General Rufus Saxton came to South Carolina as Chief Quartermaster for the South Carolina Expeditionary Force responsible for the victory at Port Royal. He was an honest man, reasonable, straightforward, and a thoroughgoing abolitionist. When he was put in charge of the missionaries and plantation managers who were working in the Beaufort area, he proved to be diplomatic but at the same time consistent in his support for the slaves of the region. He managed the recruitment and organization of the first black regiments in South Carolina, and helped Laura Towne extend her educational efforts throughout the Sea Islands.
After the war, he found a new job as head of the Freedmen’s Bureau in South Carolina. When his goals conflicted with those of President Andrew Johnson, the president removed him from that office. But it soon became apparent that not even a president could get away with treating the Medal of Honor recipient unfairly, and his appointment was quickly restored. In many ways, he serves as the key to success for those who, like Jonathan Grenville, want to treat the former slaves with respect and dignity.