Henry Watkins Allen.
Annual Message of Governor Henry Watkins Allen,
to the Legislature of the State of Louisiana.
Gov. Henry Watkins Allen
Shreveport, La., Jan. 16th, 1865.
Gentlemen of the Senate
and of the House of Representatives:
You have assembled again, in regular session, for the purpose of transacting the business of the Commonwealth. During the year that has elapsed since I had the pleasure of meeting, you, very important events have transpired. Many bloody battles have been fought with varied success — many valuable lives have been offered up on the altar of our common country. The war has raged with unabated fury, yet our troops, with a few recent exceptions, have been everywhere triumphant; and the armies of the Confederacy are to-day well organized and are still formidable. Divine Providence has blessed the land with plenty, while that terrible scourge, which often in our climate decimates whole cities, has been but partially felt. Our own queenly metropolis, though cursed with the presence of an insolent, thieving, vandal foe, has yet been spared the visitation of pestilence; and Louisiana has perhaps lost fewer lives in a year of battles than she has often lost in a summer of the fever. In this department, although our people have suffered much from the wicked raids of the enemy, we have no reason to complain. We should not murmur, for our arms have been victorious in an eminent degree. The enemy have been driven out of the Attakapas parishes, and are not now seen on the right bank of the Atchafalaya. Although many of our farmers have suffered from drouth, and from the late planting caused by invasion, we still have corn enough in Louisiana for two years’ subsistence. With grateful hearts we should thank Him, who rules the destinies of the universe, for this plenty in the land.
Since your last session we have been called to mourn the loss of many of our best citizens. Henry Johnson, once Governor of Louisiana, a cotemporary of Clay, and Webster, and Calhoun, died at his home in Pointe Coupee, full of years and full of honors. Pierre Emile Bonford, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, after a brief illness, died at Alexandria, exiled by war from home and family. He was a finished scholar, a thorough and very learned lawyer and jurist, and a devoted patriot. His singularly pure, candid, genial and generous nature won the love of all who knew him. I took him from the army and placed him on the bench. In his death the State has suffered irreparable loss.
Henry Marshall and
Benjamin L. Hodge,
the one succeeding the other in Congress, have also departed this life. Both were distinguished for their sterling integrity and great patriotism. Your own body has also lost one of its brightest ornaments, in the death of
Preston Pond, Jr.,
Senator from East Feliciana. On the battle field death has stricken many a shining mark. Generals
Polk, Mouton, and
Stafford have fallen fighting gloriously their country. Their memories are embalmed in the hearts of all Louisianians — a nation’s tears will flow for them — their graves will be hallowed ground.
all fell as fall the brave. I would recommend that a few acres of the battlefield of Mansfield be bought by the State, and that a monument be erected to the gallant Mouton and his brave comrades, who fell there in defence of their country.
I respectfully refer you to the report of the Hon. B. L. Defreese, State Treasurer, for much valuable information. At your last session you appropriated the sum of 11,042,630 dollars. I have drawn from the Treasury 6,247,979 dollars, leaving a balance of appropriations unexpended of 4,794,651 dollars. You will see that there is in the Treasury, of all funds, 3,227,369 dollars.
I would also invite your attention to the report of Col. James C. Wise, Quarter-Master General, by which you will perceive that a very large proportion of the above expenditure is represented by valuable stores, advancing in market price, and more available than Treasury Notes to meet the future wants of the State. Accompanying this Report will be found a tabular statement of all the property now on hand acquired for the State during the past year. It consists of cotton, sugar, subsistence stores, drugs and medicines — all of which have been paid for — amounting in the aggregate to $5,510,000.
As authorized by your Act of last session, the Treasurer has prepared and issued three hundred thousand dollars in Treasury notes of one dollar and fractions of a dollar. This well-timed supply of change has proved a great relief to the public, at small expense. The object of the law has been accomplished most admirably, since all local and corporation small notes have been withdrawn from circulation.
For a statement in detail of the Finances of the State, I refer you to the report of the Hon. H. Peralta, Auditor of Public Accounts. You will perceive that the State of Louisiana owes, in round numbers, nineteen millions of dollars. Under your recent Act authorizing the sale of six per cent. bonds, I have had occasion to sell only to the amount of 571,940 dollars, all at a premium of ten per centum. The proceeds of these bonds have been applied to draw in State Treasury Notes. The Confederate Government owes the State about four millions of dollars, expended for military purposes. I have had the accounts and vouchers properly arranged and classified, and have placed them before the Hon. Thos. C. Kennedy, Comptroller of the C. S. Treasury at Marshall. As soon as they are examined and adjusted, they will be forwarded to Richmond for payment.
You authorized and instructed me at your last session to raise four companies of mounted men, which, joined to the six companies already in State service, were to form two battalions of State troops, whose duty was plainly prescribed. I raised, armed and equipped the companies, organized the battalions, and placed them at once in the field. At that time the enemy had arrived at Natchitoches, in their advance up Red River valley. I ordered the battalions, commanded by Lieutenant Colonels H. M. Favrot and Ben. W. Clark, to report to General Taylor instanter. Promptly obeying, they shared in the hard fought battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, and acquitted themselves gallantly as good and efficient troops. Although State forces, I kept them in C. S. service, doing constant and heavy duty in Lower Louisiana until the 26th day of July last, when they were regularly mustered into the C. S. Army, and turned over to the General commanding this Department. The two battalions have since been consolidated, and now form the eighth regiment of Louisiana Cavalry, numbering eight hundred officers and men. Composed of excellent material, I doubt not that this corps will prove very useful to the Department, and much more efficient by being thus transferred. As the State had no depots of corn and provisions, no forage, and inadequate transportation, it was incurring very heavy expense. I cannot speak too highly of the bravery and good conduct of the “Guard;” they have performed their duty nobly wherever assigned. For the military organizations and operations of the State troops, and all the details incident thereto, I respectfully refer you to the concise and able report of Brig. Gen. T. G. Hunt, A. & I. G.
The sum of five hundred thousand dollars was appropriated by you for the purchase of medicines for the families of soldiers. To obtain enough to make the distribution contemplated by the Act was found impracticable. I therefore established a Dispensary at this place, from which every portion of the State has been supplied as far as possible. Every parish has, I believe, derived benefit from this Dispensary. To none has medicine been denied. To the poor and destitute it has been given “without money and without price.” For a statement of the affairs of this establishment, I respectfully refer you to the report of Surgeon General Amzi Martin. You will see that he has furnished to citizens of the State medicines
at about one-third of the market price here, to the value of $274,972; that he has distributed for charitable purposes $13,790 worth; and that the nett profits for five months amount to about $50,000, all of which has been paid into the State Treasury. Although my agents have been very active, they have succeeded, at great personal risk and labor, in keeping the Dispensary only partially supplied. I have found it exceedingly difficult to procure medicines for the people, as the enemy took a malignant pleasure in destroying all drug-stores in their march through the lower portion of the State, and by a refinement of cruelty, have declared all medicines contraband of war. Notwithstanding all these difficulties, I am happy to inform you that I have received a large supply from Mexico — amply sufficient for many months to come. Every citizen of Louisiana can now be abundantly supplied with medicines of all kinds.
IRON AND LEAD ORES.
In obedience to the instructions of the General Assembly, practical men were employed to examine thoroughly all portions of the State where lead and iron ores were thought to exist. Traces only of lead ore were found in several places, but not in sufficient quantities to justify any outlay whatever for the necessary machinery to work and smelt the same. The parishes of DeSoto, Sabine, Bossier, Claiborne and Bienville have iron in large quantities. Upon subjecting specimens of ore from these parishes to the proper test, they were found to be so refractory, that it was not deemed advisable to prosecute the matter further. I thought it more prudent, too, in the unsettled condition of affairs, to establish a furnace. (which is a great undertaking,) at a more retired and secure place. I therefore sent Lieut.-Col. E. Miltenberger, A. D. C., to Texas; and, after thorough examination, purchased one-fourth of the “Sulphur Forks Iron Works,” in Davis county, of that State, for fifty thousand dollars. This furnace was erected but a few months since, and is now going into successful operation. It will abundantly supply the State with all the iron needed. It is situated about ninety miles from Shreveport, and within a few miles of water transportation. I consider this purchase very fortunate. Already the stock is worth double the money stipulated. The Company owns a valuable tract of land covered with inexhaustible beds of rich iron ore. The buildings and machinery are of the most substantial kind. The “Works” are managed by a Board of five Directors, two of whom are appointed by the State of Louisiana. I refer you to the accompanying papers for full particulars respecting these valuable works.
