A civilian Cotton Dealer writes great letter from New Orleans in 1864! Four pages, period ink, sent to Providence, RI in March of 1864. A great look at the cotton market in the South at that time!
"....Your favor of 11th inst was received by the "Columbia's" mail, which arrived here on Monday last. I am very much obliged for the letter of introduction, which I found in enclosed. I shall wait for letters from home before leaving here, & hope to receive them by Friday evening, as the steamer sails on Saturday next. I think the sales you report, were made very favorably, and only hope that 141 B/C may turn out as well.
Our last report from N.Y. as to the 14th quoting a dull market at 76 1/2 or 77 c for Middling, so I find my views about prices have been wrong, but I still think that price can not go very low, yet I hear that the receipts at Memphis have been very large, & that the roads going East are blocked with cotton, as the Govt have taken all the transportation from Memphis to Chicago.
What will be the result of the operations now going on in Louisiana & Texas. A Large force have been sent to Alexandria, and it is said they are to operate in the Seche country, & this may let out a large amount of cotton. This market keeps up in despite of the decline in New York, and middlings are held at .73 although sales are made at about 72 or 72 1/2 c. There is a very limited supply of good cotton here, and they are readily taken at any price about 72 or 73 c. I received a box of clothing yesterday and am obliged for it as I was greatly in need of new clothes. I found it impossible to collect the reclamations in Memphis and find that there are only a few if any allowed here. The Factors refuse to follow the cotton away from this City as they only receive a commission for selling, and reclamations would soon eat up their earnings, if they allowed all that were presented. Mr. Mitchell has been looking into the matter of Texas cotton and will write to you at length, about it by this Steamer. I was offered 1/4 interest in 398 B/C that are on plantations within 12 miles of Alexandria, and most probably will be gotten out very soon now.
The price was $.25 per _, which would have made the cost about $9450. and would I think have proved a good venture as the gentleman that offered it to me was a friend of Mr. Mitchell's & a man that he had great confidence in. The Planters are interested in the Cotton with Wm Post, and would probably protect it from being destroyed. I felt that I could not do anything without first consulting you & so I declined the proposition. I think that the best chance I have seen for doubling the principle since I left home, & had I been in business now, would not have hesitated one moment. The weather here has not come out very warm yet, but it now looks as if there was a great change in the weather. With regards.
Your Obt Servnt,
William S. Smith.
Incredible look at the business side of the Cotton trade in Louisiana and Texas during the latter part of the war.
In fine condition with wear as shown in the scan.
$275.00 plus shipping