To Chapter 30, pp 552-77

King of Louisiana, 1862-1865, and Other Government Work
a Biography of Major General Nathaniel Prentice Banks,
Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives
by Raymond H. Banks, copyright 2005
 
an exact page by page recreation of the original printed 2005 version with additional material
 
 CHAPTER  30 

Setbacks and Reorganization

 page 552

The day of the change in command in New Orleans, Major General Cuvier Grover headed the first offensive operation—of sorts—under Banks's rule.   The first 4,500 men of a 10,000-man force from the expedition peacefully disembarked upriver on the Mississippi at Baton Rouge from fifteen steamboats.   This was the previously occupied Louisiana capital Butler had abandoned.   Not all these men could come from Ship Island on the same day because some of the ocean-going vessels drew too much water.1   Admiral Farragut claimed credit for recommending this operation to Banks.2   It is known that because of his lack of influence in Washington the admiral was then feeling insecure about being left in command,3 and this operation was likely to have positive results.  On the approach of the new Federal forces, the Confederate command had withdrawn the small Baton Rouge garrison upriver to the more defensible river town of Port Hudson.4   The Confederate secretary of war soon warned the commander of Mobile, Alabama—who was in no danger—that Banks intended to attack that city.5

The Department of the Gulf represented the largest group of field soldiers that Banks had yet commanded.  The December 31 returns for the Department of the Gulf showed 42,074 men assigned, of whom 36,058 were present for duty—an unusually high percentage.  The Louisiana swamps and their hordes of mosquitoes would quickly reduce the number of men fit for duty.6   In addition to these totals, several regiments were still in transit.  Out of the seventeen departments then in existence, the Department of the Gulf ranked



1. OR, I, 15: 613; ORN, I, 19: 415
2. Farragut to Gideon Welles, Dec. 19, 1862, ORN, I, 19: 415.
3. Lewis, David Glasgow Farragut: Our First Admiral, pp. 150-51.
4. Report of Cuvier Grover, OR, I, 15: 191.
5. OR, I, 15: 902.
6. OR, I, 15: 627.
 

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only seventh in number of men assigned, but several of the larger ones were not frontline commands.7   Among the departments involved in directly fighting large Confederate forces, the Gulf was the most dispersed of the commands.  Banks was responsible for coastal regions stretching from Florida to Texas.

Within days of Banks's arrival, the length of the department shrunk substantially by events not directly under his control.  Since November, General Butler had wanted to beef up the small garrison at Galveston, Texas, using Texas refugees of military age.   The navy had captured the island earlier in the year.8   Like many other Federal toeholds around the Confederate coast, the Federal garrison in December was on an island commanding an important harbor.  This made it more difficult for Confederates to retake the island.  One of Banks's first, minor tasks was to follow up on Butler's work and send an army garrison there.  Banks's own report summarized the situation:

"Upon  consultation  with  Rear  Admiral  D.  G. Farragut  and  Major
General Butler, both of whom recommended the measure, the   Forty-
second   Massachusetts  Volunteers,   Colonel   Burrell  commanding,
was  sent  to  occupy  the  island,  in  support of  the  navy.   Brigadier 
General  A.  J. Hamilton,  who  had  been  commissioned  as  Military
Governor of  Texas,  and  who  accompanied  my  expedition to New
Orleans, with a large staff,  also pressed my occupation of  Texas with
the  greatest  earnestness,  and  it  was in deterrence9 [sic], in  a  great
degree to his most strongly expressed wishes, that the expedition  was
undertaken, thought [sic] it  was fully justified by the information which
had been received of  a proposed attack by the enemy, as  well as  by
the advice of the naval and military authorities of the department."10

On December 28, part of this regiment arrived on the island.  They brought with them mostly wrong ammunition, inadequate number of percussion caps and only two weeks worth of rations.11

On New Year's Day, 1863, a Confederate force of 500 men bringing with



7. OR, III, 2: 957.
8. OR, I, 15: 591-92.
9. The word “deference” probably intended.
10. Apr. 6, 1865 report, OR, I, 26, pt. I: 5-7.  Among those known to have gone with Hamilton were Judge William Alexander and Colonel John Haynes. (Moors, History of the Fifty-Second Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, p. 21.)  The spelling errors listed here may not appear in the original written version.

11. Bosson, History of the Forty-Second Regiment Infantry, Massachusetts Volunteers, 1862, 1863, 1864, pp. 74, 81.
 

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them some artillery pieces crossed over a railroad bridge that connected the island with the mainland.   The Confederates had earlier planked the bridge to allow foot traffic, and the Union infantry commander was waiting for reinforcements before attempting to destroy the bridge because the Confederates had batteries covering it.   The bridge’s location in an area difficult for ships to navigate ruled out destruction by a water route.12

The Federals barricaded themselves on wharves that jutted out from the northern side of the city.13   To get out to these on the night of the attack, the Rebels did some wading and then tried to scale a wall near the Federal barracks.   They found their ladders too short. Unable to match the Federal artillery onslaught from ships and infantry, it seemed the most that the Rebels could hope for was a continued occupation of the adjacent town.

 
The   town  of  Galveston,  which   takes  up  most  of  this  map,   is  depicted   on
inset  map as a black square.  The  blue  arrows  point to  the  wharves  next to the
deepwater   channel    where   Federal   soldiers  barricaded   themselves.   (Larger
map from Confederate source, in Altas to Accompany the Official Records, vol. 22,
part 2, page 1133.)                                                                                                 

Then a Confederate boat rammed and boarded the steamer Harriet Lane.  This led to the surrender of that large vessel and the rest of the Federal fleet at anchor.  In addition to the Harriet Lane, the Confederates added two coal



12.. Bosson, Ibid., pp. 75-7, 82.
13. Bosson, Ibid., pp. 73-4, 84-5. 
 
 

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transports and a schooner to their naval inventory.

 

Artist's  sketch  of naval conflict at Galveston, January 1863.
Of someone present created this drawing, the exploding boat
was likely the Westfield, whose captain scuttled it.  Its sailors
rowed  to  a  nearby  Federal  transport.  (Harper's Weekly
Magazine, January 31, 1863)                                               
 

Now stranded, the Union army commander decided to surrender.  The Confederates took 350 prisoners, and they themselves suffered at least 150 casualties.14   The rest of the Massachusetts soldiers from this regiment steamed back to New Orleans without landing.   Admiral Farragut was particularly displeased with this debacle because his losses were greater, and the navy was the immediate cause of the defeat.   The affair was "the most melancholy ever recorded in our navy," he wrote the assistant secretary in Washington.15   It was a disappointment also because the retention of Galveston would have freed up the ships now needed to blockade that same port and have provided a supply/refitting station in the western Gulf of Mexico.   Farragut's fleet was stretched so thin that the command ship he would use on the Mississippi River, the Albatross, had been the only one off the mouth of the Rio Grande River in 1862 until it left.

