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[365]

The lost chapter in Confederate history.

In two editorials of the Washington Post, March 14 and 19, 1901, the suggestion is made and repeated that toward the close of the war of secession, in 1865, I was sent to Europe by President Jefferson Davis on an important mission, the object of which was to offer to the Emperor of the French a retrocession of the State of Louisiana in exchange for armed intervention on behalf of the Confederacy.

This startling discovery was intended to fill a gap in history, and I wonder that even the love of fiction inherent to mankind could have led any minds so far astray as to give the slightest, attention, far less attach any credence, to a wild, sensational suggestion the offspring of an overfertile imagination.

The plain truth is that I had no mission at all, or, if for want of another word it must needs be called so, its conception involved nobody but myself. The genesis of it and its development are set forth in the following narrative:

After the successful issue of the Louisiana campaign in 1864, there being no prospects of a speedy renewal of hostilities, and the division I then commanded being in the highest state of efficiency, it occurred to me that I might do some good by conveying information abroad. Letters which I received about that time having strengthened this opinion, I repaired to Shreveport in the winter of 1865, and suggested to General Kirby Smith the advisability of granting me a six months leave of absence for the purpose of going abroad and of availing myself of the curiosity and interest which the presence of an active participant in the great struggle now going on could not fail to awaken in foreign parts, in order to awaken sympathy with the Southern cause. Nor was my purpose as vague and indefinite as might appear thus far. There was one circumstance which gave it substantiality—one man who was, so to say, the pivot of my self-imposed task. This man was not the Emperor of the French, far less Lord Palmerston, but the Duke of Morny, an intimate confidant and devoted friend of the Emperor. As a statesman, he was credited with some shrewdness—practical, self-possessed, as devoid of enthusiasm as free from prejudice. I had some acquaintance with him. I had met him privately several times before leaving France. I had introduced to him one of the delegates whom, at an early stage of the conflict, some of the Southern States


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