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[59] earliest practicable moment. I need not advert to the advantages to our cause of such an arrangement. We could capture north of Vicksburg ten times the value of the boats.

In connection with the scheme is another of scarcely less importance, brought to my notice by the same gentleman, and intrusted to the same agent. The post of Helena, the richest in stores of any on this continent, perhaps, ordnance, etc., can be bought out at one-tenth its value, with which the Department of General E. K. Smith could be furnished with arms, etc. If you approve the plan please include Helena with the boats, and give us, by telegraph, a knowledge of your indorsement in words, say, plan approved. General Pemberton, the Confederate Treasurer, Mr. Dellow and others might be ordered in general terms to confer with me and furnish all facilities to accomplish an understood purpose. There must not be delay or all may be frustrated. We ought not, of course, be restricted much as to reasonable sums of money. General Parsons, of Missouri, with a good command, is now encamped a few miles west of Helena, and could co-operate with the boats on the river in the bloodless capture of Helena.

Awaiting your earliest advices, and begging to urge your prompt action, I beg to subscribe.

President Davis on the back of this letter wrote: ‘Confidential letter of Governor Pettus.’

The record shows nothing farther of the proposed transaction until June 24, when a dispatch from Governor Pettus was sent to Mr. Davis. This dispatch shows that Mr. Mallory, the Secretary of the Navy, had not approved of the plan, and that Mr. Davis had forwarded a copy of it to Governor Pettus.

To this letter Governor Pettus replied:

To the President. The plan submitted to you in my letter 7th of May, is embarrassed and may fail by reasons of instructions given by Secretary of the Navy.

No allusion made to Helena.

In these instructions, if possible, give to General Johnston a wide discretion in use of this fund embracing the purchase of boats, destruction of transports and securing Helena.

General Johnston and I are more familiar with circumstances surrounding the matter than Secretary Mallory. We are willing to take the responsibility of the disbursement. The details of the


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