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Title: Pictures of Southern Life - Social, Political, and Military.
Author: Russell, William Howard, Sir, 1820-1907
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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PICTURES

OF

SOUTHERN LIFE,

SOCIAL, POLITICAL, AND MILITARY.

WRITTEN FOR THE LONDON TIMES,

BY

WILLIAM HOWARD RUSSELL, LL. D.,

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.

NEW YORK:

James G. Gregory,

(SUCCESSOR TO W. A. TOWNSEND & CO.,)

46 WALKER STREET.

1861.



PICTURES OF SOUTHERN LIFE.


CHARLESTON, _April_ 30, 1861.[A]

  [A] Mr. Russell wrote one letter from Charleston previous to
  this, but it is occupied exclusively with a description of the
  appearance of Fort Sumter after the siege. His “Pictures of Southern
  Life” properly begin at the date above.

NOTHING I could say can be worth one fact which has forced itself upon
my mind in reference to the sentiments which prevail among the gentlemen
of this state. I have been among them for several days. I have visited
their plantations; I have conversed with them freely and fully, and I
have enjoyed that frank, courteous, and graceful intercourse which
constitutes an irresistible charm of their society. From all quarters
have come to my ears the echoes of the same voice; it may be feigned,
but there is no discord in the note, and it sounds in wonderful strength
and monotony all over the country. Shades of George III., of North, of
Johnson, of all who contended against the great rebellion which tore
these colonies from England, can you hear the chorus which rings through
the state of Marion, Sumter, and Pinckney, and not clap your ghostly
hands in triumph? That voice says, “If we could only get one of the
royal race of England to rule over us, we should be content.” Let there
be no misconception on this point. That sentiment, varied in a hundred
ways, has been repeated to me over and over again. There is a general
admission that the means to such an end are wanting, and that the desire
cannot be gratified. But the admiration for monarchical institutions on
the English model, for privileged classes, and for a landed aristocracy
and gentry, is undisguised and apparently genuine. With the pride of
having achieved their independence is mingled in the South Carolinians’
hearts a strange regret at the result and consequences, and many are
they who “would go back to-morrow if we could.” An intense affection for
the British connection, a love of British habits and customs, a respect
for British sentiment, law, authority, order, civilization, and
literature, pre-eminently distinguish the inhabitants of this state,
who, glorying in their descent from ancient families on the three
islands, whose fortunes they still follow, and with whose members they
maintain not unfrequently familiar relations, regard with an aversion of
which it is impossible to give an idea to one who has not seen its
manifestations, the people of New England and the populations of the
Northern States, whom they regard as tainted beyond cure by the venom of
“Puritanism.” Whatever may be the cause, this is the fact and the
effect. “The state of South Carolina was,” I am told, “founded by
gentlemen.” It was not established by witch-burning Puritans, by cruel
persecuting fanatics, who implanted in the North the standard of
Torquemada, and breathed into the nostrils of their newly-born colonies
all the ferocity, bloodthirstiness, and rabid intolerance of the
Inquisition. It is absolutely astounding to a stranger who aims at the
preservation of a decent neutrality to mark the violence of these
opinions. “If that confounded ship had sunk with those ---- Pilgrim
Fathers on board,” says one, “we never should have been driven to these
extremities!” “We could have got on with the fanatics if they had been
either Christians or gentlemen,” says another; “for in the first case
they would have acted with common charity, and in the second they would
have fought when they insulted us; but there are neither Christians nor
gentlemen among them!” “Any thing on the earth!” exclaims a third, “any
form of government, any tyranny or despotism you will; but”--and here is
an appeal more terrible than the adjuration of all the gods--“nothing on
earth shall ever induce us to submit to any union with the brutal,
bigoted blackguards of the New England States, who neither comprehend
nor regard the feelings of gentlemen! Man, woman, and child, we’ll die
first.” Imagine these and an infinite variety of similar sentiments
uttered by courtly, well-educated men, who set great store on a nice
observance of the usages of society, and who are only moved to extreme
bitterness and anger when they speak of the North, and you will fail to
conceive the intensity of the dislike of the South Carolinians for the
free states. There are national antipathies on our side of the Atlantic
which are tolerably strong, and have been unfortunately pertinacious and
long-lived. The hatred of the Italian for the Tedesco, of the Greek for
the Turk, of the Turk for the Russ, is warm and fierce enough to satisfy
the Prince of Darkness, not to speak of a few little pet aversions among
allied powers and the atoms of composite empires; but they are all mere
indifference and neutrality of feeling compared to the animosity evinced
the “gentry” of South Carolina for the “rabble of the North.”

The contests of Cavalier and Roundhead, of Vendean and Republican, even
of Orangeman and Croppy, have been elegant joustings, regulated by the
finest rules of chivalry, compared with those which North and South will
carry on if their deeds support their words. “Immortal hate, the study
of revenge,” will actuate every blow, and never in the history of the
world, perhaps, will go forth such a dreadful _væ victis_ as that which
may be heard before the fight has begun. There is nothing in all the
dark caves of human passion so cruel and deadly as the hatred the South
Carolinians profess for the Yankees. That hatred has been swelling for
years till it is the very life-blood of the state. It has set South
Carolina to work steadily to organize her resources for the struggle
which she intended to provoke if it did not come in the course of time.
“Incompatibility of temper” would have been sufficient ground for the
divorce, and I am satisfied that there has been a deep-rooted design,
conceived in some men’s minds thirty years ago, and extended gradually
year after year to others, to break away from the Union at the very
first opportunity. The North is to South Carolina a corrupt and evil
thing, to which for long years she has been bound by burning chains,
while monopolists and manufacturers fed on her tender limbs. She has
been bound in a Maxentian union to the object she loathes. New England
is to her the incarnation of moral and political wickedness and social
corruption. It is the source of every thing which South Carolina hates,
and of the torrents of free thought and taxed manufactures, of
Abolitionism and of Filibustering, which have flooded the land. Believe
a Southern man as he believes himself, and you must regard New England
and the kindred states as the birthplace of impurity of mind among men
and of unchastity in women--the home of Free Love, of Fourierism, of
Infidelity, of Abolitionism, of false teachings in political economy and
in social life; a land saturated with the drippings of rotten
philosophy, with the poisonous infections of a fanatic press; without
honor or modesty; whose wisdom is paltry cunning, whose valor and
manhood have been swallowed up in a corrupt, howling demagogy, and in
the marts of a dishonest commerce. It is the merchants of New York who
fit out ships for the slave-trade, and carry it on in Yankee ships. It
is the capital of the North which supports, and it is Northern men who
concoct and execute, the filibustering expeditions which have brought
discredit on the slave-holding states. In the large cities people are
corrupted by itinerant and ignorant lecturers--in the towns and in the
country by an unprincipled press. The populations, indeed, know how to
read and write, but they don’t know how to think, and they are the easy
victims of the wretched impostors on all the ’ologies and ’isms who
swarm over the region, and subsist by lecturing on subjects which the
innate vices of mankind induce them to accept with eagerness, while they
assume the garb of philosophical abstractions to cover their nastiness,
in deference to a contemptible and universal hypocrisy.

    “Who fills the butchers’ shops with large blue flies?”

Assuredly the New England demon, who has been persecuting the South
until its intolerable cruelty and insolence forced her, in a spasm of
agony, to rend her chains asunder. The New Englander must have something
to persecute, and as he has hunted down all his Indians, burnt all his
witches, and persecuted all his opponents to the death, he invented
Abolitionism as the sole resource left to him for the gratification of
his favorite passion. Next to this motive principle is his desire to
make money dishonestly, trickily, meanly, and shabbily. He has acted on
it in all his relations with the South, and has cheated and plundered
her in all his dealings by villainous tariffs. If one objects that the
South must have been a party to this, because her boast is that her
statesmen have ruled the government of the country, you are told that
the South yielded out of pure good-nature. Now, however, she will have
free-trade, and will open the coasting trade to foreign nations, and
shut out from it the hated Yankees, who so long monopolized and made
their fortunes by it. Under all the varied burdens and miseries to which
she was subjected, the South held fast to her sheet-anchor. South
Carolina was the mooring-ground in which it found the surest hold. The
doctrine of State Rights was her salvation, and the fiercer the storm
raged against her--the more stoutly demagogy, immigrant preponderance,
and the blasts of universal suffrage bore down on her, threatening to
sweep away the vested interests of the South in her right to govern the
states--the greater was her confidence and the more resolutely she held
on her cable. The North attracted “hordes of ignorant Germans and
Irish,” and the scum of Europe, while the South repelled them. The
industry, the capital of the North increased with enormous rapidity,
under the influence of cheap labor and manufacturing ingenuity and
enterprise, in the villages which swelled into towns, and the towns
which became cities, under the unenvious eye of the South. She, on the
contrary, toiled on slowly, clearing forests and draining swamps to find
new cotton-grounds and rice-fields, for the employment of her only
industry and for the development of her only capital--“involuntary
labor.” The tide of immigration waxed stronger, and by degrees she saw
the districts into which she claimed the right to introduce that capital
closed against her, and occupied by free labor. The doctrine of squatter
“sovereignty,” and the force of hostile tariffs, which placed a heavy
duty on the very articles which the South most required, completed the
measure of injuries to which she was subjected, and the spirit of
discontent found vent in fiery debate, in personal insults, and in
acrimonious speaking and writing, which increased in intensity in
proportion as the Abolition movement, and the contest between the
Federal principle and State Rights became more vehement. I am desirous
of showing in a few words, for the information of English readers, how
it is that the Confederacy which Europe knew simply as a political
entity has succeeded in dividing itself. The slave states held the
doctrine, or say they did, that each state was independent, as France or
as England, but that for certain purposes they chose a common agent to
deal with foreign nations, and to impose taxes for the purpose of paying
the expenses of the agency. We, it appears, talked of American citizens
when there were no such beings at all. There were, indeed, citizens of
the sovereign state of South Carolina, or of Georgia or Florida, who
permitted themselves to pass under that designation, but it was merely
as a matter of personal convenience. It will be difficult for Europeans
to understand this doctrine, as nothing like it has been heard before,
and no such Confederation of sovereign states has ever existed in any
country in the world. The Northern men deny that it existed here, and
claim for the Federal Government powers not compatible with such
assumptions. _They_ have lived for the Union, they served it, they
labored for and made money by it. A man as a New York man was
nothing--as an American citizen he was a great deal. A South Carolinian
objected to lose his identity in any description which included him and
a “Yankee clockmaker” in the same category. The Union was against him;
he remembered that he came from a race of English gentlemen who had been
persecuted by the representatives--for he will not call them the
ancestors--of the Puritans of New England, and he thought that they were
animated by the same hostility to himself. He was proud of old names,
and he felt pleasure in tracing his connection with old families in the
old country. His plantations were held by old charters, or had been in
the hands of his fathers for several generations; and he delighted to
remember that when the Stuarts were banished from their throne and their
country, the burgesses of South Carolina had solemnly elected the
wandering Charles king of their state, and had offered him an asylum and
a kingdom. The philosophical historian may exercise his ingenuity in
conjecturing what would have been the result if this fugitive had
carried his fortunes to Charleston.

South Carolina contains 34,000 square miles, and a population of 720,000
inhabitants, of whom 385,000 are black slaves. In the old rebellion it
was distracted between revolutionary principles and the loyalist
predilections, and at least one half of the planters were faithful to
George III., nor did they yield till Washington sent an army to support
their antagonists, and drove them from the colony.

In my next letter I shall give a brief account of a visit to some of
the planters, as far as it can be made consistent with the obligations
which the rites and rights of hospitality impose on the guest as well as
upon the host. These gentlemen are well-bred, courteous, and hospitable.
A genuine aristocracy, they have time to cultivate their minds, to apply
themselves to politics and the guidance of public affairs. They travel
and read, love field-sports, racing, shooting, hunting, and fishing, are
bold horsemen, and good shots. But, after all, their state is a modern
Sparta--an aristocracy resting on a helotry, and with nothing else to
rest upon. Although they profess (and I believe, indeed, sincerely) to
hold opinions in opposition to the opening of the slave-trade, it is
nevertheless true that the clause in the constitution of the Confederate
States which prohibited the importation of negroes was especially and
energetically resisted by them, because, as they say, it seemed to be an
admission that slavery was in itself an evil and a wrong. Their whole
system rests on slavery, and as such they defend it. They entertain very
exaggerated ideas of the military strength of their little community,
although one may do full justice to its military spirit. Out of their
whole population they cannot reckon more than 60,000 adult men by any
arithmetic, and as there are nearly 30,000 plantations which must be,
according to law, superintended by white men, a considerable number of
these adults cannot be spared from the state for service in the open
field. The planters boast that they can raise their crops without any
inconvenience by the labor of their negroes, and they seem confident
that the negroes will work without superintendence. But the experiment
is rather dangerous, and it will only be tried in the last extremity.

       *       *       *       *       *

SAVANNAH, GA., _May_ 1, 1861.

It is said that “fools build houses for wise men to live in.” Be that
true or not, it is certain that “Uncle Sam” has built strong places for
his enemies to occupy. To-day I have visited Fort Pulaski, which defends
the mouth of the Savannah River and the approaches to the city. It was
left to take care of itself, and the Georgians quietly stepped into it,
and have been busied in completing its defences, so that it is now
capable of stopping a fleet very effectually. Pulaski was a Pole who
fell in the defence of Savannah against the British, and whose memory is
perpetuated in the name of the fort, which is now under the Confederate
flag, and garrisoned by bitter foes of the United States. Among our
party were Commodore Tatnall, whose name will be familiar to English
ears in connection with the attack on the Peiho Forts, where the gallant
American showed the world that “blood was thicker than water;”
Brigadier-General Lawton, in command of the forces of Georgia, and a
number of naval and military officers, of whom many had belonged to the
United States regular services. It was strange to look at such a man as
the commodore, who, for forty-nine long years, had served under the
stars and stripes, quietly preparing to meet his old comrades and
friends, if needs be, in the battle-field--his allegiance to the country
and to the flag renounced, his long service flung away, his old ties and
connections severed--and all this in defence of the sacred right of
rebellion on the part of “his state.” He is not now, nor has he been for
years, a slave-owner; all his family and familiar associations connect
him with the North. There are no naval stations on the Southern coasts
except one at Pensacola, and he knows almost no one in the South. He has
no fortune whatever, his fleet consists of two small river or coasting
steamers, without guns, and as he said, in talking over the resources of
the South, “My bones will be bleached many a long year before the
Confederate States can hope to have a navy.” “State Rights!” To us the
question is simply inexplicable or absurd. And yet thousands of
Americans sacrifice all for it. The river at Savannah is broad as the
Thames at Gravesend, and resembles that stream very much in the color of
its waters and the level nature of its shores. Rice-fields bound it on
either side, as far down as the influence of the fresh water extends,
and the eye wanders over a flat expanse of mud and water, and green
oziers and rushes, till its search is arrested on the horizon by the
unfailing line of forest. In the fields here and there, are the
whitewashed, square, wooden huts in which the slaves dwell, looking very
like the beginnings of the camp in the Crimea. At one point a small
fort, covering a creek, by which gun-boats could get up behind Savannah,
displayed its “garrison” on the walls, and lowered its flag to salute
the small blue ensign at the fore, which proclaimed the presence of the
commodore of the naval forces of Georgia on board our steamer. The guns
on the parapet were mostly field-pieces, mounted on frameworks of wood
instead of regular carriages. There is no mistake about the spirit of
these people. They seize upon every spot of vantage ground and prepare
it for defence. There were very few ships in the river; the yacht
Camilla, better known as the America, the property of Captain Deasy, and
several others of those few sailing under British colors, for most of
the cotton ships are gone. After steaming down the river about twelve
miles the sea opened out to the sight, and on a long marshy, narrow
island near the bar, which was marked by the yellow surf, Fort Pulaski
threw out the Confederate flag to the air of the Georgian 1st of May.
The water was too shallow to permit the steamer to go up to the jetty,
and the party landed at the wharf in boats. A guard was on duty at the
landing--tall, stout young fellows, in various uniforms, or in rude
mufti, in which the Garibaldian red shirt, and felt slouched hats
predominated. They were armed with smooth-bore muskets (date 1851),
quite new, and their bayonets, barrels, and locks, were bright and
clean. The officer on duty was dressed in the blue frock-coat, dear to
the British linesman in days gone by, with brass buttons, emblazoned
with the arms of the state, a red silk sash, and glazed kepi, and
straw-colored gauntlets. Several wooden huts, with flower-gardens in
front, were occupied by the officers of the garrison; others were used
as hospitals, and were full of men suffering from measles of a mild
type. A few minutes’ walk led us to the fort, which is an irregular
pentagon, with the base line or curtain face inlands, and the other
faces casemated and bearing on the approaches. The curtain, which is
simply crenellated, is covered by a redan surrounded by a deep ditch,
inside the parapet of which are granite platforms ready for the
reception of guns. The parapet is thick, and the scarp and counterscarp
are faced with solid masonry. A drawbridge affords access to the
interior of the redan, whence the gate of the fort is approached across
a deep and broad moat, which is crossed by another drawbridge. As the
commodore entered the redan, the guns of the fort broke out into a long
salute, and the band at the gate struck up almost as noisy a welcome.
Inside, the parade presented a scene of life and animation very unlike
the silence of the city we had left. Men were busy clearing out the
casemates, rolling away stores and casks of ammunition and provisions,
others were at work at the gin and shears, others building sand-bag
traverses to guard the magazine doors, as though expecting an immediate
attack. Many officers were strolling under the shade of an open gallery
at the side of the curtain which contained their quarters in the lofty
bomb-proof casemates. Some of them had seen service in Mexican or border
warfare; some had travelled over Italian and Crimean battle-fields;
others were West Point graduates of the regular army; others young
planters, clerks, or civilians, who rushed with ardor into the first
Georgian regiment. The garrison of the fort is some 650 men, and fully
that number were in and about the work, their tents being pitched inside
the redan, or on the terreplein of the parapets. The walls are
exceedingly solid, and well built of gray brick, strong as iron, and
upward of six feet in thickness, the casemates and bomb-proofs being
lofty, airy, and capacious as any I have ever seen, though there is not
quite depth enough between the walls at the salient and the
gun-carriages. The work is intended for 128 guns, of which about one
fourth are mounted on the casemates. They are long 32’s, with a few
42’s and columbiads. The armaments will be exceedingly heavy when all
the guns are mounted, and they are fast getting the ten-inch columbiads
into position _en barbette_. Every thing which could be required, except
mortars, was in abundance--the platforms and gun-carriages are solid and
well made, the embrasures of the casemates are admirably constructed,
and the ventilation of the bomb-proof carefully provided for. There are
three furnaces for heating redhot shot. Nor is discipline neglected, and
the officers with whom I went round the works were as sharp in tone and
manner to their men as volunteers well could be, though the latter often
are enlisted for only three years by the state of Georgia. An excellent
lunch was spread in the casemated bomb-proof which served as the
colonel’s quarter, and before sunset the party were steaming toward
Savannah through a tide-way full of leaping sturgeon and porpoises,
leaving the garrison intent on the approach of a large ship, which had
her sails aback off the bar, and hoisted the stars and stripes, but
which turned out to be nothing more formidable than a Liverpool cotton
ship. It will take some hard blows before Georgia is driven to let go
her grip of Fort Pulaski. The channel is very narrow, and passes close
to the guns of the fort. The means of completing the armament have been
furnished by the stores of Norfolk Navy-Yard, where between 700 and 800
guns have fallen into the hands of the Confederates; and, if there are
no columbiads among them, the Merrimac and other ships, which have been
raised, as we hear, with guns uninjured, will yield up their Dahlgrens
to turn their muzzles against their old masters.

_May_ 2.--May Day was so well kept yesterday that the exhausted editors
cannot “bring out” their papers, and consequently there is no news; but
there is, nevertheless, much to be said concerning “our President’s”
message, and there is a suddenness of admiration for pacific tendencies
which can with difficulty be accounted for, unless the news from the
North these last few days has something to do with it. Not a word now
about an instant march on Washington! no more threats to seize Faneuil
Hall! The Georgians are by no means so keen as the Carolinians on their
border--nay, they are not so belligerent to-day as they were a week ago.
Mr. Jefferson Davis’s message is praised for its “moderation” and for
other qualities which were by no means in such favor while the Sumter
fever was at its height. Men look grave and talk about the interference
of England and France, which “cannot allow this thing to go on.” But the
change which has come over them is unmistakable, and the best men begin
to look grave. As for me, I must prepare to open my lines of retreat--my
communications are in danger.


MONTGOMERY, CAPITAL OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA,

_May_ 8, 1861.

In my last letter I gave an account of such matters as passed under my
notice on my way to this city, which I reached, as you are aware, on the
night of Saturday, May 4. I am on difficult ground, the land is on fire,
the earth is shaking with the tramp of armed men, and the very air is
hot with passion. My communications are cut off, or are at best
accidental, and in order to reopen them I must get further away from
them, paradoxical as the statement may appear to be. It is impossible to
know what is going on in the North, and it is almost the same to learn
what is doing in the South out of eye-shot; it is useless to inquire
what news is sent to you to England. Events hurry on with tremendous
rapidity, and even the lightning lags behind them. The people of the
South at last are aware that the “Yankees” are preparing to support the
government of the United States, and that the Secession can only be
maintained by victory in the field. There has been a change in their war
policy. They now aver that “they only want to be left alone,” and they
declare that they do not intend to take Washington, and that it was
merely as a feint they spoke about it. The fact is, there are even in
the compact and united South men of moderate and men of extreme views,
and the general tone of the whole is regulated by the preponderance of
one or other at the moment. I have no doubt on my mind that the
government here intended to attack and occupy Washington--not the least
that they had it much at heart to reduce Fort Pickens as soon as
possible. Now some of their friends say that it will be a mere matter of
convenience whether they attack Washington or not, and that, as for Fort
Pickens, they will certainly let it alone, at all events for the
present, inasmuch as the menacing attitude of General Bragg obliges the
enemy to keep a squadron of their best ships there and to retain a force
of regulars they can ill spare in a position where they must soon lose
enormously from diseases incidental to the climate. They have
discovered, too, that the position is of little value so long as the
United States hold Tortugas and Key West. But the Confederates are
preparing for the conflict, and when they have organized their forces,
they will make, I am satisfied, a very resolute advance all along the
line. They are at present strong enough, they suppose, in their domestic
resources, and in the difficulties presented to a hostile force by the
nature of the country, to bid defiance to invasion, or, at all events,
to inflict a very severe chastisement on the invaders, and their excited
manner of speech so acts upon their minds that they begin to think they
can defy, not merely the United States, but the world. Thus it is that
they declare they never can be conquered, that they will die, to a man,
woman, and child, first, and that if 50,000, or any number of thousands
of black republicans get 100 miles into Virginia, not one man of them
shall ever get out alive. Behind all this talk, however, there is
immense energy, great resolution, and fixed principles of action. Their
strategy consists in keeping quiet till they have their troops well in
hand, in such numbers and discipline as shall give them fair grounds for
expecting success in any campaign with the United States troops. They
are preparing with vigor to render the descent of the Mississippi
impossible, by erecting batteries on the commanding levees, or
embankments which hem in its waters for upwards of 800 miles of bank,
and they are occupying, as far as they can, all the strategical points
of attack or defence within their borders. When every thing is ready, it
is not improbable that Mr. Jefferson Davis will take command of the
army, for he is reported to have a high ambition to acquire reputation
as a general, and in virtue of his office he is generalissimo of the
armies of the Confederate States. It will be remarked that this plan
rests on the assumption that the United States cannot or will not wage
an offensive war, or obtain any success in their attempts to recover the
forts and other property of the Federal government. They firmly believe
the war will not last a year, and that 1862 will behold a victorious,
compact, slaveholding confederate power of fifteen states under a strong
government, prepared to hold its own against the world, or that portion
of it which may attack it. I now but repeat the sentiments and
expectations of those around me. They believe in the irresistible power
of cotton, in the natural alliance between manufacturing England and
France and the cotton-producing slave states, in the force of their
simple tariff, and in the interests which arise out of a system of free
trade, which, however, by a rigorous legislation, they will interdict to
their neighbors in the free states, and only open for the benefit of
their foreign customers. Commercially, and politically, and militarily,
they have made up their minds, and never was there such confidence
exhibited by any people in the future as they have, or pretend to have,
in their destiny. Listen to their programme.

It is intended to buy up all the cotton crop which can be brought into
the market at an average price, and to give bonds of the Confederate
States for the amount, these bonds being, as we know, secured by the
export duty on cotton. The government, with this cotton crop in its own
hands, will use it as a formidable machine of war, for cotton can do any
thing, from the establishment of an empire to the securing of a shirt
button. It is at once king and subject, master and servant, captain and
soldier, artilleryman and gun. Not one bale of cotton will be permitted
to enter the Northern States. It will be made an offence punishable
with tremendous penalties, among which confiscation of property,
enormous fines, and even the penalty of death, are enumerated, to send
cotton into the free states. Thus Lowell and its kindred factories will
be reduced to ruin, it is said, and the North to the direst distress. If
Manchester can get cotton and Lowell cannot, there are good times coming
for the mill-owners.

The planters have agreed among themselves to hold over one half of their
cotton crop for their own purposes and for the culture of their fields,
and to sell the other to the government. For each bale of cotton, as I
hear, a bond will be issued on the fair average price of cotton in the
market, and this bond must be taken at par as a circulating medium
within the limits of the slave states. This forced circulation will be
secured by the act of the legislature. The bonds will bear interest at
ten per cent., and they will be issued on the faith and security of the
proceeds of the duty of one eighth of a cent on every pound of cotton
exported. All vessels loading with cotton will be obliged to enter into
bonds or give security that they will not carry their cargoes to
Northern ports, or let it reach Northern markets to their knowledge. The
government will sell the cotton for cash to foreign buyers, and will
thus raise funds amply sufficient, they contend, for all purposes. I
make these bare statements, and I leave to political economists the
discussion of the question which may and will arise out of the acts of
the Confederate States. The Southerners argue that by breaking from
their unnatural alliance with the North they will save upward of
$47,000,000, or nearly £10,000,000 sterling annually. The estimated
value of the annual cotton crop is $200,000,000. On this the North
formerly made at least $10,000,000, by advances, interest and exchanges,
which in all came to fully five per cent. on the whole of the crop.
Again, the tariff to raise revenue sufficient for the maintenance of the
government of the Southern Confederacy is far less than that which is
required by the government of the United States. The Confederate States
propose to have a tariff which will be about 12½ per cent. on imports,
which will yield $25,000,000. The Northern tariff is 30 per cent., and
as the South took from the North $70,000,000 worth of manufactured goods
and produce, they contribute, they assert, to the maintenance of the
North to the extent of the difference between the tax sufficient for the
support of their government and that which is required for the support
of the Federal government. Now they will save the difference between 30
per cent. and 12½ per cent. (17½ per ct.), which amounts to $37,000,000,
which, added to the saving on commissions, exchanges, advances, &c.,
makes up the good round sum which I have put down higher up. The
Southerners are firmly convinced that they have “kept the North going”
by the prices they have paid for the protected articles of their
manufacture, and they hold out to Sheffield, to Manchester, to Leeds, to
Wolverhampton, to Dudley, to Paris, to Lyons, to Bordeaux, to all the
centres of English manufacturing life, as of French taste and luxury,
the tempting baits of new and eager and hungry markets. If their facts
and statistics are accurate, there can be no doubt of the justice of
their deductions on many points; but they can scarcely be correct in
assuming that they will bring the United States to destruction by
cutting off from Lowell the 600,000 bales of cotton which she usually
consumes. One great fact, however, is unquestionable--the government has
in its hands the souls, the wealth, and the hearts of the people. They
will give anything--money, labor, life itself--to carry out their
theories. “Sir,” said an ex-governor of this state to me to-day, “sooner
than submit to the North, we will all become subject to Great Britain
again.” The same gentleman is one of many who have given to the
government a large portion of their cotton crop every year as a
free-will offering. In this instance his gift is one of 500 bales of
cotton, or £5,000 per annum, and the papers teem with accounts of
similar “patriotism” and devotion. The ladies are all making sand-bags,
cartridges, and uniforms, and, if possible, they are more fierce than
the men. The time for mediation is past, if it ever were at hand or
present at all; and it is scarcely possible now to prevent the processes
of phlebotomization which are supposed to secure peace and repose.

There was no intelligence of much interest on Sunday, but there is a
general belief that Arkansas and Missouri will send in their adhesion to
the Confederacy this week, and the Commissioners from Virginia are
hourly expected. The attitude of that state, however, gives rise to
apprehensions lest there may be a division of her strength; and any
aggression on her territories by the Federal government, such as that
contemplated in taking possession of Alexandria, would be hailed by the
Montgomery government with sincere joy, as it would, they think, move
the state to more rapid action and decision.

Montgomery is on an undulating plain, and covers ground large enough for
a city of 200,000 inhabitants, but its population is only 12,000.
Indeed, the politicians here appear to dislike large cities, but the
city designers certainly prepare to take them if they come. There is a
large negro population, and a considerable number of a color which
forces me to doubt the evidence of my senses rather than the statements
made to me by some of my friends, that the planters affect the character
of parent in their moral relations merely with the negro race. A waiter
at the hotel--a tall, handsome young fellow, with the least tinge of
color in his cheek, not as dark as the majority of Spaniards or
Italians--astonished me in my ignorance to-day when, in reply to a
question asked by one of our party, in consequence of a discussion on
the point, he informed me he “was a slave.” The man, as he said so,
looked confused; his manner altered. He had been talking familiarly to
us, but the moment he replied, “I am a slave, sir,” his loquacity
disappeared, and he walked hurriedly and in silence out of the room. The
River Alabama, on which the city rests, is a wide, deep stream, now a
quarter of a mile in breadth, with a current of four miles an hour. It
is navigable to Mobile, upward of 400 miles, and steamers ascend its
waters for many miles beyond this into the interior. The country around
is well wooded, and is richly cultivated in broad fields of cotton and
Indian corn, but the neighborhood is not healthy, and deadly fevers are
said to prevail at certain seasons of the year. There is not much
animation in the streets, except when “there is a difficulty among the
citizens,” or in the eternal noise of the hotel steps and bars. I was
told this morning by the hotel keeper that I was probably the only
person in the house, or about it, who had not loaded revolvers in his
pockets, and one is aware occasionally of an unnatural rigidity scarcely
attributable to the osseous structure in the persons of those who pass
one in the crowded passages.