Banks needed to provide a written rationale for undertaking the Galveston project because General-in-Chief Halleck was not happy that anything other



14. Reports, OR, I, 15, pt. I: 210-15; Bosson, Ibid., pp. 87-114; Winfrey, "Two Battle of Galveston Letters," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 65 (Oct. 1961): 252-3.
15. Farragut to G. V. Fox, Feb. 6, 1863, in Thompson and Wainwright, Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, vol. I, p. 324.

page 556

than the Mississippi River had attracted the Massachusetts general's attention.16   Halleck's lack of insight showed in this instance, as in others over the next several years.  Galveston had the only decent harbor in Texas, and the possession of the island was worth far more than the regiment or two needed to garrison it.   Galveston was also at the center of the existing Texas railroad system and thus an excellent staging area for operations into Texas.  Capturing the city was also the key to an effective blockade.  By the end of the war, twenty-five blockade-running steamboats were regularly bringing supplies to Galveston in exchange for cotton—with only a small risk of capture.17

The Union army commander was probably waiting for the rest of his force to arrive before destroying the bridge link.  The Confederates, on the other hand, likely attacked when they did in expectation that each day that passed increased the risk of the Federal garrison increasing in size.  The Federal commander indicated the navy assured him the Federals were safe from attack,18 and that would have been another reason for him to wait before taking action.

General Banks later wrote that the senior naval officer had had an arrangement with the Confederates to maintain the railway communication with the island.19   This same man had even been allowing civilians to enter the Federal sector under flags of truce.20  The women and children residents of the large island had few resources there to sustain them.  These civilians seemed to have been a mixture of Unionists and Confederates.21   New Orleans Port Collector George Denison also mentioned in a letter prior to the capture of the town that the navy's unaccomplished intent was to destroy that bridge.22    All of these observations may have been correct, with the navy finding until then no way to provision the civilians if they were to cut the link to the mainland.

Confederate soldiers had gotten on the island on more than one occasion, including the night of the attack, and Confederate cavalry regularly came into town at night.23

Banks would later call the loss of Galveston the most unfortunate event in



16. Halleck report, OR, I, 26, pt. I: 4.
17. OR, I, 48, pt. II: 230.
18. OR, I, 15: 206.
19. Banks to Gov. Andrew, Aug. 5, 1864, N. P. Banks papers, LOC, box 74.
20. Bosson, History of the Forty-Second Regiment Infantry, Massachusetts Volunteers, 1862, 1863, 1864, p. 78.
21. Ibid., p. 79.
22. Denison to Chase, Sep. 30, 1862, Salmon P. Chase papers, LOC
23. OR, I, 15: 208

page 557

the Department of the Gulf during his tenure.24   In his first full dispatch in January, the general blamed (a) the Texas governor and his friends for pressuring him into sending troops there prematurely and (b) the navy.25   There was no mention of the earlier excuse that he was also acting on the advice of Farragut and Butler nor of the mention in the later report of the importance of the mission.

Banks asked Brigadier General William Emory26 to develop a plan for retaking the island.  Emory's January 19, 1863, report advocated the navy attacking the end of the island.  Then 10,000 Federals would land on an open beach in small boats under enemy artillery fire.   Emory's opinion was that bad weather would cause such an attack to fail and would also disrupt supplies to the island which had almost no resources of its own.27   This plan apparently sounded too risky to Banks because he never implemented it.

The Confederates constructed extensive earthworks along Galveston's beach after the Federals surrendered, but their artillery consisted only of two small cannon and a variety of fake guns.28

Texas ex-Congressman Andrew Jackson Hamilton came to New Orleans with the expedition as the newly appointed military governor of Texas.   Here Hamilton's party learned that the army was not going to invade Texas after all.   Banks's recollection was that "those connected with him became very violent, and denounced unsparingly the Government and all connected with the expedition..."  Banks was not so harsh on Hamilton himself who was "not a bad



24. 38 Cong., 2 sess., JCCW, Special Report No. 142. " Red River Expedition. Fort Fisher Expedition. Heavy Ordinance," p. 306.
25. Banks to Stanton, Jan. 7, 1863, OR, I, 15: 642.

26.  Emory before the war had been one of the nation's premier mapmakers. He explored the Rio Grande to the Pacific coast, producing a report similar to the ones that made John Charles Frémont famous.  Although the government published 10,000copies of his report, Emory lacked Frémont's promotional capabilities.  His legacy today primarily consists of various fauna of the Southwest named after him, such as the Emory oak (quercus emoryi).  Emory likely had an aversion to generals from civilian life.  His West Point associates from California days (Halleck, Grant, Sherman) definitely developed such a bias after their dealings with Banks’s friend, John Frémont.  Emory had more reason to dislike Frémont, having been a close aide of Frémont's accuser, General Kearny, as well as a witness at Frémont's court-martial. (Emory, Lieutenant Emory Reports: A Report of Lieutenant W. H. Emory's Notes of a Military Reconnoissance (sic), pp. 9, 12, 16)   He was also the person most overlooked by the public in regard to western explorations.  Emory had also had the distinction of being one of the few persons present in the U.S. Senate when Preston Brooks assaulted Senator Charles Sumner. (Congressional Globe, 34 Cong., 1 sess., May 29, 1856, p. 1366.)

27. Emory to Banks, Jan. 19, 1863, Natl. Archives, RG 393, pt. I, entry 1756, Dept. Gulf, Letters Received, box 3. The surf all along the western Gulf of Mexico can be rough on small boats.
28. Block, "The Ghostly Silent Guns of Galveston," East Texas Historical Journal, 33 (1995): 27
, Sep. 30, 1862, Salmon P. Chase papers, LOC.
23. OR, I, 15: 208.
 
page 558

man, but he does not manifest great force of character, and is surrounded by men who came here on the Government transports, unbeknown to me, for base, speculative purposes and nothing else."29   Banks had written shortly after their arrival in New Orleans that Hamilton was satisfied with just occupying Galveston.30   Hamilton’s hangers-on had come on board one of the steamers in New York against orders and had loaned money to Hamilton, Banks later asserted.31   But the records show Hamilton had notified Banks he planned to bring eight men with him on the Illinois.32   Banks had given Hamilton written, carte blanche permission for the mentioned men to come with the expedition.33
 
General Andrew Jackson Hamilton, Military Governor of Texas
(U. S. Army Military History Institute, MOLLUS collection)

On January 18, Halleck wrote Banks that Washington was revoking Hamilton's commission as governor.34  The basic problem was that nothing in Texas was still under Federal control, and there was no use staffing phantom 



29. Banks, report, Jan. 7, 1863, OR, I, 15: 201. One of Hamilton's staff, Captain Jasper K. Herbert, was later court-martialed by General Dana for cotton dealing and scheming with Mexican authorities.  Prior to the court action, Banks had prohibited Herbert from denouncing the president and his military policy but took no action against him. (Banks to A. J. Hamilton, N. P. Banks letter book, Mss. 2326, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, pp. 72-3.)  President Lincoln ordered him reprimanded and sent to General Butler in North Carolina. (See Jan. 2, Oct. 16, 1864, OR, I, 34, pt. II: 8-10.)  Herbert deliberately turned his back on Banks once at a party and obviously did not get along with the general. (Herbert to Butler, Oct. 16, 23, 1863, Private and Official Correspondence of Gen. Benjamin Butler during the Period of the Civil War, vol. III, pp. 121, 133.)

