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The Memoirs of General P. H. Sheridan, Complete by General Philip Henry Sheridan

Part 8 out of 10

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despatch, found them several miles west of Appomattox depot feeling
their way along, in ignorance of Lee's exact position. As he had the
original despatch with him, and took pains to dwell upon the pitiable
condition of Lee's army, he had little difficulty in persuading the
men in charge of the trains to bring them east of Appomattox Station,
but fearing that the true state of affairs would be learned before
long, and the trains be returned to Lynchburg, he was painfully
anxious to have them cut off by breaking the track west of the
station.

The intelligence as to the trains was immediately despatched to
Crook, and I pushed on to join him with Merritt's command. Custer
having the advance, moved rapidly, and on nearing the station
detailed two regiments to make a detour southward to strike the
railroad some distance beyond and break the track. These regiments
set off at a gallop, and in short order broke up the railroad enough
to prevent the escape of the trains, Custer meanwhile taking
possession of the station, but none too soon, for almost at the
moment he did so the advance-guard of Lee's army appeared, bent on
securing the trains. Without halting to look after the cars further,
Custer attacked this advance-guard and had a spirited fight, in which
he drove the Confederates away from the station, captured twenty-five
pieces of artillery, a hospital train, and a large park of wagons,
which, in the hope that they would reach Lynchburg next day, were
being pushed ahead of Lee's main body.

Devin coming up a little before dusk, was put in on the right of
Custer, and one of Crook's brigades was sent to our left and the
other two held in reserve. I then forced the enemy back on the
Appomattox road to the vicinity of the Court House, and that the
Confederates might have no rest, gave orders to continue the
skirmishing throughout the night. Meanwhile the captured trains had
been taken charge of by locomotive engineers, soldiers of the
command, who were delighted evidently to get back at their old
calling. They amused themselves by running the trains to and fro,
creating much confusion, and keeping up such an unearthly screeching
with the whistles that I was on the point of ordering the cars
burned. They finally wearied of their fun, however, and ran the
trains off to the east toward General Ord's column.

The night of the 8th I made my headquarters at a little frame house
just south of the station. I did not sleep at all, nor did anybody
else, the entire command being up all night long; indeed, there had
been little rest in the, cavalry for the past eight days. The
necessity of getting Ord's column up was so obvious now that
staff-officer after staff-officer was sent to him and to General Grant
requesting that the infantry be pushed on, for if it could get to the
front, all knew that the rebellion would be ended on the morrow.
Merritt, Crook, Custer, and Devin were present at frequent intervals
during the night, and everybody was overjoyed at the prospect that
our weary work was about to end so happily. Before sun-up General
Ord arrived, and informed me of the approach of his column, it having
been marching the whole night. As he ranked me, of course I could
give him no orders, so after a hasty consultation as to where his
troops should be placed we separated, I riding to the front to
overlook my line near Appomattox Court House, while he went back to
urge along his weary troops.

The night before General Lee had held a council with his principal
generals, when it was arranged that in the morning General Gordon
should undertake to break through my cavalry, and when I neared my
troops this movement was beginning, a heavy line of infantry bearing
down on us from the direction of the village. In front of Crook and
Mackenzie firing had already begun, so riding to a slight elevation
where a good view of the Confederates could be had, I there came to
the conclusion that it would be unwise to offer more resistance than
that necessary to give Ord time to form, so I directed Merritt to
fall back, and in retiring to shift Devin and Custer to the right so
as to make room for Ord, now in the woods to my rear. Crook, who
with his own and Mackenzie's divisions was on my extreme left
covering some by-roads, was ordered to hold his ground as long as
practicable without sacrificing his men, and, if forced to retire, to
contest with obstinacy the enemy's advance.

As already stated, I could not direct General Ord's course, he being
my senior, but hastily galloping back to where he was, at the edge of
the timber, I explained to him what was taking place at the front.
Merritt's withdrawal inspired the Confederates, who forthwith began
to press Crook, their line of battle advancing with confidence till
it reached the crest whence I had reconnoitred them. From this
ground they could see Ord's men emerging from the woods, and the
hopelessness of a further attack being plain, the gray lines
instinctively halted, and then began to retire toward a ridge
immediately fronting Appomattox Court House, while Ord, joined on his
right by the Fifth Corps, advanced on them over the ground that
Merritt had abandoned.

I now directed my steps toward Merritt, who, having mounted his
troopers, had moved them off to the right, and by the time I reached
his headquarters flag he was ready for work, so a move on the enemy's
left was ordered, and every guidon was bent to the front. As the
cavalry marched along parallel with the Confederate line, and in
toward its left, a heavy fire of artillery opened on us, but this
could not check us at such a time, and we soon reached some high
ground about half a mile from the Court House, and from here I could
see in the low valley beyond the village the bivouac undoubtedly of
Lee's army. The troops did not seem to be disposed in battle order,
but on the other side of the bivouac was a line of battle--a heavy
rear-guard--confronting, presumably, General Meade.

I decided to attack at once, and formations were ordered at a trot
for a charge by Custer's and Devin's divisions down the slope leading
to the camps. Custer was soon ready, but Devin's division being in
rear its formation took longer, since he had to shift further to the
right; Devin's preparations were, therefore, but partially completed
when an aide-decamp galloped up to with the word from Custer, "Lee
has surrendered; do not charge; the white flag is up." The enemy
perceiving that Custer was forming for attack, had sent the flag out
to his front and stopped the charge just in time. I at once sent
word of the truce to General Ord, and hearing nothing more from
Custer himself, I supposed that he had gone down to the Court House
to join a mounted group of Confederates that I could see near there,
so I, too, went toward them, galloping down a narrow ridge, staff and
orderlies following; but we had not got half way to the Court House
when, from a skirt of timber to our right, not more than three
hundred yards distant, a musketry fire was opened on us. This halted
us, when, waving my hat, I called out to the firing party that we
were under a truce, and they were violating it. This did not stop
them, however, so we hastily took shelter in a ravine so situated as
to throw a ridge between us and the danger.

We traveled in safety down this depression to its mouth, and thence
by a gentle ascent approached the Court House. I was in advance,
followed by a sergeant carrying my battleflag. When I got within
about a hundred and fifty yards of the enemy's line, which was
immediately in front of the Court House, some of the Confederates
leveled their pieces at us, and I again halted. Their officers kept
their men from firing, however, but meanwhile a single-handed contest
had begun behind me, for on looking back I heard a Confederate
soldier demanding my battle-flag from the color-bearer, thinking, no
doubt, that we were coming in as prisoners. The sergeant had drawn
his sabre and was about to cut the man down, but at a word from me he
desisted and carried the flag back to my staff, his assailant quickly
realizing that the boot was on the other leg.

These incidents determined me to remain where I was till the return
of a staff-officer whom I had sent over to demand an explanation from
the group of Confederates for which I had been heading. He came back
in a few minutes with apologies for what had occurred, and informed
me that General Gordon and General Wilcox were the superior officers
in the group. As they wished me to join them I rode up with my
staff, but we had hardly met when in front of Merritt firing began.
At the sound I turned to General Gordon, who seemed embarrassed by
the occurrence, and remarked: "General, your men fired on me as I was
coming over here, and undoubtedly they are treating Merritt and
Custer the same way. We might as well let them fight it out." He
replied, "There must be some mistake." I then asked, "Why not send a
staff-officer and have your people cease firing; they are violating
the flag." He answered, "I have no staff-officer to send." Whereupon
I said that I would let him have one of mine, and calling for
Lieutenant Vanderbilt Allen, I directed him to carry General Gordon's
orders to General Geary, commanding a small brigade of South Carolina
cavalry, to discontinue firing. Allen dashed off with the message
and soon delivered it, but was made a prisoner, Geary saying, "I do
not care for white flags: South Carolinians never surrender...." By
this time Merritt's patience being exhausted, he ordered an attack,
and this in short order put an end to General Geary's "last ditch"
absurdity, and extricated Allen from his predicament.

When quiet was restored Gordon remarked: "General Lee asks for a
suspension of hostilities pending the negotiations which he is having
with General Grant." I rejoined: "I have been constantly informed of
the progress of the negotiations, and think it singular that while
such discussions are going on, General Lee should have continued his
march and attempted to break through my lines this morning. I will
entertain no terms except that General Lee shall surrender to General
Grant on his arrival here. If these terms are not accepted we will
renew hostilities." Gordon replied: "General Lee's army is
exhausted. There is no doubt of his surrender to General Grant."

It was then that General Ord joined us, and after shaking hands all
around, I related the situation to him, and Gordon went away agreeing
to meet us again in half an hour. When the time was up he came back
accompanied by General Longstreet, who brought with him a despatch,
the duplicate of one that had been sent General Grant through General
Meade's lines back on the road over which Lee had been retreating.

General Longstreet renewed the assurances that already had been given
by Gordon, and I sent Colonel Newhall with the despatch to find
General Grant and bring him to the front. When Newhall started,
everything on our side of the Appomattox Court House was quiet, for
inevitable surrender was at hand, but Longstreet feared that Meade,
in ignorance of the new conditions on my front might attack the
Confederate rearguard. To prevent this I offered to send Colonel J.
W. Forsyth through the enemy's lines to let Meade know of my
agreement, for he too was suspicious that by a renewed correspondence
Lee was endeavoring to gain time for escape. My offer being
accepted, Forsyth set out accompanied by Colonel Fairfax, of
Longstreet's staff, and had no difficulty in accomplishing his
mission.

About five or six miles from Appomattox, on the road toward Prospect
Station near its intersection with the Walker's Church road, my
adjutant-general, Colonel Newhall, met General Grant, he having
started from north of the Appomattox River for my front the morning
of April 9, in consequence of the following despatches which had been
sent him the night before, after we had captured Appomattox Station
and established a line intercepting Lee:

"CAVALRY HEADQUARTERS, April 8, 1865--9:20 P. M.

"LIEUTENANT-GENERAL U. S. GRANT,
"Commanding Armies of the U. S.

"General: I marched early this morning from Buffalo Creek and
Prospect Station on Appomattox Station, where my scouts had reported
trains of cars with supplies for Lee's army. A short time before
dark General Custer, who had the advance, made a dash at the station,
capturing four trains of supplies with locomotives. One of the
trains was burned and the others were run back toward Farmville for
security. Custer then pushed on toward Appomattox Court House,
driving the enemy--who kept up a heavy fire of artillery--charging
them repeatedly and capturing, as far as reported, twenty-five pieces
of artillery and a number of prisoners and wagons. The First Cavalry
Division supported him on the right. A reconnoissance sent across
the Appomattox reports the enemy moving on the Cumberland road to
Appomattox Station, where they expect to get supplies. Custer is
still pushing on. If General Gibbon and the Fifth Corps can get up
to-night, we will perhaps finish the job in the morning. I do not
think Lee means to surrender until compelled to do so.

"P. H. SHERIDAN, Major-General."

"HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY, April 8, 1865--9:40 p.m.

"LIEUTENANT-GENERAL U. S. GRANT.
"Commanding Armies U. S.

