regiments four weeks side had I had troops sufficient to hold it. As the case stands now it will be easy with a force as large as that of the enemy to compel in to give battle elsewhere; if in no other way, certainly by drowning him out by destroying the levee above him.
Brigadier-General Sherman is now engaged in exploring the country above here on the left bank of the river, with a view to movements which may take place hereafter. He has reached a point within 6 miles of Baton Rouge, meeting no force of the enemy.
It is believed that before the middle of January we shall be compelled to withdraw General Weitzel's force to the hither side of the Bayou La Fourche, as by that time the Lower Teche country and the country from La Fourche to Brashear City will be flooded from the Red River neighborhood, the levees being much out of repair and no means are in our power to ward off the impending danger; the levees on the right bank far above being in the hands of the enemy and totally neglected by them, and the conformation of the country such that the overflow will extend hundreds of miles.
This will be a serious blow to the people of that country, already great sufferers from the effects of the war, and most of whom are ready and most heartily anxious to return to their allegiance.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
December 4, 1862
Hon. E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: You will remember that the banks of this city sent away about four millions of their specie upon the advent of our troops in the city. They have made application to the Confederate authorities to bring it back, but have been refused.
The banks now desire that I would permit their specie in the Confederacy to be put upon a war vessel of some foreign power and sent either to France or England, to be kept there safely till after the termination of the war the money to be under the care of two agents, one appointed by the banks and the other by the Confederate Government; all this to be done of course only if the Richmond people consent. To effect this arrangement I informed the agent of the banks I could not consent to apply to the Department, because of the great need that the Confederates have for gold in Europe. The agent of the banks might be corrupted by the Confederate agent, and the money, when there, applied to Confederate uses.
But if the representative of the foreign government near Washington upon whose vessel the coin might be placed would pledge his government that the money should be kept intact, unpledged, and undrawn upon during the war to be returned to the banks in ipsissimo specie after peace, I thought the Department might entertain the proposition.
I have in pursuance of this idea been requested to put this matter before the War Department. This I have done, awaiting instructions.
I am, most truly, your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,