Assistant Commissioner, Texas
After the war
At some point, the army chaplains met en masse in Washington, DC. A chaplain he had met briefly asked if Gregory remembered him, and later reported Gregory as replying, "I do, chaplain, well remember that time; those were dark days then, but God has since done wonderful things for us, of which we are glad." (F75)
Fourth of July 1865
On 4 July 1865, Gregory addressed a meeting of the National Colored Monument Association, held on the Treasury Department grounds, in Washington DC.(F37) Also speaking were the noted abolitionists William Howard Day, Henry Wilson, and ex-Governor Hahn; others, including Governor Andrew, Horace Greeley, and Frederick Douglass sent letters. Unfortunately, the printed program barely mentions Gregory's speech:
"Following the speech of Senator Wilson, interesting remarks were made by Senator Hahn, of Louisiana, and by Gen. Gregory, after which the assembly quietly dispersed."
While I know nothing about Gregory's speech, the other speakers are at least consistent with McFeely's claim that Gregory could be called an abolitionist.(F2) Henry Wilson (1812-1875), Senator from Massachusetts, 1855-1873, dedicated himself to emancipation, because of his observations of slavery on an early visit to Washington DC. George Michael Hahn (1830-86) was the pro-union governor of Louisiana from 1864-65, and supported black suffrage. William Howard Day had been editor of the Cleveland True Democrat and Aliened American before traveling around Europe to raise money; he later worked for the Freedman's Bureau, was ordained a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and was general secretary of the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church from 1875-1880.
[Appointment and arrival]
On 5 July 1865, he was assigned to duty as Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen Abandoned Lands for the State of Texas, and was ordered to report to Major General Howard at Washington.(F6) Howard said that 'Gregory was well reputed for the stand he always took in the army in favor of clear-cut uprightness of conduct. He was so fearless of opposition or danger that I sent him to Texas, which seemed at the time of his appointment to be the post of greatest peril'.(F1) According to the New York Times, General Meade and others recommended him.(F44)
In July, Howard assured the Louisiana Assistant Commissioner that Gregory would "soon be in [the] field"; he repeated that assurance in August, but it did not come true.(F34) He was delayed for ten days in New Orleans, waiting for transportation.(F23) While in New Orleans, he visited the Louisiana assistant commissioner, Thomas W Conway, and copied various records.(F33) Conway told Howard that Gregory showed a "cordial interest in the work, and I think he is adapted to the field to which you have assigned him".(F33)
At least some initial reaction in Texas was positive. The Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph described Gregory as "an officer of high executive reputation", and expressed hope that the Bureau would quickly regulate negro labor well.(F54) They also published a letter from Cairo, Illinois, claiming he was a Philadelphian (apparently praiseworthy!), "a thorough-going man", and someone "of whom gentlemen who know him well speak in the highest term".(F59)
In fall 1865, he was still living at 1438 North 13th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the city directory lists his occupation as 'general'.(F76)
Gregory arrived in Galveston on 5 September 1865.(F23)
According to one story, when he arrived in Texas, he asked a local attorney for a copy of the laws of Texas. The attorney replied by giving him a bowie-knife. When Gregory repeated his request, the attorney replied that the bowie-knife was effectively the only law in Texas.(F43)
From the beginning he had trouble obtaining officers to assist him--only one had reported by 21 September, although four had been assigned, and General Wright had ordered each of the three district commanders to provide five officers, and to investigate alleged mistreatment of Negroes until the Freedmen's Bureau had agents in the field.(F23) (One of those assigned was apparently Surgeon SJW Mintzer.(53)) He found one day and one night school established, with at least two hundred students.(F23) By the 21st he had spoken to at least one hundred planters, mostly from eastern Texas.(F23) Religion continued to be important to him--his first letter to Howard reports with obvious disappointment that "[t]he churches of white people are but slenderly attended", but with praise that "the Collored [sic] Churches ... [are] well attended on the Sabbath".(F23)
Opposition to Gregory emerged early. On 25 September 1865, the Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph reported that "an unfavorable impression [of Gregory] has gone abroad". They suggested that he was devoted both to helping the freedmen, and also to "saving the Agriculture of the State".(F60)
He returned to Houston on Tuesday afternoon, 26 September 1865, after an inspection tour through Austin and Washington Counties. He left for Galveston, where he was going to establish his headquarters, on 28 September 1865.(F62)
At the end of September 1865, he spoke to the freedmen at their church in Galveston, Texas, telling them that they now had the same legal rights and responsibilities that whites had, encouraging them "to be honest, faithful, and industrious", and advising them that they had to earn their own living. The Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph claimed that this "gave great satisfaction to his audience, and should do them much good".(F55). He repeated this message in an early order, which also explicitly denied that property would be distributed to the freedmen at Christmas.(F56)
Establishing schools was important to Gregory; he had decided to establish public schools by the end of September 1865. One early report claims they would be available to whites and blacks.(F63)
On 17 October 1865, Gregory issued a "circular letter", which explained the rules about contracts agents were to enforce. Any contracts for a freedman's labor for one month or more had to be in writing, approved by an agent, and a copy had to be deposited with the agent. A contract for plantation labor applied to the entire family, and the employer had to provide food, lodging, fuel, and medical care for the entire family, along with whatever additional compensation the parties agreed to. The contract constituted a lien on the crop, and no more than half the crop could be removed before the freedmen had been paid. If the employer violated the contract, the "usual remedy" of damages secured by the lien, or by personal security, applied. If the freedmen violated the contract, the freedmen's wages would be forfeited. But Gregory added an additional penalty against freedmen:(F36)
"... when any employer under this Order shall make oath before a Justice of the Peace acting as Agent of this Bureau and having local jurisdiction that one of his employees has been absent from his employ for a longer period than one day without just cause, or for an aggregate term of more than 5 days in one Month the Authorities shall proceed against such person as a Vagrant."