"GENERAL: Since writing the accompanying despatch, General Custer
reports that his command has captured in all thirty-five pieces of
artillery, one thousand prisoners--including one general officer--and
from one hundred and fifty to two hundred wagons.

"P. H. SHERIDAN, Major-General."

In attempting to conduct the lieutenant-general and staff back by a
short route, Newhall lost his bearings for a time, inclining in
toward the enemy's lines too far, but regained the proper direction
without serious loss of time. General Grant arrived about 1 o'clock
in the afternoon, Ord and I, dismounted, meeting him at the edge of
the town, or crossroads, for it was little more. He remaining
mounted, spoke first to me, saying simply,

"How are you, Sheridan?" I assured him with thanks that I was
"first-rate," when, pointing toward the village, he asked, "Is
General Lee up there?" and I replied: "There is his army down in that
valley, and he himself is over in that house (designating McLean's
house) waiting to surrender to you." The General then said, "Come,
let us go over," this last remark being addressed to both Ord and me.
We two then mounted and joined him, while our staff-officers
followed, intermingling with those of the general-in-chief as the
cavalcade took its way to McLean's house near by, and where General
Lee had arrived some time before, in consequence of a message from
General Grant consenting to the interview asked for by Lee through
Meade's front that morning--the consent having been carried by
Colonel Babcock.

When I entered McLean's house General Lee was standing, as was also
his military secretary, Colonel Marshall, his only staff-officer
present. General Lee was dressed in a new uniform and wore a
handsome sword. His tall, commanding form thus set off contrasted
strongly with the short figure of General Grant, clothed as he was in
a soiled suit, without sword or other insignia of his position except
a pair of dingy shoulder-straps. After being presented, Ord and I,
and nearly all of General Grant's staff, withdrew to await the
agreement as to terms, and in a little while Colonel Babcock came to
the door and said, "The surrender had been made; you can come in
again."

When we re-entered General Grant was writing; and General Lee, having
in his hand two despatches, which I that morning requested might be
returned, as I had no copies of them, addressed me with the remark:
"I am sorry. It is probable that my cavalry at that point of the
line did not fully understand the agreement." These despatches had
been sent in the forenoon, after the fighting had been stopped,
notifying General Lee that some of his cavalry in front of Crook was
violating the suspension of hostilities by withdrawing. About
3 o'clock in the afternoon the terms of surrender were written out
and accepted, and General Lee left the house, as he departed
cordially shaking hands with General Grant. A moment later he
mounted his chunky gray horse, and lifting his hat as he passed out
of the yard, rode off toward his army, his arrival there being
announced to us by cheering, which, as it progressed, varying in
loudness, told he was riding through the bivouac of the Army of
Northern Virginia.

The surrender of General Lee practically ended the war of the
rebellion. For four years his army had been the main-stay of the
Confederacy; and the marked ability with which he directed its
operations is evidenced both by his frequent successes and the length
of time he kept up the contest. Indeed, it may be said that till
General Grant was matched against him, he never met an opponent he
did not vanquish, for while it is true that defeat was inflicted on
the Confederates at Antietam and Gettysburg, yet the fruits of these
victories were not gathered, for after each of these battles Lee was
left unmolested till he had a chance to recuperate.

The assignment of General Grant to the command of the Union armies in
the winter of 1863-64 gave presage of success from the start, for his
eminent abilities had already been proved, and besides, he was a
tower of strength to the Government, because he had the confidence of
the people. They knew that henceforth systematic direction would be
given to our armies in every section of the vast territory over which
active operations were being prosecuted, and further, that this
coherence, this harmony of plan, was the one thing needed to end the
war, for in the three preceding years there had been illustrated most
lamentable effects of the absence of system. From the moment he set
our armies in motion simultaneously, in the spring of 1864, it could
be seen that we should be victorious ultimately, for though on
different lines we were checked now and then, yet we were harassing
the Confederacy at so many vital points that plainly it must yield to
our blows. Against Lee's army, the forefront of the Confederacy,
Grant pitted himself; and it may be said that the Confederate
commander was now, for the first time, overmatched, for against all
his devices--the products of a mind fertile in defense--General Grant
brought to bear not only the wealth of expedient which had hitherto
distinguished him, but also an imperturbable tenacity, particularly
in the Wilderness and on the march to the James, without which the
almost insurmountable obstacles of that campaign could not have been
overcome. During it and in the siege of Petersburg he met with many
disappointments--on several occasions the shortcomings of generals,
when at the point of success, leading to wretched failures. But so
far as he was concerned, the only apparent effect of these
discomfitures was to make him all the more determined to discharge
successfully the stupendous trust committed to his care, and to bring
into play the manifold resources of his well ordered military mind.
He guided every subordinate then, and in the last days of the
rebellion, with a fund of common sense and superiority of intellect,
which have left an impress so distinct as to exhibit his great
personality. When his military history is analyzed after the lapse
of years, it will show, even more clearly than now, that during these
as well as in his previous campaigns he was the steadfast Centre
about and on which everything else turned.

CHAPTER IX.

ORDERED TO GREENSBORO', N. C.--MARCH TO THE DAN RIVER--ASSIGNED TO
THE COMMAND WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI--LEAVING WASHINGTON--FLIGHT OF
GENERAL EARLY--MAXIMILIAN--MAKING DEMONSTRATIONS ON THE UPPER RIO
GRANDE--CONFEDERATES JOIN MAXIMILIAN--THE FRENCH INVASION OF MEXICO
AND ITS RELATIONS TO THE REBELLION--ASSISTING THE LIBERALS
--RESTORATION OF THE REPUBLIC.

The surrender at Appomattox put a stop to all military operations on
the part of General Grant's forces, and the morning of April 10 my
cavalry began its march to Petersburg, the men anticipating that they
would soon be mustered out and returned to their homes. At Nottoway
Court House I heard of the assassination of the President. The first
news came to us the night after the dastardly deed, the telegraph
operator having taken it from the wires while in transmission to
General Meade. The despatch ran that Mr. Lincoln had been, shot at
10 o'clock that morning at Willard's Hotel, but as I could conceive
of nothing to take the President there I set the story down as a
canard, and went to bed without giving it further thought. Next
morning, however, an official telegram confirmed the fact of the
assassination, though eliminating the distorted circumstances that
had been communicated the night before.

When we reached Petersburg my column was halted, and instructions
given me to march the cavalry and the Sixth Corps to Greensboro',
North Carolina, for the purpose of aiding General Sherman (the
surrender of General Johnston having not yet been effected), so I
made the necessary preparations and moved on the 24th of April,
arriving at South Boston, on the Dan River, the 28th, the Sixth Corps
having reached Danville meanwhile. At South Boston I received a
despatch from General Halleck, who immediately after Lee's surrender
had been assigned to command at Richmond, informing me that General
Johnston had been brought to terms. The necessity for going farther
south being thus obviated we retraced our steps to Petersburg, from
which place I proceeded by steamer to Washington, leaving, the
cavalry to be marched thither by easy stages.

The day after my arrival in Washington an important order was sent
me, accompanied by the following letter of instructions, transferring
me to a new field of operations:

"HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES.
"Washington, D. C., May 17, 1865.

"GENERAL: Under the orders relieving you from the command of the
Middle Military Division and assigning you to command west of the
Mississippi, you will proceed without delay to the West to arrange
all preliminaries for your new field of duties.

"Your duty is to restore Texas, and that part of Louisiana held by
the enemy, to the Union in the shortest practicable time, in a way
most effectual for securing permanent peace.

"To do this, you will be given all the troops that can be spared
by Major-General Canby, probably twenty-five thousand men of
all arms; the troops with Major-General J. J. Reynolds, in Arkansas,
say twelve thousand, Reynolds to command; the Fourth
Army Corps, now at Nashville, Tennessee, awaiting orders; and
the Twenty-Fifth Army Corps, now at City Point, Virginia, ready
to embark.

"I do not wish to trammel you with instructions; I will state,
however, that if Smith holds out, without even an ostensible
government to receive orders from or to report to, he and his men are
not entitled to the considerations due to an acknowledged
belligerent. Theirs are the conditions of outlaws, making war
against the only Government having an existence over the territory
where war is now being waged.

"You may notify the rebel commander west of the Mississippi--holding
intercourse with him in person, or through such officers of the rank
of major-general as you may select--that he will be allowed to
surrender all his forces on the same terms as were accorded to Lee
and Johnston. If he accedes, proceed to garrison the Red River as
high up as Shreveport, the seaboard at Galveston, Malagorda Bay,
Corpus Christi, and mouth of the Rio Grande.

"Place a strong force on the Rio Grande, holding it at least to a
point opposite Camargo, and above that if supplies can be procured.

"In case of an active campaign (a hostile one) I think a heavy force
should be put on the Rio Grande as a first preliminary. Troops for
this might be started at once. The Twenty-Fifth Corps is now
available, and to it should be added a force of white troops, say
those now under Major-General Steele.

"To be clear on this last point, I think the Rio Grande should be
strongly held, whether the forces in Texas surrender or not, and that
no time should be lost in getting troops there. If war is to be
made, they will be in the right place; if Kirby Smith surrenders,
they will be on the line which is to be strongly garrisoned.

"Should any force be necessary other than those designated, they can
be had by calling for them on Army Headquarters.

"U. S. GRANT,
"Lieutenant-General.

"To MAJOR-GENERAL P. H. SHERIDAN,
"United States Army."

On receipt of these instructions I called at once on General Grant,
to see if they were to be considered so pressing as to preclude my
remaining in Washington till after the Grand Review, which was fixed
for the 23d and 24th of May, for naturally I had a strong desire to
head my command on that great occasion. But the General told me that
it was absolutely necessary to go at once to force the surrender of
the Confederates under Kirby Smith. He also told me that the States
lately in rebellion would be embraced in two or three military
departments, the commanders of which would control civil affairs
until Congress took action about restoring them to the Union, since
that course would not only be economical and simple, but would give
the Southern people confidence, and encourage them to go to work,
instead of distracting them with politics.

At this same interview he informed me that there was an additional
motive in sending me to the new command, a motive not explained by
the instructions themselves, and went on to say that, as a matter of
fact, he looked upon the invasion of Mexico by Maximilian as a part
of the rebellion itself, because of the encouragement that invasion
had received from the Confederacy, and that our success in putting
down secession would never be complete till the French and Austrian
invaders were compelled to quit the territory of our sister republic.
With regard to this matter, though, he said it would be necessary for
me to act with great circumspection, since the Secretary of State,
Mr. Seward, was much opposed to the use of our troops along the
border in any active way that would be likely to involve us in a war
with European powers.

Under the circumstances, my disappointment at not being permitted to
participate in the review had to be submitted to, and I left
Washington without an opportunity of seeing again in a body the men
who, while under my command, had gone through so many trials and
unremittingly pursued and, assailed the enemy, from the beginning of
the campaign of 1864 till the white flag came into their hands at
Appomattox Court House.

