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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE

(Private)

NEW ORLEANS, Oct. 8th, 1862.

DEAR SIR: I send you to-day, a map of lower Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, more reliable and rare than any other, hoping an occasional reference to it will be of service to you. The numerous bayous in this part of the country, are navigable for small, and some of them, for large vessels.
The destination of the expedition (Gen'l. Weitzel's Brigade) up the River, spoken of in my last letter, is either Donelsonville [sic a] or Plaquemine. From either of these places, bayous lead to the head of Berwick's Bay, as you see by the map. As I am informed, the design is to take possession, by boats, of what is called (on the map) Lake Chestimache (Berwick's Bay), and of the Bayou leading therefrom to Plaquemine or Donelsonville, thus enclosing a large and rich country, filled with sugar and cotton. The expedition is expected to start in ten or fifteen days, but I believe its object is commercial rather than military .
Berwick is eighty miles from here, connected with New Orleans by the Opelousas Railroad, and is in the Collection District of Teche. I would suggest that whenever you think proper to open the port of Teche, I can give you great assistance, and if you attach it to this District, I can save you much trouble by a Deputy Collector there, and establishing (under your authority) a branch of this Custom House at that point. Large quantities of cotton and sugar remain in that country. I have excellent officers, numerous boats, etc., and should be willing to assume this additional responsibility, if the interests of the Government would be advanced thereby. I would add also that when the port of Mobile is to be opened, I can give you great assistance from this point.
The proclamation of the President is received here, but I have not learned in what spirit it is regarded, except that it is endorsed by the best Union men.
A necessary result of the proclamation, is the organizing and arming of the colored population throughout the South - and for the following reasons -
1st. On account of the assistance they will render the Gov't against the rebels.
2nd. For their own protection against their former masters.
3rd. For the purpose of restraining and controlling them, also [as ?] they may be dangerous to friend and foe alike. One individual can control 50,000 disciplined men, but cannot control a mob of fifty.
The colored Brigade progresses and prospers. Recruits come in faster than they can be provided for. It is the present intention to organize six Regiments at least. Two are full and the third nearly. The Ist. Reg't. received their arms lately, and I have seen them drill. They are fine men and I believe the Reg't. will be equal to any in this Department. They learn more quickly than white soldiers, and will certainly fight, when the proper time comes. You will receive from me by this same mail a private letter concerning trade with the enemy, to which I earnestly call your attention.

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Annual Report of the American Historical Association; Volume II; Washington, Government Printing Office; 1903

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