On 31 October 1865, he reported to Howard that the freedmen were working well. Although some people had expressed fear of an insurrection during the holidays, Gregory saw no basis for that fear, and claimed "that if any thing of the kind occurs, it will [be] caused by the impudence [?] of the white people". Further, the planters and other employers were not willing to pay fair wages (although they claimed to be), and had to be closely monitered. The schools that had been started were doing well, and the military was cooperating.(F37)
On 8 November 1865, Gregory ordered AM Norris to give her former slave Tanzy Edgar all Tanzy's property. The Norris's refused, because they believed Tanzy was in debt to them. Gregory then ordered her to appear before him to answer charged that she owed Tanzy six dollars and several chickens. She denied the charges, and claimed Tanzy owed her money she had earned while "hiring out". Gregory decided that she owed Tanzy three dollars, which she paid. Several weeks later, Tanzy and two soldiers came to take property from the Norris's, which they refused; months later, they had not returned.(F67)
By November 1865, further opposition had emerged. A Georgia newspaper claimed on 29 November that "[prominent Texans] concur in stating that the mismanagement of the Freedmen's Bureau has demoralized the negroes, who were at first generally contented to remain with their owners and work for them, and has also created great dissatisfaction amongst the whites against General Gregory and his agents".(F57) The Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph tried to dissipate the opposition, by emphasizing that people should not trust rumors.(57)
Gregory conducted four tours of Texas, speaking to freedmen and planters.(F35)
[Gregory's first tour]
His first tour took place from 10 through 31 November 1865. Gregory travelled 700 miles, and spoke to 25,000 freedmen and planters, on that trip.(F5) While he was on that trip, a freedwoman named Mahaly filed a complaint against her former mistress, Mrs Sims. Mahaly had stayed with her for months without being paid, because she couldn't find anywhere else to live. She did at least some work while she was living there. Gregory decided that Mrs Sims should pay Mahaly $32.50, which she did. On her way out, Mrs Sims told Mahaly "to come home, get your things and child, leave my premises, and never again put your foot on them!" This upset Gregory, who insisted that she return to the room. When she did, he told her:
Madame, I demand of you in the name and by the authority of the United States Government, that you show all due respect to its citizens, whether they be white or black!"
Mrs Sims left without saying anything more, but later complained to David Burnet about Gregory's treatment of her. The "insult" to her at the end seems to be criticized at least as much as the decision!(F18)
Before 20 November 1865, Gregory also ordered Sarah Hardy to pay "reasonable wages" to a freedman named Adam for his work from 1 June to 3 October 1865. She claimed that her husband had a contract with him, and had complied with the terms, but paid him $20 "to get rid of him and have no trouble". (She doesn't say what the terms of the contract were.)(F19)
General Strong, the Inspector General for the Freedmen's bureau, accompanied Gregory part of the way on this first trip, to Huntsville. (They separated because they thought they would accomplish more separately, not because of a disagreement, as some newspapers reported.) Strong claims Gregory was "an earnest and very able speaker", who was doing everything in his power to fix the labor problems, which Strong thought were primarily caused by past injustices against the freedmen, who had not been paid for work in 1865, and by false hopes of a land distribution in 1866. However, Gregory was greatly handicapped, by having only six or seven subordinates, although he needed fifty. Strong observed more cruelty and injustice towards blacks in Texas than in any other Southern state he had visited, and said that he did "not think it possible for any man to hold General Gregory's position in Texas, do justice to the freedmen, and be popular with the people". The situation was so bad that Strong actually said that "[o]ne campaign of an army through the eastern part of the State, such as was made by General Sherman in South Carolina, would greatly improve the temper and generosity of the people". Strong's report did not convince everyone, however--according to the conservative Galveston Daily News, Strong's report was "here universally known to be false and published only for the purpose of enabling the Radicals the better to carry out their policy".(F3)
[Gregory's second tour]
His second tour of Texas began on 10 December 1866.(F7) He travelled through the Lower Brazos Oyster Creek, Old Cany [?], and Colorado Districts, which were the major cotton- and sugar-producing parts of Texas.(F7) Most of the freedmen were under contract, with widely varying terms (and some problems of ambiguity). The wages ranged from eight to fifteen dollars per month, usually in addition to lodging, food, fuel, medical care, and clothing.(F7) Instead of wages, many planters promissed their laborers part of the crop (one-quarter to one-half), often along with lodging and boarding.(F7)
On 23 December 1866, he stayed at the home of a Mr Spears. He insisted on staying although the daughter did not want him to, because her father was not at home. He ignored the white women who were present, shook hands with the Negroes, and told them that he was there to ensure that they were treated fairly. Nannie Rodarmel later reported that when one of the Negroes was initially reluctant to shake hands with Gregory, she told them that Gregory and the others were their friends. Gregory apparently took this badly, and according to Rodarmel "rudely said, that he was their friend and was there to prevent the negro being abused by white people, and would not be laughed at for speaking to them. He also said to me: "shut your mouth or I will make you. I have the power to shut it and will do so, if necessary." After his visit, according to Rodarmel, the freedmen "became insolent and refractory".(F20)
On 30 November 1865, Gregory arrested a Mr Elmore (formerly a Colonel in the Confederate army) for using dogs to catch a freedman named Shade and falsely imprisoning him. (Apparently, Elmore claimed that he had simply been using the dogs to track an unknown thief; he wasn't targeting the Negro because he was a Negro.) A Texas court issued a writ of habeas corpus. Gregory asked for an extension to allow him to receive instructions from Washington, which Judge Caldwell granted, and Elmore was released on bail. On 17 January 1866, Judge Caldwell heard the case. Gregory (represented by Judge DJ Baldwin and District Attorney AP Wiley) argued that the state courts had no jurisdiction, because the state had done nothing about the crime, which had occurred in July 1865, and under Federal law, the Freedmen's Bureau had jurisdiction when the local government ignored negroes' right to justice. Elmore (represented by Judge Baker and Colonel JH Mauley) argued that the Freedmen's Bureau had jurisdiction only in circumstances that did not obtain. Judge Caldwell decided in favor of Gregory.(F4)
He returned to Galveston by 29 December 1865.(F64)
In December 1865, 496 rations were issued to 32 people, at a total cost of $70.19.(F66)
[Interlude in Galveston]
