other. There are about 5,000 men, under General Bush, on the Teche, and probably other forces elsewhere, that could co- operate with him. It is not unlikely that a co- operative movement might be made from the direction of Mobile at the same time. It will be necessary at least to be prepared for an operation of this kind, which is suggested by movements of the enemy elsewhere, which offers such a rich booty if successful, and for which there is so strong a reason presented by the coming election. In addition to suggestions naturally presented in regard tote disposition of troops, I very earnestly ask your attention to the colored regiments. There are now about thirty regiments in this department. Although weak in numbers they- are comparatively well officered and well drilled. If they could be filled to the minimum number by recruits it would be a very effective force. If the movement to which I have referred takes place there will probably be not less than 5,000 or 6,000 men who can be withdrawn from the plantations, or who will be driven into the enemy's country. These men can be used to fill the now existing regiments of the Corps d'Afrique. If they are disposed of in this way they become immediately effective soldiers. They cannot be used in any other way, as it will be impossible to organize them into regiments or companies even for service at this time. Placed in the existing regiments they will give a force to each regiment of from 500 to 600 men. My belief is that 500 or 600 negroes is as large a command as can be made effective by the company and regimental officers of our present organization. Regiments of 1,000 men each is a stronger force than can be used effectively. I feel perfectly assured that three regiments of 500 men each will render far great service than two regiments of 1,000 men each. My impression is that the opinion of the officers commanding the regiments of this corps will sustain me in this view. There is another consideration which must be taken into account, although it has not the force of absolute right. The officers are very strongly adverse to presenting themselves before a board of examiners which is empowered to decide their claims to commissions in the consolidated regiments. Many will probably resign if allowed to do so, and if not amy submit to arrest rather than voluntarily merit. This course is not to be justified or tolerated, but the probability of such an occurrence at a time when this force must be of great importance to the service certainly deserves consideration. It is impossible for me to describe, perhaps improper for me to allude to, the differences which exist between portions of the service in this department, which have been stimulated publicly and privately by the high officers of the Government. Nevertheless it cannot be denied that such would submit to a thousand deaths rather than incur the certainty of disgrace by voluntary submission to a tribunal influenced by considerations of this kind. The importance of the subject, as well as the exigencies of the time, impel me to call your attention thereto, which I have until now foreborne. I very earnestly recommend the suspension of the order of consolidation for a few weeks in order that the negro force which is now within the department may be made available to the existing organizations if the exigencies of the service require it.
With much respect, your obedient servant,
N. P. BANKS,
Major- General, Commanding.