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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE

(Unofficial)

NEW ORLEANS, December 10th, 1862.

DEAR SIR: I send this letter by Mr. Flanders who leaves to-day for Washington, and suggest that you talk fully with him concerning affairs here. I mean military and political affairs, with which he is quite familiar. You can rely perfectly on the integrity of Mr. F. An occurrence has just taken place which causes me to feel much indignation and some chagrin.
Col. Butler has three or four men in his employ who manage his business for him. The principal one is a Mr. Wyer. Some days ago Wyer loaded a vessel for Matamoras. She was loaded in the New Basin, and when she got into the Lake, ran into Pontchitoula.
This information reached me two days ago and since then I have been investigating the matter and am satisfied that .it was a predetermined plan to take the cargo to Pontchitoula for the rebels, instead of going to Matamoras. I am also satisfied that Col. Butler was the sole owner of the cargo.
The vessel was the Schooner "L. L. Davis", 95 tons burden, and 500 sacks salt, was the greater portion of her cargo. This is worth in Rebeldom the astonishing price of $150. per sack. Cotton could be bought there at not more than 15 cts. per pound and delivered at some point on the Mississippi whence it could be brought hither. Near Matamoras, salt is abundant and cheap. I expressed astonishment to Wyer when he cleared the vessel, that he should send salt to that port, but he pretended to have information that he could get a good price for it.
I have just been to see Gen. Butler and laid the whole matter before him with statement of proof that the "Davis" was loaded with intention to run the blockade. I cannot give this statement in one letter, but it is sufficient to say that Gen. Butler expressed himself perfectly satisfied that such was the intention. I then told him I believed Col. Butler was the owner of the cargo - & gave my reasons.
Gen. Butler assures me he will immediately investigate the matter thoroughly & if Col. Butler or those associated with him, are interested in the operation, he & they shall instantly leave the Department of the Gulf. He manifested great indignation which I cannot believe feigned, judging from his appearance. I am confident I can bring forward sufficient proof to convince any honest Jury that the vessel is Col. Butler's and that he intended to take the cargo to Rebels. This statement I intend to make to Gen. Butler to-morrow morning, so that, if he please, he can permit me to collect and present the evidence.
Yesterday I had a long conversation with Admiral Farragut who holds the same opinion regarding this matter as myself.
The Gunboat at the mouth of New Canal, is the "New London," commanded by Capt. Read (Lieut. Commanding). I am afraid he will be made to suffer but it would be very unjust, for he was not deficient in vigilance, and is an honest and faithful officer. I am more in fault than he is, for I allowed myself to be deceived though any man however vigilant, would have been deceived in the same manner.
I shall report to you promptly this progress and result of the investigation. Please excuse the hasty manner in which I am obliged to write.

P. S. Pontchitoula is in the northern part of Lake Pontchartrain - somewhat inland.

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

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