The Sunday before 2 January 1866, he spoke at a Negro church, on Broadway, giving them advice that Flake's Bulletin described as "good, plain advice, which, if they follow, will redown to their well-being and prosperity". He also spoke at the Negro Sunday school that Mr. Tambling directed.(F65)
On 20 January 1866, from Galveston, Gregory wrote a letter to Benjamin Harris, who was the foreperson of a grand jury in Panola [?] County, Texas. While I have not (yet) seen Harris's letter, he obviously expressed fear of the freedmen, and apparently asked for federal officers. Gregory's response is telling (and well worth reading). While he claims that while most freedmen are good citizens, he admits that some may not properly understand their rights and duties. But he insists that when Negroes are treated fairly, they behave commendably, that no special laws regarding Negroes are necessary, and that the extant laws should be applied in a race-blind way: "the Bureau leaves the freedmen as other men are left to the protection of equal law, insisting only that no distinction against one race be made in favor of the other". He claims that problems may be due to the planters' insistence on keeping their old powers: "The governing class are today what the past has made them, and they cannot cut loose at a single blow from their past traditions, beliefs, hatreds, and hopes. After all the rough schooling of the war they have still a lesson and a hard one to learn: it is to be just to the Black man". And in particular he claims that freedmen are hesitant to work because they were defrauded of their earnings in 1865. He concludes by advising Harris to treat "laborers with liberality and on a basis of Justice", and claims that then "your labor [will] unite with your capital and become [a] productive force". But he also issues a prediction: ".I sometimes think that long after the oppressed race shall rise into rights, duties and capacities so haughtily denied the dominant class will not have overcome their contempt for the Negro. Its roots will even then exist and trouble the land."(F39)
On 31 January 1866, Gregory reported that only about 67,000 of about 400,000 freedmen were receiving government support. Most freedmen had made contracts, and the planters were treating freedmen better because of the labor shortage. Assaults on and abuse of freedmen, including "murder, savage beating, merciless whipping, hunting men with trained bloodhounds, through all the lesser degrees of cruelty", were still too frequent, but Gregory claimed they were declining. Gregory had experienced great difficulty in obtaining and keeping officers from the army; he had only twenty assistants, ten of whom were civilians. Twenty-six schools, with more than 1600 students, were operating with no government funds. All expenses had been paid from fines imposed on people who had violated freedmen's rights. Gregory had explicitly forbidden levying a tax on approving contracts, and had ordered the arrest of the agents who had done that. Their levying that tax had resulted in trouble and opproprobrium; nothing else had caused Gregory "more mortification and trouble".(F7)
In February 1866, Burnet (the ex-President of the short-lived Texas Republic) published charges against Gregory. Gregory denied them, and demanded that Burnet either retract the charges or prove them.(F45) Shortly after, Burnet was "preparing a reply".(F47)
In February 1866, CB Comstock visited Gregory, and concluded that:(F42)
... while I think he probably tells some plain truths to the unreconstructed in a plain way, also think him a very good man for his place; determined to make the whites do their part, and just as determined to make the negroes do theirs, his idea evidently being that the negro should have precisely the same rights as the white man--no more and no less.
On 19 February 1866, the New York Times published a piece that praised Gregory.(F46) (Was this part of a counter-campaign, to save him? If so, the Times had abandoned it by July, when they published an article claiming Gregory was "a bitter and implacable radical", whose administration "had some dark spots".(F48))
Some time in March 1866, Gregory told Judge Roberts, in Harris County, Texas, that the county had to take some additional responsibility for the Negroes there. Roberts refused.(F9).
On 3 March 1866, Howard warned him that he had received many complaints that Gregory was favoring the freedmen over whites, and recommended that Gregory "be as wise as a serpent as well as harmless etc.".(F29)
On 6 and 7 March, the Galveston Daily News published affidavits claiming that the Bureau had treated white people unfairly.(F30) (I have not yet been able to get a copy of these affidavits, but they apparently included Norris's accusations [see above].)
Gregory responded to Howard's letter on 17 March 1866, thanking Howard for his kindness and generosity and for his suggestions. He claimed he was no more friendly to Blacks than to Whites, but sought justice for both. He often consulted with General Wright but had not yet seen Governor Hamilton.(F40)
[Gregory's third tour, and the campaign to have him removed]
At the end of March 1866, Gregory gave a speech in the courthouse at La Grange. The La Grange New Era summarized it in this way: "The drift of his remarks was to the effect that negroes must adhere to their contracts, and not let any one entice them from their present homes". A few days later, the Galveston Daily News approved this, and then claimed:(F10).
The white people, generally, know much better what is good for the negroes than they do themselves. Besides the whites really wish the negroes well, and are anxious to promote their interests. Complaints can arise, therefore, only upon such management on the part of the Bureau as would seem to assume an antagonism between the two races, and to induce the negroes to act accordingly under assurances of military protection.
The later history of Negro-White relations, in Texas and elsewhere, shows Gregory's assessment was more accurate than this.
However, on the next day, the Galveston Daily News published three criticisms of the Texas Freedmen's Bureau and Gregory, collected by David G Burnet, the respected first president of the Texas Republic.(F11). These included the complaints made by Sims, Hardy, and Rodarmel, which I summarized above, and also two complaints against subagents (at least one of which Gregory had not allegedly not responded to).(F21).
The Galveston Daily News also cites a correspondent for the Louisville Courier as describing Gregory as "represented to be unsympathizing with the wants of the people, overbearing and insulting to citizens, officious in the affairs of master and servant, and repulsive to petitions for redress". Given the previous articles, I suspect this means he did not agree that the whites in Texas knew and wanted what was best for the freedmen, and that he insisted they respect the freedmen.(F12).
As part of their campaign against Gregory, the Galveston Daily News reprinted part of an article from the Cincinnati Commercial, which described Gregory as "a pleasant, kindly old man, but thoroughly absorbed in the negro, crochety, confused, obtuse, and with no capacity for affairs". The author admits Gregory has not profited from his position, but insists that he is "odious" because of his "unblushing discriminations against the white, and in favor of the negroes". For example he fined a planter $200, because the planter "boxed an impudent piccaninny [sic] on the ears".(F22) Perhaps the real complaint is that he had committed the unpardonable offence of believing Negro testimony and rejecting inconsistent White testimony.
