Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 2, May, 1995 Page: 78
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
250 fenced acres and 200 acres under cultivation, a fourteen-room house, a barn in good
condition, an outhouse, a school house, a large brick building, three good cisterns, and
quarters for the freedmen.24
Gregory, however, had other concerns. By mid-September he had assumed
his duties, but he had encountered difficulties in securing sub-assistant commissioners.
Even the new army commander, Horatio G. Wright, realized that the assistant
commissioner would be able to "accomplish but little" until the bureau began to send
representatives into the field to implement its policies. Perhaps for that reason, or
because he knew that such field representatives would relieve the army of performing
the functions required of the bureau, Wright desired that the bureau be brought into full
operation as quickly as possible. He ordered his various subordinates throughout Texas
to assist Gregory as far as practicable in the selection of officers for duty under him.25
Although the military and the Freedmen's Bureau did not often cooperate
well together, Wright understood what type of men Gregory needed to man his agency.
Wright informed his subordinates they should recommend to headquarters "any fine
intelligent discreet and reliable officers of command for detail for such service" and to
select only those who could be depended upon for "doing full justice equally to white
and colored." Only those men who desired such duty and expressed a wish to remain
in the army would be selected. As an inducement for officers to join the bureau, it was
understood they would be retained in the army if their regiments were mustered out prior
to the expiration of their terms of service.26
Clearly, the bureau needed dependable agents. Many rumors had reached
Wright of outrages being perpetrated by whites upon blacks. These incidents needed in-
vestigation; and until the bureau could be brought into "effective operation," the army
commanders would have to look into such reports and, if necessary, arrest the parties
involved. Arrests would be reported to headquarters. It had not yet been decided
whether such cases should be tried by a military commission or turned over to the civil
authorities, where such existed. Meanwhile, post commanders were to employ a
recently assigned regiment of cavalry to help reduce the number of attacks upon the
freedmen. With only infantry, this had hitherto been impracticable.27
Even though Gregory received some assistance from Wright and the army
command structure, the rapid demobilization of military occupation army after the war
created havoc in retaining men in the bureau in the early months of its existence. The
War Department apparently disregarded those who expressed a desire to serve in the
Freedmen's Bureau; when Gregory did appoint an individual, he often served only a
short-time and then was forced to leave his post because his unit was mustered out.
Colorado County, and especially Columbus, suffered through this upheaval until the fall
of 1866. Though some area citizens expressed a need for an agent, until September
1866, no individual served Colorado County longer than four months.
25 Horatio G. Wright (major general, commanding) to District Commanders, September 19, 1865,
Assistant Commissioner, Unregistered Letters, 1865-1866, Texas, BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 2, May, 1995, periodical, May 1995; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151394/m1/10/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed April 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.