RG 94 Letters Received, 1863-1888 (NAID 593342)

This circular, issued by Col. Isaac F. Shepard in May 1863, reveals some of the chaos in northeastern Louisiana. Shepard found it necessary to explicitly prohibit “punishment by the lash” on government plantations, and had to sternly remind people that the U.S. government’s entire mission in the area was to “recognize…the rights of personal liberty” and “ensure…kindness and protection” to former slaves. Because many officers were forcing men into the military involuntarily, Shepard also had to provide concrete recruiting procedures, in an effort to maintain peace and order between the Army and plantation operators, and to respect the personal liberty of the former slaves.

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