[NOVEMBER 15, 1863. - For General Hurlbut's General Orders, Numbers 157, relating to the impressment of citizens into the military service, see Series I, Vol. XXXI, Part III, p. 160.]
NEW ORLEANS, LA., November 16, 1863.
Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: On my way up the river I met General Wadsworth at Vicksburg and I accompanied him to Goodrich's Landing to visit some of the leased plantations. Having inspected some of the upper stations on his way down the river, he determined to proceed to New Orleans and from there to Washington. Desiring that he should see everything possible, and wishing to communicate freely with him, I determined to accompany him, putting my little steam-boat at his control. Stoppages were made for inspection at Vicksburg, Natchez, Port Hudson, and Baton Rouge. The general has made his inspections here and on the Government plantations some forty miles below on the river, and yesterday went to Brashear City. He designs taking the steamer of Thursday next (18th instant) for New York, with material sufficient to make a report of the state of affairs in the Departments of the Tennessee and of the Gulf. My regret is that he had not allowed himself more time to look minutely into everything. I know an inspector could be profitably employed for the next three months. He will have somewhat to say about competent inspectors to assist me.
The general seems to be well satisfied with what has been done, and can make the necessary allowances for the difficulties under which we have labored. Much has undoubtedly been done with reference to the altered condition of the colored race, but a vast deal more has yet to be done. While every day is producing a change, I am wedded to no system, except that of making them able-bodied soldiers and instructing them, and willingly yield to what experience teaches. I am acting under the principle that African slavery can no longer exist in the United States, and that the blacks must be taught to sustain themselves. Accordingly I will not permit them to remain in camp in idleness, a burden to the Government, and where they sicken and die, but shall h ire them out to loyal lessees of plantations, and encourage such as are not needed for military purposes to remain on the plantations with their former owners, provided they receive proper wages and are well treated. This seems to me to be the most judicious course I can adopt under present circumstances. I expect to leave the city to-morrow at 12 o"clock for Vicksburg.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WAR DEPT., PROVOST-MARSHAL" GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Washington, D. C., November 16, 1863.
Brigadier General R. F. STOCKTON, Jr.,
Adjutant-General of New Jersey, Trenton, N. J.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 5th instant, stating that you had received mine of the 3rd, inclosing copy of a letter to Brigadier-General Peirce, of Massachusetts, and that His Excellency Governor Parker was desirous