In this series of letters, the details of establishing a Bureau office in the Shenandoah Valley are discussed. Among the specific issues mentioned are: the location of the office in Staunton, the appointment of W. Storer How as the first Bureau officer, the request for the necessary forms and documents, and the need for military assistance. How also comments on the immediate aftermath of the war, including the threat of farmers to reestablish slavery, the hiring of former slaves, the confiscation by the Confederates of a house owned by a free black, medical care for former slaves, and the school situation for blacks in the district.
How makes requests for teachers, protection from Union troops, medical services, the use of the courthouse as a school, and other supplies. Of particular note, How asks for transportation for two ex-slaves from Winchester, Virginia, to Greencastle in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. He also reports on two free blacks who were kidnapped in Franklin County in 1864. For the first time, How discusses the trial of a free black in his district and the role of the Bureau in the proceedings. On the administrative side, How moves the Bureau office from Staunton to Winchester and inquires as to the relationship between the Bureau and free-born and previously manumitted blacks.
Many of these letters address legal matters, and, most importantly, the creation of a board for trying free blacks in Staunton. Other legal matters mentioned are: claims for losses sustained during the war, the confiscation of firearms owned by blacks who hunt on the Sabbath, and a free black who sued her former owner. How comments on the “outrages” made by whites on freedmen and a riot that nearly occurred on Christmas. Because of these outbursts, How reemphasizes the necessity of Union troops in the district to maintain order. As in other letters, How reports on the medical care of ex-slaves, the status of black schools, supplies, and rations.
How discusses a number of court cases involving freedmen, including one of injustice against a particular ex-slave. In a successful case, however, How reports on the arrest of a man who murdered a freedmen. How again sees claims for property of freedmen seized during the Civil War. He also requests transportation for a number of ex-slaves who wish to reunite with their families, including three children who were abducted by Confederate troops. How mentions the supplies and rations of the district, which he thinks can be supplemented by a tax. The rights of blacks to hold and participate in religious services are discussed by How and Tukey. Finally, How provides Brown with his resignation from the Bureau.