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Will’s Red River III: Cotton

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    Will s Red River III: Cotton Chad wrote: My reference for this possible motive regarding Banks change of heart is Mark N. Lardas excellent narrative of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 15, 2002
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      Will's Red River III: Cotton

      Chad wrote: "My reference for this possible motive regarding Banks'
      change of heart is Mark N. Lardas' excellent narrative of the Battle
      of Sabine Pass in the June 2002 issue of MILITARY HERITAGE magazine,
      in which he states (speaking of Banks and Sabine Pass), "It was
      closer than Brownsville and 40,000 bales of Rebel cotton were within
      reach of the Sabine River. No doubt he was aware of his own benefit
      were the venture to succeed - as department commander, Banks profited
      from any prize money collected." (page 78)"

      Then I think Mr Lardas is incorrect. The Army Departmental Commander
      did not get a cut of prize money: See War Department General Orders
      No 88, April 3, 1863 [it can be found OR 28/2 p.132]. Property,
      including cotton, captured by the army went to the Treasury. Banks
      did get excited about the amont of cotton under Confederate control
      in Louisiana as he certainly saw the opportunity for political gain,
      but not for personal profit. Banks had an eye on making a big
      contribution to the treasury, thereby winning political bonus points
      from Lincoln and Chase. Banks was very ambitious for fame, not
      personal fortune. In fact Banks was not popular with the
      speculators, some of who he had to order away from the army during
      the campaign. Lt.Col. Richard Irwin wrote in Battles & Leaders "When
      General Banks sent them all back from Alexandria, without their
      sheaves, they returned to New Orleans furious against him and
      mouthing calumnies."

      Navy regulations were different, and Porter did stand to gain: he was
      entitled to 5% of all prize money. As a result, according to Foote
      [p. 38], "Porter…had been getting a great deal of it [cotton] indeed—
      all, in fact, that came within his 210-gun reach." This was much to
      Banks frustration: [OR 34/3 p.18] "Under the general prize law,
      Admiral Porter has seized the cotton of this country from 6 to 10
      miles from the river. This has caused a general burning above of
      property which had been spared to this place."

      Once the campaign was over Porter was looking forward to a big
      payoff: [Navy OR v.26 p.412] "There is now cotton amounting to
      $2,250,000 before the court, all of which would be condemned if
      properly looked after….I have sent over 7,000 bales to court, and not
      a cent has yet come into our hands, nor will it if not properly
      attended to." If his valuation is right, Porter could expect a
      personal pay off of $112,500, a very fine sum for 1864. No wonder he
      was anxious to make sure the court took care of it. Sadly for
      Porter, the courts later ruled that most of the cotton he brought
      back was improperly seized, particularly after various letters came
      in from unionists [for examples see ORN v26 p298 and p320] who
      complained that Porter's men snatched their private cotton. The
      sailors allegedly carried stencils saying CSA with which they could
      label captured cotton before sending it off to prize court.
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