On 10 April 1866, he ordered Gaza Harazthy to arrest Augustus Gilmanot and Gilbert Gar for "unmercifully flogging two freedmen". Harazthy arrested them, and wrote his commander to find out if he was under Gregory's orders.(F41).
On 17 April 1866, Flake's Bulletin requested Gregory to ask the freedmen to be calmer during their religious meetings, since he "has the confidence of these people", and "we have no doubt but that a word from him would remedy the evil more readily than all the law-executing force in the city".(F69)
Gregory's third tour of Texas had ended by 18 April 1866.(F8) He then reported that he had visited western Texas, which was the major area he had not yet visited. He claimed that the laborers were working hard throughout that area, and that his agents were easily settling disputes between them and their employers. He admitted, however, that instances of mistreatment of and violence against freedment had increased dramatically in March and April, because of the significant reductions in Army troops. He praised the freedmen for working hard, even when the government had little power to force them to. He predicted that more would be made from the sugar, corn, wheat, and cotton crops than in any previous year. The Bureau was directing 42 days schools, 29 night schools, and 19 sunday schools, with 43 teachers, and a total attendane of 4,590; there were another 18 to 20 private schools in Texas.
By the end of his third tour, his replacement had been announced.(F13) Howard announced that Brigadier General Kiddoo would become the Assistant Commissioner, and recalled Gregory to Washington. He also commended Gregory "for the marked energy and ability with which he has discharged his duties as Assistant Commissioner". The Galveston Daily News was less complimentary, unsurprisingly, claiming that "the great majority of the people of Texas will be abundantly delighted to hear of his removal".(F14) (On the other hand, Flake's Bulletin published a statement from planters in Falls County talking about how well the freedmen were working, and supporting Captain A P Delano.(F68) And the San Antonio Express claimed that "though he may have many enemies in this State, he has also many friends who respect and esteem him".(F71))
Howard removed Gregory because of political pressure caused by white planters' complaints (including the complaints published in the Galveston Daily Times)--as far as I can judge from the limited evidence I've seen, because he insisted on full legal rights for the ex-slaves.(F28) Apparently, General HG Wright had also said that Gregory lacked the requisite "amenity of manner" and "savoir faire".(F31) The Galveston Daily News later described Gregory's errors:(F27)
The General was very oppressive--used his authority to insult ladies, and to injure gentlemen, with a recklessness of feeling, such as could have been expected only in the essential enemy of humanity himself ....
He did also appoint problematic subordinates. For example, according to the New York Times, Captain Sloan, who was sub-assistant commissioner in Richmond, forced them to work on his own plantation, abused freedmen, and took bribes, including one that allowed a planter to avoid trial for assault and battery with intent to kill a freedman.(F49) Gregory was himself accused of owning plantations, but those accusations were baseless.(F72)
In April 1866, a controversy tangentially involving Gregory hit the newspapers. Flake's Bulletin accused Cushing of being willing to accept bribes to support any position, because Gregory had allegedly told Matthew Whildin, associate editor of Flake's Bulletin, that Mr Cushing, editor of the Houston Telegraph, would advocate negro suffrage for ten thousand dollars. One of the supposed witnesses, Judge Caldwell, reported a conversation with Gregory in January 1866. He had pointed out an article in the Telegraph favorable to freedmen, and told Gregory that although Cushing was trying to sell the Telegraph, he thought Cushing would advocate "the President's policy of rehabilitating the States upon true republican principles" if he was indemnified against his probable monetary loss.(F24)
Some time in April 1866, Colonel JB Kinsman was ordered to investigate the management of the Texas Freedmen's Bureau.(F25)
On 25 April 1866, Flake's Bulletin announced that Captain Morse, Gregory's Inspector General, had been relieved, at his own request.(F70) (I don't have any direct evidence that his request is connected to Gregory's removal, but that seems likely.)
The present aspect of affairs of the Bureau in this State is very encouraging. I am agreeably disappointed in all I have heard or seen this far.
Gen. Gregory has received me with commendable cordiality and has been very dilligent [sic] in giving me the result of his very valuable experience and all the information I may need for the conduct of the Bureau. I feel it is my duty to report his kindness in this particular to the Commissioner.
[Gregory's fourth tour and departure]
After he was relieved, Gregory conducted a fourth and final tour of Texas. He and General Kiddoo were at the Old Capital Hotel, in Houston, on 17 May 1866.(F26) He was in San Antonio before that.(F71) This tour included Washington, Grimes, and adjacent counties.(F73) They spoke to many freedmen, reportedly telling them that their duty was to work late to recover from the excess rain (which caused excessive grass growth).(F73) They reported that the planters were generally satisfied.(F73)
Gregory left Texas for New Orleans on 20 June 1866, with General Sheridan, who had just finished a tour of the Rio Grande.(F15)
In July 1866, Generals Steedman and Fullerton visited Texas as part of a tour investigating the Freedmen's Bureau. The New York Times reporter with them initially reported that Gregory was "evidently a bitter and implacable radical", and that "[e]vidence of arbitrary and oppressive decisions has been elicited, which were made by Gen. Gregory, and which will soon be made public". However, a week later, he reported that Gregory was "undoubtedly a pure and honest man, though a Radical of the deepest dye, [but] was exceedingly unfortunate in the choice of some of his subordinates, as recent developments have shown that a portion of them have been engaged in planting, and have also been guilty of malfeasance in office". (Although he claims that Gregory's key mistake was appointing civilians as agents, the only agent he mentions by name as having "been guilty of misdemeanors" is Captain Sloan!)(F50). The Steedman-Fullerton report concludes, "While we believe Gen. Gregory to have been honest in his administration, we think his extreme views and policy produced ill-feeling and bitterness between the whites and blacks."(F51)
Perhaps we should give more credence to the report of an educated free African American who lived with the freedmen in Texas for two months. Besides describing horrifying conditions, with the freedmen treated as slaves, cheated, robbed, murdered, and "infinitely worse off ... than ... during the war", he noted: "Through Cana, in Fort Bend and Horton counties, the poor freedmen have heard of Gen. Gregory, and they whisper his name among themselves, and pray that they may see him and lay before him their numerous grievances for redress."(F74) Gregory needs no further commendation.
