War of the Rebellion: Serial 086 Page 0234 LOUISIANA AND THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI. Chapter LIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

receipts. The extraordinary jurisdiction assumed by this person and tolerated by the department commander deserves extreme censure. Two instances have already come to my knowledge in which this civilian has sentenced soldiers for desertion-one to two years' and the other to thirteen years' confinement at Ship Island. I immediately an nulled the sentences. It is impossible for me to make any estimate of the amount of public money and public property that has been irregularly diverted from its proper channel. Two instances have been brought to me of bands of regiments employed in playing for thirteen nights at meetings held for election purposes, at $30 per night, and presented at this office for payment, and the parties were exceedingly surprised that the usual custom of the department was not adhered to. It is certain that a considerable amount of money for electioneering expenses we paid out by order of General Banks, and that Government transportation and armed protection was given to certain candidates. I find, further, that houses seized by military authority have been assigned as quarters to civilians; men and women wholly disconnected with the army, or with any charitable or benevolent institution. This laxity in the administration of affairs at department headquarters readily and of necessity contaminates all lower officials,and the attempt to reduce them to strict conformity with rules and regulations appears to them an invasion of customary privilege. It is true that this department, having been compelled to take the city of New Orleans into its own hands, and having vast charities to provide for, as well as being charged with the duty of superintendence, care, and education of the freedman, has been in anomalous position, which may excuse and perhaps justify many of the extraordinary proceedings that have taken place. Still, I regret to state that there appears to be a singular looseness and inaccuracy in all monied matters, and a disposition to consider public money and public property as the means of reaping private advantage, which renders my administration of affairs difficult and embarrassing, especially when personally a stranger to most of the officers under my command. I state these facts, and could add many more, not as any matter of excuse for myself or my official actions, but that the difficulties in administering the department may be understood.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

S. A. HURLBUT,

Major-General, Commanding.

HEADQUARTERS SIXTEENTH ARMY CORPS,

Vicksburg, Miss., October 25, 1864.

Major General J. J. REYNOLDS,

Commanding 19th Army Corps, in the Field, on White River:

GENERAL: Having received information from Major-General Canby, commanding Military Division of West Mississippi, that Brigadier General E. S. Dennis' command was but temporarily assigned by him to the Nineteenth Corps, and that as soon as the exigencies of the service would permit it would be relieved and ordered to me, in accordance with its assignment in paragraph 9, Special Orders, Numbers 219, current series, from headquarters Department and Army of the Tennessee, as the Third Division of this corps, I have the honor to request that you will order Brigadier-General Dennis to forward copies of the tri-monthly and monthly returns of his command to these headquarters, commenc-