_Monday, May_ 6.--To-day I visited the capitol, where the Provisional
Congress is sitting. On leaving the hotel, which is like a small
Willard’s, so far as the crowd in the hall is concerned, my attention
was attracted to a group of people to whom a man was holding forth in
energetic sentences. The day was hot, but I pushed near to the spot, for
I like to hear a stump-speech, or to pick up a stray morsel of divinity
in the _via sacra_ of strange cities, and it appeared as though the
speaker was delivering an oration or a sermon. The crowd was small.
Three or four idle men in rough, homespun, makeshift uniforms, leaned
against the iron rails enclosing a small pond of foul, green-looking
water, surrounded by brick-work, which decorates the space in front of
the Exchange hotel. The speaker stood on an empty deal packing-case. A
man in a cart was listening with a lacklustre eye to the address. Some
three or four others, in a sort of vehicle which might either be a
hearse or a piano van, had also drawn up for the benefit of the address.
Five or six other men, in long black coats and high hats, some whittling
sticks, and chewing tobacco, and discharging streams of discolored
saliva, completed the group. “N-i-n-e h’hun’ nerd and fifty dollars?
Only nine h-hun nerd and fifty dollars offered for him!” exclaimed the
man, in the tone of injured dignity, remonstrance and surprise, which
can be insinuated by all true auctioneers into the dryest numerical
statements. “Will _no one_ make any advance on nine hundred and fifty
dollars?” A man near me opened his mouth, spat, and said, “twenty-five.”
“Only nine hundred and seventy-five dollars offered for him. Why, at’s
radaklous--only nine hundred and seventy-five dollars! Will no one,” &c.
Beside the orator auctioneer stood a stout young man of five-and-twenty
years of age, with a bundle in his hand. He was a muscular fellow,
broad-shouldered, narrow flanked, but rather small in stature; he had on
a broad, greasy, old wide-awake, a blue jacket, a coarse cotton shirt,
loose and rather ragged trowsers, and broken shoes. The expression of
his face was heavy and sad, but it was by no means disagreeable, in
spite of his thick lips, broad nostrils, and high cheek-bones. On his
head was wool instead of hair. I am neither sentimentalist nor black
republican, nor negro-worshipper, but I confess the sight caused a
strange thrill through my heart. I tried in vain to make myself familiar
with the fact that I could, for the sum of $975, become as absolutely
the owner of that mass of blood, bones, sinew, flesh, and brains, as of
the horse which stood by my side. There was no sophistry which could
persuade me the man was not a man--he was, indeed, by no means my
brother, but assuredly he was a fellow-creature. I have seen slave
markets in the East, but somehow or other the Orientalism of the scene
cast a coloring over the nature of the sales there which deprived them
of the disagreeable harshness and matter-of-fact character of the
transaction before me. For Turk, or Smyrniote, or Egyptian to buy and
sell slaves seemed rather suited to the eternal fitness of things than
otherwise. The turbaned, shawled, loose-trowsered, pipe-smoking
merchants speaking an unknown tongue looked as if they were engaged in a
legitimate business. One knew that their slaves would not be condemned
to any very hard labor, and that they would be in some sort the inmates
of the family, and members of it. Here it grated on my ear to listen to
the familiar tones of the English tongue as the medium by which the
transfer was effected, and it was painful to see decent-looking men in
European garb engaged in the work before me. Perchance these impressions
may wear off, for I meet many English people who are the most strenuous
advocates of the slave system, although it is true that their
perceptions may be quickened to recognize its beauties by their
participation in the profits. The negro was sold to one of the
bystanders, and walked off with his bundle, God knows where. “Niggers is
cheap,” was the only remark of the bystanders. I continued my walk up a
long, wide, straight street, or more properly, an unpaved sandy road,
lined with wooden houses on each side, and with trees by the side of the
footpath. The lower of the two stories is generally used as a shop,
mostly of the miscellaneous store kind, in which all sorts of articles
are to be had if there is any money to pay for them; and, in the present
case, if any faith is to be attached to the conspicuous notices in the
windows, credit is of no credit, and the only thing that can be accepted
in exchange for the goods is “cash.” At the end of this long street, on
a moderate eminence, stands a whitewashed or painted edifice, with a
gaunt, lean portico, supported on lofty lanky pillars, and surmounted by
a subdued and dejected-looking little cupola. Passing an unkempt lawn,
through a very shabby little gateway in a brick frame, and we ascend a
flight of steps into a hall, from which a double staircase conducts us
to the vestibule of the chamber. Any thing much more offensive to the
eye cannot well be imagined than the floor and stairs. They are stained
deeply by tobacco juice, which has left its marks on the white stone
steps and on the base of the pillars outside. In the hall which we have
entered there are two tables, covered with hams, oranges, bread and
fruits, for the refreshment of members and visitors, over which two
sable goddesses, in portentous crinoline, preside. The door of the
chamber is open, and we are introduced into a lofty, well-lighted and
commodious apartment, in which the Congress of the Confederate States
holds its deliberations. A gallery runs half round the room, and is half
filled with visitors--country cousins, and farmers of cotton and maize,
and, haply, seekers of places great or small. A light and low
semicircular screen separates the body of the house, where the members
sit, from the space under the gallery, which is appropriated to ladies
and visitors. The clerk sits at a desk above this table, and on a
platform behind him are the desk and chair of the presiding officer or
Speaker of the Congress. Over his head hangs the unfailing portrait of
Washington, and a small engraving, in a black frame, of a gentleman
unknown to me. Seated in the midst of them, at a senator’s desk, I was
permitted to “assist,” in the French sense, at the deliberations of the
Congress. Mr. Howell Cobb took the chair, and a white-headed clergyman
was called upon to say prayers, which he did, upstanding, with
outstretched hands and closed eyes, by the side of the speaker. The
prayer was long and sulphureous. One more pregnant with gunpowder I
never heard, nor could aught like it have been heard since.

    “Pulpit, drum ecclesiastic,
     Was beat with fist instead of stick.”

The reverend gentleman prayed that the Almighty might be pleased to
inflict on the arms of the United States such a defeat that it might be
the example of signal punishment forever--that this president might be
blessed, and the other president might be the other thing--that the
gallant, devoted young soldiers who were fighting for their country
might not suffer from exposure to the weather or from the bullets of
their enemies; and that the base mercenaries who were fighting on the
other side might come to sure and swift destruction, and so on.

Are right and wrong mere geographical expressions? The prayer was over
at last, and the house proceeded to business. Although each state has
several delegates in Congress, it is only entitled to one vote on a
strict division. In this way some curious decisions may be arrived at,
as the smallest state is equal to the largest, and a majority of the
Florida representatives may neutralize a vote of all the Georgia
representatives. For example, Georgia has ten delegates; Florida has
only three. The vote of Florida, however, is determined by the action of
any two of its three representatives, and these two may, on a division,
throw the one state vote into the scale against that of Georgia, for
which ten members are agreed. The Congress transacts all its business in
secret session, and finds it a very agreeable and commendable way of
doing it. Thus, to-day, for example, after the presentation of a few
unimportant motions and papers, the speaker rapped his desk, and
announced that the house would go into secret session, and that all who
were not members should leave.

As I was returning to the hotel there was another small crowd at the
fountain. Another auctioneer, a fat, flabby, perspiring, puffy man, was
trying to sell a negro girl, who stood on the deal box beside him. She
was dressed pretty much like a London servant-girl of the lower order
out of place, except that her shoes were mere shreds of leather patches,
and her bonnet would have scarce passed muster in the New Cut. She, too,
had a little bundle in her hand, and looked out at the buyers from a
pair of large sad eyes. “Niggers were cheap;” still here was this young
woman going for an upset price of $610, but no one would bid, and the
auctioneer, after vain attempts to raise the price and excite
competition, said, “Not sold to-day, Sally; you may get down.”

_Tuesday, May_ 7.--The newspapers contain the text of the declaration of
a state of war on the part of President Davis, and of the issue of
letters of marque and reprisal, &c. But it may be asked, who will take
these letters of marque? Where is the government of Montgomery to find
ships? The answer is to be found in the fact that already numerous
applications have been received from the shipowners of New England, from
the whalers of New Bedford, and from others in the Northern States, for
these very letters of marque, accompanied by the highest securities and
guaranties! This statement I make on the very highest authority. I leave
it to you to deal with the facts.

To-day I proceeded to the Montgomery Downing street and Whitehall, to
present myself to the members of the cabinet, and to be introduced to
the President of the Confederate States of America. There is no sentry
at the doors, and access is free to all, but there are notices on the
doors warning visitors that they can only be received during certain
hours. The President was engaged with some gentlemen when I was
presented to him, but he received me with much kindliness of manner,
and, when they had left, entered into conversation with me for some time
on general matters. Mr. Davis is a man of slight, sinewy figure, rather
over the middle height, and of erect, soldierlike bearing. He is about
fifty-five years of age; his features are regular and well-defined, but
the face is thin and marked on cheek and brow with many wrinkles, and is
rather careworn and haggard. One eye is apparently blind, the other is
dark, piercing, and intelligent. He was dressed very plainly, in a
light-gray summer suit. In the course of conversation, he gave an order
for the Secretary of War to furnish me with a letter as a kind of
passport, in case of my falling in with the soldiers of any military
posts who might be indisposed to let me pass freely, merely observing
that I had been enough within the lines of camps to know what was my
duty on such occasions. I subsequently was presented to Mr. Walker, the
Secretary of War, who promised to furnish me with the needful documents
before I left Montgomery. In his room were General Beauregard and
several officers, engaged over plans and maps, apparently in a little
council of war, which was, perhaps, not without reference to the
intelligence that the United States troops were marching on Norfolk
Navy-Yard, and had actually occupied Alexandria. On leaving the
Secretary, I proceeded to the room of the Attorney-General, Mr.
Benjamin, a very intelligent and able man, whom I found busied in
preparations connected with the issue of letters of marque. Every thing
in the offices looked like earnest work and business.

On my way back from the State Department, I saw a very fine company of
infantry and three field-pieces, with about one hundred and twenty
artillerymen, on their march to the railway station for Virginia. The
men were all well equipped, but there were no ammunition wagons for the
guns, and the transport consisted solely of a few country carts, drawn
by poor horses, out of condition. There is no lack of muscle and will
among the men. The troops which I see here are quite fit to march and
fight as far as their _personnel_ is concerned, and there is no people
in the world so crazy with military madness. The very children in the
streets ape the air of soldiers, carry little flags, and wear cockades
as they strut in the highways, and mothers and fathers feed the fever by
dressing them up as Zouaves or Chasseurs.

Mrs. Davis had a small levee to-day in right of her position as wife of
the President. Several ladies there probably looked forward to the time
when their states might secede from the new Confederation, and afford
them the pleasure of holding a reception. Why not Presidents of the
State of Georgia, or Alabama? Why not King of South Carolina, or Emperor
of Florida? Soldiers of fortune, make your game! Gentlemen politicians,
the ball is rolling. There is, to be sure, a storm gathering at the
North, but it cannot hurt you, and already there are _condottieri_ from
all parts of the world flocking to your aid, who will eat your Southern
beeves the last of all.

One word more as to a fleet. The English owners of several large
steamers are already in correspondence with government here for the
purchase of their vessels. The intelligence which had reached the
government that their commissioners have gone on to Paris is regarded as
unfavorable to their claims, and as a proof that as yet England is not
disposed to recognize them. It is amusing to hear the tone used on both
sides toward Great Britain. Both are most anxious for her countenance
and support, although the North blusters rather more about its
independence than the South, which professes a warm regard for the
mother country. “But,” say the North, “if Great Britain recognizes the
South, we shall certainly look on it as a declaration of war.” “And,”
say the South, “if Great Britain does not recognize our privateers’
flag, we shall regard it as proof of hostility and of alliance with the
enemy.” The government at Washington seeks to obtain promises from Lord
Lyons that our government will not recognize the Southern Confederacy,
but at the same time refuses any guaranties in reference to the rights
of neutrals. The blockade of the Southern ports would not occasion us
any great inconvenience at present, because the cotton-loading season is
over; but if it be enforced in October, there is a prospect of very
serious and embarrassing questions arising in reference to the rights of
neutrals, treaty obligations with the United States government, the
trade and commerce of England, and the law of blockade in reference to
the distinctions to be drawn between measures of war and means of
annoyance.

As I write, the guns in front of the State Department are firing a
salute, and each report marks a state of the Confederacy. They are now
ten, as Arkansas and Tennessee are now out of the Union.

MONTGOMERY, Monday, _May_ 6, 1861.

Although I have written two letters since my arrival at Charleston, I
have not been able to give an account of many things which have come
under my notice, and which appeared to be noteworthy; and now that I am
fairly on my travels once more, it seems only too probable that I shall
be obliged to pass them over altogether. The rolling fire of the
revolution is fast sweeping over the prairie, and one must fly before it
or burn. I am obliged to see all that can be seen of the South at once,
and then, armed with such safeguards as I can procure, to make an effort
to recover my communications. Bridges broken, rails torn up, telegraphs
pulled down--I am quite in the air, and air charged with powder and
fire. One of the most extraordinary books in the world could be made out
of the cuttings and parings of the newspapers which have been published
within the last few days. The judgments, statements, asseverations of
the press, everywhere necessarily hasty, ill-sifted and off-hand, do not
aspire to even an ephemeral existence here. They are of use if they
serve the purpose of the moment, and of the little boys who commence
their childhood in deceit, and continue to adolescence in iniquity, by
giving vocal utterance to the “sensation” headings of the journals they
retail so sharply and so curtly. Talk of the superstition of the middle
ages; or of the credulity of the more advanced periods of rural life;
laugh at the Holy Coat of Treves, or groan over the Lady of Salette;
deplore the faith in winking pictures, or in a _communiqué_ of the
_Moniteur_; moralize on the superstition which discovers more in the
liquefaction of the ichor of St. Gennaro than a chemical trick, but if
you desire to understand how far faith can see and trust among the
people who consider themselves the most civilized and intelligent in the
world, you will study the American journals, and read the telegrams
which appear in them. One day the Seventh New York regiment is destroyed
for the edification of the South, and is cut up into such small pieces
that none of it is ever seen afterward. The next day it marches into
Washington or Annapolis all the better for the process. Another, in
order to encourage the North, it is said that hecatombs of dead were
carried out of Fort Moultrie, packed up, for easy travelling, in boxes.
Again, to irritate both, it is credibly stated that Lord Lyons is going
to interfere, or that an Anglo-French fleet is coming to watch the
ports, and so on, through a wild play of fancy, inexact in line as
though the batteries were charged with the _aurora borealis_ or summer
lightning, instead of the respectable, steady, manageable offspring of
acid and metal, to whose staid deportment we are accustomed at a
moderate price for entrance. As is usual in such periods, the contending
parties accuse each other of inveterate falsehood, perfidy, oppression
and local tyranny and persecution. “Madness rules the hour.” The
exultation of the South when the flag of the United States was lowered
at Sumter has been answered by a shout of indignation and battle-cry
from the North, and the excitement at Charleston has produced a reflex
action there, the energy of which cannot be described. The apathy which
struck me at New York, when I landed, has been succeeded by violent
popular enthusiasm, before which all Laodicean policy has melted into
fervent activity. The truth must be that the New York population did not
believe in the strength and unanimity of the South, and that they
thought the Union safe, or did not care about it. I can put down the
names of gentlemen who expressed the strongest opinions that the
government of the United States had no power to coerce the South, and
who have since put down their names and their money to support the
government in the attempt to recover the forts which have been taken. As
to the change of opinion in other quarters, which has been effected so
rapidly and miraculously that it has the ludicrous air of a vulgar
juggler’s trick at a fair, the public regard it so little that it would
be unbecoming to waste a word about it.

I expressed a belief in a letter, written a few days after my arrival,
that the South would never go back into the Union. The North thinks that
it can coerce the South, and I am not prepared to say they are right or
wrong; but I am convinced that the South can only be forced back by such
a conquest as that which laid Poland prostrate at the feet of Russia. It
may be that such a conquest can be made by the North, but success must
destroy the Union as it has been constituted in times past. A strong
government must be the logical consequence of victory, and the triumph
of the South will be attended by a similar result, for which, indeed,
many Southerners are very well disposed. To the people of the
Confederate States there would be no terror in such an issue, for it
appears to me they are pining for a strong government exceedingly. The
North must accept it whether they like it or not. Neither party, if such
a term can be applied to the rest of the United States, and to those
states which disclaim the authority of the Federal government, was
prepared for the aggressive or resisting power of the other. Already the
Confederate States perceive that they cannot carry all before them with
a rush, while the North have learnt that they must put forth all their
strength to make good a tithe of their lately uttered threats. But the
Montgomery government are now, they say, anxious to gain time, and to
prepare a regular army. The North, distracted by apprehensions of vast
disturbance in its complicated relations, is clamoring for instant
action and speedy consummation. The counsels of moderate men, as they
were called, have been utterly overruled.

I am now, however, dealing with South Carolina, which has been the _fons
et origo_ of the secession doctrines and their development into the full
life of the Confederate States. The whole foundation on which South
Carolina rests is cotton and a certain amount of rice; or rather she
bases her whole fabric on the necessity which exists in Europe for those
products of her soil, believing and asserting, as she does, that England
and France cannot and will not do without them. Cotton, without a
market, is so much flocculent matter encumbering the ground. Rice,
without demand for it, is unsalable grain in store and on the field.
Cotton at ten cents a pound is boundless prosperity, empire and
superiority, and rice or grain need no longer be regarded. In the matter
of slave labor, South Carolina argues pretty much in this way: England
and France require our products. In order to meet their wants, we must
cultivate our soil. There is only one way of doing so. The white man
cannot live on our land at certain seasons of the year; he cannot work
in the manner required by the crops. He must, therefore, employ a race
suited to the labor, and that is a race which will only work when it is
obliged to do so. That race was imported from Africa, under the sanction
of the law, by our ancestors, when we were a British colony, and it has
been fostered by us, so that its increase here has been as great as that
of the most flourishing people in the world. In other places, where its
labor was not productive or imperatively essential, that race has been
made free, sometimes with disastrous consequences to itself and to
industry. But we will not make it free. We cannot do so. We hold that
slavery is essential to our existence as producers of what Europe
requires, nay more, we maintain it is in the abstract right in
principle; and some of us go so far as to maintain that the only proper
form of society, according to the law of God and the exigencies of man,
is that which has slavery as its basis. As to the slave, he is happier
far in his state of servitude, more civilized and religious, than he is
or could be if free or in his native Africa.

I have already endeavored to describe the aspect of Charleston, and I
will now make a few observations on matters which struck me during my
visit to one or two of the planters of the many who were kind enough to
give me invitations to their residences in the state. Early one morning
I started in a steamer to visit a plantation in the Pedee and Maccamaw
district, in the island coast of the state, north of Charleston. Passing
Sumter, on which men are busily engaged, under the Confederate flag, in
making good damages and mounting guns, we put out a few miles to sea,
and with the low sandy shore, dotted with soldiers, and guard-houses,
and clumps of trees, on our left, in a few hours pass the Santee River,
and enter an estuary into which the Pedee and Maccamaw Rivers run a few
miles further to the north-west. The steamer ran alongside a jetty and
pier, which was crowded by men in uniform waiting for the news and for
supplies of creature comforts. Ladies were cantering along the fine hard
beach, and some gigs and tax-carts fully laden rolled along very much as
one sees them at Scarborough. The soldiers on the pier were all
gentlemen of the county. Some, dressed in gray tunics and yellow
facings, in high felt hats and plumes and jack-boots, would have done no
discredit in face, figure and bearing to the gayest cavaliers who ever
thundered at the heels of Prince Rupert. Their horses, full of
Carolinian fire and mettle, stood picketed under the trees along the
margin of the beach. Among these men, who had been doing the duty of
common troopers in patrolling the sea-coast, were gentlemen possessed of
large estates and princely fortunes; and one who stood among them was
pointed out to me as captain of a company, for whose uses his liberality
provided unbounded daily libations of champagne, and the best luxuries
which French ingenuity can safely imprison in those well-known caskets
with which Crimean warriors were not unacquainted at the close of the
campaign. They were eager for news, which was shouted out to them by
their friends in the steamer, and one was struck by the intimate
personal cordiality and familiar acquaintance which existed among them.
Three heavy guns mounted in an earthwork defended by palisades, covered
the beach and the landing-place, and the garrison was to have been
reinforced by a regiment from Charleston, which, however, had not got in
readiness to go up on our steamer, owing to some little difficulties
between the volunteers, their officers, and the quartermaster-general’s
department.

As the Nina approaches the tumble-down wharf, two or three citizens
advance from the shade of shaky sheds to welcome us, and a few country
vehicles and light phaetons are drawn forth from the same shelter to
receive the passengers, while the negro boys and girls who have been
playing upon the bales of cotton and barrels of rice, which represent
the trade of the place on the wharf, take up commanding positions for
the better observation of our proceedings. There is an air of quaint
simplicity and old-fashioned quiet about Georgetown, refreshingly
antagonistic to the bustle and tumult of most American cities. While
waiting for our vehicle we enjoyed the hospitality of one of our
friends, who took us into an old-fashioned angular wooden mansion, more
than a century old, still sound in every timber, and testifying, in its
quaint wainscotings, and the rigid framework of door and window, to the
durability of its cypress timbers and the preservative character of the
atmosphere. In early days it was the crack house of the old settlement,
and the residence of the founder of the female branch of the family of
our host, who now only makes it his halting place when passing to and
fro between Charleston and his plantation, leaving it the year round in
charge of an old servant and her grandchild. Rose-trees and flowering
shrubs clustered before the porch and filled the garden in front, and
the establishment gave one a good idea of a London merchant’s retreat
about Chelsea a hundred and fifty years ago.

At length we were ready for our journey, and, mounted in two light
covered vehicles, proceeded along the sandy track which, after a while,
led us to a cut deep in the bosom of the woods, where silence was only
broken by the cry of a woodpecker, the boom of a crane, or the sharp
challenge of the jay. For miles we passed through the shades of this
forest, meeting only two or three vehicles containing female planterdom
on little excursions of pleasure or business, who smiled their welcome
as we passed. Arrived at a deep chocolate-colored stream, called Black
River, full of fish and alligators, we find a flat large enough to
accommodate vehicles and passengers, and propelled by two negroes
pulling upon a stretched rope, in the manner usual in the ferry-boats of
Switzerland, ready for our reception. Another drive through a more open
country, and we reach a fine grove of pine and live-oak, which melts
away into a shrubbery guarded by a rustic gateway, passing through
which, we are brought by a sudden turn into the planter’s house, buried
in trees, which dispute with the green sward and with wild flower-beds
every yard of the space which lies between the hall-door and the waters
of the Pedee; and in a few minutes, as we gaze over the expanse of
fields just tinged with green by the first life of the early rice crops,
marked by the deep water-cuts, and bounded by a fringe of unceasing
forest, the chimneys of the steamer we had left at Georgetown gliding as
it were through the fields, indicate the existence of another navigable
river still beyond. Leaving with regret the verandah which commanded so
enchanting a foreground, we enter the house, and are reminded by its
low-browed, old-fashioned rooms, of the country houses yet to be found
in parts of Ireland or on the Scottish border, with additions, made by
the luxury and love of foreign travel, of more than one generation of
educated Southern planters. Paintings from Italy illustrate the walls,
in juxtaposition with interesting portraits of early colonial governors
and their lovely womankind, limned with no uncertain hand, and full of
the vigor of touch and naturalness of drapery, of which Copley has left
us too few exemplars; and one portrait of Benjamin West claims for
itself such honor as his own pencil can give. An excellent
library--filled with collections of French and English classics, and
with those ponderous editions of Voltaire, Rousseau, the _Mémoires pour
Servir_, books of travel and history such as delighted our forefathers
in the last century, and many works of American and general
history--affords ample occupation for a rainy day. But alas! these, and
all things good which else the house affords, can be enjoyed but for a
brief season. Just as nature has expanded every charm, developed every
grace, and clothed the scene with all the beauty of opened flower, of
ripening grain, and of mature vegetation, on the wings of the wind the
poisoned breath comes, borne to the home of the white man, and he must
fly before it or perish. The books lie unopened on their shelves, the
flower blooms and dies unheeded, and, pity ’tis true, the old Madeira
garnered ’neath the roof, settles down for a fresh lease of life, and
sets about its solitary task of acquiring a finer flavor for the
infrequent lips of its banished master and his welcome visitors. This is
the story, at least, that we hear on all sides, and such is the tale
repeated to us beneath the porch, when the moon enhances while softening
the loveliness of the scene, and the rich melody of mocking-birds fills
the grove.

Within these hospitable doors Horace might banquet better than he did
with Nasidienus, and drink such wine as can be only found among the
descendants of the ancestry who, improvident enough in all else, learnt
the wisdom of bottling up choice old Bual and Sercial ere the demon of
oidium had dried up their generous sources forever. To these must be
added excellent bread, ingenious varieties of the _galette_, compounded
now of rice and now of Indian meal, delicious butter and fruits, all
good of their kind. And is there any thing bitter rising up from the
bottom of the social bowl? My black friends who attend on me are grave
as Mussulman Khitmutgars. They are attired in liveries and wear white
cravats and Berlin gloves. At night when we retire, off they go to their
outer darkness in the small settlement of negro-hood, which is separated
from our house by a wooden palisade. Their fidelity is undoubted. The
house breathes an air of security. The doors and windows are unlocked.
There is but one gun, a fowling-piece, on the premises. No planter
hereabouts has any dread of his slaves. But I have seen, within the
short time I have been in this part of the world, several dreadful
accounts of murder and violence, in which masters suffered at the hands
of their slaves. There is something suspicious in the constant
never-ending statement that “we are not afraid of our slaves.” The
curfew and the night patrol in the streets, the prisons and
watch-houses, and the police regulations, prove that strict supervision,
at all events, is needed and necessary. My host is a kind man and a good
master. If slaves are happy anywhere, they should be so with him.

These people are fed by their master. They have upwards of half a pound
per diem of fat pork, and corn in abundance. They rear poultry and sell
their chickens and eggs to the house. They are clothed by their master.
He keeps them in sickness as in health. Now and then there are gifts of
tobacco and molasses for the deserving. There was little labor going on
in the fields, for the rice has been just exerting itself to get its
head above water. These fields yield plentifully; for the waters of the
river are fat, and they are let in whenever the planter requires it, by
means of floodgates and small canals, through which the flats can carry
their loads of grain to the river for loading the steamers.

       *       *       *       *       *

MOBILE, ALA., _Saturday, May_ 11, 1861.

The wayfarer who confides in the maps of a strange country, or who
should rely upon even the guide-books of the United States, which still
lack a Murray or a Bradshaw, may be at times embarrassed by insuperable
hills and innavigable rivers. When, however, I saw the three towering
stories of the high-pressure steamer Southern Republic, on board of
which we tumbled down the steep bank of the Alabama river at Montgomery,
any such misgivings vanished from my mind. So colossal an ark could have
ascended no mythical stream, and the existence and capabilities of the
Alabama were demonstrated by its presence.

Punctuality is reputed a rare virtue in the river steamers of the West
and South, and seldom leave their wharves until they have bagged a fair
complement of passengers, although steaming up and ringing gongs and
bells every afternoon for a week or more before their departure, as if
travelers were to be swarmed like bees. Whether stimulated by the
infectious activity of these “war times,” or convinced that the
“politeness of kings” is the best steamboat policy, the grandson of Erin
who owns and commands the Southern Republic, casts off his fastenings
but half an hour after his promised start, and the short puff of the
engine is enlivened by the wild strains of a steam-organ called a
“caliope,” which gladdens us with the assurance that we are in the
incomparable “land of Dixie.”

Reserving for a cooler hour the attractions of the lower floor, a Hades
consecrated to machinery, freight and negroes, we betake ourselves to
the second landing, where we find a long dining hall, surrounded by two
tiers of state-rooms, the upper one accessible by a stair-way leading to
a gallery, which divides the “saloon” between floor and roof. We are
shown our quarters, which leave much to be desired and nothing to spare,
and rush from their suffocating atmosphere to the outer balcony, where a
faint breeze stirs the air. There is a roofed balcony above us that
corresponds to the second tier of state-rooms, from which a party of
excited secessionists are discharging revolvers at the dippers on the
surface, and the cranes on the banks of the river.

After we have dropped down five or six miles from Montgomery, the
steam-whistle announces our approach to a landing, and, as there is no
wharf in view, we watch curiously the process by which our top-heavy
craft, under the sway of a four-knot current, is to swing round to her
invisible moorings. As we draw nigh to a wagon-worn indenture in the
bank, the “scream” softens into the dulcet pipes of the “caliope,” and
the steamer doubles upon her track, like an elephant turning at bay, her
two engines being as independent of each other as seceding states, and
slowly stemming the stream, lays her nose upon the bank, and holds it
there with the judicious aid of her paddles until a long plank is run
ashore from her bow, over which three passengers with valises make way
for a planter and his family, who come on board. The gang plank is
hauled in, the steamer turns her head down stream with the expertness of
a whale in a canal, and we resume our voyage. We renew these stoppages
various times before dark, landing here a barrel and there a box, and
occasionally picking up a passenger.

After supper, which is served on a series of parallel tables running
athwart the saloon, we return to enjoy from the balcony the cool
obscurity of the evening in this climate, where light means heat. As we
cleave the glassy surface of the black water the timber-clad banks seem
to hem us in more closely, and to shut up the vista before us, and while
we glide down with a rapidity which would need but the roar of the
rapids to prefigure a cataract beyond, we yield to the caprice of fancy,
instituting comparisons between the dark perspective ahead and the
mystery of the future.

Again a scream, and a ruddy light flashes from our prow and deepens the
shades around us. This proceeds from the burning of “light-wood”--a
highly resinous pine--in a wire basket hung on gimbals, and held like a
landing-net below the bow of the steamer, so as to guide without
blinding the pilot, who is ensconced like a Hansom cabman upon its roof.
The torch-bearer raises his cresset as we steam up to the bank, and
plants it in a socket, when a hawser is seized round a tree, and the
crew turn ashore to “wood up.” There is a steep high bank above us, and
while dusky forms are flitting to and fro with food for our furnace, we
survey a long stair-way ascending the bank at a sharp angle in a cut,
which is lost in the sheds that crown the eminence over-head. This stair
is flanked on either side by the bars of an iron tram-way, up which
freight is hauled when landed, and parallel to it is a wooden slide,
down which bales of cotton and sacks of corn are shot upon the steamer.
One or two passengers slowly ascend, and a voice in the air notifies us
that a team is at hand with a load of ladies, who shortly after are seen
picking their way down the flight of steps. The cresset is constantly
replenished with fresh light-wood, and the shadows cast by its
flickering flame make us regret that we have not with us a Turner to
preserve this scene, which would have been a study for Rembrandt or
Salvator Rosa.

At midnight we halt for a couple of hours at Selma, a “rising town,”
which has taken a start of late, owing to the arrival of a branch
railway that connects it with Tennessee and the Mississippi River. Here
a huge _embarcadère_, several stories high, seems fastened to the side
of the bank, and affords us an opportunity of stepping out from either
story of the Southern Republic upon a corresponding landing. Upon one of
these floors there are hackmen and hotel runners, competing for those
who land, and indicating the proximity of a town, if not a city. Our
captain had resolved upon making but a short stay, in lieu of tying up
until morning--his usual practice--when an acquaintance comes on board
and begs him to wait an hour for a couple of ladies and some children
whom he will hunt up a mile or so out of town. Times are hard, and the
captain very cheerfully consents, not insensable to the flattering
insinuation, “You know our folks never go with any one but you, if they
can help it.”

The next day and evening are a repetition of the foregoing scenes, with
more plantations in view, and a general air of tillage and prosperity.
We are struck by the uniformity of the soil, which everywhere seems of
inexhaustible fertility, and by the unvarying breadth of the stream,
which, but for its constantly recurring sinuosities, might pass for a
broad ship-canal. We also remark that the bluffs rarely sink into
bottoms susceptible of overflow, and admire the verdure of the primitive
forest, a tangle of mangolias in full flower, of laurels, and of various
oaks peculiar to this region, and which, though never rising to the
dignity of that noble tree in higher latitudes, are many of them
extremely graceful. All this sylva of moderate stature is intertwined
with creepers, and at intervals we see the Spanish moss, indicating the
malarious exhalations of the soil beneath. The Indian corn, upon which
the Southerners rely principally for food, has attained a height of two
feet, and we are told that, in consequence of the war, it is sown in
greater breadth than usual. The cotton plant has but just peeped above
the earth, and, alluding to its tenderness, those around us express
anxieties about that crop, which, it seems, are never allayed until it
has been picked, bagged and pressed, shipped and sold.

As I am not engaged upon an itinerary, let these sketches suffice to
convey an idea of the 417 miles of winding river which connect
Montgomery with Mobile, to which place the Southern Republic conveyed us
in thirty-five hours, stoppings included.

One of the Egyptian pyramids owes its origin to the strange caprice of a
princess, and the Southern Republic is said to have been built with the
proceeds of an accidental “haul” of Gold Coast natives, who fell into
the net of her enterprising proprietor. This worthy, born of Irish
parents in Milk street, is too striking a type of what the late Mr.
Webster was wont to call “a Northern man with Southern principles,” not
to deserve something more than a passing notice.

For out-and-out Southern notions there is nothing in Dixie’s Land like
the successful emigrant from the North and East. Captain Meagher had at
his fingers’ ends all the politico-economical facts and figures of the
Southern side of the question, and rested his reason solely upon the
more sordid and material calculations of the secessionists. It was a
question of tariffs. The North had, no doubt, provided the protection of
a navy, the facilities of mails, the construction of forts,
custom-houses, and post-offices, in the South, and placed countless
well-paid offices at the disposal of gentlemen fond of elegant leisure;
but for all these the South had been paying more than their value, and
when abolitionists were allowed to elect a sectional president, and the
system of forced labor, which is the basis of Southern prosperity, was
threatened, the South were but too happy to take a “snap judgment,” as
in a _pie poudre_ court, and declare the federal compact forfeited and
annulled forever.

During the long second day of our voyage we examined the faces of the
proletarians, whose color and constitutions so well adapt them for the
Cyclopian realm of the main deck. Among them we detect several
physiognomies which strike us as resembling seedlings from the Gold
Coast, rather than the second or third fruits of ancient
transplantation. A fellow-traveller gratifies, at the same time, our
curiosity and our penetration. There are several native Africans, or, as
they are called in Cuba, _bonzes_, on board. They are the property of
the argumentative captain, and were acquired by a _coup de main_, at
which I have already hinted in this letter. It seems that a club of
planters in this state and one or two others resolved, little more than
a year ago, to import a cargo of Africans. They were influenced partly
by cupidity and partly by a fancy to set the United States laws at
defiance, and to evince their contempt for New England philanthropy. The
job was accepted by an Eastern house, which engaged to deliver the cargo
at a certain point on the coast within certain limits of time.

