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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
NEW ORLEANS, October 23, 1863.
DEAR SIR: I have to report that everything goes on well in the collection of the internal revenue and the duties under the Treasury regulations concerning trade. Business is reviving here, and the city begins to present somewhat the appearance of former times. During one day this week the receipts of cotton in the levee were about (5000) five thousand bales. The receipts of sugar and cotton will, I expect, soon be large, as there is a great deal of both in the Teche and Opelousas country which our troops are now occupying.
At the last dates, our army had entered the town of Opelousas, and was evidently going to Alexandria. There has been no serious opposition, but a good deal of skirmishing. I do not think the rebels will make a determined stand in Louisiana, unless it be at Shreveport, where they are said to be concentrated.
I do not know the number of troops in the present campaign through the Teche and Opelousas.
Gen. Banks is now in the city, but expects to leave for some point, to me unknown, in a day or two. Gen. Hamilton is also here and has made a very effective speech to the Union associations. With him is Mr. Breckinridge, whom I recommended for assistant special agent in Texas.
To-day another expedition started for Texas, composed as near as I can ascertain, of about (4000) four thousand men, and quite a number of vessels. The Texas regiment forms a part of the force, and several refugee Texans accompanied it. Gen. Hamilton, however, does not go with this force. They took with them extra arms and equipments, &c., for at least two thousand (2,000) men, and probably more. I have not been able to ascertain their destination, not wishing to make the inquiry of Gen. Banks; but I think it is in the neighborhood of Corpus Christi, or Brownsville at the mouth of the Rio Grande. I hope they will have better luck and more discretion than they had at Sabine Pass.
When Mr. Flanders
went away he left in my hands the Era newspaper property, which had been turned over to his hands by the Chief Quartermaster. He made the impression on my mind that an organization had been thoroughly effected to make a
bold free state paper out of it at once, but after his departure I soon found that this impression was wholly erroneous. There was no organization, no plan, and I found that it was expected of me to develop and organize a paper by my own management and resources. The Times newspaper, principally owned by Mr. Thos. T. May, planter, has been a milk and water concern from the commencement. This was not the fault of Mr. May, whose opinions are positive and radical, but one sixth of the paper was controlled by an adverse, " planting interest". This one sixth I have succeeded in buying out, and as one third more is owned by a warm friend of mine, I shall be able, after making some other arrangements, which it is not worth while to mention, to control the paper as to any favorite policy or man. I shall endeavor to secure also to Mr. Plumly an interest in the Times. Of course it is not publicly known that I have anything to do with it. I cannot now determine what to do with the Era, but shall use my best judgment about it. I desire to control, directly or indirectly, three papers in this city (i. e. two besides the "Times",) that they may be induced to advocate the reestablishment of State authority here under a new Constitution - a free constitution forever prohibiting slavery in Louisiana; and also that they may give a just prominence to the importance of government finances and a just appreciation of the ability with which they are managed.
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