To fourth. He said he had not the authority from Washington, but that he had no doubt he could get it. He had, he said, permitted some limited traffic, and his course had been approved at Washington. He would give a written promise, and would also get General Shepley, military governor, to join him in it.
All this seemed to be so very good and kind (being equipment to running the blockade with their aid and consent) that I could only suppose they had some hidden designs under it, and I under it, and I determined to call upon Butler myself. I did not see him, but saw General Shepley, who in his capacity of Governor seems to the clothed with greater powers than butler concerning all matters not strictly military.
I gathered from him that his Government wished, if possible, to prevent the burning of any more cotton; that they desired as fast as possible to occupy the country, but if they sent forces in the interior the cotton would all be burned as fast as they approached it; that they had been strongly advised not to send forces near the cotton districts until they had first tried the effects of offering them peaceable trade; they believe the bitter feeling in the country will gradually subside if they can only begin trade with the country, and that when planets find they can sell their cotton in small quantities for supplied they will be less inclined to burn it. The fact is they have met with considerable success above and below the city in conciliating the sugar planters, and they expect the same or greater success with the cotton planters, but in which they will find themselves mistaken. People generally in Louisiana advocated from the first the sale of sugar and molasses to them, but no one scarcely wished them to have one bale of cotton. I may be wrong, but I believe such are the reasons for their liberal offers.
I closed my interview with General Shepley with this understanding: That he would immediately send to Washington for authority from his Government in the premises and that I would lay the matter before the Government here for their consideration.
Now, here is what can be done under this arrangements if the Government consents to any cotton leaving our territory. If permission was granted me to make the agreement with the Federals, under it I could deliver to planters on the Mississippi not far from Vicksburg such things as our army are suffering for. Another boat from that city could easily get them to Vicksburg and from thence where yo wish them. Large quantities of salt, bagging and rope, provisions, shoes, blankets, &c., could be given to the planters at comparatively low prices, which at this time would greatly strengthen them in their ability to aid the Government.
They will not object to cotton being shipped anywhere so long as it is for private account. Consequently, whilst I might bona fide carry out my arrangements with the planters, I could easily place one-half or two-thirds of the whole amount sent out in Liverpool or Haver and have the proceeds of the same placed to the credit of the Confederate States there.
Any portion of the machinery of the arrangement that might not work smoothly in New Orleans could be undoubtedly made to work by a little greasing, and I should have no compunctions of conscience in using such means, considering the parties and the ends to be gained.
At present the stock of blankets in New Orleans is very small. They would have to be procured elsewhere and sent there. There is a tolerable stock of shoes there, and more could easily be gotten. Salt and provisions are plenty, and in three to four weeks anything required could be purchased in New York and sent there. My