Whether the shipment arrived earlier than anticipated, or whether
Captain Meagher was originally designated as the person to whom the bold
and delicate manœuvre of landing them should be intrusted, it is
certain that on a certain Sunday in last July he took a little coasting
trip in his steamer Czar, and appeared at Mobile on the following
morning in season to make his regular voyage up river. It is no less
certain that he ran the dusky strangers in at night by an unfrequented
pass, and landed them among the cane-brakes of his own plantation with
sufficient celerity to be back at the moorings of the Czar without his
absence having been noticed. The vessel from which the _bonzes_ were
delivered were scuttled and sunk, and her master and crew found their
way North by rail.

But the parties in interest soon claimed to divide the spoils, when, to
their infinite disgust, the enterprising captain very coolly professed
to ignore the whole business, and defied them to seek to recover by suit
at law property the importation of which was regarded and would be
punished as felony, if not as piracy, by the judicial tribunals. A case
was made, and issue joined, when the captain proved a circumstantial
_alibi_, and, having cast the claimants, doled them out a few _bonzes_,
perhaps to escape assassination, as shells, while he kept the oyster in
the shape of the pick of the importation, which he still holds,
reconciling his conscience to the transaction by interpreting it as
_salvage_.

All this is told us by our interlocutor, who was one of the losers by
the affair, and who stigmatized the conduct of its hero as having been
treacherous. The latter, after repeated jocular inquiries, suffers his
vanity to subdue his reticence, and finishes by “acknowledging the
corn.”

In the afternoon of the second day we meet two steamers ascending the
river with heavy cargoes, and are told that they are the Keyes and the
Lewis, recently warned off and _not seized_ by the blockading squadron
off Pensacola. They are deep with provisions for the forces of the
Confederate States army before Pickens, which must now be dispatched
from Montgomery by rail.

In Mobile, for the first time since leaving Washington, “we realize” the
entire stagnation of business. There are but five vessels in port,
chiefly English, which will suffice to carry away the _debris_ of the
cotton crop. Exchange on the North is unsalable, owing to the
impossibility of importing coin through the unsettled country. And bills
on London are of slow sale at par, which would leave a profit of seven
per cent. upon the importation of gold from your side.

       *       *       *       *       *

MOBILE, _Sunday, May_ 12.

The heat of the city rendered an excursion to which I was invited, for
the purpose of visiting the forts at the entrance of the bay,
exceedingly agreeable, and I was glad to get out from the smell of warm
bricks to the breezy waters of the sea. The party comprised many of the
leading merchants and politicians of this city, which is the third in
importance as a port of exportation in the United States of America.
There was not a man among them who did not express, with more or less
determination, the resolve never to submit to the rule of the accursed
North. Let there be no mistake whatever as to the unanimity which exists
at present in the South to fight for what it calls its independence, and
to carry on a war to the knife with the government of the United States.
I have frequently had occasion to remark the curious operation of the
doctrine of state rights on the minds of the people; but an examination
of the institutions of the country as they actually exist leads to the
inference that, where the tyranny of the majority is at once
irresponsible and cruel, it is impossible for any man, where the
doctrine prevails, to resist it with safety or success. It is the
inevitable result of the action of this majority, as it operates in
America, first to demoralize and finally to absorb the minority; and
even those who have maintained what are called “Union doctrines,” and
who are opposed to secession or revolution, have bowed their heads
before the majesty of the mass, and have hastened to signify their
acquiescence in the decisions which they have hitherto opposed. The
minority, cowardly in consequence of the arbitrary and vindictive
character of the overwhelming power against which it has struggled, and
disheartened by defeat, of which the penalties are tremendous in such
conflicts as these, hastens to lick the feet of the conqueror, and
rushes with frantic cheers after the chariot in the triumph which
celebrates its own humiliation. If there be a minority at all on this
great question of secession in the Southern states, it hides in holes
and corners inaccessible to the light of day, and sits there in darkness
and in sorrow, silent and fearful, if not dumb and hopeless. There were
officers who had served with distinction under the flag of the United
States, now anxious to declare that it was not their flag, and that they
had no affection for it, although they were ready to admit they would
have continued to serve under it if their states had not gone out. A
man’s state, in fact, under the operation of these majority doctrines to
which I have adverted, holds hostages for his fidelity to the majority,
not only in such land or fortune as he may possess within her bounds,
but in his family, his relatives and kin, and if the state revolts, the
officer who remains faithful to the flag of the United States is
considered by the authorities of the revolting state a traitor, and,
what is worse, he is treated in the persons of those he leaves behind
him as the worst kind of political renegade. General Scott, but a few
months ago the most honored of men in a republic which sets such store
on military success, is now reviled and abused because, being a
Virginian by birth, he did not immediately violate his oath, abandon his
post, and turn to fight against the flag which he has illustrated by
repeated successes, during a career of half a century, the moment his
state passed an ordinance of secession.

An intelligent and accomplished officer, who accompanied me to-day
around the forts under his command, told me that he had all along
resisted secession, but that when his state went out he felt it was
necessary to resign his commission in the United States army, and to
take service with the confederates. Among the most determined opponents
of the North, and the most vehement friends of what are called here
“domestic institutions,” are the British residents, English, Irish and
Scotch, who have settled here for trading purposes, and who are
frequently slave-holders. These men have no state rights to uphold, but
they are convinced of the excellence of things as they are, or find it
their interest to be so.

The waters of two rivers fall into the head of the Bay of Mobile, which
is, in fact, a narrow sea-creek, between low sandy banks covered with
pine and forest trees, broken here and there into islands, extending
some thirty miles inland, with a breadth varying from three to seven
miles. No attempt has been made, apparently, to improve the waters, or
to provide docks or wharfage for the numerous cotton ships which lie out
at the mouth of the bay, more than twenty five miles from Mobile. All
the cotton has to be sent down to them in lighters, and the number of
men thus employed in the cotton season in loading the barges,
navigating, and transferring the cargoes to the ships, is very
considerable, and their rate of wages is high.

The horror entertained by a merchant captain of the shore is well known,
and the skippers are delighted at an anchorage so far from land, which
at the same time detains the crews in the ships and prevents “running.”
At present there are but seven ships at the anchorage, nearly all
British, and one of the latter appears in the distance hard and fast
ashore, though whether she got there in consequence of the lights not
being burning or from neglect it is impossible to say. Fort Gaines, on
the right bank of the channel, near the entrance, is an unfinished shell
of a fort, which was commenced by the United States engineers some time
ago, and which it would not be easy to finish without a large outlay of
money and labor. It is not well placed to resist either a land attack or
an assault by boats. A high sand-bank in front of one of the faces
screens the fire, and a wood on another side, if occupied by riflemen,
would render it difficult to work the barbette guns. It is not likely,
however, that the fort will be attacked. The channel it commands is only
fit for light vessels. From this fort to the other side of the channel,
where Fort Morgan stands, the distance is over three miles, and the
deep-water channel is close to the latter fort. The position of the
Gaines is held by a strong body of Alabama troops--stout, sturdy men,
who have volunteered from farm, field, or desk. They are armed with
ordinary muskets of the old pattern, and their uniform is by no means
uniform; but the men look fit for service. The fort would take a
garrison of five hundred men if fully mounted, but the parapets are mere
partition walls of brickwork crenellated; the bomb-proofs are
unfinished, and, but for a few guns mounted on the sand-hills, the place
is a defenceless shell-trap. There are no guns in the casemates, and
there is no position ready to bear the weight of a gun in barbette. The
guns which are on the beach are protected by sand-bag traverses, and are
more formidable than the whole fortress. The steamer proceeded across
the channel to Fort Morgan, which is a work of considerable importance,
and is assuming a formidable character under the superintendence of
Colonel Hardee, formerly of the United States army. It has a regular
trace, bastion and curtain, with a dry ditch and drawbridge, well-made
casemates and bomb-proofs, and a tolerable armament of columbiads,
forty-two and thirty-two pounders, a few ten-inch mortars, and light
guns in the external works at the salients. The store of ammunition
seems ample. Some of the fuses are antiquated, and the gun-carriages are
old-fashioned. The open parade and the unprotected gorges of the
casemates would render the work extremely unpleasant under a shell fire,
and the buildings and barracks inside are at present open to the
influences of heat. The magazines are badly traversed and inadequately
protected. A very simple and apparently effective contrivance for
dispensing with the use of the sabot in shells was shown to me by
Colonel Maury, the inventor. It consists of two circular grummets of
rope, one at the base and the other at the upper circumference of the
shell, made by a simple machinery to fit tightly to the sphere, and
bound together by thin copper wire. The grummets fit the bore of the gun
exactly, and act as wads, allowing the base of the shell to rest in
close contact with the charge, and breaking into oakum on leaving the
muzzle. Those who know what mischief can be done by the fragments of the
sabot when fired over the heads of troops, will appreciate this simple
invention, which is said to give increased range to the horizontal
shell. There must be about sixty guns in this work; it is
over-garrisoned, and, indeed, it seems to be the difficulty here to know
what to do with the home volunteers. Rope mantlets are used on the
breeches of some of the barbette guns. At night the harbor is in perfect
darkness. Notwithstanding the defences I have indicated, it would be
quite possible to take Fort Morgan with a moderate force, well supplied
with the means of vertical fire.

“Are there many mosquitos here?” inquired I of the waiter on the day of
my arrival. “Well, there’s a few, I guess; but I wish there were ten
times as many.” “In the name of goodness, why do you say so?” asked I,
with some surprise and indignation. “Because we’d get rid of the ----
Black Republicans out of Fort Pickens all the sooner,” replied he. There
is a strange unilateral tendency in the minds of men in judging of the
operation of causes and results in such a contest as that which now
prevails between the North and the South. The waiter reasoned and spoke
like many of his betters. The mosquitos, for whose aid he was so
anxious, were regarded by him as true Southerners, who would only
torture his enemies. The idea of these persecuting little fiends being
so unpatriotic as to vex the Confederates in their sandy camp never
entered into his mind for a moment. In the same way, a gentleman of
intelligence, who was speaking to me of the terrible sufferings which
would be inflicted on the troops at Tortugas and at Pickens by fever,
dysentery, and summer heats, looked quite surprised when I asked him,
“whether these agencies would not prove equally terrible to the troops
of the Confederates?”

       *       *       *       *       *

MOBILE, _May_ 18, 1861.

I avail myself of the departure of a gentleman who is going to New York
by the shortest route he can find, to send you the accompanying letters.
The mails are stopped; so are the telegraphs; and it is doubtful whether
I can get to New Orleans by water. Of what I saw at Fort Pickens and
Pensacola here is an account, written in a very hurried manner, and
under very peculiar circumstances.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Tuesday, May_ 14, 1861.

Two New Orleans gentlemen, who came overland from Pensacola yesterday,
give such an account of their miseries from heat, dust, sand, and want
of accommodation, in the dreary waste through which they passed for more
than seventeen hours, that I sought out some other way of going there,
and at last heard of a small schooner, called the Diana, which would
gladly undertake to run round by sea, if permitted to enter by the
blockading squadron.

She was neither clean nor neat looking; her captain, a tall, wild-haired
young man, had more the air of a mechanic than of a sailor, but he knew
his business well, as the result of the voyage showed. His crew
consisted of three men and a negro cook. Three gentlemen of Mobile, who
were anxious to visit General Bragg’s camp, agreed to join me, but
before I sailed I obtained a promise that they would not violate the
character of neutrals as long as they were with me, and an assurance
that they were not in any way engaged in or employed by the Confederate
States forces. “Surely you will not have Mr. R---- hanged, sir?” said the
mayor of Mobile to me when I told him I could not consent to pass off
the gentleman in question as a private friend. “No, I shall do nothing
to get Mr. R---- hanged. It will be his own act which causes it, but I
will not allow Mr. R---- to accompany me under false pretences.” Having
concluded our bargain with the skipper at a tolerably fair rate, and
laid in a stock of stores and provisions, the party sailed from Mobile
at five in the evening of Tuesday, May 14, with the flag of the
Confederate States flying; but, as a precautionary measure, I borrowed
from our acting consul, Mr. Magee, a British ensign, which, with a flag
of truce, would win the favorable consideration of the United States
squadron. Our craft, the somewhat Dutch build of which gave no great
promise of speed, came, to our surprise and pleasure, up with the lights
of Fort Morgan at nine o’clock, and we were allowed to pass unchallenged
through a “swash,” as a narrow channel over the bar is called, which,
despite the absence of beacons and buoys, our skipper shot through under
the guidance of a sounding-pole, which gave, at various plunges, but a
few inches to spare.

The shore is as flat as a pancake--a belt of white sand, covered with
drift-logs and timber, and with a pine forest; not a home or human
habitation of any sort to be seen for forty miles, from Fort Morgan to
the entrance of the harbor of Pensacola; cheerless, miserable, full of
swamps, the haunts of alligators, cranes, snakes, and pelicans; with
lagoons, such as the Perdida, swelling into inland seas; deep buried in
pine woods, and known only to wild creatures, and to the old
filibusters--swarming with mosquitos. As the Diana rushed along within a
quarter of a mile of this grim shore, great fish flew off from the
shallows, and once a shining gleam flashed along the waters, and winged
its way alongside the little craft--a monster shark, which ploughed
through the sea _pari passu_ for some hundred yards leeward at the
craft, and distinctly visible in the wonderful phosphorescence around
it, and then dashed away with a trail of light seaward, on some errand
of voracity, with tremendous force and vigor. The wretched Spaniards who
came to this ill-named Florida, must often have cursed their stars. How
rejoiced were they when the government of the United States relieved
them from their dominion! Once during the night some lights were seen on
shore, as if from a camp-fire. The skipper proposed to load an old iron
carronade and blaze away at them, and one of the party actually got out
his revolver to fire, but I objected very strongly to these valorous
proceedings, and suggesting that they might be friends who were there,
and that, friends or foes, they were sure to return our fire, succeeded
in calming the martial ardor on board the Diana. The fires were very
probably made by some of the horsemen lately sent out by General Bragg
to patrol the coast, but the skipper said that in all his life-long
experience he had never seen a human creature or a light on that shore
before. The wind was so favorable, and the Diana so fast, that she would
have run into the midst of the United States squadron off Fort Pickens
had she pursued her course. Therefore, when she was within about ten
miles of the station she hove to, and lay off and on for about two
hours. Before dawn the sails were filled, and off she went once more,
bowling along merrily, till with the first blush of day there came in
sight Fort M’Rae, Fort Pickens, and the masts of the squadron, just
rising above the blended horizon of low shore and sea. The former, which
is on the western shore of the mainland, is in the hands of the
Confederate troops. The latter is just opposite to it, on the extremity
of the sand-bank, called Santa Rosa Island, which, for forty-five miles
runs in a belt parallel to the shore of Florida, at a distance varying
from one and a quarter to four miles. To make smooth water of it, the
schooner made several tacks shoreward. In the second of these tacks the
subtle entrance of Perdida Creek is pointed out, which, after several
serpentine and re-entering undulations of channel, one of which is only
separated from the sea for a mile or more by a thin wall of sand-bank,
widens to meet the discharge of a tolerably spacious inland lake. The
Perdida is the dividing line between the states of Alabama and Florida.

The flagstaff of Fort M’Rae soon became visible, and in fainter outline
beyond it that of Fort Pickens, and the hulls of the fleet, in which one
can make out three war-steamers, a frigate, and a sloop-of-war, and then
the sharpset canvas of a schooner, the police craft of this beat,
bearing down upon us. The skipper, with some uneasiness, announces the
small schooner that is sailing in the wind’s eye as the “Oriental,” and
confesses to having already been challenged and warned off by her
sentinel master. We promised him immunity for the past and safety for
the future, and, easing off the main sheet, he lays the Diana on her
course for the fleet.

Fort M’Rae, one of the obsolete school of fastnesses, rounds up on our
left. Beyond it, on the shore, is Barrancas, a square-faced work, half a
mile further up the channel, and more immediately facing Fort Pickens. A
thick wood crowns the low shore, which trends away to the eastward, but
amid the sand the glass can trace the outlines of the batteries.
Pretty-looking detached houses line the beach; some loftier edifices
gather close up to the shelter of a tall chimney which is vomiting out
clouds of smoke, and a few masts and spars checker the white fronts of
the large buildings and sheds, which, with a big shears, indicate the
position of the navy-yard of Warrington, commonly called that of
Pensacola, although the place of that name lies several miles higher up
the creek. Fort M’Rae seems to have sunk at the foundations; the crowns
of many of the casemates are cracked, and the water-face is poor
looking. Fort Pickens, on the contrary, is a solid, substantial-looking
work, and reminds one something of Fort Paul at Sebastopol, as seen from
the sea, except that it has only one tier of casemates, and is not so
high.

As the Oriental approaches, the Diana throws her foresail aback, and the
pretty little craft, with a full-sized United States ensign flying, and
the muzzle of a brass howitzer peeping over her forecastle, ranges up
luff, and taking an easy sweep lies to alongside us. A boat is lowered
from her and is soon alongside, steered by an officer; her crew are
armed to the teeth with pistols and cutlasses. “Ah, I think I have seen
you before. What schooner is this?” “The Diana, from Mobile.” The
officer steps on deck, and announces himself as Mr. Brown, master in the
United States navy, in charge of the boarding vessel Oriental. The crew
secure their boat and step up after him. The skipper, looking very
sulky, hands his papers to the officer. “Now, sir, make sail, and lie to
under the quarter of that steamer, the guardship Powhatan.”

Mr. Brown was exceedingly courteous when he heard who the party were.
The Mobilians, however, looked as black as thunder; nor were they at all
better pleased when they heard the skipper ask if he did not know there
was a strict blockade of the port. The Powhatan is a paddle steamer of
2,200 tuns and ten guns, and is known to our service as the flag-ship of
Commodore Tatnall, in Chinese waters, when that gallant veteran gave us
timely and kindly proof of the truth of his well-known expression,
“Blood is thicker than water.” Upon her spar-deck there is a stout,
healthy-looking crew, which seems quite able to attend to her armament
of ten heavy ten-inch Dahlgren columbiads, and the formidable
eleven-inches of the same family on the forecastle. Her commander,
Captain Porter, though only a lieutenant commanding, has seen an age of
active service, both in the navy and in the merchant steam marine
service, to which he was detailed for six or seven years after the
discovery of California. The party were ushered into the cabin, and
Captain Porter received them with perfect courtesy, heard our names and
object, and then entered into general conversation, in which the
Mobilians, thawed by his sailorly frankness, gradually joined, as well
as they could. Over and over again I must acknowledge the exceeding
politeness and civility with which your correspondent has been received
by the authorities on both sides in this unhappy war.

Though but little beyond the age of forty, Captain Porter has been long
enough in the navy to have imbibed some of those prejudices which by the
profane are stigmatized as fogyisms. Until the day previous he had, he
told me, felt disposed to condemn rifled cannon of a small calibre as
“gimcracks,” but had been rapidly converted to the “Armstrong faith” by
the following experiment. He was making target practice with his heavy
gun at a distance of some 2,600 yards. At any thing like a moderate
elevation the experiment was unsatisfactory, and while his gunners were
essaying to harmonize cause and effect, the charge and the elevation, he
bethought him of a little rifled brass plaything which Captain Dahlgren
had sent on board a day or two before his departure. To his astonishment
the ball, after careering until he thought “it would never stop going,”
struck the water 1,000 yards beyond the target, and established a
reputation he had never believed possible for a howitzer of six-pound
calibre carrying a twelve-pound bolt. He observed that the ancient walls
of Fort M’Rae would not resist this new missile for half an hour.

If it comes to fighting you will hear more of the Powhatan and Captain
Porter. He has been repeatedly in the harbor and along the enemy’s works
at night in his boat, and knows their position thoroughly, and he showed
me on his chart the various spots marked off whence he can sweep their
works and do them immense mischief. “The Powhatan is old, and if she
sinks I can’t help it.” She is all ready for action; boarding nettings
triced up, field-pieces and howitzers prepared against night boarding,
and the whole of her bows padded internally, with dead wood and sails,
so as to prevent her main deck being raked as she stands stern on toward
the forts. Her crew are as fine a set of men as I have seen of late days
on board a man-of-war. They are healthy, well fed, regularly paid, and
can be relied on to do their duty to a man. As far as I could judge, the
impression of the officers was, that General Bragg would not be rash
enough to expose himself to the heavy chastisement which, in their
belief, awaits him if he is rash enough to open fire upon Fort Pickens.
As Captain Porter is not the senior officer of the fleet, he signaled to
the flag-ship, and was desired to send us on board.

One more prize has been made this morning--a little schooner with a crew
of Italians and laden with vegetables. This master, a Roman of Civita
Vecchia, pretends to be in great trouble, in order to squeeze a good
price out of the captain for his “_tutti fruti e cosi diversi_.” The
officers assured me that all the statements made by the coasting
skippers when they return to port from the squadron, are lies from
beginning to end.

A ten-oared barge carried the party to the United States frigate Sabine,
on board of which Flag-Captain Adams hoists his pennant. On our way we
had a fair view of the Brooklyn, whose armament of 22 heavy guns is said
to be the most formidable battery in the American navy. Her anti-type,
the Sabine, an old-fashioned fifty-gun frigate, as rare an object upon
modern seas as an old post-coach is upon modern roads, is reached at
last. As one treads her decks, the eyes, accustomed for so many weeks to
the outlandish uniforms of brave but undisciplined Southern volunteers,
feel _en pays de connaissance_, when they rest upon the solid mass of
300 or 400 quid-rolling, sunburnt, and resolute-looking blue-shirted
tars, to whom a three years’ cruise has imparted a family aspect which
makes them almost as hard to distinguish apart as so many Chinamen.

A believer in the serpent-symbol might feel almost tempted to regard the
log of the Sabine as comprising the Alpha and the Omega of, at least,
the last half-century of the American republic. Her keel was laid
shortly after our last war with Brother Jonathan, and so long as the
temple of Janus remained closed--her size having rendered her unfit to
participate in what is called the Mexican war--she remained in the
ship-house of the navy-yard which had witnessed her baptism. In the year
1858 she was summoned from her retirement to officiate as flag-ship of
the “Paraguay expedition,” and, after having conveyed the American
commissioner to Montevideo, whence he proceeded with a flotilla of
steamers and sloops-of-war up to Corrientes, and thence in the temporary
flag-ship, the steamer Fulton, to Assumpcion, she brought him back to
New York in May, 1859, and was then dispatched to complete her cruise as
part of the home squadron in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.
During the concluding months of her cruise the political complications
of the North and South burst into the present rupture, and the day
before our visit one of her lieutenants, a North Carolinian, had left
her to espouse, as nearly all the Southern officers of both army and
navy have done, the cause of his native state. Captain Adams is in a
still more painful predicament. During his eventful voyage, which
commenced with a six days’ experience in the terrible Bermuda cyclone of
November, 1858, he had been a stranger to the bitter sectional
animosities engendered by the last election; and had recently joined the
blockade of this port, where he finds a son enlisted in the ranks of the
C. S. A., and learns that two others form part of the Virginia division
of Mr. Jefferson Davis’s forces. Born in Pennsylvania, he married in
Louisiana, where he has a plantation and the remainder of his family,
and he smiles grimly as one of our companions brings him the playful
message from his daughter, who has been elected _vivandiere_ of a New
Orleans regiment, “that she trusts he may be starved while blockading
the South, and that she intends to push on to Washington and get a lock
of Old Abe’s hair”--a Sioux lady would have said his scalp.

The veteran sailor’s sad story demands deep sympathy. I, however, cannot
help enjoying at least the variety of hearing a little of the _altera
pars_. It is now nearly six weeks since I entered “Dixie’s Land,” during
which period I must confess I have had a sufficiency of the music and
drums, the cavaliering and the roystering of the Southern gallants. As
an impartial observer, I may say I find less bitterness and
denunciation, but quite as dogged a resolution upon the Roundhead side.
Some experience, or at least observation of the gunpowder argument, has
taught us that attack is always a more grateful office than defence,
and, if we are to judge of the sturdy resolution of the inmates of Fort
Pickens by the looks of the officers and crews of the fleet, Fort
Pickens will fall no easy prize, if at all.

After some conversation with Captain Adams, and the ready hospitality of
his cabin, he said finally he would take on himself to permit me and the
party to land at the navy-yard, and to visit the enemy’s quarters,
relying on my character as a neutral and a subject of Great Britain that
no improper advantage would be taken of the permission. In giving that
leave he was, he said, well aware that he was laying himself open to
attack, but he acted on his own judgment and responsibility. We must,
however, hoist a flag of truce, as he had been informed by General Bragg
that he considered the intimation he had received from the fleet of the
blockade of the port was a declaration of war, and that he would fire on
any vessel from the fleet which approached his command. I bade good-by
to Captain Adams with sincere regret, and if--but I may not utter the
wish here. Our barge was waiting to take us to the Oriental, in which we
sailed pleasantly away down to the Powhatan to inform Captain Porter I
had received permission to go on shore. Another officer was in his cabin
when I entered--Captain Poore of the Brooklyn--and he seemed a little
surprised when he heard that Captain Adams had given leave to all to go
on shore. “What, all these editors of Southern newspapers who are with
you, sir?” I assured him they were nothing of the kind, and after a few
kind words I made my adieu, and went on board the Diana with my
companions.

Hoisting one of our only two table-cloths to the masthead as a flag of
truce, we dropped slowly with the tide through the channel that runs
parallel to one face of Fort Pickens. The wind favored us but little,
and the falling breeze enabled all on board to inspect deliberately the
seeming artistic preparations for the threatened attack which frowns and
bristles from three miles of forts and batteries arrayed around the
slight indenture opposite. Heavy sand-bag traverses protect the corners
of the parapets, and seem solid enough to defy the batteries ensconced
in earthworks around the lighthouse, which to an outside glance seems
the most formidable point of attack, directed as it is against the
weaker flank of the fort at its most vulnerable angle.

A few soldiers and officers upon the rampart appeared to be inhaling the
freshening breeze which arose to waft the schooner across the channel,
and enable her to coast the main-shore, so that all could take note of
the necklace of bastions, earthworks, and columbiads with which General
Bragg hopes to throttle his adversary. We passed by Barrancas, the
nearest point of attack (a mile and a quarter), the commander-in-chief’s
head-quarters, the barracks, and the hospital successively, and as the
vessel approached the landing-pier of the navy-yard one could hear the
bustle of the military and the hammers of the artificers, and descry the
crimson and blue trappings of Zouaves, recalling Crimean reminiscences.
A train of heavy tumbrils, drawn by three or four pairs of mules, was
the first indication of a transport system in the army of the
Confederate States, and the high-bred chargers mounted by the escorts of
these ammunition wagons corroborated the accounts of the wealth and
breeding of its volunteer cavalry. The Diana now skirted the navy-yard,
the neat dwellings of which, and the profusion of orange and fig groves
in which they are embosomed, have an aspect of tropical shade and
repose, much at variance with the stern preparations before us. Our
skipper let go his anchor at a respectful distance from the quay,
evincing a regard for martial law that contrasted strangely with the
impatience of control elsewhere manifested throughout this land, and
almost inspiring the belief that no other rule can ever restore the lost
bump of veneration to American craniology.

While the master of the Diana was skulling his leaky punt ashore to
convey my letters of introduction to the commander-in-chief, I had
leisure to survey the long, narrow, low sand-belt of the island
opposite, which loses itself in the distance, and disappears in the
ocean forty-seven miles from Fort Pickens. It is so nearly level with
the sea that I could make out the mainyards of the Sabine and the
Brooklyn, anchored outside the island within range of the navy-yard,
which is destined to receive immediate attention whenever the attack
shall begin. Pursuing my reflections upon the _morale_ of the upper and
nether millstones between which the Diana is moored, I am sadly puzzled
by the anomalous ethics or metaphysics of this singular war, the
preparations for which vary so essentially--it were sin to say
ludicrously--from all ancient and modern belligerent usages. Here we
have an important fortress, threatened with siege for the last sixty
days, suffering the assailants of the flag it defends to amass battery
upon battery, and string the whole coast of low hills opposite with
every variety of apparatus for its own devastation, without throwing a
timely shell to prevent their establishment.

War has been virtually declared, since letters of marque and a
corresponding blockade admit of no other interpretation, and yet but
last week two Mobile steamers, laden with £50,000 worth of provisions
for the beleaguering camp, were stopped by the blockading fleet, and,
though not permitted to enter this harbor, were allowed to return to
Mobile untouched, the commander thinking it quite punishment enough for
the rebels to thus compel them to return to Mobile, and carry up the
Alabama river to Montgomery this mass of eatables, which would have to
be dispatched thence by rail to this place! Such practical jokes lend a
tinge of innocence to the premonitories of this strife which will hardly
survive the first bloodshed.

The skipper returned from shore with an orderly, who brought the needful
permission to haul the Diana alongside the wharf, where I landed, and
was conducted by an aid of the quartermaster-general through the shady
streets of this graceful little village, which covers an enclosure of
300 acres, and, with the adjoining forts, cost the United States over
£6,000,000 sterling, which may have something to do with the President’s
determination to hold a property under so heavy an hypothecation. Irish
landlords, with encumbered estates, have no such simple mode of
obtaining an acquittal.

The navy-yard is, properly speaking, a settlement of exceedingly neat
detached houses, with gardens in front, porticoes, pillars, verandahs,
and Venetian blinds to aid the dense trees in keeping off the scorching
rays of the sun, which is intensely powerful in the summer, and is now
blazing so fiercely as to force one to admit the assertion that the
average temperature is as high as that of Calcutta to be very probable.
The grass-plots under these trees are covered with neat piles of
cannonballs, mostly of small size; two obsolete mortars--one dated
1776--are placed in the main avenue. Tents are pitched under the trees,
and the houses are all occupied by officers, who are chatting, smoking,
and drinking at the open windows. A number of men in semi-military
dresses of various sorts and side-arms are lounging about the quays and
the lawns before the houses. Into one of these I am escorted, and find
myself at a very pleasant mess, of whom the greater number are officers
of the Zouave corps, from New Orleans--one, a Dane, has served at
Idstedt, Kiel, Frederichstadt; another foreigner has seen service in
South America; another has fought in half the insurrectionary wars in
Europe. The wine is abundant, the fare good, the laughter and talk loud.
Mr. Davis has been down all day from Montgomery, accompanied by Mrs.
Davis, Mr. Maloney, and Mr. Wigfall, and they all think his presence
means immediate action.

The only ship here is the shell of the old Fulton, which is on the
stocks, but the works of the navy-yard are useful in casting shot,
shell, and preparing munitions of war. An aide-de-camp from General
Bragg entered as we were sitting at table, and invited me to attend him
to the general’s quarters. The road, as I found, was very long and very
disagreeable, owing to the depth of the sand, into which the foot sank
at every step up to the ankle. Passing the front of an extended row of
the clean, airy, pretty villas inside the navy-yard, we passed the gate
on exhibiting our passes, and proceeded by the sea-beach, one side of
which is lined with houses, a few yards from the surf. These houses are
all occupied by troops, or are used as bar-rooms or magazines. At
intervals a few guns have been placed along the beach, covered by
sand-bags, parapets, and traverses. As we toiled along in the sand the
aide hailed a cart, pressed it into the service, and we continued our
journey less painfully. Suddenly a tall, straight-backed man in a blue
frock-coat, with a star on the epaulette strap, a smart kepi, and
trowsers with gold stripe, and large brass spurs, rode past on a
high-stepping powerful charger, followed by an orderly. “There is
General Bragg,” said his aide. The general turned round, reined up, and
I was presented as I sat in my state chariot. The commander of the
Confederated States army at Pensacola is about forty-two years of age,
of a spare and powerful frame; his face is dark, and marked with deep
lines, his mouth large, and squarely set in determined jaws, and his
eyes, sagacious, penetrating, and not by any means unkindly, look out at
you from beetle brows which run straight across and spring into a thick
tuft of black hair, which is thickest over the nose, where naturally it
usually leaves an intervening space. His hair is dark, and he wears such
regulation whiskers as were the delight of our generals a few years
ago. His manner is quick and frank, and his smile is very pleasing and
agreeable. The general would not hear of my continuing my journey to his
quarters in a cart, and his orderly brought up an ambulance, drawn by a
smart pair of mules, in which I completed it satisfactorily.

