contracts by which cotton was to be exchanged for supplies for his army at his discretion.
I have lately received strong and indignant protests against the aged shipments of cotton to New Orleans under contracts said to be sanctioned by the Department. These shipments, I presume, if authorized at all, are being made under contracts by General Pemberton. So far as actually made by him it is not doubted they were warranted by the exigency of his situation and came within the authority granted and must be sustained by the Department. You will, however, please report the fact and the extent of such contracts and the shipments made in pursuance of them. General Buckner was making arrangements to use the Alabama, a steamer purchased under impressment for the Department, it running the blockade. I should be pleased to know the extent to which such arrangements have been completed and your own views as to the best mode of carrying out the plan. I find, from various applications that are made to me to ship cotton from Mobile to neutral ports, that the impression prevails that this can be done by loyal citizens of foreigners only by special authority from the Department. There is no law prohibiting or submitting to the discretion of the Department such exportation made upon payment of the prescribed export duty, nor it is the conviction of the Department that it would be sound policy to prohibit or impede such ventures. If the countenance of the military authorities is supposed to be important or essential to such operations it might be well to make the allowance an inducement, with the understanding that the return cargoes of munitions or other articles desirable for the use of the Army should be brought. You will understand, however, that I do not mean to limit your discretion as commander, under any exigency of a military character, to temporarily suspend or delay such shipments.
Major Sheliha will explain to you the inability of the Ordnance Bureau, under more pressing exigencies elsewhere, and especially in Mississippi, to furnish now the ordnance of the class important to and desired by you.
I can only say the promptitude with which General Buckner acquiesced in the transfer of guns already ordered to him to the Mississippi Department has been appreciated, and on that account, as well as on the score of the real wants of your command great anxiety is felt to meet the requisition for Mobile, that they shall be constantly borne in mind, and complied with as soon as the resources of the Department and superior necessities elsewhere will allow.
With high esteem, your obedient servant,
J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
JACKSON, April 30, 1863.
General GARDNER, Port Hudson:
Six gunboats and several barges have passed down river and are taking mules and wagons on board.
J. C. PEMBERTON,