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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
NEW ORLEANS, September 9th, 1862.
DEAR SIR: The newspapers which I send, will give you most of the local news.
One Regiment of the Free Colored Brigade is full, and about 500 more are already enlisted. Surgeons and officers speak highly of the physical qualities of the men. Most of them are a very light color, and, I believe,
will make good soldier's. I admire the characteristic
shrewdness with which Gen. Butler has managed this affair. By
accepting a regiment which had already been in Confederate Service,
he left no room for complaint (by the Rebels) that
the Government were arming the negroes. But, in enlisting,
nobody inquires whether the recruit is (or has been) a slave. As
a consequence the boldest and finest fugitives have
enlisted, while the whole organization is known as the "Free
Colored Brigade." Without doubt it will be a success.
understood here that Gen. Phelps' resignation has been accepted.
The controversy between Generals Butler and Phelps,
is much regretted by the best Union men. Gen. Phelps is
beloved by his soldiers, and no man has suspected his integrity
and disinterestedness. This is not strictly true of Gen.
Butler, for while all admire his great ability, many of his
soldiers think him selfish and cold-hearted, and many soldiers and
citizens - Union and Secessionists think he is
interested in the speculations of his brother (Col. Butler)
Sometimes circumstances look very suspicious, but if
I happen to hear his explanation of the same
circumstances, suspicion almost entirely disappears. I have never
been able to discover any good proof that Gen. Butler
has improperly done, or permitted, anything for his own
pecuniary advantage. He is such a smart man, that it would in
any case, be difficult to discover what he wished to conceal.
But it is the general impression here that money
will accomplish anything with the authorities. It seems
probable, that this impression would not exist without some
foundation. It is much to be regretted, but Gen. B.'s
abilities, shrewdness, and just severity toward secessionists
and proper appreciation of the whole rebellion, cause him
to be respected and admired even by his enemies. I believe
Gen. Butler's opposition to the enlistment of negroes by
Gen. Phelps, was not a matter of principle. Gen. Phelps
had the start of him, while Gen. B. wanted the credit of
doing the thing himself, and in his own way. And he is
doing it, shrewdly and completely, as he does everything.
Notwithstanding the impression above mentioned, it would be difficult to find a man capable of filling Gen. Butler's place, and who would give the same satisfaction to Union men.
The City is very healthy, and the coming of Yellow Fever is no longer feared.
The Iron Clad Gunboat Essex is here from up the River.
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