30. Banks to Stanton, Dec. 19, 1862, Natl. Archives, RG 393, pt., I, entry 1953, Banks Expedition, Letters Sent..
31. Banks to Stanton, Jan. 7, 1863, OR, I, 15: 642.
32. Hamilton to Adjutant Irwin, Nov. 24, 1862, Natl. Archives, RG 393, pt. I, entry 1756, Dept. Gulf, Letters Received, box 1.
33. Banks to Hamilton, Nov. 22, 1862, Natl. Archives, RG 393, pt. I, entry 1953, Banks Expedition.
34. OR, I, 15, pt. I: 656.

page 559

 governments.   When news of this reached New Orleans, Hamilton aides were soon telling a reporter from the New York Herald that the government had deceived him.35

It was not clear what authority the military governors had and which powers were reserved to the military commanders.  The commissions given to such governors in Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas had nearly identical wording, and this wording left it mainly to the discretion of the officeholder as to what he should or should not do.36     It even sounded as if the military commander were there to assist the governor.  This was certainly not the intent, as circumstances would show.

In addition to meeting the Galveston challenge, Banks needed also to find quickly a replacement for Butler's trade policy.  Simply forbidding kickbacks and preferential contracts would not by themselves revive commerce in the South's largest city.  New York soldier Orton Clark found whole blocks of stores closed when he arrived in that period.37  Those who had seen New Orleans in its heyday were shocked at its current appearance.   Before the war, many in the city had made their living in some way from the transshipment of enormous quantities of cotton to Europe and sugar to the American North, as well as supplying the plantations with manufactured goods.  In 1860, almost $100 million in cotton and $20 million in sugar left New Orleans.  Yet only $21 million in imports came to the port in that same year.38

New Orleans had been the leading supplier of the world's cotton.  Export fees from New Orleans commodities comprised a major part of federal revenue in the days before the federal income tax.   No other Southern port was as lucrative. Only a small part of the Southern cotton crop, but much of the sugar crop, was grown in the near vicinity of New Orleans.   There was no way to revive the prewar trade fully without access to all the crops that used to come to New Orleans.  An additional obstacle to a revival was the abandonment of some of the nearby plantations.  The sugar plantations, in particular, required substantial outlays of capital for equipment.   Butler's policy of randomly seizing property created a disincentive to put capital into any type business.  Trade of any sorts in Louisiana had depended mostly on capital supplied by New Yorkers, and the link to that supply of money was also broken in 1861.

The term "trade regulation" would be an oxymoron during the war.  Out of greed and desperation, there were many, many persons willing to pass goods through the lines and receiving parties willing to pay the inflated prices.  One 



35. New York Herald, Feb. 7, 1863.
36. OR, III, 2: 141, 233, 782.
37. Clark, The One Hundred and Sixteenth Regiment of New York State Volunteers ..., p. 49.
38. Gardner, Gardner's New Orleans Directory for 1861, p. 6

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group of Union leaders, exemplified by Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman, felt that there should be no trading while the war continued—only seizures of Confederate property.   Confederate sympathizers, at the opposite extreme, wanted unrestricted trade.  A third group, to which Banks and Lincoln and Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase belonged, wanted to allow trade which would not profit the Confederate war effort.   This latter approach would prove exceedingly difficult to accomplish.   Benjamin Butler's own views during his command in New Orleans were difficult to fathom.  He seemed to have left it up to the war department to decide about the subject but complained of difficulty getting supplies when locals were allowed to land only at New Orleans.  Butler also spoke vaguely of the importance of cotton to Northern manufacturers and that getting cotton out of the countryside "prevents the Jews from gathering up all the gold in the country to exchange it with the Confederates for cotton."39

Banks had seen smuggling problems firsthand along the Potomac in 1861 and 1862.  Ulysses S. Grant spent much of the end of 1861 chasing smugglers in and out of southern Illinois, and similar situations existed everywhere the two armies were neighbors.   In Louisiana, Banks immediately rejected proposals by Confederate agents for free trade, and he forbade smuggling.40   A tough approach against trade near the lines was typical of many Federal generals on assuming command, but almost all had to modify their views when starving loyal locals began to complain.   Feeling hesitant to institute a complete system of trading on his own authority, Banks drafted a proposal to Halleck and made the contents public in New Orleans.   General Banks suggested allowing free trade west of the Mississippi River, but one half of the proceeds of sales of crops in New Orleans would be held by the government until the end of the war.   Provisions for the plantations "consistent with the interests and safety of the Government" might be allowable.41   Cabinet members received similar proposals from other generals in 1863 and 1864.  The Massachusetts general would eventually have to abandon most of these initial proposals because there were no safeguards against bribe-paying Confederates using such a plan to their advantage.   Until the White House ruled on Banks's proposals, trade inside enemy lines would remain forbidden and would simultaneously continue to flourish.  The honest New Orleans merchants, at least, would think Banks was more willing than Butler to assist them.

Also of immediate concern to Banks on arrival in Louisiana was Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.   One of the difficulties in interpreting new policy



39. Butler to Chase, Oct. 22, 1862, OR, I, 15: 583.
40. OR, I, 15: 616.
41. OR, I, 15: 616.

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 under the proclamation was that there was no advanced copy of it.   The original announcement in September was only preliminary, representing a nineteenth-century version of proposed federal rules.  Slavery was thus still legal throughout Louisiana until January 1.   A prohibition on returning slaves owned by Confederates to their owners was the only legal restriction on Federal commanders.  General Butler had generally followed this policy, but some of the more abolition-minded soldiers were unhappy he had returned runaways to loyal masters.42   Butler had also permitted slave owners to continue to operate plantations within Federal lines and to continue using whips for punishment.  Groups of citizens approached Banks, concerned that the January 1 changes would lead to an uprising.  There had been multiple minor slave rebellions in Louisiana in 1862.43
 
General Banks (photo from Thomas Many collection)
 

On Christmas Eve, the Massachusetts general issued yet another of his December proclamations—this one pertaining to the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation.  Lincoln himself would express concern about domestic disorders related to the event, and it was not unreasonable for Banks to address the issue at this time.44   He would unfortunately also be enunciating



42. Sprague, History of the 13th Infantry Regiment of Connecticut Volunteers, during the Great Rebellion, pp. 60-63.
43. Butler to Stanton, Aug. 2, 1862, OR, I, 15: 534; New Orleans Daily Delta, Aug. 5, 1862.

44. Cabinet members also had considerable concern about uprisings.  Secretaries Chase and Seward had both proposed a clause in the Emancipation Proclamation appealing for slaves to remain calm. (Guelzo, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America, p. 178-9)  These officials could have communicated their concerns to Banks before he left Washington.

page 562

rationales for policies contained in the September version that did not appear in the final version.   Lincoln had been adding and subtracting wording over the three months, and additional revisions were still to come in the last week of December.45

Banks's most serious error was in asserting that the Emancipation Proclamation exempted all of Louisiana from its provisions.46  "It is manifest" that the Emancipation Proclamation does not apply to Louisiana, the general assured the (white) people of that state.   The preliminary version had exempted those states that were represented in Congress.  Related to this, Lincoln had prematurely rebuked the military governor of Louisiana, George F. Shepley, in November because the president thought he had failed to call congressional elections in New Orleans.47  A reasonable voter turnout in the New Orleans area did result in House of Representative seats for loyal Unionists Michael Hahn and Benjamin Flanders.   They had subsequently traveled to Washington and presented their credentials prior to Christmas.  It is likely that abolitionists were instrumental in keeping Hahn and Flanders out of Congress until after the first of the year to make sure the Louisiana slaves were emancipated.48   The failure of Congress to seat them before the implementation date of January 1 may have figured into Lincoln’s wording changes.