When entering upon the duties of my office, I found the currency of the State very much depreciated. Farmers, merchants, butchers, bakers, mechanics, all refused to take it. Notwithstanding it was well known that the State was amply able to redeem her circulation, still her paper was in bad repute, and its exchangeable value daily declining. Much concerned at this, I earnestly sought a remedy. After mature reflection, I determined to establish a State Store, to sell cheap goods to the public, and to take payment in our depreciated currency. This has served a double purpose. It has drawn in from circulation a large amount of State notes, thus increasing the exchangeable value of the remainder, and has supplied our fellow-citizens with articles of necessity, at prices comparatively moderate. For details of the transactions in this purchase and sale of merchandize, I respectfully refer you to the report of C. H. Ardis, Military Store-keeper. You will perceive that he has paid into the Treasury, from proceeds of sales, $425,249.61, besides giving to destitute wounded soldiers, to orphans and to widows, goods to the value of $22,159.50. In addition to this, you will see that goods to the value of $87,326.19 have been transfered to the several State departments, and that army supplies, ordnance stores, &c., to the value of $627,816.60 have been turned over to the Confederate Government, making the transactions of the State Store since its inauguration on the 30th of June last, amount to the gross sum of $1,162,551.90. These goods were imported from Mexico, and paid for in cotton, as will appear from documents annexed to the report above mentioned. All of which are submitted for your inspection.
I am happy to inform you that the Treasury notes of the State are now much in demand, not only in Louisiana, but in this entire department. It is my intention, unless otherwise instructed by the General Assembly, to keep up the “State Store,” to continue the importation of goods, and to sell them to the public at prices within a fraction of their cost. Many a wounded and destitute soldier has been clothed, free of charge, from this store, while the widow and the orphan have also been supplied. In dispensing these charities, I have made no distinction. Wounded and disabled soldiers from Texas, Arkansas and Missouri have all been relieved — and none have been refused.
To extend the two-fold benefits of this purchase and sale of merchandise, it is my purpose, your honorable body approving, to locate three or more branch stores, in different towns of Louisiana. The insufficient receipt of goods, the want of transportation, my unwillingness to take men from the army to act as store-keepers, and the difficulty of giving such orders for the sale of goods at a distance as would secure their just, equitable and judicious disposition, are among the reasons which have prevented me hitherto from sending them to remote sections for sale and distribution. I hope, however, to prove to the people of all portions of the State, by the potent logic of facts, that the very exorbitant prices of imported necessities are to be accounted for by the greed of traders more than by the actual cost of importation. Should I thus incur the ill-will of venal, grasping, insatiable peddlers and speculators, I shall be abundantly consoled by the approbation of all honorable and patriotic merchants.
At the last session of the General Assembly, you made large and liberal appropriations for the establishment of manufactories; and the Executive was invested with almost unlimited powers. I trust that your confidence has not been misplaced. Having found the State destitute of manufactories of all kinds, I am pleased to inform you that there are now in successful operation, the following works:
- Two Turpentine Distilleries.
- One Castor Oil Factory.
- One Cotton Card Factory.
- One Establishment for making Carbonate of Soda.
- Two Distilleries for pure medicinal Alcohol.
- One Rope-Walk, for Cotton Cordage.
- One Foundry, for cooking utensils, machinery and agricultural implements.
- Two Cotton Cloth Manufactories.
- Two Laboratories, for indigenous medicines.
These works have been constructed under very unfavorable auspices, and have succeeded, although, in many instances, we did not have skillful mechanics, nor proper tools. I invite to them your attention, with pride. They will soon supply the people with all necessary articles. Much credit is due to Col. John M. Sandidge, Chief of Ordnance, for their success. The State has been fortunate in having the benefit of his untiring energy and indomitable perseverance. He has acted as my general agent and superintendent, while performing the proper duties of his office.
For information as to the amount of clothing made and distributed to Louisiana troops, and the operations of the Cotton Card Manufactory and Rope Walk, I respectfully refer you to the report of Clinton H. Ardis, Esq., Chief of the Clothing Bureau and Military Store-keeper. The business of his department has been methodically and successfully conducted.
I respectfully refer you to the report of Dr. B. Egan, Superintendent of State Laboratory at Mt. Lebanon. Although he has labored under great difficulties, he has established an institution of which we may well be proud. His success is due to his zeal and energy. You will observe that the value of property acquired greatly exceeds the amount of the outlay. No further appropriation is required, as the Laboratory will soon be self-sustaining.
The press has been amply supplied with printing paper.
COTTON CARDS AND WOOL CARDS.
I have imported and distributed in the State, fifteen thousand pairs of Cotton Cards — selling them to the soldiers families at ten dollars per pair. To accomplish this, I have had agents in every part of the country. One was sent to His Excellency, Governor Joseph E. Brown, of Georgia, for a machine with which to manufacture cotton-cards. He very kindly and promptly furnished it, together with sufficient wire to make a small number of cards. For this generous act, the State of Louisiana will be under lasting obligations to him. The machine was put in successful operation at Minden, and made superior cards until the little stock of wire was exhausted. I found it very difficult to obtain wire, and have sent to Europe for it.
Through the indefatigable exertions of my agent, D. A. Blacksher, I have received from Virginia two more machines, with six hundred pounds of wire — enough to make a large number of cards — and now at the factory in Minden there are three machines, which will soon be in successful operation, with the capacity for making one thousand pairs of cards per month. As these machines cannot supply the demand, I shall continue to import cotton and wool cards.
I promised every lady in Louisiana a pair of cotton cards. This promise is nearly fulfilled. The cards will soon be delivered. There are to-day no fair hands in the State idle. All are busily engaged in making cloth, first for the soldiers in the field, then for themselves. The music of the spinning-wheel and loom is to be heard in every farm-house from early morn till dewy eve. It is a glorious sight and cheering to the patriot’s heart, when the aged mother, with silvered locks, sits by the fire-side, lighted by the brightly blazing native pine, (candles being no longer in use,) her fair daughters assembled around her, some carding, some knitting, while others are engaged in that truly graceful task of spinning; all cheerful and all happy; though a tear may steal from the mother’s eye, as she thinks of her dear boy far away, fighting the battles of his country on the banks of the James or the Tennessee. God bless the noble mothers of Louisiana! I was called on by an aged matron, who said to me with tearful eyes: “Governor, I have eight sons in the army; I have but one more, my darling little Benjamin. He is just seventeen, and now the Captain of the Reserve Corps has sent for him. He wants to go, Governor, but I want him to stay and take care of me in my old age. But God’s will be done! I love my children much, but I love my country more. He shall go! He is young and tender — my last hope — but he shall go! he shall go!” Gentlemen, with such mothers as these, we must, we will triumph.
The laws forbidding the distillation of alcoholic liquors from grain and the produce of sugar cane, have been strictly executed by me. It is believed that not one gallon of intoxicating liquor is illegally produced in the State. I trust this law will not be repealed during the war. All bread-stuffs, sugar and molasses, are required for the army and for destitute families of soldiers. In many portions of Louisiana, grain is already scarce. I daily receive appeals for assistance, and every surplus barrel will be needed during this and the coming year.
I would again respectfully urge upon you to prohibit the sale of intoxicating liquors in the State, during the war, except for family use and medicinal purposes. Put a stop to the retail traffic in whisky and rum. The only man whose death-warrant I have had to sign since I have been Governor, was brought to execution for murder when drunk. Every criminal now in jail here is suffering the penalty of intoxication. You must pardon me, gentlemen, if I press this subject with seeming pertinacity. I know that it is considered by some unpopular to advocate such measures, and that by others it is thought puritanic; but he who blenches at a sickly public sentiment, or wishes to evade responsibilities, in times like these, is not worthy the confidence of an intelligent and patriotic people. While I shall dispense public charities with a liberal hand, clothe our gallant men in the field, relieve the sick and destitute, take care of our wounded soldiers, and support the widow and the orphan, I also feel it to be my conscientious duty to strike at vice in every shape and form,
and to do all in my power, as Governor of this Commonwealth, to sustain the morals of the land. The General commanding this department cannot suppress the sale of alcoholic liquors unless authorized by you. He and his District Commanders have often appealed to me. Good order and discipline cannot be kept among troops when whisky shops are near them. I, therefore, again most respectfully but urgently request that you will give this matter your serious consideration. Pass the law, and it shall be executed to the very letter. The large capital employed in this traffic, will find other and better investments; drunkenness, that scourge of every land, will disappear; crime will be greatly diminished; good order and discipline will be preserved, while the women, our truest and best patriots, will bless you for the act.
