Thursday, 1865 October 12, Decatur, Morgan County, Alabama: “He will see that his command conduct themselves in an orderly manner . . .”

[A United States Colored Troops officer is ordered to investigate a postwar murder.]

Head [Quarters] Post
Decatur, Alabama October 12, 1865
Special Orders
No. [blank]
II. Lt. J. M. Warren, Co., D, 42nd
U. S. Colored Infantry, will take a squad of (7) seven
men and (1) one N. C. O. [noncommissioned officer] and proceed to the
scene of the recent murder for the purpose
of investigating the circumstances and
surroundings of the case and will return
as soon as this may be accomplished.
He will see that his command conduct
themselves in an orderly manner,
and that they commit no depredations.

By Command of
N. Milliken
Captain Commanding Post
J. F. Putnam
Lt. and A. A. A. G. [Acting Assistant Adjutant General]
Lt. J. M. Warren
Co. D 42nd U. S. C. I.

[Editor: The 42nd United States Colored Infantry (also known as 42nd Regiment Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops), organized in Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee, April-July 1864, served mostly on guard and garrison duty in Charleston and Chattanooga, Tennessee, until mustered out in January 1866 as part of the Department of Georgia. The officers mentioned in these orders: Lieutenant Joy M. Warren, Captain Noyes Milliken (1838-1910), and Lieutenant Julius F. Putnam. Joy Meggs Warren (November 26, 1842-April 24, 1911) of Macomb County, Michigan, began the war as a volunteer corporal in Company I, 9th Michigan Volunteer Infantry, September 1861, from which he was later discharged with the rank of sergeant in September 1864 to accept his commission as an officer with the 42nd U. S. C. I. During April 1864 a military board of examiners “of applicants for commission in Colored Troops” sitting in Chattanooga had recommended Corporal Warren’s promotion to second lieutenant. The 9th Michigan served in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, 1861-64, and was mustered out in September 1865. In August 1865, as a member of the 42nd U. S. C. I., Lieutenant Warren received orders to “exercise the utmost care and discretion” in arresting “noted murders and guerrillas.” Warren resigned in November 1865 with the rank of second lieutenant in the 42nd U. S. C. I.; after the war he became a minister and in 1888 a member of Michigan Post 154, Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), serving as post chaplain and adjutant commander. He married Laura Priscentia Howe (1848-1930), February 1869, Ray, Macomb County, Michigan, and they had at least eight children: Jennie, Willard, Fannie, Otis, Axie, Eliza, Jennie, and Mary Warren. Having qualified for his military pension (1889), Reverend Warren died in 1911 from wounds suffered during the war; his widow Laura filed a pension request in May 1911.
Noyes Milliken (1838-1910) may have served as a private in the 15th Indiana Infantry and the Signal Corps, U. S. Volunteers; after the war he resided at Topeka, Kansas, where he died, and was a member of a Grand Army of the Republic post in that state.
Julius F. Putnam (b. ca. 1838/1839-?) served as a private in Company I, 4th Minnesota Infantry, before being assigned to the 42nd U. S. C. I. According to a postwar 1865 state census, he resided in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after the war and qualified for a military pension.
As a postwar military occupation force, African-American soldiers were verbally and physically targeted by embittered racist white southerners. According to one historian, during December 1865 soldiers of the 42nd U. S. C. I. were fired upon by an irate ex-Confederate colonel who cursed and threatened to kill or re-enslave them after Yankee soldiers left the South, and prophesied Decatur’s streets “would run red with blood.” Gregory J. W. Urwin, ed., Black Flag Over Dixie: Racial Atrocities and Reprisals in the Civil War (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2004).]

MSS 12128

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