them have more fear of our people than they have of the Yankees, and if some policy is not adopted by the Government, the navigation of the Mississippi River will be uninterrupted and cotton will be planted as far as the people have the labor next spring.
Many men of wealth are hiding their mules, cattle, &c., from our people.
The conscript officers not being in that region, it will be filled with conscripts and deserters.
The negro men will be put as far as practicable in the Yankee army, after that every inducement has been and will be held out by the enemy to our people to remain at home, and conscripts and deserters to congregate in this region.
Much damage is being done and dissatisfaction produced by the continual passing in and out of Vicksburg through our lines, and the continual contrasting of Yankee prices with ours, and petitioning to the enemy for the return of all sorts of property left in Vicksburg.
A number of plantations on the river have not been interrupted, and agents are offering now to receive cotton and deliver goods, allowing 20 cents per pound in greenbacks.
Cotton is worth more in Confederate money in the swamps than it is in Mobile. Some settled, general policy will have to be adopted on this subject. If the conscript law and arrest of deserters was rigidly enforced, all the negro men between eighteen and forty-five, and mules over and above enough to raise good, impressed and brought out before the water rises, and next spring the raising of cotton prohibited, it would do much to save this region to the Confederacy.
This has to be done by a military order from Richmond, and by organized soldiers. By constituting the Yazoo Islands a district 1,000 mounted men, under an efficient officer, could accomplish all.
Authorizing the enlistment of all the conscripts found in the swamp, many of them would join voluntarily. General Johnston says he will not trust his transportation to negro wagoners.
The negroes might be located in iron and coal works near Selma, Ala., which would be more satisfactory to the planters, as they do not like having them scattered by being in the army, and the difficulty in collecting hire from so many officers.
Unless orders come from Richmond covering all the subject, nothing will be done here. After 1st February nothing can be done, as the water-courses will all be impassable.
I am aware that your time is all occupied by important matters, but your personal knowledge of this section, and attachment to its people, and a personal acquaintance on my part, with a continual contact with its people by myself, are my apology.
My kind regards to Mrs. Davis.
Truly, your friend,
A. M. PAXTON.
MERIDIAN, November 14, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General:
Our scouts report fifteen transports with troops left Vicksburg within three days, and boats there waiting for Logan's command going to Chattanooga. This they learn from citizens.
J. E. JOHNSTON.