on condition that they will carry Govt. freight and troops when called on to do so at the rates agreed upon heretofore and to the exclusion of every thing els." AES, ibid.
Head Quarters, Dept. of the Ten.
Before Vicksburg, Feb.y 18th 1863.
MAJ. GEN. H. W. HALLECK,
GEN. IN CHIEF, WASHINGTON D. C.
The work upon the canal here is progressing as well as possible with the excessively bad weather and high water we have had to contend against. Most of the time that troops could be out atall has been expended in keeping the water out of our camps. Five good working days would enable the force here to complete the canal sixty feet wide and of sufficient depth to admit any vessel here. Judging from the past it is fare to calculate that it will take ten or twelve days in which to get these five working days. Three more perhaps should be allowed from the fact that the work is being done by soldiers the most of whom under the most favorable circumstances could not come up to the calculations of the Engineer officers. McPherson's Army Corps is at Lake Providence prossecuting the work there. They could not be of any service in helping on the work here because there are already as many men as can be employed on it, and then he would have to go five or six miles above to find land above water to encamp on. I am using a few hundred contrabands on the work here, but have been compelled to prohibit any more coming in. 1 Humanity dictates this policy. Planters have mostly deserted their plantations taking with them all their able bodied negroes and leaving the old and very young. Here they could not have shelter nor assurances of transportation when we leave.
I have sent one Division of troops from Helena to join the