The end of the journey through the sandy plain was at hand, for in an
enclosure of a high wall there stood a well-shaded mansion, amid trees
of live-oak and sycamore, with sentries at the gate and horses held by
orderlies under the portico. General Bragg received me at the top of the
steps which lead to the verandah, and, after a few earnest and
complimentary words, conducted me to his office, where he spoke of the
contest in which he was to play so important a part in terms of
unaffected earnestness. Why else had he left his estates? After the
Mexican war he had retired from the United States artillery; but when
his state was menaced he was obliged to defeat her. He was satisfied the
North meant nothing but subjugation. All he wanted was peace. Slavery
was an institution for which he was not responsible; but his property
was guaranteed to him by law, and it consisted of slaves. Why did the
enemy take off slaves from Tortugas to work for them at Pickens? Because
whites could not do their work. It was quite impossible to deny his
earnestness, sincerity, and zeal as he spoke, and one could only wonder
at the difference made by the “standpoint” from which the question is
reviewed. General Bragg finally, before we supped, took down his plans
and showed me the position of every gun in his works and all his
batteries. He showed the greatest clearness of unreserved openness in
his communications, and was anxious to point out that he had much
greater difficulties to contend with than General Beauregard had at
Charleston. The inside of Pickens is well-known to him, as he was
stationed there the very first tour of duty which he had after he left
West Point. It was late at night when I returned on one of the general’s
horses toward the navy-yard. The orderly who accompanied me was, he
said, a Mississippi planter, but he had left his wife and family to the
care of the negroes, had turned up all his cotton land and replanted it
with corn, and had come off to the wars. Once only were we challenged,
and I was only required to show my pass as I was getting on board the
schooner. Before I left General Bragg he was good enough to say he would
send down one of his aides-de-camp and horses early in the morning, to
give me a look at the works.

       *       *       *       *       *

MOBILE, _May_ 16, 1861.

Our little schooner lay quietly at the wharf all night, but no one was
allowed to come on board without a pass, for these wild-looking sentries
are excellent men of business, and look after the practical part of
soldiering with all the keenness which their direct personal interest
imparts to their notions of duty. The enemy is to them the incarnation
of all evil, and they hunt his spies and servants very much as a terrier
chases a rat--with intense traditional and race animosity. The silence
of the night is not broken by many challenges or the “All’s well!” of
patrols, but there is warlike significance enough in the sound of the
shot which working parties are rolling over the wooden jetty with a
dull, ponderous thumping on board the flats that are to carry them off
for the food and _nourriture_ of the batteries. With the early morning,
however, came the usual signs of martial existence. I started up from
among my cockroaches, knocked my head against the fine pine beams over
my hammock, and then, considerably obfuscated by the result, proceeded
to investigate all the grounds that presented themselves to me as worthy
of consideration in reference to the theory which had suddenly forced
itself upon my mind that I was in the Crimea. For close at hand, through
the sleepy organ of the only sense which was fully awake, came the well
known _réveillé_ of the Zouaves, and then French clangors, rolls,
ruffles and calls ran along the line, and the volunteers got up, or did
not, as seemed best to them. An ebony and aged Ganymede, however,
appeared with coffee, and told me “the cap’n wants ask weder you take
some bitters, sar;” and, indeed, “the captain” did compound some amazing
preparation for the judges and colonels present on deck and below that
met the approval of them all, and was recommending it for its fortifying
qualities in making a redan and Malakoff of the stomach. Breakfast came
in due time--not much Persic apparatus to excite the hate of the
simpleminded, but a great deal of substantial matter, in the shape of
fried onions, ham, eggs, biscuit, with accompaniments of iced-water,
Bordeaux and coffee. Our guests were two--a broad farmer-like gentleman,
weighing some sixteen stone, dressed in a green frieze tunic, with gold
lace and red and scarlet worsted facings, and a felt wide-a-wake, who,
as he wiped his manly brow, informed me he was a “rifleman.” We have
some volunteers quite as corpulent, and not more patriotic, for our
farmer was a man of many bales, and in becoming an officer in his
company of braves, had given an unmistakable proof of his devotion to
his distant home and property. The other, a quiet, modest,
intelligent-looking young man, was an officer in a different battalion,
and talked with sense about a matter with which sense has seldom any
thing to do--I mean uniform. He remarked that in a serious action and a
close fighting, or in night work, it would be very difficult to prevent
serious mistakes, and even disasters, owing to the officers of the
Confederate States troop swearing the same distinguishing marks of rank
and similar uniforms, whenever they can get them, to those used in the
regular service of the United States, and that much inconvenience will
inevitably result from the great variety and wonderful diversity of the
dresses of the immense number of companies forming the different
regiments of volunteers. The only troops near us which were attired with
a military exactness, were the regiment of Zouaves, from New Orleans.
Most of these are Frenchmen or Creoles; some have belonged to the
battalions which the Crimea first made famous, and were present before
Sebastopol, and in Italy; the rest are Germans and Irish. Our friends
went off to see them drill, but, as a believer in the enchanting power
of distance, I preferred to look on at such of the manœuvres as could
be seen from the deck. These Zouaves look exceedingly like the real
article. They are, perhaps, a trifle leaner and taller, and are not so
well developed at the back of the head, the heels and the ankles as
their prototypes. They are dressed in the same way, except that I saw no
turban on the fez cap. The jacket, the cummerbund, the baggy red
breeches and the gaiters are all copies of the original. They are all
armed with rifle musket and sword-bayonet, and their pay is at the usual
rate of $11, or something like £2 6s. a month, with rations and
allowances. The officers do their best to be the true “chacal.” I was
more interested, I confess, in watching the motions of vast shoals of
mullet and other fish, which flew here and there, like flocks of plover,
before the red-fish and other enemies, and darted under our boat, than
in examining Zouave drill. Once, as a large fish came gamboling along
the surface close at hand, a great gleam of white shot up in the waves
beneath, and a boiling whirl, marked with a crimson pool, which
gradually melted off in the tide, showed where a monster shark had taken
down a part of his breakfast. “That’s a ground sheark,” quoth the
skipper; “there’s quite a many of them about here.” Porpoises passed by
in a great hurry for Pensacola, and now and then a turtle showed his
dear little head above the enviable fluid which he honored with his
presence. Far away in the long stretch of water toward Pensacola are six
British merchantmen in a state of blockade--that is, they have only
fifteen days to clear out, according to the reading of the law adopted
by the United States officers. The navy-yard looks clean and neat in the
early morning, and away on the other side of the channel Fort
Pickens--_teterrima causa_--raises its dark front from the white sand
and green sward of the glacis, on which a number of black objects
invite inspection through a telescope, and obligingly resolve themselves
into horses turned out to graze on the slope. Fort M’Rae, at the other
side of the channel, as if to irritate its neighbor, flings out a flag
to the breeze, which is the counterpart of the “stars and stripes” that
wave from the rival flagstaff, and is, at this distance, identical to
the eye, until the glass detects the solitary star in its folds instead
of the whole galaxy. On the dazzling snowy margin of sand that separates
the trees and brushwood from the sea close at hand, the outline of the
batteries which stud the shore for miles is visible. Let us go and make
a close inspection. Mr. Ellis, lieutenant in the Louisiana regiment, who
is aide-de-camp to Brigadier-General Bragg, has just arrived with a
message from his chief to escort me round all the works, and wherever
else I like to go, without any reservation whatever. He is a handsome,
well-built, slight young fellow, very composed and staid in manner, but
full of sentiment for the South. Returned from a tour in Europe, he is
all admiration for English scenery, life and habits. “After all, nature
has been more bountiful to you than to us.” He is dressed in a tight
undress cavalry-jacket and trousers of blue flannel, with plain
gold-lace pipings and buttons, but on his heels are heavy brass spurs,
worthy of the heaviest of field officers. Our horses are standing in the
shade of a large tree near the wharf, and mine is equipped with a saddle
of ponderous brass-work, on raised pummel, and cantle, and housings, and
emblazoned cloth, and mighty stirrups of brass, fit for the stoutest
marshal that ever led an army of France to victory; General Braxton
Bragg is longer in the leg than Marshal Pelissier, or Canrobert, or the
writer, and as we jogged along over the deep, hot sand, my kind
companion, in spite of my assurances that the leathers were quite
comfortable, made himself and me somewhat uneasy on the score of their
adjustment, and, as there was no implement at hand to make a hole, we
turned into the general’s courtyard to effect the necessary alterations.
The cry of “Orderly” brought a smart, soldierly-looking young man to the
front, who speedily took me three holes up, and as I was going away he
touched his cap and said: “I beg your pardon, sir, but I often saw you
in the Crimea.” His story as he told it was brief. He had been in the
Eleventh Hussars, and on the 25th of October he was following, as he
said, close after Lord Cardigan and Captain Nolan when his horse was
killed under him. As he tried to make his escape the Cossacks took him
prisoner, and for eleven months he was in captivity, but was exchanged
at Odessa. “Why did you leave the service?” “Well, sir, I was one of the
two sergeants that were permitted to leave in each regiment on the close
of the war, and I came away.” “But here you are soldiering again?” “Yes,
sir. I came over here to better myself, as I thought, and I had to
enter one of their cavalry regiments, but now I am an orderly.” He told
me further, that his name was Montague, and that he “thought his father
lived near Windsor, twenty-one miles from London;” and I was pleased to
find his superior officers spoke of him in very high terms, although I
could have wished those who spoke so were in our own service.

I do not think that any number of words can give a good idea of a long
line of detached batteries. I went through them all, and I certainly
found stronger reasons than ever for distrusting the extraordinary
statements which appear in the American journals in reference to
military matters, particularly on their own side of the question.
Instead of hundreds of guns, there are only ten. They are mostly of
small calibre, and the gun-carriages are old and unsound, or new and
rudely made. There are only five “heavy” guns in all the works; but the
mortar batteries, three in number, of which one is unfinished, will
prove very damaging, although they will only contain nine or ten
mortars. The batteries are all sand-bag and earthworks, with the
exception of Fort Barrancas. They are made after all sorts of ways, and
are of very different degrees of efficiency. In some the magazines will
come to speedy destruction; in others they are well made. Some are of
the finest white sand, and will blind the gunners, or be blown away with
shells; others are cramped, and hardly traversed; others, again, are
very spacious and well constructed. The embrasures are usually made of
sand-bags, covered with raw hides to save the cotton-bags from the
effect of the fire of their own guns. I was amused to observe that most
of these works had galleries in the rear, generally in connection with
the magazine passages, which the constructors called “rat-holes,” and
which are intended as shelter to the men at the guns in case of shells
falling inside the battery. They may prove to have a very different
result, and are certainly not so desirable in a military point of view
as good traverses. A rush for the “rat-hole” will not be very dignified
or improving to the _morale_ every time a bomb hurtles over them; and
assuredly the damage to the magazines will be enormous if the fire from
Pickens is accurate and well sustained. Several of the batteries were
not finished, and the men who ought to have been working were lying
under the shade of trees, sleeping or smoking--long-limbed, long-bearded
fellows in flannel shirts and slouched hats, uniformless in all, save
bright well-kept arms and resolute purpose. We went along slowly, from
one battery to the other. I visited nine altogether, not including Fort
Barrancas, and there are three others, among which is Fort M’Rae.
Perhaps there may be fifty guns of all sorts in position for about three
miles, along a line extending 135 degrees round Fort Pickens, the
average distance being about one and one-third miles. The mortar
batteries are well placed among brushwood, quite out of view of the
fort, at distances varying from 2,500 to 2,800 yards, and the mortars
are generally of calibres corresponding nearly with our ten-inch pieces.
Several of the gun batteries are put on the level of the beach; others
have more command, and one is particularly well placed, close to the
White Lighthouse, on a high plateau which dominates the sandy strip that
runs out to Fort M’Rae. Of the latter I have already spoken. Fort
Barrancas is an old fort--I believe of Spanish construction, with a very
meagre trace--a plain curtain-face toward the sea, protected by a dry
ditch and an outwork, in which, however, there are no guns. There is a
drawbridge in the rear of the work, which is a simple parallelogram
showing twelve guns mounted _en barbette_ on the sea-face. The walls are
of brick, and the guns are protected by thick merlons of sand-bags. The
sole advantage of the fort is in its position; it almost looks down into
the casemates of Pickens opposite at its weakest point, and it has a
fair command of the sea entrance, but the guns are weak, and there are
only three pieces mounted which can do much mischief. While I was
looking round, there was an entertaining dispute going on between two
men, whom I believe to have been officers, as to the work to be done,
and I heard the inferior intimate pretty broadly his conviction that his
chief did not know his own business in reference to some orders he was
conveying.

The amount of ammunition which I saw did not appear to me to be at all
sufficient for one day’s moderate firing, and many of the shot were
roughly cast and had deep flanges from the moulds in their sides, and
very destructive to the guns as well as to accuracy. In the rear of
these batteries, among the pine woods and in deep brush, are three
irregular camps, which, to the best of my belief, could not contain more
than 2,700 men. There are probably 3,000 in and about the batteries, the
navy-yard and the suburbs, and there are, also, I am informed, 1,500 at
Pensacola, but I doubt exceedingly that there are as many as 8,000 men,
all told, of effective strength under the command of General Bragg. It
would be a mistake to despise these irregulars. One of the Mississippi
regiments out in camp was evidently composed of men who liked
campaigning, and who looked as though they would like fighting. They had
no particular uniforms--the remark will often be made--but they had
pugnacious physiognomies and the physical means of carrying their
inclinations into effect, and every man of them was, I am informed,
familiar with the use of arms. Their tents are mostly small and bad, on
the ridge-pole pattern, with side flys to keep off the sun. In some
battalions they observe regularity of line, in others they follow
individual or company caprice. The men use green boughs and bowers, as
our poor fellows did in the old hot days in Bulgaria, and many of them
had benches and seats before their doors, and the luxury of boarded
floors to sleep upon. There is an embarrassing custom in America,
scarcely justifiable in any code of good manners, which, in the South at
least, is only too common, and which may be still more general in the
North; at all events, to a stranger it is productive of the annoyance
which is experienced by one who is obliged to inquire whether the
behavior of those among whom he is at the time, is intentional rudeness
or conventional want of breeding. For instance, my friend and myself, as
we are riding along, see a gentleman standing near his battery, or his
tent--“Good morrow, colonel,” or “general” (as the case may be), says my
friend--“Good morrow (imagining military rank according to the notion
possessed by speaker of the importance of the position of a general’s A.
D. C.), Ellis.” “Colonel, etc., allow me to introduce to you Mr. Jones,
of London.” The colonel advances with effusion, holds out his hand,
grasps Jones’s hand rigidly, and says, warmly, as if he had just gained
a particular object of his existence: “Mr. Jones, I’m very glad to make
your acquaintance, sir. Have you been pretty well since you have been in
our country, sir?” etc. But it is most likely that the colonel will just
walk away when he pleases, without saying a word to, or taking the least
notice of, the aforesaid Jones, as to whose acquaintance he had just
before expressed such friendly feelings, and in whose personal health he
had taken so deep an interest; and Jones, till he is accustomed to it,
feels affronted. The fact is, that the introduction means nothing; you
are merely told each other’s names, and if you like, you may improve
your acquaintance. The hand-shaking is a remnant of barbarous times,
when men with the same colored skin were glad to see each other.

The country through which we rode was most uninteresting, thick
brushwood and pine-trees springing out of deep sand, here and there a
nullah and some dirty stream--all flat as ditchwater. On our return we
halted at the general’s quarters. I had left a note for him, in which I
inquired whether he would have any objection to my proceeding to Fort
Pickens from his command, in case I obtained permission to do so, and
when I entered General Bragg’s room he was engaged in writing not merely
a very courteous and complimentary expression of his acquiescence in my
visit, but letters of introduction to personal friends in Louisiana, in
the hope of rendering my sojourn more agreeable. He expressed a doubt
whether my comrades would be permitted to enter the fort, and talked
very freely with me in reference to what I had seen at the batteries,
but I thought I perceived an indication of some change of purpose with
respect to the immediate urgency of the attack on Fort Pickens compared
with his expressions last night. At length I departed, with many thanks
to General Bragg for his kindness and confidence, and returned to a room
full of generals and colonels, who made a _levee_ of their visits.

On my return to the schooner, I observed that the small houses on the
side of the long sandy beach were filled with men, many of whom were in
groups round the happy possessors of a newspaper, and listened with the
utmost interest to the excited delivery of the oracular sentences. How
much of the agony and bitterness of this conflict--nay, how much of its
existence--may be due to these same newspapers, no man can say, but I
have very decided opinions, or rather a very strong belief, on the
subject. There were still more people around the various bar-rooms than
were attracted even by the journalists. Two of our companions were on
board when I got back to the quay. The Mobile gentlemen had gone off to
Pensacola, and had not returned to time, and under any circumstances it
was not probable that they would be permitted to land, as undoubtedly
they were no friends to the garrison, or to the cause of the United
States. Our skipper opened his eyes and shook his rough head a little
when he was ordered to get under way for Fort Pickens, and to anchor off
the jetty. Up went the flag of truce to the fore once more, but the
ever-watchful sentry, diverted for the time from his superintendence of
the men who were fishing at our pier, forbade our departure till the
corporal of the guard had given leave, and the corporal of the guard
would not let the fair Diana cast off her warp till he had consulted the
sergeant of the guard, and so there was some delay occasioned by the
necessity for holding an interview with that functionary, who finally
permitted the captain to proceed on his way, and with a fair light
breeze the schooner fell round into the tide-way and glided off toward
the fort. We drew up with it rapidly, and soon attracted the notice of
the look-out men and some officers who came down to the jetty.

We anchored a cable’s length from the jetty. In reply to the sentry’s
hail, the skipper asked for a boat to put off for us. “Come off in your
own boat.” Skiff of Charon! But there was no choice. With all the bathos
of that remarkable structure it could not go down in such a short row.
And if it did? Well, “there’s not a more terrible place for sharks along
this coast,” the captain had told us incidentally _en route_. Our own
boat was inclined to impartiality in its relations with the water, and
took quite as much inside as it could hold, but we soused into it, and
the men pulled like Doggett’s Badgers, and soon we were out of shark
depth and alongside the jetty, where were standing to receive us Mr.
Brown, our friend of yesterday, Captain Vodges, and Captain Berry,
commanding a United States battery inside the fort. The soldiers of the
guard were United States regular troops of the artillery, wore blue
uniforms with brass buttons, and remarkably ugly slouched felt hats,
with an ornament in the shape of two crossed cannon. Captain Vodges
informed me that Colonel Moore had sent off a reply to my letter to the
fleet, stating that he would gladly permit me to go over the fort, but
that he could not allow any one else, under any circumstances whatever,
to visit it. My friends were therefore constrained to stay outside, but
one of them picked up a friend on the beach and got up an impromptu ride
along the island. The way from the jetty to the entrance of the fort is
in the universal deep sand of this part of the world; the distance from
the landing-place to the gateway is not much more than two hundred
yards, and the approach to the portal is quite unprotected. There is a
high ramp and glacis on the land side, but the face and part of the
curtain in which the gate is situate are open, as it was not considered
likely that it would ever be attacked by Americans. The sharp angle of
the bastion on this face is so weak that men are now engaged in throwing
up an extempore glacis to cover the base of the wall and the casemates
from fire. The ditch is very broad, and the scarp and counterscarp are
riveted with brickwork. The curvette has been cleared out, and in doing
so, as a proof of the agreeable character of the locality, I may observe
upwards of sixty rattlesnakes were killed by the workmen. An abattis has
been made along the edge of this part of the ditch--a rough inclined
fence of stakes and boughs of trees. “Yes, sir; at one time when those
terrible fire-eating gentlemen at the other side were full of threats,
and coming to take the place every day, there were only seventy men in
this fort, and Lieutenant Slemmer threw up this abattis to delay his
assailants, if it were only for a few minutes, and to give his men
breathing time to use their small arms.” The casemates here are all
blinded, and the hospital is situate in the bomb-proofs inside. The gate
was closed; at a talismanic knock it was opened, and from the external
silence we passed into a scene full of activity and life, through the
dark gallery which served at first as a framework to the picture. The
parade of the fort was full of men, and as a _coup d’œil_, it was
obvious that great efforts had been made to prepare Fort Pickens for a
desperate defence. In the parade were several tents of what is called
Sibley’s pattern, like our bell tents, but without the lower side-wall,
and provided with a ventilating top, which can be elevated or depressed
at pleasure. The parade-ground has been judiciously filled with deep
holes, like inverted cones, in which shells will be comparatively
innocuous; and warned by Sumter, every thing has been removed which
could prove in the least degree combustible. The officer on duty led me
straight across to the opposite angle of the fort. As the rear of the
casemates and bomb-proofs along this side will be exposed to a plunging
fire from the opposite side, a very ingenious screen has been
constructed, by placing useless gun-platforms and parts of carriages at
an angle against the wall, and piling them up with sand and earth for
several feet in thickness. A passage is thus left between the base of
the wall and that of the screen, through which a man can walk with ease.
Turning into this passage, we entered a lofty bomb-proof, which was the
bedroom of the commanding officer, and passed through into the casemate
which serves as his head-quarters. Colonel Harvey Brown received me with
every expression of politeness and courtesy. He is a tall, spare,
soldierly-looking man, with a face indicative of great resolution and
energy, as well as of sagacity and kindness; and his attachment to the
Union was probably one of the reasons of his removal from the command of
Fort Hamilton, New York, to the charge of this very important fort. He
has been long in the service, and he belonged to the first class of
graduates who passed at West Point after its establishment in 1818.
After a short and very interesting conversation, he proceeded to show me
the works, and we mounted upon the parapet, accompanied by Captain
Berry, and went over all the defences. Fort Pickens has a regular
bastioned trace, in outline an oblique and rather narrow parallelogram,
with the obtuse angles facing the sea at one side and the land at the
other. The acute angle at which the bastion toward the enemy’s batteries
is situate, is the weakest part of the work; but it was built for sea
defence, as I have already observed, and the trace was prolonged to
obtain the greatest amount of fire on the sea approaches. The crest of
the parapet is covered with very solid and well-made merlons of heavy
sand-bags, but one face and the gorge of the bastion are exposed to an
enfilading fire from Fort M’Rae, which the colonel said he intended to
guard against if he got time. All the guns seemed in good order, the
carriages being well constructed, but they are mostly of what are
considered small calibres now-a-days, being 32-pounders, with some
42-pounders and 24-pounders. There are, however, four heavy columbiads,
which command the enemy’s works on several points very completely. It
struck me that the bastion guns were rather crowded. But, even in its
present state, the defensive preparations are most creditable to the
officers, who have had only three weeks to do the immense amount of work
before us. The brick copings have been removed from the parapets, and
strong sand-bag traverses have been constructed to cover the gunners, in
addition to the “rat-holes” at the bastions. More heavy guns are
expected, which, with the aid of a few more mortars, will enable the
garrison to hold their own against every thing but a regular siege on
the land side, and so long as the fleet covers the narrow neck of the
island with its guns, it is not possible for the Confederates to effect
a lodgment. If Fort M’Rae was strong and heavily armed, it could inflict
great damage on Pickens; but it is neither one nor the other, and the
United States officers are confident that they will speedily render it
quite untenable. The _bouches à feu_ of the fort may be put down at
forty, including the available pieces in the casemates, which sweep the
ditch and the faces of the curtains. The walls are of the hardest brick,
of nine feet thickness in many places, and the crest of the parapets on
which the merlons and traverses rest are of turf. From the walls there
is a splendid view of the whole position, and I found my companions were
perfectly well acquainted with the strength and _locus_ of the greater
part of the enemy’s works. Of course I held my peace, but I was amused
at their accuracy. “There are the quarters of our friend, General
Bragg.” “There is one of their best batteries just beside the
lighthouse.” The tall chimney of the Warrington navy-yard was smoking
away lustily. The colonel called my attention to it. “Do you see that,
sir? They are casting shot, there. The sole reason for their
‘forbearance,’ is that navy-yard. They know full well that if they open
a gun upon us, we will lay that yard and all the work in ruins.”

Captain Vodges subsequently expressed some uneasiness on a point as to
which I could have relieved his mind very effectually. He had seen
something which led him to apprehend that the Confederates had a strong
intrenched camp in rear of their works. Thereupon I was enabled to
perceive that in Captain Vodges’ mind, there was a strong intention to
land and carry the enemy’s position. Why, otherwise, did you care about
an intrenched camp, most excellent engineer? But now I may tell you that
there is no intrenched camp at all, and that your vigilant eye, sir,
merely detected certain very absurd little furrows which the
Confederates have in some places thrown up in the soft sand in front of
their camps, which would cover a man up to the knee or stomach, and are
quite useless as a breastwork. If they thought a landing probable, it is
unpardonable in them to neglect such a protection. These furrows are
quite straight, and even if they are deepened the assailants have merely
to march round them, as they extend for only some forty or fifty yards,
and have no flanks. The officers of the garrison are aware the enemy
have mortar batteries, but they think the inside of the fort will not
be easily hit, and they said nothing to show that they were acquainted
with the position of the mortars.

From the parapet we descended by a staircase into the casement. The
Confederates are greatly deceived in their expectation that the United
States soldiers will be much exposed to sun or heat in Pickens. More
airy, well ventilated quarters cannot be imagined, and there is quite
light enough to enable the men to read in most of them. The plague of
flies will infest both armies, and is the curse of every camp in the
summer. As to mosquitos, the Confederates will probably suffer, if not
more, at least as much as the States troops. The effect of other
tormentors, such as yellow fever and dysentery, will be in all
probability impartially felt on both sides; but, unless the position of
the fort is peculiarly unhealthy, the men who are under no control in
respect to their libations, will probably suffer more than those who are
restrained by discipline and restricted to a regular allowance. Water
can always be had by digging, and is fit for use if drunk immediately.
Vegetables and fresh provisions, are not, of course, so easily had as on
shore, but there is a scarcity of them in both camps, and the supplies
from the store-ships are very good and certain. The bread baked by the
garrison is excellent, as I had an opportunity of ascertaining, for I
carried off two loaves from the bakehouse on board the schooner. Our
walk through the casemates was very interesting. They were crowded with
men, most of whom were reading. They were quiet, orderly-looking
soldiers--a mixture of old and young--scarcely equal in stature to their
opponents, but more to be depended upon I should think in a long
struggle. Every thing seemed well arranged. Those men who were in their
beds had mosquito curtains drawn, and were reading or sleeping at their
ease. In the casemate used as an hospital there were only some twelve
men sick out of the whole garrison, and I was much struck by the absence
of any foul smell and by the cleanliness and neatness of all the
arrangements. The colonel spoke to each of the men kindly, and they
appeared glad to see him. The dispensary was as neat as care and
elbow-grease could make it, and next door to it, in strange
juxtaposition, was the laboratory for the manufactory of fuses and
deadly implements, in equally good order. Every thing is ready for
immediate service. I am inclined to think it will be some time before it
is wanted. Assuredly, if the enemy attack Fort Pickens they will meet
with a resistance which will probably end in the entire destruction of
the navy-yard, and of the greater part of their works. A week’s delay
will enable Colonel Brown to make good some grave defects; but delay is
of more advantage to his enemy than it is to him, and if Fort Pickens
were made at once the _point d’appui_ for a vigorous offensive movement
by the fleet and by a land force, I have very little doubt in my mind
that Pensacola must fall, and that General Bragg would be obliged to
retire. In a few weeks the attitude of affairs may be very different.
The railroad is open to General Bragg, and he can place himself in a
very much stronger attitude than he now occupies.

At last the time came for me to leave. The colonel and Captain Berry
came down to the beach with me. Outside we found Captain Vodges kindly
keeping my friends in conversation and in liquid supplies in the shade
of the bakehouse shed, and, after a little more pleasant conversation,
we were afloat once more. Probably no living man was ever permitted to
visit the camps of two enemies within sight of each other before this,
under similar circumstances, for I was neither spy nor herald, and I owe
my best thanks to those who trusted me on both sides so freely and so
honorably. A gentleman who preceded me did not fare quite so well. He
landed on the island and went up to the fort, where he represented
himself to be the correspondent of an American journal. But his account
of himself was not deemed satisfactory. He was sent off to the fleet.
Presently there came over a flag of truce from General Bragg, with a
warrant signed by a justice of the peace, for the correspondent, on a
charge of felony; but the writ did not run in Fort Pickens. The officers
regarded the message as a clever ruse to get back a spy, and the
correspondent is still in durance vile or in safety, as the case may be,
on board the squadron.

All sails filled, the Diana stood up toward the navy-yard once more in
the glare of the setting sun. The sentinels along the battery and beach
glared at us with surprise as the schooner, with her flag of truce still
flying, ran past them. The pier was swept with the glass for the Mobile
gentlemen; they were not visible. “Halloa! Mr. Captain, what’s that
you’re at?” His mate was waving the Confederate flag from the
deck--“It’s only the signal, sir, to the gentlemen on shore.” “Wave some
other flag, then, while there’s a flag of truce flying, and while we are
in these waters.” After backing and filling for some time the party were
descried in the distance. Again, the watery skiff was sent off, and in a
few minutes they were permitted, thanks to their passes, to come off.
Some confidential person had informed them the attack was certainly
coming off in a very short time. They were anxious to stay. They had
seen friends at Pensacola, and were full of praises of “the quaint old
Spanish settlement,” but mine is, unfortunately, not an excursion of
pleasure, and it was imperative that I should not waste time. Every
thing had been seen that was necessary for my purpose. It was beyond my
power to state the reasons which led me to think no fight would take
place, for doing so would have been to betray confidence. And so we
parted company--they to feast their eyes on a bombardment--and if they
only are near enough to see it they will heartily regret their
curiosity, or I am mistaken--and we to return to Mobile.

It was dark before the Diana was well down off Fort Pickens again, and,
as she passed out to sea between it and Fort M’Rae, it was certainly to
have been expected that one side or other would bring her to. Certainly
our friend Mr. Brown in his clipper Oriental would overhaul us outside,
and there lay a friendly bottle in a nest of ice waiting for the gallant
sailor who was to take farewell of us according to promise. Out we
glided into night and into the cool sea breeze, which blew fresh and
strong from the north. In the distance the black form of the Powhatan
could be just distinguished; the rest of the squadron could not be made
out by either eye or glass, nor was the schooner in sight. A lantern was
hoisted by my orders, and was kept aft for some time after the schooner
was clear of the forts. Still no schooner. The wind was not very
favorable for running toward the Powhatan, and it was too late to
approach her with perfect confidence from the enemy’s side. Besides, it
was late; time pressed. The Oriental was surely lying off somewhere to
the westward, and the word was given to make sail, and soon the Diana
was bowling along shore, where the sea melted away in a fiery line of
foam so close to us that a man could, in nautical phrase, “shy a
biscuit” on the sand. The wind was abeam, and the Diana seemed to
breathe it through her sails, and flew along at an astonishing rate
through the phosphorescent waters with a prow of flame and a bubbling
wake of dancing meteor-like streams flowing from her helm, as though it
were a furnace whence boiled a stream of liquid metal. “No sign of the
Oriental on our lee-bow?” “Nothin’ at all in sight, sir.” The sharks and
huge rays flew off from the shore as we passed and darted out seaward,
marking their runs in brilliant trails of light. On sped the Diana, but
no Oriental came in sight.

