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31. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis to Lincoln on cotton speculation allegations against Curtis


31. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis to Lincoln on cotton speculation allegations against Curtis


Affidavit submitted by General Samuel R. Curtis to Abraham Lincoln discussing the charges of cotton speculation filed against him. General Curtis attributes the accusations to persons wishing to have him replaced with a pro-slavery commander, and to those opposed to Curtis' actions in Congress relative to the Army's reorganization. November 9, 1862. Copy.




Becki Plunkett and Stephen Vincent


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State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines

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Copy Head Quarters, Department of the Missouri, St. Louis, Mo., Nov. 9[,] 1862 Private When I came to this command I found a conspiracy had been going on, here and at Helena[, Arkansas], to break me down and secure a Pro-Slavery successor at Helena. I heard that a little drunken Irish strolling player, whom I had employed to go into rebel corners, where rowdies enrolled their bands and who left in a pet, because my Quartermaster would not let him steal horses, had been employed by some regular army officers to spy into affairs at Helena. I sent for him, and found evidence of the fact, which he acknowledged. On further inquiry from Capt. Winslow my chief Quartermaster whom they had sought to implicate I learned that he had found a California gambler whose name I have forgotten, but who was associated with a roguish man by the name of Sharp, whom I arrested and made pay our funds which I directed to go to the Quartermasters as the proceeds of a sale of rebel property, was also employed to get up charges against me. I immediately sent for Col. Allen chief Quarter Master of the Department, and demanded an explanation of such conduct-that no mans reputation could be safe if such men were made spies over officers; and their employment seemed to me unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. Col. Allen said his hands were clean: it had been done by Col. Haines or Col. Myers. The last man is an asst. Quartermaster whom I do not know but Col. Allen told me that Genl. Halleck had introduced this detective business, which he did not approve. He said the Californian had been a judge in California; I do not know him, but understand that I gave him a permit to buy cotton, but would not let him run a boat, and I probably interfered with his arrangements to pass beyond my lines. I should have preferred charges against Col. Myers and Col. Haines for employing such men to act as agents to spy against their peers and trade in cotton, but for the fact that Col. Allen said Genl. Halleck had introduced the system; and I would not do anything to expose what I considered at least a dangerous precedent and indiscretion. But my indignation expressed to Col. Allen in presence of my officers no doubt went to the ears of these men, and may have accelerated and intensified their effort to destroy me. I have, in Congress, and in the Army, urged the abandonment of a regular army, and the adoption of a volunteer system, which I believe will be an advantage to the service. I have thereby incurred the hatred of short sighted pimps of our army, who only care to get their pay and perpetuily [sic]. They may get testimony from Jews and Rebels to prove me a Cotton Speculator, but before God and my Country it is groundless. I started in the world poor and hold my own sadly. I have devoted my whole heart and soul and life to our cause, and it grieves me sadly to know that sympahtizers [sic] will have an opportunity to rejoice at assaults on Your obedient servant[,] S. R. Curtis (signed)