War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0738 W. FLA., S. ALA., S. MISS., LA., TEX., N. MEX. Chapter

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XXVII.

isiana shore I ordered all the cotton burned within the distance of 5 miles of the city of Natchez, and after some of their men had entered the city I ordered all cotton within 10 miles of same place to be burned, modifying the order so far as to authorize the removal beyond that limit by any who chose to do so; nor would I perhaps have burned this had I any force to have checked them with, but only burned as I fell back, if compelled to do so; but with only 7 men seizure of the cotton depended solely upon the volition of the enemy, which of course demanded reasonable prudence to prevent his possessing. I had also given orders for all drays, wagons, horses, mules, and means of transportation to be removed beyond the city and its evirons, as the large number there afforded great facilities to the raids of the enemy. This last order I have waived for the present, as upon the arrival of the flag-ship all of the squadron except three gunboats promptly departed, bound upward. Our condition here is a matter of deep regret and solicitude to me, and I have no doubt would be to yourself, were you as informed of our situation as I am. Without any organized military power, with conscripts who refuse to serve, and probably will not unless under the visible effect of a sufficient military force; without arms, without supplies, equipage, munitions, or commissary stores of any description; with a population the strength of which has already joined the army, and many of the residue, if not disaffected, at least wavering and in trepidation for their property or personal security from the appearance of the power of the enemy, as evidence of which it is stated on good authority that one of the persons who had been authorized to receive the letter from the enemy for the civil authorities in their second visit apologized to the Federal officer for the fancied insult given him by Adjutant Lyle in refusing the first proffered communication, which he had done by my positive orders, and still further open manifestations of treason have shown themselves, three of which cases are now in the Fayette County jail awaiting trial, and many others no doubt that are liable, amongst which is the telegraph operator before reported to you be telegraph, as well as a minister of the Gospel, who, ont he fast day on Friday, as ordered by President Davis, refused or omitted to pray for the President of the Confederate States. Added to which the dangers from our discontented servile population, arising partly from natural insubordination, party from the presence of the enemy, partly from difficulty of obtaining their usual supplies of food and clothing, partly from the instigation of evil-minded men, but more than all from the absence of a decided military strength to warn them of the futility of any hostile attempts; all these are matters that I desire to lay before you for your decision and direction, believing as I do that they call for prompt and decided action.

Please therefore to give me orders in relation to the aforementioned cases of treason, and if possible send an officer for the purpose of conducting such trial. I desire also your opinion in relation to the correctness of my position in refusing any communication with the enemy except by a flag of truce, as before stated.

I desire to commend to your consideration Adjt. William J. Lyle, whose conduct on the occasion referred to was cool, judicious, and praiseworthy in every respect, and I make no question but that in a more elevated and responsible position the same result would attend his efforts.

Respectfully, your servant,

C. G. DAHLGREN,

Commandant.