HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY FORCES,
Vicksburg, November 20, 1864.
Major General N. J. T. DANA,
GENERAL: I have the honor to report the following: The Trans-Mississippi Confederate government have for some time been taking one-half the cotton produced in that country. At first they stored it in large piles and guarded it with soldiers; now they leave it in the gin-house of the producer. The headquarters of this cotton bureau are in Shreveport; principal branch at Monticello, Ark., under Colonel Polk; a branch of this at Hamburg, under Major Robinson. The residents of that portion of Arkansas adjacent to Gaines' landing some time since made an agreement with the cotton
bureau, through a man named Belzer, and the provisions of this contract are, that upon paying 60 cents per bale in specie to Mr. Belzer as export duty and giving the Government one-half the amount raised, they are permitted to sell their one-half to the Yankees. The Confederate Government have made it no secret that they propose to sell their one-half to the same parties, and several gentlemen have visited Shreveport to purchase this cotton from them. The successful man seems to be one Parkham, of Memphis. Some two months since he landed at Gaines' Landing, and with a Confederate escort proceeded to Shreveport, where it is currently reported he concluded a contract with the cotton bureau for all their cotton. On his return he and his escort were captured by the Eighty-seventh Illinois Mounted Infantry (then on a scout from Gaines' Landing), and sent to Memphis. His agents now return on the steamer Mattie Cooke, with permits from the "Honorable Secretary of the Treasury," and approved by the President, for 15,000 bales of cotton purchased and paid for previous to July, 1864. This amount of private cotton is not in the country; not more than 1,500 bales remain of private cotton in the whole section that could be transported to the river. The affidavits and papers offered to induce this permission must be fraudulent, except it was purchased from the Confederate Government. It is a notorious fact that the Confederates boast that they constantly keep up an illicit trade through Gaines' Landing, and also that they sold quantities of Confederate cotton last year to boats like the Mattie Cooke. The testimony to prove the small amount of private cotton in that country, the complicity of this Mr. Parkham with the Confederate Government, can be produced at any time you may desire to send a force to arrest the witnesses, and being prominent citizens of that country, I omit their names in this statement.
I have the honor, general, to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. D. OSBAND,
Colonel Third U. S. Colored Cavalry, Commanding Cavalry Forces.
Tri-monthly report of Corps of Special Scouts, organized by order of Major General E. R. S. Canby and commanded by Lieutenant I. N. Earl, for the ten days commencing November 10 and ending November 20, 1864.
I left De Witt, where I was at the close of my last report, at daylight on the morning of the 11th and marched about fifteen miles in a northeast direction to Saint Charles, a small military post, where I remained the rest of the day. On the 12th I started down White River