the country, preying upon the citizens and trading with the enemy, and I deem it of the utmost importance to the re-establishment of order, and confidence that these men shall be organized and controlled.
The report made by Colonel Powers representing them as organized is erroneous, but I am of the opinion that 1,000 or 1,200 men can be mustered in as soon as the authority is received. Lieutenant-Colonel Carter I have seen, and am much pleased with; he is evidently a gentleman, and seems to have the ideas and manner of a soldier and to possess the respect of the people.
Colonel Powers is well thought of by the people as a dashing officer, riding perhaps too high a horse, but desirous of doing his duty. With the lights before me, I should certainly recommend those two officers for the command of the regiment and battalion which it is proposed to form.
The inclosed copy of a letter* from the Secretary of War to a gentleman of influence in this neighborhood states very distinctly that "persons between eighteen and forty-five, residing within the lines of the enemy or in district so under their control that the conscript laws cannot be enforced, may be received into such organizations," and Mr. Addison tells me that the President, in a subsequent interview, assured him that if General Johnston considered that the conscript law could not be enforced in this section and would authorize the men to be mustered into new companies and regiments they would be at once recognized at the War Department. He furthermore states that the application which he made for the authority in Colonel Carter's case was indorsed by the President, "Referred to General Johnston, whose recommendation will be carried out." This paper, he says, was left with Colonel Ewell, who promised to send it to him by mail with General Johnston's indorsement.
i do not recommend that the conscript law be suspended, but that you shall threaten with conscription, while you allow the privilege of volunteering in new organizations; there will then be less work for the conscript officers.
I also think it desirable to transfer the organizations thus made to some other field of service, and bring to this section troops raised elsewhere. If, however, this cannot be done, I hope by a rigid examination of officers and enforcement of strict discipline, to make the troops serviceable, though it will be difficult at first to keep men so near their homes from straggling. I have also to ask that the general will send me a regiment or two battalions of well-organized troops, to picket the roads and break up the trade with the enemy while th troops to be organized are placed in camp, to be armed and disciplined.
Wingfield's battalion, the only authorized command under Captain [E. A.] Scott, is utterly demoralized and scattered over the country, many of the men and offices charged with engaging in trade with the enemy and protecting others in it. I feel that it cannot be relied upon for anything, and I cannot do anything without a force to control these fellows and to keep in check the Yankee cavalry (about 1,500) at Port Hudson and Baton Rouge, who really have nothing but Scott's cavalry, which is nothing to keep them from raiding the country for cotton, &c.
As it is necessary for me to know whether these organizations will be allowed, and to muster them in before I can make estimates for arms and supplies, I hope you will telegraph me on the receipt of this letter. Every day that is lost increases the uncertainty of the men, who already have doubts as to whether the organizations will be allowed, and are apprehensive that they will be conscripted.