were cut off in the middle of summer without having made preparations for such an event. They could not at once make blankets, shoes, and clothing; they were not stock-raisers, and above all they could not make or obtain salt, without which they could not live and even if they could have purchased salt in the Confederacy, the railroads were occupied by the army and they could get no transportation for it. Under these circumstances they traded with the enemy, and the husbands, sons, and fathers in our army of the women in North Mississippi were supplied with many articles of clothing and comfort that came from the enemy's lines. Salt was obtained from the same source, and almost every pound of meat that
our army consumed, from March until Vicksburg fell in July, was obtained from North Mississippi, and was cured by salt bought from the enemy. The people have cheerfully given up all they could spare to our army, reserving to themselves a bare subsistence, and while they have been doing all in their power for our soldiers, they have been literally burned up by both armies. Our people burned their cotton, the enemy burned their granaries and drove off their horses, mules, cattle, and negroes until many wealthy and patriotic families have been reduced to absolute want. These people must live; they are outside of our lines. Confederate money cannot buy for them the actual necessaries of life, and they have no means of obtaining them except with their cotton. If, then, their pittance of cotton is burned, their little cars, unfit for military use, and their oxen, too poor for beef, are seized by military orders, and then civil remedies to try the rightfulness of the seizure denied them, we may drive to desperation and disloyalty a people who have been true under every reverse of fortune, and when these orders have been enforced against old men and women who have trudged day and night through the mud to obtain a little salt, our soldiers have almost revolted at it.
A scene that I lately witnessed can best illustrate the point: A poor woman, whose husband was in the army, with seven small children to support, and an old gray-haired father seventy-five years of age, had struggled for means sufficient to buy one bale of cotton, took it to De Soto County and purchased salt and a few articles for family use. They were caught at Tallahatchie on their return, and, notwithstanding the most piteous and heart-broken grief, her goods and little truck cart with two oxen were ordered to be confiscated. Not a man present could restrain his emotion, and a generous officer present furnished her money to leave on.
You ask me "to make any suggestion as to the proper remedy." I believe that a trade should be opened, with proper restrictions, with men in the Federal lines.
If great success in the maintenance of a long protracted struggle is any test of wisdom, Frederick the Great was the wisest of military rulers, and he did not hesitate to trade with his enemy. We might profit from the lessons of history and a study of the character of our men. The Yankee was born for trade, and for a sufficient consideration would build boats to navigate on spring branches and bring us food and clothing for our naked and starving armies.
I have reason to believe that we could, last winter and spring, have corrupted the Yankee army and fed and clothed our own by a judicious use of cotton. British gold was one of England's most effective weapons in Revolutionary days and came near taking West Point, and I believe that Southern cotton could have saved Vicksburg