I went first to St. Louis, and there took the steamboat for New
Orleans, and when near the mouth of the Red River received word from
General Canby that Kirby Smith had surrendered under terms similar to
those accorded Lee and Johnston. But the surrender was not carried
out in good faith, particularly by the Texas troops, though this I
did not learn till some little time afterward when I was informed
that they had marched off to the interior of the State in several
organized bodies, carrying with them their camp equipage, arms,
ammunition, and even some artillery, with the ultimate purpose of
going to Mexico. In consequence of this, and also because of the
desire of the Government to make a strong showing of force in Texas,
I decided to traverse the State with two columns of cavalry,
directing one to San Antonio under Merritt, the other to Houston
under Custer. Both commands were to start from the Red River
--Shreveport and Alexandria--being the respective initial points--and
in organizing the columns, to the mounted force already on the Red
River were added several regiments of cavalry from the east bank of
the, Mississippi, and in a singular way one of these fell upon the
trail of my old antagonist, General Early. While crossing the river
somewhere below Vicksburg some of the men noticed a suspicious
looking party being ferried over in a rowboat, behind which two
horses were swimming in tow. Chase was given, and the horses, being
abandoned by the party, fell into the hands of our troopers, who,
however, failed to capture or identify the people in the boat. As
subsequently ascertained, the men were companions of Early, who was
already across the Mississippi, hidden in the woods, on his way with
two or three of these followers to join the Confederates in Texas,
not having heard of Kirby Smith's surrender. A week or two later I
received a letter from Early describing the affair, and the capture
of the horses, for which he claimed pay, on the ground that they were
private property, because he had taken them in battle. The letter
also said that any further pursuit of Early would be useless, as he
"expected to be on the deep blue sea" by the time his communication
reached me. The unfortunate man was fleeing from imaginary dangers,
however, for striking his trail was purely accidental, and no effort
whatever was being made to arrest him personally. Had this been
especially desired it might have been accomplished very readily just
after Lee's surrender, for it was an open secret that Early was then
not far away, pretty badly disabled with rheumatism.

By the time the two columns were ready to set out for San Antonio and
Houston, General Frank Herron,--with one division of the Thirteenth
Corps, occupied Galveston, and another division under General Fred
Steele had gone to Brazos Santiago, to hold Brownsville and the line
of the Rio Grande, the object being to prevent, as far as possible,
the escaping Confederates from joining Maximilian. With this purpose
in view, and not forgetting Grant's conviction that the French
invasion of Mexico was linked with the rebellion, I asked for an
increase of force to send troops into Texas in fact, to concentrate
at available points in the State an army strong enough to move
against the invaders of Mexico if occasion demanded. The Fourth and
Twenty-fifth army corps being ordered to report to me, accordingly, I
sent the Fourth Corps to Victoria and San Antonio, and the bulk of
the Twenty-fifth to Brownsville. Then came the feeding and caring
for all these troops--a difficult matter--for those at Victoria and
San Antonio had to be provisioned overland from Indianola across the
"hog-wallow prairie," while the supplies for the forces at
Brownsville and along the Rio Grande must come by way of Brazos
Santiago, from which point I was obliged to construct, with the labor
of the men, a railroad to Clarksville, a distance of about eighteen
miles.

The latter part of June I repaired to Brownsville myself to impress
the Imperialists, as much as possible, with the idea that we intended
hostilities, and took along my chief of scouts--Major Young--and four
of his most trusty men, whom I had had sent from Washington. From
Brownsville I despatched all these men to important points in
northern Mexico, to glean information regarding the movements of the
Imperial forces, and also to gather intelligence about the
ex-Confederates who had crossed the Rio Grande. On information
furnished by these scouts, I caused General Steele to make
demonstrations all along the lower Rio Grande, and at the same time
demanded the return of certain munitions of war that had been turned
over by ex-Confederates to the Imperial General (Mejia) commanding at
Matamoras. These demands, backed up as they were by such a
formidable show of force created much agitation and demoralization
among the Imperial troops, and measures looking to the abandonment of
northern Mexico were forthwith adopted by those in authority--a
policy that would have resulted in the speedy evacuation of the
entire country by Maximilian, had not our Government weakened;
contenting itself with a few pieces of the contraband artillery
varnished over with the Imperial apologies. A golden opportunity was
lost, for we had ample excuse for crossing the boundary, but Mr.
Seward being, as I have already stated, unalterably opposed to any
act likely to involve us in war, insisted on his course of
negotiation with Napoleon.

As the summer wore away, Maximilian, under Mr. Seward's policy,
gained in strength till finally all the accessible sections of Mexico
were in his possession, and the Republic under President Juarez
almost succumbed. Growing impatient at this, in the latter part of
September I decided to try again what virtue there might be in a
hostile demonstration, and selected the upper Rio Grande for the
scene of my attempt. Merritt's cavalry and the Fourth Corps still
being at San Antonio, I went to that place and reviewed these troops,
and having prepared them with some ostentation for a campaign, of
course it was bruited about that we were going to invade Mexico.
Then, escorted by a regiment of horse I proceeded hastily to Fort
Duncan, on the Rio Grande just opposite the Mexican town of Piedras
Negras. Here I opened communication with President Juarez, through
one of his staff, taking care not to do this in the dark, and the
news, spreading like wildfire, the greatest significance was ascribed
to my action, it being reported most positively and with many
specific details that I was only awaiting the arrival of the troops,
then under marching orders at San Antonio, to cross the Rio Grande in
behalf of the Liberal cause.

Ample corroboration of the reports then circulated was found in my
inquiries regarding the quantity of forage we could depend upon
getting in Mexico, our arrangements for its purchase, and my sending
a pontoon train to Brownsville, together with which was cited the
renewed activity of the troops along the lower Rio Grande. These
reports and demonstrations resulted in alarming the Imperialists so
much that they withdrew the French and Austrian soldiers from
Matamoras, and practically abandoned the whole of northern Mexico as
far down as Monterey, with the exception of Matamoras, where General
Mejia continued to hang on with a garrison of renegade Mexicans.

The abandonment of so much territory in northern Mexico encouraged
General Escobedo and other Liberal leaders to such a degree that they
collected a considerable army of their followers at Comargo, Mier,
and other points. At the same time that unknown quantity, Cortinas,
suspended his free-booting for the nonce, and stoutly harassing
Matamoras, succeeded in keeping its Imperial garrison within the
fortifications. Thus countenanced and stimulated, and largely
supplied with arms and ammunition, which we left at convenient places
on our side of the river to fall into their hands, the Liberals,
under General Escobedo--a man of much force of character--were
enabled in northern Mexico to place the affairs of the Republic on a
substantial basis.

But in the midst of what bade fair to cause a final withdrawal of the
foreigners, we were again checked by our Government, as a result of
representations of the French Minister at Washington. In October, he
wrote to Mr. Seward that the United States troops on the Rio Grande
were acting "in exact opposition to the repeated assurances Your
Excellency has given me concerning the desire of the Cabinet at
Washington to preserve the most strict neutrality in the events now
taking place in Mexico," and followed this statement with an emphatic
protest against our course. Without any investigation whatever by
our State Department, this letter of the French Minister was
transmitted to me, accompanied by directions to preserve a strict
neutrality; so, of course, we were again debarred from anything like
active sympathy.

After this, it required the patience of Job to abide the slow and
poky methods of our State Department, and, in truth, it was often
very difficult to restrain officers and men from crossing the Rio
Grande with hostile purpose. Within the knowledge of my troops,
there had gone on formerly the transfer of organized bodies of
ex-Confederates to Mexico, in aid of the Imperialists, and at this
period it was known that there was in preparation an immigration
scheme having in view the colonizing, at Cordova and one or two other
places, of all the discontented elements of the defunct Confederacy
--Generals Price, Magruder, Maury, and other high personages being
promoters of the enterprise, which Maximilian took to readily. He
saw in it the possibilities of a staunch support to his throne, and
therefore not only sanctioned the project, but encouraged it with
large grants of land, inspirited the promoters with titles of
nobility, and, in addition, instituted a system of peonage, expecting
that the silver hook thus baited would be largely swallowed by the
Southern people.

The announcement of the scheme was followed by the appointment of
commissioners in each of the Southern States to send out emigrants;
but before any were deluded into starting, I made to General Grant a
report of what was going on, with the recommendation that measures be
taken, through our State Department, looking to the suppression of
the colony; but, as usual, nothing could be effected through that
channel; so, as an alternative, I published, in April, 1866, by
authority of General Grant, an order prohibiting the embarkation from
ports in Louisiana and Texas, for ports in Mexico, of any person
without a permit from my headquarters. This dampened the ardor of
everybody in the Gulf States who had planned to go to Mexico; and
although the projectors of the Cordova Colonization Scheme--the name
by which it was known--secured a few innocents from other districts,
yet this set-back led ultimately to failure.

Among the Liberal leaders along the Rio Grande during this period
there sprang up many factional differences from various causes, some
personal, others political, and some, I regret to say, from downright
moral obliquity--as, for example, those between Cortinas and Canales
--who, though generally hostile to the Imperialists, were freebooters
enough to take a shy at each other frequently, and now and then even
to join forces against Escobedo, unless we prevented them by coaxing
or threats. A general who could unite these several factions was
therefore greatly needed, and on my return to New Orleans I so
telegraphed General Grant, and he, thinking General Caravajal (then
in Washington seeking aid for the Republic) would answer the purpose,
persuaded him to report to me in New Orleans. Caravajal promptly
appeared, but he did not impress me very favorably. He was old and
cranky, yet, as he seemed anxious to do his best, I sent him over to
Brownsville, with credentials, authorizing him to cross into Mexico,
and followed him myself by the next boat. When I arrived in
Brownsville, matters in Matamoras had already reached a crisis.
General Mejia, feeling keenly the moral support we were giving the
Liberals, and hard pressed by the harassing attacks of Cortinas and
Canales, had abandoned the place, and Caravajal, because of his
credentials from our side, was in command, much to the
dissatisfaction of both those chiefs whose differences it was
intended he should reconcile.

The, day after I got to Brownsville I visited Matamoras, and had a
long interview with Caravajal. The outcome of this meeting was, on
my part, a stronger conviction than ever that he was unsuitable, and
I feared that either Canales or Cortinas would get possession of the
city. Caravajal made too many professions of what he would do--in
short, bragged too much--but as there was no help for the situation,
I made the best of it by trying to smooth down the ruffled feathers
of Canales and Cortinas. In my interview with Caravajal I
recommended Major Young as a confidential man, whom he could rely
upon as a "go-between" for communicating with our people at
Brownsville, and whom he could trust to keep him informed of the
affairs of his own country as well.

