Union naval forces captured New Orleans in March 1862. The city on the Mississippi was a key to shipping as well as moving supplies and troops for both the Union and the Confederacy.
Col. George F. Shepley, commander of the 3rd Brigade, was soon named military commandant of the city. In May 1862, he received a "private and confidential" report on the state of the city and what Union forces might need to do to maintain peace there.
Among the comments Shepley received was one suggesting that "elections be not held under the control of the present municipal authority."
The report also refers to The Southern Independent Association, which "holds its meetings in open streets and has at its service a band of assassins who will maintain in New Orleans the reign of terror if not immediately arrested."
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