“If trade is opened under any general rule, all sorts of dishonest men will engage in it”

Aug 26 1863.  Up until now I have banned trade with civilians in order to prevent the rebel government from benefiting.  Now that Mississippi has been pacified, I am willing to open trade, but only if strictly supervised.  I wrote Sec. Stanton,

Memphis, Tenn., August 26, 1863.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:

Since the forces under my command moved south of Helena, Ark., I have prohibited trade with citizens entirely, because it would be better for our cause of this prohibition was general with all the States in rebellion. Trade, however, has been opened, under restrictions, I believe, in all the departments except this, and in this as far down as Helena. Under these circumstances I do not know but it would be advisable to open up means for those persons living within the States of Mississippi and Louisiana to obtain the necessaries of life and indispensable articles of clothing, &c. If trade is opened under any general rule, all sorts of dishonest men will engage in it, taking any oath or obligation necessary to secure the privilege. Smuggling will at once commence, as it did at Memphis, Helena, and every other place where trade has been allowed within the disloyal States, and the armed enemy will be enabled to procure from Norther markets every article they require.

In view of all these facts, I would recommend the appointment of a post sutler for each post occupied in those parts of the country where trade has not been opened, and authorize them to keep such articles as it is desirable should be supplied to citizens within our lines. Such persons would be under military control, and, being limited in number, such precautions might be taken as would prevent improper trade.




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 201-2

O.R., III, iii, p 721