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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE

NEW ORLEANS, June 17th, 1864.

DEAR SIR: I arrived here on the 8th. inst. but delayed writing until I had become familiar with the present condition of affairs.
About military matters there is little to say. The Army, or a large portion of it, is at Morganza below the mouth of Red River. What movement is contemplated, or whether any movement is intended, I am unable to say.
Gen. Canby is here it is said to be reorganizing all the troops under his command. Much gratification is felt by all disinterested Union men at the change in Commanders, and in fact any change would have been a relief and improvement. I have heard that Gen. Canby intends to change all the leading military officials in the Dep't., including the Provost Marshal, Gen. Bowen. Such a proceeding will promote the interests of the Gov't. and of this whole community. Gen. Canby is not much known here as yet, and public opinion regarding him is in suspense.
Gen. Banks is here but seems to have little to do. He is very unpopular, especially with the army who attribute to him alone the miserable failure on Red River. I have learned much about that expedition from officers engaged, and every statement shows that Gen. Banks only is responsible for the defeat. An attempt has been made to cast the blame on subordinate Generals, but without success, for they only obeyed the orders issued by the Comd'g General. The army would have done better without any Commanding General at all. As near as I can ascertain, our total loss in the expedition in killed, wounded and prisoners, was about 7,000 men - beside the material and guns. The sooner Gen. Banks goes home, the better will it be for the service. The Army will not serve under him and he has lost the respect of the Public.
In public estimation, Gen. Banks' State Convention stands no higher than Banks himself. "What fools they are making of themselves" - is a very common remark even among those who helped to elect them. They voted themselves $10 per diem compensation to each member, and the State funds being nearly all expended, their labors will soon close. The few intelligent men among the members are entirely lost sight of, in the great mass of inexperience and vulgar ignorance. A portion of their time has been occupied in regulating the pay of the police of New Orleans - an unusual business for a State Constitutional Convention. Prejudice against the colored people is exhibited continually - prejudice bitter and vulgar. Some would have all negroes prohibited from learning a profession or mechanical trade, but a resolution to this effect was laid on the table, such precaution being thought unnecessary. The whole policy respecting the colored people is ungenerous and unjust. The attempt to induce such a Convention to grant to colored men limited right of suffrage - or any other right would be futile.
If the men, or man, who controlled the election of this Convention had been actuated by principle, honesty and fairness, the state of things would be different. But organization was created for selfish and dishonest political purposes and the result is what might reasonably be expected, when intrigue and humbug are substituted for better methods.
Probably never before has there been held a State Constitutional Convention, which has been regarded with contempt by nine tenths of the people for whom they framed a Constitution. This however, is the case here at the present time, and it seems to me the result must be bad.
I find that the public interests did not suffer by my absence. Business was very limited and will continue so until September or October. The health of the City is good and there are no signs of yellow fever.
In my letter to you written at New York, I repeated statements concerning Mr. Flanders' unpopularity, made to me by persons just arrived from New Orleans. I do not think those statements were exaggerated, but this is not a pleasant subject and I will reserve its discussion for my next letter.
I do not see here any marked manifestations of secession sympathy, nor are the Union men demonstrative. All eyes are turned to Richmond and Atlanta, and there seems to be a settled belief that the decisive struggle is now progressing.
In my next I shall speak of the Supervising Sp. Agency - the policy as to trade and plantations. Enclosed is an important circular, or General Order, issued by .Admiral Porter, May 31st. Mr. Tucker goes home by to-morrow's Steamer.

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