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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
NEW ORLEANS, November 5, 1863.
DEAR SIR: I once
gave you my opinion briefly of Dr. Cottman, but think proper to repeat it more fully now. Dr. Cottman has as much personal influence as any man in Louisiana, - perhaps more, and he has it without deserving it. He justly possesses a great reputation as physician and surgeon, though now he practices but little. He is active, energetic, full of zeal and determination in whatever he undertakes, of unconquerable prejudices, and utterly unreliable. He knows everyone and is known to everyone. His manners are pleasing. He is said to play a good game of poker, and possesses a greater imagination than memory. All these
qualities make him the most valuable and uncertain of friends - or as an enemy much to be dreaded. He has no reputation for veracity; those who know him best put no confidence in anything he says; yet he repeats his statements with such energy and assurance, that they have a certain effect.
He tells me he has several confidential and important letters from the President, and I am informed that the President addresses him as "Dear Tom", and yet when he was last in Washington he wrote letters to Louisiana which would not please the President, if he should see them. In one letter, written just before he left Washington, he informs his correspondent that "the Lincoln government has gone to the devil; that the Southern Confederacy is a fixed fact"; and that his correspondent, a planter,"must have patience and hold on and all would be well." This letter was written to a gentleman up the river, whose plantation was visited three weeks ago by Gov. Shepley, Capt. Cozzens and myself. He showed the letter to Gov. Shepley and Capt. Cozzens, both of whom informed me of its contents.
Personally, Dr. Cottman and myself are excellent friends, but in the proper reorganization of this State, he will do all he can to thwart the efforts of free-state men.
Of the pro-slavery secret society, which tried to spring an election upon the people here, Mr. Summers was an active and leading member. Mr. Summers was formerly Recorder in this city, and is a pro-slavery Union man, if that expression does not contain a contradiction of terms, and as Superintendent of Bonded Warehouses, holds a sinecure office in the Custom House at $1500. per year.
Another member of this
society - Mr. Fellows - is an old friend of mine, but I believe was drawn into it by the influence of his wife and her relatives, and that he now deeply regrets his action.
The registration of loyal voters is now progressing under the supervision of Mr. Durant, appointed by Gov. Shepley. The Union Associations have already become in effect free-State Associations, and will have great influence, whenever an election occurs.
I am not informed when an election will be ordered, but probably not until we hold more of the State than at present.
In my last I informed you that an expedition of about 4,000 men had gone to Texas, probably to the western portion near the Rio Grande. This has not yet been heard from, but we now expect intelligence nearly every day. The main portion of the army is near Opelousas, where they have been advancing and retreating for the past month. I suppose we have about 30,000 men there, and the rebel army opposed to them is about 8,000 strong, of whom about 5,000 are cavalry and mounted infantry. I know nothing of the plan of the campaign, and no one else seems to know anything about it; but under a military leader like Gen. Banks, we are bound to believe that the best plan of profoundest strategy has been adopted.
The interference of the navy in the commerce of the lower Mississippi, about which I wrote you recently, has ceased or nearly so, and is no longer a source, of annoyance.
Cotton is coming in freely. The amount of cotton shipped from this port from the 18th. of March to the first of November, is 30,500 bales and there are 7,000 or 8,000 bales in the city. I shall expect the arrival of perhaps 50,000 bales before the first of next June and much more than that if the military successes are what might be expected from so large an army as is now in this Department.
The receipts of money are becoming quite large, both in the Internal Revenue office and in the Internal Trade office. The amount received in both these offices together to-day is $34,000, yesterday $32,000, Day before yesterday $48,000. I shall soon have $1,000,000. of government money in my hands.
Everything in the way of business is now going on well and satisfactorily.
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