War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0162 W.FLA., S.FLA., S.MISS., LA., TEX., N.MEX. Chapter XXVII.

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HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,

New Orleans, La., November 6, 1862.

GENERAL: I have the honor to inclose copies of General Weitzel's reports* of his operations on the west bank of the river and of my instructions to him.

I propose to-day to visit him in person, to advise whether we will cross Berwick Bay without awaiting the reconstruction of the bridge at Bayou Boeuf. It will be apparent that General Weitzel brings up the interesting question of the war. I trust that my instructions on it will meet your approbation. The President and yourself are aware that I am wholly without guide in this matter.

I take occasion to call to the attention of the general commanding in chief that more than seventy days since I called the attention of the War Department to the organization of three colored regiments by my General Orders, No. 63, of August 22, 1862, subject to the approval of the President, and, though I have had many communications directly from the War Department and from the general commanding in chief, no communication disapproving of that organization has been received. I must therefore take it to be approved, but would prefer distinct orders on this subject.

Awaiting further instructions from the general commanding-in-chief, I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

BENJ. F. BUTLER.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the United States.

[Inclosures.]

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,

New Orleans, La., November 2, 1862.

GENERAL: Your dispatch of November 1 is received.+ As I informed you in my last, I have sent forward both regiments of Native Guards (colored) to guard the road. I have no doubt that before this reaches you Colonels Thomas and Stafford will have reported to you. They will receive from your orders. We have already taken measures about the organization of the management of the Opelousas Railroad.

Of course there will be no more difficult subject for you to deal with than the negroes. By the act of Congress, independent of the President's proclamation, having come from rebel masters into our lines in occupation of rebel territory since the passage of that act they are free. But the question recurs, What shall we do with them? While we have no right to return them to their masters as such, it is our duty to take care of them, and that can include employment. Put them as far as possible upon plantations; use every energy to have the sugar crop made and preserved for the owners that are loyal, and for the United States where the owners are disloyal. I am working the plantations along the river below upon this plan. Let the loyal planters make arrangements to pay their negroes $10 a month for able-bodied men; $3 to be expended in clothing, and so in proportion. Disembarrass your army of them as much as possible. Especially will this be necessary in the case of Colonel Stafford's command.

I have information, more or less reliable, that there were about 8,000 troops at Port Hudson, Ponchatoula, and Camp Moore (about equally

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*Those of November 1 and 5. See Report No. 2.

+See Report No. 2.

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