Mss. 2326


Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections

Special Collections, Hill Memorial Library

Louisiana State University Libraries

Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University

Reformatted 2003

Revised 2011


SUMMARY .................................................................................................................................... 3
BIOGRAPHICAL/HISTORICAL NOTE ...................................................................................... 4
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE ................................................................................................... 4
CROSS REFERENCES .................................................................................................................. 5
CONTAINER LIST ...................................................................................................................... 10

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1 v.; 28 x 22.5 cm.

Geographic locations.

Louisiana; Fort Jackson, South Carolina

Inclusive dates.


Bulk dates.





Letterpress copies of official letters by Major General Banks from his headquarters, Department of the Gulf, New Orleans, during the fall of 1863 and early winter of 1864.

Restrictions on access.


Related collections.

Nathaniel P. Banks Letter, Mss. 2771

Orders of General Nathaniel Banks, Mss. 3115


Copyright of the original materials is retained by descendants of the creators in accordance with U.S. copyright law.


Nathaniel P. Banks Letter Book, Mss. 2326, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, La.

Stack locations.



Nathaniel P. Banks, congressman, governor of Massachusetts, and Union soldier, was born in Waltham, Massachusetts. In spite of his informal education, he was admitted to the bar at the age of 23. Banks married Mary I. Palmer in 1847 and was elected as a state representative in 1849 and made speaker of the House. He was elected to Congress in 1853 and was governor of Massachusetts from 1858-1860. One year later he was commissioned Major General of volunteers in the Union army.

Banks was involved in several major battles including those at Front Royal, Winchester, Cedar Mountain, and Port Hudson. He led some 20,000 Federal troops in the Red River campaign. Following the war, Banks was immediately elected to fill a vacancy in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served until 1872. He briefly served in the Massachusetts Senate (1874) but soon returned to Congress where he remained until 1879, at which time he was appointed U.S. marshal for Massachusetts (1879-1888). Banks was again elected to Congress; however, he retired before the end of his term due to ill health. He died in 1894 and was survived by a son and two daughters.


Letterpress copies of official letters by Major General Banks from his headquarters, Department of the Gulf, New Orleans, during the fall of 1863 and early winter of 1864. Letters also comment on civilian life in Federal occupied New Orleans, the education and management of freed slaves, the cotton trade, the revolt of the Corps d'Afrique at Fort Jackson in Plaquemines Parish, and the Mexican Revolution against French invaders. Persons to whom Banks wrote include President Abraham Lincoln, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward, Brigadier General George F. Shepley, General William T. Sherman, U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, Chief Quartermaster Samuel B. Holabird, U.S. Provost Marshal General James Bowen, General-in-Chief H. W. Halleck, and General Cadwallader C. Washburn, among others. Some pages of the copybook are missing.




Description of relevant documents

American Missionary Association.


Quartermaster ordered to furnish transportation for missionary and educator to accompany forces. Jan. 13. p. 219-220.

Confederate States of America. Navy .


Unsigned letter states gunboats and rams able to destroy any vessel in U.S. Navy and may attack blockading squadron. Jan. 19. p. 253-254.

Cotton trade--Confederate States of America.


Transportation to Mexico causes excitement among traders, decline in price, and recommendation for government intervention. Dec. 10, 1863. p. 77-79;

Adoption urged of Treasury Agents plan for sale of cotton in western and northern Louisiana. Dec. 18, 1863. p. 125-126;

Sale of General Dana’s cotton urged to defray consul’s expenses at Monterey, to purchase army supplies, and to furnish funds for secret service. Dec. 19, 1863. p. 96-99;

Disposal of 105,000 bales recommended to halt gold drain. Feb. 2, 1864. p. 311-318.

Gambling--Louisiana--New Orleans.


Description of gambling house near St. Charles hotel“sporting men, and decoys affiliated with establishment” operate for destruction of its victims, including U.S. Army men. 1 letter to General Shepley, Oct. 2. p. 50-51.

Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885.


Comments on reorganization of 13th Corps, need of additional cavalry and gunboats, military operations in Mobile and Western Louisiana. 1 letter, Aug. 28. p. 17-18.

Halleck, H. W. (Henry Wager), 1815-1872.


