“It is … a grave question in my mind whether this policy … is not working injuriously to the Union Cause.”

July 31 1862 Wrote letter to Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury. “Large quantities of salt, flour, liquors and other articles of use and luxury are being shipped by way of the Tennessee river and other lines of communication, to different points within our lines.  It is presumed that these come under authority of regular permits from agents of the Treasury Department, and that the trade is so far legitimate.  The collateral smuggling that goes on undoubtedly to a large extent is another matter not now under notice.

“It is however a very grave question in my mind whether this policy of “letting trade follow the flag” is not working injuriously to the Union Cause.  Practically and really I think it is benefiting almost exclusively, first, a class of greedy traders whose first and only desire is gain, and to whom it would be idle to attribute the least patriotism, and secondly our enemies south of our lines.  The quantities in which these goods are shipped clearly intimate that they are intended to be worked off into the enemy’s country thus administering to him the most essential “aid and comfort.”

“Our lines are so extended that it is impossible for any military surveillance to contend successfully with the cunning of the traders, aided by the local knowledge and eager interest of the residents along the border.  The enemy are thus receiving supplies of most necessary and useful articles which relieve their sufferings and strengthens them for resistance to our authority; while we are sure that the benefits thus conferred, tend in no degree to abate their rancorous hostility to our flag and Government.  If any hopes have been entertained that a liberal commercial policy might have a conciliatory effect, I fear they will not be realized.

“The method of correcting the evil which first suggests itself is restriction of the quantity of these articles which may be allowed to be shipped under one invoice, together with more careful investigation of the loyalty of persons permitted to trade.  Very limited amounts will sufficient to supply the wants of the truly loyal men of the Districts within our lines, for unfortunately they are not numerous, and outside (south) of our lines, I fear it is little better than a unanimous rebellion.  The evil is a great and growing one, and needs immediate attention.”

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 5, p 255-6

National Archives, RG 56, Letters Received from Executive Officers

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