Neglecting to revamp the phrasing might be interpreted as Lincoln's assent to the idea that Louisiana had no valid representation in Washington.   So he exempted from the proclamation and its abolition of slavery the seven parishes49 of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, Terrebonne, La Fourche, St. Mary and Orleans.50

These parishes were generally those in the first and second congressional districts, but the choices were not completely logical.  The proclamation excluded multiple parishes between New Orleans and Baton Rouge that voted in the last congressional election.   If the news of the reoccupation of Baton



45. Banks's mismatched instructions for the proclamation did not go unnoticed in the North. See, for example, New York Daily Tribune, Feb. 10, 1863.
46. OR, I, 15: 619.
47. Lincoln to George F. Shepley, Nov. 21, 1862, Abraham Lincoln papers, LOC.

48. The Elections Committee failed to report on whether they should be seated until February 3, 1863.  (Congressional Globe, 37 Cong., 3 sess., Feb. 3, 1863, p. 695.)  They obtained their seats February 17 on a 92 to 44 vote, with the ultraradicals and a Democratic bloc voting in the negative. (Ibid., pp. 1035-36.)

49. Louisiana has parishes instead of counties in observance of the designations used prior to American purchase of the state.
50. OR, I, 15: 668.

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Rouge had reached Lincoln earlier, he might have included that area.  Only part of St. Mary's Parish was Union-controlled; the parish did not vote in the election; and yet Lincoln included it.51   Indeed, the term "Union-controlled" could change from day to day, depending on the activity of Confederate cavalry.   New Orleans stood at the northeastern end of the seven exempted, contiguous parishes, which were all in the southeastern corner of Louisiana.  Much of the included land was swampy and nonproductive.  The best cotton and sugar lands were still behind Confederate lines.  This geography of the included area thus explains why these parishes contained only about sixteen percent of Louisiana's slaves listed in the 1860 census but about half of the white population.52

In his selection of parishes, Lincoln thus presented Banks a messy checkerboard of jurisdictions.  Government-managed plantations and plantations owned by slave-owning loyalists might be either in slave or free territory depending on Lincoln's arbitrary boundaries.

Lincoln's original proclamation spoke of compensated emancipation for the freed slaves in loyal areas and also mentioned his long-standing interest in colonization of freedmen.   Lincoln's annual message to Congress on December 1, 1862, continued to support these positions.  Unaware Lincoln abandoned these policies while he was en route to Louisiana, Banks took time in his Christmas Eve proclamation to defend them.   The general argued in his proclamation that no military man would counsel the preservation of slave property if rebellion should continue, and the rebels must, therefore, give up their fight if they want to preserve their slave property.  "The war is not waged by the Government for the overthrow of slavery," the general stated, echoing Lincoln's recent statements.53   On one issue, Banks went further, suggesting planters go ahead and convert to a wage system.54

At least Lincoln and Banks, as mentioned, were at one in their appeal for calm on January 1.   Banks went much further on this also, restricting African American troops to their camps and limiting their visitors.55  He canceled all soldiers' leaves.56 



51. For election results: Benjamin Butler to Abraham Lincoln, Dec. 4, 1862, Abraham Lincoln papers, LOC.
52. Kennedy, Population of the United States in 1860; Compiled from the Original Returns of the Eighth Census, under the Direction of the Secretary of the Interior, pp. 189-93.
53. OR, I, 15: 620; Lincoln to Horace Greeley [for publication], Aug. 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln papers, LOC.
54. OR, I, 15: 620.
55. Ibid.
56. Ibid.

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Lincoln had one final surprise in the Emancipation Proclamation.  He announced that African Americans would now be received into the armed forces as garrison soldiers and as ships' crewmen.  The Militia Act of July 1862 had authorized him to receive persons of African descent into the service for "constructing intrenchments, or performing camp service, or any other labor, or any military or naval service for which they may be found competent."   Lincoln had not previously used this authority.  He had been adamant throughout 1862 that it was too risky accepting men of color into the army.   It might cause mass defections of whites, he argued.  Senator Charles Sumner had lobbied him to allow black enlistments.  Secretary of Treasury Salmon Chase was also strongly in favor of this.  It had been a pet project of Major General Butler.

In a November letter Butler had said it was troublesome for him because his black units were not formally recognized.57  Lincoln may have also decided on his own that the time was ripe for this proposal.   Yet the order for black enlistments did not go as far as the radical abolitionists desired.  Garrison duty was not the same as combat duty.  Lincoln had given a little to each side.58

Banks also announced he would employ about 1,000 white mechanics and stevedores who had been thrown out of work due to the lack of cargo coming into the New Orleans docks.59  An additional new policy adopted by Banks was primarily aimed at the much larger number of blacks who were in unhealthy refugee camps.  His new order covered the use of labor contracts for slaves and ex-slaves and mandatory work requirements for the unemployed.   The details of the system resembled in many respects a system Butler imposed on the Lafourche district the previous November.60

Banks waited until the contents of the final Emancipation Proclamation were available before promulgating his version of the labor system.  Quartermaster Colonel Samuel B. Holabird was one of the major contributors of ideas for the new work system.  On December 29, he wrote Banks that he could provide work for a thousand escaped slaves.  They only needed clothing and food, he said.   Holabird said it would stop desertions from the local plantations.61   This latter consideration was important in the context of the



57. Butler to Stanton, Nov. 14, 1862, OR, I, 15: 592.

58. Lincoln had also made small concessions to conservative factions during the war.   New York's Democratic Governor Horatio Seymour was almost pro-Confederate at times, and he made frequent requests of Lincoln.  Lincoln's main concessions to him involved reduction of  New York draft quotas somewhat as requested.  Sometimes one wonders if Lincoln did not react to the especially assertive personalities of Seymour and Sumner by capitulating a little to appease them.

59. The Daily Delta, Feb. 6, 1863.
60. OR, I, 15: 592-95.
61. Holabird to Banks, Dec. 28, 1862, N. P. Banks papers, LOC, box 25.

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thinking then that the Emancipation Proclamation would not apply to Louisiana.