I was tired. The sun had been very hot; the ride through the batteries,
the visits to quarters, the excursion to Pickens, had found out my weak
places, and my head was aching and legs fatigued, and so I thought I
would turn in for a short time, and I dived into the shades below, where
my comrades were already sleeping, and kicking off my boots, lapsed into
a state which rendered me indifferent to the attentions no doubt
lavished upon me by the numerous little familiars who recreate in the
well-peopled timbers. It never entered into my head, even in my dreams,
that the captain would break the blockade if he could--particularly as
his papers had not been indorsed, and the penalties would be sharp and
sure if he were caught. But the confidence of coasting captains in the
extraordinary capabilities of their craft is a madness--a hallucination
so strong that no danger or risk will prevent their acting upon it
whenever they can. I was assured once by the “captain” of a _Billyboy_,
that he could run to windward of any frigate in Her Majesty’s service,
and there is not a skipper from Hartlepool to Whitstable who does not
believe his own _Mary Ann_ or _Three Grandmothers_ is, on certain
“pints,” able to bump her fat bows and scuttle-shaped stern faster
through the seas than any clipper which ever flew a pendant. I had been
some two hours and a half asleep, when I was awakened by a whispering in
the little cabin. Charley, the negro cook, ague-stricken with terror,
was leaning over the bed, and in broken French was chattering through
his teeth: “_Monsieur, Monsieur, nous sommes perdus! Le batement de
guerre nous poursuit. Il n’a pas encore tiré. Il va tirer bientot! Oh,
mon Dieu! mon Dieu!_” Through the hatchway I could see the skipper was
at the helm, glancing anxiously from the compass to the quivering
reef-points of his mainsail. “What’s all this we hear, captain?” “Well,
sir, there’s been somethin’ a runnin’ after us these two hours” (very
slowly). “But I don’t think he’ll keech us up no how this time.” “But,
good heavens! you know it may be the Oriental, with Mr. Brown on board.”
“Ah, wall--may bee. But he kept quite close up on me in the dark--it
gave me quite a stark when I seen him. May be, says I, he’s a
privateerin’ chap, and so I draws in on shore close as I cud,--gets mee
centre-board in, and, says I, I’ll see what yer med of, mee boy. He an’t
a gaining much on us.” I looked, and sure enough, about half or
three-quarters of a mile astern, and somewhat to leeward of us, a
vessel, with sails and hull all blended into a black lump, was standing
on in pursuit. I strained my eyes and furbished up the glasses, but
could make out nothing definite. The skipper held grimly on. The shore
was so close we could have almost leaped into the surf, for the Diana,
when her centre-board is up, does not draw much over four feet.
“Captain, I think you had better shake your wind, and see who he is. It
may be Mr. Brown.” “Meester Brown or no I can’t help carrine on now. I’d
be on the bank outside in a minit if I didn’t hold my course.” The
captain had his own way; he argued that if it was the Oriental she would
have fired a blank gun long ago to bring us to; and as to not calling us
when the sail was discovered he took up the general line of the cruelty
of disturbing people when they’re asleep. Ah! captain, you knew well it
was Mr. Brown, as you let out when we were off Fort Morgan. By keeping
so close in shore in shoal water the Diana was enabled to creep along to
windward of the stranger, who evidently was deeper than ourselves. See
there! Her sails shiver! so one of the crew says; she’s struck! But
she’s off again, and is after us. We are just within range, and one’s
eyes become quite blinky, watching for the flash from the bow, but,
whether privateer or United States schooner she was too magnanimous to
fire. A stern chase is a long chase. It must now be somewhere about two
in the morning. Nearer and nearer to shore creeps the Diana. “I’ll lead
him into a pretty mess, whoever he is, if he tries to follow me through
the Swash,” grins the skipper. The Swash is a very shallow, narrow, and
dangerous passage into Mobile Bay, between the sand-banks on the east of
the main channel and the shore. The Diana is now only some nine or ten
miles from Fort Morgan, guarding the entrance to Mobile. Soon an uneasy
dancing motion welcomes her approach to the Swash. “Take a cast of the
lead, John!” “Nine feet.” “Good! Again!” “Seven feet.” “Good--Charley,
bring the lantern.” (Oh, Charley, why did that lantern go out just as it
was wanted, and not only expose us to the most remarkable amount of
“cussin’,” imprecation, and strange oaths our ears ever heard, but
expose our lives and your head to more imminent danger?) But so it was,
just at the critical juncture when a turn of the helm port or starboard
made the difference, perhaps, between life and death, light after light
went out, and the captain went dancing mad after intervals of deadly
calmness, as the mate sang out, “Five feet and a half! seven feet--six
feet--eight feet--five feet--four feet and a half--(Oh, Lord!)--six
feet,” and so on, through a measurement of death by inches, not at all
agreeable. And where was Mr. Brown all this time? Really, we were so
much interested in the state of the lead-line, and in the very peculiar
behavior of the lanterns which would not burn, that we scarcely cared
much when we heard from the odd hand and Charley that she had put about,
after running aground once or twice, they thought, as soon as we entered
the Swash, and had vanished rapidly in the darkness. It was little short
of a miracle that we got past the elbow, for just at the critical
moment, in a channel not more than a hundred yards broad, with only six
feet of water, the binnacle light, which had burned steadily for a
minute, sank with a sputter into black night. When the passage was
accomplished, the captain relieved his mind by chasing Charley into a
corner, and with a shark, which he held by the tail, as the first weapon
that came to hand, inflicting on him condign punishment, and then
returning to the helm. Charley, however, knew his master, for he slyly
seized the shark and flung his defunct corpse overboard before another
fit of passion came on, and by the morning the skipper was good friends
with him, after he had relieved himself, by a series of castigations of
the negligent lamplighter with every variety of Rhadamanthine implement.

The Diana had thus distinguished her dirty little person by breaking a
blockade, and giving an excellent friend of ours a great deal of trouble
(if it was, indeed Mr. Brown), as well as giving us a very unenviable
character for want of hospitality and courtesy; and, for both, I beg to
apologize with this account of the transaction. But she had a still
greater triumph. As she approached Fort Morgan, all was silence. The
morning was just showing a gray streak in the east. “Why, they’re all
asleep at the fort,” observed the indomitable captain, and, regardless
of guns or sentries, down went his helm, and away the Diana thumped into
Mobile Bay, and stole off in the darkness toward the opposite shore.
There was, however, a miserable day before us. When the light fairly
broke we had got only a few miles inside, a stiff northerly wind blew
right in our teeth, and the whole of the blessed day we spent in tacking
backward and forward between one low shore and another low shore, in
water the color of pea-soup, so that temper and patience were exhausted,
and we were reduced to such a state that we took intense pleasure in
meeting with a drowning alligator. He was a nice-looking young fellow
about ten feet long, and had evidently lost his way, and was going out
to sea bodily, but it would have been the height of cruelty to take him
on board our ship miserable as he was, though he passed within two yards
of us. There was to be sure the pleasure of seeing Mobile in every
possible view, far and near, east and west, and in a lump and run out,
but it was not relished any more than our dinner, which consisted of a
very gamy Bologna sausage, pig who had not decided whether he would be
pork or bacon, and onions fried in a terrible preparation of Charley the
cook. At five in the evening, however, having been nearly fourteen hours
beating about twenty-seven miles, we were landed at an outlying wharf,
and I started off for the Battle House and rest. The streets are filled
with the usual rub-a-dub-dubbing bands, and parades of companies of the
citizens in grotesque garments and armament, all looking full of fight
and secession. I write my name in the hotel book at the bar as usual.
Instantly young Vigilance Committee, who has been resting his heels high
in air, with one eye on the staircase and the other on the end of his
cigar, stalks forth and reads my style and title, and I have the
satisfaction of slapping the door in his face as he saunters after me to
my room, and looks curiously in to see how a man takes off his boots.
They are all very anxious in the evening to know what I think about
Pickens and Pensacola, and I am pleased to tell the citizens I think it
be a very tough affair on both whenever it comes. I proceed to New
Orleans on Monday.

       *       *       *       *       *

NEW-ORLEANS, _May_ 25, 1861.

There are doubts arising in my mind respecting the number of armed men
actually in the field in the South, and the amount of arms in the
possession of the Federal forces. The constant advertisements and
appeals for “a few more men to complete” such and such companies furnish
some sort of evidence that men are still wanting. But a painful and
startling insight into the manner in which “volunteers” have been
sometimes obtained has been afforded to me at New Orleans. In no country
in the world have outrages on British subjects been so frequent and so
wanton as in the States of America. They have been frequent, perhaps,
because they have generally been attended with impunity. Englishmen,
however, will be still a little surprised to hear that within a few days
British subjects living in New Orleans have been seized, knocked down,
carried off from their labor at the wharf and the workshop, and forced
by violence to serve in the “volunteer” ranks! These cases are not
isolated. They are not in twos and threes, but in tens and twenties;
they have not occurred stealthily or in by-ways; they have taken place
in the open day, and in the streets of New Orleans. These men have been
dragged along like felons, protesting in vain that they were British
subjects. Fortunately, their friends bethought them that there was still
a British consul in the city, who would protect his countrymen--English,
Irish, or Scotch. Mr. Mure, when he heard of the reports and of the
evidence, made energetic representations to the authorities, who, after
some evasion, gave orders that the impressed “volunteers” should be
discharged, and the “Tiger Rifles” and other companies were deprived of
the services of the thirty-five British subjects whom they had taken
from their usual avocations. The mayor promises that it shall not occur
again. It is high time that such acts should be put a stop to, and that
the mob of New Orleans should be taught to pay some regard to the usages
of civilized nations. There are some strange laws here and elsewhere in
reference to compulsory service on the part of foreigners which it would
be well to inquire into, and Lord John Russell may be able to deal with
them at a favorable opportunity. As to any liberty of opinion or real
freedom here, the boldest Southerner would not dare to say a shadow of
either exists. It may be as bad in the North, for all I know; but it
must be remembered that in all my communications I speak of things as
they appear to me to be in the place where I am at the time. The most
cruel and atrocious acts are perpetrated by the rabble who style
themselves citizens. The national failing of curiosity and prying into
other people’s affairs is now rampant, and assumes the name and airs of
patriotic vigilance. Every stranger is watched, every word is noted,
espionage commands every keyhole and every letter-box; love of country
takes to evesdropping, and freedom shaves men’s heads, and packs men up
in boxes for the utterance of “Abolition sentiments.” In this city there
is a terrible substratum of crime and vice, violence, misery, and
murder, over which the wheels of the Cotton King’s chariot rumble
gratingly, and on which rest in dangerous security the feet of his
throne.

There are numbers of negroes who are sent out into the streets every day
with orders not to return with less than seventy-five cents--any thing
more they can keep. But if they do not gain that--about 3_s._ 6_d._ a
day--they are liable to be punished; they may be put into jail on
charges of laziness, and may be flogged ad _libitum_, and are sure to be
half starved. Can any thing, then, be more suggestive than this
paragraph, which appeared in last night’s papers. “_Only_ three
coroners’ inquests were held yesterday on persons found drowned in the
river, names unknown!” The italics are mine. Over and over again has the
boast been repeated to me, that on the plantations lock and key are
unknown or unused in the planters’ houses. But in the cities they are
much used, though scarcely trusted. It appears, indeed, that unless a
slave has made up his or her mind to incur the dreadful penalties of
flight, there would be no inducement to commit theft, for money or
jewels would be useless; search would be easy, detection nearly certain.
That all the slaves are not indifferent to the issues before them, is
certain. At the house of a planter, the other day, one of them asked my
friend, “Will we be made to work, massa, when ole English come?” An old
domestic in the house of a gentleman in this city said, “There are few
whites in this place who ought not to be killed for their cruelty to
us.” Another said, “Oh, just wait till they attack Pickens!” These
little hints are significant enough, coupled with the notices of
runaways, and the lodgments in the police jails, to show that all is not
quiet below the surface. The holders, however, are firm, and there have
been many paragraphs stating that slaves have contributed to the various
funds for state defence, and that they generally show the very best
spirit.

By the proclamation of Governor Magoffin, a copy of which I enclose, you
will see that the governor of the commonwealth of Kentucky and
commander-in-chief of all her military forces on land or water, warns
all states, separately or united, especially the United States and the
Confederate States, that he will fight their troops if they attempt to
enter his commonwealth. Thus Kentucky sets up for herself, while
Virginia is on the eve of destruction, and an actual invasion has taken
place on her soil. It is exceedingly difficult of comprehension that,
with the numerous troops, artillery, and batteries, which the
Confederate journals asserted to be in readiness to repel attack, an
invasion which took place in face of the enemy, and was effected over a
broad river, with shores readily defensible, should have been
unresisted. Here it is said there is a mighty plan, in pursuance of
which the United States troops are to be allowed to make their way into
Virginia, that they may at some convenient place be eaten up by their
enemies; and if we hear that the Confederates at Harper’s Ferry retain
their position, one may believe some such plan really exists, although
it is rather doubtful strategy to permit the United States forces to
gain possession of the right bank of the Potomac. Should the position at
Harper’s Ferry be really occupied with a design of using it as a _point
d’appui_ for movements against the North, and any large number of troops
be withdrawn from Annapolis, Washington and Baltimore, so as to leave
those places comparatively undefended, an irruption in force of the
Confederates on the right flank and in rear of General Scott’s army,
might cause most serious inconvenience, and endanger his communications,
if not the possession of the places indicated.

Looking at the map, it is easy to comprehend that a march southward from
Alexandria could be combined with an offensive movement by the forces
said to be concentrated in and around Fortress Monroe, so as to place
Richmond itself in danger, and, if any such measure is contemplated, a
battle must be fought in that vicinity, or the _prestige_ of the South
will receive very great damage. It is impossible for any one to
understand the movement of the troops on both sides. These companies are
scattered broadcast over the enormous expanse of the states, and, where
concentrated in any considerable numbers, seem to have had their
position determined rather by local circumstances than by considerations
connected with the general plan of a large campaign.

In a few days the object of the recent movement will be better
understood, and, it is probable that your correspondent at New York will
send, by the same mail which carries this, exceedingly important
information, to which I, in my present position, can have no access. The
influence of the blockade will be severely felt, combined with the
strict interruption of all intercourse by the Mississippi. Although the
South boasts of its resources and of its amazing richness and abundance
of produce, the constant advice in the journals to increase the breadth
of land under corn, and to neglect the cotton crop in consideration of
the paramount importance of the cause, indicates an apprehension of a
scarcity of food if the struggle be prolonged.

Under any circumstances, the patriotic ladies and gentlemen who are so
anxious for the war, must make up their minds to suffer a little in the
flesh. All they can depend on is a supply of home luxuries: Indian corn
and wheat, the flesh of pigs, eked out with a small supply of beef and
mutton, will constitute the staple of their food. Butter there will be
none, and wine will speedily rise to an enormous price. Nor will coffee
and tea be had, except at a rate which will place them out of the reach
of the mass of the community. These are the smallest sacrifices of war.
The blockade is not yet enforced here, and the privateers of the port
are extremely active, and have captured vessels with more energy than
wisdom.

The day before yesterday, ships belonging to the United States in that
river were seized by the Confederation authorities, on the ground that
war had broken out, and that the time of grace accorded to the enemy’s
traders had expired. Great was the rush to the consul’s office to
transfer the menaced property from ownership under the stars and stripes
to British hands; but Mr. Mure refused to recognize any transaction of
the kind, unless sale _bona fide_ had been effected before the action of
the Confederate marshals.

At Charleston the blockade has been raised, owing, apparently, to some
want of information or of means on the part of the United States
government, and considerable inconvenience may be experienced by them in
consequence. On the 11th, the United States steam-frigate Niagara
appeared outside and warned off several British ships, and on the 13th
she was visited by Mr. Bunch, our consul, who was positively assured by
the officers on board that eight or ten vessels would be down to join in
enforcing the blockade. On the 15th, however, the Niagara departed,
leaving the port open, and several vessels have since run in and
obtained fabulous freights, suggesting to the minds of the owners of the
vessels which were warned off the propriety of making enormous demands
for compensation. The Southerners generally believe not only that their
Confederacy will be acknowledged, but that the blockade will be
disregarded by England. Their affection for her is proportionably
prodigious, and reminds one of the intensity of the gratitude which
consists in lively expectations of favors to come.

NEW ORLEANS, _May 21, 1861_.

Yesterday morning early I left Mobile in the steamer Florida, which
arrived in the Lake of Pontchartrain, late at night, or early this
morning. The voyage, if it can be called so, would have offered, in less
exciting times, much that was interesting--certainly, to a stranger, a
good deal that was novel--for our course lay inside a chain, almost
uninterrupted, of reefs, covered with sand and pine-trees, exceedingly
narrow, so that the surf and waves of the ocean beyond could be seen
rolling in foam through the foliage of the forest, or on the white
beach, while the sea lake on which our steamer was speeding lay in a
broad, smooth sheet, just crisped by the breeze, between the outward
barrier and the wooded shores of the mainland. Innumerable creeks, or
“bayous,” as they are called, pierce the gloom of these endless pines.
Now and then a sail could be made out, stealing through the mazes of the
marshy waters. If the mariner knows his course, he may find deep water
in most of the channels from the outer sea into these inner waters, on
which the people of the South will greatly depend for any coasting-trade
and supplies coastwise, they may require, as well as for the safe
retreat of their privateers. A few miles from Mobile, the steamer
turning out of the bay, entered upon the series of these lakes through a
narrow channel called Grant’s Pass, which some enterprising person, not
improbably of Scottish extraction, constructed for his own behoof, by an
ingenious watercut, and for the use of which, and of a little iron
lighthouse that he has built close at hand, on the model of a
pepper-castor, he charges toll on passing vessels. This island is
scarcely three feet above the water; it is not over 20 yards broad and
150 yards long. A number of men were, however, busily engaged in
throwing up the sand, and arms gleamed amid some tents pitched around
the solitary wooden shed in the centre. A schooner lay at the wharf,
laden with two guns and sand-bags, and as we passed through the narrow
channel several men in military uniform, who were on board, took their
places in a boat which pushed off for them, and were conveyed to their
tiny station, of which one shell would make a dust heap. The Mobilians
are fortifying themselves as best they can, and seem, not unadvisedly,
jealous of gun-boats and small war-steamers. On more than one outlying
sand-bank toward New Orleans, are they to be seen at work on other
batteries, and they are busied in repairing, as well as they can, old
Spanish and new United States works which had been abandoned, or which
were never completed. The news has just been reported, indeed, that the
batteries they were preparing on Ship Island have been destroyed and
burnt by a vessel of war of the United States. For the whole day we saw
only a few coasting craft and the return steamers from New Orleans; but
in the evening a large schooner, which sailed like a witch and was
crammed with men, challenged my attention, and on looking at her through
the glass I could make out reasons enough for desiring to avoid her if
one was a quiet, short-handed, well-filled old merchantman. There could
be no mistake about certain black objects on the deck. She lay as low as
a yacht, and there were some fifty or sixty men in the waist and
forecastle. On approaching New Orleans, there are some settlements
rather than cities, although they are called by the latter title,
visible on the right hand, embowered in woods and stretching along the
beach. Such are the “Mississippi City,” Pass Cagoula, and Pass
Christian, &c.--all resorts of the inhabitants of New Orleans during the
summer heats and the epidemics which play such havoc with life from time
to time. Seen from the sea, these huge hamlets look very picturesque.
The detached villas, of every variety of architecture, are painted
brightly, and stand in gardens in the midst of magnolias and
rhododendrons. Very long and slender piers lead far into the sea before
the very door, and at the extremity of each there is a bathing-box for
the inmates. The general effect of one of these settlements, with its
light domes and spires, long lines of whitewashed railings, and houses
of every hue set in the dark green of the pines, is very pretty. The
steamer touched at two of them. There was a motley group of colored
people on the jetty, a few whites, of whom the males were nearly all in
uniform; a few bales of goods were landed or put on board, and that was
all one could see of the life of that place. Our passengers never ceased
talking politics all day, except when they were eating or drinking, for
I regret to say they can continue to chew and to spit while they are
engaged in political discussion. Some were rude provincials in uniform.
One was an acquaintance from the far East, who had been a lieutenant on
board of the Minnesota, and had resigned his commission in order to take
service under the Confederate flag. The fiercest among them all was a
thin little lady, who uttered certain energetic aspirations for the
possession of portions of Mr. Lincoln’s person, and who was kind enough
to express intense satisfaction at the intelligence that there was
small-pox among the garrison at Monroe. In the evening a little
difficulty occurred among some of the military gentlemen, during which
one of the logicians drew a revolver, and presented it at the head of
the gentleman who was opposed to his peculiar views, but I am happy to
say that an arrangement, to which I was an unwilling “party,” for the
row took place within a yard of me, was entered into for a fight to come
off on shore in two days after they landed, which led to the
postponement of immediate murder.

The entrance to Ponchartrain lake is infamous for the abundance of its
mosquitos, and it was with no small satisfaction that we experienced a
small tornado, a thunderstorm, and a breeze of wind which saved us from
their fury. It is a dismal canal through a swamp. At daylight, the
vessel lay alongside a wharf surrounded by small boats and bathing
stations. A railway shed receives us on shore, and a train is soon ready
to start for the city, which is six miles distant. For a few hundred
yards the line passes between wooden houses, used as restaurants, or
“restaurats,” as they are called hereaway, kept by people with French
names and using the French tongue; then the rail plunges through a
swamp, dense as an Indian jungle, and with the overflowings of the
Mississippi creeping in feeble, shallow currents over the black mud.
Presently the spires of churches are seen rising above the underwood and
rushes. Then we come out on a wide marshy plain, in which flocks of
cattle, up to the belly in mud, are floundering to get at the rich
herbage on the unbroken surface. Next comes a wide-spread suburb of
exceedingly broad lanes, lined with small one-storied houses. The
inhabitants are pale, lean, and sickly; and there is about the men a
certain look, almost peculiar to the fishy-fleshy populations of
Levantine towns, which I cannot describe, but which exists all along the
Mediterranean seaboard, and crops out here again. The drive through
badly-paved streets enables us to see that there is an air of French
civilization about New Orleans. The streets are wisely adapted to the
situation; they are not so wide as to permit the sun to have it all his
own way from rising to setting. The shops are “magasins;” cafés abound.
The colored population looks well dressed, and is going to mass or
market in the early morning. The pavements are crowded with men in
uniform, in which the taste of France is generally followed. The
carriage stops at last, and rest comes gratefully after the stormy
night, the mosquitos, “the noise of the captains” (at the bar), and the
shouting.

_May_ 22.--The prevalence of the war spirit here is in every thing
somewhat exaggerated by the fervor of Gallic origin, and the violence of
popular opinion and the tyranny of the mass are as potent as in any
place in the South. The great house of Brown Brothers, of Liverpool and
New York, has closed its business here in consequence of the
intimidation of the mob, or as the phrase is, of the “citizens,” who
were “excited” by seeing that the firm had subscribed to the New York
fund, on its sudden resurrection after Fort Sumter had fallen. Some
other houses are about to pursue the same course; all large business
transactions are over for the season, and the migratory population which
comes here to trade, has taken wing much earlier than usual. But the
streets are full of “Turcos,” and “Zouaves,” and “Chasseurs;” the
tailors are busy night and day on uniforms; the walls are covered with
placards for recruits; the seamstresses are sewing flags; the ladies are
carding lint and stitching cartridge-bags. The newspapers are crowded
with advertisements relating to the formation of new companies of
volunteers and the election of officers. There are Pickwick Rifles,
Lafayette, Beauregard, Irish, German, Scotch, Italian, Spanish,
Crescent, McMahon--innumerable--rifle volunteers of all names and
nationalities, and the Meagher Rifles, indignant with “that valiant son
of Mars” because he has drawn his sword for the North, have rebaptized
themselves, and are going to seek glory under a more auspicious
nomenclature. About New Orleans, I shall have more to say when I see
more of it. At present it looks very like an outlying suburb of Chalons
when the grand camp is at its highest military development, although the
thermometer is rising gradually, and obliges one to know occasionally
that it can be 95° in the shade already. In the course of my journeyings
southward, I have failed to find much evidence that there is any
apprehension on the part of the planters of a servile insurrection, or
that the slaves are taking much interest in the coming contest, or know
what it is about. But I have my suspicions that all is not right;
paragraphs meet the eye, and odd sentences strike the ear, and little
facts here and there come to the knowledge, which arouse curiosity and
doubt. There is one stereotyped sentence which I am tired of: “Our
negroes, sir, are the happiest, the most contented, and the best off of
any people in the world.”

The violence and reiterancy of this formula cause one to inquire whether
any thing which demands such insistance is really in the condition
predicated; and for myself I always say: “It may be so, but as yet I do
not see the proof of it. The negroes do not look to be what you say they
are.” For the present that is enough as to one’s own opinions.
Externally, the paragraphs which attract attention, and the acts of the
authorities, are inconsistent with the notion that the negroes are all
very good, very happy, or at all contented, not to speak of their being
in the superlative condition of enjoyment; and as I only see them as yet
in the most superficial way, and under the most favorable circumstances,
it may be that when the cotton-picking season is at its height, and it
lasts for several months, when the labor is continuous from sunrise to
sunset, there is less reason to accept the assertions as so largely and
generally true of the vast majority of the slaves. “There is an
excellent gentleman over there,” said a friend to me, “who gives his
overseers a premium of ten dollars on the birth of every child on his
plantation.” “Why so?” “Oh, in order that the overseers may not work the
women in the family-way overmuch.” There is little use in this part of
the world in making use of inferences. But where overseers do not get
the premium, it may be supposed they do work the pregnant women too
much. Here are two paragraphs which do not look very well as they stand.

     Those negroes who were taken with a sudden leaving on Sunday night
     last, will save the country the expenses of their burial if they
     keep dark from these parts. They and other of the “breden” will not
     be permitted to express themselves quite so freely in regard to
     their braggadocio designs upon virtue, in the absence of
     volunteers.--_Wilmington (Clintock County, Ohio) Watchman
     (Republican)_.

     Served Him Right. One day last week, some colored individual,
     living near South Plymouth, made a threat that, in case a civil war
     should occur, “he would be one to ravish the wife of every
     democrat, and to help murder their offspring, and wash his hands in
     their blood.” For this diabolical assertion he was hauled up before
     a committee of white citizens, who adjudged him forty stripes on
     his naked back. He was accordingly stripped, and the lashes were
     laid on with such a good will that blood flowed at the end of the
     castigation.--_Washington (Fayette County, Ohio) Register
     (Neutral)_.

It is reported that the patrols are strengthened, and I could not help
hearing a charming young lady say to another, the other evening, that
“she would not be afraid to go back to the plantation, though Mrs. Brown
Jones said she was afraid her negroes were after mischief.”

There is a great scarcity of powder, which is one of the reasons,
perhaps, why it has not yet been expended as largely as might be
expected from the tone and temper on both sides. There is no sulphur in
the States; nitre and charcoal abound. The sea is open to the North.
There is no great overplus of money on either side. In Missouri, the
interest on the state debt, due in July, will be used to procure arms
for the state volunteers to carry on the war. The South is preparing for
the struggle by sowing a most unusual quantity of grain; and in many
fields corn and maize have been planted instead of cotton. “Stay laws,”
by which all inconveniences arising from the usual dull, old-fashioned
relations between debtor and creditor are avoided (at least by the
debtor), have been adopted in most of the seceding states. How is it
that the state legislatures seem to be in the hands of the debtors and
not of the creditors?

There are some who cling to the idea that there will be no war after
all, but no one believes that the South will ever go back of its own
free will, and the only reason that can be given by those who hope
rather than think in that way is to be found in the faith that the North
will accept some mediation, and will let the South go in peace. But
could there--can there be peace? The frontier question--the adjustment
of various claims--the demands for indemnity, or for privileges or
exemptions, in the present state of feeling, can have but one result.
The task of mediation is sure to be as thankless as abortive. Assuredly
the proffered service of England would, on one side at least, be
received with something like insult. Nothing but adversity can teach
these people its own most useful lessons. Material prosperity has puffed
up the citizens to an unwholesome state. The toils and sacrifices of the
old world have been taken by them as their birthright, and they have
accepted the fruits of all that the science, genius, suffering, and
trials of mankind in time past have wrought out, perfected, and won as
their own peculiar inheritance, while they have ignorantly rejected the
advice and scorned the lessons with which these were accompanied.

_May_ 23.--The Congress at Montgomery, having sat with closed doors
almost since it met, has now adjourned till July the 20th, when it will
reassemble at Richmond, in Virginia, which is thus designated, for the
time, capital of the Confederate States of America. Richmond, the
principal city of the Old Dominion, is about one hundred miles in a
straight line south by west of Washington. The rival capitals will thus
be in very close proximity by rail and by steam, by land and by water.
The movement is significant. It will tend to hasten a collision between
the forces which are collected on the opposite sides of the Potomac.
Hitherto, Mr. Jefferson Davis has not evinced all the sagacity and
energy, in a military sense, which he is said to possess. It was bad
strategy to menace Washington before he could act. His secretary of war,
Mr. Walker, many weeks ago, in a public speech, announced the intention
of marching upon the capital. If it was meant to do so, the blow should
have been struck silently. If it was not intended to seize upon
Washington, the threat had a very disastrous effect on the South, as it
excited the North to immediate action, and caused General Scott to
concentrate his troops on points which present many advantages in the
face of any operations which may be considered necessary along the lines
either of defence or attack. The movement against the Norfolk navy-yard
strengthened Fortress Monroe, and the Potomac and Chesapeake were
secured to the United States. The fortified ports held by the Virginians
and the Confederate States troops, are not of much value as long as the
streams are commanded by the enemy’s steamers; and General Scott has
shown that he has not outlived either his reputation or his vigor by
the steps, at once wise and rapid, he has taken to curb the malcontents
in Maryland, and to open his communications through the city of
Baltimore. Although immense levies of men may be got together, on both
sides, for purposes of local defence or for state operations, it seems
to me that it will be very difficult to move these masses in regular
armies. The men are not disposed for regular, lengthened service, and
there is an utter want of field trains, equipment, and commissariat,
which cannot be made good in a day, a week, or a month.

The bill passed by the Montgomery Congress, entitled “An act to raise an
additional military force to serve during the war,” is, in fact, a
measure to put into the hands of the government the control of irregular
bodies of men, and to bind them to regular military service. With all
their zeal, the people of the South will not enlist. They detest the
recruiting sergeant, and Mr. Davis knows enough of war to feel
hesitation in trusting himself in the field to volunteers. The bill
authorizes Mr. Davis to accept volunteers who may offer their services,
without regard to the place of enlistment, “to serve during the war,
unless sooner discharged.” They may be accepted in companies, but Mr.
Davis is to organize them into squadrons, battalions, or regiments, and
the appointment of field and staff officers is reserved especially to
him. The company officers are to be elected by the men of the company,
but here again Mr. Davis reserves to himself the right of veto, and will
only commission those officers whose election he approves.

The absence of cavalry and the deficiency of artillery may prevent
either side obtaining any decisive results in one engagement; but, no
doubt, there will be great loss whenever these large masses of men are
fairly opposed to each other in the field. Of the character of the
Northern regiments I can say nothing more from actual observation; nor
have I yet seen, in any place, such a considerable number of the troops
of the Confederate States, moving together, as would justify me in
expressing any opinion with regard to their capacity for organized
movements, such as regular troops in Europe are expected to perform. An
intelligent and trustworthy observer, taking one of the New York state
militia regiments as a fair specimen of the battalions which will fight
for the United States, gives an account of them which leads me to the
conclusion that such regiments are much superior, when furnished by the
country districts, to those raised in the towns and cities. It appears,
in this case at least, that the members of the regular militia companies
in general send substitutes to the ranks. Ten of these companies form
the regiment, and, in nearly every instance, they have been doubled in
strength by volunteers. Their drill is exceedingly incomplete, and in
forming the companies there is a tendency for the different
nationalities to keep themselves together. In the regiment in question
the rank and file often consists of quarrymen, mechanics, and canal
boatmen, mountaineers from the Catskill, bark peelers, and timber
cutters--ungainly, square-built, powerful fellows, with a Dutch tenacity
of purpose crossed with an English indifference to danger. There is no
drunkenness and no desertion among them. The officers are almost as
ignorant of military training as their men. The colonel, for instance,
is the son of a rich man in his district, well educated, and a man of
travel. Another officer is a shipmaster. A third is an artist; others
are merchants and lawyers, and they are all busy studying “Hardee’s
Tactics,” the best book for infantry drill in the United States. The men
have come out to fight for what they consider the cause of the country,
and are said to have no particular hatred of the South, or of its
inhabitants, though they think they are “a darned deal too high and
mighty, and require to be wiped down considerably.” They have no notion
as to the length of time for which their services will be required, and
I am assured that not one of them has asked what his pay is to be.

