Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 35.djvu/342
328 Southern Historical Society Papers.
peror. As a statesman, he was credited with some shrewdness practical, self-possessed, as devoid of enthusiasm as free from prejudice. I had some acquaintance with him. I had met him privately several times before leaving France. I had introduced to him one of the delegates whom, at an early stage of the conflict, some of the Southern States had sent abroad (I believe it was the delegate from South Carolina), and had noticed on every occasion his readiness to receive information and the unbiased, practical view he took of the conflict. With him I could talk without hindrance. I could see him privately, in- formally. He could listen to me day after day without in any manner committing his government, ask any questions he liked, and elicit every information more freely from a mere eye-witness, bearing no credentials, than he could do from an authorized representative of the Confederate Government. Here, then, was an advantage which I intended to turn to account during a temporary absence from the field.
FOR "MODIFICATION OF SHAM NEUTRALITY/'
General H. W. Allen, an accomplished gentleman and dis- tinguished officer, still suffering from a wound received in the field, was then Governor of Louisiana. I enjoyed his friendship and confidence. He honored me with his esteem, and had lately offered me a presentation sword in the name of the State of Louisiana. To him I also imparted my purpose, and the question was fully discussed in all its bearings between him, General Kirby Smith, and myself. It is true that as to the intrinsic nature and merits of the conflict I could only repeat what others had said, yet both Governor Allen and General Kirby Smith concurred in the opinion that my acquaintance with the Duke de Morny was an interesting feature, which I might well try to turn to good account during a period of an- ticipated calm, in which my presence among my troops did not appear of absolute necessity. None of us three was over san- guine about the result of my undertaking, and in our wildest flights of fancy never looked to an armed intervention as within the range of human possibilities ; but it did not seem impossible to obtain a modification of a sham neutrality, which worked