Banks’s final order applied to persons of all races:

"The public interest peremptorily demands that  all  persons without
other means of support be required to maintain themselves by labor.  
Negroes  are  not  exempt  from  this  law.  Those  who  leave  their
employers will  be compelled to support themselves and families by
labor upon the public works."62

The commanding general also tasked the quartermaster department, which then had charge of abandoned plantations, to propose the wording for yearly contract agreements for plantation labor.  These should provide for just compensation, food, clothing and proper treatment.  The officers of the government, however, were to enforce "perfect subordination" of the workers.  "This may not be the best, but it is now the only practicable system," Banks said.   Quartermasters were to see that families were not split up on their plantations.  Banks also suggested the yields on the plantations would increase substantially under the new system.63  The new commander also eliminated Butler's order for "imprisonment in darkness on bread and water" for laborers who were insubordinate or refused to work.64

Banks's detailed program that developed over the next few days was a mixture of ideas suggested to him, with officers Beckwith and Strother winning on the point of forced labor, and aide William Sturgis Hooper gaining acceptance of the idea of a choice of employers.65   Banks, in various meetings with planters prior to this edict, had already made it clear to unhappy planters that the prewar system was to end.66  The general met with sixty of the most prominent planters in late February.  These men had already signed contracts.   The reporters there recorded a general tone of ill feeling among the planters, but they gave Banks loud applause.67   This friendly reception may have been due to his pledge to see that workers came back to the plantations and that the military would stop enlisting plantation workers as soldiers.68



62. General Orders No. 12, Jan. 29, 1863, OR, I, 15: 667.
63. General Order 12, Jan. 29, 1863, OR, I, 15: 667.
64. OR, I, 15: 595.
65. Feb. 2-4, 1863 diary entries, Eby, Ibid. pp. 148-9 .  Hooper did not like the forced labor concept.  Strother did not like the freedom of choice provision.
66. Excerpts from William J. Minor plantation diary cited in Roland, Louisiana Sugar Plantations during the Civil War, p. 104.
67. New York Herald, Mar. 4, 1863; The Era [New Orleans], Feb. 19, 20, 1863.
68. The Era, Feb. 20, 1863.

 page 566

On February 5, 1863, Colonel Beckwith issued an order detailing wage rates and requirements for plantation labor contracts.   This order, valid for one year, indicated that slaves currently on plantations were to remain there provided the planters treated them "properly" and paid them specified wages.69

A circular printed under the name of General Banks appeared the next day.   It ordered the provost marshal to offer legal and fair inducements for Negroes to return to plantations and to arrest unemployed persons of color for work on public works and government plantations.70   All these components of the labor system appeared in a single circular issued February 16.71

Banks asked the soldiers, and especially chaplains, to assist in peacefully persuading workers to return to their old plantations.  "Without regular employment many thousands of negroes must perish during the year," his circular said.   It also indicated that the cost of feeding white and black refugees had reached $60,000 a month during January threatening the viability of the charity.72

On January 30, the general wrote to his wife—before the details were worked out—that his order on employment of slaves "is the best act of my life and within three months will solve all the troubles here about slaves."   He published the order that day, his birthday.  "The better class of colored people are doing all they can to aid me as they think it is the first chance the negro slave had had to try his hand," he indicated.73

Later in February, he wrote Mary: "All the abolitionists here assist me except those engaged in speculation."   He said abolitionist Wendell Phillips's statements were "utterly false" and would do Banks no harm.74   The radicals, such as Phillips, were most critical of the general during his early months in New Orleans.

But even the moderate New York Times, closely allied with Lincoln, suggested that Banks was actually pro-Confederate and was actively returning slaves to their owners.75  There was conspicuous newspaper support for



69. Beckwith order, February 5, 1864, N. P. Banks papers, LOC, box 107.
70. Circular, Feb. 6, 1863, N.P. Banks papers, LOC, box 107.
71. The circular restated the compensation required under the one-year arrangement.  It mandated kind treatment.  It required unemployed persons to work on public works or for the quartermaster in return for food, clothing, medical care and available instruction. (OR, II, 5: 279.)

72. OR, II, 5: 279.
73. N. P. Banks to Mary T. Banks, Jan. 30, 1863, N. P. Banks papers, LOC, box 5.
74. N. P. Banks to Mary T. Banks, Feb. 26, 1863, Ibid.
75. Nemo, "Department of Gulf," New York Times, Feb. 11, 1862, p. 1. Within a year, the editor of the same paper would describe the labor rules as "in the main excellent, the best that have been adopted.” (New York Times, Feb. 23, 1863.)  Henry J. Raymond was the editor.

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Banks's labor policy only from the influential and conservative New York Herald.76

This drawing in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, March 7, 1863, entitled

"Revival of the Old Slave Laws of Louisiana," inaccurately portrayed Banks as

sending runaway slaves back to the old form of slavery, instead of into his

theoretically less brutal, wartime peonage system.

On March 2, he wrote Mary: "The slaves are going back willingly and gladly...In a week or two we shall have them all at work.  No flogging.  No branding.  No buying or selling and no feature of slavery left."  The provost marshal fed 7,000 at beginning of winter, he said, but now only 200 were under his care.  "The negroes are pleased to go to work somewhere.  They are tired of the camps and those who do not wish to go back to their plantations go to work in the government gardens where they are raising potatoes, onions, etc. to keep out the scurvy."77

By return letter, Mary wrote the general that the widow of Banks's friend Robert Rantoul had visited Secretary Chase and former Governor Boutwell and reported: "There is some feeling with that class of people that you are not doing just right with the negro."78

In explanation of these events, abolition activist and editor Wendell Phillips had attacked Banks's system in a speech soon after it was announced.  Phillips would not accept any system that did not provide full, unrestricted rights for persons of color.    From this perspective, Banks's system did not rate highly. 



76. New York Herald, Apr. 22, 1863.
77. N. P. Banks to Mary T. Banks, Mar. 2, 1863, N. P. Banks papers, LOC, box 6.
78. Mary T. Banks to N. P. Banks, Mar. 11, 1863, N. P. Banks papers, LOC, box 3.

 

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Some other leading abolitionists and sympathetic congressmen followed Phillips's lead in condemning the Banks labor system.  Although Phillips's complaints had merit, he had obtained a highly biased description of the system.  Persons from Butler's administration might have been involved in distorting the facts for reasons other than the improvement of human rights.  Phillips's needling probably led Banks to make sure the worst excesses were squeezed out of the system, and the debate over the system awakened some of the abolitionists to the complexities of the immediate situation.  It is not known how many freedmen actually returned to their some old plantations and how many instead chose to work for the quartermaster—or even how observant the provost marshals were of the intended voluntary nature of the return to the plantations.

Probably of most importance were the views of treasury official George S. Denison because of his frequent letters to his cousin, Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase.   Denison had originally been neutral toward Banks on his arrival and would prove inconsistent in his attitudes.   He twice wrote Chase in early 1863 that Banks had reestablished slavery in the New Orleans area, reversing Butler‘s policies.  He also charged that New Orleans was more corrupt since General Butler left.79   The happiest day of his life, according to Denison, would be when a steamer brought Butler back to New Orleans.80   Denison felt Butler's old way of handling all Southerners harshly was the best policy, and that Butler was a great military commander.   Denison thought that only Yankee planters should employ freed slaves.   These persons would happily work for Yankees for small pay.  Allowing native planters to employ ex-slaves guaranteed the persistence of slavery, he argued.   Denison was also now sure that Banks was a protégé of that "pro-Confederate" opponent of Chase, Secretary William H. Seward.81

Most of this was factually incorrect, and some of the worst subsequent wage abuses would occur under Northern planters.  But Denison's letters were convincing to the secretary who quickly adopted Denison's views.   Because Chase was thinking of running for president, the mention of a likely opponent



79. Denison to Chase, Mar. 29, 31, 1863, Niven, The Salmon P. Chase Papers, vol. III, pp. 404-7, 414-16.  Denison was more ambivalent toward African Americans in his letters to his own family, referring to them as "niggers" on occasion.  (Denison to Uncle Dudley, July 29, 1862, in Padgett, "Some Letters of George Stanton Denison, 1854-1866," Louisiana Historical Quarterly, 23 (Oct. 1940): 1192.)

