to the great want of the population of this department, so far as it is entitled to relief from the Government.
I desire immediate attention to this subject, as it will be impossible for me in the present condition of affairs to continue these charities, and some provision should be made for their transfer to the officers holding the property that might be applied to this purpose.
The winter is approaching, the charities and the number of families are rapidly increasing, and it will be impossible to discontinue them without creating great individual suffering and very great public disturbance. I earnestly ask attention and instructions.
With the establishment of the system of labor on the plantations, I have provided support for all the negroes of this department. They are upon the plantations where they have been accustomed to labor, our own those carried on by the Government. Up to the time of the invasion of the rebels during the siege of Port Hudson, I had no difficulty in supporting, feeding, and clothing all the negroes here without public expense, and I should have been very glad at that time to have received any number in addition from other departments, as their labor compensated for all expenses incurred on their behalf.
The invasion of the rebels to the west bank of the river, occupying that country for a couple of weeks, necessarily much distributed the relations of labor and laborers.
In addition to this, all the plantations have been turned over to the Treasury officers, and are worked upon Government account.
The support of destitute negroes, and those not in employment, should be charged to the plantation property, and I respectfully request that we may be relieved from the support of negroes not now employed, and that it may be charged to the property of this class in the hands of the Treasury agents; also that definite instructions be given me concerning the disposition to be made of this subject.
I cannot overestimate its importance, both to the people and the Government.
I have the honor to be, with much respect, your obedient servant
N. P. BANK,
OFFICE SUPERVISING SPECIAL AGENT, TREASURY DEPT.,
New Orleans, September 26, 1863.
Major General N. P. BANKS,
Commanding Department of the Gulf:
GENERAL: I exceedingly regret being compelled to lay before you an instance of flagrant violation of your order on the part of Colonel Kempsey, commanding Sixteenth Regiment, Corps d'Afrique. The accompanying papers will sufficiently explain the offense.
I cannot refrain, general, from availing myself of the present occasion to urge upon your consideration the vast importance of a strict enforcement of your former orders upon the subject. Both the State and the Government have a vital interest in the matter. If we lose the confidence of the negro, we shall labor in vain to secure his services in a profitable working of the plantations; the money already invested by the United States will be irretrievably lost, the great staples of Louisiana will be ruined, the internal revenue deprived of a fruitful source of income, and society itself be demoralized by rendering a large part of the population vagabond.
If negroes are to be impressed as described in the inclosed papers,