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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
NEW ORLEANS, May 9, 1863.
DEAR SIR: Military operations are being conducted with vigor and great success. Gen. Banks is probably in Alexandria (on Red River) this morning. About one half of the prisoners captured by him, have taken the oath of allegiance. There is now no formidable body of rebels in Louisiana except at Port Hudson. I think Port H. will be captured or evacuated in a short time.
Grant has captured Grand
Gulf and is said to be advancing into the interior of Mississippi with a force of 35,000. You will see full accounts of the arrival of the Illinois cavalry at Baton Rouge. They threw the whole State of Mississippi into a fever of alarm and did the rebels more damage than they can repair in six months. The prospect of opening the River never seemed brighter than to-day, and when that is done the Rebellion is virtually finished. The destitution in Secession is becoming worse and worse, and Col. Grierson (in command of the Illinois cavalry) informs me that the prospect for crops is very poor throughout Mississippi. But little land is planted, because the white laborers are in the army - many of the negroes are working on the, fortifications - and what negroes are left at home, are dissatisfied, demoralized and idle.
The remainder of the planters composing the Delegation to Washington, will leave next week. They are all men of wealth and influence but I hope will not succeed in, at least, some of the objects of their mission. I understand that they go to seek three things,
1st. The withdrawal of the President's proclamation in regard to the whole of Louisiana.
2nd. The appointment of a commission to estimate, and recompense the planters for, losses sustained by them.
3rd. The non-enforcement of the Excise Tax in regard to sugar, up to the present date.
They may have other objects also and I may be misinformed as to the three particulars above-mentioned, but am probably correct.
The whole matter can easily be disposed of by leaving everything to Gen. Banks (except the 3rd. item), who will probably give them very little satisfaction.
Gen. Banks begins to show severity. Mr. Plumly thinks he is more severe by nature than Butler, but I think he has adopted Butler's policy because he sees, at last, that it is the only proper one.
Enclosed are late orders issued by the General, and also a copy of the "Opelousas Courier", the appearance of which would indicate that the rebels are literally " driven to the wall."
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