|Pierce consulted Chase on June 14, apparently before visiting Boston. Chase to John Murray Forbes, June 14, 1862 (below); Pierce to Chase, June 17, 1862 (Port Royal Corres., Recs. of Civil War Special Agencies, Nat. Arch.).|
|On May 11, Maj. Gen. David Hunter issued orders for the conscription of all able- bodied black males between the ages of eighteen and twenty. In protest, Samuel D. Phillips responded with a series of vignettes that described ensuing emotional separations among several uncomprehending "contraband" families. "The plea of military necessity has been stretched to cover up many a mistake and some acts of criminal injustice," he complained, "but never, in my judgment, did major-general fall into a sadder blunder and rarely has humanity been outraged by an act of more unfeeling barbarity." OR, ser. 2, v. 2:50-60 (59-60 for Phillips to Pierce, May 13, 1862).|
Letter in clerk's hand, signed by Chase. Chase Papers, Library of Congress (micro 20:0634).
Unofficial & Private
May 17th., 1862
My Dear Mr. Pierce.
Your letters of the 7th. and the 8th. are just recd.1 The questions addressed to me in respect to the action of the Government, must, of course, be now answered by the War Department. I hope that Gen. Saxton will have been able to answer most of them before this time, and I feel quite sure that whatever he recommends to the War Department will be adopted to the extent of its powers.
It would have been quite gratifying to me to have continued the experiment so well begun by yourself, but want of power to insure due respect for the Agents of the Department and others employed under the recommendation of the benevolent Associations, made it an absolute duty to invoke the action of the War Department by transferring to it the whole charge I had assumed. Your estimate of Gen. Saxton is my own exactly. If you accept the position of Commissary under him, with such military rank as the Secretary can lawfully give, I am sure you will be able to render great service, and, at the same time, that such acceptance will not in any way detract from the just consideration due you. It will be understood that the War Department, in taking charge of the work, assigns it to a high officer of the army, and recognizes the full value of your services and your abilities, by giving you the best place under him in its power. I will refer your letter, touching the points on which you desire information, to the Secretary of War, and ask his attention to it.2
Immediately on receiving, through a letter from Miss Susan Walker information of the outrage perpetrated by Col. Nobles, I wrote Gen. Saxton invoking his prompt attention to it, and proper redress. I have since learned from Gen Benham that Col. N. has been ordered to