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  --  GENERAL ROBERT K. SCOTT   Table of Contents     CHAPTER XXXIII

Rollin, Frank [Frances] A.
Life and Public Services of Martin R. Delany



AS the season for contracting with the freedmen of the islands approached, the old planters from the main land and sea islands could be seen hastening to the quarters of the "black major" for consultation with him.

The picture of the statesman warrior of St. Domingo, surrounded by the conquered and impoverished planters of the island, dictating terms to them, was again reproduced in our time, with the black officer in the foreground as the chief figure, giving law to the planters of South Carolina.

Without the assistance of the Bureau, the planters would have been unable to proceed at any time after the war, and that section of the country would have presented almost deplorable aspect. For the freedmen, in view of their past condition, were naturally suspicious of their offers, and, partly resting on the promises held out of lands being given to them, were with difficulty persuaded to accept employment from them. And the often repeated tales of cruelty, with the many evidences of glaring fraud, practised upon those who had been employed immediately after the war, helped to give an odium to the planters which threatened to interfere greatly with the reproduction

of their cotton and rice. After the establishment of the Freedmen's Bureau by Congress, the presence of a competent sub-commissioner, whom neither threats nor bribes could move, supported by the strong arm of the Bureau, could check these malpractices and adjust all difficulties between them. And in this mediatorial character he was placed, without the slightest deviation from his principles, or assuming more to himself than was guaranteed by his position: respected by the planters, trusted and regarded by the freedmen with a sentiment of pride mingled with reverence, he has, by this means, wrought out incalculable advantages to the cause of reconstruction, and given to these islands the germs of a civilization previously unknown, while in his own administration he has given to the country abundant demonstration of the negro capability for government.

The planters at first disliked the presence of the Bureau in their midst; but powerless to retard its operations, and witnessing its impartial administration, and the growing prosperity of their district, as the result, have reconciled themselves, and some have even acknowledged it as a success . Thus we find the quarters of the major visited for consultation by the representatives of a class, prior to the war, the most bitter opponents of black men's rights, and many who were conspicuous in the late rebellion, in the interest of the confederacy. There might have been seen Colonel Charles J. Colcock, who commanded the Confederate cavalry at Honey Hill against General Hatch; Colonel Jos. Stoney, Rev. James Stoney, Colonel E. M. Seabrook, who commanded at the fortification before the

capture of Hilton Head; Mr. Hayward, J. W. Pope, upon whose lands the batteries were found erected at the capture of Hilton Head; Major Manning Kirk, Drs. Seabrook, Kirk, and Pritchard, Ellis, and Crowell, besides many of the younger planters of the families of the Barnwells, Rhetts, Fripps, Elliots, and Fullers, including the young General Stephen Elliot, who commanded at Fort Sumter, and Jacob Jenkins Mikell, the famous Edisto planter of the long staple cotton. While the affairs of the Bureau were thus being conducted by him, General Scott divided the state into sub-districts, assigning an officer to each. Hilton Head had now been visited three times by the general, and on each occasion the quarters of the major were officially visited, previous to the following order being received, which is another indication of the satisfaction of his immediate commander in regard to his official conduct:--

Headquarters, State of South Carolina ,
Charleston , S.C., June 11, 1866.

General Orders. No. 5.

III. The Military Reservation of Hilton Head and its Dependencies, known as the Islands of Hilton Head, together with Dawfuskie, Bull, and Pinckney Islands, are hereby announced as the territorial limits of, and will constitute the Bureau District of Hilton Head, with Major M. R. Delany, U. S. C. T., as Sub-Assistant Commissioner , in charge, with headquarters at Hilton Head.

By command of Brevet Major General R. K. Scot ,
H. W. Smith , Brevet Lt. Col. Ass't. Adj. Gen.

Official H. W. Smith
Assistant Adjutant General .


  --  GENERAL ROBERT K. SCOTT   Table of Contents     CHAPTER XXXIII