At the commencement of my term of office, the country was full of lawless bands of evil-doors of every character. In order to suppress them, I issued the following proclamation:
TO THE SHERIFFS AND MAGISTRATES OF THE SEVERAL PARISHES OF LOUISIANA.
I am informed upon reliable authority, that many negro slaves, taken from plantations on or near the Mississippi river and its tributaries, which are under the control of the Federals, or which are abandoned by their owners, are brought into our lines and there sold by the captors or their agents. This fraud on the rights of the owners must be promptly checked and punished. I desire you to arrest every man having in his possession a negro thus brought into your parishes in violation of law, and to permit no negro bought or hired from such captors or their agents to leave your respective parishes. You will hold the offenders in custody for trial and punishment, and retain the slaves subject to the demand of their owners.
Violations of the rights of property are becoming so common, that it is incumbent upon all officers and law-abiding citizens to unite for the protection of society. Our State swarms with marauders of all descriptions. Horse-thieves, negro-thieves, swindlers and robbers pursue their wicked purposes with impunity.
As soon as the active operations of the campaign will permit, the civil authorities will be aided by the military in arresting and punishing all offenders. Until that time, I earnestly entreat you to call to your assistance all good citizens to suppress and restrain these violations of law and outrages upon private property.
HENRY W. ALLEN, Governor of Louisiana.
Executive Office, Shreveport, La., May 20, 1864.
It has had the desired effect. I sent two active and responsible officers through the State with proper orders. Under these orders about five hundred negroes have been recovered, and many have already been returned to their masters. While this has put a stop to negro-stealing, it has at the same time restored to many soldiers, widows and orphans, their lost property. I have appointed a commissioner to take charge of these recovered slaves, to hire them for the benefit of their owners, and to see that they are well provided for and kindly treated. His office is self-sustaining, not taking one dollar from the Treasury. In connection with this matter, I have sent the Hon. F. H. Farrar, as commissioner, to confer with His Excellency, P. Murrah, Governor of Texas, in order to devise some means by which all persons taking slaves into Texas shall be required to exhibit their titles, and have the same duly recorded; and, also, to aid our citizens in recovering their lost property when found in Texas. I respectfully refer you to the report of the Commissioner, and to the very satisfactory correspondence of His Excellency, Governor Murrah, on this vital and important subject.
I am glad to state that our patriotic people, and especially the ladies, have taken a deep interest in the Missouri soldiers. Our country-women have labored unceasingly for the relief of these brave and veteran troops. I have thought it to be my duty to give liberally to these “orphans of the army,” without homes, without friends, but who always fight on every field with distinguished valor. I deemed it proper to issue a circular letter in their behalf. It was promptly responded to, and the monies and clothing collected have been forwarded to these gallant patriots.
God bless them! The citizens of Louisiana have adopted them. They shall share alike with our own soldiers.
It fills the heart of every Louisianian with pleasure and pride to see how well our troops have acted. In Virginia, in Georgia. In Tennessee, in Mississippi, in East Louisiana, in this Department, everywhere they have nobly done their duty, and won fresh laurels upon many a bloody battle-field. The early regiments that went to the armies of Virginia and Tennessee have been most terribly decimated, leaving but a few small brigades of that gallant host, who went forth with strong arms and stout hearts, to battle for their country’s cause. The regiments in this department have suffered nearly as much in battle and by disease, but have been more fortunate in recruiting.
I have appointed as agents, Moses Greenwood and Geo. W. Ward, to act in conjunction with Dr. E. D. Fenner and Mr. T. O. Sully, in visiting the armies of Virginia and Tennessee. Ample means have been furnished them for the relief of every sick and destitute soldier from Louisiana, in these armies. Through my agent, W. D. Winter, Esq., $5,000 was given to our returning prisoners at Savannah, and $5,000 to the Louisiana Relief Committee, at Columbus, Ga. I also gave to the Richmond Association for furnishing artificial limbs the sum of $10,000. The Soldiers’ Home and Louisiana Hospital, at Richmond, have been furnished with funds, and the destitute sick and wounded soldiers at Mobile have not been forgotten.
I have appointed Col. H. M. Favrot, Keeper of the Military Records of the State, and have sent him to the armies of Virginia and Tennessee to enter upon the responsible duties of his office. I trust that this appointment will meet with your approbation. I deemed it my duty to anticipate the action of the General Assembly, in order that no time should be lost in bringing up the military records of those gallant men, who have fought and are still fighting the battles of their country.
John Bunyan has portrayed, in language that will never die, the troubles, trials and tribulations of “Christian,” while journeying to the New Jerusalem. This soldier of the Cross passed the Slough of Despond, through the valley of Humiliation, up the Hill of Difficulty, and fought the Dragon Apollyon, shouting with a loud voice and saying: “Rejoice not against me, oh! mine enemy; when I fall I shall rise!” By incessant toil and hard fighting he gained the victory at last, and crossing the River, entered into the gates of the Celestial City.
Citizen soldiers of Louisiana! emulate the example of this heroic warrior. Halt not at the Slough of Despond. With quick time, march straight on. Listen not to the delusive promises of the enemy — they are as hollow and as false as hell. Oh! remember the widow and the orphan, whose cries daily ascend to heaven. Think of the women of Louisiana who have suffered crucifixion of the soul. Think of the torrents of Southern blood shed by Yankee hands — think of the acres of bleaching bones — think of the thousands of mutilated forms — think of the burning cities, of the devastated lands, of the broken hearts. Think of all these, and let the memory nerve your hearts to do or die.
When the armies of France returned from the late Italian campaign, all Paris received them with that pomp and circumstance which can only be displayed in that brilliant capital. All that wealth, and taste, and art could do, was brought into requisition. Wit, and beauty, and fashion were there, for this was the proudest day that France ever saw. The triumphal procession of returning columns, was headed in person by the Emperor, the most sagacious and successful monarch that ever reigned over any people. Soldiers of Louisiana! when this war shall end and you shall return to your homes, a greater triumph awaits you than that of Paris. Each man, the humblest private in the ranks, will be a hero. The garland and the wreath shall be prepared — flowers shall strew your paths and lovely women shall shed tears for you of joy. Soldiers! my heart warms to you all. I have had the proud privilege of sharing your privations and hardships in camp, and your dangers on the battle-field. You shall never, never be forgotten.
PROVISIONS FOR THIS DESTITUTE.
I respectfully refer you to the report of Col. J. C. Wise, Q. M. General, for a detailed statement of provisions furnished to the suffering citizens of the State. You will see that there has been distributed 30,792 bushels of corn, 20,182 pounds of bacon, 59,965 pounds of flour, 62,195 pounds of sugar, and 700 beeves. My agents were instructed to sell to those who were able to pay, and to give freely to the destitute, who had no means of paying. Upon the withdrawal of the Federal army, desolation and ruin were left behind them. All were stripped of everything valuable. Every ear of corn, every pound of meat, every living thing in the shape of stock, was taken off. This left the parishes of Natchitoches, Winn, Rapides, Avoyelles and St. Landry to be supplied — a duty which I have performed to the extent of my available means. In them much distress has been relieved, and many helpless families have been saved from starvation. I have made sufficient arrangements to furnish corn and other provisions, in case of need, in these and other parishes. It affords me pleasure to relieve, when in my power, the suffering. Their tribulations have been great, but their patriotism has been greater. Some have gone astray, and have taken the oath of allegiance to the enemy. Many did so under duress. They deeply regret it, and are now showing by their daily walk that they are more firmly than ever attached to our cause. They are a good and brave people. They have been crushed to the earth. They are of us — with us — for us. Let them not be alienated and driven off. I respectfully ask your attention to their present political status and recommend them to your favorable consideration.
The sum of two hundred thousand dollars, appropriated for the poor and destitute, was placed in the hands of L. V. Reeves and N. D. Coleman. They have impartially and judiciously distributed it, and accomplished much good. This timely aid has gladdened the hearts of many a suffering family. I respectfully refer you to their accompanying reports.
