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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
NEW ORLEANS, March 14th, 1863.
DEAR Sir: Baton Rouge is now the center of interest to everybody in this Department. On the day of writing my last letter, Gen. Banks went up the River. The whole Fleet (except two or three vessels) followed him.
As near as I can ascertain, the situation is as follows.
Gen. Banks has about Forty Thousand men at Baton Rouge, where he has recently erected fortifications. He is quite deficient in cavalry, but well supplied with Artillery. Most of his troops are raw, and the nine months men, whose time is almost expired, are not in good spirits.
The enemy is supposed to have within call of Port Hudson, more men than Banks and better because most of them are veterans. I should think it almost impossible to take Port Hudson by land attack, unless Banks' army is much increased in size and efficiency. It is supposed that Admiral Farragut will run by the batteries with his whole fleet, in which case he would clean out the whole river, and both Vicksbur and Port Hudson would be much distressed for provisions.
Banks sent forward three Brigades last Wednesday or Thursday, but it is said that they have returned. But I think it only a feint that Farragut may be enabled to get past the batteries, and that they will not return until something of the kind is accomplished. The wires are down between here and Baton Rouge and We have no later intelligence. I intend to go up there in a few days, so that I can report to you the exact condition of things, together with probable results.
Gen. Banks' plan for employing the negroes is working well, and the planters express much satisfaction. I sent you the proof sheet of this plan, some time before It was was made public. The negroes receive a small proportion
of the net proceeds, and are obliged to remain on the plantation one year, after they have once returned and entered into agreement to that effect. Gen. Banks has authorized no more negro enlistments (after the 4th. Reg't.)
are building large boats across the lake, and collecting other vessels, with the intention as is supposed, of attempting an attack on New Orleans. It is said this attack is to be made immediately after they have driven Banks back from Port Hudson - which they expect to do very easily. I do not think they will try to come across the Lake, the attempt would be almost hopeless.
Mr. Bullitt seems to be getting along very well but he has with him as confidential adviser, a man named Draper from N. Y., who is the biggest fool I ever saw. I still have in my hands about $50,000. balance of duties collected, which I did not turn over to Mr. Bullitt, there being no specific instructions to that effect. I shall send this on in the manner prescribed by you as soon as possible.
I am preparing an office for Internal Revenue business and arranging books, papers, etc. This is all I can do without an assessor, and probably all you expect me to do. An assessor should be appointed at once.
I wish to suggest to you the importance of securing Mr. B. F. Flanders to the service of the Government. Some office should be given him here, for there is no man who could be of greater service to the Treasury Department than Mr. Flanders, and no one is more deserving. The Mr. Walton whom he recommended to you, is an excellent business man, but has not much influence, I think. He is a perfectly honest man, but does not seem to have enemies or friends. In another letter I have asked you to direct $10,000 worth of stamps to be sent to me without being paid for beforehand. Under the circumstances, the request is reasonable and I hope you will grant it.
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