Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 2, May, 1995 Page: 83
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The Freedmen 's Bureau in Colorado County, Texas, 1865-1868
campaign and with George C. Thomas at Nashville. Raper was an adjutant of his regiment
when he arrived in Columbus on Monday, November 20, 1865. He apparently had ex-
perienced a rather tumultuous ride on the boat getting to his station and requested that
Gregory please excuse him "from any further transportation by water."41
When he arrived, Raper found a good many things which demanded his
attention in Columbus and its vicinity. More than a week after his arrival, he informed
bureau headquarters that he had been "kept busy as a bee from morning till night and
have not had an opportunity of writing to you sooner." Perhaps not surprisingly, Raper
was initially a little uncomfortable in his new position. He expressed concern that he had
received no real instructions from Gregory about his duties and responsibilities, nor about
how he should approach his sub-assistant commissionership, except simply to do what
was "right and proper." He also complained that one of the reasons for the unrelenting
pressure of business was Gregory's continued refusal to define precisely what territory
his region encompassed. Raper had felt compelled to attend to problems presented to
him by individuals from counties adjoining Colorado County because he was unsure
whether or not his area of responsibility extended outside the county and because he
did not know where other nearby agents were stationed.42
Raper knew that Gregory was touring part of the state to observe the
economic situation and to ascertain the state of race relations, and he encouraged the
assistant commissioner to visit his region, stating that his appearance would be of "great
benefit both to the Freedmen and planters." In his short time on the job, he reported that
he had endeavored to be of service to the white and black communities, both in general
and individual cases, and felt that he had succeeded to a small degree, but he hoped that
a face-to-face meeting with Gregory might provide him with more confidence in his
The directive issued by Whitall and its fallout was one of the first problems
with which Raper had to deal. The new agent had not seen Whitall's orders and only
briefly glimpsed him as he entered the railroad car on the way to Richmond. Raper
believed that by stopping the shipment of cotton until he was assured the freedmen were
paid, Whitall had infringed on his own new duties, however he considered the
arrangement almost essential and thus had not interfered with either Whitall or the
directive. However, Raper believed that if Whitall did not give the stoppage of cotton
business more attention, he soon would be compelled to take the matter into his own
hands. As soon as he became established, planters had presented their receipts to him
requesting permits to ship their cotton. To their dismay and anger, Raper declined to take
any action until he could see Whitall and the order he had acted under."
41 John T. Raper, Compiled Military Service Records, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, RG
94, National Archives; John T. Raper to Chauncey C. Morse (acting assistant adjutant general), November 24,
1865, Assistant Commissioner, Unregistered Letters, 1865-1866, BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
42 Raper to Morse, November 24, 1865; John T. Raper to Edgar M. Gregory (assistant
commissioner, Texas), November 29, 1865, Assistant Commissioner, Unregistered Letters, 1865-1866,
BRFAL, RG 105, National Archives.
44 Raper to Morse, November 24, 1865.
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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/m1/15/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed November 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.