Reverting to Montgomery, one may say without offence that its claims to
be the capital of a republic which asserts that it is the richest, and
believes that it will be the strongest in the world, are not by any
means evident to a stranger. Its central position, which has reference
rather to a map than to the hard face of matter, procured for it a
distinction to which it had no other claim. The accommodations which
suited the modest wants of a state legislature vanished or were
transmuted into barbarous inconveniences by the pressure of a central
government, with its offices, its departments, and the vast crowd of
applicants which flocked thither to pick up such crumbs of comfort as
could be spared from the executive table. Never shall I forget the
dismay of myself, and of the friends who were travelling with me, on our
arrival at the Exchange Hotel, under circumstances with some of which
you are already acquainted. With us were men of high position, members
of Congress, senators, ex-governors, and General Beauregard himself. But
to no one was greater accommodation extended than could be furnished by
a room held, under a sort of ryot-warree tenure, in common with a
community of strangers. My room was shown to me. It contained four large
four-post beds, a ricketty table, and some chairs of infirm purpose and
fundamental unsoundness. The floor was carpetless, covered with litter
of paper and ends of cigars, and stained with tobacco juice. The broken
glass of the window afforded no ungrateful means of ventilation. One
gentleman sat in his shirt sleeves at the table reading the account of
the marshalling of the Highlanders at Edinburgh in the Abbottsford
edition of Sir Walter Scott; another, who had been wearied, apparently,
by writing numerous applications to the government for some military
post, of which rough copies lay scattered around, came in, after
refreshing himself at the bar, and occupied one of the beds, which by
the bye, were ominously provided with two pillows apiece. Supper there
was none for us in the house, but a search in an outlying street enabled
us to discover a restaurant, where roasted squirrels and baked opossums
figured as luxuries in the bill of fare. On our return we found that due
preparation had been made in the apartment by the addition of three
mattresses on the floor. The beds were occupied by unknown statesmen and
warriors, and we all slumbered and snored in friendly concert till
morning. Gentlemen in the South complain that strangers judge of them by
their hotels, but it is a very natural standard for strangers to adopt,
and in respect to Montgomery it is almost the only one that a gentleman
can conveniently use, for if the inhabitants of this city and its
vicinity are not maligned, there is an absence of the hospitable spirit
which the South lays claim to as one of its animating principles, and a
little bird whispered to me that from Mr. Jefferson Davis down to the
least distinguished member of his government there was reason to observe
that the usual attentions and civilities offered by residents to
illustrious stragglers had been “conspicuous for their absence.” The
fact is, that the small planters who constitute the majority of the
land-owners are not in a position to act the Amphytrion, and that the
inhabitants of the district can scarcely aspire to be considered what we
would call gentry in England, but are a frugal, simple, hog-and-hominy
living people, fond of hard work and, occasionally, of hard drinking.

       *       *       *       *       *

NEW ORLEANS, _May_ 24, 1861.

It is impossible to resist the conviction that the Southern Confederacy
can only be conquered by means as irresistible as those by which Poland
was subjugated. The South will fall, if at all, as a nation prostrate at
the feet of a victorious enemy. There is no doubt of the unanimity of
the people. If words mean any thing, they are animated by only one
sentiment, and they will resist the North as long as they can command a
man or a dollar. There is nothing of a sectional character in this
disposition of the South. In every state there is only one voice
audible. Hereafter, indeed, state jealousies may work their own way.
Whatever may be the result, unless the men are the merest
braggarts--and they do not look like it--they will fight to the last
before they give in, and their confidence in their resources is only
equalled by their determination to test them to the utmost. There is a
noisy vociferation about their declarations of implicit trust and
reliance on their slaves which makes one think “they do protest too
much,” and it remains to be seen whether the slaves really will remain
faithful to their masters should the abolition army ever come among them
as an armed propaganda. One thing is obvious here. A large number of men
who might be usefully employed in the ranks are idling about the
streets. The military enthusiasm is in proportion to the property
interest of the various classes of the people, and the very boast that
so many rich men are serving in the ranks is a significant proof, either
of the want of a substratum, or of the absence of great devotion to the
cause, of any such layer of white people as may underlie the great
slave-holding, mercantile, and planting oligarchy. The whole state of
Louisiana contains about 50,000 men liable to serve when called on. Of
that number only 15,000 are enrolled and under arms in any shape
whatever, and if one is to judge of the state of affairs by the
advertisements which appear from the adjutant-general’s office, there
was some difficulty in procuring the 3,000 men--merely 3,000
volunteers--“to serve during the war,” who are required by the
Confederate government. There is “plenty of prave ’ords,” and if fierce
writing and talking could do the work, the armies on both sides would
have been killed and eaten long ago. It is found out that “lives of the
citizens” at Pensacola are too valuable to be destroyed in attacking
Pickens. A storm that shall drive away the ships, a plague, yellow
fever, mosquitos, rattlesnakes, small-pox--any of these agencies, is
looked to with confidence to do the work of shot, shell, and bayonet.
Our American “brethren in arms” have yet to learn that great law in
military cookery, that “if they want to make omelets they must break
eggs.” The “moral suasion” of the lasso, of head-shaving, ducking,
kicking, and such processes, are, I suspect, used not unfrequently to
stimulate volunteers; and the extent to which the acts of the recruiting
officer are somewhat aided by the arm of the law, and the force of the
policeman and the magistrate, may be seen from paragraphs in the morning
papers now and then, to the effect that certain gentlemen of Milesian
extraction, who might have been engaged in pugilistic pursuits, were
discharged from custody unpunished on condition that they enlisted for
the war. With the peculiar views entertained of freedom of opinion and
action by large classes of people on this continent, such a mode of
obtaining volunteers is very natural, but resort to it evinces a want of
zeal on the part of some of the 50,000 who are on the rolls; and, from
all I can hear--and I have asked numerous persons likely to be
acquainted with the subject--there are not more than those 15,000 men of
whom I have spoken in all the state under arms, or in training, of whom
a considerable proportion will be needed for garrison and coast defence
duties. It may be that the Northern states and Northern sentiments are
as violent as those of the South but I see some evidences to the
contrary. For instance, in New York ladies and gentlemen from the South
are permitted to live at their favorite hotel without molestation, and
one hotel keeper at Saratoga Springs advertises openly for the custom of
his Southern patrons. In no city of the South which I have visited would
a party of Northern people be permitted to remain for an hour if the
“citizens” were aware of their presence. It is laughable to hear men
speaking of the “unanimity” of the South. Just look at the peculiar
means by which unanimity is enforced and secured! This is an extract
from a New Orleans paper:

     CHARGES OF ABOLITIONISM.--Mayor Monroe has disposed of some of the
     cases brought before him on charges of this kind by sending the
     accused to the workhouse.

     A Mexican named Bernard Cruz, born in Tampico, and living here with
     an Irish wife, was brought before the Mayor this morning charged
     with uttering Abolition sentiments. After a full investigation, it
     was found from the utterance of his incendiary language, that
     Cruz’s education was not yet perfect in Southern classics, and his
     Honor therefore directed that he be sent for six months to the
     Humane Institution for the Amelioration of the Condition of
     Northern Barbarians and Abolition Fanatics, presided over by
     Professor Henry Mitchell, keeper of the workhouse, who will put him
     through a course of study on Southern ethics and institutions.

     The testimony before him Saturday, however, in the case of a man
     named David O’Keefe, was such as to induce him to commit the
     accused for trial before the Criminal Court. One of the witnesses
     testified positively that he heard him make his children shout for
     Lincoln; another, that the accused said, “I am an abolitionist,”
     &c. The witnesses, the neighbors of the accused, gave their
     evidence reluctantly, saying that they had warned him of the folly
     and danger of his conduct. O’Keefe says he has been a United States
     soldier, and came here from St. Louis and Kansas.

     John White was arraigned before Recorder Emerson on Saturday for
     uttering incendiary language while traveling in the baggage car of
     a train of the New Orleans, Ohio, and Great Western Railroad,
     intimating that the decapitator of Jefferson Davis would get
     $10,000 for his trouble, and the last man of us would be whipped
     like dogs by the Lincolnites. He was held under bonds of $500 to
     answer the charge on the 8th of June.

     Nicholas Gento, charged with declaring himself an Abolitionist, and
     acting very much like he was one, by harboring a runaway slave, was
     sent to prison in default of bail, to await examination before the
     recorder.

Such is “freedom of speech” in Louisiana! But in Texas the machinery for
the production of “unanimity” is less complicated, and there are no
insulting legal formalities connected with the working of the simple
appliances which a primitive agricultural people have devised for their
own purposes. Hear the Texan correspondent of one of the journals of
this city on the subject. He says:

     It is to us astonishing, that such unmitigated lies as those
     Northern papers disseminate of anarchy and disorder here in Texas,
     dissension among ourselves, and especially from our German, &c.,
     population, with dangers and anxieties from the fear of
     insurrection among the negroes, &c., should be deemed anywhere
     South worthy of a moment’s thought. It is surely notorious enough
     that in no part of the South are Abolitionists, or other disturbers
     of the public peace, so very unsafe as in Texas. The _lasso_ is so
     _very_ convenient!

Here is an excellent method of preventing dissension described by a
stroke of the pen; and, as such, an ingenious people are not likely to
lose sight of the uses of a revolution in developing peculiar principles
to their own advantage, repudiation of debts to the North has been
proclaimed and acted on. One gentleman has found it convenient to inform
Major Anderson that he does not intend to meet certain bills which he
had given the major for some slaves. Another declares he won’t pay any
one at all, as he has discovered it is immoral and contrary to the law
of nations to do so. A third feels himself bound to obey the commands of
the governor of his state, who has ordered that debts due to the North
shall not be liquidated. As a _naïve_ specimen of the way in which the
whole case is treated, take this article and the correspondence of “one
of the most prominent mercantile houses in New Orleans:”


SOUTHERN DEBTS TO THE NORTH.

     The _Cincinnati Gazette_ copies the following paragraph from _The
     New York Evening Post_:

     “BAD FAITH.--The bad faith of the Southern merchants in their
     transactions with their Northern correspondents is becoming more
     evident daily. We have heard of several recent cases where parties
     in this city, retired from active business, have, nevertheless,
     stepped forward to protect the credit of their Southern friends.
     They are now coolly informed that they cannot be reimbursed for
     these advances until the war is over. We know of a retired merchant
     who in this way has lost $100,000”--and adds:

     “The same here. Men who have done most for the South are the chief
     sufferers. Debts are coolly repudiated by Southern merchants, who
     have heretofore enjoyed a first-class reputation. Men who have
     grown rich upon the trade furnished by the West are among the first
     to pocket the money of their correspondents, asking, with all the
     impudence and assurance of a highwayman, “What are you going to do
     about it?” There is honor among thieves, it is said, but there is
     not a spark of honor among these repudiating merchants. People who
     have aided and trusted them to the last moment, are the greatest
     losers. There is a future, however. This war will be over, and the
     Southern merchants will desire a resumption of their connections
     with the West. As the repudiators--such as Goodrich & Co., of New
     Orleans--will be spurned, there will be a grand opening for honest
     men.

     “There are many honorable exceptions in the South, but dishonesty
     is the rule. The latter is but the development of latent rascality.
     The rebellion has afforded a pretext merely for the swindling
     operations. The parties previously acted honestly, only because
     that was the best policy. The sifting process that may now be
     conducted will be of advantage to Northern merchants in the future.
     The present losses will be fully made up by subsequent gains.”

     We have been requested to copy the following reply to this tirade
     from one of our most prominent mercantile houses, Messrs. Goodrich
     & Co.:

NEW ORLEANS, _May 24_, 1861.

     _Cincinnati Gazette._--We were handed, through a friend of ours,
     your issue of the 18th inst., and attention directed to an article
     contained therein, in which you are pleased to particularize us out
     of a large number of highly respectable merchants of this and other
     Southern cities as repudiators, swindlers, and other epithets,
     better suited to the mouths of the Wilson regiment of New York than
     from a once respectable sheet, but which now has sunk so low in the
     depths of niggerdom that it would take all the soap in Porkopolis
     and the Ohio River to cleanse it from its foul pollution.

     We are greatly indebted to you for using our name in the above
     article, as we deem it the best card you could publish for us, and
     may add greatly to our business relations in the Confederate
     States, which will enable us in the end to pay our indebtedness to
     those who propose cutting our throats, destroying our property,
     stealing our negroes, and starving our wives and children, to pay
     such men in times of war. You may term it rascally, but we beg
     leave to call it patriotism.

     “Giving the sinews of war to your enemies has ever been considered
     treason.”--_Kent._

     Now for “repudiating.” We have never, nor do we ever expect to
     repudiate any debt owing by our firm. But this much we will say,
     never will we pay a debt due by us to a man, or any company of men,
     who is a known Black Republican, and marching in battle array to
     invade our homes and firesides, until every such person shall be
     driven back and their polluted footsteps shall, now on our once
     happy soil, be entirely obliterated.

     We have been in business in this city for twenty years, have passed
     through every crisis with our names untarnished or credit impaired,
     and would at present sacrifice all we have made, were it necessary,
     to sustain our credit in the Confederacy, but care nothing for the
     opinions of such as are open and avowed enemies. We are
     sufficiently known in this city not to require the indorsement of
     _The Cincinnati Gazette_, or any such sheet, for a character.

     The day is coming, and not far distant, when there will be an awful
     reckoning, and we are willing and determined to stand by our
     Confederate flag, sink or swim, and would like to meet some of _The
     Gazette’s_ editors _vis-à-vis_ on the field of blood, and see who
     would be the first to flinch.

     Our senior partner has already contributed one darkey this year to
     your population, and she is anxious to return, but we have a few
     more left which you can have, provided you will come and take them
     yourselves.

     We have said more than we intended, and hope you will give this a
     place in your paper.

GOODRICH & CO.

There is some little soreness felt here about the use of the word
“repudiation,” and it will do the hearts of some people good, and will
carry comfort to the ghost of the Rev. Sydney Smith, if it can hear the
tidings, to know I have been assured, over and over again, by eminent
mercantile people and statesmen, that there is a “general desire” on the
part of the repudiating states to pay their bonds, and that no doubt, at
some future period, not very clearly ascertainable or plainly indicated,
that general desire will cause some active steps to be taken to satisfy
its intensity, of a character very unexpected, and very gratifying to
those interested. The tariff of the Southern Confederation has just been
promulgated, and I send herewith a copy of the rates. Simultaneously,
however, with this document, the United States steam-frigates Brooklyn
and Niagara have made their appearance off the Pass à l’Outre, and the
Mississippi is closed, and with it the port of New Orleans. The
steam-tugs refuse to tow out vessels for fear of capture, and British
ships are in jeopardy.

_May 25._--A visit to the camp at Tangipao, about fifty miles from New
Orleans, gave an occasion for obtaining a clearer view of the internal
military condition of those forces of which one reads much and sees so
little than any other way. Major-General Lewis of the State Militia, and
staff, and General Labuzan, a Creole officer, attended by Major Ranney,
President of the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern Railway, and
by many officers in uniform, started with that purpose at half-past four
this evening in a railway carriage, carefully and comfortably fitted for
their reception. The militia of Louisiana has not been called out for
many years, and its officers have no military experience and the men
have no drill or discipline.

Emerging from the swampy suburbs, we soon pass between white clover
pastures, which we are told invariably salivate the herds of small but
plump cattle browsing upon them. Soon cornfields “in tassel,” alternate
with long narrow rows of growing sugar-cane, which, though scarcely a
fourth of the height of the maize, will soon overshadow it; and the
cane-stalks grow up so densely together that nothing larger than a
rattlesnake can pass between them.

From Kennersville, an ancient sugar plantation cut up into “town lots,”
our first halt, ten miles out, we shoot through a cypress swamp, the
primitive forest of this region, and note a greater affluence of Spanish
moss than in the woods of Georgia or Carolina. There it hung, like a
hermit’s beard, from the pensile branch. Here, to one who should
venture to thread the snake and alligator haunted mazes of the jungle,
its matted profusion must resemble clusters of stalactites pendent from
the roof of some vast cavern; for the gloom of an endless night appears
to pervade the deeper recesses, at the entrance of which stand, like
outlying skeleton pickets, the unfelled and leafless patriarchs of the
clearing, that for a breadth of perhaps fifty yards on either side seems
to have furnished the road with its sleepers.

The gray swamp yields to an open savanna, beyond which, upon the left, a
straggling line of sparse trees skirts the left bank of the Mississippi,
and soon after the broad expanse of Lake Pontchartrain appears within
gunshot of our right, only separated from the road by a hundred yards or
more of rush-covered prairie, which seems but a feeble barrier against
the caprices of so extensive a sheet of water, subject to the influences
of wind and tide. In fact, ruined shanties and out-houses, fields laid
waste, and prostrate fences, remain evidences of the ravages of the
“wash” which a year ago inundated and rendered the railroad impassable
save for boats. The down train’s first notice of the disaster was the
presence of a two-story frame building, which the waves had transported
to the road, and its passengers, detained a couple of days in what now
strikes us as a most grateful combination of timber-skirted meadow and
lake scenery, were rendered insensible to its beauties by the torments
of hungry mosquitos. Had its engineers given the road but eighteen
inches more elevation its patrons would have been spared this suffering,
and its stockholders might have rejoiced in a dividend. Many of the
settlers have abandoned their improvements. Others, chiefly what are
here called Dutchmen, have resumed their tillage with unabated zeal, and
large fields of cabbages, one of them embracing not less than sixty
acres, testify to their energy.

Again, through miles of cypress swamps the train passes on to what is
called the “trembling prairie,” where the sleepers are laid upon a
tressel-work of heavier logs, so that the rails are raised by “cribs” of
timber nearly a yard above the morass. Three species of rail, one of
them as large as a curlew, and the summer-duck, seem the chief occupants
of the marsh, but white cranes and brown bitterns take the alarm, and
falcons and long-tailed “blackbirds” sail in the distance.

Toward sunset a halt took place upon the long bridge that divides Lake
Maurepas, a picturesque sheet of water which blends with the horizon on
our left, from Pass Manchac, an arm of Lake Pontchartrain, which
disappears in the forest on our right. Half-a-dozen wherries and a small
fishing-smack are moored in front of a ricketty cabin, crowded by the
jungle to the margin of the cove. It is the first token of a settlement
that has occurred for miles, and when we have sufficiently admired the
scene, rendered picturesque in the sunset by the dense copse, the water
and the bright colors of the boats at rest upon it, a commotion at the
head of the train arises from the unexpected arrival upon the “switch”
of a long string of cars filled with half a regiment of volunteers, who
had been enlisted for twelve months’ service, and now refused to be
mustered in for the war, as required by the recent enactment of the
Montgomery Congress. The new-comers are at length safely lodged on the
“turn-off,” and our train continues its journey. As we pass the row of
cars, most of them freight wagons, we are hailed with shouts and yells
in every key by the disbanded volunteers, who seem a youngish,
poorly-clad, and undersized lot, though noisy as a street mob.

After Manchac, the road begins to creep up toward _terra firma_, and
before nightfall there was a change from cypresses and swamp laurels to
pines and beeches, and we inhale the purer atmosphere of dry land, with
an occasional whiff of resinous fragrance, that dispels the
fever-tainted suggestions of the swamp below. There we only breathed to
live. Here we seem to live to breathe. The rise of the road is a grade
of but a foot to the mile, and yet at the camp an elevation of not more
than eighty feet in as many miles suffices to establish all the climatic
difference between the malarious marshes and a much higher mountain
region.

But during our journey the hampers have not been neglected. The younger
members of the party astonish the night-owls with patriotic songs,
chiefly French, and the French chiefly with the “Marseillaise,” which,
however inappropriate as the slogan of the Confederate states, they
persist in quavering, forgetful, perhaps, that not three-quarters of a
century ago Toussaint l’Ouverture caught the words and air of his
masters, and awoke the lugubrious notes of the insurrection.

Toward nine P. M., the special car rests in the woods, and is flanked on
one side by the tents and watch-fires of a small encampment, chiefly of
navvy and cotton-handling Milesian volunteers, called “the Tigers,” from
their prehensile powers and predatory habits. A guard is stationed
around the car; a couple of Ethiopians who have attended us from town
are left to answer the query, _quis custodiet ipsos custodes?_, and we
make our way to the hotel, which looms up in the moonlight in a
two-storied dignity. Here, alas! there have been no preparations made to
sleep or feed us. The scapegoat “nobody” announced our coming. Some of
the guests are club men, used to the small hours, who engage a room, a
table, half a dozen chairs, and a brace of bottles to serve as
candlesticks. They have brought stearine and pasteboards with them, and
are soon deep in the finesses of “Euchre.” We quietly stroll back to the
car, our only hope of shelter. At the entrance we are challenged by a
sentry, apparently ignorant that he has a percussion cap on his brown
rifle, which he levels at us cocked. From this unpleasant vision of an
armed and reckless Tiger rampant we are relieved by one of the dusky
squires, who assures the sentinel that we are “all right,” and proceeds
to turn over a seat and arrange what might be called a sedan-chair bed,
in which we prepare to make a night of it. Our party is soon joined by
others in quest of repose, and in half an hour breathings, some of them
so deep as to seem subterranean, indicate that all have attained their
object--like Manfred’s--forgetfulness.

An early breakfast of rashers and eggs was prepared at the _table
d’hôte_, which we were told would be replenished half-hourly until noon,
when a respite of an hour was allowed to the “help,” in which to make
ready a dinner, to be served in the same progression.

Through a shady dingle a winding path led to the camp, and, after
trudging a pleasant half-mile, a bridge of boards, resting on a couple
of trees laid across a pool, was passed, and, above a slight embankment,
tents and soldiers are revealed upon a “clearing” of some thirty acres
in the midst of a pine forest. Turning to the left, we reach a double
row of tents, only distinguished from the rest by their “fly roofs” and
boarded floors, and, in the centre, halt opposite to one which a poster
of capitals on a planed deal marks as “Head-quarters.” Major-General
Tracy commands the camp. The white tents crouching close to the shade of
the pines, the parade alive with groups and colors as various as those
of Joseph’s coat, arms stacked here and there, and occasionally the
march of a double file in green, or in mazarine blue, up an alley from
the interior of the wood, to be dismissed in the open, resembles a
militia muster, or a holiday experiment at soldiering, rather than the
dark shadow of forthcoming battle. The cordon of sentinels suffer no
volunteer to leave the precincts of the camp, even to bathe, without a
pass or the word. There are neither wagons nor ambulances, and the men
are rolling in barrels of bacon and bread and shouldering bags of
pulse--good picnic practice and campaigning gymnastics in fair weather.

The arms of these volunteers are the old United States smooth-bore
musket, altered from flint to percussion, with bayonet--a heavy and
obsolete copy of Brown Bess in bright barrels. All are in creditable
order. Most of them have never been used, even to fire a parade volley,
for powder is scarce in the Confederated States, and must not be
wasted. Except in their material, the shoes of the troops are as varied
as their clothing. None have as yet been served out, and each still
wears the boots, the brogans, the patent leathers, or the Oxford ties in
which he enlisted. The tents have mostly no other floor than the earth,
and that rarely swept; while blankets, boxes, and utensils are stowed in
corners with a disregard of symmetry that would drive a martinet mad.
Camp-stools are rare and tables invisible, save here and there in an
officer’s tent. Still the men look well, and, we are told, would
doubtless present a more cheerful appearance, but for some little
demoralization occasioned by discontent at the repeated changes in the
organic structure of the regiments, arising from misapprehensions
between the state and federal authorities, as well as from some
favoritism toward certain officers, elected by political wire-pulling in
the governing councils. The system of electing officers by ballot has
made the camp as thoroughly a political arena as the poll-districts in
New Orleans before an election, and thus many heroes, seemingly
ambitious of epaulettes, are in reality only “laying pipes” for the
attainment of civil power or distinction after the war.

The volunteers we met at Manchac the previous evening had been enlisted
by the state to serve for twelve months, and had refused to extend their
engagement for the war--a condition now made precedent at Montgomery to
their being mustered into the army of the Confederate States. Another
company, a majority of whom persist in the same refusal, were disbanded
while we were patrolling the camp, and an officer told one of the party
he had suffered a loss of 600 volunteers by this disintegrating process
within the last twenty-four hours. Some of these country companies were
skilled in the use of the rifle, and most of them had made pecuniary
sacrifices in the way of time, journeys, and equipments. Our informant
deplored this reduction of volunteers, as tending to engender
disaffection in the parishes to which they will return, and comfort,
when known, to the Abolitionists of the North. He added that the war
will not perhaps last a twelvemonth, and if unhappily prolonged beyond
that period, the probabilities are in favor of the short-term recruits
willingly consenting to a re-enlistment.

The encampment of the “Perrit Guards” was worthy of a visit. Here was a
company of _professional gamblers_, 112 strong, recruited for the war in
a moment of banter by one of the patriarchs of the fraternity, who, upon
hearing at the St. Charles Hotel one evening that the vanity or the
patriotism of a citizen, not famed for liberality, had endowed with
$1,000 a company which was to bear his name, exclaimed that “he would
give $1,500 to any one who should be fool enough to form a company and
call it after him.” In less than an hour after the utterance of this
caprice, Mr. Perrit was waited upon by fifty-six “professionals,” who
had enrolled their names as the “Perrit Guards,” and unhesitatingly
produced from his wallet the sum so sportively pledged. The Guards are
uniformed in mazarine-blue flannel with red facings, and the captain, a
youngish-looking fellow, with a hawk’s eye, who had seen service with
Scott in Mexico and Walker in Nicaragua, informed us that there is not a
pair of shoes in the company that cost less than $6, and that no money
has been spared to perfect their other appointments. A sack of ice and
half a dozen silver goblets enforced his invitation “to take a drink at
his quarters,” and we were served by an African in uniform, who
afterward offered us cigars received by the last Havana steamer. Looking
at the sable attendant, one of the party observed that if these “experts
of fortune win the present fight, it will be a case of _couleur gagne_.”

It would be difficult to find in the same number of men taken at hazard
greater diversities of age, stature, and physiognomy; but in keenness of
eye and imperturbability of demeanor they exhibit a family likeness, and
there is not an unintelligent face in the company. The gamblers, or, as
they are termed, the “sports,” of the United States have an air of
higher breeding and education than the dice-throwers and card-turners of
Ascot or Newmarket--nay, they may be considered the Anglo-Saxon equals,
minus the title, of those _âmes damnées_ of the continental nobility who
are styled Greeks by their Parisian victims. They are the Pariahs of
American civilization, who are, nevertheless, in daily and familiar
intercourse with their patrons, and not restricted, as in England, to a
betting-ring toleration by the higher orders. The Guards are the model
company of Camp Moore, and I should have felt disposed to admire the
spirit of gallantry with which they have volunteered in this war as a
purification by fire of their maculated lives were it not hinted that
the “Oglethorpe Guards” and more than one other company of volunteers
are youths of large private fortunes, and that in the Secession as in
the Mexican War, these patriots will doubtless pursue their old calling
with as much profit as they may their new one with valor.

From the lower camp we wind through tents, which diminish in neatness
and cleanliness as we advance deeper, to the upper division, which is
styled “Camp Tracy,” a newer formation, whose brooms have been employed
with corresponding success. The adjutant’s report for the day sums up
1,073 rank and file, and but two on the sick list. On a platform, a
desk, beneath the shade of the grove, holds a Bible and Prayer-book,
that await the arrival, at ten o’clock, of the Methodist preacher, who
is to perform Divine service. The green uniforms of the “Hibernian
Guards,” and the gray and light-blue dress of other companies, appertain
to a better appointed sort of men than the lower division.

There may be 2,000 men in Camp Moore--not more, and yet every authority
gives us a different figure. The lowest estimate acknowledged for the
two camps is 3,500 men, and _The Picayune_ and other New Orleans papers
still speak in glowing terms of the 5,000 heroes assembled in Tangipao.
Although the muster there presents a tolerable show of ball-stoppers, it
would require months of discipline to enable them to pass for soldiers,
even at the North; and besides that General Tracy has never had other
experience than in militia duty, there is not, I think, a single
West-Point officer in his whole command. The only hope of shaping such
raw material to the purposes of war would naturally be by the admixture
of a proper allowance of military experience, and until those possessing
it shall be awarded to Camp Moore we must sigh over the delusion which
pictures its denizens to the good people of New Orleans as “fellows
ready for the fray.”

While the hampers are being ransacked, an express locomotive arrives
from town with dispatches for General Tracy, who exclaims, when reading
them, “Always too late!” from which expression it is inferred that
orders have been received to accept the just disbanded volunteers. The
locomotive was hitched to the car and drew it back to the city. Our car
was built in Massachusetts, the engine in Philadelphia, and the
magnifier of its lamp in Cincinnati. What will the South do for such
articles in future?

_May 26._--In the evening, as I was sitting in the house of a gentleman
in the city, it was related, as a topic of conversation, that a very
respectable citizen named Bibb had had a difficulty with three
gentlemen, who insisted on his reading out the news for them from his
paper, as he went to market in the early morning. Mr. Bibb had a
revolver, “casually,” in his pocket, and he shot one citizen dead on the
spot and wounded the other two severely, if not mortally. “Great
sympathy,” I am told, “is felt for Mr. Bibb.” There has been a skirmish
somewhere on the Potomac, but Bibb has done more business “on his own
hook” than any of the belligerents up to this date; and though I can
scarcely say I sympathize with him, far be it from me to say that I do
not respect him.

One curious result of the civil war in its effects on the South will,
probably, extend itself as the conflict continues--I mean the refusal
of the employers to pay their workmen, on the ground of inability. The
natural consequence is much distress and misery. The English consul is
harrassed by applications for assistance from mechanics and skilled
laborers who are in a state bordering on destitution and starvation.
They desire nothing better than to leave the country and return to their
homes. All business, except tailoring for soldiers and cognate labors,
is suspended. Money is not to be had. Bills on New York are worth little
more than the paper, and the exchange against London is
enormous--eighteen per cent. discount from the par value of the gold in
bank, good drafts on England having been negotiated yesterday at
ninety-two per cent. One house has been compelled to accept four per
cent. on a draft on the North, where the rate was usually from
one-fourth per cent. to one-half per cent. There is some fear that the
police force will be completely broken up, and the imagination refuses
to guess at the result. The city schools will probably be
closed--altogether things do not look well at New Orleans. When all
their present difficulties are over, a struggle between the mob and the
oligarchy, or those who have no property and those who have, is
inevitable; for one of the first acts of the legislature will probably
be directed to establish some sort of qualification for the right of
suffrage, relying on the force which will be at their disposal on the
close of the war. As at New York, so at New Orleans. Universal suffrage
is denounced as a curse, as corruption legalized, confiscation
organized. As I sat in a well-furnished clubroom last night, listening
to a most respectable, well-educated, intelligent gentleman descanting
on the practices of “the Thugs”--an organized band who coolly and
deliberately committed murder for the purpose of intimidating Irish and
German voters, and were only put down by a vigilance committee, of which
he was a member--I had almost to pinch myself to see that I was not the
victim of a horrid nightmare.

_Monday, May 27._--The Washington Artillery went off to-day to the
wars--_quo fas et gloria ducunt_; but I saw a good many of them in the
streets after the body had departed--spirits who were disembodied. Their
uniform is very becoming, not unlike that of our own foot artillery, and
they have one battery of guns in good order. I looked in vain for any
account of Mr. Bibb’s little affair yesterday in the papers. Perhaps, as
he is so very respectable, there will not be any reference to it at all.
Indeed, in some conversation on the subject last night, it was admitted
that when men were very rich they might find judges and jurymen as
tender as Danae, and policemen as permeable as the walls of her dungeon.
The whole question now is, “What will be done with the blockade?” The
Confederate authorities are acting with a high hand. An American
vessel, the Ariel, which had cleared out of port with British subjects
on board, has been overtaken, captured, and her crew have been put in
prison. The ground is that she is owned in main by Black Republicans.
The British subjects have received protection from the consul. Prizes
have been made within a league of shore, and in one instance, when the
captain protested, his ship was taken out to sea, and was then
recaptured formally. I went round to several merchants to-day; they were
all gloomy and fierce. In fact, the blockade of Mobile is announced, and
that of New Orleans has commenced, and men-of-war have been reported off
the Pas-à-l’outre. The South is beginning to feel that it is being
bottled up, all fermenting and frothing, and is somewhat surprised and
angry at the natural results of its own acts, or, at least, of the
proceedings which have brought about a state of war. Mr. Slidell did not
seem at all contented with the telegrams from the North, and confessed
that “if they had been received by way of Montgomery he should be
alarmed.” The names of persons liable for military service have been
taken down in several districts, and British subjects have been
included. Several applications have been made to Mr. Mure, the consul,
to interfere in behalf of men who, having enlisted, are now under orders
to march, and who must leave their families destitute if they go away;
but he has, of course, no power to exercise any influence in such cases.
The English journals to the 4th of May have arrived here to-day. It is
curious to see how quaint in their absurdity the telegrams become when
they have reached the age of three weeks. I am in the hapless position
of knowing, without being able to remedy, the evils from this source,
for there is no means of sending through to New York political
information of any sort by telegraph. The electric fluid may be the
means of blasting and blighting many reputations, as there can be no
doubt the revelations which the government at Washington will be able to
obtain through the files of the dispatches it has seized at the various
offices, will compromise some whose views have recently undergone
remarkable changes. It is a hint which may not be lost on governments in
Europe when it is desirable to know friends and foes hereafter, and
despotic rulers will not be slow to take a hint from “the land of
liberty.”

