War of the Rebellion: Serial 086 Page 0816 LOUISIANA AND THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI. Chapter LIII.

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Franklin, Tex., December 9, 1864.

Honorable JOHN S. WATTS,

Santa Fe, N. Mex.:

MY DEAR JUDGE: Over two years ago I wrote a letter to the Attorney-General of the United States, calling his attention to the fact that large amounts of property in the northwestern corner or portion of Texas had been abandoned by secessionists who had left the country when Sibley's forces retreated from New Mexico, and I suggested to the honorable Mr. Bates the importance of having some action taken by Congress with a view to the confiscation and sale of this property, the courts of New Mexico having no jurisdiction in the premises. No reply was made to my communication and no action had by Congress. There are other matters of importance in this part of the State of Texas which can only be adjusted by civil tribunals. Almost daily appeals are made to myself to decide points which are grave of themselves, but which cannot properly be recognized as coming within the purview of a military commander. The only remedy that can be applied to regulate all these matters will be for Congress to pass an act establishing a district court, provisional or permanent, for the El Paso District. Rights to property, real and personal, and all other matters of civil polity, can have no permanent adjustment until this be done,, and it seems to be very hard form innocent parties, or rightful owners, to be deprived of their privileges as citizens, because a portion of the State still remains in rebellion. I earnestly entreat that you will use your utmost endeavors to procure by some action of the present Congress a relief from this state of affairs.

I am, dear judge, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding.


Washington City, December 10, 1864.

Major General E. R. S. CANBY,

Commanding Mil. Div. of West Mississippi, New Orleans, La.:

GENERAL: It is deemed very important by this Department that adequate protection should be afforded, according to the power of the Government, to the leased plantations and those worked by loyal owners along the Mississippi River, in order to afford proper and necessary supplies and security for planting of crops and securing them for the market. The importance of this security and the advantage of thus obtaining a supply of cotton for the market cannot very well be overestimated. You will please, therefore, direct your attention to this very important subject, and give such instructions to the commanders of military departments, posts, detachments, and other forces in your division, and upon the banks of the Mississippi under your command, as may, without prejudice to the service, accomplish this desired object. You will, of course, observe that this instruction is not designed to interfere with any military operation that may be in your view or under your direction. The military operations, of course, are paramount, but next to them this subject is deemed important.

I am, truly, yours,


Secretary of War.