of a year. I was, for many years, judge of the supreme court of Florida, and am a relative of Captain Raphael Semmes, of the Navy, and Senatero [Thomas J.] Semmes from this State, and I beg to refer to the Honorable S. R. Mallory, Secretary of Navy, and Honorable J. P. Benjamin, Secretary of State, both of whom are intimately acquainted with me, and will vouch for my standing and character.
Immediately on the fall of Port Hudson, a few wealthy men in this section commenced purchasing up all the cotton they could in this and the adjoining parishes, with the view of shipping it to Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Large quantities of this cotton were shipped to those places, and the proceeds invested in goods which were brought out and sold to our citizens for nothing less than Federal currency or cotton. These men utterly repudiate our own currency; depreciate it in every possible way they can, and openly declare it utterly worthless. In nearly every instance these men accompany their cotton to Baton Rouge or New Orleans, and then not only sear allegiance to the United States, but take the oath prescribed in the military orders of General Banks, which formally and in terms commits them as informers and spies on our country. In consequence of the influence and evil example of these men, hundreds of persons of some less note and influence are openly engaged in this unlawful traffic with the enemy. The result is that hundreds and thousands of bales of cotton have been sent and are now being sent within the enemy's lines. A large portion of this cotton passes through this place and Camp Moore, some 10 miles above this.
Immense quantities of bagging and rope are brought in from Baton Rouge for the purpose of baling the unpacked cotton in the country, to ship to the enemy. So great is the amount of cotton carried into Baton Rouge, that I am informed by an intelligent man just from there that two large steamboats leave there daily for New Orleans freighted with cotton.
What is stranger than all, no impediment whatever is offered to these contraband trades at Camp Moore or elsewhere, except by unorganized bodies of armed men, who pass the cotton on being paid a tribute or black-mail of $50 to $75 per bale, and, when this is refused, proceed under the act of Congress (which subjects the cotton to confiscation) by making oath before a justice of the peace, have the cotton seized by a civil officer, and then, all parities being duly paid, the matter is compromised by captors and owners by a division of the cotton, the civil process dismissed, and each party openly take his share to Baton Rouge. An instance of this character recently occurred in this place, involving a large amount of cotton, and there is evidence of numerous other instances in which the aid of the civil authorities is invoked under the act of Congress, and then, by fraud and collusion, the Government is openly defrauded of thousands of dollars.
These things, general, are of daily occurrence and of public notoriety, and the man or official in this section, if there be any, whose duty it is to protect the interest of the Government in this regard, must be will-fully blind. I have no doubt that a faithful and otherwise competent provost-marshal located here or at Camp Moore, 10 miles above this, with jurisdiction extending to the lake coast some 35 miles, and to our lines near Baton Rouge, 40 miles, would effectually arrest this daily increasing evil, and save thousands and thousands of dollars to our Government. Hundreds of true and loyal men, who almost despair on account of the disloyalty and demoralization pervading this section, would cordially aid a provost-marshal in the discharge of his duty. Independent of the foregoing, there are hundreds of deserters from the army and