A day or two afterward I recrossed the Gulf to New Orleans, and then,
being called from my headquarters to the interior of Texas, a
fortnight passed before I heard anything from Brownsville. In the
meanwhile Major Young had come to New Orleans, and organized there a
band of men to act as a body-guard for Caravajal, the old wretch
having induced him to accept the proposition by representing that it
had my concurrence. I at once condemned the whole business, but
Young, having been furnished with seven thousand dollars to recruit
the men and buy their arms, had already secured both, and was so
deeply involved in the transaction, he said, that he could not
withdraw without dishonor, and with tears in his eyes he besought me
to help him. He told me he had entered upon the adventure in the
firm belief that I would countenance it; that the men and their
equipment were on his hands; that he must make good his word at all
hazards; and that while I need not approve, yet I must go far enough
to consent to the departure of the men, and to loan him the money
necessary to provision his party and hire a schooner to carry them to
Brazos. It was hard in deed to resist the appeals of this man, who
had served me so long and so well, and the result of his pleading was
that I gave him permission to sail, and also loaned him the sum asked
for; but I have never ceased to regret my consent, for misfortune
fell upon the enterprise almost from its inception.

By the time the party got across the Gulf and over to Brownsville,
Caravajal had been deposed by Canales, and the latter would not
accept their services. This left Young with about fifty men to whom
he was accountable, and as he had no money to procure them
subsistence, they were in a bad fix. The only thing left to do was
to tender their services to General Escobedo, and with this in view
the party set out to reach the General's camp, marching up the Rio
Grande on the American side, intending to cross near Ringgold Bar
racks. In advance of them, however, had spread far and wide the
tidings of who they were, what they proposed to do, and where they
were going, and before they could cross into Mexico they were
attacked by a party of ex-Confederates and renegade Mexican
rancheros. Being on American soil, Young forbade his men to return
the fire, and bent all his efforts to getting them over the river;
but in this attempt they were broken up, and became completely
demoralized. A number of the men were drowned while swimming the
river, Young himself was shot and killed, a few were captured, and
those who escaped--about twenty in all--finally joined Escobedo, but
in such a plight as to be of little use. With this distressing
affair came to an end pretty much all open participation of American
sympathizers with the Liberal cause, but the moral support afforded
by the presence of our forces continued, and this was frequently
supplemented with material aid in the shape of munitions of war,
which we liberally supplied, though constrained to do so by the most
secret methods.

The term of office of Juarez as President of the Mexican Republic
expired in December, 1865, but to meet existing exigencies he had
continued himself in office by proclamation, a course rendered
necessary by the fact that no elections could be held on account of
the Imperial occupation of most of the country. The official who, by
the Mexican Constitution, is designated for the succession in such an
emergency, is the President of the Supreme Court, and the person then
eligible under this provision was General Ortega, but in the interest
of the Imperialists he had absented himself from Mexico, hence the
patriotic course of Juarez in continuing himself at the head of
affairs was a necessity of the situation. This action of the
President gave the Imperialists little concern at first, but with the
revival of the Liberal cause they availed themselves of every means
to divide its supporters, and Ortega, who had been lying low in the
United States, now came forward to claim the Presidency. Though
ridiculously late for such a step, his first act was to issue a
manifesto protesting against the assumption of the executive
authority by Juarez. The protest had little effect, however, and his
next proceeding was to come to New Orleans, get into correspondence
with other disaffected Mexicans, and thus perfect his plans. When he
thought his intrigue ripe enough for action, he sailed for Brazos,
intending to cross the Rio Grande and assert his claims with arms.
While he was scheming in New Orleans, however, I had learned what he
was up to, and in advance of his departure had sent instructions to
have him arrested on American soil. Colonel Sedgwick, commanding at
Brownsville, was now temporary master of Matamoras also, by reason of
having stationed some American troops there for the protection of
neutral merchants, so when Ortega appeared at Brazos, Sedgwick
quietly arrested him and held him till the city of Matamoras was
turned over to General Escobedo, the authorized representative of
Juarez; then Escobedo took charge, of Ortega, and with ease prevented
his further machinations.

During the winter and spring of 1866 we continued covertly supplying
arms and ammunition to the Liberals--sending as many as 30,000
muskets from Baton Rouge Arsenal alone--and by mid-summer Juarez,
having organized a pretty good sized army, was in possession of the
whole line of the Rio Grande, and, in fact, of nearly the whole of
Mexico down to San Louis Potosi. Then thick and fast came rumors
pointing to the tottering condition of Maximilian's Empire-first,
that Orizaba and Vera Cruz were being fortified; then, that the
French were to be withdrawn; and later came the intelligence that the
Empress Carlotta had gone home to beg assistance from Napoleon, the
author of all of her husband's troubles. But the situation forced
Napoleon to turn a deaf ear to Carlotta's prayers. The brokenhearted
woman besought him on her knees, but his fear of losing an army made
all pleadings vain. In fact, as I ascertained by the following
cablegram which came into my hands, Napoleon's instructions for the
French evacuation were in Mexico at the very time of this pathetic
scene between him and Carlotta. The despatch was in cipher when I
received it, but was translated by the telegraph operator at my
headquarters, who long before had mastered the key of the French
cipher:

"PARIS, January 10, 1867. FRENCH CONSUL, New Orleans, La.

"To GENERAL CASTELNAU, at Mexico.

"Received your despatch of the 9th December. Do not compel the
Emperor to abdicate, but do not delay the departure of the troops;
bring back all those who will not remain there. Most of the fleet
has left.

"NAPOLEON."

This meant the immediate withdrawal of the French. The rest of the
story--which has necessarily been but in outline--is soon told.
Maximilian, though deserted, determined to hold out to the last, and
with the aid of disloyal Mexicans stuck to his cause till the spring.
When taken prisoner at Queretaro, he was tried and executed under
circumstances that are well known. From promptings of humanity
Secretary Seward tried hard to save the Imperial prisoner, but
without success. The Secretary's plea for mercy was sent through me
at New Orleans, and to make speed I hired a steamer to proceed with
it across the Gulf to Tampico. The document was carried by Sergeant
White, one of my scouts, who crossed the country from Tampico, and
delivered it to Escobedo at Queretaro; but Mr. Seward's
representations were without avail--refused probably because little
mercy had been shown certain Liberal leaders unfortunate enough to
fall into Maximilian's hands during the prosperous days of his
Empire.

At the close of our war there was little hope for the Republic of
Mexico. Indeed, till our troops were concentrated on the Rio Grande
there was none. Our appearance in such force along the border
permitted the Liberal leaders, refugees from their homes, to
establish rendezvous whence they could promulgate their plans in
safety, while the countenance thus given the cause, when hope was
well-nigh gone, incited the Mexican people to renewed resistance.
Beginning again with very scant means, for they had lost about all,
the Liberals saw their cause, under the influence of such significant
and powerful backing, progress and steadily grow so strong that
within two years Imperialism had received its death-blow. I doubt
very much whether such, results could have been achieved without the
presence of an American army on the Rio Grande, which, be it
remembered, was sent there because, in General Grant's words, the
French invasion of Mexico was so closely related to the rebellion as
to be essentially a part of it.

CHAPTER X.

A. J. HAMILTON APPOINTED PROVISIONAL GOVERNOR OF TEXAS--ASSEMBLES A
CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION--THE TEXANS DISSATISFIED--LAWLESSNESS
--OPPRESSIVE LEGISLATION--EX-CONFEDERATES CONTROLLING LOUISIANA--A
CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION--THE MEETING SUPPRESSED--A BLOODY RIOT--MY
REPORTS OF THE MASSACRE--PORTIONS SUPPRESSED BY PRESIDENT JOHNSON
--SUSTAINED BY A CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE--THE RECONSTRUCTION LAWS.

Although in 1865-66 much of my attention was directed to
international matters along the Rio Grande, the civil affairs of
Texas and Louisiana required a certain amount of military supervision
also in the absence of regularly established civil authority. At the
time of Kirby Smith's surrender the National Government had
formulated no plan with regard to these or the other States lately in
rebellion, though a provisional Government had been set up in
Louisiana as early as 1864. In consequence of this lack of system,
Governor Pendleton Murray, of Texas, who was elected under
Confederate rule, continued to discharge the duties of Governor till
President Johnson, on June 17, in harmony with his amnesty
proclamation of May 29, 1865, appointed A. J. Hamilton provisional
Governor. Hamilton was empowered by the President to call a
Constitutional convention, the delegates to which were to be elected,
under certain prescribed qualifications, for the purpose of
organizing the political affairs of the State, the Governor to be
guided by instructions similar to those given the provisional
Governor of North Carolina (W. W. Holden), when appointed in May.

The convening of this body gave rise to much dissatisfaction among
the people of Texas. They had assumed that affairs were to go on as
of old, and that the reintegration of the State was to take place
under the administration of Governor Murray, who, meanwhile, had
taken it upon himself, together with the Legislature, to authorize
the election of delegates to a State Convention, without restriction
as to who should be entitled to vote. Thus encouraged, the element
but lately in armed rebellion was now fully bent on restoring the
State to the Union without any intervention whatever of the Federal
Government; but the advent of Hamilton put an end to such illusions,
since his proclamation promptly disfranchised the element in
question, whose consequent disappointment and chagrin were so great
as to render this factor of the community almost uncontrollable. The
provisional Governor at once rescinded the edict of Governor Murray,
prohibited the assembling of his convention, and shortly after
called, one himself, the delegates to which were to b chosen by
voters who could take the amnesty-oath. The proclamation convening
this assemblage also announced the policy that would be pursued in
governing the State until its affairs were satisfactorily
reorganized, defined in brief the course to be followed by the
Judiciary, and provided for the appointment, by the Governor, of
county officials to succeed those known to be disloyal. As this
action of Hamilton's disfranchised all who could not take the amnesty
oath, and of course deprived them of the offices, it met at once with
pronounced and serious opposition, and he quickly realized that he
had on his hands an arduous task to protect the colored people,
particularly as in the transition state of society just after the
close of the war there prevailed much lawlessness, which vented
itself chiefly on the freedmen. It was greatly feared that political
rights were to be given those so recently in servitude, and as it was
generally believed that such enfranchisement would precipitate a race
war unless the freedmen were overawed and kept in a state of
subjection, acts of intimidation were soon reported from all parts of
the State.

Hamilton, an able, determined, and fearless man, tried hard to curb
this terrorism, but public opinion being strong against him, he could
accomplish little without military aid. As department commander, I
was required, whenever called upon, to assist his government, and as
these requisitions for help became necessarily very frequent, the
result was that shortly after he assumed his duties, detachments of
troops were stationed in nearly every county of the State. By such
disposition of my forces fairly good order was maintained under the
administration of Hamilton, and all went well till the inauguration
of J. W. Throckmorton, who, elected Governor in pursuance of an
authorization granted by the convention which Hamilton had called
together, assumed the duties of the office August 9, 1866.

One of Governor Throckmorton's first acts was to ask the withdrawal
or non-interference of the military. This was not all granted, but
under his ingenious persuasion President Johnson, on the 13th of
August, 1866, directed that the new State officials be entrusted with
the unhampered control of civil affairs, and this was more than
enough to revive the bulldozing methods that had characterized the
beginning of Hamilton's administration. Oppressive legislation in
the shape of certain apprentice and vagrant laws quickly followed,
developing a policy of gross injustice toward the colored people on
the part of the courts, and a reign of lawlessness and disorder
ensued which, throughout the remote districts of the State at least,
continued till Congress, by what are known as the Reconstruction
Acts, took into its own hands the rehabilitation of the seceded
States.

