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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE

(Private)

NEW ORLEANS, March 7th, 1863.

DEAR SIR: Of late my letters have been destitute of interest. The reason is simple - I have nothing to say. I have but little to say now.
No military movements have been made. The whole energy of the Department is occupied apparently, in preparations for a grand attack on Port Hudson. The intended expedition up the Teche to Red River, was relinquished, as you have been informed. Officers recently from Baton Rouge think the movement on Port Hudson will occur in about three weeks. Gen. Banks went up the River this afternoon, and many people in the city think the attack is to be made at once. I have not asked Gen. Banks anything about it, as he evidently dislikes to reveal his intentions.
My opinions concerning the management of the Department - the comparative merits of Butler and Banks - the necessity of Gen. Butler's return, etc. - remain unchanged. It seems to me a great opportunity has been lost. Since Banks' arrival a large negro army might have been enrolled and made efficient. Gen. Banks is evidently opposed to such measures, though they would not have interfered with other operations. As it is, but one regiment has been raised. From twenty to Fifty thousand ought now to be ready for the field in this Department - and they alone could have cleaned out Louisiana. Without authority Gen. Butler raised three regiments. If he had been here since the 1st. January I think he would have a large colored army in process of organization. This thing must be done, and the sooner the better.
From what I can learn, Gen. Butler is probably not to return here. His presence here now would be worth ten thousand men. My admiration for him increases every day, as continued opportunities occur, of comparing his command with the present. I have certain information that if he does return, his brother Col. Butler will immediately depart. I have been engaged this week in assisting Mr. Bullitt, who arrived a week ago. We shall get along well together, As acting Collector of Internal Revenue, I have done nothing, but shall write you about it by next mail. Are you not going to appoint an assessor?
I have just learned that all available troops have started for Baton Rouge. Perhaps the attack comes off soon.

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

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