Black Acting Chaplain to the Secretary of State

Camp Casey  Washington City [D.C.]  May 18th 1864

dear sir   please parden me for troubling you with business that is not Immediately connected with your office, yet it being justice to myself & of interest to my comrads in the military service of the government, I hope your honor will at once pardon me for the liberty I take in writing you such a letter.  You will judge from past correspondence whilst in Canada that I was anxious to serve my country to the best of my humble ability.  I have recruited colored men for every colored regiment raised in the north forsaken my church in ohio & canvassed the intire north & west urging my people to inlist & have succeded in every instant at various times were told that I would have the chaplaincy of some one of the colored Regiment.  I nearly recruited half the men in the 28th U.S. Colored Infrantry Regiment raised in Indiana   Gov O. P. Morton of Ind promised to give me the office but could not as it was transfered from the volunteer serv to that of the regular Army.  my officers have me acting as a chaplain but no man seeke my commission.  I pray you will see me justified after having done as much as I have in raising such troops.  I refer you to Gov Andrew of Mass Todd of ohio Morton of Ind Seymore of New York & Spridge of Rhode I–  I also joined the regt as a private to be with my boys & should I fail to get my commission I shall willingly serve my time out, but I know you can get me my commission if any other gentleman in the world can & at the same time feel quite certain that should you vail to give my humble plea due consideration no other will.  I pray you will aid me sprining from so humble an origin as myself namely that of being the body servant of Robert Toombs.  please let your humble servant hear from you as soon as possible.  May heaven Bless you & family in all your future pursuits   I am dear sir your very humble servant

Garland. H. White


[Endorsement] I knew the writer of the within when he was a slave of Robert Toombs in Washington and I knew him afterwards a fugitive in Canada.  I commend his case respectfully to the Hon. Secretary of War.  William H. Seward

Acting Chaplain Garland H. White to Hon. Wm. H. Seward, 18 May 1864, service record of Garland H. White, 28th U.S. Colored Infantry, Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations: Civil War, series 519, Adjutant General's Office, Record Group 94, National Archives. Other documents in the same file indicate that, pursuant to White's election as chaplain by the officers of the regiment, he was mustered as chaplain on November 1, 1864, his appointment effective retroactively to October 25, 1864.

Published in The Black Military Experience, pp. 348–49, in Free at Last, pp. 469–70, and in Freedom's Soldiers, pp. 121–22.