
William E. Johnson, American  Search this
Lucius W. Wimbush, American, 1839 - 1872  Search this
Elliott Stannmore Jerome Hayes, American, 1848 - 1913  Search this
Simeon Farr, American  Search this
John W. Mead, American  Search this
Samuel B. Thompson, American  Search this
Joseph Hayne Rainey, American, 1832 - 1887  Search this
Medium:
albumen and silver nitrate on photographic paper
Dimensions:
H x W: 4 x 2 1/2 in. (10.2 x 6.4 cm)
Type:
cartes-de-visite
albumen prints
Date:
1868
Topic:
African American  Search this
Political organizations  Search this
Politics  Search this
Race relations  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. History, 1865-1877  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number:
2008.9.29
Restrictions & Rights:
Public domain
Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Classification:
Media Arts-Photography
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/fd5df291408-3a31-418c-896f-adff97e6569d
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmaahc_2008.9.29

Radical Members of the South Carolina Legislature

Created by:
Unidentified  Search this
Subject of:
George W. Dusenberry, American, died 1869  Search this
Whitefield J. McKinlay, American  Search this
Elias Evander Dickson, American, 1832 - 1909  Search this
Charles McDuffie Wilder, American  Search this
William R. Hoyt, American  Search this
Benjamin Franklin Randolph, American, died 1868  Search this
David Harris, American  Search this
James P. Mays, American  Search this
Justus K. Jillson, American, 1839 - 1881  Search this
Hutson J. Lomax, American  Search this
Benjamin Franklin Jackson, American  Search this
William M. Thomas, American  Search this
Henry W. Webb, American, died 1869  Search this
Benjamin A. Boseman Jr., American, 1840 - 1881  Search this
Reuben Tomlinson, American  Search this
Jonathan Jasper Wright, American, 1840 - 1885  Search this
Francis DeMars, American  Search this
William J. Brodie, American  Search this
Eben Hayes, American  Search this
Lawrence Cain, American  Search this
Henry J. Maxwell, American, 1837 - 1906  Search this
James Martin, American, died 1868  Search this
Wilson Cooke, American  Search this
Franklin F. Miller, American  Search this
Prince R. Rivers, American, 1824 - 1887  Search this
Hiram W. Duncan, American  Search this
Lemuel Boozer, American, 1809 - 1870  Search this
Powell Smythe, American  Search this
John B. Wright, American  Search this
Franklin Israel Moses Jr., American, 1838 - 1906  Search this
Sancho Saunders, American  Search this
Samuel Nuckles, American  Search this
John Hannibal White, American, 1828 - 1878  Search this
Barney Burton, American  Search this
Henry L. Shrewsbury, American  Search this
Edward Charles Mickey, American  Search this
James A. Henderson, American  Search this
Henry E. Hayne, American, born 1840  Search this
Junius S. Mobley, American  Search this
James Hutson, American  Search this
Sen. William Beverly Nash, American, 1822 - 1888  Search this
Abraham W. Smith, American  Search this
Charles H. Pettengill, American  Search this
John B. Hyde, American  Search this
Samuel J. Lee, American, 1844 - 1895  Search this
William M. Simons, American, 1810 - 1878  Search this
John A. Chestnut, American  Search this
Harry McDaniel, American  Search this
John Gardner, American  Search this
Stephen Atkins Swails, American, 1832 - 1900  Search this
Wade Perrin, American, died 1870  Search this
Burrell S. James, American  Search this
William E. Johnson, American  Search this
Lucius W. Wimbush, American, 1839 - 1872  Search this
Elliott Stannmore Jerome Hayes, American, 1848 - 1913  Search this
Simeon Farr, American  Search this
John W. Mead, American  Search this
Samuel B. Thompson, American  Search this
Joseph Hayne Rainey, American, 1832 - 1887  Search this
Thomas Bailey Milford, American  Search this
Medium:
albumen and silver on photographic paper on card mount
Dimensions:
H x W (sheet): 4 × 2 1/2 in. (10.2 × 6.4 cm)
H x W (image): 3 1/16 × 2 1/4 in. (7.8 × 5.7 cm)
Type:
cartes-de-visite
albumen prints
portraits
Place depicted:
South Carolina, United States, North and Central America
Date:
1868
Topic:
African American  Search this
Political organizations  Search this
Politics  Search this
Race relations  Search this
Reconstruction, U.S. History, 1865-1877  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Object number:
2016.49.4
Restrictions & Rights:
Public domain
Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Classification:
Memorabilia and Ephemera-Political and Activist Ephemera
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/fd5762afd42-f920-4e1e-acad-0cf0e9218ff8
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmaahc_2016.49.4
Online Media:

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