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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE

Private.

NEW ORLEANS, LA., March 29th, 1863.

DEAR SIR: My last letter gave all the important facts concerning operations near Port Hudson, and stated that the next movement was to be up Bayou Teche under Weitzel, which was contemplated some weeks ago, but temporarily relinquished. I suppose the advancing column will be not far from Ten Thousand men, and if successful, will penetrate to Red River, by way of the Teche or Atchafalaya. Troops are now being sent to Weitzel and it is supposed he will start in about ten days. Kirby Smith is the Rebel General opposed to him, and was said to have 14,000 men, but is now reported to have only six Thousand. Under the present military authorities of this Dept. I have doubts about the success of the undertaking - but if Butler was here I should have none.
In my letters to you written soon after Gen. Banks assumed command, I stated that Banks had already virtually failed. I now regard this failure as complete and impossible to be retrieved by the present Commanding General.
Since Gen. Banks arrived this is what has been accomplished, viz:
With an army three times as large as Gen. Butler's, we hold the same amount of territory held by him.
We have lost the steam sloop of war "Mississippi," the Gunboat "Kinsman" (iron clad), the " Hatteras " and the "Harriet Lane". Also, Galveston.
Butler left New Orleans really and truly a Union City. Day by day have appearances of loyalty diminished. It is now a secession city, and matters are growing worse.
But slavery has been re-established, and slave labor restored, and local police regulations regarding slaves, enforced and executed by New England bayonets with all becoming severity.
Time has been wasted, lives lost, money spent, and the well wishers of the Government discouraged and disheartened. But the large slave owners are partially satisfied and unrelenting secessionists make no complaints.
Can Gen. Banks retrieve the position? Possibly in military operations, but I don't believe so. Certainly he never will and never can, in social, political and other respects.
For all this I honestly and firmly believe Mr. Wm. H. Seward is responsible, and he can proudly point to the above results as the effect of his favorite (or Favorite's) policy as accomplished by a " Gentleman " without opin- ions, who is "neither a pro-slavery nor anti-slavery man" - with whom "success is a duty " - and who is intended to be the next President. This policy of conciliation with all its attendant evils, is the most abominable ever adopted by a selfish political intriguer.
Is it absolutely necessary that a favorite of Mr. Seward should be the next President? Without doubt Mr. Seward thinks so.
At this important point we want a commanding General of the greatest energy, judgment, ability and earnestness - one who has opinions - is not afraid of responsibilities and who is not in constant fear of injuring his political prospects. Gen. Benj. F. Butler is the man and the only one. In two weeks he could restore everything, but I do not suppose he will be sent here, for he is too earnest a man to suit Mr. Seward, and if placed in a high position, he might possibly become dangerous as candidate for the Presidency.
I believe there is a great deal more corruption here now than ever under Butler, and certainly there is more interference with, and annoyance to civil officers and business men, in one week now than there was during .the whole time Gen. Butler was here. It is all interference but no action. As an illustration of this, I refer you to the following orders.

SPECIAL ORDERS} HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
No. 82. 19TH ARMY CORPS,
New Orleans, March 27, 1863.
[Extract.]
11. Paragraph 14 of Special Orders No. 80, current series, is amended so as to require that the Hospital Tax of five dollars per bale on cotton shall be collected on all cotton brought to New Orleans.
By command of Major General Banks,
RICHARD B. IRWIN, A. A. General.



SPECIAL ORDERS HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
No. 82. 19TH ARMY CORPS,
New Orleans, March 27,1863.
[Extract.]

14. Any failure to neglect to pay the hospital taxes on cotton, sugar and molasses or the license fee on vessels, will subject the property or vessel to seizure and confiscation.
By order of Major General Banks,
RICHARD B. IRWIN, A. A. General.



SPECIAL ORDERS} HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
No. 82. 19TH ARMY. CORPS, New Orleans, March 27, 1863.
[Extract.]

13. A license fee of one dollar per ton per month shall be collected by the Quartermaster's Department on all vessels engaged in local trade in the Department of the Gulf, the proceeds to be applied for the benefit of the general hospitals.
By command of Major General Banks,
RICHARD B. IRWIN, A. A. General.



SPECIAL ORDERS HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
No. 82. 19TH ARMY CORPS, New Orleans, March 27,1863.
[Extract.]

12. A tax of one dollar per hogshead on all Sugar, and twenty-five cents per barrel on all Molasses, to be collected by the Quartermaster's Department, is levied upon all Sugar and Molasses brought to the city of New Orleans, the proceeds of this tax to be applied for the benefit of the general hospitals.
By command of Major General Banks,
RICHARD B. lRWIN, A. A. General.


I also call your attention to the form of bond enclosed herewith marked A.
Under this arrangement all steamboats and vessels engaged in local trade, have been seized - or nearly all of them. The clause about illicit trade is of no account, and only an excuse. No distinction is made (so far as I can learn) between vessels which have been suspected and those which are above suspicion.
Mr. Plumly has been here three or four days. I have seen a good deal of him and like him. I am told that Dr. Zachary went to Washington to get authority to trade with the enemy. That man did much harm here, and if he is sent back, will do a great deal more.

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

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