HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE G
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, November 14, 1862.
Hon. E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: I have addressed you directly in this dispatch because the subject relates to other matters than the movements of troops in the field.
As you may have learned from the dispatches to General Halleck, I have moved Brigadier-General Weitzel into the La Fourche country and have taken possession of the richest portion of Louisiana. Thousands of hogsheads of sugar of the value of at least a million of dollars ought at once to pass into the hands of the United States, together with much other property. I have therefore organized a commission to take charge of the business, so as if possible to save this property to the United States, and have put the ablest and most honest men I have at the head of it.
I annex the copy of the Orders, No. 91, and of the memorandum of contract, which will explain themselves.
The experiment of free labor which I am trying is succeeding admirably, and I hope large results, not so much in profit to the United States as in example.
Will you allow me to avail myself of this note to ask of you re-enforcements? I have had none save my free Native Guards (colored), and while they are doing good service, still I find trouble, because they are not formally recognized by the Department.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
GENERAL ORDERS, No. 91.
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, November 9, 1862.
The commanding general being informed and believing that the district west of the Mississippi River lately taken possession of by the United States troops is most largely occupied by persons disloyal to the United States and whose property has become liable to confiscation under the acts of Congress and the proclamation of the President, and that sales and transfers of said property are being made for the purpose of depriving the Government of the same, has determined, in order to secure the rights of all persons as well as those of the Government, and for the purpose of enabling the crops now growing to be taken care of and secured and the unemployed laborers to be set at work and provision made for payment of their labor, to order as follows:
I. That all the property within the district to be known as the District of La Fourche be, and hereby is, sequestered, and all sales and transfers thereof are forbidden and will be held invalid.
II. The District of La Fourche will comprise all the territory in the State of Louisiana lying west of the Mississippi River except the parishes of Plaquemines and Jefferson.
III. That Maj. Joseph M. Bell, provost judge, president; Lieut. Col. J. B. Kinsman, aide-de-camp; Captain Fuller (Seventy-fifth New York Volunteers), provost-marshal of the district, be a commission to take possession of the property in said district, to make an accurate inventory of the same, and gather up and collect all such personal property, and turn over to the proper officers upon their receipts such of said property as may be required for the use of the United States Army; to collect together all the other personal property and bring the same to
New Orleans and cause it to be sold at public auction to the highest bidders, and after deducting the necessary expenses of care, collection, and transportation to hold the proceeds thereof subject to the just claims of loyal citizens and those neutral foreigners who in good faith shall appear to be the owners of the same.
IV. Every loyal citizen or neutral foreigner who shall be found in actual possession and ownership of any property in said district, not having acquired the same by any title since the 18th of September last, may have his property returned or delivered to him without sale upon establishing his condition to the judgment of the commission.
V. All sales made by any person not a loyal citizen or a foreign neutral since the 18th day of September shall be held void; and all sales whatever made with the intent to deprive the Government of its rights of confiscation will be held void at what time soever made.
VI. The commission is authorized to employ in working the plantation of any person who has remained quietly at his home, whether he be loyal or disloyal, the negroes who may be found in said district, or who have or may hereafter claim the protection of the United States upon the terms set forth in a memorandum of a contract heretofore offered to the planters of the parishes of Plaquemines and Saint Bernard or white labor may be employed, at the election of the commission.
VII. The commissioners will cause to be purchased such supplies as may be necessary, and convey them to such convenient depots as to supply the planters during the making of the crop, which supplies will be charged the crop manufactured and shall constitute a lien thereon.
VIII. The commissioners are authorized to work for the account of the United States such plantations as are deserted by their owners or are held by disloyal owners, as may seem to them expedient for the purpose of saving the crops.
IX. Any persons who have not been actually in arms against the United States since the occupation of New Orleans by its forces and who shall remain peaceably upon their plantations, affording no aid or
comfort to the enemies of the United States and who shall return to their allegiance and who shall by all reasonable methods aid the United States when called upon, may be empowered by the commission to work their own plantations, to make their own crop, and to retain possession of their own property, except such as is necessary for the military uses of the United States. And to all such persons the commission are authorized to furnish means of transportation for their crops and supplies at just and equitable prices.
X. The commissioners are empowered and authorized to hear, determine, and definitely report upon all questions of the loyalty, disloyalty, or neutrality of the various claimants within said district; and, further, to report such persons as in their judgment ought to be recommended by the commanding general to the President for amnesty and pardon, so that they may have their property returned; to the end that all persons that are loyal may suffer as little injury as possible and that all persons who have been heretofore disloyal may have opportunity now to prove their loyalty and to return to their allegiance and save their property from confiscation, if such shall be the determination of the Government of the United States.
By command of Major-General Butler:
GEO. C. STRONG,
Assistant Adjutant-General and Chief of Staff.
[Index - Louisiana Native Guards]
Researched and Compiled by
Bennie J. McRae