80. Denison to Butler, Feb. 10, 1863, Private and Official Correspondence of Gen. Benjamin Butler during the Period of the Civil War, vol. III, p. 4.
81. Denison to Chase, Mar. 29, 31, 1863, Niven, The Salmon P. Chase Papers, vol. III, pp. 404-7, 414-16.box 3.
 

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for a presidential contest, such as Seward, did not help Banks's case.82   Denison also told Chase that the views he was expressing were based on the opinions of other persons and that he did not have direct knowledge of how the system was working.83

There was also a perception among the rank-and-file soldiery that Banks was coddling the planters.84   A very large demonstration by flag-waving women, the so-called "handkerchief war," when Confederate prisoners were sent out of New Orleans during the new year probably added to this impression.85   Common soldiers often want tough talk and action toward enemies and their allies during a war.

The labor system Banks instituted around New Orleans was not the only similar approach taken in that period.  General Ulysses Grant required that refugees work without pay on Tennessee plantations baling cotton or on government projects.  Grant established a camp for women and children and for unemployed men under the administration of a chaplain.   Someone in his department also proposed that freed slaves go to Chicago to become house servants, but Illinois politicians mobilized to prevent any such exodus.86

In March 1864, Secretary Stanton would issue General Orders No. 9, imposing the "rules adopted by Major General N. P. Banks in the Department of the Gulf" on all rented plantations along the Mississippi River in the South.87  Other departmental commanders would issue similar "workfare" orders during the war.88

Despite generalizations in these circulars, there is little doubt Banks's system was aimed at putting unemployed African Americans back on their old



82. Denison also learned on his first visit to three government-leased plantations later in the year that two of the lessees had cheated their employees out of wages.  Most such lessees were from the North. Denison, nevertheless, still did not want Southerners to operate plantations. Denison to Chase, Sep. 21, 1863, Salmon P. Chase papers, LOC.

83. Denison to Chase, Apr. 13, 1863, Salmon P. Chase papers, LOC.
84. See, for example, Silbert and Stevens, Yankee Correspondence: Civil War Letters between New England Soldiers and the Home Front, letter of Caleb Blanchard, Mar. 26, 1863; Howe, Passages from the Life of Henry Warren Howe, p. 39; James Taylor Graves diary, James Taylor Graves papers, Midwest Manuscript Collection, Case MS 10010, entry of Dec. 29, 1862, Newberry Library; Love, Wisconsin in the War of the Rebellion..., p. 550; W. H. Eastman to mother, Feb. 12, 1863, William H. Eastman letters, 1861-1864, Mass. Historical Society, Microfilm P-376, reel 7.

85. Memphis Daily Appeal, Mar. 11, 1863; New York Herald, Mar. 4, 1863. The Herald  reporter estimated the crowd at 10,000.
86. Simon, The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, vol. 6, pp. 315-17; OR, I, 17, pt. II: 82, 201, 396, 519.
87. OR, III, 3: 166.
88. For example, Major General Edward Ord in February 1865, in southeastern Virginia, ordered all unemployed, "able-bodied negroes" to be conscripted as soldiers, teamsters or laborers within one week. (OR, I, 46, pt. II: 648. )

page 570

plantations or into unpaid public-sector work.  The original order did not have safeguards against the arrest of free blacks though it did not seem intended to molest them.  There was also no safeguard against physical punishments by slave owners though the words about “kind treatment" were supposed to cover this.  A few "massuhs" had no intention of complying with that particular requirement.  Banks would have to address both these issues more specifically and effectively.

Most galling to abolitionist critic Wendell Phillips was the requirement that the men were forced to work in a system that resembled slavery.  Banks would later emphasize how temporary this system was, just a stopgap program, but it is not at all clear how permanent or temporary Banks thought his system would be.  He also would rationalize his approach, citing Toussaint L'Ouverture's initial system in Haiti after liberation that gave laborers no choice in where to work and imposed death sentences on idlers and the illegality of vagabondage in former slave islands in the French West Indies.89

Because the U. S. Congress had made no provision for the care of refugees, the local commanders had to be inventive in obtaining financing for their refugee projects and for finding work for the large numbers of the refugees.   Banks's description of abysmal conditions in the camps seems to be supported by independent reports.  The freedmen were living idle in what today would be described as concentration camps, with little stimulation and subject to the same ravages of disease as in the infamous Civil War prison camps.90

Wendell Phillips’s desire for only voluntary labor was laudable but probably somewhat impractical in the context of the early 1863 situation.  Banks had no legal authority to abolish slavery in the New Orleans area because of the city's exemption from the Emancipation Proclamation.  Yet no one could enforce slavery in New Orleans with the bondsmen having no difficulty running away from masters.  Banks opted for a system that would coax owner and slave into a freer, but not free, method of labor.  Because some commanders, such as Frémont and Hunter, found their orders reversed when they exceeded authority in regard to emancipation and related matters, Banks was not free to implement any policy he desired—although he obviously opposed both the full extension



89. Text of speech, Charlestown, Massachusetts, Nov. 1, 1865, N. P. Banks papers, LOC, box 82.  Rights granted to former slaves in the former British West Indies had been more genreorus than those in the French islands.

90. In confirmation of serious problems at the Baton Rouge camp, an unsigned Confederate spy report from there about this time indicated that the condition of the blacks penned up there was "really horrible."   The medical officer had mentioned the deaths of 400 persons there since the occupation. (Report, Feb. 20, 1863, RG 109, entry 138, Letters and Reports, Port Hudson, 1862-1863, box 2, General Records of the Confederate States of America.)  See also The Era, April 4, 1863, with report of death of 100 of 1,000 refugees at the camp in Baton Rouge.

 page 571

of civil rights and the worst abuses of slavery at this point for various reasons.  Banks's peonage system, as a temporary solution, at least seems more humane than life in the camps.  These camps had initially represented almost the only alternative to staying in slavery.

As will be explained later, Banks and Phillips would continue their struggle over the evolving arrangements for freedmen in Louisiana.  Abolition leaders William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass would join the debate expressing their own divergent views as Louisiana took center stage in this drama.

There is danger of thinking of General Butler in a cartoonish manner.   Although an often unsympathetic figure, he also left a record of improving sanitation, maintaining public order—tempered at times with reduction of sentences—and making genuine efforts within his authority to oppose the continuance of slavery.91   Charges of misuse of authority for personal gain, however, would follow him to his next command in Virginia and later in his congressional career.92

The tough stand that Benjamin Butler had taken in 1862 in New Orleans had been beneficial in many ways to Banks's administration.  With the start of the Civil War, public opinion in New Orleans had grown increasingly pro-Confederate.  The enrollment of some New Orleans citizens in the Confederate army raised the stakes for relatives who feared for the safety of their absent relatives.  Butler had cowed this large, hostile group of New Orleans civilians into submission.  Butler also did not bring corruption to New Orleans, nor would it leave with Banks.  One benefit of the change in command was that the number of letters from complaining foreign consuls fell off dramatically, but Butler had already discovered most of the consuls' Confederate connections and businesses before Banks's arrival.