Immediately after the expulsion of the enemy last spring, many citizens were arrested by the military authorities and imprisoned, without the benefit of that speedy trial guaranteed by the Constitution and laws. It seemed that a reign of terror had begun, and that the bayonet was about to rule the land. Taking prompt issue with the military authorities, I issued the following proclamation:
TO THE CITIZENS OF THE STATE OF LOUISIANA.
As the Chief Magistrate of the State, sworn to maintain the integrity of her laws, I deem it appropriate to renew to her people the assurance that I shall keep that oath, and fulfil that duty While doing this I have thought proper to add such suggestions as the occasion demands.
The presence of armies in our midst, raised by the Confederate Government, commanded by officers of its appointment, governed by the rules and regulations it has adopted and amenable solely to it in a military capacity, produces inconveniences which are inevitable, and of which, when necessary, a patriotic people will not complain. These inconveniences form a part of the price you must pay for your country’s independence, and for the liberties you will hereafter enjoy.
But that Government is of your creation, and has no legal power beyond that which you have conferred upon it. Its duties are strictly defined, and its authority limited by the constitutional charter which your representatives have aided in forming, and which you, through your convention, have ratified. The armies of the Confederate States have no authority or power, except what the laws of Congress give them, and that body cannot go beyond the grant emanating from Sovereign States. The authority of military officers is therefore the creation of constitutional laws. They can rightfully do nothing but what Congress has authorized them to do. Properly viewed, an army is only a police force on a large scale, whose sole function is to maintain the laws of the land, and to protect the rights of the nation. Hence the machinery by which it acts ought never to come in collision with the civil laws, or the machinery of local or State governments. Over the citizen, or his property, no military officer has any other authority than what is given him by law. It is the glory of every really great military commander, that the civilian is never made to feel the presence of an army as a burden, a nuisance, or a terror. Over his troops his authority as given by law, is necessarily very great. This is right; but beyond the circle of his army the humblest citizen in the land is his equal.
I therefore earnestly admonish every one whose rights may be violated under pretence of military authority, to appeal promptly to the courts of justice. Let every citizen having just cause of complaint against military officers, report the same at once to the grand jury of his parish. If arrested and deprived of your liberty, it is your right to have the cause of your arrest judicially inquired into at once, and to be discharged unless found to be legally detained.
This writ of Habeas Corpus is always open to every citizen; to invoke it is his hallowed right; and I earnestly request all judges to issue it whenever legally demanded.
Extended authority has been conferred on the Commanding General of this department. He has never used that power against a citizen, and is entirely free from any disposition so to use it. I know it to be his earnest wish, that every abuse of authority by any subordinate officer shall be resisted by citizens under all circumstances, and promptly reported. If there are acts of petty tyranny, annoyance and proscription committed in this department, they will be reprobated by him, being as contrary to his will as they are in contrast with his character. All such acts brought to his knowledge, I doubt not, either have been, or will be punished promptly.
Thus far but one citizen of this State has been illegally and wrongfully exiled, and he shall be returned to his home and his family. While I am Governor of the State of Louisiana, the bayonet shall not rule her citizens, but they shall be protected at every hazard in all their legal and constitutional rights.
HENRY W. ALLEN, Governor of Louisiana.
Executive Office, Shreveport, La., July 5th, 1864.
When the Commanding General of this Department was appealed to, the prisons were thrown open, and all not subject to military tribunals were turned over to the civil authorities. He has forborne to suspend the writ of Habeas Corpus, though such suspension was authorized by Congress. He has carefully avoided conflicts with civil functionaries and encroachments on civil rights. His profound respect for the laws of the land, and his eminent love of equity and justice, as manifested in his course towards the citizens of Louisiana, are among the traits that distinguish him as a safe depositary of power.
BANKS’ LAST RAID.
In the month of March last, Maj. Gen. N. P. Banks, of the Federal army, arrived at Alexandria with a force estimated at forty thousand men, and a co-operating navy of sixty gunboats and transports, with a legion of camp-followers and speculators in their train. He pushed his columns up the valley of Red river, meeting with no obstacles until within a few miles of Mansfield, where he found what he did not look for — a fight. The gallant Taylor was there, surrounded by the elite of Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Louisiana. The battle was fought, and such a battle! History will record it as one of the most brilliant conflicts of the war. Banks & Co. were routed, horse, foot and dragoons. They were pursued to Pleasant Hill, where another severe engagement ensued, and the “grand army” fled in wild confusion to Grand Ecore. Here was the most disgraceful retreat of modern times. Every transportable article of value was carried off, and the rest destroyed. I saw feather beds ripped up — windows smashed in — looms and spinning wheels broken in pieces — the rich and poor faring alike. Gen. Banks slept at the residence of a highly respectable lady at Pleasant Hill, during his hegira. Upon leaving the house of this gentlewoman, his body-guard stole all the furniture, bedding, etc., from the room which this gallant General occupied! From Mansfield to the Mississippi the track of the spoiler is one scene of utter desolation. The fine estates on Cane and Red rivers, on bayous Rapides, Robert, and DeGlaize, were all devastated. Houses, gins, mills, barns, and fences were burned — the negroes, old and young, were carried off — horses, cattle, hogs, and every living thing driven away or killed. When they left the beautiful town of Alexandria, it was fired in many places by order of commanding officers. While it was in flames, and the women and children flying in terror from their burning houses, the drunken and redoubtable Gen. A. J. Smith rode amidst his infuriated myrmidons, and exclaimed with fiendish delight: “Boys, this looks like war!”
It is a sad commentary on human nature, and sickening to the hearts of all honorable men, to see to what extent the Yankees have carried their thieving propensities, and how low they have descended in the scale of common decency. Yankee preachers boastfully exhibit on their shelves rare and costly books stolen from the libraries of Southern gentlemen. Yankee women are daily seen in the streets of Yankee cities and towns, bedecked in stolen silks and bespangled with jewels of which their husbands and paramours have robbed the persons of our country-women. Yankee boys drink from stolen silver cups, while Yankee babies cut their teeth on stolen silver spoons! As a steamer descends the Mississippi, a Yankee school-mistress calls to the commander from the bank to capture her a piano. These are facts — notorious, well authenticated and undeniable. Such are the christian men
who are fighting us! Such the christian women who receive the fruits of all these robberies.
In order that the world may know, in part, what Louisiana has suffered, and that future generations of her sons may recur to these sufferings as a perpetual incentive to hate the Yankee race, I have caused reports of Yankee outrages in the several parishes to be prepared, supported by affidavits, made under the supervision of men of great respectability and integrity. These reports when published will comprise a mass of information of a reliable and documentary character, interesting to all civilized people.
In perusing this volume of crime and infamy, the very blood will boil in your veins. The evidence taken is under oath, carefully weighed and strictly scrutinized; my instructions having been to learn and record the truth, without coloring of any kind.
One occurrence has come to my knowledge not mentioned in these papers. On the retreat of Banks last spring, one of his Generals rode to a lady’s house and asked for a drink of water. She gave him with her own hands a silver goblet full of cold water. After satisfying his thirst, the unblushing scoundrel examined the cup with the eye of a foot-pad, deliberately put it in his pocket and rode off! Can any age, clime or nation show in the dark and bloody annals of war, an act of meanness to exceed this theft by a Federal General dressed in full Yankee uniform?
Orders were issued by their Commanding Generals to take all personal property and to destroy what could not be carried off, No christian or even civilized people have heretofore pursued this brutal policy. It was reserved alone for the Yankee race to sanction and applaud in this nineteenth century, that which shocks the moral sense of the christian world. Even when the Czar of all the Russias confiscates whole Polish villages, seizes the lands, blots out the very name of the department, and exiles the victims of his wrath to Siberia, he respects their personal property and allows them to carry it with them; but the Federals rejoice in destroying all they cannot steal.