Orders have been issued by the governor to the tow-boats to take out the
English vessels by the south-west passage, and it is probable they will
all get through without any interruption on the part of the blockading
force. It may be imagined that the owners and consignees of cargoes from
England, China, and India, which are on their way here, are not at all
easy in their minds. Two of the Washington artillery died in the train
on their way to that undefinable region called “the seat of war.”

_May 28._--The Southern states have already received the assistance of
several thousands of savages, or red men, and “the warriors” are
actually engaged in pursuing the United States troops in Texas, in
conjunction with the state volunteers. A few days ago a deputation of
the chiefs of the Five Nations, Creeks, Choctaws, Seminoles, Comanches,
and others, passed through New Orleans on their way to Montgomery, where
they hoped to enter into terms with the government for the transfer of
their pension list and other responsibilities from Washington, and to
make such arrangements for their property and their rights as would
justify them in committing their fortunes to the issue of war. These
tribes can turn out twenty thousand warriors, scalping-knives,
tomahawks, and all. The chiefs and principal men are all slave-holders.

_May 29._--A new “affair” occurred this afternoon. The servants of the
house in which I am staying were alarmed by violent screams in a house
in the adjoining street, and by the discharge of firearms--an occurrence
which, like the cry of “murder” in the streets of Havana, clears the
streets of all wayfarers, if they be wise, and do not wish to stop stray
bullets. The cause is thus stated in the journals:

     SAD FAMILY AFFAIR.--Last evening, at the residence of Mr. A. P.
     Withers, in Nayades street, near Thalia, Mr. Withers shot and
     dangerously wounded his stepson, Mr. A. F. W. Mather. As the police
     tell it, the nature of the affair was this: The two men were in the
     parlor, and talking about the Washington artillery, which left on
     Monday for Virginia. Mather denounced the artillerists in strong
     language, and his stepfather denied what he said. Violent language
     followed, and, as Withers says, Mather drew a pistol and shot at
     him once, not hitting him. He snatched up a Sharp’s revolver that
     was lying near and fired four times at his stepson. The latter fell
     at the third fire, and as he was falling Withers fired a fourth
     time, the bullet wounding the hand of Mrs. Withers, wife of one and
     mother of the other, she having rushed in to interfere, and she
     being the only witness of the affair. Withers immediately went out
     into the street and voluntarily surrendered himself to Officer
     Casson, the first officer he met. He was locked up. Three of his
     shots hit Mather, two of them in the breast. Last night Mather was
     not expected to live.

Another difficulty is connected with the free colored people who may be
found in prize ships. Read and judge of the conclusion:

     What shall be done with them? On the 28th inst., Captain G. W.
     Gregor, of the privateer Calhoun, brought to the station of this
     district about ten negro sailors, claiming to be free, found on
     board the brigs Panama, John Adams, and Mermaid.

     The recorder sent word to the marshal of the confederate states
     that said negroes were at his disposition. The marshal refused to
     receive them or have any thing to do with them, whereupon the
     recorder gave the following decision:

     Though I have no authority to act in the case, I think it is my
     duty as a magistrate and good citizen to take upon myself, in this
     critical moment, the responsibility of keeping the prisoners in
     custody, firmly believing it would not only be bad policy, but a
     dangerous one, to let them loose upon the community.

The following dispatch was sent by the recorder to the Hon. J. P.
Benjamin:


NEW ORLEANS, May 29.

     To J. P. Benjamin, Richmond--_Sir_: Ten free negroes taken by a
     privateer from on board three vessels returning to Boston, from a
     whaling voyage, have been delivered to me. The marshal refuses to
     take charge of them. What shall I do with them?

Respectfully,
A. BLACHE,
Recorder, Second District.



The monthly statement I inclose of the condition of the New Orleans
banks on the 25th inst., must be regarded as a more satisfactory exhibit
to their depositors and shareholders, though of no greater benefit to
the commercial community in this its hour of need than the tempting show
of a pastrycook’s window to the famished street poor. These institutions
show assets estimated at $54,000,000, of which $20,000,000 are in specie
and sterling exchange, to meet $25,000,000 of liabilities, or more than
two for one. But, with this apparent amplitude of resources, the New
Orleans banks are at a dead-lock, affording no discounts and buying no
exchange--the latter usually their greatest source of profit in a mart
which ships so largely of cotton, sugar, and flour, and the commercial
movement of which for not over nine months of the year is the second in
magnitude among the cities of the old Union.

As an instance of the caution of their proceedings, I have only to state
that a gentleman of wealth and the highest respectability, who needed a
day or two since some money for the expenses of an unexpected journey,
was compelled, in order to borrow of these banks the sum of $1,500, to
hypothecate, as security for his bill at sixty days, $10,000 of bonds of
the Confederate states, and for which a month ago he paid par in coin--a
circumstance which reflects more credit upon the prudence of the banks
than upon the security pledged for this loan.

       *       *       *       *       *

NATCHEZ, MISS., _June 14, 1861_.

On the morning of the 3d of June I left New Orleans, in one of the
steamers proceeding up the Mississippi, along that fertile but
uninteresting region of reclaimed swamp lands, called “the coast,” which
extends along both banks for one hundred and twenty miles above the
city. It is so called from the name given to it, “La Côte,” by the early
French settlers. Here is the favored land--alas! it is a fever-land,
too--of sugar-cane and Indian corn. To those who have very magnificent
conceptions of the Mississippi, founded on mere arithmetical
computations of leagues, or vague geographical data, it may be
astonishing, but it is nevertheless true, the Mississippi is artificial
for many hundreds of miles. Nature has, of course, poured out the
waters, but man has made the banks. By a vast system of raised
embankments, called levees, the river is constrained to abstain from
overflowing the swamps, now drained, and green with wealth-producing
crops. At the present moment the surface of the river is several feet
higher than the land at each side, and the steamer moves on a level with
the upper stories, or even the roofs of the houses, reminding one of
such scenery as could be witnessed in the old days of treckshuyt in
Holland. The river is not broader than the Thames at Gravesend, and is
quite as richly colored. But then it is one hundred and eighty feet
deep, and for hundreds of miles it has not less that one hundred feet of
water. Thus deeply has it scooped into the rich clay and marl in its
course; but as it flows out to join the sea, it throws down the vast
precipitates which render the bars so shifting and difficult, and bring
the mighty river to such a poor exit. A few miles above the wharfs and
large levees of the city, the country really appears to be a sea of
light green, with shores of forest in the distance, about two miles away
from the bank. This forest is the uncleared land, extending for a
considerable way back, which each planter hopes to take into culture one
day or other, and which he now uses to provide timber for his farm. Near
the banks are houses of wood, with porticoes, pillars, verandahs, and
sun-shades, generally painted white and green. There is a great
uniformity of style, but the idea aimed at seems to be that of the old
French chateau, with the addition of a colonnade around the ground
story. These dwellings are generally in the midst of small gardens, rich
in semi-tropical vegetation, with glorious magnolias, now in full bloom,
rising in their midst, and groves of live-oak interspersed. The levee is
as hard and dry as the bank of a canal. Here and there it is propped up
by wooden revetements. Between it and the uniform line of palings, which
guards the river face of the plantations, there is a carriage-road. In
the enclosure, near each residence, there is a row of small wooden huts,
whitewashed, in which live the negroes attached to the service of the
family. Outside the negroes who labor in the fields are quartered, in
similar constructions, which are like the small single huts, called
“Maltese,” which were plentiful in the Crimea. They are rarely
furnished with windows; a wooden slide or a grated space admits such
light and air as they want. One of the most striking features of the
landscape is, its utter want of life. There were a few horsemen
exercising in a field, some gigs and buggies along the levee roads, and
the little groups at the numerous watering-places, generally containing
a few children in tom-fool costumes, as zouaves, chasseurs, or some sort
of infantry; but the slaves who were there had come down to look after
luggage or their masters. There were no merry, laughing, chattering
gatherings of black faces and white teeth, such as we hear about.
Indeed, the negroes are not allowed hereabouts to stir out of their
respective plantations, or to go along the road without passes from
their owners. The steamer J. L. Cotton, which was not the less popular,
perhaps, because she had the words “low pressure” conspicuous on her
paddle-boxes, carried a fair load of passengers, most of whom were
members of creole families living on the coast. The proper meaning of
the word “creole” is very different from that which we attach to it. It
signifies a person of Spanish or French descent, born in Louisiana or in
the southern or tropical countries. The great majority of the planters
here are French creoles, and it is said they are kinder and better
masters than Americans or Scotch, the latter being considered the most
severe. Intelligent on most subjects, they are resolute in the belief
that England must take their cotton or perish. Even the keenest of their
financiers, Mr. Forstall, an Irish creole, who is representative of the
house of Baring, seems inclined to this faith, though he is prepared
with many ingenious propositions, which would rejoice Mr. Gladstone’s
inmost heart, to raise money for the Southern Confederacy and make them
rich exceedingly. One thing has rather puzzled him. M. Baroche, who is
in New Orleans, either as a looker-on or as an accredited _employe_ of
his father or of the French government, suggested to him that it would
not be possible for all the disposable mercantile marine of England and
France together to carry the cotton crop, which hitherto gave employment
to a great number of American vessels, now tabooed by the South, and the
calculations seem to bear out the truth of the remark. Be that as it
may, Mr. Forstall is quite prepared to show that the South can raise a
prodigious revenue by a small direct taxation, for which the machinery
already exists in every parish of the state, and that the North must be
prodigiously damaged in the struggle, if not ruined outright. One great
source of strength in the South is, its readiness--at least, its
professed alacrity--to yield any thing that is asked. There is unbounded
confidence in Mr. Jefferson Davis. Whereever I go, the same question is
asked: “Well, sir, what do you think of our President? Does he not
strike you as being a very able man?” In finance he is trusted as much
as in war. When he sent orders to the New Orleans banks, some time ago,
to suspend specie payment, he exercised a power which could not be
justified by any reading of the Southern constitution. All men
applauded. The President of the United States is far from receiving any
such support or confidence, and it need not be said any act of his, of
the same nature as that of Mr. Davis, would have created an immense
outcry against him. But the South has all the unanimity of a conspiracy,
and its unanimity is not greater than its confidence. One is rather
tired of endless questions, “Who can conquer such men?” But the question
should be, “Can the North conquer us?” Of the fustian about dying in
their tracks and fighting till every man, woman and child is
exterminated, there is a great deal too much, but they really believe
that the fate which Poland could not avert, to which France, as well as
the nations she overran, bowed the head, can never reach them. With
their faithful negroes to raise their corn, sugar and cotton while they
are at the wars, and England and France to take the latter and pay them
for it, they believe they can meet the American world in arms. A
glorious future opens before them. Illimitable fields, tilled by
multitudinous negroes, open on their vision, and prostrate at the base
of the mountain of cotton, from which they rule the kings of the earth,
the empires of Europe shall lie, with all their gold, their
manufactures, and their industry, crying out, “Pray give us more cotton!
All we ask is more!”

But here is the boat stopping opposite Mr. Roman’s--ex-governor of the
state of Louisiana, and ex-commissioner of the Confederate government at
Montgomery to the government of the United States at Washington. Not
very long ago he could boast of a very handsome garden--the French
creoles love gardens--Americans and English do not much affect them;
when the Mississippi was low one fine day, levee and all slid down the
bank into the maw of the river, and were carried off. This is what is
called the “caving in” of a bank; when the levee is broken through at
high water it is said that a “crevasse” has taken place. The governor,
as he is called--once a captain always a captain--has still a handsome
garden, however, though his house has been brought unpleasantly near the
river. His mansion and the out-offices stand in the shade of magnolias,
green oaks, and other Southern trees. To the last Governor Roman was a
Unionist, but when his state went he followed her, and now he is a
Secessionist for life and for death, not extravagant in his hopes, but
calm and resolute, and fully persuaded that in the end the South must
win. As he does not raise any cotton, the consequences for him will be
extremely serious should sugar be greatly depreciated; but the
consumption of that article in America is very large, and, though the
markets in the North and West are cut off, it is hoped, as no imported
sugar can find its way into the states, that the South will consume all
its own produce at a fair rate. The governor is a very good type of the
race, which is giving way a little before the encroachments of the
Anglo-Saxons, and he possesses all the ease, candid manner, and suavity
of the old French gentleman--of that school in which there are now few
masters or scholars. He invited me to visit the negro quarters. “Go
where you like, do what you please, ask any questions. There is nothing
we desire to conceal.” As we passed the house, two or three young women
flitted past in snow-white dresses with pink sashes, and no doubtful
crinolines, but their head-dresses were not _en règle_--handkerchiefs of
a gay color. They were slaves going off to a dance at the sugar-house;
but they were indoor servants, and therefore better off, in the way of
clothes than their fellow slaves who labor in the field. On approaching
a high paling at the rear of the house the scraping of fiddles was
audible. It was Sunday, and Mr. Roman informed me that he gave his
negroes leave to have a dance on that day. The planters who are not
Catholics rarely give any such indulgence to their slaves, though they
do not always make them work on that day, and sometimes let them enjoy
themselves on the Saturday afternoon. Entering a wicket gate, a
quadrangular enclosure, lined with negro huts, lay before us. The bare
ground was covered with litter of various kinds, amid which pigs and
poultry were pasturing. Dogs, puppies, and curs of low degree scampered
about on all sides; and deep in a pond, swinking in the sun, stood some
thirty or forty mules, enjoying their day of rest. The huts of the
negroes belonging to the personal service of the house were separated
from the negroes engaged in field labor by a close wooden paling; but
there was no difference in the shape and size of their dwellings, which
consisted generally of one large room, divided by a partition
occasionally into two bedrooms. Outside the whitewash gave them a
cleanly appearance; inside they were dingy and squalid--no glass in the
windows, swarms of flies, some clothes hanging on nails in the boards,
dressers with broken crockery, a bedstead of rough carpentry; a
fireplace in which, hot as was the day, a log lay in embers; a couple of
tin cooking utensils; in the obscure, the occupant, male or female,
awkward and shy before strangers, and silent till spoken to. Of course
there were no books, for the slaves do not read. They all seemed
respectful to their master. We saw very old men and very old women, who
were the canker-worms of the estate, and were dozing away into eternity
mindful only of hominy, and pig, and molasses. Two negro fiddlers were
working their bows with energy in front of one of the huts, and a crowd
of little children were listening to the music, and a few grown-up
persons of color--some of them from the adjoining plantations. The
children are generally dressed in a little sack of coarse calico, which
answers all reasonable purposes, even if it be not very clean. It might
be an interesting subject of inquiry to the natural philosophers who
follow crinology to determine why it is that the hair of the infant
negro, or of the child up to six or seven years of age, is generally a
fine red russet, or even gamboge color, and gradually darkens into dull
ebon. These little bodies were mostly large-stomached, well fed, and not
less happy than freeborn children, although much more valuable--for once
they get over juvenile dangers, and advance toward nine or ten years of
age, they rise in value to £100 or more, even in times when the market
is low and money is scarce. The women were not very well-favored, except
one yellow girl, whose child was quite white, with fair hair and light
eyes; and the men were disguised in such strangely cut clothes, their
hats and shoes and coats were so wonderfully made, that one could not
tell what they were like. On all faces there was a gravity which must be
the index to serene contentment and perfect comfort, for those who ought
to know best declare they are the happiest race in the world. It struck
me more and more, as I examined the expression of the faces of the
slaves all over the South, that deep dejection is the prevailing, if not
universal, characteristic of the race. Let a physiognomist go and see.
Here there were abundant evidences that they were well treated, for they
had good clothing of its kind, good food, and a master who wittingly
could do them no injustice, as he is, I am sure, incapable of it. Still,
they all looked exceedingly sad, and even the old woman who boasted that
she had held her old master in her arms when he was an infant, did not
look cheerful, as the nurse at home would have done, at the sight of her
ancient charge. The precincts of the huts were not clean, and the
enclosure was full of weeds, in which poultry--the perquisites of the
slaves--were in full possession. The negroes rear domestic birds of all
kinds, and sell eggs and poultry to their masters. The money they spend
in purchasing tobacco, molasses, clothes and flour--whisky, their great
delight, they must not have. Some seventy or eighty hands were quartered
in this part of the estate. The silence which reigned in the huts as
soon as the fiddlers had gone off to the sugar-house was profound.
Before leaving the quarter I was taken to the hospital, which was in
charge of an old negress. The naked rooms contained several flock beds
on rough stands, and five patients, three of whom were women. They sat
listlessly on the beds, looking out into space; no books to amuse them,
no conversation--nothing but their own dull thoughts, if they had any.
They were suffering from pneumonia and swellings of the glands of the
neck; one man had fever. Their medical attendant visits them regularly,
and each plantation has a practitioner, who is engaged by the term for
his services. Negroes have now only a nominal value in the market--that
is, the price of a good field hand is as high as ever, but there is no
one to buy him at present, and no money to pay for him, and the trade of
the slave-dealers is very bad. The menageries of the “Virginia negroes
constantly on sale. Money advanced on all descriptions of property,”
etc., must be full--their pockets empty. This question of price is
introduced incidentally in reference to the treatment of negroes. It has
often been said to me that no one will ill-use a creature worth £300 or
£400, but that is not a universal rule. Much depends on temper, and many
a hunting-field could show that if value be a guarantee for good usage,
the slave is more fortunate than his fellow chattel, the horse. If the
growth of sugar-cane, cotton and corn, be the great end of man’s mission
on earth, and if all masters were like Governor Roman, slavery might be
defended as a natural and innocuous institution. Sugar and cotton are,
assuredly, two great agencies in this latter world. The older got on
well enough without them.

The scraping of the fiddles attracted us to the sugar-house, a large
brick building with a factory-looking chimney, where the juice of the
cane is expressed, boiled, granulated, and prepared for the refiner. In
a space of the floor unoccupied by machinery some fifteen women and as
many men were assembled, and four couples were dancing a kind of Irish
jig to the music of the negro musicians--a double shuffle and a thumping
ecstasy, with loose elbows, pendulous paws, and angulated knees, heads
thrown back, and backs arched inwards--a glazed eye, intense solemnity
of mien, worthy of the minuet in _Don Giovanni_. At this time of year
there is no work done in the sugar-house, but when the crushing and
boiling are going on the labor is intense, and all the hands work in
gangs night and day; and, if the heat of the fires be superadded to the
temperature in September, it may be conceded that nothing but
“involuntary servitude” could go through the toil and suffering required
to produce sugar for us. This is not the place for an account of the
processes and machinery used in the manufacture, which is a scientific
operation, greatly improved by recent discoveries and apparatus.

In the afternoon the governor’s son came in from the company which he
commands. He has been camping out with them to accustom them to the
duties of actual war, and he told me that all his men were most zealous
and exceedingly proficient. They are all of the best families
around--planters, large and small, their sons and relatives, and a few
of the creole population, who are engaged as hoopers and stavemakers.
One of the latter had just stained his hands with blood. He had reason
to believe a culpable intimacy existed between his wife and his foreman.
A circumstance occurred which appeared to confirm his worst suspicions.
He took out his firelock, and, meeting the man, he shot him dead without
uttering a word, and then delivered himself up to the authorities. It is
probable his punishment will be exceedingly light, as divorce suits and
actions for damages are not in favor in this part of the world. Although
the people are Roman Catholics, it is by no means unusual to permit
relations within the degree of consanguinity forbidden by the church to
intermarry, and the elastic nature of the rules which are laid down by
the priesthood in that respect would greatly astonish the orthodox in
Ireland or Bavaria. The whole of the planters and their dependents along
“the coast” are in arms. There is but one sentiment, as far as I can
see, among them, and that is, “We will never submit to the North.” In
the evening, several officers of M. Alfred Roman’s company and neighbors
came in, and out under the shade of the trees, in the twilight,
illuminated by the flashing fireflies, politics were discussed--all on
one side, of course, with general conversation of a more agreeable
character. The customary language of the creoles is French, and several
newspapers in French are published in the districts around us; but they
speak English fluently.

Next morning, early, the governor was in the saddle and took me round to
see his plantation. We rode through alleys formed by the tall stalks of
the maize, out to the wide, unbroken fields--hedgeless, unwalled, where
the green cane was just learning to wave its long shoots in the wind.
Along the margin in the distance there is an unbroken boundary of forest
extending all along the swamp lands, and two miles in depth. From the
river to the forest there is about a mile and a half or more of land of
the very highest quality--unfathomable, and producing from one to one
and a half hogshead an acre. Away in the midst of the crops were
white-looking masses, reminding me of sepoys and sowars as seen in
Indian fields in the morning sun on many a march. As we rode toward them
we overtook a cart with a large cask, a number of tin vessels, a bucket
of molasses, a pail of milk, and a tub full of hominy or boiled Indian
corn. The cask contained water for the use of the negroes, and the
other vessels held the materials for their breakfast, in addition to
which they generally have each a dried fish. The food looked ample and
wholesome, such as any laboring man would be well content with every
day. There were three gangs at work in the fields. One of men, with
twenty mules and ploughs, was engaged in running through the furrows
between the canes, cutting up the weeds and clearing away the grass,
which is the enemy of the growing shoot. The mules are of a fine, large,
good-tempered kind, and understand their work almost as well as the
drivers, who are usually the more intelligent hands on the plantation.
The overseer, a sharp-looking Creole, on a lanky pony, whip in hand,
superintends their labors, and, after a few directions and a salutation
to the governor, rode off to another part of the farm. The negroes when
spoken to saluted us, and came forward to shake hands--a civility which
must not be refused. With the exception of crying to their mules,
however, they kept silence when at work. Another gang consisted of forty
men, who were hoeing out the grass in Indian corn--easy work enough. The
third gang was of thirty-six or thirty-seven women, who were engaged in
hoeing out cane. Their clothing seemed heavy for the climate, their
shoes ponderous and ill-made, so as to wear away the feet of their thick
stockings. Coarse straw hats and bright cotton handkerchiefs protected
their heads from the sun. The silence which I have already alluded to
prevailed among these gangs also--not a sound could be heard but the
blows of the hoe on the heavy clods. In the rear of each gang stood a
black overseer, with a heavy-thonged whip over his shoulder. If
“Alcibiades” or “Pompey,” were called out he came with outstretched hand
to ask “how do you do,” and then returned to his labor; but the ladies
were coy, and scarcely looked up from under their flapping _chapeaux de
paille_ at their visitors. Those who are mothers leave their children in
the charge of certain old women, unfit for any thing else, and
“suckers,” as they are called, are permitted to go home to give the
infants the breast at appointed periods in the day. I returned home
_multa mecum revolens_. After breakfast, in spite of a very fine sun,
which was not unworthy of a January noon in Cawnpore, we drove forth to
visit some planter friends of M. Roman, a few miles down the river. The
levee road is dusty, but the gardens, white railings and neat houses of
the planters looked fresh and clean enough. There is a great difference
in the appearance of the slaves’ quarters. Some are neat, others are
dilapidated and mean. As a general rule, it might be said that the
goodness of the cottages was in proportion to the frontage of each
plantation toward the river, which is a fair index to the size of the
estate wherever the river bank is straight. The lines of the estates are
drawn perpendicularly to the banks, so that the convexity or concavity
of the bends determines the frontage of the plantation.

The absence of human beings in the fields and on the roads was
remarkable. The gangs at work were hidden in the deep corn, and not a
soul met us on the road for many miles except one planter in his gig. At
one place we visited a very handsome garden, laid out with hothouses and
conservatories, ponds full of magnificent Victoria Regia in flower,
orange-trees, and many tropical plants, native and foreign, date and
other palms. The proprietor owns an extensive sugar refinery. We visited
his factory and mills, but the heat from the boilers, which seemed too
much even for the all but naked negroes who were at work, did not tempt
us to make a very long sojourn inside. The ebony faces and polished
black backs of the slaves were streaming with perspiration as they
toiled over boiler, vat and centrifugal driers. The good refiner was not
gaining much at present, for sugar has been falling rapidly in New
Orleans, and the 300,000 barrels produced annually in the South will
fall short in the yield of profit, which, on an average, may be taken at
£11 a hogshead, without counting the molasses, for the planter. All the
planters hereabouts have sown an unusual quantity of Indian corn, so as
to have food for the negroes if the war lasts, without any distress from
inland or sea blockade. The absurdity of supposing that a blockade can
injure them in the way of supply is a favorite theme to descant upon.
They may find out, however, that it is no contemptible means of warfare.
At night, after our return, a large bonfire was lighted on the bank to
attract the steamer to call for my luggage, which she was to leave at a
point on the opposite shore, fourteen miles higher up, and I perceived
that there are regular patrols and watchmen at night who look after
levees and the negroes; a number of dogs are also loosed, but I am
assured by a gentleman who has written me a long letter on the subject
from Montgomery, that these dogs do not tear the negroes; they are
taught merely to catch and mumble them, to treat them as a retriever
well broken uses a wild duck. Next day I left the hospitable house of
Governor Roman, full of regard for his personal character and of his
wishes for his happiness and prosperity, but assuredly in no degree
satisfied that even with his care and kindness the “domestic
institution” can be rendered tolerable or defensible, if it be once
conceded that the negro is a human being with a soul--or with the
feelings of a man. On those points there are ingenious hypotheses and
subtle argumentations in print “down South” which do much to comfort
the consciences of the anthropropietors. The negro skull wont hold as
many ounces of shot as the white man’s. Can there be a more potent proof
that the white man has a right to sell and to own a creature who carries
a smaller charge of snipe-dust in his head? He is plantigrade, and
curved as to the tibia! Cogent demonstration that he was made expressly
to work for the arch-footed, straight-tibiaed Caucasian. He has a _rete
mucosum_ and a colored pigment. Surely, he cannot have a soul of the
same color as that of an Italian or a Spaniard, far less of a
flaxen-haired Saxon! See these peculiarities in the frontal sinus--in
sinciput or occiput! Can you doubt that the being with a head of that
nature was made only to till, hoe, and dig for another race? Besides,
the Bible says that he is a son of Ham, and prophecy must be carried out
in the rice-swamps, sugar-canes, and maize-fields of the Southern
Confederation. It’s flat blasphemy to set yourself against it. Our
Saviour sanctions slavery because he does not say a word against it, and
it’s very likely that St. Paul was a slave-owner. Had cotton and sugar
been known, he might have been a planter! Besides, the negro is
civilized by being carried away from Africa and set to work, instead of
idling in native inutility. What hope is there of Christianizing the
African races except by the agency of the apostles from New Orleans,
Mobile or Charleston, who sing the sweet songs of Zion with such
vehemence and clamor so fervently for baptism in the waters of the
“Jawdam?” If these high physical, metaphysical, moral and religious
reasonings do not satisfy you, and you venture to be unconvinced and to
say so, then I advise you not come within reach of a mass meeting of our
citizens, who may be able to find a rope and a tree in the neighborhood.

As we jog along in an easy rolling carriage drawn by a pair of stout
horses, a number of white people meet us coming from the Catholic chapel
of the parish, where they had been attending a service for the repose of
the soul of a lady much beloved in the neighborhood. The black people
are supposed to have very happy souls, or to be as utterly lost as Mr.
Shandy’s homuncule was under certain circumstances, for I have failed to
find that any such services are ever considered necessary in their case,
although they may have been very good--or where it would be most
desirable--very bad Catholics. My good young friend, clever, amiable,
accomplished, who had a dark cloud of sorrow weighing down his young
life that softened him to almost feminine tenderness, saw none of these
things. He talked of foreign travel in days gone by--of Paris and
poetry, of England and London hotels, of the great _Carême_, and of
Alexis Soyer, of pictures, of politics--_de omni scibili_. The storm
gathered overhead, and the rain fell in torrents--the Mississippi flowed
lifelessly by--not a boat on its broad surface. The road passed by
plantations smaller and poorer than I have yet seen, belonging to small
planters, with only some ten or twelve slaves all told. The houses were
poor and ragged. At last we reached Governor Manning’s place, and drove
to the overseer’s--a large heavy-eyed old man, who asked us into his
house from out of the rain till the boat was ready--and the river did
not look inviting--full of drift trees, swirls and mighty eddies. In the
plain room in which we sat there was a volume of _Spurgeon’s Sermons_
and of Baxter’s works. “This rain will do good to the corn,” said the
overseer. “The niggers has had sceerce nothin’ to do leetly, as they
’eve clearied out the fields pretty well.” We drove down to a poor shed
on the levee called the ferry-house, attended by one stout young slave
who was to row me over. Two flat-bottomed skiffs lay on the bank. The
negro groped under the shed and pulled out a piece of wood like a large
spatula, some four feet long, and a small round pole a little longer.
“What are those?” quoth I, “Dem’s oars, Massa,” was my sable ferryman’s
brisk reply. “I’m very sure they are not; if they were spliced they
might make an oar between them.” “Golly, and dat’s the trute, Massa.”
“There, go and get oars, will you?” While he was hunting about we
entered the shed for shelter from the rain. We found “a solitary woman
sitting” smoking a pipe by the ashes on the hearth, blear-eyed,
low-browed, and morose--young as she was. She never said a word nor
moved as we came in, sat and smoked, and looked through her gummy eyes
at chickens about the size of sparrows, and at a cat not larger than a
rat which ran about on the dirty floor. A little girl some four years of
age, not over-dressed--indeed, half-naked, “not to put too fine a point
upon it”--crawled out from under the bed, where she had hid on our
approach. As she seemed incapable of appreciating the use of a small
piece of silver presented to her--having no precise ideas on coinage or
toffy--her parent took the obolus in charge with unmistakable decision;
but still she would not stir a step to aid our Charon, who now insisted
on the “key ov de oarhouse.” The little thing sidled off and hunted it
out from the top of the bedstead, and I was not sorry to quit the
company of the silent woman in black. Charon pushed his skiff into the
water--there was a good deal of rain it--in shape a snuffer-dish, some
ten feet long and a foot deep. I got in, and the conscious waters
immediately began vigorously spurting through the cotton wadding
wherewith the craft was caulked. Had we gone out into the stream we
should have had a swim for it, and they do say that the Mississippi is
the most dangerous river for that healthful exercise in the known world.
“Why! deuce take you” (I said, at least that, in my wrath), “don’t you
see the boat is leaky?” “See it now for true, Massa. Nobody able to tell
dat till Massa get in, tho’.” Another skiff proved to be staunch. I bade
good-bye to my friend, and sat down in my boat, which was soon forced up
along the stream close to the bank, in order to get a good start across
to the other side. The view, from my lonely position, was curious, but
not at all picturesque. The landscape had disappeared at once. The world
was bounded on both sides by a high bank, and was constituted by a broad
river--just as if one were sailing down an open sewer of enormous length
and breadth. Above the bank rose, however, the tops of tall trees and
the chimneys of sugar-houses. A row of a quarter of an hour brought us
to the levee on the other side. I ascended the bank, and directly in
front of me, across the road, appeared a carriage gateway and wickets of
wood, painted white in a line of park palings of the same material,
which extended up and down the road far as the eye could follow, and
guarded wide-spread fields of maize and sugar-cane. An avenue of trees,
with branches close set, drooping and overarching a walk paved with red
brick, led to the house, the porch of which was just visible at the
extremity of the lawn, with clustering flowers, rose, jessamine and
creepers clinging to the pillars supporting the verandah. The
proprietor, who had espied my approach, issued forth with a section of
sable attendants in his rear, and gave me a hearty welcome. The house
was larger and better than the residences even of the richest planters,
though it was in need of some little repair, and had been built perhaps
fifty years ago, in the old Irish fashion, and who built well, ate well,
drank well, and, finally, paid very well. The view from the belvedere
was one of the most striking of its kind in the world. If an English
agriculturist could see six thousand acres of the finest land in one
field, unbroken by hedge or boundary, and covered with the most
magnificent crops of tasselling Indian corn and sprouting sugar-cane, as
level as a billiard-table, he would surely doubt his senses. But here is
literally such a sight. Six thousand acres, better tilled than the
finest patch in all the Lothians, green as Meath pastures, which can be
cultivated for a hundred years to come without requiring manure, of
depth practically unlimited, and yielding an average profit on what is
sold off it of at least £20 an acre at the old prices and usual yield of
sugar. Rising up in the midst of the verdure are the white lines of the
negro cottages and the plantation offices and sugar-houses, which look
like large public edifices in the distance. And who is the lord of all
this fair domain? The proprietor of Houmas and Orange-grove is a man, a
self-made one, who has attained his apogee on the bright side of half a
century, after twenty-five years of successful business.

