HDQRS. MILITARY DEFENSES NORTH OF THE POTOMAC,
Washington, April 6, 1862.
Lieut. Col. JOHN D. SHAUL,
Commanding Seventy-sixth Regiment New York Volunteers.
SIR: I am directed by General Doubleday to say in answer to your letter of the 2d instant that all negroes coming into the lines of any of the camps or forts under his command are to be treated as persons and not as chattels.
Under no circumstances has the commander of a fort or camp the power of surrendering persons claimed as fugitive slaves as it cannot be done without determining their character.
The question has been asked whether it would not be better to exclude negroes altogether from the lines. The general is of the opinion that they bring much valuable information which cannot be obtained from any other source. They are acquainted with all the roads, paths, fords and other natural features of the country and they make excellent guides. They also know and frequently have exposed the haunts of secession spies and traitors and the existence of rebel organizations. They will not therefore be excluded.
The general also directs me to say that civil process cannot be served directly in the camps or forts of his command without full authority be obtained from the commanding officer for that purpose.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. P. HALSTED,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series II, Volume 1 (Serial No. 114), p. 815