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[198] which he narrates, but by the evidence of his superiors and associates. When inclined to be discontented, he consoles himself thus:—

Sometimes when I go from our dirty, carpetless rooms up to the handsome offices at Headquarters, and find the other aids finishing up their business for the day at two o'clock, or before, I feel rather like grumbling and calling myself a mere commissary's clerk; but when I think of the matter more seriously, I feel differently. The Sequestration Commission has been, until General Banks's arrival, an institution of almost unlimited power. When I first came here, every one looked upon it and all its officers with a species of awe, as having the fate of nearly all the property within our lines at its disposal; but now the Commission has cut its own claws and reduced itself, or rather the General has reduced it, to a comparatively harmless monster, with little power except to undo, so far as it may see fit or be able, the work which it had done before; so as fortune and the General have put me there, I do not think it would be right for me in any way to avoid the duties or the responsibilities which it involves. So, on the whole, I am well enough satisfied to be there, and do not seriously grumble, though I should like to get time for a ride on horseback every day; but this, I think, I shall be able to do after a little while, when things are reduced more to a system, and meanwhile I am contented, or reasonably so, and jolly.

When General Banks reached Louisiana, one of the first things demanding attention was the condition of the blacks. There were in the State probably over two hundred thousand slaves, three fourths of whom had flocked within the lines of the army. Within these lines President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had, by its express terms, no operation. The situation of the negroes who clustered around the military posts was most distressing. Still slaves in law, they were no longer slaves in fact, for our officers and soldiers neither desired nor were permitted to aid in retaining them in servitude; and without the assistance of our forces, the former masters, whatever claim they might assert under the Proclamation, were powerless. The negroes were without clothes, food, shelter, or protection. To meet this state of things some vigorous action

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