A traveller visiting the field of Solferino a few months after the collision of the hostile armies there, would scarcely have known that a great battle had occurred. A few fallen mulberry trees, a few rifle pits, and the long trenches that held the silent dead, were all the marks of the terrible conflict where forty thousand brave men fell. No farm houses were burned, no villages sacked, no blackened ruins were seen. Two christian nations were contending for the mastery, and their campaigns were conducted by the rules of civilized warfare. Here, how different! To the christian stranger I would say: Come and see our blackened walls — our smoking ruins — our desolated homes — our demolished villages. Come, oh! come and see the widow and the orphan, robbed by a Yankee General, begging bread from door to door. Come and see tender women with their little children flying from the torch of the incendiary and the brutal touch of Yankee officers. See the venerable mother, seventy years of age, hung by the neck and stripped of her clothing to make her disclose where she had placed her own treasure. [This was done by Col. McCaleb, of the U. S. Army, now stationed at Natchez, in his raid upon “Sicily Island,” who at the same time robbed many young ladies of their jewelry, tearing open their dresses and exposing their persons.] Think of all this, ye christian strangers, and tell us are we wrong or are we right in fighting these fiends of hell to the last extremity? Tell us would it not be right in the eyes of God and man, to arm the whole population — to arm every man, woman and child — every free negro and slave — and fight these devils with burning hate and holy revenge? We are told that this world and all that in it is, will one day be destroyed by fire, and that matter itself will return to the God who made it. Yet one thing will remain: it is Eternal Justice. To the justice of the Great Ruler we appeal, and with His blessing we mean to triumph.
Gen. Banks had emblasoned upon his banners, “Shreveport or Hell.” He did not reach Shreveport. His legs saved him from hell. It is believed, however, that he will reach the latter place — for it is prepared for those who have shed their brothers’
blood — for the “Devil and his angels.”
If the “dark and sulphurous pit” was paved with cotton bales, I verily believe that N. P. Banks with his co-partners in trade, Messrs. Mansfield & Co., of New Orleans, would get up an expedition with government transportation, in order to beg, buy or steal from the devil the aforesaid cotton. The disgraceful overtures which they have made, and which they are now making, for cotton, are disgusting to every honorable man.
And now the country presents the appearance of the Carnatic as described by Edmund Burke, after the terrible raid of Hyder Ali upon its plains. You can travel for miles in many portions of Louisiana, through a once thickly settled country, and not see a man nor a woman, nor a child, nor a four-footed beast. The farm houses have been burned — the plantations deserted — the once smiling fields are now grown up in briars and brakes, in parasites and poisonous vines — a painful melancholy broods over the land and desolation reigns supreme.
WOUNDED AND DISABLED SOLDIERS.
At your last session you provided ample means for the relief of the wounded and disabled soldiers of Louisiana. Learning that there were many in the State in a destitute condition, I published the following notice:
TO DISABLED LOUISIANA SOLDIERS.
Louisiana soldiers, disabled by wounds, or by sickness incurred in actual service, and without means of support, are requested to apply to me for relief and assistance. Such applications must be accompanied with certificates as to disability, service rendered, and present circumstances. They will all be promptly relieved.
HENRY W. ALLEN, Governor of Louisiana.
Shreveport, La., August 4th, 1864.
Thus invited, these unfortunate children of Louisiana came forward and it has been a labor of love to supply them with money and clothing. No one has ever applied in vain, and there are now none of this class in want of funds, food or clothing.
Having seen in the Texas papers that the friends of the late Maj. Gen. Tom Green were raising a fund for the widow and children of that lamented officer, I subscribed in the name of the State, five thousand dollars, and sent it to the bereaved widow as a small tribute to the memory of her gallant and heroic husband.
COMMISSIONER OF CLAIMS.
Finding that very many citizens living a long distance from Shreveport, had claims against the C. S. Government for property impressed, purchased, taken or destroyed, I appointed Hon. A. R. Hynes, of Madison parish, Commissioner of Claims. His office has become important, with a large business to transact, requiring an assistant at Monroe and at Opelousas. This Bureau is self-sustaining and requires no appropriation — a small fee being charged for collections. I respectfully refer you to the accompanying report of the Commissioner.
In consequence of the great difficulty of communication, I have not been able to do all I wished for the parishes of East Louisiana. I deeply sympathize with our fellow-citizens who reside in that portion of the State, and have sent two of my Aids, Lt. Cols. D. S. Cage and T. G. Sparks, to learn their wants and redress their grievances. They have been partially supplied with cotton cards and medicines through my agents, Messrs. Winter, Walsh and Neafus, whose report is herewith submitted. They have shipped and sold one hundred and thirty-three bales of cotton — the net proceeds of which have been expended in medicines and cotton cards — all of which have been distributed gratuitously, as they cost the State nothing. These agents have simply been reimbursed for their outlays, without acquiring one dollar’s profit.
Dr. Edward Delony was appointed agent to supply that section of the State with indigenous medicines. His arrangements have been seriously interfered with by the raids of the enemy. His report is herewith submitted.
As empowered by the Act, approved Feb’y, 10th, 1864, I appointed Mr. Hugh H. Connell, collector of taxes, to be voluntarily paid, by persons living East of the Mississippi river, and I now submit his report.
Under the Act, approved Feb’y 9th, 1864, the machinery of the penitentiary, at Clinton, has been placed in charge of Mr. Wm. F. Lockwood, to whose report your attention is directed.
I respectfully refer you to the report of the Administrators of the Insane Asylum at Jackson. As this institution had become very much pressed for provisions, I gave the Administrators a permit to ship one hundred bales of cotton, with which to procure the actual necessities of life. I earnestly recommend that you authorize the Governor to take such steps as he may from time to time deem requisite to supply this Asylum with articles of prime necessity. At present it is a sacred duty which we owe to God and our country, to take care of the poor inmates of this institution. It is in a deplorable condition.
By an act of your last session, the Governor was authorized and instructed to raise one hundred and fifty mounted men in East Lousiana, for purposes well defined in said Act. I appointed Maj. J. B. Corkern to the command of this force, together with the other necessary commissioned officers. He immediately entered upon the duties assigned to him, and notwithstanding every obstacle was thrown in his way, succeeded in collecting, mounting and equipping eighty men. By my orders he reported at once to Col. John S. Scott, then commanding in East Louisiana, and performed most efficient service under that gallant, meritorious and well tried soldier. — For reasons which will be communicated to your proper committee, I ordered this battalion to this department, and it is now actively engaged in the front, under orders temporarily of Lt. Gen. S. B. Buckner. For further information on this subject, I respectfully refer you to the report of my Adj’t. Gen. T. G. Hunt, and to the accompanying correspondence with the Secretary of War.
ADVICE TO PLANTERS.
I would most respectfully recommend through you, that the planters continue to husband all their resources — pay strict attention to their plantations — keep up and repair their enclosures and apply themselves to the increase of their stock of all kinds. Let their cotton gins be kept in order, and a small quantity of cotton be planted, enough with which to pay their taxes and support their families. If not interrupted, I will promise to supply them with iron, farming utensils, &c. Let them cultivate the Chinese sugar cane extensively, and also the plants that can be used for indigenous medicines — castor oil bean, poppy, mustard, red pepper, et cetera — all of which are wanted in large quantities at the State Laboratory. We must endeavor to be as far as possible, a self-sustaining people. A beginning has been made. I promise them if they will adopt these suggestions, and give me their hearty support, their wants shall all be supplied. I am now causing to be constructed a very simple machine, which will, I think, in a large measure take the place of cotton cards — the great desideratum of the country. This machine is simple in construction and cheap in price, and will be put at the disposition of all who may wish it.
Although Louisiana has been invaded by the enemy and most terribly devastated — let peace once more visit us, and in a few years our people will be prosperous and happy.
The historian, Dupin, informs us that the wars waged by France against herself and the rest of Europe, continued through twenty-three years. One million, five hundred thousand men had perished — property of untold value was destroyed. The nation was thought by all to be utterly ruined, her people to be crushed, her exchequer totally bankrupt. Yet within nine years after peace the profound and terrible wounds inflicted on France were all healed, and their scars entirely obliterated. Thus it will be with us. Within less then nine years after peace is declared, a stranger passing through the State would not perceive that the iron heel of war had pressed her soil. Commerce and the arts will flourish. Smiling fields of cotton, sugar cane, corn and rice, will greet the eye in every direction, and wealth and plenty will crown the labors of the husbandman. Think of all this, planters of Louisiana, and bear your burdens cheerfully. I know that your taxes are heavy — that you are annoyed with the collectors and impressing officers — but remember this is the price of liberty. The soldiers are fighting your battles — you must do your duty at home, and in due season we will all
reap the rich reward together. Our recuperative energies will rise triumphantly in the end. Our flag high advanced will be respected and beloved by all who revere morality and religion — who honor manhood, or respect patriotic women.
