lection that the designs of the French Emperor upon Mexico are viewed by Americans with a suspicion that there may be an intention to co-operate with the party now in rebellion against the Government of the United States. A rumor is prevalent in several quarters that French troops are about occupying Sonora or have already landed at Guaymas. Such a contingency as a union of the Texas and the French on the southern border of our territory although improbable, is sufficiently with in the bounds of possibility to claim some share of your attention. Be good enough to bear this matter in mind.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. R. WEST,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, January 7, 1863.
Commander-in-Chief U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: The precise nature of the duties devolving upon me in assuming command of this department were not explained to me in detail, except so far as they were embodied in the instructions upon military topics received from you. I find, however, on arriving, here an immense military government, embracing every from of civil administration the assessment of taxes, fines, punishments, charities, trade, regulation of churches, confiscation of estates, and the working of plantations in addition to the ordinary affairs of a military department. The feature of this multifarious civil business most embarrassing is that of trade. It has been made to cover every form of communication within and beyond the lines of the army. It has been made to cover transactions with the enemy as well as with friends, and extends to articles contraband of war as well as to those recognized as legitimate objects of commerce.
This trade so extensive in its operations from motives connect with public safety, was confined to particular individuals and became in their hands an affair of great profit and importance and to the community at large a matter of suspicion and reproach.
It is not my purpose to impeach in the slightest degree the administration of the department in these general and various duties, but it is my duty to say that, in respect to trade and the manner in which it has been conducted by those whose interests were adverse to the Government and its officers, the strongest Government in the world could not safely for any length of time, assume the responsibility for its abuses and protect those engaged in it.
Assuming command here, I had but one of two courses before me, either to continue abuses committed by interested private parties, assuming responsibility therefor, or to reform its character by changing its agents. Every consideration of expediency and justice impelled me to the latter course. I am not disappointed in the results of my policy, but regret it has interfered with matters purely military in their character. It was, however, a necessary diversion. No government could stand he weight of abuses that existed here; not by the consent of the military commander of the department any more than by my own, and no military operations could be successfully carried on with such a disturbed and excited community in the rear as that which I found here.