of your communication of the 29th ultimo, transmitting an extract from a letter addressed by Commodore Porter to Flag-Officer Farragut, which contains many valuable and interesting suggestion relative to the condition of affairs in the neighborhood of Vicksburg and the importance of the capture of that city by the combined operations of the fleet and land forces of General Williams. I am instructed by the Secretary to thank you for the pleasure of perusing the same, and to inform you that your letter and inclosure have been referred to Major-General Halleck, general-in-chief, for such action as he may deem advisable to be taken.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
C. P. WOLCOTT,
Assistant Secretary of War.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, La., August 2, 1862.
Hon. E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: I beg leave to inclose to you copies of orders and correspondence with General Phelps upon the subject of arming and employing the negroes.
General Phelps, without orders and without my knowledge, has organized five companies of negroes, and the first official information I had of his doings in that behalf was a requisition for arms and equipments. Then it became more necessary in my judgment to employ them differently, and I thought by this means I could find employment for all and not raise the question offensively between General Phelps and myself until it was settled at Washington, and therefore sent the order to employ the negroes without sending an answer to his requisition, but his letter of resignation has left me no choice but insist that my order should be obeyd. I submit the whole matter to the Department. I need not discuss it. General Shepley, who has been with you, can do it much better than I can. Mr. Roselius, who I have sent you by the Connecticut, can tell you much more fully than it were possible to do in a dispatch what has been the effect of the course of General Phelps. An insurrection broke out amongst the negroes a few miles up the river, which caused the women of that neighborhood to apply to an armed boat belonging to us passing down for aid, and the incipient revolt was topped by informing the negroes that we should repel an attack by them upon the women and children. All is for the determination of the Department, to which I shall give the fullest obedience.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER.
[Inclosure No. 1.]
CAMP PARAPET, LA., July 30, 1862.
Captain R. S. DAVIS,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, New Orleans, La.:
SIR: I inclose herewith requisitions for arms, accouterments, clothing, camp and garrison equipage, &c., for three regiments of Africans, which I propose to raise for the defense of this point. The location is swampy and unhealthy, and our men are dying at the rate of two or three a day.