should be confined in the discharge of their duties to the specific objects to which they are limited.
The provost-marshal is an officer of a purely military character. He is charged with more important and delicate duties than any other class of officers. He has necessarily the entire supervision of the military police and the granting of passes within the lines and beyond the lines, both for persons and supplies. These, among other equally important matters, are confided to his care. The commanding general must rely for his action chiefly upon the examination and report of this officer. It is impossible that the Government can have assigned to any other officer the control of these appointments. The authority cited by you does not furnish it, and it is not probable under any circumstances that it ever would be conferred upon any person other than upon the commanding general. The provost-marshal is a military officer. Colonel French is not an officer, nor do I understand that he belongs to the army, or is amenable in any way to the Army Regulations. He is, moreover, employed in other and inconsistent official duties, with responsibilities to other persons. It is unnecessary to suggest other reasons to justify the change to which you refer. I have relieved him from the performance of those duties only which must be exclusively under my own supervision and direction, and for which I am alone responsible. My action does not interfere, and was not intended to interfere, in any matter whatever, with your rights either as to Colonel French or any other person.
I regret very much that some communication was not made to you more specific than the general remarks to which I referred in the commencement of this note. Its omission was a matter of accident, consequent upon my absence from the city. My desire is to interfere with the privileges or rights of no person; least of all with one who represents the same Government and sustains the same interests which I have deeply at heart.
I have the honor to be, with much respect, your most obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
Major General, Commanding.
Washington, February 4, 1863.
Major General N. P. BANKS,
Commanding Department of the Gulf, New Orleans:
GENERAL: Col. J. W. Shaffer, late chief quartermaster Department of the Gulf, reports to me that to send horses from the North to New Orleans is a waste of money; that there is an abundance of horses in Louisiana, acclimated, worth for service in that country much more than horses from the North. The risk and the cost of sending horses from Northern ports, especially at this rough season, are both great. Many horses have died lately on the voyage.
Colonel Shaffer stated that Captain Perce, of a Michigan regiment, who had acted as acting assistant quartermaster, and who has been recommended for an appointment as captain and assistant quartermaster, had, in twelve days, mounted seven batteries of artillery from the resources of the country, and he also states that 5,000 or 6,000 horses can be obtained without difficulty.
I communicated these statements to the Secretary of War, and am directed to permit 300 cavalry, now under orders at New York, to go forward by steamer and take horses with them, but to suspend other shipments of horses until you are heard from.
I am also instructed to communicate the facts to you.