In the State of Louisiana a provisional government, chosen by the
loyal element, had been put in operation, as already mentioned, as
early as 1864. This was effected under encouragement given by
President Lincoln, through the medium of a Constitutional convention,
which met at New Orleans in April, 1864, and adjourned in July. The
constitution then agreed upon was submitted to the people, and in
September, 1864, was ratified by a vote of the few loyal residents of
the State.

The government provided under this constitution being looked upon as
provisional merely, was never recognized by Congress, and in 1865 the
returned Confederates, restored to citizenship by the President's
amnesty proclamation, soon got control of almost all the State. The
Legislature was in their hands, as well as most of the State and
municipal offices; so, when the President, on the 20th of August,
1866, by proclamation, extended his previous instructions regarding
civil affairs in Texas so as to have them apply to all the seceded
States, there at once began in Louisiana a system of discriminative
legislation directed against the freedmen, that led to flagrant
wrongs in the enforcement of labor contracts, and in the remote
parishes to numbers of outrages and murders.

To remedy this deplorable condition of things, it was proposed, by
those who had established the government of 1864, to remodel the
constitution of the State; and they sought to do this by reassembling
the convention, that body before its adjournment having provided for
reconvening under certain conditions, in obedience to the call of its
president. Therefore, early in the summer of 1866, many members of
this convention met in conference at New Orleans, and decided that a
necessity existed for reconvening the delegates, and a proclamation
was issued accordingly by B. K. Howell, President-pro-tempore.

Mayor John T. Monroe and the other officials of New Orleans looked
upon this proposed action as revolutionary, and by the time the
convention assembled (July 30), such bitterness of feeling prevailed
that efforts were made by the mayor and city police to suppress the
meeting. A bloody riot followed, resulting, in the killing and
wounding of about a hundred and sixty persons.

I happened to be absent from the city at the time, returning from
Texas, where I had been called by affairs on the Rio Grande. On my
way up from the mouth of the Mississippi I was met on the night of
July 30 by one of my staff, who reported what had occurred, giving
the details of the massacre--no milder term is fitting--and informing
me that, to prevent further slaughter, General Baird, the senior
military officer present, had assumed control of the municipal
government. On reaching the city I made an investigation, and that
night sent the following report of the affair:

"HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE GULF,
"NEW ORLEANS, LA., Aug. 1, 1866.

"GENERAL U. S. GRANT:

"You are doubtless aware of the serious riot which occurred in this
city on the 30th. A political body, styling themselves the
Convention of 1864, met on the 30th, for, as it is alleged, the
purpose of remodeling the present constitution of the State. The
leaders were political agitators and revolutionary men, and the
action of the convention was liable to produce breaches of the public
peace. I had made up my mind to arrest the head men, if the
proceedings of the convention were calculated to disturb the
tranquility of the Department; but I had no cause for action until
they committed the overt act. In the meantime official duty called
me to Texas, and the mayor of the city, during my absence suppressed
the convention by the use of the police force, and in so doing
attacked the members of the convention, and a party of two hundred
negroes, with fire-arms, clubs, and knives, in a manner so
unnecessary and atrocious as to compel me to say that it was murder.
About forty whites and blacks were thus killed, and about one hundred
and sixty wounded. Everything is now quiet, but I deem it best to
maintain a military supremacy in the city for a few days, until the
affair is fully investigated. I believe the sentiment of the general
community is great regret at this unnecessary cruelty, and that the
police could have made any arrest they saw fit without sacrificing
lives.

"P. H. SHERIDAN,
"Major-General Commanding."

On receiving the telegram, General Grant immediately submitted. it
to the President. Much clamor being made at the North for the
publication of the despatch, Mr. Johnson pretended to give it to the
newspapers. It appeared in the issues of August 4, but with this
paragraph omitted, viz.:

"I had made up my mind to arrest the head men, if the proceedings of
the convention were calculated to disturb the tranquility of the
Department, but I had no cause for action until they committed the
overt act. In the mean time official duty called me to Texas, and
the mayor of the city, during my absence, suppressed the convention
by the use of the police force, and in so doing attacked the members
of the convention, and a party of two hundred negroes, with
fire-arms, clubs, and knives, in a manner so unnecessary and atrocious
as to compel me to say it was murder."

Against this garbling of my report--done by the President's own order
--I strongly demurred; and this emphatic protest marks the beginning of
Mr. Johnson's well-known personal hostility toward me. In the mean
time I received (on August 3) the following despatch from General Grant
approving my course:

"HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
"WAR DEPT., WASHINGTON, D. C., "August 3, 1866--5 p.m.

"MAJOR-GENERAL P. H. SHERIDAN,
"Commanding Mil. Div. of the Gulf,
"New Orleans, La.

"Continue to enforce martial law, so far as may be necessary to
preserve the peace; and do not allow any of the civil authorities to
act, if you deem such action dangerous to the public safety. Lose no
time in investigating and reporting the causes that led to the riot,
and the facts which occurred.

"U. S. GRANT,
"Lieutenant-General."

In obedience to the President's directions, My report of August 1 was
followed by another, more in detail, which I give in full, since it
tells the whole story of the riot:

"HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE GULF,
"NEW ORLEANS, LA., August 6, 1866.

"His EXCELLENCY ANDREW JOHNSON,
"President United States

"I have the honor to make the following reply to your despatch of
August 4. A very large number of colored people marched in
procession on Friday night, July twenty-seven (27), and were
addressed from the steps of the City Hall by Dr. Dostie, ex-Governor
Hahn, and others. The speech of Dostie was intemperate in language
and sentiment. The speeches of the others, so far as I can learn,
were characterized by moderation. I have not given you the words of
Dostie's speech, as the version published was denied; but from what I
have learned of the man, I believe they were intemperate.

"The convention assembled at twelve (12) M. on the thirtieth (30),
the timid members absenting themselves because the tone of the
general public was ominous of trouble. I think there were about
twenty-six (26) members present. In front of the Mechanics
Institute, where the meeting was held, there were assembled some
colored men, women, and children, perhaps eighteen (18) or twenty
(20), and in the Institute a number of colored men, probably one
hundred and fifty (150). Among those outside and inside there might
have been a pistol in the possession of every tenth (10) man.

"About one (1) p. m. a procession of say from sixty (60) to one
hundred and thirty (130) colored men marched up Burgundy Street and
across Canal Street toward the convention, carrying an American flag.
These men had about one pistol to every ten men, and canes and clubs
in addition. While crossing Canal Street a row occurred. There were
many spectators on the street, and their manner and tone toward the
procession unfriendly. A shot was fired, by whom I am not able to
state, but believe it to have been by a policeman, or some colored
man in the procession. This led to other shots and a rush after the
procession. On arrival at the front of the Institute there was some
throwing of brickbats by both sides. The police, who had been held
well in hand, were vigorously marched to the scene of disorder. The
procession entered the Institute with the flag, about six (6) or
eight (8) remaining outside. A row occurred between a policeman and
one of these colored men, and a shot was again fired by one of the
parties, which led to an indiscriminate fire on the building through
the windows by the policemen. This had been going on for a short
time, when a white flag was displayed from the windows of the
Institute, whereupon the firing ceased, and the police rushed into
the building.

"From the testimony of wounded men, and others who were inside the
building, the policemen opened an indiscriminate fire upon the
audience until they had emptied their revolvers, when they retired,
and those inside barricaded the doors. The door was broken in, and
the firing again commenced, when many of the colored and white people
either escaped throughout the door or were passed out by the
policemen inside; but as they came out the policemen who formed the
circle nearest the building fired upon them, and they were again
fired upon by the citizens that formed the outer circle. Many of
those wounded and taken prisoners, and others who were prisoners and
not wounded, were fired upon by their captors and by citizens. The
wounded were stabbed while lying on the ground, and their heads
beaten with brickbats. In the yard of the building, whither some of
the colored men had escaped and partially secreted themselves, they
were fired upon and killed or wounded by policemen. Some were killed
and wounded several squares from the scene. Members of the
convention were wounded by the police while in their hands as
prisoners, some of them mortally.

"The immediate cause of this terrible affair was the assemblage of
this Convention; the remote cause was the bitter and antagonistic
feeling which has been growing in this community since the advent of
the present Mayor, who, in the organization of his police force,
selected many desperate men, and some of them known murderers.
People of clear views were overawed by want of confidence in the
Mayor, and fear of the thugs, many of which he had selected for his
police force. I have frequently been spoken to by prominent citizens
on this subject, and have heard them express fear, and want of
confidence in Mayor Monroe. Ever since the intimation of this last
convention movement I must condemn the course of several of the city
papers for supporting, by their articles, the bitter feeling of bad
men. As to the merciless manner in which the convention was broken
up, I feel obliged to confess strong repugnance.

"It is useless to disguise the hostility that exists on the part of a
great many here toward Northern men, and this unfortunate affair has
so precipitated matters that there is now a test of what shall be the
status of Northern men--whether they can live here without being in
constant dread or not, whether they can be protected in life and
property, and have justice in the courts. If this matter is
permitted to pass over without a thorough and determined prosecution
of those engaged in it, we may look out for frequent scenes of the
same kind, not only here, but in other places. No steps have as yet
been taken by the civil authorities to arrest citizens who were
engaged in this massacre, or policemen who perpetrated such
cruelties. The members of the convention have been indicted by the
grand jury, and many of them arrested and held to bail. As to
whether the civil authorities can mete out ample justice to the
guilty parties on both sides, I must say it is my opinion,
unequivocally, that they cannot. Judge Abell, whose course I have
closely watched for nearly a year, I now consider one of the most
dangerous men that we have here to the peace and quiet of the city.
The leading men of the convention--King, Cutler, Hahn, and others
--have been political agitators, and are bad men. I regret to say that
the course of Governor Wells has been vacillating, and that during the
late trouble he has shown very little of the man.

"P. H. SHERIDAN,
"Major-General Commanding."

Subsequently a military commission investigated the subject of the
riot, taking a great deal of testimony. The commission substantially
confirmed the conclusions given in my despatches, and still later
there was an investigation by a select committee of the House of
Representatives, of which the Honorables Samuel Shellabarger, of
Ohio, H. L. Elliot, of Massachusetts, and B. M. Boyer, of
Pennsylvania, were the members. The majority report of the committee
also corroborated, in all essentials, my reports of the distressing
occurrence. The committee likewise called attention to a violent
speech made by Mr. Johnson at St. Louis in September, 1866, charging
the origin of the riot to Congress, and went on to say of the speech
that "it was an unwarranted and unjust expression of hostile feeling,
without pretext or foundation in fact." A list of the killed and
wounded was embraced in the committee's report, and among other
conclusions reached were the following: "That the meeting of July 30
was a meeting of quiet citizens, who came together without arms and
with intent peaceably to discuss questions of public concern....
There has been no occasion during our National history when a riot
has occurred so destitute of justifiable cause, resulting in a
massacre so inhuman and fiend-like, as that which took place at New
Orleans on the 30th of July last. This riotous attack upon the
convention, with its terrible results of massacre and murder, was not
an accident. It was the determined purpose of the mayor of the city
of New Orleans to break up this convention by armed force."

