partment of the Gulf, established by General Orders, Nos. 45 and 52, current series, from these headquarters, and will rejoin his regiment.
A. A. Atocha, esq., is relieved from duty as judge-advocate, and is appointed judge of the provost court.
By command of Major-General Banks:
G. NORMAN LIEBER,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, October 15, 1863.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief, U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: 1. This far in my administration I have not troubled the Government about negroes. When I arrived at New Orleans, I found many thousand negroes in idleness. I set them all to work, for wages, wherever they pleased to go. What with the system of compensated labor by the Government and by individuals universally adopted, and their enlistment as soldiers, they were all employed, and all supported by their labor. With the exception of a brief period, when the enemy occupied a portion of the country west of the Mississippi, there has not been a day when I would not have daily accepted 10,000, 20,000, or 50,000 negroes, in addition tot hose I found here, from any part of the country. We had estimated their labor on Government plantations at nearly a quarter of a million of dollars for the year. The condition is now changed. I have, in obedience to orders from the Government, turned over to the agents of the Treasury Department all plantations and plantation property. The disposition of this property that is made is a matter of public interest. Those who have leased them prefer, in working them, the able-bodied men and women to the disabled and infirm. they are daily sifting them out; placing the helpless on plantations, as I am informed, that are and have been uncultivated. I am officially notified of the fact that they are there. It is expected that the military authorities are to support them. To-day I received information that large numbers of negroes are coming into Brashear from the Teche country. They are, of course, nearly all incapable of providing for themselves. The rebels have run into Texas and Upper Louisiana all that are valuable. The Government finds itself in this position: the lessees of Government plantations, and the enemy, turned over to us all their helpless men, women, and children. We turn over very gladly all plantation property to the agents of the Treasury Department. Does the support of the infirm and poor negroes go with the property to which they naturally belong, or is it charged upon the army as military expenses, and fastened upon the War Department, and paid out of the war estimates and appropriations? If the latter, I desire an order to that effect, and means provided for defraying in magnitude daily. I beg instructions as to my course. The process pursued will bring us tens of thousands before the winter is over.
2. When I assumed command of this department, I found 11,000 families supported at the public expense. By exposing frauds and cutting off contributions to families of soldiers in the rebel army, who do not seem entitled to support at our hands, and requiring our soldiers, where they are regularly paid, to support their families, I have reduced the number of families receiving rations to 5,500, instead of 11,000, and