Gregory's obituary claims that while in Texas he "did good service and gained the respect of the white population, as well as the devotion of the freedmen".(F52)
Assistant Commissioner, Maryland
Howard (Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau) ordered him to tour Texas for the commissioner, report to Washington, and after taking 20 days leave, to become assistant commissioner for Maryland.(G11) He placed Gregory on a Board to revise the regulations of the Freedmen's Bureau for several months.(F32)) He was appointed Assistant Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau in Maryland on 1 September 1866.(G12)
In fall 1866, he was still living at 1438 North 13th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the city directory lists his occupation as US General.(G18)
He was appointed brevet major general by general order 67, 16 July 1867, for 'gallant conduct in the battle of Five Forks, Va. Apr 1, 1865' to date from 9 August 1866.(G1)
On 13 October 1866, he wrote a letter to OO Howard, summarizing his investigation of the riot on 30 August 1866 at the camp meeting at the Methodist Episcopal grounds, in Shipley's Woods, Anne Arundel County, Maryland. He concluded that the riot was premeditated, started by white people, intended to attack the colored people who were properly camped there, and was also aimed at breaking up the camp meeting, because its ministers and members were believed to be opposed to slavery. The Annapolis Gazette urged its readers to "ponder over the danger which threatens that Church [sc. the Methodist Church] if these men obtain supreme power in the State". (G3)
He wrote a report in November 1866.
On 15 November 1866, Ulysses S Grant wrote to Secretary of War Stanton recommending either Chas. T. Campbelle or Gregory for appointment as Lieutenant Colonel in the 37th Infantry, but on 19 November he wrote recommending Galusha Pennypacker instead, enclosing a letter from Governor Curtin (which isn't reprinted in his papers).
On 16 November 1866, he gave a speech at a meeting celebrating the anniversary of the Union Orphan Asylum, held at the New Assembly Rooms in Baltimore Maryland.(G20).
On 22 December 1866, he removed four negro children from an apprenticeship, returning them to their parents. The children had been legally apprenticed two years earlier.(G13)
Some time around April 1867, Gregory was staying at the principal hotel in Frederick City, on official business. Three African-American clergymen visited him there. The hotel's proprietor insisted that Gregory leave the hotel, since Gregory had entertained African Americans outside his private room. After trying unsuccessfully to explain, Gregory agreed. As he was leaving, the proprietor insisted that he would have assaulted the African Americans and Gregory, to which Gregory replied that he would not have permitted it. (G14)
In April 1867, he gave a speech at the African Methodist Episcopal Conference.(G21)
In late April 1867, Gregory and others visited Easton, Maryland. He spoke at an African American church on Sunday, about "education and the proper course to pursue to make themselves useful to their families and to themselves". On Monday, he spoke at a meeting at the newly built Stevenson Institute, about "the education, the morals, the conduct, and the rights of the black man". He advised African Americans to be "industrious, courteous and moral", commanding respect "by good conduct and uprightness". He also insisted that the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence accorded the same rights to African Americans as to whites. (G22)
In May 1867, he spoke at the Maryland Radical State Convention. He said that he "had just come from an association where the ladies declared for equal rights", and that he wanted all men to have the right to vote. (G23)
The Freedman's Bureau and the Baltimore Association held educational meetings throughout Maryland in 1867. These were better attended than expected. Gregory and Hugh Lennox Bond (a Baltimore Criminal Court judge) spoke at a meeting in Dorchester County in June 1867; the Baltimore American estimated that three thousand people attended. Two to three thousand blacks attended a meeting in Havre de Grace (Harford County) in July. And 1000-1200 attended a meeting near Prince Frederick (Calvert County), and 1000-1500 attended a meeting in Centreville (Queen Anne's County) a week later. Meetings with more than one thousand attendees were also held in September at Port Tobacco (Charles County) and at Leonardtown (St Mary's County).(G4) Gregory apparently spoke about the "duty of industry and scrupulous regard to the performance of contracts entered into"(G7), and advised the audience to be "polite, humble, honest, and industrious"(G10).
Gregory spoke at a temperance meeting in Philadelphia, apparently in June 1867.(G15) Late in June 1867, he was admitted to the sessions of the National Temperance Convention, in Wilmington Delaware.(G24)
On 21 July 1867, he spoke briefly at the dedication of the Gregory Aged Women's Home, in Baltimore, Maryland.(G25)
On 28 July 1867, he spoke to a meeting at Havre de Grace, "on the moral and educational improvement" of African Americans.(G26)
In fall 1867, he was still living at 1438 North 13th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the city directory lists his occupation as "u.s.a.".(G19)
The 1 August 1867 meeting at Centreville (Queen Anne's County) was disrupted by whites, who started a scuffle that became a larger battle, with several blacks seriously injured. No whites were arrested. The Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser claimed the riots were incited by the Centreville Observer, and condoned (and perhaps organized by) the county Sheriff. The Centreville Citizen ("a radical paper") published a report by someone who allegedly was sympathetic to the South. He claimed that Gregory's speech was "more intemperate" in style than the other speakers, but did not object to its content. After the meeting concluded, a drunk white man and an African American fought "about passing each other on the sidewalk", and later an African American show at a town commissioner. (The commissioner convinced the crowd who arrested his assailant to deal with him legally.) He concluded that "though some of the negroes were ripe for a riot, still it would not have taken place but for the rashness of a few intoxicated white men". (G9)
In August 1867, Gregory closed a meeting of African Americans in Calvert County, Maryland, by singing the doxology.(G16) I have no idea why this was noteworthy--noteworthy enough, in fact, to be reported in Texas.