The statement is also made, that, "He [the President] knew that
'rebels' and 'thugs' and disloyal men had controlled the election of
Mayor Monroe, and that such men composed chiefly his police force."

The committee held that no legal government existed in Louisiana, and
recommended the temporary establishment of a provisional government
therein; the report concluding that "in the meantime the safety of
all Union men within the State demands that such government be formed
for their protection, for the well being of the nation and the
permanent peace of the Republic."

The New Orleans riot agitated the whole country, and the official and
other reports served to intensify and concentrate the opposition to
President Johnson's policy of reconstruction, a policy resting
exclusively on and inspired solely by the executive authority--for it
was made plain, by his language and his acts, that he was seeking to
rehabilitate the seceded States under conditions differing not a whit
from those existing before the rebellion; that is to say, without the
slightest constitutional provision regarding the status of the
emancipated slaves, and with no assurances of protection for men who
had remained loyal in the war.

In December, 1866, Congress took hold of the subject with such vigor
as to promise relief from all these perplexing disorders, and, after
much investigation and a great deal of debate, there resulted the
so-called "Reconstruction Laws," which, for a clear understanding of
the powers conferred on the military commanders, I deem best to append
in full:

AN ACT to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel
States.

WHEREAS, no legal State governments or adequate protection for life
or property now exist in the rebel States of Virginia, North
Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana,
Florida, Texas, and Arkansas; and whereas, it is necessary that peace
and good order should be enforced in said States until loyal and
republican State governments can be legally established; therefore,

BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, That said rebel
States shall be divided into military districts and made subject to
the military authority of the United States as hereinafter
prescribed; and for that purpose Virginia shall constitute the first
district; North Carolina and South Carolina, the second district;
Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, the third district; Mississippi and
Arkansas, the fourth district; and Louisiana and Texas, the fifth
district.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the
President to assign to the command of each of said districts an
officer of the army not below the rank of brigadier-general, and to
detail a sufficient military force to enable such officer to perform
his duties and enforce his authority within the district to which he
is assigned.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of each
officer assigned as aforesaid to protect all persons in their rights
of person and property, to suppress insurrection, disorder, and
violence, and to punish, or cause to be punished, all disturbers of
the public peace and criminals, and to this end he may allow local
civil tribunals to take jurisdiction of and to try offenders, or,
when in his judgment it may be necessary for the trial of offenders,
he shall have power to organize military commissions or tribunals for
that purpose, and all interference, under cover of State authority,
with the exercise of military authority under this act, shall be null
and void.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That all persons put under
military arrest by virtue of this act shall be tried without
unnecessary delay, and no cruel or unjust punishment shall be
inflicted; and no sentence of any military commission or tribunal
hereby authorized affecting the life or liberty of any person, shall
be executed until it is approved by the officer in command of the
district; and the laws and regulations for the government of the army
shall not be affected by this act except in so far as they conflict
with its provisions: Provided, That no sentence of death, under the
provisions of this act, shall be carried into effect without the
approval of the President.

SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That when the people of any one of
said rebel States shall have formed a constitution of government in
conformity with the Constitution of the United States in all
respects, framed by a convention of delegates elected by the male
citizens of said State twenty-one years old and upward, of whatever
race, color, or previous condition, who have been resident in said
State for one year previous to the day of such election, except such
as may be disfranchised for participation in the rebellion, or for
felony at common law; and when such constitution shall provide that
the elective franchise shall be enjoyed by all such persons as have
the qualifications herein stated for electors of delegates; and when
such constitution shall be ratified by a majority of the persons
voting on the question of ratification who are qualified as electors
for delegates, and when such constitution shall have been submitted
to Congress for examination and approval, and Congress shall have
approved the same; and when said State, by a vote of its legislature
elected under said constitution, shall have adopted the amendment to
the Constitution of the United States proposed by the Thirty-ninth
Congress, and known as article fourteen; and when said article shall
have become a part of the Constitution of the United States, said
State shall be declared entitled to representation in Congress, and
senators and representatives shall be admitted therefrom on their
taking the oath prescribed by law; and then and thereafter the
preceding sections of this act shall be inoperative in said State:
Provided, That no person excluded from the privilege of holding
office by said proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United
States shall be eligible to election as a member of the convention to
frame a constitution for any of said rebel States, nor shall any such
person vote for members of such convention.

SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That until the people of said
rebel States shall be by law admitted to representation in the
Congress of the United States, any civil government which may exist
therein shall be deemed provisional only, and in all respects subject
to the paramount authority of the United States at any time to
abolish, modify, control, or supersede the same; and in all elections
to any office under such provisional governments all persons shall be
entitled to vote, and none others, who are entitled to vote under the
fifth section of this act; and no person shall be eligible to any
office under any such provisional governments who would be
disqualified from holding office under the provisions of the third
article of said constitutional amendment.

SCHUYLER COLFAX,
Speaker of the House of Representatives.

LAFAYETTE S. FOSTER,
President of the Senate pro tempore.

AN ACT supplementary to an act entitled "An act to provide for the
more efficient government of the rebel States," passed March second,
eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, and to facilitate restoration.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, That before the first
day of September, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, the commanding
general in each district defined by an act entitled "An act to
provide for the more efficient government of the rebel States,"
passed March second, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, shall cause a
registration to be made of the male citizens of the United States,
twenty-one years of age and upwards, resident in each county or
parish in the State or States included in his district, which
registration shall include only those persons who are qualified to
vote for delegates by the act aforesaid, and who shall have taken and
subscribed the following oath or affirmation: "I,------, do
solemnly swear (or affirm), in the presence of the Almighty God, that
I am a citizen of the State of ---------; that I have resided in said
State for----- months next preceding this day, and now reside in the
county of -------, or the parish of --------, in said State, (as the
case may be); that I am twenty-one years old; that I have not been
disfranchised for participation in any rebellion or civil war against
the United States, nor for felony committed against the laws of any
State or of the United States; that I have never been a member of any
State Legislature, nor held any executive or judicial office in any
State, and afterwards engaged in insurrection or rebellion against
the United States, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof;
that I have never taken an oath as a member of Congress of the United
States, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any
State Legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any
State, to support the constitution of the United States, and
afterwards engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United
States or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof; that I will
faithfully support the Constitution and obey the laws of the United
States, and will, to the best of my ability, encourage others so to
do: so help me God."; which oath or affirmation may be administered
by any registering officer.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That after the completion of the
registration hereby provided for in any State, at such time and
places therein as the commanding general shall appoint and direct, of
which at least thirty days' public notice shall be given, an election
shall be held of delegates to a convention for the purpose of
establishing a constitution and civil government for such State loyal
to the Union, said convention in each State, except Virginia, to
consist of the same number of members as the most numerous branch of
the State Legislature of such State in the year eighteen hundred and
sixty, to be apportioned among the several districts, counties, or
parishes of such State by the commanding general, giving each
representation in the ratio of voters registered as aforesaid as
nearly as may be. The convention in Virginia shall consist of the
same number of members as represented the territory now constituting
Virginia in the most numerous branch of the Legislature of said State
in the year eighteen hundred and sixty, to be apportioned as
aforesaid.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That at said election the
registered voters of each State shall vote for or against a
convention to form a constitution therefor under this act. Those
voting in favor of such a convention shall have written or printed on
the ballots by which they vote for delegates, as aforesaid, the words
"For a convention," and those voting against such a convention shall
have written or printed on such ballot the words "Against a
convention." The persons appointed to superintend said election, and
to make return of the votes given thereat, as herein provided, shall
count and make return of the votes given for and against a
convention; and the commanding general to whom the same shall have
been returned shall ascertain and declare the total vote in each
State for and against a convention. If a majority of the votes given
on that question shall be for a convention, then such convention
shall be held as hereinafter provided; but if a majority of said
votes shall, be against a convention, then no such convention shall
be held under this act: Provided, That such convention shall not be
held unless a majority of all such registered voters shall have voted
on the question of holding such convention.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That the commanding general of
each district shall appoint as many boards of registration as may be
necessary, consisting of three loyal officers or persons, to make and
complete the registration, superintend the election, and make return
to him of the votes, list of voters, and of the persons elected as
delegates by a plurality of the votes cast at said election; and upon
receiving said returns he shall open the same, ascertain the persons
elected as delegates, according to the returns of the officers who
conducted said election, and make proclamation thereof; and if a
majority of the votes given on that question shall be for a
convention, the commanding general, within sixty days from the date
of election, shall notify the delegates to assemble in convention, at
a time and place to be mentioned in the notification, and said
convention, when organized, shall proceed to frame a constitution and
civil government according to the provisions of this act, and the act
to which it is supplementary; and when the same shall have been so
framed, said constitution shall be submitted by the convention for
ratification to the persons registered under the provisions of this
act at an election to be conducted by the officers or persons
appointed or to be appointed by the commanding general, as
hereinbefore provided, and to be held after the expiration of thirty
days from the date of notice thereof, to be given by said convention;
and the returns thereof shall be made to the commanding general of
the district.

SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That if, according to said
returns, the constitution shall be ratified by a majority of the
votes of the registered electors qualified as herein specified, cast
at said election, at least one-half of all the registered voters
voting upon the question of such ratification, the president of the
convention shall transmit a copy of the same, duly certified, to the
President of the United States, who shall forthwith transmit the same
to Congress, if then in session, and if not in session, then
immediately upon its next assembling; and if it shall moreover appear
to Congress that the election was one at which all the registered and
qualified electors in the State had an opportunity to vote freely,
and without restraint, fear, or the influence of fraud, and if the
Congress shall be satisfied that such constitution meets the approval
of a majority of all the qualified electors in the State, and if the
said constitution shall be declared by Congress to be in conformity
with the provisions of the act to which this is supplementary, and
the other provisions of said act shall have been complied with, and
the said constitution shall be approved by Congress, the State shall
be declared entitled to representation, and senators and
representatives shall be admitted therefrom as therein provided.

SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That all elections in the States
mentioned in the said "Act to provide for the more efficient
government of the rebel States" shall, during the operation of said
act, be by ballot; and all officers making the said registration of
voters and conducting said elections, shall, before entering upon the
discharge of their duties, take and subscribe the oath prescribed by
the act approved July second, eighteen hundred and sixty-two,
entitled "An act to prescribe an oath of office": Provided, That if
any person shall knowingly and falsely take and subscribe any oath in
this act prescribed, such person so offending and being thereof duly
convicted, shall be subject to the pains, penalties, and disabilities
which by law are provided for the punishment of the crime of wilful
and corrupt perjury.

SEC. 7. And be if further enacted, That all expenses incurred by the
several commanding generals, or by virtue of any orders issued, or
appointments made, by them, under or by virtue of this act, shall be
paid out of any moneys in the treasury not otherwise appropriated.

