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John Gray Foster to Ulysses S. Grant, September 20, 1866, Tallahassee, Florida.

John Gray Foster, detail

Major General John Gray Foster tendered to General Grant his latest report from the Department of Florida, where he commanded.  The report highlights the emerging confusion and difficulties facing Union commanders occupying the former Confederate states. Foster's observations from the past months had seen little improvement in relations between his forces and the local former Confederates.  In fact, he noted that President Johnson's latest proclamation, declaring on August 20, 1866 that the civil authority was finally in control of the entire United States and the rebellion was over, had caused even more tension.  The civilian authorities in Tallahassee, for example, had taken Johnson to his word and had begun arresting Union soldiers for the violation of town ordinances. Forster also reported that the settling of freedmen on vacant lands was becoming impossible as "combinations have been formed to resist" and settled African-Americans were being driven off the land. During the war in North Carolina, Gray had made similar attempts to settle freed slaves on empty lands but had been forced to abandon the project when returning Confederates claimed back their holdings. Confusion continued through the autumn and Grant later, at presidential insistence, ordered Foster to allow the civilian justice system to operate.  (By John Osborne)


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