supposed the enemy to be withdrawing. Advices just received from New Orleans state there is good reason to believe Farrgut's preparations are for the Texas coast instead of Mobile. It is much feared that Captain Boyd has been murdered or carried off. Parties have been sent out to scour the country and arrest all males able to bear arms. General Polignac will operate near and from Trinity. You might organize a light expedition to search the country between the Sabine Pass to the Black River. This is a great rendezvous of conscripts. Mr Vorhes [sic] near the [sic] can give much information about the country. Stripped as I have been of cavalry, it will be some days yet before any of that arm will be disposable. I trust you will be able to forage east of the Atchafalaya to some extent. The river here is falling, and we will soon lose what navigation we have. The enemy could not endanger a well-protected foraging party unless guns-boats could pass into the Atchafalaya.
Information has reached me of the desire of many of the negro troops to desert. They are restrained by a belief that we will shoot or hang all who may fall into our hands. The cavalry in the rear of Port Hudson lately shot a number who had deserted from that place. This of course stopped further desertions. Our policy is to treat these negroes kindly, and rather encourage them to come to us than frighten them by harshness. The importance of this matter should be impressed on officers commanding outposts.
From information just received, Captain Boyd has been carried to Natchez, and it is probable two or more officers besides have been taken there. These jayhawkers have several crossing places on the Black Rive, and keep up constant communication with Natchez. By secretly watching these crossing many might be captured. No officer should be permitted to travel north of the river from here to Marksville until we root out out this band. At present they number only 15, but the whole population between this and Trinity sympathize with them.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
ALEXANDRIA, LA., February 8, 1864.
Brigadier General C. J. POLIGNAC, Commanding Brigade:
GENERAL: Herewith inclosed is a copy of a communication addressed to you from these headquarters on 4th instant.* In additional to the directions therein contained, you will cause the whole country from Trinity to the mouth of Black River to be searched, and break up all rendezvous of jayhawkers. Arrest every man subject to conscription, including those recently rendered so in consequence of the passage of the law abolishing substitutes. Scrutinize closely every man found about your lines. There are a great many men between the Washita, Black, and Red Rivers out of the army who should be in it, and jayhawkers east of Red River have become very bold, having recently perpetrated outrages on the road to David's Ferry, not far from Alexandria.
By command of Major-General Taylor:
A. H. MAY,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
*See p. 944.