SEC. 8. And be it further enacted, That the convention for each State
shall prescribe the fees, salary, and compensation to be paid to all
delegates and other officers and agents herein authorized or
necessary to carry into effect the purposes of this act not herein
otherwise provided for, and shall provide for the levy and collection
of such taxes on the property in such State as may be necessary to
pay the same.

SEC. 9. And be it further enacted, That the word "article," in the
sixth section of the act to which this is supplementary, shall be
construed to mean, "section."

SCHUYLER COLFAX,
Speaker of the House of Representatives.

B. F. WADE,
President of the Senate pro tempore.

CHAPTER XI.

PASSAGE OF THE RECONSTRUCTION ACT OVER THE PRESIDENT'S VETO--PLACED
IN COMMAND OF THE FIFTH MILITARY DISTRICT--REMOVING OFFICERS--MY
REASONS FOR SUCH ACTION--AFFAIRS IN LOUISIANA AND TEXAS--REMOVAL OF
GOVERNOR WELLS--REVISION OF THE JURY LISTS--RELIEVED FROM THE COMMAND
OF THE FIFTH MILITARY DISTRICT.

The first of the Reconstruction laws was passed March 2, 1867, and
though vetoed by the President, such was the unanimity of loyal
sentiment and the urgency demanding the measure, that the bill became
a law over the veto the day the President returned it to Congress.
March the 11th this law was published in General Orders No. 10, from
the Headquarters of the Army, the same order assigning certain
officers to take charge of the five military districts into which the
States lately in rebellion were subdivided, I being announced as the
commander of the Fifth Military District, which embraced Louisiana
and Texas, a territory that had formed the main portion of my command
since the close of the war.

Between the date of the Act and that of my assignment, the Louisiana
Legislature, then in special session, had rejected a proposed repeal
of an Act it had previously passed providing for an election of
certain municipal officers in New Orleans. This election was set for
March 11, but the mayor and the chief of police, together with
General Mower, commanding the troops in the city, having expressed to
me personally their fears that the public peace would be disturbed by
the election, I, in this emergency, though not yet assigned to the
district, assuming the authority which the Act conferred on district
commanders, declared that the election should not take place; that no
polls should be opened on the day fixed; and that the whole matter
would stand postponed till the district commander should be
appointed, or special instructions be had. This, my first official
act under the Reconstruction laws, was rendered necessary by the
course of a body of obstructionists, who had already begun to give
unequivocal indications of their intention to ignore the laws of
Congress.

A copy of the order embodying the Reconstruction law, together with
my assignment, having reached me a few days after, I regularly
assumed control of the Fifth Military District on March 19, by an
order wherein I declared the State and municipal governments of the
district to be provisional only, and, under the provisions of the
sixth section of the Act, subject to be controlled, modified,
superseded, or abolished. I also announced that no removals from
office would be made unless the incumbents failed to carry out the
provisions of the law or impeded reorganization, or unless willful
delays should necessitate a change, and added: "Pending the
reorganization, it is, desirable and intended to create as little
disturbance in the machinery of the various branches of the
provisional governments as possible, consistent with the law of
Congress and its successful execution, but this condition is
dependent upon the disposition shown by the people, and upon the
length of time required for reorganization."

Under these limitations Louisiana and Texas retained their former
designations as military districts, the officers in command
exercising their military powers as heretofore. In addition, these
officers were to carry out in their respective commands all
provisions of the law except those specially requiring the action of
the district commander, and in cases of removals from and appointment
to office.

In the course of legislation the first Reconstruction act, as I have
heretofore noted, had been vetoed. On the very day of the veto,
however, despite the President's adverse action, it passed each House
of Congress by such an overwhelming majority as not only to give it
the effect of law, but to prove clearly that the plan of
reconstruction presented was, beyond question, the policy endorsed by
the people of the country. It was, therefore, my determination to
see to the law's zealous execution in my district, though I felt
certain that the President would endeavor to embarrass me by every
means in his power, not only on account of his pronounced personal
hostility, but also because of his determination not to execute but
to obstruct the measures enacted by Congress.

Having come to this conclusion, I laid down, as a rule for my
guidance, the principle of non-interference with the provisional
State governments, and though many appeals were made to have me
rescind rulings of the courts, or interpose to forestall some
presupposed action to be taken by them, my invariable reply was that
I would not take cognizance of such matters, except in cases of
absolute necessity. The same policy was announced also in reference
to municipal affairs throughout the district, so long as the action
of the local officers did not conflict with the law.

In a very short time, however, I was obliged to interfere in
municipal matters in New Orleans, for it had become clearly apparent
that several of the officials were, both by acts of omission and
commission, ignoring the law, so on the 27th of March I removed from
office the Mayor, John T. Monroe; the Judge of the First District
Court, E. Abell; and the Attorney-General of the State, Andrew S.
Herron; at the same time appointing to the respective offices thus
vacated Edward Heath, W. W. Howe, and B. L. Lynch. The officials
thus removed had taken upon themselves from the start to pronounce
the Reconstruction acts unconstitutional, and to advise such a course
of obstruction that I found it necessary at an early dav to replace
them by men in sympathy with the law, in order to make plain my
determination to have its provisions enforced. The President at once
made inquiry, through General Grant, for the cause of the removal,
and I replied:

"HEADQUARTERS FIFTH MILITARY DISTRICT,
"New Orleans, La., April 19, 1867.

"GENERAL: On the 27th day of March last I removed from office Judge
E. Abell, of the Criminal Court of New Orleans; Andrew S. Herron,
Attorney-General of the State of Louisiana; and John T. Monroe, Mayor
of the City of New Orleans. These removals were made under the
powers granted me in what is usually termed the 'military bill,'
passed March 2, 1867, by the Congress of the United States.

"I did not deem it necessary to give any reason for the removal of
these men, especially after the investigations made by the military
board on the massacre Of July 30, 1866, and the report of the
congressional committee on the same massacre; but as some inquiry has
been made for the cause of removal, I would respectfully state as
follows:

"The court over which judge Abell presided is the only criminal court
in the city of New Orleans, and for a period of at least nine months
previous to the riot Of July 30 he had been educating a large portion
of the community to the perpetration of this outrage, by almost
promising no prosecution in his court against the offenders, in case
such an event occurred. The records of his court will show that he
fulfilled his promise, as not one of the guilty has been prosecuted.

"In reference to Andrew J. Herron, Attorney-General of the State of
Louisiana, I considered it his duty to indict these men before this
criminal court. This he failed to do, but went so far as to attempt
to impose on the good sense of the whole nation by indicting the
victims of the riot instead of the rioters; in other words, making
the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent. He was therefore, in my
belief, an able coadjutor with judge Abell in bringing on the
massacre of July 30.

"Mayor Monroe controlled the element engaged in this riot, and when
backed by an attorney-general who would not prosecute the guilty, and
a judge who advised the grand jury to find the innocent guilty and
let the murderers go free, felt secure in engaging his police force
in the riot and massacre.

"With these three men exercising a large influence over the worst
elements of the population of this city, giving to those elements an
immunity for riot and bloodshed, the general-in-chief will see how
insecurely I felt in letting them occupy their respective positions
in the troubles which might occur in registration and voting in the
reorganization of this State.

"I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

"P. H. SHERIDAN,
"Major-General U. S. A.

"GENERAL U. S. GRANT,
"Commanding Armies of the United States,
"Washington, D. C."

To General Grant my reasons were satisfactory, but not so to the
President, who took no steps, however, to rescind my action, for he
knew that the removals were commended by well-nigh the entire
community in the city, for it will be understood that Mr. Johnson
was, through his friends and adherents in Louisiana and Texas, kept
constantly advised of every step taken by me. Many of these persons
were active and open opponents of mine, while others were spies,
doing their work so secretly and quickly that sometimes Mr. Johnson
knew of my official acts before I could report them to General Grant.

The supplemental Reconstruction act which defined the method of
reconstruction became a law despite the President's veto on March 23.
This was a curative act, authorizing elections and prescribing
methods of registration. When it reached me officially I began
measures for carrying out its provisions, and on the 28th of March
issued an order to the effect that no elections for the State,
parish, or municipal officers would be held in Louisiana until the
provisions of the laws of Congress entitled "An act to provide for
the more efficient government of the rebel States," and of the act
supplemental thereto, should have been complied with. I also
announced that until elections were held in accordance with these
acts, the law of the Legislature of the State providing for the
holding over of those persons whose terms of office otherwise would
have expired, would govern in all cases excepting only those special
ones in which I myself might take action. There was one parish,
Livingston, which this order did no reach in time to prevent the
election previously ordered there, and which therefore took place,
but by a supplemental order this election was declare null and void.

In April. I began the work of administering the Supplemental Law,
which, under certain condition of eligibility, required a
registration of the voter of the State, for the purpose of electing
delegate to a Constitutional convention. It therefore became
necessary to appoint Boards of Registration throughout the election
districts, and on April 10 the boards for the Parish of Orleans were
given out, those for the other parishes being appointed ten days
later. Before announcing these boards, I had asked to be advised
definitely as to what persons were disfranchised by the law, and was
directed by General Grant to act upon my own interpretation of it,
pending an opinion expected shortly from the Attorney-General--Mr.
Henry Stanbery--so, for the guidance of the boards, I gave the
following instructions:

"HEADQUARTERS FIFTH MILITARY DISTRICT.
"New Orleans, La., April 10, 1867.

"Special Orders, No. 15.

"....In obedience to the directions contained in the first section of
the Law of Congress entitled "An Act supplemental to an Act entitled
'An Act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel
States'" the registration of the legal voters, according to that law
in the Parish of Orleans, will be commenced on the 15th instant, and
must be completed by the 15th of May.

"The four municipal districts of the City of New Orleans and the
Parish of Orleans, right bank (Algiers), will each constitute a
Registration district. Election precincts will remain as at present
constituted.

"....Each member of the Board of Registers, before commencing his
duties, will file in the office of the Assistant-Inspector-General at
these headquarters, the oath required in the sixth section of the Act
referred to, and be governed in the execution of his duty by the
provisions of the first section of that Act, faithfully administering
the oath therein prescribed to each person registered.

"Boards of Registers will immediately select suitable offices within
their respective districts, having reference to convenience and
facility of registration, and will enter upon their duties on the day
designated. Each Board will be entitled to two clerks. Office-hours
for registration will be from 8 o'clock till 12 A. M., and from 4
till 7 P. M.

"When elections are ordered, the Board of Registers for each district
will designate the number of polls and the places where they shall be
opened in the election precincts within its district, appoint the
commissioners and other officers necessary for properly conducting
the elections, and will superintend the same.

"They will also receive from the commissioners of elections of the
different precincts the result of the vote, consolidate the same, and
forward it to the commanding general.

"Registers and all officers connected with elections will be held to
a rigid accountability and will be subject to trial by military
commission for fraud, or unlawful or improper conduct in the
performance of their duties. Their rate of compensation and manner
of payment will be in accordance with the provisions of sections six
and seven of the supplemental act.

