Bernard Gaines Farrar's New York Times Interview
July 24, 1874

In this interview with The New York Times, Bernard Gaines Farrar recounts a scandal caused by General Tuttle while the two were stationed in Natchez and also gives detail about his own life after the war. 




ST. LOUIS, July 23. — Gen. B.F. Farrar, a stanch Republican, a prominent Grand Army man, and the officer who succeeded Gen. Tuttle in the command of the Department of Natchez, furnishes the second chapter in the war record of the gory Iowa Brigadier. At the time that Tuttle commanded at Natchez Major-Gen. Henry W. Slocum commanded Vicksburg and Gen. Farrar was in command at Fort McPherson. He is now a prosperous manufacturer in this city, and his memory in in excellent working order. He said: 

            “I am a Grand Army man myself, but I believe that Tuttle was guilty of an infernal outrage when he objected to the presence of the President of the United States at the national encampment. I am certain, also, that Tuttle only spoke for himself, and, perhaps, a few cranks, when he intimated that the President would be insulted if he attended the encampment. I know that the Grand Army men would not insult the President of the United States, and I am willing to bet that Tuttle had only a very small following in the Grand Army. 

“I raised the Thirtieth Missouri Regiment, and in the Spring of 1864 was in command o[f] Fort McPherson, at Natchez. The air, at the time, was filled with rumors of cotton jobbing, and Tuttle’s name was unpleasantly mentioned. Some time in the Winter of 1864, if my memory is right, Major-Gen. Slocum came to my headquarters at Fort McPherson. He referred to the cotton scandals and said that he could no longer tolerate Tuttle in command of the department. After some further conversation between us he said he intended to remove Tuttle that night, and appointed me to the command of the department. Soon after Gen. Slocum left an order was promulgated relieving Tuttle and appointing me to the department command. 

            “Soon after I assumed command Tuttle left for the North. About 20 minutes after the northbound New-Orleans boat had left, with Tuttle on board, the provost guard reported to me that Tuttle had taken with him a landau, that was confiscated from a planter some time before, and was used at department headquarters. The landau was a very valuable one, perhaps the finest manufactured at the time. It was fully worth $2,000. I immediately notified Gen. Slocum, and he ordered a gunboat to pursue the New-Orleans boat on which Tuttle was aboard, up the river, and recover the landau. The gunboat caught up with the passenger boat at Vicksburg, overhauled it, and recovered the landau. It was returned to Natchez, and I used it while I was in command of the department, and turned it over to my successor, Gen. Gavisson, of the regular army, when I was mustered out of the service. The landau was found among Tuttle’s effects on the New-Orleans boat by the commander of the gunboat sent to recover it by Gen. Slocum, and I can draw but one inference.” 

            “Did the affair create much scandal?”

            “Yes, indeed. It was the talk of the army at the time, and was a particularly luscious morsel for the rebels. The Natchez people seemed never to tire of talking of it, and they pointed many morals form the incident as to the character of prominent Union officers. Of course our people were shocked and endeavored to keep the matter as secret as possible, but in spite of our efforts it leaked out.” 

            “Was that the only scandal with which Gen. Tuttle was conspicuously identified?” 

            “Not by a long shot. When I was appointed to the command of the department, the cotton scandals were so great that Gen. Slocum ordered me to make an investigation and report upon Gen. Tuttle’s administration of the department. With the assistance of the Provost Marshal I made the investigation and submitted a report to Gen. Slocum. Soon after the report was made Gen. Tuttle was permitted to resign.”

            “What did your investigation reveal?”

            “Well, very little that was creditable to Gen. Tuttle, and much that was decidedly discreditable to him. We discovered that cotton planters and cotton buyers were arbitrarily arrested by order of Gen. Tuttle, confined in the county jail at Natchez, then under charge of the military, and as summarily released, in certain instances, after a short confinement. We discovered that there was a certain fellow who claimed to be a lawyer and to have the ear of Gen. Tuttle at all times. This fellow was from St. Louis, and if my memory serves me right his name was Hart. He was a constant companion of Gen. Tuttle, and hung around the General’s headquarters. We examined several cotton men who were summarily arrested without warrant of law, and as summarily released without warrant of law, and each of them testified that he had paid sums running into the thousands to the St. Louis lawyer. The total amount thus paid, so far as we could discover, was $74,000.

            “Of course I can’t say for certain that any of the money found its way into the pockets of Gen. Tuttle, but the man Hart told the victims that he could ‘work’ Gen. Tuttle, and with this understanding they paid their money. It is certain that Tuttle ordered the arrest of these men without a cause, and as soon as they had paid their money he released them without any explanation. It is difficult to draw more than one conclusion from this.”

“Was it the impression at the time that Tuttle left the army voluntarily?”

            “The impression prevailed that he was sent North in disgrace, and that he resigned in order to avoid a court-martial. It was looked upon at the time as a great favor — or a great outrage, in fact — that he was permitted to resign. I presume in the interest of decency, in order to prevent scandal, the authorities concluded to get rid of him by allowing him to resign.”

            “Do you think on the whole that Gen. Tuttle is the proper man to voice the sentiments of the surviving veterans of the Union Army?”

            “I do not. I don’t think that Tuttle would ever have been elected to an official position in the Grand Army organization if his record was known. Furthermore, I don’t think that he should be permitted to attend the Grand Army encampment. He insulted the President of the United States, and unless the Grand Army repudiates him the organization will suffer in public estimation.” 

            “What do you think of the pension business in a general way?” 

            “I think our pension system is a fraud. I raised three regiments, in whole or in part, and I am annoyed to death with able-bodied men coming to me to help get them pensions. Unless the man is decrepit I invariably refuse. The pension agitation is largely the work of claim agents and Congress, and the President should not be influenced by any artificial clamor.” 

            Gen. Farrar was no carpet soldier. He indulged in no cotton scandals, and he left the landau at Natchez. He remained in the service until the war was over, and has a record that he might well be proud of. He served as an aide-de-camp to Gen. Halleck and to Gen. Lyon, and led his regiment in many a bloody fray. 


“More of Tuttle’s Record,” The New York Times, July 24, 1874.