distance from the places where supplies must be purchased by the sanction of the military authorities. Nothing more weakens the disposition on the part of a population to countenance or engage in irregular hostilities of the kind that have latterly prevailed along the Mississippi than the habit of depending for most of the necessaries of life on those against whom such hostilities are directed and who are able at any time to without supplies. I make no doubt supplies. I make no doubt that now especially there are few who would deprecate the approach of rebel forces toward the places held by us on the Western waters more than the Southern sympathizers who are in the habit of trading at those places. Whilst they may be able by unrestricted intercourse with points held by our forces on the Mississippi to give at times valuable information to the enemy, it is ceratin that the information we can thus obtain will be quite as important, if not indeed more so, concerning the movements of the enemy.
It has, I thing, long been plain that those who suffer most by suspension of trade are not the rebel armies and soldier, but the noncombatants (old men, women, and children). To prevent these comparatively harmless people from buying small amounts of clothing and provisions (and only small amounts could be hauled into the interior by the very limited number of carts and wagons in their possession) we have absolutely employed military and naval forces sufficient to have determined the issue of any battle during the war.
It may be doubted whether trade restriction have ever been judicious since the opening of the Mississippi. They have not accomplished against the enemy any results at all commensurate with the means employed, and the fruitless effort to enforce them has required a military and naval force large enough to have rendered the most important service against the organized forces of the enemy.
On all grounds I would recommend the withdrawal of restrictions upon trade in the Vsissippi, except perhaps to limit the quantity of arms and ammunition to be sold.
Of the course, to be satisfactory such a policy must be general in the Mississippi Valley. As two other commanders divide with me the jurisdiction along the river, and perhaps entertain different views on this question, an order from Your Excellency would be necessary to render regulation for this purpose uniform im their character. The present system of trade is unsatisfactory to nearly everybody, the general belief being that trade is restricted for the benefit of a few individuals.
I suggest to Your Excellency entire free trade on the Mississippi and its tributaries, and do not hesitate to express the conviction that military operations would be greatly benefited if the large forces trying, and trying unsuccessfully, to enforce restrictions on trade were added to our armies operating in the field.
It seems probable, too, that this question of trading in States like Arkansas and Missouri (and doubtless Louisiana, too) could be very properly regulated by State laws. It is not likely that a loyal State government would be any too liberal in such or any other matters to disloyal men.
I only suggest these matters for the consideration of Your Excellency. Although their settlement is important, it is not essential to the success of the policy set forth in this letter for the return of Arkansas to civil government.
In brief, then, I propose to recognize the State government in Arkansas, to devolve upon it the whole local civil administration, and to use the military forces in that connection only to respond to requisi-