"....Every male citizen of the United States, twenty-one years old
and upward, of whatever race, color, or previous condition, who has
been resident in the State of Louisiana for one year and Parish of
Orleans for three months previous to the date at which he presents
himself for registration, and who has not been disfranchised by act
of Congress or for felony at common law, shall, after having taken
and subscribed the oath prescribed in the first section of the act
herein referred to, be entitled to be, and shall be, registered as a
legal voter in the Parish of Orleans and State of Louisiana.

"Pending the decision of the Attorney-General of the United States on
the question as to who are disfranchised by law, registers will give
the most rigid interpretation to the law, and exclude from
registration every person about whose right to vote there may be a
doubt. Any person so excluded who may, under the decision of the
Attorney-General, be entitled to vote, shall be permitted to register
after that decision is received, due notice of which will be given.

"By command of Major-General P. H. SHERIDAN,

"GEO. L. HARTSUFF,
"Assistant Adjutant-General."

The parish Boards of Registration were composed of three members
each. Ability to take what was known as the "ironclad oath" was the
qualification exacted of the members, and they were prohibited from
becoming candidates for office. In the execution of their duties
they were to be governed by the provisions of the supplemental act.
It was also made one of their functions to designate the number and
location of the polling-places in the several districts, to appoint
commissioners for receiving the votes and in general to attend to
such other matters as were necessary, in order properly to conduct
the voting, and afterward to receive from the commissioners the
result of the vote and forward it to my headquarters. These
registers, and all other officers having to do with elections, were
to be held to a rigid accountability, and be subject to trial by
military commission for fraud or unlawful or improper conduct in the
performance of their duties; and in order to be certain that the
Registration Boards performed their work faithfully and
intelligently, officers of the army were appointed as supervisors.
To this end the parishes were grouped together conveniently in
temporary districts, each officer having from three to five parishes
to supervise. The programme thus mapped out for carrying out the law
in Louisiana was likewise adhered to in Texas, and indeed was
followed as a model in some of the other military districts.

Although Military Commissions were fully authorized by the
Reconstruction acts, yet I did not favor their use in governing the
district, and probably would never have convened one had these acts
been observed in good faith. I much preferred that the civil courts,
and the State and municipal authorities already in existence, should
perform their functions without military control or interference, but
occasionally, because the civil authorities neglected their duty, I
was obliged to resort to this means to ensure the punishment Of
offenders. At this time the condition of the negroes in Texas and
Louisiana was lamentable, though, in fact, not worse than that of the
few white loyalists who had been true to the Union during the war.
These last were singled out as special objects of attack, and were,
therefore, obliged at all times to be on the alert for the protection
of their lives and property. This was the natural outcome of Mr.
Johnson's defiance of Congress, coupled with the sudden conversion to
his cause of persons in the North--who but a short time before had
been his bitterest enemies; for all this had aroused among the
disaffected element new hopes of power and place, hopes of being at
once put in political control again, with a resumption of their
functions in State and National matters without any preliminary
authorization by Congress. In fact, it was not only hoped, but
expected, that things were presently to go on just as if there had
been no war.

In the State of Texas there were in 1865 about 200,000 of the colored
race-roughly, a third of the entire population--while in Louisiana
there were not less than 350,000, or more than one-half of all the
people in the State. Until the enactment of the Reconstruction laws
these negroes were without rights, and though they had been liberated
by the war, Mr. Johnson's policy now proposed that they should have
no political status at all, and consequently be at the mercy of a
people who, recently their masters, now seemed to look upon them as
the authors of all the misfortunes that had come upon the land.
Under these circumstances the blacks naturally turned for protection
to those who had been the means of their liberation, and it would
have been little less than inhuman to deny them sympathy. Their
freedom had been given them, and it was the plain duty of those in
authority to make it secure, and screen them from the bitter
political resentment that beset them, and to see that they had a fair
chance in the battle of life. Therefore, when outrages and murders
grew frequent, and the aid of the military power was an absolute
necessity for the protection of life, I employed it unhesitatingly
--the guilty parties being brought to trial before military
commissions--and for a time, at least, there occurred a halt in the
march of terrorism inaugurated by the people whom Mr. Johnson had
deluded.

The first, Military Commission was convened to try the case of John
W. Walker, charged with shooting a negro in the parish of St. John.
The proper civil authorities had made no effort to arrest Walker, and
even connived at his escape, so I had him taken into custody in New
Orleans, and ordered him tried, the commission finding him guilty,
and sentencing him to confinement in the penitentiary for six months.
This shooting was the third occurrence of the kind that had taken
place in St. John's parish, a negro being wounded in each case, and
it was plain that the intention was to institute there a practice of
intimidation which should be effective to subject the freedmen to the
will of their late masters, whether in making labor contracts, or in
case these newly enfranchised negroes should evince a disposition to
avail themselves of the privilege to vote.

The trial and conviction of Walker, and of one or two others for
similar outrages, soon put a stop to every kind of "bull-dozing" in
the country parishes; but about this time I discovered that many
members of the police force in New Orleans were covertly intimidating
the freedmen there, and preventing their appearance at the
registration offices, using milder methods than had obtained in the
country, it is true, but none the less effective.

Early in 1866 the Legislature had passed an act which created for the
police of New Orleans a residence qualification, the object of which
was to discharge and exclude from the force ex-Union soldiers. This
of course would make room for the appointment of ex-Confederates, and
Mayor Monroe had not been slow in enforcing the provisions of the
law. It was, in fact, a result of this enactment that the police was
so reorganized as to become the willing and efficient tool which it
proved to be in the riot of 1866; and having still the same
personnel, it was now in shape to prevent registration by threats,
unwarranted arrests, and by various other influences, all operating
to keep the timid blacks away from the registration places.

That the police were taking a hand in this practice of repression, I
first discovered by the conduct of the assistant to the chief of the
body, and at once removed the offender, but finding this ineffectual
I annulled that part of the State law fixing the five years'
residence restriction, and restored the two years' qualification,
thus enabling Mayor Heath, who by my appointment had succeeded
Monroe, to organize the force anew, and take about one-half of its
members from ex-Union soldiers who when discharged had settled in New
Orleans. This action put an end to intimidation in the parish of
Orleans; and now were put in operation in all sections the processes
provided by the supplemental Reconstruction law for the summoning of
a convention to form a Constitution preparatory to the readmission of
the State, and I was full of hope that there would now be much less
difficulty in administering the trust imposed by Congress.

During the two years previous great damage had been done the
agricultural interests of Louisiana by the overflow of the
Mississippi, the levees being so badly broken as to require extensive
repairs, and the Legislature of 1866 had appropriated for the purpose
$4,000,000, to be raised by an issue of bonds. This money was to be
disbursed by a Board of Levee Commissioners then in existence, but
the term of service of these commissioners, and the law creating the
board, would expire in the spring of 1867. In order to overcome this
difficulty the Legislature passed a bill continuing the commissioners
in office but as the act was passed inside of ten days before the
adjournment of the Legislature, Governor Wells pocketed the bill, and
it failed to become a law. The Governor then appointed a board of
his own, without any warrant of law whatever. The old commissioners
refused to recognize this new board, and of course a conflict of
authority ensued, which, it was clear, would lead to vicious results
if allowed to continue; so, as the people of the State had no
confidence in either of the boards, I decided to end the contention
summarily by appointing an entirely new commission, which would
disburse the money honestly, and further the real purpose for which
it had been appropriated. When I took this course the legislative
board acquiesced, but Governor Wells immediately requested the
President to revoke my order, which, however, was not done, but
meanwhile the Secretary of War directed me to suspend all proceedings
in the matter, and make a report of the facts. I complied in the
following telegram:

"HEADQUARTERS FIFTH MILITARY DISTRICT,
"NEW ORLEANS, La., June 3, 1867.

"SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of
this date in reference to the Levee Commissioners in this State.

"The following were my reasons for abolishing the two former boards,
although I intended that my order should be sufficiently explanatory:

"Previous to the adjournment of the Legislature last winter it passed
an act continuing the old Levee board in office, so that the four
millions of dollars ($4,000,000) in bonds appropriated by the
Legislature might be disbursed by a board of rebellious antecedents.

"After its adjournment the Governor of the State appointed a board of
his own, in violation of this act, and made the acknowledgment to me
in person that his object was to disburse the money in the interest
of his own party by securing for it the vote of the employees at the
time of election.

"The board continued in office by the Legislature refused to turn
over to the Governor's board, and each side appealed to me to sustain
it, which I would not do. The question must then have gone to the
courts, which, according to the Governor's judgment when he was
appealing to me to be sustained, would require one year for decision.
Meantime the State was overflowed, the Levee boards tied up by
political chicanery, and nothing done to relieve the poor people, now
fed by the charity of the Government and charitable associations of
the North.

"To obviate this trouble, and to secure to the overflowed districts
of the State the immediate relief which the honest disbursement of
the four millions ($4,000,000) would give, my order dissolving both
boards was issued.

"I say now, unequivocally, that Governor Wells is a political
trickster and a dishonest man. I have seen him myself, when I first
came to this command, turn out all the Union men who had supported
the Government, and put in their stead rebel soldiers who had not yet
doffed their gray uniform. I have seen him again, during the July
riot of 1866, skulk away where I could not find him to give him a
guard, instead of coming out as a manly representative of the State
and joining those who were preserving the peace. I have watched him
since, and his conduct has been as sinuous as the mark left in the
dust by the movement of a snake.

"I say again that he is dishonest, and that dishonesty is more than
must be expected of me.

"P. H. SHERIDAN,
"Major-General, U. S. A.

"Hon. E. M. STANTON,
"Secretary of War, Washington, D. C."

The same day that I sent my report to the Secretary of War I removed
from office Governor Wells himself, being determined to bear no
longer with the many obstructions he had placed in the way of
reorganizing the civil affairs of the State. I was also satisfied
that he was unfit to retain the place, since he was availing himself
of every opportunity to work political ends beneficial to himself.
In this instance Wells protested to me against his removal, and also
appealed to the President for an opinion of the Attorney-General as
to my power in the case; and doubtless he would have succeeded in
retaining his office, but for the fact that the President had been
informed by General James B. Steadman and others placed to watch me
that Wells was wholly unworthy.

"NEW ORLEANS, June 19, 1867.
"ANDREW JOHNSON, President United States,
"Washington City:

"Lewis D. Campbell leaves New Orleans for home this evening. Want
of respect for Governor Wells personally, alone represses the
expression of indignation felt by all honest and sensible men at the
unwarranted usurpation of General Sheridan in removing the civil
officers of Louisiana. It is believed here that you will reinstate
Wells. He is a bad man, and has no influence.

"I believe Sheridan made the removals to embarrass you, believing the
feeling at the North would sustain him. My conviction is that on
account of the bad character of Wells and Monroe, you ought not to
reinstate any who have been removed, because you cannot reinstate any
without reinstating all, but you ought to prohibit the exercise of
this power in the future.

"Respectfully yours,

"JAMES B. STEADMAN."

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