With or without such a message the commanding general can see in your reasons nothing which should justly cause you to decline a high and honorable command, nor does he see how the remedy which you propose will aid the matter; and that remedy is that either he or some one of his officers should take command of the negro regiments and relieve you of them. Do you think that change would be less likely to incite a servile insurrection under his command, or that of any of his officers, than under your own? Will the horrors be less if they are under the command of an officer not present on the scene to check and allay these horrors than if they were commanded by an officer present and ready to adopt proper measures?
If your negro or other regiments commit any outrage upon the unoffending and unarmed people, quietly attending to their own business, let them be most severely punished; but while operations in the field are going on I do not see how you can turn aside from an armed enemy before you to protect or defend the wives and children of these armed enemies from the consequences of their own rebellious wickedness.
Consider this case: General Bragg is at liberty to ravage the homes of our brethren of Kentucky because the Union army of Louisiana is protecting his wife and his home against his negroes. Without that protection he would have to come back to take care of his wife, his home, and his negroes. It is understood that Mrs. Bragg is one of those terrified women of whom you speak in your report.
This subject is not for the first time under the consideration of the commanding general. When in command of the Department of Annapolis, in May 1861, he was asked to protect a community against the consequences of a servile rebellion. He replied that when that community laid down its arms and called upon him for protection he would give it, because from that moment between them and him war would cease. The same principles enunciated there will govern his and your action now, and you will afford such protection as soon as the community, through its organized rulers, shall ask it.
Your reports and this reply, I am instructed to say, will be forwarded by to-morrow's mail to the commanding general of the Army. In the mean time these colored regiments of freemen, raised by the authority of the President, and approved by him as the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, must be commanded by the officers of the Army of the United States like any other regiments.
The commanding general does not doubt that everything that prudence, sagacity, skill, and courage can do will be done by you, general, to prosecute the campaign you have so successfully begun.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. C. STRONG,
Commanding District of the Teche, La.
No. 2. Reports of BrigadierGeneral Godfrey Weitzel, U. S. A., commanding expedition.
HEADQUARTERS RESERVE BRIGADE,
Donaldsonville, La., October 25, 1862.
MAJOR: I have the honor to report that, in accordance with orders, I left Carrollton, La., yesterday afternoon with my command, and landed,