The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 41, In Four Parts. Part 4, Correspondence, etc. Page: 1,030
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1030 LOUISIANA AND THE TRANS-MISSISSIPPI (CHAP. LIII.
fine fellow; he told General Smith in my presence that, though a Texan,
he thought all impressments for this army should be made rather in
Texas than here or in Louisiana. General Smith promised me he would
impress horses there, but told me to impress negroes here. I regret,
though, to do anything which seems unpleasant to him, for he is a per-
fect gentleman and soldier, but I cannot agree with him in this. I am
told that over 150,000 negroes have gone from Missouri and Arkansas
into Texas, and leaving out all considerations of fairness, I fear that if
the few that remain here are impressed, those who would otherwise sow
and plant would emigrate to Texas, and through the depopulation of
the country we should not be able to support an army through another
season, though otherwise successful. I recommended to General Smith
that a certain number of counties should be attached to Arkansas from
Texas, for this purpose, say two tiers from Harrison County to the
Indian Territory, as I understand he has impressed negroes to work
upon the fortifications at Marshall and Shreveport. I presume my
proposition embarrassed him, as those from whom he had impressed
did not expect other impressments. As we occupy at present but a
small portion of Arkansas, I think the difficulty might be obviated by
attaching a considerable portion of [the] eastern part of the Northern
Sub-District of Texas to Arkansas. The suggestion came from your
brother, Col. Richard Johnson, and I think it a good one. I am told
there are many negroes in the counties bordering on the Indian Terri-
tory. For all military commands the Northern Sub-District might re-
main as it is, but this is purely of an administrative nature.
I am the only officer I know of in the Trans-Mississippi I)epartment
who causes his troops to labor on the fortifications. Maj. W. W. John-
son, chief of Labor Bureau, informs me that under the late act only
eighty-five negroes can be obtained in the District of Arkansas. Gen-
eral Smith says these are conscripts, under the law, enrolled for the
war, and that I can impress (if I understood him correctly) as many
slaves as I like under former laws. I have not these laws before me,
but if my memory serves me rightly he is mistaken. At all events the
effect on the people would be the same; this I wish to avoid. I think
the campaign of last spring will be re-enacted next spring, and if Price
returns in safety, and we make every preparation in our power, I think
we shall have a better prospect of success than heretofore. I hope,
therefore, you will not think of removing your family from the State,
since your example would doubtless be followed by many others. Mrs.
Wright informs me she has two plantations and has not removed her
negroes. I have advised her to remove all her valuable articles of
furniture at her leisure and her negroes only should it become neces-
sary. You, I understand, have only your family to move, and should
you go to Congress it would afford me great pleasure to give them all
the assistance in my power. I should of course be too much engaged
myself, but would send some other person whom they might designate
to accompany them. Please present my kindest regards to them all.
Would it not be well to represent your views, which I am sure will
accord with mine, as to the impolicy of impressing negroes in Arkansas
to General Smith, this being purely a civil matter. My judgment tells
me the negroes are absolutely necessary. The various crossings of the
Little Missouri should be fortified at once, and perhaps one or two other
points on the Ouachita River, and certainly Fulton and Dooley's Ferry.
I have no troops stationed at either of these places, and therefore can-
not resort even to the labor of the soldiers.
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United States. War Department. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union And Confederate Armies. Series 1, Volume 41, In Four Parts. Part 4, Correspondence, etc., book, 1893; Washington D.C.. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth145061/m1/1030/: accessed April 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.