the removal of the able-bodied male negroes. I believe that it would be to our advantage, and it is the interest of the planter, that they with all transportation should be removed to safe localities in our rear. This can be impressed upon the people without a proclamation. I leave it to your own judgment as to the best method of carrying out a policy which is so evidently a good one. I have within the past few weeks received communications from planters and others, expressing both a willingness and a desire that their able-bodied slaves should be taken into the service of the Government. Whilst a willingness to respond to any call is expressed, the desire seems general that the negroes should be impresse. They seem to wish that the call should fall equally on all. The public-spirited man, whilst he gives up his slaves, objects that his unpatriotic neighbor should receive the protection of the Government without adding his quota to its support. The conviction that the danger is near, and that the tenure of slave property is uncertain has been gradually gaining ground in the public mind. The time, I believe, is propitious for introducing slave labor into the army.
There can be no doubt as the wisdom of the policy. I wish you to carry it out in every branch of the service in your district. I will not dictate to you the mode in which it shall be done. You can resort to impressment nor not, as you deem wise.
I see the logic and acknowledge the force of your suggestions in regard to the forced employment of negroes whose families are near the enemy. In the obstruction of Lower Red River, referred to by you, the construction of any merely temporary raft could be productive of no permanent good, nor have I ever considered any temporary obstruction advisable, except under the guns of a fort. You have had my views on that subject, with reference to the defense of our inland streams. The construction of a permanent raft on Lower Red River, if practicable, should be adopted immediately. The fact that it closes thorough navigation should nato delay its adoption. If it can be made below the mouth of Black River, it would be a great military advantage indeed. I feel great concern on the subject of Black River. High water next winter will open its navigation to the enemy as high as Camden and Arkadelphia. With their base established at Monroe, the abandonment of Little Rock and the Arkansas Valley will follow as a necessity. I do not know what steps in advance can be taken to meet the contingency. I wish you would give it considered, and I ask the benefit of your experience and the promptness of your execution in the obstruction of that river before winter.
The permanent obstruction of Lower Red River by the raft you propose I fear is not feasible; the opinion of old river boatmen is worthy of consideration, their knowledge a practical one; but it seems to me the river is too broad and deep, with too rapid a current, for the formation of a raft as suggested. Let it be attempted by all manner of means if you have any hopes of success. Some permanent obstruction will have to be made in advance, at the point at which the raft is to be commenced, for the purpose of giving it a foundation.
On the Upper Red River, in what is called the Narrows, between Tone's Bayou and Cushatta Chute, the obstruction referred to by you is feasible. I inclose you a communication from Mr. Witter and other planters above this place.* They present themselves as a committee, representing the planting interests above, and state that 1,000 hands could be obtained, under the superintendence of the planters themselves,