Joint Committee on Reconstruction
Lieutenant George O. Sanderson
Drunkards and Peculation in the Freedmen's Bureau

WASHINGTON, January 30, 1866.
Lieutenant George O. Sanderson, sworn and examined.


Question. Do you think of anything else?
Answer. There is one other thing: In the appointments for this bureau they do not select right men. I stopped at Norfolk, Virginia. By accident I was at the same boarding house with the agent of the bureau. I was there two nights. Both nights he came home drunk.

Question. What was his name?
Answer. Arnold. He borrowed a dollar of me to go to a masked ball, and came home so drunk that he could not pay me before I came away.

Question. What post does he hold?
Answer. One of the agents of the bureau. I felt that they were disgracing the government.

Question. Didn't you report him at once to General Howard?
Answer. I have not been to General Howard's yet. I do not know where his quarters are.

Question. Do you find such habits prevailing among the agents of the bureau?
Answer. The other agent at Roanoke island I have seen so drunk that he did not know where he was.

Question. What is his name?
Answer. Gosling - captain and assistant quartermaster.

Question. Do you think of anything else?
Answer. I cannot swear positively to the fact, but I have seen the rations at Roanoke island in the ration house, and I have seen part of them in the store, and I have seen the "U.S." on the barrel scraped off and marked over with some other name. I have seen flour the same way.

Question. Was this peculation committed by the agent of the bureau, or with his knowledge, consent, or connivance?
Answer. It was with the knowledge and connivance of every one connected with the post - captain, clerks, commissary, and merchants. They are all engaged in it at Roanoke island.

Question. These rations were intended for the freedmen?
Answer. Yes, sir; drawn by them. I have a letter now in my pocket which a contraband on the island asked me to take off the island and put in the post office somewhere else, as he cannot get one to General Howard through the military post office on the island. I took it. In that he states these facts - I suppose what he knows in regard to the rations being sold. And the contrabands on the island are actually suffering to-day for want of food. I was in their houses. I have seen a woman who said she was two days without food within three weeks. She had a ration ticket, but could not get anything from the ration house. She was at work spinning at 11 o'clock at night by the fire-light to get something to eat. The whole object seems to be at present out there to drive them back into the employ of their masters - at any rate, to get them off from the government as fast they can. It is very laudable to do so as fast as they can support themselves, but I do not believe in making them suffer.

Question. I advise you to make these facts known at once to General Howard, in order that a remedy may be supplied.


Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction of the First Session Thirty-Ninth Congress, Government Printing Office, Washington, 1866, Virginia - North Carolina - South Carolina, pages 180-181.