YANKEE TREATMENT OF SLAVES.
To the English philanthropist who professes to feel so much for the African slave, I would say, come and see the sad and cruel workings of your favorite scheme. — Come and see the negro as he is now in the hands of his Yankee liberators. See the utter degradation — the ragged want — the squalid poverty. These false, pretended friends who have taken him away from a kind master and comfortable home, now treat him with criminal neglect, and permit him to die without pity. I give you good Yankee authority — one William H. Wilder, a convict in the penitentiary at Baton Rouge, pardoned by the President of the United States, and made the agent for Yankee plantations. He says the negroes on these estates have died like sheep with the rot. On one in the Parish of Iberville, out of six hundred and ten slaves, three hundred and ten have perished. Tiger Island, at Berwicks Bay, is one solid grave yard. At New Orleans, Thibodaux, Donaldsonville, Plaquemine, Baton Rouge, Port Hudson, Morganza, Vidalia, Young’s Point and Goodrich’s Landing, the acres of the silent dead will ever be the monuments of Yankee cruelty to these unhappy wretches. Under published orders from General Banks, the greatest farce was perpetrated on the negroes. The laboring men on plantations were to be paid from six to eight dollars per month, and the women from two to four dollars. In these orders the poor creatures after being promised this miserable pittance, were bound by every catch and saving clause that a New England lawyer could invent. For every disobedience their wages were docked. For every short absence from labor they were again docked. In the hands of the shrewd grasping Yankee overseer, the oppressed slave, without a friend or guardian, has been forced to toil free of cost to his new master. I saw a half-starved slave who had escaped from one of the Yankee plantations. In his own language he said “that he had worked hard for the Yankees for six long months — that they had ‘dockered’ him all the time, and had never paid him one cent!” This is the sad history of them all. The negro has only changed masters, and very much for the worse! And now, without present reward or hope for the future, he is dying in misery and want. Look at this picture ye negro worshippers, and weep, if you have tears to shed over the poor down-trodden murdered children of Africa.
UNITED STATES NO LONGER A HOME FOR THE OPPRESSED.
There is in the City of Pisa, Italy, a master-piece of statuary, called the “Exiles,” sculptured from pure Carrara marble, by one of the best living artists. It represents the exiles flying from the despotism of Italy to America. The husband and wife, with a beautiful child in her arms, are represented in the most graphic manner. One foot of each rests upon a rock marked “Italia,” the other foot is placed upon a rock marked “America.” While pressing the rock of America, the exiles turn their saddened faces to Heaven, but with confidence beaming in their features, expressive of hope and joy and future happiness. Oh! how changed! America was once indeed the asylum of the oppressed, the home of all who loved liberty, and fled despotism. But now she is driving from her bosom all who dare to use freedom of thought, of speech, or the press. — Canada, England, France, Cuba, Mexico, all are filled with exiles from the United States — refugees from their homes — from Yankee land. Seward has touched the wires and they have had to fly — without a charge against them — without a writ of habeas corpus — without any legal redress whatever, they have had to hasten to a land of strangers and beg for a place to rest their weary heads. The days of Washington have sadly changed, and now instead of that pure and good man who was the President of a free and happy people, a satyr sits upon the throne, drunk with the blood of martyrs. The future sculptor will mould with classic art, and fix in dull cold marble, not the glory, but the shame of America.
PRISONERS OF WAR.
The castle of Chillon still stands on Lake Leman’s shore. The curious traveller is still shown the foot prints of Bonnivard. The very chains which bound this wretched man are still to be seen. All have read his melancholy story in beautiful verse or elegant prose. When the true history of this war is written, the sufferings of our poor prisoners at Johnson’s Island, Camp Chase, Camp Morton, Alton, Cairo, St. Louis, Forts Delaware, Warren, Lafayette, Pickens, Jackson and Ship Island, will shock the age in which we live, and make all good men shudder at “man’s inhumanity to man.” The sufferings of the prisoner of Chillon will pale before the terrors of Yankee cruelty, and the story of Bonnivard will almost be forgotten. When at last released, see our brave men returning home! as they pass through the Yankee towns and villages, they are pelted with stones, and subjected to the rude jeers of a heartless mob. Sick, sore and emaciated, at last they reach their homes, and are often consigned to an early grave.
“Their hair is grey — but not with years,
Nor grew it white
In a single night,
As men’s have grown from sudden fears,”
— but from long confinement within the walls of a cold and damp dungeon, debarred from the free air of Heaven, and tormented by all that a wicked, cruel and vindictive foe could invent. The all seeing eye of the Eternal God alone has penetrated the dark recesses of these Yankee bastiles.
Officers are literally packed into the narrow casemates of the forts, and there, upon short allowance of miserable food and bad water, are suffered to die without pity. Out of a number of prisoners captured by the enemy from the “State Guard,” near Trinity, only two have returned. They report to me that nearly all are dead. They died as martyrs to our holy cause, and victims of Yankee cruelty.
THE WOMEN OF LOUISIANA.
Gentlemen, when our trials and troubles are ended, — when all our battles shall have been “lost and won” — when the soldier shall lay down his arms, and with his wife and children return to his now desolated home — when gentle peace shall come to bless this torn, bleeding, and distracted land — the highest honors will be due to those who have deserved the most. The private soldiers in the ranks will be the first in the affections of the country — the ladies next. I appeal to history to tell us where was there ever such self-sacrificing patriotism as manifested by the women of Louisiana. See the high-born and once wealthy lady, educated and refined, and raised in the very lap of luxury, now reduced to penury, rather than dwell within the lines of the enemy! See the aged mother, once the mistress of a hundred slaves, now sewing for the support of herself and children! See the only daughter of a once wealthy planter, or princely merchant, now giving lessons to maintain her aged parents! See the families of the thrifty merchant, and of the honest and intelligent mechanic, driven from their comfortable homes into exile, battling with poverty and want, while their protectors, their husbands and sons, are in the army! See all these noble women bearing up most cheerfully under every new misfortune, praying daily for our sacred cause, and urging their fathers, husbands and brothers to be true to their country, to fight on, fight ever, never to despair, never to submit to northern despotism — but, if such be the will of God, to die like freemen.
In other lands there may be women equal to those of Louisiana, but I cannot believe it. Throughout the State, the ladies have not only clothed our own troops, but have given great assistance to other Confederate soldiers. Sewing societies, concerts, tableaux and banquets have all been brought into requisition; and many a brave soldier has reaped the fruits of these patriotic exertions. One venerable lady, seventy-seven years old, in the parish of DeSoto, has knit with her own hands, one hundred and twenty pairs of socks for Missouri soldiers. Good men tell us, and I believe it, that it is highly pleasing in the sight of the All-wise and ever just God, to see lovely woman strengthening the arms and ministering to the wants of brave men who are engaged in such a sacred cause as ours.
MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL.
It is a grateful duty to notice the course pursued by the Ministers of Religion of all denominations in the State and Confederacy. From the beginning of the war they have been, as a profession, with few or no exceptions, steady, consistent, calm and resolute supporters of our cause. Before secession, they were unknown to political discussions, for they were singularly exempt from that baneful propensity of northern preachers, to intermeddle with public affairs, out of which grew that fanatical crusade against us, our institutions and our rights; but when the blast of war blew in our ears, the clergymen of our States began to manifest and illustrate that love of political freedom eminently characteristic of those whom “the truth makes free.” A goodly and sufficient number of them have joined the army as Chaplains, and have done most faithful service, teaching holy precepts, doing most pious deeds of charity, rebuking the heedless, restraining the vicious, awakening and vivifying in all a sense of moral obligation — giving comfort to the afflicted, consolation to the dying, and hope to all. Of that piety which adorns physical, and heightens moral courage, they have been the industrious teachers. The seed they have sown, has produced a harvest of good and wholesome fruits. Many have taken the field as officers, or privates in the ranks. They have done their duty most nobly, and in many instances have sealed with their blood their devotion to their country.
At home, the clergy have been equally distinguished for their labors, charity and beneficence. Many of the comforts, attainable formerly by even those of limited incomes, are denied to them, for their salaries are now paid in a depreciated currency; but none are heard to murmur. They go from their scanty boards in thread-bare garments to their respective churches with greater zeal than ever. The sufferings incident to war have opened a wider field of labor to them, and they are performing their duties with commendable fortitude. In sections overrun by the enemy, the courage and steadfastness of our pastors have been especially conspicuous. Though compelled to see their churches polluted and robbed by a brutal and ribald soldiery, or given to
flames, they have been true to their trust, and rendered efficient help to their flocks. At Alexandria the truly patriotic and heroic priest stood at the door of his church, with sword in hand, ready to offer up his life to save the sacred edifice. This is an act of Christian heroism unsurpassed in any land.
THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGROES IN THE ARMY.
While looking for an early close of the war, it behooves us none the less to prepare for its duration for years. It is indeed wisest for us to act as though war were to be the permanent condition of our tenure of independence. Preparation for the worst is the best means of warding it off; for, if we can convince our enemies of the steadiness of our purpose, and of our resolve to use all our resources, we take from them a moral element of strength — the hope of success — thus hastening peace. It is therefore our duty to inquire diligently into all our means of making war, not only for the campaign of this year, but for a series of years. Our antagonists, with a population of twenty millions, have annually about one hundred thousand youths reaching the age for military service, besides an influx from Europe, of men capable of bearing arms, nearly equal in number. To a government become despotic, with great armies to execute its decrees, these recruits are available. Our resources for replenishing our armies are strictly limited to our own population, numbering half that of the enemy. Of fighting immigrants we have none. Of our youths, many thousands have nobly anticipated the conscript age by volunteering. After the campaign of 1865, therefore, we have reason to apprehend that a scarcity of recruits will become a serious embarrassment. While this is a powerful motive with our generals to spare the lives of our soldiers by shunning indecisive battles, it is also an incentive to earnest inquiry on our part, as to any means we have left untried to add to the virtual strength of our armies.
I have long been convinced that we have in our negro slaves the means of increasing the number of available fighting men. They are already, by the wise dispensation which placed them under our tutelage, disciplined to labor. They are peculiarly adapted to the endurance of our climate. Many of them are skilled in the ruder portions of mechanical work. The most of them are good drivers of teams, and all know the use of intrenching implements. In active military operations, immense manual labor must be done; and where white soldiers are scarce, and good black laborers are plenty, it seems wise to employ the latter whenever practicable. Whenever a negro laborer can be substituted for a white soldier, a musket is added to some depleted regiment. With hundreds of thousands of laborers thus available, it is rank injustice to our chivalric defenders to exact from them that labor which ought to be done by negroes.
It cannot be urged that our slaves are all needed to raise food for our people and supplies for troops. Before the war, our southern population was greater than it is now, including the army. We then produced a surplus of food, and three or four millions of bales of cotton, together with large quantities of sugar, rice and tobacco. We now need no more food than then, and raise no cotton, and but little rice or sugar. All having been mainly the product of slave labor, it is evident that there are now more negro laborers than we actually need for agricultural purposes, and that the surplus can well be spared for army use, after making due allowance for those taken away by the enemy.
In view, also, of the possible calamities of a protracted war, it will be wise to have many thousands of negroes thus attached to our armies, mobilized, used to military discipline, habituated by army labor to action in concert, and thus made ready and ripe for that important step which the exhaustion of our armies may necessitate — the arming of negroes. It is the deliberate purpose of the ruling majority of our enemies to prosecute the war on such a scale, and so long, as to exhaust our fighting men. In this Satanic game they seem willing to play three or four lives of their soldiers against every one of our own, as is shown by the last campaign; for they know they cannot rule over the living white men and soldiers of our country. This horrid policy of butchery must be met by the employment of all our resources. Our willingness to fight armed negroes against them, when made necessary by their own diabolical and persistent malignity, may be taken by them as the sign and measure of our inextinguishable hatred, while it will prove conclusively to the nations of the world that we intend to maintain our independence at any and every possible cost. If a master may, with the help of his faithful slaves, drive thieves from his corn-crib, incendiaries from his cotton-gin, and marauders from his house, why may not many masters, helped by their many slaves, act in concert to drive away armies of thieves, incendiaries, and assassins?
There may now be differences of opinion as to the exigency which shall call for this measure; but if we are driven to the wall, there will be none. Each section of the country should be the judge of the necessity. While in this department our army is still comparatively full, east of the Mississippi the want of troops has turned the thoughts of very many able statesmen, soldiers and journalists to the subject of putting negroes into the field. I hope the public mind in this State will be prepared for any action of the Confederate States Congress, and that our people will be ready for the emergency contemplated. Securing to the army a large number of organized negro laborers, appears to be the best possible preparation for this contingency. Should you concur in this opinion, I leave it to your wisdom to suggest such legislation as you may deem appropriate.
In the multiplicity of topics necessary to be called to your notice, I should have treated the subject of employing negroes in the army with more brevity, but for the capture and publication by the enemy of a letter to the Secretary of War, in the concluding paragraph of which I expressed the conviction that the time had come for putting negroes in the field. An expression of my views on this topic was naturally expected; and having no desire to withhold my opinion,
in order to give it, I was obliged to state in part the reasons and facts on which it was based. I am indebted to the peripatetic Yankee general, who never fought a battle, for damaging his bad cause, by publishing my letter, and making it the subject of a special order. This redoubtable general seems to have been much exercised; for the letter of the “Rebel Governor” has had the desired effect: it has put a stop to conscripting negroes by the enemy in his department. Gen. Canby tells them if they will run to him for protection, they shall not be sent to the slaughter-pens and butchered any more! One fact is certain and cannot be concealed — the enemy fear, above all things, the arming of our negroes.
In every battle with the enemy, we have been compelled to meet him two to our one. We have triumphed over him always, and will continue to do so, when the numbers are anything like equal. In one respect, however, he has the advantage. He can and does out-work us. His soldiers are generally laborers or mechanics, of strong limb and muscle, accustomed from infancy to hard work. Ours are different; they cannot perform the Herculean tasks done by the enemy. Place two hundred thousand able-bodied negroes in the army, and this difficulty is removed. They will make the fortifications and garrison them, while our white troops fight the battles in the field.
I speak by authority; I speak the sentiments of the army, of every officer and private, of every man and woman in Louisiana, and now sum up the argument on this question: If necessary, if the worst should come, perish slavery — perish the institution for ever — but give us independence; give us freedom now, henceforth and forever, from the accursed Yankee nation. If we are subjugated, the negroes are lost to their owners. If we triumph, we can well afford to give freedom to every slave who fights the battles of his country.
This has now become a war of endurance, of heavy blows, and long, stout and determined resistance. Peace can never be made with Abraham Lincoln except by armed intervention. This blood-hound, like the “dark Mokanna,” has deceived his people — will still deceive them until the terrible day of retribution comes. The time may come — is perhaps fast approaching — when we will have to give up the institution of domestic slavery in order to secure our independence as a nation. The civilized world is opposed to the name of slavery — it prefers bondage under some other name. In Mexico they have Peons — in Russia Serfs — in England, France and Spain, Cooleys. The position of the slave in Louisiana is far superior to any of these; he is better clothed, better fed, better treated and cared for, and in every respect a much happier being. Still we cannot convince the world that they are wrong and that we are right. The public mind must be prepared for the change. Shall we continue to fight on, in a long protracted war with slavery, or shall we give it up and have peace and independence? Louisiana will rise en masse and say without hesitation, “We will abolish the institution — we will part with slavery without regret — if necessary to gain our independence.”
In my inaugural address I informed you that I believed peace would be declared at no very distant day. I am still of that opinion. I believe the war will not last much longer. All revolutions must end, and become more bloody as they approach their close. Peace will come when we least expect it. It will come by intervention, and that at no remote period. That we are tired of the war, none will pretend to deny. All acknowledge the fact; but we are resolved to fight on — to fight it out until we are recognized as a separate, free, and independent nation.
If there is any man in this State who for one moment thinks of reconstruction on any terms whatever, let me beg him, for God’s sake, for his country’s sake, for his own sake, to ask himself these few plain questions: Can I trust the yankees, swayed as they are by a fanatical mob? Can I trust men who have committed every crime in the decalogue? Can I shake hands with murderers and robbers? Can I sit down with thieves, and house-burners, and assassins, and break bread with those who have insulted my wife, my mother, my sister? No, never! never!! never!!!
