none of whom, except the Bellot contract, stood on as high ground of public faith as theirs did. My action was in entire accord with my sense of justice, right, and policy, which makes me regret the more that my views were not coincided in by the general commanding.
It was my intention, and still is, that should the cotton of Major Hart to pay these debts arrive here, I would use if for present purposes of the Government, and delay the payment until all our wants were supplied; in a word, I will claim an extension of, say, ninety days on the debts in consideration (not expressed) of their being allowed to export their cotton now here. All persons here to whom the Government was indebted have availed themselves of my exemption, and, so far as they are concerned, I cannot enforce the wishes of the general commanding. I feel satisfied, however, that no harm has been done to the great objects sought to be obtained here, as there is cotton enough to pay for the cargo of the Sea Queen, and we have retained the good feelings and friendship of those who had proved themselves to be willing to aid us and to be worthy of it.
There is but one cargo here under contract with the Secretary of War, the Sea Queen, and the cotton is ready to pay for it.
Clements' contract is with Major Hart, and no more national credit is involved than in the debt due any of the creditors. Mr. Attrill's contract is payable in Confederate money at San Antonio, excepting the order for Major Washington, for which cotton was pledged, and cotton is now ready to pay that part of it.
Major Russell has made a full report of this proceeding; he thinks that the 20 per cent. loan here will answer present purposes, and I hope to hear soon from you on that subject.
In explanation of the absence of Major Russell at the date of the receipt of your orders concerning the impressment of cotton, I state that I understood Major Russell to have remained on the Rio Grande to carry out certain instructions from the general commanding not conveyed through me, and when he applied to me for orders to go to San Antonio to settle up the business of his office proper-brigade quartermaster-then much neglected, and to the detriment of the soldiers of the brigade, that I ordered him when he had complied with the instructions of the major-general to do so, and the subsequent orders passed him on the road.
If you will refer to your letter of July 2, 1863, you will find the following paragraph: "But you will not under any circumstances impress the cotton of planters." I soon, however, ascertained that nearly all belonged to planters, or rather affidavits were filed to that effect, and I was glad to stop it by the 20 per cent. loan, for it forced me to make a distinction between the planter and stock-raiser or the mechanic, and, what was more important, it rankled the sore spot of our revolution; that it made distinctions against the poor man in favor of the rich, &c. I know that the dissatisfaction is even dangerous on this point; the soldiers's wives talk about their husbands being taken from their homes and their families left to starve, or to charity, in order that the planter can keep his negroes. It is re-echoed by the disloyal and the demagogues until the population west of the Colorado is dangerously lukewarm on the subject of the war. My judgment is that those in authority should seek to calm this state of feeling, and that where distinction is made, it should be made against the planter. His negroes should be taken for the public use, and his whole means (as in the case of the poor soldier) be at the disposal of the Government.