Return to Port Royal Experiment
See also Department of the South
General T. W. Sherman General Orders No. 9
Requesting Help with Freedmen
February 6, 1862
War of the Rebellion Records
No. 9.}
Hilton Head, S. C., February 6, 1862.
I. The helpless condition of the blacks inhabiting the vast area in the occupation of the forces of this
command calls for immediate action on the part of a highly favored and philanthropic people.

The occupation of a large portion of this area of country on the 7th of November last led to an
address to the people of South Carolina briefly setting forth the causes which led to it, its objects and
purposes, and inviting all persons to the reoccupation in a loyal spirit of their lands and tenements
and to a continuance of their avocations under the auspices of their legitimate Government and the
protection of the Constitution of the United States.

The conciliatory and beneficent purposes of that proclamation except in a few instances have not
only been disregarded but hordes of totally uneducated, ignorant and improvident blacks have been
abandoned by their constitutional guardians not only to all the future chances of anarchy and of
starvation but in such a state of abject ignorance and mental stolidity as to preclude all possibility of
self-government and self-maintenance in their present condition.

Adequate provision for the pressing necessities of this unfortunate and now interesting class of
people being therefore imperatively demanded even by the dictates of humanity alone an additional
duty next only in importance to that of the preservation of a world-revered Constitution and Union is
now forced upon us by an unnatural and wicked rebellion.

To relieve the Government of a burden that may hereafter become insupportable and to enable the
blacks to support and govern themselves in the absence and abandonment of their disloyal
guardians a suitable system of culture and instruction must be combined with one providing for their
physical wants.

Therefore until proper legislation on the subject or until orders from higher authority the country in
occupation of the forces of this command will be divided off into districts of convenient size for proper
superintendence. For each of these districts a suitable agent will be appointed to superintend the
management of the plantations by the {p.806} blacks, to enroll and organize the willing blacks into
working parties, to see that they are well fed, clad and paid a proper remuneration for their labor, to
take charge of all property on the plantations whether found there, provided by the Government or
raised from the soil, and to perform all other administrative duties connected with the plantations that
may be required by the Government. A code of regulations on this subject as well as a proper
division of districts will be furnished in due time.

In the meanwhile and until the blacks become capable of themselves of thinking and acting judiciously
the services of competent instructors will be received-one or more for each district-whose duties will
consist in teaching them both young and old the rudiments of civilization and Christianity, their
amenability to the laws of both God and man, their relations to each other as social beings and all
that is necessary to render them competent to sustain themselves in social and business pursuits.

For an efficient and complete organization of this system there will be appointed two general
agents-one to have a general superintendence over the administrative or agricultural agents and the
other over the educational department.

II. The above system is not intended in any respect to interfere with the existing orders respecting the
employment of contrabands by the staff departments of the army and by the cotton agents.

III. As the blacks are now in great need of suitable clothing if not other necessaries of life which
necessity will probably continue and even increase until the above system gets into working order the
benevolent and philanthropic of the land are most earnestly appealed to for assistance in relieving
their immediate wants. Never was there a nobler or more fitting opportunity for the operation of that
considerate and practical benevolence for which the Northern people have ever been distinguished.

By order of Brig. Gen. T. W. Sherman:

Captain, Fifteenth Infantry, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.