Head Quarters District Office of Florida
Office Asst Commissioner Bureau R.F. & A.L.
Tallahassee FLA Octo 6th 1866
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your communications of the 2nd inst enclosing letter in relation to cases of segmentation of property during the War, by the Rebel authorities, from which it appear that the injured Union Men are not able to obtain justice at the hand of the Civil Authorities and Citizens.
Enclosed please find copy of confidential instructions from Genl. O.O. Howard Comm. B.R.F. & A.L, by which you will be governed. You are hereby authorized to adjudicate our cases of this kind as well as those of Freedmen, in the division of
crops & c. In cases in which you are satisfied that the Civil authorities will not render justice to Union Men or Freedmen or are disposed to impose upon them oppressive fines or sentences. You will notify each party at issue, to select a person (as required by Confidential instructions) to sit as a member of the Bureau Court, which will be formally opened and the proceedings recorded. You will, unless you prefer to have Judge Wall perform this duty, be the presiding member. Should either party refuse to select one for them, and proceed with the Court the same as though they had made the selection. Should it be necessary the sentence will be enforced by the military force under your command.
The case presented by you of Messier, Jones, Platt, and Jackson, comes properly under this order and you will immediately take the necessary steps to comence a court and decide upon it. If you do not feel competent or have not the time from your other duties, you may notify Judge P.G Wall of Brooksville, agent B.R.F. & A.L. to perform the duty.
Your obat Servt
** In this communication orders are given by General Howard, which the Freedmen’s Bureau Agents were to oversee the trials of both Freedmen and Union Men who were being tried under the Civil Courts. If the Agents felt that the trials of these parties were being tried inappropriately then the Bureau had the right to step in and the trial would be transferred to the U.S. Courts. Under these orders a representative of the Freedmen’s Bureau was ordered to sit in on the proceedings of any Freedmen or Union Men. If the Civil Courts did not comply then military force could be commanded.