Comments on military movements include failure to reach Shreveport and failure at Sabine Pass, efficiency of Signal Corps, conscription of loyal citizens, Rebel deserters, and Mexicans, plight of African Americans, defense of New Orleans, revolt of Corps d’Afrique at Fort Jackson, and Mexican revolt led by Juarez against French. 12 letters, Oct. 15 (4 items), Dec. 12 and 17, Dec 30 (2 items), 1863; Jan. 2, 23, 29, and Feb. 2, 1864. pages 57-60, 63-75, 67-71, 87-88, 111-116, 152-162,



Description of relevant documents

179-180, 190-192, 270-280, 298-300, 207-310.

Holabird, Samuel Beckley, 1826-1907.


Orders for donation to Catholic nuns, Aug. 1, 1863; supplies, Aug. 16, 1863; boats to patrol Lake Pontchartrain, Oct. 13, 1863; suspension of sales of houses, cotton presses, stores, and warehouses, Dec. 18, 1863; transportation of sutlers’ supplies, Jan. 2, 1864; and for residence of Colonel James McKay, Feb. 4, 1864. 6 letters to, p. 1, 9, 52, 102-103, 187, 324; patronage recommended for Julius Neville, Dec. 29, 1863; questions government’s obligation to pay legal counsel in matter of “Leviathan,” Jan. 7, 1864; refusal to approve Colonel Colburn’s accounts, Feb. 5, 1864. 3 letters to, p. 148, 205-206, 332-334.

Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.


Urged to accept Treasury agent’s market plan for Confederate cotton, Dec. 18, 1863;

Informed of necessity to control trade beyond army lines and of advantages from sale of cotton, Feb. 2, 1864;

Given recommendations for General C. C. Washburn, Jan. 15, 1864, Colonel Sargent, Feb. 3, 1864, and B. H. Durell, Feb. 4, 1864.

5 letters, p. 125-126, 237-238, 311-320, 340.

Mexico--History--European intervention, 1861-1867.


Transportation of Confederate cotton to Matamoras, Dec. 10, 1863, p. 77-79;

Revolution under Juarez against French invaders and Maximilian, Dec. 11, 1863. p. 81-82, and Jan. 2, 1864. p. 190-192;

U.S. army military recruitment for Texas service, Jan. 13, 1864, p. 227 and Dec. 25, 1863. p. 139-142;

United States diplomatic relations, Dec. 25, 1863. p. 139-142. Dec. 27, 1863, p. 147. Dec. 30, 1863, p. 168-165, and Jan. 26, 1864. p. 288-289.

Military deserters--Confederate States of America .


Tells about confusion, discontent, and conflict among troops; weakened forces of General Johnston. Aug. 28. p. 17-18.

New Orleans (La.)--History--Capture, 1862.


Official correspondence comments on urgent need for financing charitable assistance, court trials of men in armed forces, trade, defense, gambling operations involving United States Army men, conscription of citizens for volunteer regiments, sales of confiscated property, voter qualifications, Protestant Episcopal



Description of relevant documents

Church services, and legal rights of foreign subjects.

Political campaigns--Louisiana.


Comments concern administration of oath of allegiance in remote sections, Feb. 9, declaration of unconditional loyalty by participants and voters, Feb 14; and reveal Federal accomplishments, Feb. 18. 3 letters by Banks. P. 380, 393-395

Port Hudson (La.)--History--Siege, 1863 .


Destruction of river batteries, Aug. 30, 1863. p. 174;

Gideon Welles, U.S. Secretary of Navy, told of destruction of river batteries at Port Hudson and removal of guns on order of Admiral Porter. 1 letter, Dec. 30, 1863. p. 174;

Orders to Generals Emory and augur to report operations of commands during siege, Jan. 4 and 5, 1864. p. 194, 197.

Red River Expedition, 1864.


Comments stress need for water transportation, coal for transports, and Gatling gun; discuss military failure at Sabine [Pass], order preventing the overloading of transports, and delay in operations caused by low water of Red and Atchafalaya Rivers. 8 letters: Aug. 28, Oct. 15, Dec. 24-25, 1863; Jan. 2, 27, and 29, Feb. 2, 1864. p. 17-18, 57-60, 134-136, 143, 188-189, 290, 292, 298-300, 307-310.

Seward, William Henry, 1801-1872.


