[JUNE 25, 1864. - For Allen to Seddon, in relation to three battalions of mounted men authorized by the Legislature of Louisiana for service as conservators of the peace, see Series I, VOL. LIII, p. 1003.]
GRENADA, June 26, 1864.
Major Gen. S. D. LEE, C. S. Army,
MY DEAR SIR: Recently I have had occasion to trouble you about many things. I regret that it was my seeming duty to do so. I do not know if it is the wish of the Government authorities to have the Central road kept in repair or not. If it has such a desire they must aid now in obtaining tools, materials, provisions, and labor. I dislike asking for aid, and do not do so except from necessity. I have asked permission to send cotton into the northern counties to exchange for bacon, believing it to be better than to ask the Government to sell it to me. I have also asked to exchange cotton for tools and materials. It is not probable that more than fifty or sixty bales would be required to be sent forward to supply our present necessities. If these are denied me, then I shall have to request you to direct the commissaries to sell me provisions (bacon) for our hands. But why deny the road what is done by individuals almost daily, and, as is generally believed, by army officers located at this place and north of here? There is probably no proof that army officers here are interested in contracts and shipment of cotton, yet there is not an intelligent person in the community who does not believe it from circumstances of almost daily occurrence. If they labor to supply the Army it is well, but if for their own profit it is more to be condemned than if done by a private person.
I wrote to you some days since by Mr. Wang in reference to a proposition from New Orleans, and took occasion then to refer to some of the causes that had prevented my compliance with the agreement I made with you. Those causes are as prominent and as evident to-day as when I then wrote. I have spared no exertions or expense to comply with my contract, and shall not relax my exertions until you request me to do so. I made the contract in good faith, and more to serve our cause than profit. I will endeavor to comply with it.
I see others sending cotton into the Federal lines almost daily. What they bring back I do not know. Doubtless you do. Orders from Federal military commanders have for several weeks prevented me from doing anything. These orders, as I now understand, have been changed. Perhaps some supplies may now be obtained. I confess I have been less successful than I thought I should be. A few days since I offered to supply Major Paxton from 100 to 200 mules at from $ 1 50 to $ 200 each, and receive pay in cotton at 12 1/2 cents, the price, as I was informed, that he sold to others for the same articles; 100 mules were ready for delivery. He declined my offer, doubtless for good reasons, and seemed to expect [me] to deliver mules and take pay in cotton at 35 cents, my contract price. This I shall not attempt to do when he pays others in cotton at a much less price. I am no blockade-runner, and will not knowingly violate civil law or military orders for gain. Others may and are doing so. I have thought you were entitled to some explanation as to the cause of my failure. I could give many others than those referred [to], but they would be founded on belief only.
With respect, your obedient servant,