On 16 August 1867, "Many Union Citizens" in Baltimore wrote to Ulysses S Grant that the Freedman's Bureau in Baltimore, controlled by Gregory, was extravagantly wasting money that should have gone to Negroes. Erastus Tyler wrote a letter to Andrew Johnson, which was endorsed by Montgomery Blair, claiming that "no other ten men had done 'half the dirty work for the extremists, or half the mischeif [sic] this man Gregory' had done".(G6)
The Washington Star claimed that the attempt to remove Gregory was "very ill-advised", since Gregory was responsible for advancing the freedmen in Maryland "in industry, intelligence, thrift and probity". It suggested that those who were opposed to Gregory were "men who would destroy the Union to-morrow, if they could, men who hate the negro because his enfranchisement was literally the turning point in saving the Union from destruction at the hands of the atrocious conspirators who engineered the rebellion." (G17)
On 2 September 1867 the Lincoln Zouaves (from Baltimore) staged a "grand encampment" in Baltimore, on the grounds of the Gregory Aged Women's Home, which lasted for three days. The speakers included Gregory, Archibald Stirling Jr., and Captain MH Maroney of the US Army. Fukes describes the speech in this way:(G8)
'The remarks of General Gregory were perhaps the most forceful. "The sufferings endured by the Union soldiers during the rebellion," he said," were not intended to save the life of the nation, but were [to ensure] that four million people for whom Christ died might be set at liberty for ever." Gregory went to stress the value of education, and as a conclusion to the assistant commentator's remarks, Archibald Stirling, Jr. added a clarion call for universal suffrage. "The time is not too far distant," he declared, "when you and I can rally around the same ballot box and there plant our tickets."'
On 12 November 1867 Grant requested that Gregory and any other officers with volunteer rank as high as Brigadier General be mustered out of service. His resignation was accepted on 16 November 1867 (order no 497 AGO). Gregory was mustered out and honorably discharged on 30 November 1867.(G2)
On 11 January 1868, Gregory claimed that the schools were prospering, and that no school had been burned since September 1866.(G5)
On 13 January 1868 General Rawlins wrote General Howard that Grant directed that General Gregory be removed as Assistant Commissioner for Maryland. General Howard replied that Gregory had been detailed as a military officer, and had been continued temporarily when mustered out. The senior officer was to take on the responsibility on 15 February 1868. Howard described Gregory as 'an excellent [off]icer, faithful in the discharge of duty'. He had advised giving him an extra month because there were no charges against him.
F1. Autobiography of Oliver Otis Howard, vol.2, p.218.
'Freedmen's meeting in Washington', New Orleans Tribune 25 July 1865.
See also another report of Wilson's speech in The life and public services of Henry Wilson.
The Library of Congress has a 34-page pamphlet with reports of Day's and Wilson's speeches, reproduced in their "Frederick Douglass Papers" on their website, with a transcription in their "American Memory" pages.
Unfortunately, it merely claims that Gregory and Hahn made some interesting speeches after Wilson's.
I am assuming "Mr. Day, a negro" was William Howard Day.
Further support occurs in an 1866 'Letter from a radical on the Freedmen's Bureau', which claims Gregory had "twenty-five years of Anti-Slavery life".
F3. Strong, Testimony before the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, 1 January 1866. 'Radical Misrepresentations in England', Galveston Daily News, 27 April 1866, page 2, column 2.
F4. note about Elmore's arrest (New Orleans Tribune 24 December 1865; since this was republished from a notice in the Houston Telegraph of 1 December, the arrest apparently occurred in November 1865), 'Texas' (New York Times 9 December 1865, page 2), 'The city [re Elmore vs Gregory]' (Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph 1 December 1865, page 5), 'The city' (Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph 1 December 1865 p 7), 'Freedmen hunted with bloodhounds' (Philadelphia Inquirer 9 December 1865 page 1), 'Highly important decision' (Flake's Bulletin 17 January 1866 page 4), and 'Texas' (Philadelphia Inquirer 31 March 1870 page 2).
F5. Report, Gregory to Howard, 9 December 1865, Galveston Texas. National Archives, Record Group 105, microfilm publication M821, reel 1 (Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Texas, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1869, Letters Sent, Volume 1), pages 65-70. A slightly revised version is printed in the serial set as Senate Executive Document Number 27, 39th Congress, 1st session, serial set volume 1238.
F6. special order 351, War Dept, AGO, 5 July 1865 (in compiled service record). On his tenure as Assistant Commissioner, see especially William L Richter, Overreached on all sides: The freedmen's bureau in Texas, 1865-1868 (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 1991), especially pages 3-75); and Barry A. Crouch, The Freedmen's Bureau and Black Texans (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992), especially pp.14-21. Richter, especially, quotes from unpublished manuscripts. I haven't tried summarizing their conclusions, though I have drawn on them for a few facts. (And their descriptions have led me to admire Gregory.)
F7. Edgar Gregory to Major General O O Howard, 31 January 1866 (from NARA RG 105, microfilm M821 reel 1 pages 122-125). See also the summaries in 'Affairs in Texas' Georgia Weekly Telegraph 26 February 1866 page 8 and 'Freedmen's Bureau' New Hampshire Sentinel 8 February 1866 page 2, and the brief mention in 'Telegraphic', Dallas Herald 3 March 1866 page 3.
F8. letter, Gregory to Howard, 18 April 1866. For a later evaluation of the schools, see 'The Colored schools of Texas' (Flake's Bulletin 19 May 1867 page 4 [reprinted 21 May 1867 page 4 and Flake's Bulletin 22 May 1867 page 4). See also 'From Texas' (Macon Daily Telegraph 24 April 1866 page 4), 'From Texas' (Georgia Weekly Telegraph 30 April 1866 page 2), 'The Freedmen's Bureau in Texas' (Philadelphia Inquirer 19 May 1866, page 1), 'The synopsis of an important report ...' (Flake's Bulletin 31 May 1866 page 18), and 'The Texas Freedmen' (Flake's Bulletin 31 May 1866 page 6).
F13. [rumor of Gregory's relief], Galveston Daily News 7 Apr 1866; [official notice of Gregory's relief], Galveston Daily News 13 Apr 1866; [Gregory's replacement], Galveston Daily News 14 April 1866. See [prediction of Gregory's relief] (Flake's Bulletin 6 April 1866 page 4) for an early prediction; also 'Gen. Gregory', Flake's Bulletin 15 April 1866 page 4; and 'The case of General Gregory'. Philadelphia Inquirer 26 April 1866 page 1.
