HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF, No. 106.
New Orleans, December 15, 1862
Soldiers of the Army of the Gulf:
Relieved from further duties in this department by direction of the President, under date of November 9, 1862, I take leave of you by this final order it being impossible to visit your scattered outposts, covering hundreds of miles of the frontier of a larger territory than some of the kingdoms of Europe.
I greet you, my brave comrades, and say farewell!
This word, endeared as you are by a community of privations hard-ships dangers, victories, successes military and civil is the only sorrowful thought I have. You have deserved well of your country. Without a murmur you sustained an encampment on a sand bar so desolate that banishment to it, with every care and comfort possible, has been the most dreaded punishment inflicted upon your bitterest and most insulting enemies.
You had so little transportation that but a handful could advance to compel submission by the Queen City of the rebellion, whilst others waded breast-deep in the marshes which surround Saint Philip and forced the surrender of a fort deemed impregnable to land attack by the most skillful engineers of your country and her enemy.
At your occupation order, law, quiet, and peace sprang to this city, filled with the bravos of all nations, where for a score of years, during the profoundest peace, human life was scarcely safe at noonday.
By your discipline you illustrated the best traits of the American soldier and enchained the admiration of those that came to scoff.
Landing with a military chest containing but $75, from the hoards of a rebel government you have given to your country's Treasury nearly a half million of dollars, and so supplied yourselves with the needs of your service that your expedition has cost your Government less by four-fifths than any other.
You have fed the starving poor the wives and children of your enemies, so converting enemies into friends that they have sent their Representatives to your Congress by a vote greater than your entire numbers from districts in which when you entered you were tauntingly told that there was "no one to raise your flag."
By your practical philanthropy you have now the confidence of the "oppressed race" and the slave. Hailing you as deliverers, they are ready to aid you as willing servants, faithful laborers, or, using the tactics taught them by your enemies, to fight with you in the field.
By steady attention to the laws of health you have staid the pestilence, and, humble instruments in the hands of God, you have demonstrated the necessity that His creatures should obey His laws, and reaping His blessing in this most unhealthy climate you have preserved your ranks fuller than those of any other battalions of the same length of service.
You have met double numbers of the enemy and defeated him in the open field; but I need not further enlarge upon this topic. You were sent to do that.
I commend you to your commander. You are worthy his love.
Farewell, my comrades! Again, farewell!
BENJ. F. BUTLER,