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THE GENERAL INTERCEDES FOR HIS SPY HUNTER, MAJOR GENERAL DAVID. Autograph Letter Signed to General A.O. Harding, Illinois House of Representatives * Carte-de-visite of General Hunter * Stereopticon view of the First South Carolina Regiment (colored). Single folio leaf, folded to form four 4to pages, written on two sides; remnant of red sealing wax; both photos in fine condition. Letter dated Washington, 11 June, 1868
a truly remarkable letter---carried by the subject of the letter a colored veteran. General David Hunter (1802-1886) asks A.C. Harding, a fellow general, now Congressman to aid in granting compensation to a colored veteran from his Company: 'Dear General: The bearer, Walter D. Plowden, a colored man from South Carolina, was in my employ as a spy when I commanded during the rebellion in that State. He was sent a number of times within the rebel lines, always bringing valuable information, until he was finally captured and detained as a prisoner. Plowden never received compensation for his services and is now an applicant to Congress for remuneration. I do not know of any more just claim against the Government, and if you can assist him you will greatly oblige me, and confer a great favor on a very worthy man. . . .Very respectfully, your obedient servant, David Hunter . .Maj General, U.S.A.' Hunter was an ardent abolitionist, and true friend to the colored race. He is best remembered for emancipating the slaves of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina in May of 1862, when those States fell under his command. Sadly this order was quickly rescinded by President Lincoln, who at that time was in favor of gradual emancipation but also fearful of what effect the order might have on border states. Hunter is also known for forming the first all-black regiment of freed slaves, the First South Carolina, raised from slaves impressed from local plantations. For this he was roundly criticized by other generals. His sarcastic reply to one was: 'no regiment of 'Fugitive Slaves' has been, or is being organized in this Department. There is, however, a fine regiment of persons whose late masters are Fugitive Rebels." Despite this letter, another from Hunter, and numerous others on Plowden's behalf, Secretary Stanton stated in 1868, that 'the papers presented do not afford sufficient grounds.' Plowden's claim was apparently rejected. Such was the treatment of colored veterans.