HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE SOUTH,
Hilton Head, Port Royal, S.C., May 9, 1862.
The three States of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, comprising the Military Department of the South, having deliberately declared themselves no longer under the protection of the United States of America, and having taken up arms against said United States, it became a military necessity to declare martial law. This was accordingly done on the 25th day of April, 1862. Slavery and martial law in a free country are altogether incompatible; the persons in these three States, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, heretofore held as slaves, are therefore declared forever free.
By command of Maj. Gen. D. Hunter:
[ED. W. SMITH,]
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I – Volume 14, p. 341