Possibly the most revealing comment Banks made in this period was when he broke through his usual caution and spoke with David Strother as they approached New Orleans on December 14.   Strother recorded that Banks told him the "great moral motive of the expedition was the reunionizing of Louisiana by getting up a counter current of popular feeling against Secession Party..."  In contrast to Butler, the new commander's policy would be conciliatory in order to win over the locals.  Strother summarized this as: "Kindness after the rod is the strong card."   Half the Union soldiers would also



91. Sprague, History of the 13th Infantry Regiment of Connecticut Volunteers, during the Great Rebellion, pp. 55, 57-60.
92. In summer 1864, Lincoln drafted a letter, telling Butler he thought "you should so keep accounts as to show every item

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want to remain after the war in this blooming land after the war, Banks predicted.93

It is probable that Lincoln directed Banks to pursue this new policy.  The president's insistence in 1862 on having New Orleans elections and his November note to Governor Shepley about New Orleans already demonstrated a trust in Louisiana loyalists.  "I merely wish our authorities to give the people a chance," the president insisted.94   He became increasingly interested in the subject over the coming months.   It was, in many respects, a naive approach.  Lincoln was still under the impression that those with Whiggish tendencies in 1860 would be found to be loyal Unionists when the Union army arrived.

In New Orleans in 1860, it was true that more men had voted for Unionists Bell and Douglas than for the candidate of the ultras, John Breckinridge.   Lincoln was correct in his observations about the populace in West Virginia and eastern Tennessee remaining loyal.   At the same time, he was mistaken about the New Orleans area.  Historian Gerald Capers described the 1860 New Orleans voters for Bell and Douglas as willing then to compromise with the North but unwilling to support the Union at all costs.95   The citizenry had almost lynched a man with a Lincoln campaign medal there in 1860, and Lincoln had not been on the Louisiana ballot.   One of the local newspapers in New Orleans had even agitated for reopening the African slave trade.96   The Unionist spirit among Louisiana leaders existed almost entirely among those born outside the state or those who spent significant time outside the state.97

Many old Whigs before the war operated large sugar plantations in southern Louisiana and large cotton plantations along the Mississippi River.  The Whig philosophy had favored protective tariffs that allowed expensive Louisiana sugar to be sold up North more competitively than cheaper foreign sugar.   Free trade with the North also allowed some large cotton plantations along the Mississippi River to raise only highly profitable crops while purchasing foodstuffs from Midwestern farmers.  Persons with Northern ancestry were well represented in the populations of certain areas, such as Natchez, Mississippi, and for cultural reasons did not initially fall in with the Democratic party ideas of most Southerners.  Many of these Whig planters were initially against disunion for obvious economic reasons, but many converted to the Confederate cause in 1861—unknown to many officials in Washington and to Lincoln. 



93. Dec. 14, 1862 diary entry, Eby, Ibid., pp. 134-35.
94. Lincoln to Shepley, Nov. 21, 1862, Abraham Lincoln papers, LOC.
95. Capers, Occupied City: New Orleans under the Federals, 1862-1865, pp. 21-22.
96. Nevins, The Emergence of Lincoln, vol. II, p. 34, 87.
97. Tunnell, Crucible of Reconstruction: War, Radicalism and Race in Louisiana, 1862-1877, pp. 20-25.

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Living in areas of majority black populations, these planters were not remotely interested in providing full civil rights to persons of color.

The Lincoln method of converting disunionists back to the Union viewpoint was unpopular with vocal abolitionists because they did not trust the former slave owners to look out for the rights of the freedmen.  They, too, would prove naive because no one could enforce civil rights legislation in the post-Civil War climate without continual occupation of the South by a large and expensive army.

Most senior military commanders had no truck with the idea of courting public opinion within disloyal areas and establishing governments there.   They considered such activities a diversion of resources, and they also generally lacked interest in providing any rights for freedmen.   Many of them—like most whites in the country—were white supremacists.  Among them, the expulsion of the Rebels to Mexico or elsewhere and the return of the blacks to Africa seemed to be a good solution to the Southern problem.

Three of those with whom Banks would be dealing closely in 1863 and 1864 were Generals Henry Halleck, William T. Sherman and Ulysses Grant.   Sherman and Grant were then close friends.   In October 1863, Halleck would write Sherman confidentially: "I have always opposed the organization of a civicomilitary government, under civilians.  It merely embarrasses the military authorities without effecting any good.   Nevertheless, if the people of any section will organize locally against the Confederacy and in favor of the union it would give us great assistance.  General Banks thinks that this can be done in Louisiana.   Perhaps he is too sanguine...The advice of politicians generally on this question I regard as utterly worthless-mere Utopia theories."98

In 1864, Sherman had become more critical of the process of establishing local governments in the South.   He told his brother in June that "...all the elements of society in the South are too disturbed, too tinctured by old feelings & prejudices to admit of Government in which the People have a voice.  Years, it may be tens of years must elapse before the People of the South can have a voice in a Government that they now hate with a hate you can hardly measure."99

General Ulysses Grant managed to keep his thoughts on reconstruction



98. Oct. 1, 1863, OR, I, 51, pt. II: 717.

99. W. T. Sherman to John Sherman, June 9, 1864, in Simpson and Berlin, Sherman's Civil War: Selected Correspondence, p. 645.  Yet a year later after he signed a controversial memorandum with the Confederate General Joseph Johnston, Sherman wrote Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase that he had had "abundant opportunities" to know the people of the South and that he now trusted nine tenths of them to live in peace and restrain the "mischievous tenth."   Opposed to military occupation, he invited Chase's attention to the ineffective occupation of Spain by Napoleon's best armies. (Sherman to Chase, May 6, 1865, Ibid, pp. 889-90. )

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mostly hidden during 1863, but during 1864 he showed he agreed with Sherman's midwar view.  Writing to Stanton in 1864, he described the "very bad civil policy in Louisiana" as considerably protracting the war and alienating the neighboring Southern states.100

A month after his arrival, Banks wrote Halleck that he had found the people at New Orleans less hostile to the restoration of the government than in Baltimore or Virginia.101   It is unclear if Banks was here trying to put his conciliatory efforts in the best light possible or whether he was just misreading the situation.   It was more likely the former situation because David Strother rode with Banks on January 4, recording that night that "a number of the women showed their disgust of us by grimaces and gestures."102   One woman had spat on Admiral Farragut while he was in the streets.103   At least they were not shooting from windows, as in Winchester in May 1862.  Banks even failed in early 1863 to win over several of his cousins who were living in New Orleans.104

If the general found the loyalist sentiment in New Orleans stronger than expected, the strength of the army proved to be the opposite.   His letter home in mid-January reported he had nothing but "a small force of raw men—poorly armed and much depressed in spirit—no cavalry—no artillery, no transportation."   The next day, he wrote her: "I am depressed often."105   The officers were making progress in drilling the recruits, but opportunities were being lost.   The men had arrived in the middle of December, and spring comes early in the lower South.   In truth, the winter can be a good season for operations there.

