War of the Rebellion: Serial 052 Page 0695 Chapter XLII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION.

Search Civil War Official Records

to the heavy products of it. The inhabitants of the country on the Monongahela, the Illinois, the Minnesota, the Yellowstone, and Osage are as directly concerned in the security of the Lower Mississippi as are those who dwell on its very banks in Louisiana, and now that the nation has recovered its possession this generation of men would commit a fearful mistake if we again commit its charge to a people liable to mistake their title, and assert, as was recently done, that because they dwell by sufferance on the banks of this mighty stream they had a right to control its navigation.

I would deem it very unwise at this time, or for years to come, to revive the State Governments of Louisiana, &c., or to institute in this quarter any civil government in which the local people have much to say. They had a government, and so mild and paternal that they gradually forgot they had any at all, save what they themselves controlled; they asserted absolute right to seize public moneys, forts, arms, and even to shut up the natural avenues of travel and commerce. They chose war; they ignored and denied all the obligations of the solemn contract of government and appealed to force. We accepted the issue, and now they begin to realize that war is a two-edged sword, and, it may be, that many of the inhabitants cry for peace. I know them well and the very impulses of their nature, and to deal with the inhabitants of that part of the South which borders the great river we must recognize the classes into which they have naturally divided themselves.

First, the large planters owning lands, slaves, and all kinds of personal property. These are on the whole the ruling class. They are educated, wealthy, and easily approached. In some districts they are as bitter as gall, and have given up slaves, plantations, and all, serving in the armies of the Confederacy, whereas in others they are conservative. None dare admit a friendship to us, though they say freely that they were opposed to war and disunion. I know we can manage this class, but only by action; argument is exhausted, and words have not their usual meaning. Nothing but the logic of events touches their understanding, but of late this has worked a wonderful change. If our country were like Europe, crowded with people, I would say it would be easier to replace this population than to reconstruct is subordinate to the policy of the nation; but as this is not the case, it is better to allow them, with individual exceptions, gradually to recover their plantations, to hire any species of labor, and adapt themselves to the new order of things. Still their friendship and assistance to reconstruct order out of the present ruin cannot be depended on. They watch the operations of our armies, and hope still for a Southern Confederacy that will restore to them the slaves and privileges which they feel are otherwise lost forever. In my judgment we have two more battles to win before we should even bother our minds with the idea of restoring civil order, viz, one near Meridian in November, and one near Shreveport in February and March, when Red River is navigable by our gunboats. When these are done, then, and not until then, will the planters of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi submit. Slavery is already gone, and to cultivate the land negro or other labor must be hired. This of itself is a vast revolution, and time must be afforded to allow men to adjust their minds and habits to the new order of things. A civil government of the representative type would suit this class far less than a pure military rule, one readily adapting itself to actual occurrences and able to enforce its laws and orders promptly and emphatically.