Brig. Gen. James Bowen, of the provost marshal general's office in the Union Army Department of the Gulf, wrote to Brig. Gen. George F. Shepley, military governor of Louisiana, that the levees below New Orleans needed repair and that, "in the absence of adequate negro labor ... fifty negroes from the Parish Prison" had been ordered to do the repair work.
He asked Shepley, a native of Maine and former commander of the 12th Maine Regiment, to approve the order for the black workers.
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