my order and that of General Gholson, asking him to take charge of the labor and make the repairs. The people gladly responded to the call for negroes, because all saw and felt the necessity for the work. Captain Crider was progressing rapidly with the work until I was informed that you had issued an order countermanding mine to repair. I ordered the work to be suspended and the labor sent home to report when called for. I have just now received your order, dated 5th instant, revoking my order and notifying me that I "had no authority" to make such an order. I made the order on the same ground that I would order my quartermaster to impress teams to transport stores, or my command to meet an approaching force of the enemy, a necessity devolving upon me to defend an assigned district of country by all the means within my reach. If I could order a wagon to be made and a road to be opened, and a bridge made across a stream on which to drive the wagon, I do not see why I could not order a railroad to be repaired. If corporations are persons, as they claim to be in legal contemplation, though soulless, as their acts in many cases show them to be, I do not see any just and well-founded reason why they should be exempted from the exercise of a power applied to pastoral persons under the proper circumstances. But this thing I do know, that if the corn does not come to our stock, a very imperative law of nature will compel us to go to it. I shall be compelled to make Okolona the basis of forage and subsistence in less time than one month. This will throw my command 40 miles below the assigned northern line and 60 miles below where it ought to be in my judgment. I believe that I can take and hold a line 60 miles north of this much easier than this, extending protection to people now in the contested ground. If we could get supplies, I would, if permitted, advance and repair the road as I went.
R. V. RICHARDSON,
Colonel, Commanding Northeastern Mississippi.
HDQRS. CAV. COMMAND, S. W. MISS., ALA., E. LA., November 9, 1863.
Colonel B. S. EWELL, Assistant Adjutant-General:
COLONEL: I have the honor to report I have found matters in the most deplorable condition in vicinity of Natchez, Bayou Sara, Baton Rouge, and Ponchatoula. There has been a regular system of trade carried on between citizens, Confederate soldiers, and the enemy. Large quantities of cotton have found their way into the enemy's lines, guarded by Confederate soldiers. Horses, mules, and wagons have been pressed from citizens without any authority whatsoever. Citizens have been robbed in open day by Confederate footpads. A system of anarchy has reigned here since the fall of Port Hudson.
The most stringent measures are adopted in order to restore order. My appeal to the citizens has been patriotically responded to, and men, old and young, are springing into life as if by magic. They are certainly a pack of ragamuffins, and it will take a long time to make good soldiers of them.
I would respectfully call your attention to Captain Scott's command, part of the Ninth Battalion Louisiana Cavalry. I have just
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