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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 26th, 1862.
DEAR SIR: The troops at Baton Rouge have evacuated the place, without destroying it, and are now joined to Gen. Phelps' command at Carrolton. His effective force is now about six thousand men and many guns, and is sufficient for the defence of the place. The fortifications are strong, and Gen. Phelps has the entire confidence of his men. An attack on the City was feared, and therefore the troops were brought down from Baton Rouge. The secessionists confidently expect the city to be taken soon, and had they sue-
seeded at Baton Rouge, an attack on the City would have followed immediately. I do not believe it will now be made, but if attempted, will certainly be unsuccessful. They expected aid in the City, but Gen. Butler has disarmed all citizens. About 25,000 arms of various kinds have been given up.
The first Louisiana Reg't.
is full and ready for service, and nearly enough men enlisted to forma second Reg't. The men are generally foreigners - many Germans - and will do good service.
A free Colored Reg't. formerly in Rebel service, is being organized. Probably this Regiment will be increased to a Brigade. I urged this matter upon Gen. Butler, but he had already decided upon it favorably. The free negroes of Louisiana, are certainly superior, as a class, to the Creoles (descendants of French and Spanish settlers). They are intelligent, energetic and industrious, as is evident from the fact (as stated to me) that they own one seventh of the real estate in this city. This is their own work, for they commenced with nothing, of course.
will be good soldiers. Gen. Phelps has at his camp 1,500 men - escaped slaves. Enough to make a full regiment are drilled (without arms) and go through all movements well. I do not know whether Gen. Butler intends them to have arms. They are good looking men, and I believe will be good soldiers.
The health of the troops is good, except those lately at Vicksburg, among whom however, deaths have been few. The City is quite healthy, and there is no longer much danger from Yellow Fever. This is owing to Gen. Butler's severe quarantine regulations. A few more days of health will render us perfectly secure.
The Union sentiment is developing itself satisfactorily. The laboring classes are our friends. When the great Southern armies are broken up they will no longer be afraid, and all will be well.
Provisions are high, and there is much suffering in the City. It is much to be regretted that the River was not opened, so that provisions might be cheap. The condition of the people now is scarcely better than under rebel rule—as to food, I mean.
For other reasons, the opening of & River is of the utmost consequence.
Much complaint is made by Union men, and justly, that those who have been secessionists, are frequently given employment by the authorities, to the exclusion of Union Men. Concerning the Custom House there have been no such complaints, I believe, for I have been particularly careful in selecting officers, but I regret to say that other departments have not exercised the same care.
Col. Butler is a brother of Gen'l. Butler and came out with the army, and immediately commenced doing business. He is not in government employ. He is here for & le purpose of making money, and it is stated by secession - and by some Union men—that he has made half a million dollars, or more. I regret his being here at all, for it is not proper that the brother of the commanding General, should devote himself to such an object. It leads to the belief that the General himself is interested with him, and such is the belief of our enemies and of some of our friends. The effect is bad. General Butler Seems entirely devoted to the interests of the Government. ' I have observed closely his brother's course. I do not believe the General is interested in his speculations. I have delayed mentioning this matter until now, hoping to be better informed. Hon. Reverdy Johnson can give you as much information as I can. I believe Gen. Butler is disinterested and that he is a most able officer though in a difficult position. Should I learn anything further, you will be informed.
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