any substantial evidence of fraud on the part of the agents of Major Hart, or those of any other staff officer of the Government, with the determination to visit such conduct with the severest penalties of the law.
Having no doubt, then, that the local debts will be paid through the instrumentality of Major Hart this season, he is extremely anxious that there should be evidence promptly preserved abroad of a disposition, as well as an ability, to pay the debts contracted for there.
The first to provide for is the Sea Queen. The major-general saw the agents of the contractors, Messrs. Bellot & Co., Mr. Bisbee and Mr. Redgate, the agents of the parties owning a part of the cargo, who voluntarily dissolved their connection with Messrs. Bellot & Co., and told them that as inasmuch as Mr. Cherry, the agent of Messrs. Bellot & Co. at Brownsville, had refused to honor their drafts, on the ground that we had not cotton on the Rio Grande, as called for in the contract, he would take the whole cargo, paying what the contract called for, if they would reconcile their difference; which was agreed to by Mr. Bisbee, and also by Mr. Redgate, provided in the latter case his constitutes agreed to it; but as it appears from your statement that there is not cotton enough on the Rio Grande, even when impressed, to pay for these cargoes,so far from being tempted to take the goods at lower rates from those who have severed themselves from Messrs. Bellt & Co., and therefore have not by contract any claims on us, the major-general commanding is decidedly of the opinion that we should pay with such cotton as can be impressed for that portion of the cargo represented by Colonel Bisbee, for which we have contracted to pay, and send the vessel back with a load as soon as possible, receiving all the goods which Mr. Bisbee has, if he thinks proper to deliver them to us, or only such portion as can be paid for by the return cargo of cotton, the rest to be delivered as we deliver cotton. Whether the transaction is a beneficial one to us or not is of little consequence so long as we preserve our credit abroad.
The major-general commanding hopes to be enabled, by the means of transportation placed at our disposal by the impressment act and by the Government cotton in Louisiana and Texas, to pay for all the goods which have arrived and which will arrive with what may be considered only reasonable commercial delay. The question of impressing foreign cotton has been referred to counsel, and will also be sent up for Lieutenant-General Smith's action, so that you will not probably receive a definite answer in regard to the impressment of that cotton for from twenty to thirty days.
In the meantime cotton will remain impressed and in your hands. Should the merchants agree to advance enough cotton of that which is now on the Rio Grande and coming to load the vessels under contract with us which have arrived with return cargoes,and to pay for the arms imported by Nelson Clements,all the rest will be released excepting the tax of 8 per cent.,which will go toward these cargoes. What percentage this will be, you are a better judge, the major-general thinks, than himself. The cargo of the vessel from Nelson Clements, it is presumed,will be paid for by Major Hart, but the arms which may be obtained from the vessel taken to Vera Cruz, or from any other vessel sent here by Nelson Clements,must be paid for immediately. Though this tax is collected in money, still it amounts to the same as if it were in cotton, for in assessing the value of the cotton assessor would have to value it at its market price in Confederate money, and, if it were paid in money, the same money could buy it, and,upon the