Transportation of Confederate cotton to Mexico causes excitement among traders and decline in price, Dec. 10, 1863;

General Dana instructed to avoid foreign complications, Dec. 11, 1863;

Confederate prisoner released from Ship Island to serve as army spy, Jan. 6, 1864.

Shepley, George Foster, 1819-1878.


Military governor of Louisiana; brigadier general, U.S. Army; Comments concern gambling den frequented by Federal soldiers, Oct. 2, 1863; enlistment of Louisiana recruits in U.S. Army regiments, Jan. 12, 1864; recommendation of Valere F. Daunoy for Chief of Police, Jan. 22, 1864, and Captain Stephen Hoyt for city mayor, Feb. 7, 1864; and voter qualifications and registration, Jan. 30, Feb. 9, 1864, and undated 7 letters, p. 50-51, 217-218, 269, 304-305, 350-351, 357, 391.

Sherman, William T. (William Tecumseh), 1820-1891.


Comments concern Sherman’s instructions for cooperation in Red River Campaign and need for



Description of relevant documents

additional forces for proposed occupation of Alexandria and Shreveport 3 letters by Banks, Jan. 23, 25, and 29. p. 277-280, 284-287, 298-300.

Slavery--Louisiana--New Orleans.


Evidence of slave sales during Federal occupation results in recommendation for removal of public notices from signboards. 1 letter to General Bowen, Dec. 26. p. 145.

Stanton, Edwin McMasters, 1814-1869.


States Colonel Hanks to report plan for education of African Americans, Oct. 14, 1863; p. 53;

Seeks approval to fill up regiments with volunteers, Dec. 30, 1863, to furnish free transportation to Northern sympathizer, Jan. 6, and to pay claim of Sequestration Committee, Jan. 22, 1864. p. 177-178, 200, 258. 4 letters by Banks.

United States. Army--African American troops.


Comments on Corps d’Afrique revolt, including causes, trial of officers, and need for additional teachers, Oct. 14, Dec. 12, 16-17, 1863; Jan. 8, 22, 1864. p. 86, 90-92, 111-116, 208, 266.

United States. Army--Chaplains--History--19th century.


Interment of Lieutenant Corbin’s body referred to chaplain. Aug. 16. p. 8;

Commended for discharge of duties and education of African Americans. Dec. 17. p. 116.

United States. Army--Recruiting, enlistment, etc.--Civil War, 1861-1865.


Comments concern General Order No. 70 providing for conscription of citizens of New Orleans from loyal states to fill cavalry and infantry regiments. Oct. 15. p. 63-65;

Recommends accrediting states for volunteers enlisted. Dec. 30. p. 163-165.

United States. Army--Supplies and stores.


Duties include supplying headquarters with books, providing boats for defense of New Orleans, suspending property sales, suppressing shipment of sutler’s supplies, and furnishing residence and fuel to officers. 9 letters to Colonel Holabird: Aug. 16, Oct. 13, Dec. 18 and 29, 1863; Jan. 2, 7, 13, Feb. 4-5, 1864. p. 9, 52, 102-103, 148, 187, 205-206; Regulations permit seizure of supplies for hospitals when transported without official authorization. Jan. 2, 5, and 23. p. 187, 195-196, 267-268.

United States. Corps d'Afrique.


Comments on revolt include causes, trial of officers, and need for additional teachers, Oct. 14, Dec. 22, 16-17,



Description of relevant documents

1863; Jan. 8 and 22, 1864. p. 86, 90-92, 111-116, 208, 266.

United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--African Americans.


Cotton press laborers returned to plantations. Sept. 5, 1863. p. 31;

Support of destitute persons causes financial problems. Oct. 15, 1863. p. 67-70;

Colonel McKaye appointed to investigate conditions. Feb. 4, 1864. p. 324.

United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Collaborationists.


Devotion of Colonel Bingaman expressed to United States Senator Johnson. Feb. 17. p. 390;

Loyalty of Mathilde Victor results in recommendation for free travel to New York and order for payment of rent. Jan. 6 and Feb. 9.

p. 200 and 356.

United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Secret service.


Confederate prisoner, John Brown, released from Ship Island to supply Federal officers with information gathered in South. Jan. 6 and July 6. p. 201-203.








Nathaniel P. Banks Letter Book (Aug. 1863-Feb. 1864)