If the sainted spirits of those brave men, whose bodies have been butchered in this unholy war, take an interest in earthly affairs, I implore them to visit the pillows of those misguided persons — if there be any — who in this trying hour would sacrifice the independence of their country, and shriek their protest in their unpatriotic ears. What! oh! what would be gained by reconstruction? If the yankees violated the Constitution for a series of years before 1861, will they not do it again? But, it is suggested we will call for a convention of the States, and ask for guaranties! Great God! Imagine a convention of all the States! They must of course be admitted as equals. Every northern State except three has voted for Lincoln and his policy. We all know what that policy is: it is as dark as Erebus — as black as Hell! It is subjugation or death! We once had a Constitution. It was thought by all good men to be a sufficient guaranty; it has been overthrown, and now a despotism is inaugurated. What, then, would be gained by reconstruction? Nothing but political annihilation — nothing but utter degradation and loss of all your property. Once lay down your arms, and then farewell, a long farewell to all your liberties. Your negroes will be made your equals, your lands will be declared confiscate, and you will become the slaves of those very hirelings who are now waging war upon you. Abolitionism, agrarianism, and miscegenation, with all their horrid brood, will rule the “court and the camp.”
Black men — our own slaves, are now in the Yankee army and navy; they will soon be in their congress, in the cabinet, in the pulpit, and on the bench. Are you willing to live under such a government in any manner, in any way, in any position whatever? If I were asked, are there any terms on which you would consent to reconstruction, and return to the old Union, my answer
is emphatically none! Better fight for four years longer — aye, better fight for forty years to come, than contemplate anything short of independence.
If there be any who have thought of a convention of the States, to the end that peace propositions might be submitted, I would say, this is not only unconstitutional and impolitic, but utterly impossible. By the recent elections at the north, the democratic peace party has been crushed. Lincoln & Co. “are now in blood stept in so far, that should they wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er.” If it were possible to assemble a convention of delegates from all the States, it would be a Babel of passion and confusion — of crimination and recrimination. Peace propositions would not for one moment be entertained except on the terms already offered, which is an insult to every honorable man. But peace will come — it will come by intervention. The great powers of Europe are pledged to the integrity of the Mexican Empire. If the South should be subjugated, the victorious armies of the North will march over its ruins to the conquest of Mexico. This the yankee congress has declared — this the yankee press has published — this Mr. Lincoln has openly said — this his people applaud — but this the European powers will not permit.
The recent misfortunes which our arms have sustained in Georgia and Tennessee, are comparatively of a trivial character; if Richmond even should fall, our cause would not by any means be desperate. One thing is certain — we can never be conquered. We may be harrassed for years by war, but we will never be conquered — never!
I must, Gentlemen, through you, bid my countrymen be of good cheer. We all have steadily hoped that this war would end — that this revolution would abate — that the mountain top might be viewed, and the dove of peace would at last go forth to return no more. I am firmly convinced that this is near at hand. In the meantime, let us do our duty under all circumstances. The Ruler of the Universe, who spoke peace to the troubled waters of Galilee, will not forsake us, but, in his own good time will speak peace to us. When Israel warred with Amalek, Joshua was sent out to give battle. Moses stood hard by and held up his hands. As long as they were up, Joshua prevailed; but in course of time they became tired, and fell to his side. Then Amalek prevailed. Upon seeing this, Aaron and Hur came to the assistance of Moses, and stayed up his hands till the going down of the sun. Joshua prevailed and Israel was free. Let us all then rally around the Chief Magistrate of the Confederacy. He is our President, and this is our fight. He is a pure patriot. Let us hold up not only his hands, but those of all others in authority. We will prevail — we will win the fight — we will be free!
I respectfully recommend that you pass an act resuming the collection of all State taxes; that you continue your appropriations for the relief of the families of soldiers, and the indigent of the State; that you enact a law authorizing the convicts to be sent to the Penitentiary of Texas for confinement and labor — the Legislature of that State having consented thereto; that you pass stringent laws, punishing with severe penalties all persons who may kidnap, or illegally take away slaves from their owners, and all who may aid or abet those so offending, or who may buy or sell negroes knowing them to have been unlawfully taken from their owners, or from the agents or overseers of such owners, or from their plantations during their absence. Many of our soldiers, who are now in the field doing their duty nobly, as well as many refugees, widows and orphans, have suffered heavily from these robberies; that the Governor be authorized to purchase one or more sea-going steamers, with which to run the blockade, and that he be empowered to buy and ship such quantities of cotton, or other produce, as will suffice to supply the people of the State with all such staple articles as are now so much needed; that the Governor have full power to call out every able bodied free male capable of bearing arms, not already in the C. S. service, at any time he may deem such call necessary for the defence of the State, under such regulations as he may think proper, and that none shall be exempt from such duty; that the sum of one hundred thousand dollars, or so much thereof as may be required, be appropriated for the purchase or publication of School Books, to be distributed amongst the several parishes, as in your wisdom you shall direct. I have now a series of such school-books in course of publication, but cannot supply the wants of the public in full. The youth of the State must be educated. While the war taxes our energies to the utmost, we must not forget the sacred duty parents owe to their children. Finally, I recommend that you pass no private bills. This is no time for special legislation. Let all claimants be placed on the same footing. Of even general legislation, we need but little — let that be short. The country is at war — the whole State is an immense camp.
Since my accession to office, I have had no recreation. My duties as Governor have been very arduous. Many a weary day and sleepless night have I spent in the service of the State. I could have done otherwise and lived inactive, and at my ease; but I chose a different course. In these troublous times I have taken many responsibilities. I have dispensed to the destitute to the widow, and to the orphan, to the wounded soldier and his family large sums of money. This money has not, however, been wrung from the people by taxation, but has been put into the Treasury in due course of honorable traffic, giving great benefits to all. The people have paid no State taxes. They have been supplied with medicines and cotton cards, with clothes and stationery, with provisions and farming utensils, and with school books for their children — all without one dollar from the Treasury; for the profits on my investments for the State have paid all outlays and expenses.
If it is your desire that I should continue my administration as I have begun it, I wish your expressed approbation. If you do not approve it, I will in future adhere to the strict letter of
the law, and spare myself a vast deal of toil, trouble and responsibility. I have no ambition but to serve the commonwealth of Louisiana. I do assure you, from the bottom of my heart, that I shall be the happiest man in this Republic, if during my term I can welcome back to their homes every son and daughter of Louisiana. Then, but not till then, will I ask to be relieved from duty, in order to repair my broken fortunes; for, having suffered along with many of my fellow citizens, and lost all, I must begin life anew.
I cannot close this message without saying a word in behalf of our fellow-citizens of New Orleans; outraged daily by a brutal soldiery, insulted and annoyed by a traitor police, far worse than that of Austria — robbed by officers in high station, and swindled by every petty official. Under all changes — under every new misfortune, the people of that unhappy city have exhibited the most unswerving patriotism. To our soldiers and citizens who have been confined in Yankee dungeons, the ladies have been more than kind. God bless these noble women! The heart expands, and the tear of gratitude flows in thinking of the ladies of New Orleans. Be of good cheer my fair constituents. I hear from you often. Your ardent devotion to the cause of the South, challenges the admiration even of the enemy. Go on in your good work. Relieve the sick, bind up the broken hearts, minister to the wants of those who still languish in the “captive’s lonely cell.” Visit the tombs of the gallant dead who have died from Yankee cruelty, and place love’s last offering of fresh flowers upon their hallowed graves; and then and there renew your vows of eternal hostility against their murderers. For these acts of patriotism and devotion, you will be thrice repaid. You will receive the blessings of all the good and brave in every land. The ways of divine Providence are inscrutable. None can find them out. I commit you to His hands. He will not forsake you. We are told in the book of Ezra, that when the chosen people of God returned from their captivity, they erected an altar, and assembling around it, “wept with a loud voice, and many shouted aloud for joy.” You shall meet your friends again. They shall assemble around your sacred altars. Your temples which have been made the “den of thieves” shall be purified, and on bended knees before the throne of the Great Jehovah, we will mingle together our tears of gratitude, and then with heads erect, and in the conscious pride of freemen, we will shout for joy!
HENRY WATKINS ALLEN.
- Wesley Hojdea
- Bruce R. Magee
- Emily Smith
- James Williams
Allen, Henry Watkins. Annual Message of Governor Henry Watkins Allen, to the Legislature of the State of Louisiana: January, 1865. Annual Message of Governor Henry Watkins Allen, to the Legislature of the State of Louisiana: January, 1865. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. <https:// archive.org/ details/ annual message ofg00loui>.