to state that Colonel E. G. Beckwith, chief commissary of the department, is temporarily in command of the defenses of this city.
After the campaign of the Mississippi, a large number of general officers were necessarily absent upon leave, in consequence of sickness, exhaustion, and a pressure of private business. The entire disposable force of the department, under orders from the Government at Washington, was in the field, preparatory to a movement into Texas. In the absence of so many general officers for the reason stated, all who were competent for duty were required in the field. There were very few in the department who understood the character of its defenses, which are extended and complicated, and it became necessary, in the absence of so large a portion of the military force from the neighborhood of the city, that some one should be in charge who was familiar with them. Colonel Beckwith was at that moment, considering all the circumstances, the best able to perform the duty required, and was temporarily appointed for that purpose. It is my intention to place a major-general in command, and my attention was directed to Major-General Herron as a suitable officer for that position. If this be inconsistent with the views of the Department, I should be very glad to receive information, and will await your reply.
I have the honor to be, with much respect, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, December 12, 1863.
Major General N. P. BANKS, New Orleans:
GENERAL: I inclose a copy of the letter of the 23rd ultimo,* addressed to you by this Department, and will thank you to communicate the same to Mr. [Andrew J.] Hamilton, the Military Governor of Texas, for his information in regard to the matters to which it relates. You will at the same time inform him that the President excepts that all such intercourse as must necessarily arise out of the war with the insurgents in that State or with the Government of Mexico or any Mexicans, should be carried on by yourself alone, on whom the exclusive responsibility has been devolved. You are further authorized to suspend the Military Governor from his command if the public interest should at any time seem to require it, but not otherwise.
I am, general, your very obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
December 14, 1863.
The foregoing instructions having been submitted to this Department, are approved, and Major-General Banks is directed to observe them. In case he should find it necessary at any time to suspend the functions of the Military Governor of Texas, he will immediately report his action to this Department, with the reasons and facts upon which it is predicated.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
*See p. 815.