Beaufort N. Carolina Nov 20th 1863
the undersigned Colored Citizens of the town of Beaufort in behaf of the Colord population of this Commuinty in view of the manner in which their Brotheren on oppressed by the military authurities in this Vicenity Respeckfuley pitision you are at the Head of this military Department for a redress of grievunces
Your [politiness] [petitioners] disire to make known to you that they and there brothern to the President of the United States are undiscriminatly inpressed by the authorities to labor upon the Public woorks without compensation that in Consequence of this System of fource labor they Have no means of paying Rents and otherwise Providing for ther families
Your pitisioners disire futher to Express ther Entire Willingness to Contribute to the Cause of the union in anyway consistant with there cause as Freemen and the Rights of their families
Anything that can Be don By You to relieve us from the Burden which wee are nou Labooring will Be Highly appriciated By Your Pitistior[ers]
And your pititioners Will Ever pray Yours Respeckfully & Soforth
Rober Henry et al. to Maj. Genl. B. F. Butler, 20 Nov. 1863, Miscellaneous Letters & Reports Received, series 5076, Department of VA & NC & 18th Army Corps, U.S. Army Continental Commands, Record Group 393 Pt. 1, National Archives. The concurrence of “fifty outher” was noted below the signatures, which appear to be in two or three different handwritings. No response has been found in the letters-sent volumes of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina.
Published in The Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: The Upper South, p. 166, and in Free at Last, pp. 208–9.