ates more than all others to induce this state of things is the cotton in the hands of citizens along the border. This cotton should be got rid of, i. e., out of the hands of the present owners, before we can reasonably expect much improvement in the condition of things. As long as the cotton remains int he hands of planters or citizens, just so long will they be resorting to all sorts of measures to push it into the enemy's lines, and either sell or exchange it for money or supplies, and ot prevent this by guarding the lines of communication would require the united force of all arms in my department.
So general has this become, as I am informed, that all classes, more or less, in certain districts are engaged in the traffic, and the infection has extended itself in most instances ot the soldiers guarding the roads, who connive at the trade by the inducement of a bribe in money or other valuables. In view of this condition of affairs, I beg leave respectfully to submit the following suggestions for your consideration:
Let the Government become the owner of all the cotton included within a belt of country extending from the lake shore to the Tennessee line and from the Mississippi River Bank to the Central Railroad, either by purchase or impressment, as in the case of all other property. Let competent agents be employed, under the direction of the department commander, to thoroughly canvass this district and purchase or impress all the cotton found within its limits and have it all removed east of Pearl River, except so much as may be needed for purposes of exchange,a nd stored, subject to future orders of the Government, through its agents. It is my purpose to have the great lines of railroad communication through the entire length of Mississippi and Alabama completed, from near the lake shore to the line of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. This will facilitate the transmission of the cotton whenever it may be required. I entertain but little doubt, if some such plan was adopted and placed in the hands of the department commander for execution, it would go very far toward enabling him to restore the infected districts to a healthful moral and military condition.
If any doubts should arise as to the propriety of impressing cotton, it may be said that if the Government has the right, upon the soundest principles of public policy, to impress corn and hay and meat and horses, and even men, for its defense in times of great national danger, there surely could be no doubt of its having the right to impress the cotton of private citizens, paying them for it a fair consideration.
The good order, and even the loyalty, of the region indicated demands that this cotton should be either seized or urged, and prompt action is required.
I remain, respectfully, your obedient servant,
TUPELO, [April] 27, 1864.
Negroes captured at Fort Pillow by General Forrest all say they are escaped slaves.
S. J. GHOLSON,