Andrew Johnson

Executive Order—Special Orders: 503

September 19, 1865



It has been represented to the Department that commanders of military posts and districts in Georgia, and particularly Brevet Brigadier-General C. H. Grosvenor, provost-marshal-general, and Brevet Major-General King, commanding in the district of Augusta, have assumed to decide questions of contracts and conflicting claims of property between individuals, and to order the delivery, surrender, or transfer of property and documents of title as between private persons, in which the Government is not concerned.

All such acts and proceedings on the part of military authorities in said State are declared by the President to be without authority and null and void.

All military commanders and authorities within said State are strictly ordered to abstain from any such acts, and not in any way to interfere with or assume to adjudicate any right, title, or claim of property between private individuals, and to suspend all action upon any orders heretofore made in respect to the ownership or delivery of property and the validity of contracts between private persons.

They are also forbidden from being directly or indirectly interested in any sales or contracts for cotton or other products of said State, and from using or suffering to be used any Government transportation for the transporting of cotton or other products of said State for or in behalf of private persons on any pretense whatever.

Military officers have no authority to interfere in any way in questions of sale or contracts of any kind between individuals or to decide any question of property between them without special instructions from this Department authorizing their action, and the usurpation of such power will be treated as a grave military offense.

Major-General Steedman, commanding the Department of Georgia, is specially charged with the enforcement of this order, and directed to make report as to any acts, proceedings, or orders of Brevet Major-General King and Brevet Brigadier-General Grosvenor, provost-marshal-general, in regard to contracts or conflicting claims of individuals in relation to cotton or other products, and to suspend all action upon any such orders until further instructions.

By order of the President of the United States.


Assistant Adjutant-General.

Andrew Johnson, Executive Order—Special Orders: 503 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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