From the Columbia (S. C.) Daily Phoenix, 8/12/1865, p. 3, c. 2
The Estimated Population of Richmond.
Col. O. Brown, Assistant Commissary of the Freedmen’s Bureau for the State of Virginia, on the 15th ultimo made a report to Major-General O. O. Howard, some of the facts stated in which must excite surprise.
“The only barracks occupied by negroes in the vicinity of Richmond are those known as the Chimborazo Hospital. A portion of these barracks has been set apart as homes for such persons as could not afford exorbitant rents, and for the reception of such persons as have been forced to leave their homes by their former masters.
“The whole number of freedmen received at these barracks is twenty-five hundred and seventy-one, and all of these, except eight hundred and eighteen, have found work and homes elsewhere. All of the eight hundred and eighteen still left are supporting themselves. Meanwhile there have been ninety-eight white persons similarly accommodated with quarters in the barracks, sixty of whom are supported by the Government. The entire population of Richmond is computed by officials at about fifty thousand, of whom one-half are colored persons.”
If the population of Richmond was, on the 1st of July, 1865, only fifty thousand, as computed by the officials, it had decreased at least fifty thousand since the 1st of April last. The population of the city was largely over one hundred thousand. If there are now twenty-five thousand negroes in the city, fifteen thousand of them have come hither from the country since the occupation by the Union authorities. The collapse of the Confederacy, and consequent downfall of slavery, has altered very little the condition of the former slaves in this city; they are generally living with their former masters, and are supported by them just as formerly – some receiving wages, some only their victuals and clothes. The negroes who have emigrated from the country are generally young and able-bodied. Among the resident negro population who are living to themselves, there are few widows and orphans, the male negroes not being exposed to, and not having perished like the whites by the casualties of battle during the war.
Many of the whites who draw rations count from two to five negroes in their families. During the war, women, whose husbands were in the Confederate service, flocked to this city with their families to obtain the work put out by that Government and the food distributed by the Citizen Relief Committee. Many of these unhappy people remain here. They have no where to go. Thousands of white men during the war went North to avoid military service, leaving helpless families in this city. Their families remain, but very many of the men have not come back. Women whose husbands are at work, making two dollars a day and over, are drawing rations, fraudulently representing themselves as destitute.