F14. 'Headquarters Bureau of Refugees Freedmen and Abandoned Lands' (Flake's Bulletin 22 May 1866 page 5). See also [official notice of Gregory's relief] (Galveston Daily News 13 Apr 1866), 'Brevet Brigadier-General E. M. Gregory' (Flake's Bulletin 17 April 1866 page 4). For the same quotation, see 'Gen. Gregory relieved' (Dallas Herald 28 April 1866 page 1). For a later criticism, see 'The Galveston News of the 16th ...' (Daily Columbus Enquirer, 29 July 1866, page 1).
F16. Letter, Kiddoo to Howard, 14 May 1866.
F17. Letter, Kiddoo to Howard, 14 May 1866.
F23. Edgar Gregory to Major General O O Howard, 31 Sep 1865 (from NARA RG 105, microfilm M821 reel 1 pages 6-7); 'Brig. Gen. Gregory, ...', Dallas Herald 16 September 1865, page 2. See also 'It is believed by some ...', Dallas Herald 21 October 1865 page 2, which claims that near the end of October they had heard of no appointments by General Gregory.
F24. 'Mr. Cushing and his ten thousand dollars' (Galveston Daily News, 25 April 1866, page 2, column 2), and 'Judge Caldwell and Mr. Cushing' (Galveston Daily News, 3 May 1866, page 2 column 5, partly reprinting a story from the Telegraph). See also 'Mr. Cushing and his ten thousand dollars' (Galveston Daily News 27 April 1866, page 2 column 3), which reprints the answer in the Telegraph, which claims that they 'have no interest in what [Gen. Gregory] thinks, says, or does', 'A Card', by EH Cushing (Galveston Daily News 29 April 1866 page 2 column 6 (reprinted from the Houston Telegraph), 'Mr. Cushing and his ten thousand dollars' (Flake's Bulletin 24 April 1866, page 4), 'Mr. Cushing's ten thousand dollars (Flake's Bulletin, 26 April 1866, page 4), 'Mr. Flake, of the Bulletin, ....' (Flake's Bulletin 1 May 1866, page 4), and 'Mr. Telegraph man, ....' (Flake's Bulletin, 4 May 1866, page 1).
F26. 'Letter from Houston', Galveston Daily News 18 May 1866 page 2 column 6. This claims that Gregory used his office for private gain, that he is "vile and hypocritical", and that "those who have seen him are struck with loathsome disgust at the mere contemplation of his features"! The author's vituperation was too much even for the News (see 'Gen. Gregory').
F27. 'Gen. Gregory' (Galveston Daily News 19 May 1866, page 2, column 2). For a general statement, without details, see 'From our Texas correspondent' ([Columbus Georgia] The Daily Sun 6 May 1866 page 2).
For Andrew Johnson's opposition to the Freedmen's Bureau (but not specifically about Texas or Gregory), see Hans L Trefousse, 'Andrew Johnson and the Freedmen's Bureau', in The Freedmen's Bureau and Reconstruction, ed. Paul A Cimbala and Randall M Miller (New York: Fordham, 1999), pages 29-45.
Crouch refers to "numerous complaints" about Gregory, citing "letters in the Commissioner's Files, RG 105, and the Andrew Johnson Papers (Library of Congress)" (The Freedmen's Bureau and Black Texans, page 20 and page 147 note 30).
I am inclined to disregard the suggestion in a 'Letter from a radical on the Freedmen's Bureau', published in 1866, that Gregory was removed because of his refusal to dismiss an effective Superintendent of Schools (EM Wheelock) merely because he was a Unitarian. The general tenor of the letter indicates that if the author had had any evidence for that suggestion, he would have trumpeted the claim, since the letter is an attack on General Howard (the Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau) for making personnel decisions based on the doctrinal beliefs of the person rather than on the person's competence. (Wheelock was later reappointed; see ' ... Our friend E. M. Wheelock Esq., ...' (San Antonio Express 19 November 1867 page 1).
F29. Bentley, History of the Freedmen's Bureau, p.121, citing letter, Howard to Gregory, 3 March 1866, letters sent II 95.
F30. Bentley, History of the Freedmen's Bureau, page 121, citing Galveston Daily News 6 and 7 March 1866.
F31. Bentley, History of the Freedmen's Bureau, page 121, citing General HG Wright to Howard, 18 December 1865, Freedmen's Bureau records, synopses of reports. Crouch, The Freedmen's Bureau and Black Texans, page 20, citing PH Sheridan to Howard, 20 December 1865, and HG Wright to Sheridan, 18 December 1865, both in Commissioner's Files, Letters Received.
F32. 'A board to revise the regulations of the Freedmen's Bureau' ([Baltimore] Sun 28 July 1866, page 1). Bentley, History of the Freedmen's Bureau, page 121, citing Freedman's Bureau records for Texas, General and Special Orders, Circulars and Rosters of Officers, page 319.
F33. Crouch, The Freedmen's Bureau and Black Texans, page 14, citing Conway to Howard, 2 September 1865
F34. Crouch, The Freedmen's Bureau and Black Texans, page 14, citing Howard to Conway, 17 July 1865, T-11, Box 7 (telegram); Howard to Conway, 15 July 1865, Freedmen's Bureau, Louisiana Assistant Commissioner, letters received.
F35. Richter Overreached page 19 claims Gregory took a trip "immediately after his September 5 arrival at Galveston". But he refers only to Gregory's letter to Howard (21 September 1865), in which Gregory says he has seen one hundred or more planters, but does not say where he has seen them.
F37. The Association was also called the Colored People's Educational Monument Association, and the Educational Monument Association to the Memory of Abraham Lincoln. See also 'The Colored Lincoln Monument Association', Philadelphia Inquirer, 6 July 1865, page 4
F47. 'Texas'. New York Times 26 February 1866 page 1. Also 'From Texas' Philadelphia Inquirer 8 February 1866 page 1 'From Texas' Philadelphia Inquirer 26 February 1866 page 1, and 'The Hon David G Burnet ...' Dallas Herald 17 February 1866, page 3. See also 'The Labor Bureau', Flake's Bulletin 8 March 1866 page 5
F49. E.P.B. 'Gen. Steedman's Tour'. New York Times 29 July 1866, page 2 Some of his officers were accepted; for one example, see 'We have had the pleasure ...' (Dallas Herald 13 February 1869 page 1).
