go out of our lines unless in payment of supplies previously received, and the trade should be in all cases limited to Government objects; where the supplies received are all for the Government, and the cotton paid in return belongs to the Government, no moral injury is inflicted on our cause.
These views are based upon the experience of the last two months, and are respectfully submitted. Nothing has been heard from Captain Stevenson since he left, and we must conclude the Federal authorities have refused to permit him to export the cotton on the terms agreed upon. In truth, I much fear the enemy will seize this cotton should the opportunity offer, as it must be understood that it was once the property of the Confederate Government. The enemy has made, so far, no attempt to enter the Atchafalaya or Red River, although he has a fleet of seven gun-boats at the mouth of Red, and there is abundance of water to Trinity, or down the Atchafalaya. My advices from New Orleans still insist that an expedition will ascend these rivers as soon as the waters are high. The enemy has recently largely increased his mounted force by the arrival of four regiments of cavalry from the north and west, and his force on the lower Teche has been strengthened to some extent, Major-General Franklin having returned to that command. Our defenses and obstructions on the Red River are rapidly assuming formidable shape, and a letter from Major Douglas, received this morning, announces that he had commenced operations at Trinity.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
HDQRS. SUB-DISTRICT OF NORTHERN LOUISIANA,
Monroe, February 18, 1864.
Lieutenant CHARLES LE D. ELGEE,
Aide-de-Camp, Major-General Taylor's Staff:
SIR: In reply to the desire of the major-general commanding that I should furnish him an estimate of the amount of cotton in private hands east of the Ouachita River, and report to him as far as I am able its condition, whether in the hands of original producers, speculators, or foreigners, I have the honor to state that I find it impossible to furnish him correct and accurate estimate of the amount of cotton in private hands in the portion of the sub-district alluded to, from the fact that it has been so carefully concealed, and owners have evinced such indisposition to acknowledge possession, as to elude the scrutiny even of Government agents engaged by order of Lieutenant-General smith to prosecute investigation with a particular view to that object. There can be no doubt that a great deal of this cotton has been transferred by conditional trading, as speculators have been operating extensively throughout the district.
The concealment of the cotton prevents any knowledge of its actual condition. Doubtless a good portion of it has been injured by exposure to such a degree as to render it useless for manufacture, but in the present demand not unsalable. My estimate, therefore, can be only by approximation, and from all the data accessible to me there are about 37,000 bales in private hands and about 20,000 bales (estimated) of seed cotton, which, with the Government cotton, 22, 000