|ram, operated on the Mississippi and Red rivers. According to a U.S. Navy report, the Webb and the Queen of the West had suffered damage in battle with the Indianola on February 24. ORN, ser. 2, v. 1:107, 263, 271, v. 24:395.|
Autograph letter on letterhead stationery. Chase Papers, Library of Congress (micro 25:0646).
Custom House, New Orleans.
Surveyor's Office, March 7th 1863.
Dear Sir -
Of late my letters have been destitute of interest. The reason is simple--I have nothing to say. I have but little to say now.
No military movements have been made. The whole energy of the Department is occupied, apparently, in preparation for a grand attack on Port Hudson.1 The intended expedition up the Teche to Red River, was relinquished, as you have been informed. Officers recently from Baton Rouge think the movement on Port Hudson will occur in about three weeks. Gen. Banks went up the River this Afternoon, & many people in the city think the attack is to be made at once. I have not asked Gen. Banks anything about it as he evidently dislikes to reveal his intentions.
My opinions concerning the management of the Department-- the comparative merits of Butler and Banks--the necessity of Gen. Butler's return--&c--remain unchanged. It seems to me a great opportunity has been lost. Since Bank's arrival a large negro army might have been enrolled & made efficient. Gen. Banks is evidently opposed to such measures, though they would not have interfered with other operations. As it is, but one regiment has been raised. From twenty to Fifty thousand ought now to be ready for the field in this Department--& they alone could have cleaned out Louisiana. Without authority Gen. Butler raised three regiments. If he had been here since the 1st January I think he would have a large colored army in process of organization. This thing must be done, & the sooner the better.
From what I can learn, Gen Butler is probably not to return here. His presence here now would be worth ten thousand men. My admiration for him increases every day, as continued opportunities occur, of comparing his command with the present. I have certain information that if he does return, his brother Col. Butler, will immediately depart. I have been engaged this week in assisting Mr. Bullitt, who arrived a week ago. We shall get along well together. As Acting Collector of Internal Revenue, I have done nothing, but shall write you about it by next mail. Are you not going to appoint An Assessor?2