Butler never had much cavalry, and the only horsemen Banks had collected up North were two squadrons of Rhode Island cavalry, many of whom did not arrive until later in January.106   These "Rhode Islanders" were actually mostly recent immigrants living in New York City.   The men would prove so



100. Grant to Stanton, Sep. 20, 1864. This letter was not included in the published Official Records.
101. Jan. 24, 1863, OR, I, 15: 662.
102. Jan. 4, 1863 diary entry, Eby, Ibid, p. 144.
103. Foltz, Surgeon of the Seas, pp. 258-9.

104. They did not want to be seen socializing with the general, and oneEleanor (Stone) Ranletthad named her son Albert Sidney Johnston Ranlett, in memory of the slain Confederate general. (Notes, Feb. 1863, N. P. Banks papers, LOC, box 26)   Despite their standoffishness, Banks arranged for the government commissary to send them a good supply of foodstuffs.   It was a "case of real charity," as Banks's private secretary described it to the commissary officer. (James T. Tucker to Edward Beckwith, Aug. 13, ____, N. P. Banks letter book, Mss. 2326, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, p. 3.)

105. N. P. Banks to Mary T. Banks, Jan. 15, 16, 1863, N. P. Banks papers, LOC, box 5.
106. OR, I, 15: 619.

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unreliable that their officers eventually resigned.107   Nearly a year later, Banks described them as "nearly worthless" as soldiers, and General Dwight spoke of them often disgracing themselves.108   In addition, most horses shipped from the North died en route.

Banks tried to make do by mounting some of his infantry.110   The officer assigned to gather horses for Banks in the area could only find 125 additional horses out in the country.111   The total cavalry force consisted of 635 men, only 1/80th of Banks's army—tiny in comparison to those available to a similar-sized army in Virginia.  Because of the scattered places occupied by Federals in Louisiana, these few men were necessarily widely dispersed.  The infantry thus had to perform the reconnaissances, and these soldiers would be unable to move through swampy areas once the waters rose.   News also arrived that the Massachusetts cavalry unit which Banks spent so much effort recruiting was now diverted to Virginia.  Only one of the batteries of artillery had arrived, and almost all the existing artillery was needed to guard the vulnerable spots around New Orleans.

A number of the new regiments that came to New Orleans arrived with antiquated rifles.  This problem resolved sometime in January.  That month in Baton Rouge, the troops were still not able to obtain replacement shoes, socks or other clothing.  Some regiments were even on short rations there.112

Also in January, Banks's staff members reported in detail what assets were available.  These men were generally critical of what was left them by Butler.113  The topographical engineer, Henry L. Abbot, indicated Butler had had no engineers on his staff; maps were almost nonexistent.   No one had conducted organized reconnaissances.  One W. H. Wilder had made the surveys at an exorbitant rate of pay, and he had dedicated at least one of his maps to the Confederate secretary of war.   The new engineers fired Wilder.114



107. OR, I, 26, pt. I: 272; Dargan, My Experiences in Service, or a Nine Month's Man, entry of July 2, 1863.
108. Banks to Adjutant James M. Vincent, N. P. Banks letter book, Mss. 2326, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, pp. 61-2; William Dwight to mother, Aug. 15, 1863, Dwight family papers, 1815-1942, Mass. Historical Society.

109. Halleck to Banks, Feb. 2, 1863, OR, I, 15: 671. There was no shortage of animals in the country as a whole.  The 1860 census enumerators counted 6.3 million horses and 1.2 million mules. (Nevins, The War for the Union: The Improvised War, 1861-1862, p. 249.)
110. OR, I, 15: 619.
111. OR, I, 15: 652-53.
112. Tiemann, The 159th Infantry, New York State Volunteers, p. 21.
113. Since they were likely aware Banks intended to operate differently from Butler, this bias may have crept into their subjective findings.
114. OR, I, 15: 648.

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The inspector general found that headquarters had detailed many of the 12th Connecticut's officers as mayor, railroad president, etc.  According to the IG, someone had criminally neglected the New Orleans forts.  The two white regiments recruited locally in New Orleans by Butler were mostly German-born.   Democrat Butler had also brought with him regiments recruited from Irish Democratic constituencies, but the problem now was their hardware—not politics or language.   The muskets in use by the old regiments seemed to be as unserviceable as those in use in the first months of the war.   "Not one [of the regiments] fit to take the field," he concluded.115

Artillery chief Richard Arnold reported none of the batteries could take the field efficiently because of lack of essential parts.  Most of the designated batteries had not arrived from the North.   He also had no heavy artillery on hand, such as they would need for a siege situation at Port Hudson.116

On January 17, about a month after arriving, Banks sent word to New York indicating that he was unable to do anything until he had cavalry and artillery.117

Reports in January that the Confederates might want to attack Baton Rouge led to orders for construction of heavy entrenchments there.118   This proved difficult because the entrenching tools had not arrived.119

The only department that seemed in excellent condition was the U.S. military telegraph, now under charge of Banks's pint-sized brother-in-law, Charles S. Bulkley. [see new note below this page]

Banks should be commended for the efforts to assess the readiness of all the various parts of his command, but Port Collector George Denison was appropriately asking his correspondents why this had taken four weeks.120   Banks had told Halleck and Stanton just before Christmas that he expected to move up the river by the first of the year.121   Admiral Farragut reflected this optimism in his letters to subordinates and superiors in December, even deferring action regarding Mobile to accommodate army plans.122   General



115. OR, I, 15: 648-49.
116. OR, I, 15: 649-50.
117. Irwin to Andrews, Jan. 17, 1863, Natl. Archives, RG 393, pt. I, entry 1953, Banks Expedition, Letter s Sent. A similar message went to General Halleck, detailing the cavalry and artillery units that had not arrived. (Banks to Halleck, Jan. 18, 1863, Ibid.)

118. Grover to Banks, Jan. 11, 1863, Natl. Archives, RG 393, pt. I, entry 1756, Dept. Gulf, Letters Received, box 3.
119. Holabird to Banks, Jan. 8, 1863, Natl. Archives, RG 393, pt. I, entry 1756, Dept. Gulf, Letters Received, box 3. This problem was not quickly resolved.
120. Denison to Chase, Jan. 15, 16, 1863, Salmon P. Chase papers, LOC.
121. OR, I, 15: 618; Banks to Stanton, Dec.19, 1862, Natl. Archives, RG 393, pt. I, entry 1953, Banks Expedition, Letters Sent.

122. The most enlightening letter is probably, Farragut to G. V. Fox, Dec. 23, 1862, in Thompson and Wainwright, Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, vol. I, pp. 322.
 
ADDENDUM:  Not in printed book:
Despite the family relationship, Bulkley had excellent credientials for this job.  He had invented the Bulkley telegraph repeater, as well as the equipment for laying out underwater cable.    He  helped supervise the cable laying along the Virginia coast earlier in 1862 (see article, New York Herald, May 22, 1862)

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Butler later claimed that the officers Banks brought with him did not see any need for prompt action against Port Hudson.123

With all these new developments, February now seemed like a more optimistic date for any movement.  This would not be welcome news in Washington where the expectation was for rapidity of movement in conjunction with the upriver forces.



123. Butler, Butler's Book, p. 531
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