F50. E.P.B. 'Gen. Steedman's Tour'. New York Times 29 July 1866, page 2; and EPB, 'A cowardly officer--Gen. Gregory's administration ...'. New York Times 29 July 1866
F51. 'The Southern investigation' (New York Times 10 August 1866); see also 'We hear that an effort ...' (Flake's Bulletin, 9 June 1866, page 4), 'Generals Fullerton and Steadman ...' (Flake's Bulletin 15 June 1866 page 4), 'General Gregory' (Flake's Bulletin 19 June 1866 page 4), 'Major General Steadman ...' (Flake's Bulletin 8 July 1866 page 4), 'The Mission of the two generals'. Flake's Bulletin 10 July 1866 page 4), 'Genls. Steadman and Fullerton ...'. Flake's Bulletin 12 July 1866, page 4), and 'From Galveston'. Philadelphia Inquirer 14 July 1866 page 1).
F53. 'Closing of the United States Hospital at York, Pa.', Philadelphia Inquirer, 3 August 1865, page 1
F54. [re appointment of General Gregory to the Freedmen's Bureau], The Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph 11 August 1865 page 4
F55. 'The city', Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph 27 September 1865 page 7. see also 'From New Orleans', Philadelphia Inquirer 5 October 1865 page 1. See also the amusing variant in 'From the Gulf' (The Macon Daily Telegraph, 7 October 1865, page 2) and [Gregory's speech] ([Georgia] The Daily Sun 8 October 1865 page 2), according to which Gregory assured the freedmen that "they should not be burthened by the government", instead of that they should not be a burden to the government!
F64. 'Return of Gen. Gregory', Flake's Bulletin 29 December 1865 page 4. I suspect this is the tour the Philadelphia Inquirer referred to in 'From New Orleans and Texas', Philadelphia Inquirer 1 January 1866 page 1.
F68. 'To Brevet-Brig.-Gen. Gregory' (Flake's Bulletin 17 April 1866 page 4). See also 'The Assistant Commissioner of Freedmen' (Flake's Bulletin 13 May 1866 page 4), and 'General Gregory' (Flake's Bulletin 19 June 1866 page 4).
F72. 'In speaking of the order ...' (Flake's Bulletin 31 May 1866 page 4); 'General Gregory' (Flake's Bulletin 19 June 1866 page 4), 'The Mission of the two generals'. Flake's Bulletin 10 July 1866 page 4), and 'Genls. Steadman and Fullerton ...'. Flake's Bulletin 12 July 1866, page 4).
F74. 'A rich letter' (Flake's Bulletin 22 January 1867 page 5). For further description of the abysmal state in Texas, see 'Senator Wilson's charge against Texas' (Flake's Bulletin 6 March 1867 page 5).
G2. Field and staff muster-out roll [in compiled service record], which cites par. 11 special order 497 Hd Qrs of the Army AGO. Officers' casualty sheet (citing same order) (in compiled service record). See also 'Washington, Nov. 21 ...' (Flake's Bulletin 22 November 1867 page 1 [reprinted at Flake's Bulletin 23 November 1867 page 1]; also Georgia Weekly Telegraph 29 November 1867 page 4).
G3. letter, EM Gregory to OO Howard, 13 October 1866, reprinted in the New York Times, 19 October 1866, page 1, column 5. 'The Camp-meeting outrage--the truth vindicated' (Annapolis Gazette, 25 December 1866, page 2).
G4. Fuke, 'Land, lumber, and learning', pp.304-305, citing articles from the Baltimore American on 1 and 30 July, 3, 5 and 12 August, and 5 September 1867. Fuke Imperfect Equality page 172 claims that the Bureau and Association sponsered more than 20 meetings in rural counties in 1866-1867; citing Annapolis Gazette 26 Apr 1866; Baltimore American 22 May 1866, 6 and 30 July, 24 August, and 5 September 1867; Baltimore Sun 10 September 1867; and Special Order 125 (RG 105, DC, Book Records, Special Orders, Assistant Commissioners, 1867).
G5. Bentley, History of the Freedmen's Bureau, page 180, citing a report by Gregory, in Freedmen's Bureau, letters received.
G6. Bentley, History of the Freedmen's Bureau, page 197, citing Tyler to Blair, 23 September 1867, and Blair to Johnson, 7 January 1868, Johnson Papers volumes 121, 128; Howard to WG Moore, 10 February 1868, Johnson Papers, volume 131.
G7. Fuke Imperfect equality, p.36, citing Baltimore American 5 August 1867.
G8. Fuke Imperfect equality pages 187-188, citing Baltimore American 4 September 1867.
G9. 'The riot at Centreville, MD', [Baltimore] American and Commercial Advertiser, Monday 5 August 1867, page 1, column 4. 'The late disturbance at Centreville' ([Baltimore] Sun 6 August 1867 page 2). See also 'General Gregory' (Annapolis Gazette 15 August 1867 page 2). See Fuke Imperfect equality page 206, citing Baltimore Gazette 3, 6, and 9 August 1867; Baltimore American 3, 5, and 6 August 1867; Baltimore Sun 3 and 6 August 1867.
G10. Fuke Imperfect equality page 237, citing Baltimore American 25 April 1867.
G11. See Fuke Imperfect equality (especially chapters 2 and 5) on the Maryland Freedmen's Bureau.
G12. Bentley History of the Freedmen's Bureau page 215. See also 'The report that Gen. Tillson ...' ([Georgia?] The Daily Sun 6 September 1866 page 2), [assigned in Maryland] ([Baltimore] Sun 1 September 1866, page 4), and and 'Brig. General Gregory has been appointed ...' (Flake's Bulletin 8 September 1866 page 4).
G25. 'Dedication of the Gregory Aged (Colored) Women's Home', [Baltimore] Sun 22 July 1867, page 1.