HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, La., November 6, 1862.
GENERAL: Your dispatch of November 5 have been received, as also your telegram of this evening.* I am directed by the major-general commanding to reply:
Your suggestions as to the field work at Donaldsonville will receive consideration. It will be necessary to make a battery at Brashear City and Berwick Bay or perhaps a field work. Upon this subject he will confer with you.
In establishing the Military District of the Teche he was aware that at the moment you did not occupy it except by your boats, and he gave the name in compliment to your skill and gallantry, as it was not doubted you would soon be in occupation; and in putting the very large force under the command of so yon a general he designed to show a mark of confidence to yourself, he will change the name to the District of the La Fourche. That you should have declined the command is the occasion of regret, arising most of all from the reasons given for so doing. As they are comprehended, they resolve themselves into two: First, that under your command are put two regiments of Native Guards (colored), and you say that in these organizations you have no confidence. As you reading must have made you aware, General Jackson entertained a different opinion upon that subject. It was arranged between the commanding general and yourself that the colored regiments should be employed in guarding the railroad. You do not complain in your report that they either failed to do their duty in that respect or that they have acted otherwise than correctly and obediently to the commands of their officers or that they have committed any outrage or pillage upon the inhabitants.
The general was aware of your opinion that colored men will not fight. You have failed to show, by the conduct of these freemen so far, anything to sustain that opinion, and the general cannot see why you should decline the command, especially as you express a willingness to go forward to meet the only organized enemy with your own brigade alone without further support. The commanding general cannot see how the fact that they are guarding your lines of communication by railroad can weaken your defense. He must therefore look to the other reasons stated by you for an explanation of your declining the command.
You say you "cannot command these negro regiments." Why not? The reason must be found in these sentences of your report.
Since the arrival of the negro regiments symptoms of servile insurrections are becoming apparent. I could not, without breaking my brigade all up, put a force in every part of this district to keep down such an insurrection. I cannot assume the command of such a force, and thus be responsible for its conduct. I have no confidence in the organization. Its moral effect in this community, which is stripped of nearly all its able-bodied men, and will be stripped of a great many of its arms, is terrible; women and children, and even men, are in terror. It is heart-rending, and I cannot make myself responsible for it.
You say since the arrival of the negro regiments at that place you have seen symptoms of a service insurrection; but, as the only regiment that has arrived there got there as soon as the rest of your command, of course the appearance of such symptoms is "since their arrival." Have you not mistaken the cause? Is it the arrival of a negro regiment or is it the arrival of United States troops, carrying, by the act of
*Telegram not found. For other dispatches see Report No. 2.