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[474] two hundred and sixty-eight prisoners in the hands of the Federals. The conquerors lost eighteen killed and seventy-four wounded. After the combat, Weitzel took possession of the whole course of Bayou Lafourche without striking a blow; and on reaching Thibodeaux, he pushed as far as Brashear City, which he found abandoned. The railroad, which had not been running for the last six months, and which lay buried under a thick covering of rank vegetation, was put in working order, and Brashear City, being thus placed in direct communication with New Orleans, soon became the advanced post from whence the Federals controlled the whole of that section of Louisiana. General Butler hastened to devise a pretext of hostility on the part of its principal inhabitants, in order to make a wholesale confiscation of their property. We shall speak further on of his system of government works, the ostensible object of which was to supply the negroes with labor, but the effects of which could not fail in the end to corrupt even those whom it was pretended to protect.

He was not, however, allowed time to put this system into practice to any great extent, for on the 16th of December he was superseded in his command by General Banks. We have already placed our estimate of Butler's administration on record; we must, however, add a few words to what we have already said. It was he who first systematically organized negro regiments, which subsequently rendered such important services to the Federals. It must be acknowledged that this act, so wise and proper—this very natural employment of men whom the North had just emancipated and rescued from their old masters—drew upon Butler more abuse and more attacks than his most tyrannical measures, or the most rotten speculations openly tolerated by him. So true is it that old prejudices have more power over the mind of men than simple good sense and the spirit of equity.

General Banks, whom we have already met on several battlefields, was one of those officers who seemed predestined to experience striking reverses, but who, even in the midst of defeat, always succeeded in conciliating public opinion by personal bravery, and ended finally by tiring out adverse fortune. He was, moreover, a respectable politician and a distinguished executive officer.

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