Saturday, February 16, 2013

February 16, 1863: The cotton trade at Cairo, Illinois

The waterfront of Cairo, Illinois.

With all the cotton trading going on, it's amazing anyone found the time to fight a war.
Cairo, Ill., February 16, 1863.

SIR: We beg to remind you that Marcus A. and John L. Jones, late residents of Chicot County, Ark., having first procured your verbal permission to remove 23 bales of cotton on 3d instant, caused the same to be placed on board gunboat Tyler and reported to you, and it was afterwards by your order transferred to naval transport New National, and by her brought to this port and delivered to Captain Pennock, U. S. Navy, who, in the absence of your written instructions, does not feel at liberty to surrender the cotton to the owners, as was contemplated by you. One of the owners of the cotton was allowed to accompany it, with your verbal assurance that your official orders would place it at his command on arrival here. This, however, we presume you omitted to direct to be done, as Captain Pennock claims to have no authority from you for its delivery.

You will not fail to appreciate the disappointment of the owners, when we assure you that they are here in great destitution and distress, with a family of 10 persons and without a dollar in the world, and depending upon this remnant of their property to relieve them. It is a case appealing so directly to our sympathies that we could not refuse, at their urgent request, to call your attention to the facts, and ask you to direct that their property, against which there is not a pretext of complaint, be restored to them.



Acting Rear-Admiral D. D. PORTER,
U. S. Navy, Commanding Mississippi Squadron.

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