to immediately go on the Mississippi River and take control of the plantation system. Last year the abandoned plantations were taken possession of by me as a necessity, in order to provide labor for the large number of negroes coming within our lines. I was glad to be relieved of the business this year, and glad that it was transferred to the Treasury Department, but feeling satisfied that without the aid of the military it could not successfully be carried out, and so stated to the Secretaries of War and the Treasury. The Treasury agents adopted rules which could not be carried out, and the troops being mainly withdrawn from the west side of the river, lessees had to leave their plantations, as they were subject to frequent inroads of guerrillas, and the negroes could not be induced to remain on them. I found this state of things, and at once modified the system adopted by Mr. Mellen, and asked General McPherson to give me some troops to restore confidence to the lessees. The general cheerfully acceded to my wishes. I agree with you perfectly that placing troops on the banks of the Mississippi is no way to give protection to the river. Your operations did certainly cover the east bank of the river, but Hawkins" brigade, at Haines" Bluff, has not prevented raid upon raid in the neighborhood of Skipwith's Landing. I should like to see a brigade at Harrisonburg, with orders to maneuver up the Washita and Tensas, which would effectually cover the district. I do not wish to interfere in the disposition of the troops, and prefer leaving it to the proper commanders; still, general, you must se that with no troops on the west bank of the river, except at Helena, there would be very little or no protection to plantations. The operations of the forces against the rebels I regard as paramount, and, if necessary, all other minor interests must give way, but if the operations can be successfully carried on and these minor interests be protected, then I think it shoere are to organize colored troops, and I expect full co- operation on the part of all military commanders to enable me to execute those special orders of the Secretary of War. The President has taken an interest in the plantation system, and I desire fully to execute his orders. I have left it in the hands of the Treasury agents, subject to my supervision and control. I congratulate you on your assignment to your high and responsible command, and feel in my own mind that you are equal to the trust. May your military operations be crowned with brilliant success.
Sincerely and truly, yours,
WAR DEPT., ADJT. GENERAL'S OFFICE, Numbers 131.
Washington, March 31, 1864.
General Orders, Numbers 75, series of 1862, are hereby rescinded, and the following orders will govern hereafter in lieu thereof:
I. In organizing new regiments or independent companies of volunteers the Government of States are hereby authorized to appoint, in addition to the staff officers heretofore authorized, one second lieutenant for each company, who shall be conditionally mustered into service at the date of his appoint. Any officer thus appointed and mustered shall only be entitled to be paid on the muster and pay roll of his company, and should be fail to enlist an organized company within such time as the War Department may designate, the men enlisted by him shall be transferred to some other company, his