HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE G
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, August 27, 1862.
GENERAL: As indicated in my dispatch to the Secretary of War of the 16th instant, finding a concentration of troops by the enemy I withdrew at my leisure the troops at Baton Rouge, and have them now encamped behind my lines at Carrollton. As the town of Baton Rouge is now held by two gunboats stationed in the river, and if the enemy attempt to build batteries there it will be necessary to drive them out by shells, I ordered the State library to be brought away, and Powers' statue of Washington from the State-house. This has been safely accomplished. The library is stored with the city library here. I have sent the statute of Washington to the mayor of New York, to be held in trust for the people of Louisiana until they shall have returned to their senses. I deem the evacuation of Baton Rouge a matter of prudence, as the entire force at Vicksburg had been brought down to Jackson and Tangipahoa for the avowed purpose of an attack upon New Orleans. This attack will come, if at all, in the course of twenty days.
I have sent to Brigadier-General Arnold, at Pensacola, to spare me what troops he can, and have ordered his presence for consultation.
Finding from your letter to me that it was impossible to expect re-enforcements, in time at least to meet the expected movement, yielding to the necessity of the case I have called upon a portion of a brigade of soldiers who were in the Confederate service, and are now ready and desirous of doing loyal service to the Union here.
I have kept clear of the vexed question of arming the slaves. I am fortified by precedents of a half century's standing, acted upon by the Confederate authorities within six months, and I believe I have done nothing of which the most fastidious member of Jefferson Davis' household political can rightfully complain; and since I find my acts are to be reviewed in the British Parliament, I have done only that which Great Britain has done in the West Indies and on the very ground upon which my Native Guards (colored) are forming.
Inclosed please find a copy of my general order for this purpose. May I ask the prompt approval of the President of my action in this behalf, as the only drawback to two regiments of these Native Guards (colored) is the fear in their minds that the President will not sustain my action--a story, by the by, which is industriously circulated by the rebels here to prevent the enlistment of these loyal citizens.
The enlistments of white men have succeeded quite to expectations. A regiment (First Louisiana Volunteers)marched to defend the lines at Carrollton to-day a thousand strong, as fine looking a body of men as I have ever seen. More than a thousand others have enlisted in the various regiments to fill the ranks. Besides, I have three companies of cavalry and nearly 500 unattached recruits.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
Major General, Commanding.
Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
Commander-in-Chief U.S. A.
[Index - Louisiana Native Guards]
Researched and Compiled by
Bennie J. McRae