HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE G
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, October 24, 1862.
GENERAL: While I have the honor to report a reasonable degree of health on the part of my troops through the summer and an entire absence of epidemic here, I think it would be well, in view of the coming summer, to change the regiments for the coming season, and for that purpose it will be necessary to begin now, to prevent disarranging the service. I find those necessarily kept on the lines at Carrollton suffering greatly from the malarious swamp fever, to which the debilitating effects of summer predisposes them.
To my astonishment, and against all theory, the regiment of acclimated Louisianians which I have recruited here, and one of the most healthy I had while in barracks, sent there, supposing them able to resist the effects of the malaria because of this acclimatization, have suffered from the swamp fever the most considerably of any--much more than the fresh troops-- the Seventy-fifth New York, which I brought from the healthy sands of Pensacola and placed in the same locality.
I have the honor to report two regiments of Native Guards (colored) organized and mustered into the service, and one takes the field to-morrow.
I have organized an expedition, consisting of a brigade (five regiments of infantry, two batteries of artillery, and four companies of cavalry), under the command of Brigadier-General Weitzel, to move upon the western bank of the Mississippi through Western Louisiana, for the purpose of dispersing the forces assembled there under General Richard Taylor.
I propose at the same time to send around some light-draught steamers, which I have been fitting for the service by protecting their boilers and engines with iron coverings, so as to prevent, if possible, the recurrence of the dreadful accident which occurred on the Mound City steamer by the penetration of her boilers by shot and by mounting them with light guns, to attack some batteries at Berwick Bay, to penetrate the waters of the bay and tributaries, and cut off the supplies of cattle for the rebel army from Texas via Opelousas and New Iberia, and to act in conjunction with Brigadier-General Weitzel. At the same time I push forward a column from Algiers, consisting of the Eighth Regiment Vermont Volunteers and the First Regiment of Native Guards (colored), along the Opelousas Railroad to Thibodeaux and Brashear City, open the railway for the purpose of forwarding supplies to General Weitzel's expedition, and to give the loyal planters an opportunity to forward their sugar and cotton to this city. I can easily hold this portion of Louisiana, by far the richest, and extend the movement so far as to substantially cut off all supplies from Texas to the enemy this coming winter by this route, if I can receive early re-enforcements. Please therefore send me New England troops. The newspapers assure me that there are thousands waiting in Massachusetts. Letters from their officers are received by me begging that they may come to this department. Of course I have a preference for Massachusetts troops. Those that I have have behaved very well. I trust that they may be sent to me.
I should be glad if General Weitzel should be able to move upon Texas, and would suggest that an appropriate base of operations would be through Galveston, which I have just heard has surrendered to the naval force of the Union, but I have hardly a regiment which I can spare to hold it, although I propose to send one-- not that I anticipate an immediate attack upon New Orleans nor that I fear it, unless I am forced to receive the d�bris of the Southwestern wing after the defeat of Bragg by General Buell, while if I weaken myself here I may invite an attack from such source.
Rear-Admiral Farragut is very desirous that we should make a demonstration on Mobile, or at least Fort Morgan, to save the necessity of the large blockading force off that fort. I think 3,000 men would do it successfully; but again I have not the men to spare and to do those things which I think of more immediate necessity.
I have as yet received, with the exception of 60 men, no recruits from the North for any of my old regiments, some of which have been eighteen months in service, so that my regiments appear much larger in numbers than they are in effective strength.
I am sorry to report the very sudden and serious illness of Brigadier-General Arnold, who was stricken with paralysis while attending a review on Saturday, from which I think he will not recover sufficiently to resume his duties for some months.
I was happy to receive the commendation of the general commanding in chief of the action of Major Strong at Ponchatoula.
The illness of General Arnold and the wide-spread districts over which my troops are disposed make it necessary that I should have another brigadier-general. Allow me to recommend for promotion Major Strong, my assistant adjutant-general, lieutenant in the Ordnance Corps, who graduated the second in his class at West Point in 1857, and also has been in the service ever since. I know no one more competent, and certainly he has shown both conduct and gallantry. I have been obliged to lose his services a part of the summer through his ill-health, brought on by overexertion in preparing the expedition to New Orleans; but I think that he has now fully recovered and re-established his health. May I ask your kind offices to recommend to the President this appointment as one eminently fit to be made?
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
[Index - Louisiana Native Guards]
Researched and Compiled by
Bennie J. McRae