When my eyes “uncurtained the early morning,” I might have imagined
myself in the magic garden of Cherry and Fair Star, so incessant and
multifarious were the carols of the birds, which were the only happy
colored people I saw in my Southern tour, notwithstanding the assurances
of the many ingenious and candid gentlemen who attempted to prove to me
that the palm of terrestrial felicity must be awarded to their negroes.
As I stepped through my window upon the verandah, a sharp chirp called
my attention to a mocking-bird perched upon a rose-bush beneath, whom my
presence seemed to annoy to such a degree that I retreated behind my
curtain, whence I observed her flight to a nest, cunningly hid in a
creeping-rose trailed around a neighboring column of the house, where
she imparted a breakfast of spiders and grasshoppers to her gaping and
clamorous offspring. While I was admiring the motherly grace of this
melodious fly-catcher, a servant brought coffee, and announced that the
horses were ready, and that I might have a three hours’ ride before
breakfast. At Houmas _les jours se suivent et se ressemblent_, and an
epitome of the first will serve as a type for all, with the exception of
such variations in the kitchen and produce as the ingenuity and
exhaustless hospitality of my host were never tired of framing.

If I regretted the absence of our English agriculturist when I beheld
the 6,000 acres of cane and 1,600 of maize unfolded from the belvedere
the day previous, I longed for his presence still more when I saw those
evidences of luxuriant fertility attained without the aid of phosphates
or guano. The rich Mississippi bottoms need no manure; a rotation of
maize with cane affords them the necessary recuperative action. The cane
of last year’s plant is left in stubble, and renews its growth this
spring under the title of _ratoons_. When the maize is in tassel,
cow-peas are dropped between the rows; and when the lordly stalk, of
which I measured many twelve and even fifteen feet in height, bearing
three and sometimes four ears, is topped to admit the ripening sun, the
pea-vine twines itself around the trunk, with a profusion of leaf and
tendril that supplies the planter with the most desirable fodder for his
mules in “rolling-time,” which is their season of trial. Besides this,
the corn-blades are culled and cured. These are the best meals of the
Southern race-horse, and constitute nutritious hay without dust. The
cow-pea is said to strengthen the system of the earth for the digestion
of a new crop of sugar-cane. A sufficient quantity of the cane of last
season is reserved from the mill, and laid in pits, where the ends of
the stalk are carefully closed with earth until spring. After the ground
has been plowed into ridges, these canes are laid in the endless tumuli,
and not long after their interment, a fresh sprout springs at each joint
of these interminable flutes.

As we ride through the wagon roads, of which there are not less than
thirty miles in this confederation of four plantations, held together by
the purse and the life of our host--the unwavering exactitude of the
rows of cane, which run without deviation at right angles with the river
down to the cane-brake, two miles off, proves that the negro would be a
formidable rival in a ploughing match. The cane has been “laid by,” that
is, it requires no more labor, and will soon “lap,” or close up, though
the rows are seven feet apart. It feathers like a palm-top; a stalk
which was cut measured six feet, although from the ridges it was but
waist high. On dissecting it near the root, we find five nascent joints
not a quarter of an inch apart. In a few weeks more, these will shoot up
like a spy-glass pulled out to its focus.

There are four lordly sugar-houses, as the grinding-mills and boiling
and crystalizing buildings are called, and near each is to be found the
negro village, or “quarter,” of that section of the plantation. A wide
avenue, generally lined with trees, runs through these hamlets, which
consist of twenty or thirty white cottages, single storied, and divided
into four rooms. They are whitewashed, and at no great distance might be
mistaken for New-England villages, with a town-hall which often serves
in the latter for a “meeting-house,” with occasionally a row of stores
on the ground floor.

The people, or “hands,” are in the field, and the only inhabitants of
the settlements are scores of “picaninnies,” who seem a jolly
congregation, under the care of crones, who here, as in an Indian
village, act as nurses of the rising generation, destined from their
births to the limits of a social Procrustean bed. The increase of
property on the estate is about five per cent. per annum by the birth of
children.

We ride an hour before coming upon any “hands” at work in the fields.
There is an air of fertile desolation that prevails in no other
cultivated land. The regularity of the cane, its gardenlike freedom from
grass or weeds, and the _ad unguem_ finish and evenness of the furrows,
would seem the work of nocturnal fairies, did we not realize the system
of “gang labor” exemplified in a field we at length reach, where some
thirty men and women were giving with the hoe the last polish to the
earth around the cane, which would not be molested again until gathered
for the autumnal banquet of the rolling-mills.

Small drains and larger ditches occur at almost every step. All these
flow into a canal, some fifteen feet wide, which runs between the
plantation and the uncleared forest, and carries off the water to a
“bayou” still more remote. There are twenty miles of deep ditching
before the plantation, exclusive of the canal; and as this is the
contract work of “Irish navvies,” the sigh with which our host alluded
to this heavy item in plantation expenses was expressive. The work is
too severe for African thews, and experience has shown it a bad economy
to overtask the slave. The sugar-planter lives in apprehension of four
enemies. These are, the river when rising, drought, too much or
unseasonable rain, and frost. The last calls into play all his energies,
and tasks his utmost composure. In Louisiana, the cane never ripens as
it does in Cuba, and they begin to grind as early in October as the
amount of juices will permit. The question of a crop is one of early or
late frost. With two months’ exemption they rely, in a fair season, upon
a hogshead of 1,200 pounds to the acre; and if they can run their mills
until January, the increase is more than proportionate, each of its
latter days in the earth adding saccharine virtue to the cane.

At an average of a hogshead to the acre, each working hand is good for
seven hogsheads a year, which, at last years’ prices--eight cents per
pound for ordinary qualities--would be a yield of £140 per annum for
each full geld hand.

Two hogsheads to the acre are not unfrequently, and even three have
been, produced upon rich lands in a good season. Estimating the sugar at
seventy per cent., and the refuse, _bagasse_, at thirty per cent., the
latter figure would give us two tons and a quarter to the acre, which
opens one’s eyes to the tireless activity of nature in this
semi-tropical region.

From the records of Houmas, I find that in 1857, the year of its
purchase at about £300,000, it yielded a gross of $304,000, say £63,000,
upon the investment.

In the rear of this great plantation there are 18,000 additional acres
of cane-brake which are being slowly reclaimed, like the fields now
rejoicing in crops, as fast as the furnace of the sugar-house calls for
fuel. Were it desirable to accelerate the preparation of this reserve
for planting, it might be put in tolerable order in three years at a
cost of £15 per acre. We extended our ride into this jungle, on the
borders of which, in the unfinished clearing, I saw plantations of
“negro corn,” the sable cultivators of which seem to have disregarded
the symmetry practiced in the fields of their master, who allows them
from Saturday noon until Monday’s cockcrow for the care of their private
interests, and, in addition to this, whatever hours in the week they can
economize by the brisk fulfilment of their allotted tasks. Some of these
patches are sown broadcast, and the corn has sprung up like Zouave
_tirailleurs_ in their most fantastic vagaries, rather than like the
steady regimental drill of the cane and maize we have been traversing.

Corn, chickens, and eggs, are, from time immemorial, the perquisites of
the negro, who has the monopoly of the two last-named articles in all
well-ordered Louisiana plantations. Indeed, the white man cannot compete
with them in raising poultry, and our host was evidently delighted when
one of his negroes, who had brought a dozen Muscovy ducks to the
mansion, refused to sell them to him except for cash. “But, Louis, won’t
you trust me? Am I not good for three dollars?” “Good enough, massa; but
dis nigger want de money to buy flour and coffee for him young family.
Folks at Donaldsonville will trust massa--won’t trust nigger.” The money
was paid, and, as the negro left us, his master observed with a sly,
humorous twinkle: “That fellow sold forty dollars’ worth of corn last
year, and all of them feed their chickens with my corn, and sell their
own.”

There are three overseers at Houmas, one of whom superintends the whole
plantation, and likewise looks after another estate of 8,000 acres, some
twelve miles down the river, which our host added to his possessions two
years since, at a cost of £150,000. In any part of the world, and in any
calling, Mr. S---- (I do not know if he would like to see his name in
print) would be considered an able man. Mr. S. attends to most of the
practice requiring immediate attention. We visited one of these
hospitals, and found half-a-dozen patients ill of fever, rheumatism and
indigestion, and apparently well cared for by a couple of stout nurses.
The truckle bedsteads were garnished with mosquito bars, and I was told
that the hospital is a favorite resort, which its inmates leave with
reluctance. The pharmaceutical department was largely supplied with a
variety of medicines, quinine and preparations of sulphites of iron.
“Poor drugs,” said Mr. S., “are a poor economy.”

I have mentioned engineering as one of the requisites of a competent
overseer. To explain this I must observe that Houmas is esteemed very
high land, and that in its cultivated breadth there is only a fall of
eight feet to carry off its surplus matter. In the plantation of
Governor Manning, which adjoins it, an expensive steam-draining machine
is employed to relieve his fields of this incumbrance, which is effected
by the revolutions of a fan-wheel some twenty feet in diameter, which
laps up the water from a narrow trough into which all the drainage
flows, and tosses it into an adjoining bayou.

On Governor Manning’s plantation we saw the process of clearing the
primitive forest, of which 150 acres were sown in corn and cotton
beneath the tall girdled trees that awaited the axe, while an equal
breadth on the other side of a broad and deep canal was reluctantly
yielding its tough and fibrous soil, from which the jungle had just been
removed, to the ploughs of some fifty negroes, drawn by two mules each.
Another season of lustration by maize or cotton, and the rank soil will
be ready for the cane.

The cultivation of sugar differs from that of cotton in requiring a much
larger outlay of capital. There is little required for the latter
besides negroes and land, which may be bought on credit, and a year’s
clothing and provisions. There is a gambling spice in the chances of a
season which may bring wealth or ruin--a bale to the acre, which may
produce 7_d._ or only 5_d._ per lb. In a fair year the cotton planter
reckons upon ten or twelve bales to the hand, in which case the annual
yield of a negro varies from £90 to £120. His enemies are drought,
excessive rains, the ball-worm, and the army-worm; his best friend “a
long picking season.”

There is more steadiness in the price of sugar, and a greater certainty
of an average crop. But the cost of a sugar-house, with its mill,
boilers, vacuum pans, centrifugal and drying apparatus, cannot be less
than £10,000, and the consumption of fuel, thousands of cords of which
are cut up by the “hands,” is enormous. There were cases of large
fortunes earned by planting sugar with small beginnings, but these had
chiefly occurred among early settlers, who had obtained their hands for
a song. A creole, who recently died at the age of fifty-five, in the
neighborhood, and who began with only a few thousand dollars, had
amassed more than $1,000,000 in twenty-five years, and two of his
sons--skilful planters--were likely to die each richer than his father.

This year the prospects of sugar are dreary enough, at least while the
civil war lasts, and my host, with a certainty of 6,500 hogsheads upon
his various plantations, has none of a market. In this respect cotton
has the advantage of keeping longer than sugar. At last year’s prices,
and with the United States protective tariff of 20 per cent. to shield
him from foreign competition, his crop would have yielded him over
£100,000. But all the sweet teeth of the Confederate States army can
hardly “make a hole” in the 450,000 hogsheads which this year is
expected to yield in Louisiana and Texas. Under the new tariff of the
seceding states, the loss of protection to Louisiana alone may be
stated, within bounds, at $8,000,000 per annum--which is making the
planters pay pretty dear for their secession whistle.

When I arrived at Houmas there was the greatest anxiety for rain, and
over the vast level plateau every cloud was scanned with avidity. Now, a
shower seemed bearing right down upon us, when it would break, like a
flying soap-bubble, and scatter its treasures short of the parched
fields in which we felt interested. The wind shifted, and hopes were
raised that the next thunder-cloud would prove less illusory. But, no!
“Kenner” has got it all. On the fifth day, however, the hearts of all
the planters and their parched fields were gladdened by half a day of
general and generous rain, beneath which our host’s cane fairly reeled
and revelled. It was now safe for the season, and so was the corn. But
“one man’s meat is another’s poison,” and we heard more than one
“Jeremiad” from those whose fields had not been placed in the condition
which enabled those of our friend to carry off a potation of twelve
hours of tropical rain with the ease of an alderman or lord chancellor
made happier or wiser by his three bottles of port.

What is termed _hacienda_ in Cuba, _rancho_ in Mexico, and “plantation”
elsewhere, is styled “habitation” by the creoles of Louisiana, whose
ancestors began more than a century ago to reclaim its jungles.

At last “_venit summa dies et ineluctabile tempus_.” I had seen as much
as might be of the best phase of the great institution--less than I
could desire of a most exemplary, kind-hearted, clear-headed, honest
man. In the calm of a glorious summer evening, arrayed in all the
splendor of scenery that belongs to dreams in Cloudland, where mountains
of snow, peopled by “gorgons and hydras and chimæras dire,” rise from
seas of fire that bear black barks freighted with thunder before the
breeze of battle, we crossed the Father of Waters, waving an adieu to
the good friend who stood on the shore, and turning ever back to the
home we had left behind us. It was dark when the boat reached
Donaldsonville on the opposite “coast.” I should not be surprised to
hear that the founder of this remarkable city, which once contained the
archives of the state, now transferred to Baton Rouge, was a North
Briton. There is a simplicity and economy in the plan of the place not
unfavorable to that view, but the motives which induced Donaldson to
found his Rome on the west of Bayou La Fourche from Mississippi must be
a secret to all time. Much must the worthy Scot have been perplexed by
his neighbors, a long-reaching colony of Spanish creoles who toil not
and spin nothing but fishing-nets, and who live better than Solomon, and
are probably as well dressed, _minus_ the barbaric pearl and gold of the
Hebrew potentate. Take the odd, little, retiring, modest houses which
grow in the hollows of Scarborough, add to them the least imposing
mansions in the natural town of Folkestone, cast them broadsown over the
surface of the Essex marshes, plant a few trees in front of them, then
open a few “café billards” of the camp sort along the main street, and
you have done a very good Donaldsonville. A policeman welcomes us on the
landing and does the honors of the market, which has a beggarly account
of empty benches, a Texan bull done into beef, and a coffee-shop. The
policeman is a tall, lean, west countryman; his story is simple, and he
has it to tell. He was one of Dan Rice’s company--a travelling Astley.
He came to Donaldsonville, saw, and was conquered by one of the Spanish
beauties, married her, became tavern-keeper, failed, learned French, and
was now constable of the parish. There was, however, a weight on his
mind. He had studied the matter profoundly, but he was not near the
bottom. How did the friends, relatives, and tribe of his wife live? No
one could say. They reared chickens, and they caught fish; when there
was a pressure on the planters, they turned out to work for 6_s._ 6_d._
a-day, but those were rare occasions. The policeman had become quite
gray with excogitating the matter, and he had “nary notion of how they
did it.” Donaldsonville has done one fine thing. It has furnished two
companies of soldiers--all Irishmen--to the wars, and a third is in the
course of formation. Not much hedging, ditching, or hard work these
times for Paddy! The blacksmith, a huge tower of muscle, claims
exemption on the ground that “the divil a bit of him comes from
Oireland; he nivir hird af it, barrin’ from the buks he rid,” and is
doing his best to remain behind, but popular opinion is against him. As
the steamer would not be up till toward dawn, or later, it was a relief
to saunter through Donaldsonville to see society, which consisted of
several gentlemen and various Jews playing games unknown to Hoyle, in
oaken bar-rooms flanked by billiard tables. My good friend the doctor
whom I had met at Houmas, who had crossed the river to see patients
suffering from an attack of eucre, took us round to a little club, where
I was introduced to a number of gentlemen, who expressed great pleasure
at seeing me, shook hands violently, and walked away; and finally we
melted off into a cloud of mosquitos by the river bank, in a box
prepared for them, which was called a bedroom. These rooms were built in
wood on the stage close by the river. “Why can’t I have one of those
rooms?” asked I, pointing to a large mosquito box. “It is engaged by
ladies.” “How do you know?”--“_Parceque elles ont envoyé leurs butin_.”
It was delicious to meet the French “plunder” for baggage--an old phrase
so nicely rendered in the mouth of the Mississippi boatman. Having
passed a night of extreme discomfiture with the winged demons of the
box, I was aroused toward dawn by the booming of the steam drum of the
boat, dipped my head in water among drowned mosquitos, and went forth
upon the landing. The policeman had just arrived. His eagle eye lighted
upon a large flat, on the stern of which was inscribed, “Pork, corn,
butter, beef,” etc. Several spry citizens were also on the platform.
After salutations and compliments, policeman speaks--“When did _she_
come in?” (meaning flat.) First citizen--“In the night, I guess.” Second
citizen--“There’s a lot of whiskey aboord, too.” Policeman (with pleased
surprise)--“You never mean it?” First citizen--“Yes, sir; one hundred
and twenty gallons!” Policeman (inspired by a bright aspiration of
patriotism)--“It’s a west country boat; why _don’t_ the citizens seize
it? And whiskey rising from 17c. to 35c. a gallon!” Citizens murmur
approval, and I feel the whiskey part of the cargo is not safe. “Yes,
sir,” says citizen three, “they seize all our property at Cairey
(Cairo), and I’m for making an example of this cargo.” Further reasons
for the seizure of the articles were adduced, and it is probable they
were as strong as the whiskey, which has, no doubt, been drunk long ago
on the very purest principles. In course of conversation with the
committee of taste which had assembled, it was revealed to me that there
was a strict watch kept over those boats which are freighted with
whiskey forbidden to the slaves, and with principles, when they come
from the west country, equally objectionable. “Did you hear, sir, of the
chap over at Duncan Renmer’s as was caught the other day?” “No, sir,
what was it?” “Well, sir, he was a man that came here and went over
among the niggers at Renmer’s to buy their chickens from them. He was
took up, and they found he’d a lot of money about him.” “Well, of
course, he had money to buy the chickens.” “Yes, sir, but it looked
suspic-ious. He was a west country fellow, tew, and he might have been
tamperin’ with ’em. Lucky for him he was not taken in the arternoon.”
“Why so?” “Because if the citizens had been drunk they’d have hung him
on the spot.” The Acadia was now alongside, and in the early morning
Donaldsonville receded rapidly into trees and clouds. To bed, and make
amends for mosquito visits. On awaking, find that I am in the same place
I started from; at least, the river looks just the same. It is difficult
to believe that we have been going eleven miles an hour against the
turbid river, which is of the same appearance as it was below--the same
banks, bends, driftwood and trees.

Beyond the levees there were occasionally large clearings and
plantations of corn and cane, of which the former predominated. The
houses of the planters were not so large or so good as those on the
lower banks. Large timber rafts, navigated by a couple of men, who stood
in the shade of a few upright boards, were encountered at long
intervals. The river was otherwise dead. White egrets and blue herons
rose from the marshes where the banks had been bored through by
crayfish, or crevasses had been formed by the waters. The fields were
not much more lively, but at every landing the whites who came down were
in some sort of uniform, and a few negroes were in attendance to take in
or deliver goods. There were two blacks on board in irons--captured
runaways--and very miserable they looked at the thought of being
restored to the bosom of the patriarchial family from, which they had,
no doubt, so prodigally eloped. I fear the fatted calfskin would not be
applied to their backs. The river is about half a mile wide here, and is
upwards of 1,000 feet deep. The planters’ houses in groves of pecan and
mangolias, with verandah and belvedere, became more frequent as the
steamer approached Baton Rouge, already visible in the distance over a
high bank or bluff on the right hand side.

Before noon the steamer hauled alongside a stationary hulk, which once
“walked the waters” by the aid of machinery, but which was now used as a
floating hotel, depot and storehouse--315 feet long, and fully thirty
feet on the upper deck above the level of the river. Here were my
quarters till the boat for Natchez should arrive. The proprietor was
somewhat excited on my arrival, because one of his servants was away.
“Where have you been, you ----?” “Away to buy de newspaper, Massa.” “For
who, you ----?” “Me buy ’em for no one, Massa; me sell ’um agin, Massa.”
“See, now, you ----, if ever you goes aboard to meddle with newspapers,
I’m ---- but I’ll kill you, mind that!” Baton Rouge is the capital of the
State of Louisiana, and the State House is a quaint and very new example
of bad taste. The Deaf and Dumb Asylum near it is in a much better
style. It was my intention to visit the State Prison and Penitentiary,
but the day was too hot, and the distance too great, and so I dined at
the oddest little creole restaurant, with the funniest old hostess, and
the strangest company in the world. On returning to the boat hotel, Mr.
Conrad, one of the citizens of the place, and Mr. W. Avery, a judge of
the court, were good enough to call to invite me to visit them, but I
was obliged to decline. The old gentlemen were both members of the home
guard, and drilled assiduously every evening. Of the 1,300 voters at
Baton Rouge, more than 750 are already off to the wars, and another
company is being formed to follow them. Mr. Conrad has three sons in
the field already. The waiter who served out drinks in the bar wore a
uniform, and his musket lay in the corner among the brandy bottles. At
night a patriotic meeting of citizen soldiery took place in the bow, in
which song and whiskey had much to do, so that sleep was difficult; but
at seven o’clock on Wednesday morning the Mary T. came alongside, and
soon afterward bore me on to Natchez, through scenery which became
wilder and less cultivated as she got upwards. Of the 1,500 steamers on
the river not a tithe are now in employment, and the owners are in a bad
way. It was late at night when the steamer arrived at Natchez, and next
morning early I took shelter in another engineless steamer, which was
thought to be a hotel by its owners. Old negress on board, however,
said, “There was nothing for breakfast; go to Curry’s on shore.” Walk up
hill to Curry’s--a bar-room, a waiter and flies. “Can I have any
breakfast?” “No, sir-ree; it’s over half an hour ago.” “Nothing to eat
at all?” “No, sir.” “Can I get some anywhere else?” “I guess not.” It
had been my belief that a man with money in his pocket could not starve
in any country _soi-disant_ civilized. Exceptions prove rules, but they
are disagreeable things. I chewed the cud of fancy _faute de mieux_, and
became the centre of attraction to citizens, from whose conversation I
learned that this was “Jeff. Davis’ fast day.” Observed one, “It quite
puts me in mind of Sunday; all the stores closed.” Said another, “We’ll
soon have Sunday every day, then, for I ’spect it won’t be worth while
for most shops to keep open any longer.” Natchez, a place of much trade
and cotton export in the season, is now as dull--let us say as Harwich
without a regatta. But it is ultra-Secessionist, _nil obstante_. My
hunger was assuaged by a friend who drove me up to his comfortable
mansion through a country not unlike the wooded parts of Sussex,
abounding in fine trees, and in the only lawns and park-like fields I
have yet seen in America. In the evening, after dinner, my host drove me
over to visit a small encampment under a wealthy planter, who has
raised, equipped and armed his company at his own expense.

We were obliged to get out at a narrow lane and walk toward the
encampment on foot; a sentry stopped us, and we observed that there was
a semblance of military method in the camp. The captain was walking up
and down in the verandah of the poor, deserted hut, for which he had
abandoned his splendid home. A book of tactics (Hardee’s)--which is, in
part, a translation of the French manual--lay on the table. Our friend
was full of fight, and said he would give all he had in the world to the
cause. But the day before, and a party of horse, composed of sixty
gentlemen in the district, worth from £20,000 to £50,000 each, had
started for the war in Virginia. Every thing to be seen or heard
testifies to the great zeal and resolution with which the South have
entered upon the quarrel. But they hold the power of the United States,
and the loyalty of the North to the Union at far too cheap a rate. Next
day was passed in a delightful drive through cotton fields, Indian corn,
and undulating woodlands, amid which were some charming residences. I
crossed the river at Natchez, and saw one fine plantation, in which the
corn, however, was by no means so fine as I have often seen. The cotton
looks well, and some had already burst into flower--bloom, as it is
called--which had turned to a flagrant pink, and seemed saucily
conscious that its boll would play an important part in the world. In
this part of Mississippi the secessionist feeling was not so
overpowering at first as it has been since the majority declared itself,
but the expression of feeling is now all one way. The rage of Southern
sentiment is to me inexplicable, making every allowance for Southern
exaggeration. It is sudden, hot, and apparently as causeless as summer
lightning. From every place I touched at along the Mississippi, a large
portion of the population has gone forth to fight, or is preparing to do
so. The whispers which rise through the storm are few and feeble. Some
there are who sigh for the peace and happiness they have seen in
England. But they cannot seek those things; they must look after their
property. Each man maddens his neighbor by desperate resolves, and
threats and vows. Their faith is in Jefferson Davis’ strength, and in
the necessities and weakness of France and England. The inhabitants of
the tracts which lie on the banks of the Mississippi, and on the inland
regions hereabout, ought to be, in the natural order of things, a people
almost nomadic, living by the chase, and by a sparse agriculture, in the
freedom which tempted their ancestors to leave Europe. But the Old World
has been working for them. All its trials have been theirs; the fruits
of its experience, its labors, its research, its discoveries, are
theirs. Steam has enabled them to turn their rivers into highways, to
open primeval forests to the light of day and to man. All these,
however, would have availed them little had not the demands of
manufacture abroad, and the increasing luxury and population of the
North and West at home, enabled them to find in these swamps and uplands
sources of wealth richer and more certain than all the gold mines of the
world. But there must be gnomes to work those mines. Slavery was an
institution ready to their hands. In its development there lay every
material means for securing the prosperity which Manchester opened to
them, and in supplying their own countrymen with sugar. The small,
struggling, deeply-mortgaged proprietors of swamp and forest set their
negroes to work to raise levees, to cut down trees, to plant and sow. As
the negro became valuable by his produce, the Irish emigrant took his
place in the severer labors of the plantation, and ditched and dug, and
cut into the waste land. Cotton at ten cents a pound gave a nugget in
every boll. Land could be had for a few dollars an acre. Negroes were
cheap in proportion. Men who made a few thousand dollars invested them
in more negroes, and more land, and borrowed as much again for the same
purpose. They waxed fat and rich--there seemed no bounds to their
fortune. But threatening voices came from the North--the echoes of the
sentiments of the civilized world repenting of its evil pierced their
ears, and they found their feet were of clay, and that they were nodding
to their fall in the midst of their power. Ruin inevitable awaited them
if they did not shut out these sounds and stop the fatal utterances. The
issue is to them one of life and death. Whoever raises it hereafter, if
it be not decided now, must expect to meet the deadly animosity which is
displayed toward the North. The success of the South--if it can
succeed--must lead to complications and results in other parts of the
world, for which neither it nor Europe is now prepared. Of one thing
there can be no doubt--a slave state cannot long exist without a slave
trade. The poor whites who have won the fight will demand their share of
the spoils. The land is abundant, and all that is wanted to give them
fortunes is a supply of slaves. They will have that in spite of their
masters, unless a stronger power prevents the accomplishment of their
wishes.

       *       *       *       *       *

CAIRO, ILL., _June 20_, 1861.

My last letter was dated from Natchez, but it will probably accompany
this communication, as there are no mails now between the North and the
South, or _vice versa_. Tolerably confident in my calculations that
nothing of much importance could take place in the field till some time
after I had reached my post, it appeared to me desirable to see as much
of the South as I could, and to form an estimate of the strength of the
Confederation, although it could not be done at this time of the year
without considerable inconvenience, arising from the heat, which renders
it almost impossible to write in the day, and from the mosquitos, which
come out when the sun goes down and raise a blister at every stroke of
the pen. On several days lately the thermometer has risen to 98 degrees,
on one day to 105 degrees, in the shade.

On Friday evening, June 14, I started from Natchez for Vicksburgh, on
board the steamer General Quitman, up the Mississippi. These long yellow
rivers are very fine for patriots to talk about, for poets to write
about, for buffalo fish to live in, and for steamers to navigate when
there are no snags, but I confess the father of waters is extremely
tiresome. Even the good cheer and comfort of the General Quitman could
not reconcile me to the eternal beating of steam drums, blowing of
whistles, bumping at landings, and the general oppression of levees,
clearings and plantations, which marked the course of the river, and I
was not sorry next morning when Vicksburgh came in sight, on the left
bank of the giant stream--a city on a hill, not very large, be-steepled,
be-cupolaed, large-hoteled. Here lives a man who has been the pioneer of
hotels in the West, and who has now established himself in a big
caravansery, which he rules in a curious fashion. M’Makin has, he tells
us, been rendered famous by Sir Charles Lyell. The large dining-room--a
stall _à manger_, as a friend of mine called it--is filled with small
tables, covered with party-colored cloths. At the end is a long deal
table, heavy with dishes of meat and vegetables, presided over by
negresses and gentlemen of uncertain hue. In the centre of the room
stood my host, shouting out at the top of his voice the names of the
joints, and recommending his guests to particular dishes, very much as
the chronicler tells us was the wont of the taverners in old London.
Many little negroes ran about in attendance, driven hither and thither
by the commands of their white Soulouque--white-teethed, pensive-eyed,
but sad as memory. “Are you happy here?” asked I of one of them who
stood by my chair. He looked uneasy and frightened. “Why don’t you
answer?” “I’se afeared to tell dat to massa.” “Why, your master is kind
to you?” “Berry good man, sir, when he not angry wid me!” And the little
fellow’s eyes filled with tears at some recollection which pained him. I
asked no more. Vicksburgh is secessionist. There were hundreds of
soldiers in the streets, many in the hotel, and my host said some
hundreds of Irish had gone off to the wars, to fight for the good cause.
If Mr. O’Connell were alive, he would surely be pained to see the course
taken by so many of his countrymen on this question. After dinner I was
invited to attend a meeting of some of the citizens, at the railway
station, where the time passed very agreeably till four o’clock, when
the train started for Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, and after a
passage of two hours, through a poor, clay country, seared with
water-courses and gullies, with scanty crops of Indian corn and very
backward cotton, we were deposited in that city. It must be called a
city. It is the state capital, but otherwise there is no reason why, in
strict nomenclature, it should be designated by any such title. It is
in the usual style of the “cities” which spring up in the course of a
few years amid the stumps of half-cleared fields in the
wilderness--wooden houses, stores kept by Germans, French, Irish,
Italians; a large hotel swarming with people, with a noisy billiard-room
and a noisier bar, the arena and the cause of “difficulties;” wooden
houses, with portentous and pretentious white porticoes, and pillars of
all the Grecian orders; a cupola or two, and two or three steeples, too
large for the feeble bodies beneath--hydrocephalic architecture; a
state-house, looking well in the distance, ragged, dirty, and mean
within; groups of idlers in front of the “Exchange,” where the business
transacted consists in a barter between money, or credit, and “drinks”
of various stimulants; a secluded telegraph-office round a corner; a
forward newspaper-office in the street, and a population of negroes,
shuffling through the thick dust which forms the streets. I called on
Mr. Pettus, the governor of the state of Mississippi, according to
invitation, and found him in the state-house, in a very poor room, with
broken windows and ragged carpets, and dilapidated furniture. He is a
grim, silent man, tobacco-ruminant, abrupt-speeched, firmly believing
that the state of society in which he exists, wherein there are monthly
foul murders perpetrated at the very seat of government, is the most
free and civilized in the world. He is easy of access to all, and men
sauntered in and out of his office just as they would walk into a
public-house. Once on a time, indeed, the governor was a deer-hunter, in
the forest, and lived far away from the haunts of men, and he is proud
of the fact. He is a strenuous seceder, and has done high-handed things
in his way--simple apparently, honest probably, fierce certainly--and he
lives, while he is governor, on his salary of four thousand dollars a
year, in the house provided for him by the state. There was not much to
say on either side. I can answer for one. Next day being Sunday, I
remained at rest in the house of a friend listening to local
stories--not _couleur de rose_, but of a deeper tint--blood-red;--how
such a man shot another, and was afterward stabbed by a third; how this
fellow and his friends hunted down, in broad day, and murdered one
obnoxious to them--tale after tale, such as I have heard through the
South and seen daily narratives of in the papers. Aceldama! No security
for life! Property is quite safe. Its proprietor is in imminent danger,
were it only from stray bullets, when he turns a corner. The “bar,” the
“drink,” the savage practice of walking about with pistol and
poniard--ungovernable passions, ungoverned because there is no law to
punish the deeds to which they lead--these are the causes of acts which
would not be tolerated in the worst days of Corsican _vendette_, and
which must be put down, or the countries in which they are unpunished
will become as barbarous as jungles of wild beasts. In the evening I
started, by railroad, for the city of Memphis, in Mississippi. There was
a sleeping-car on the train, but the flying-bug and the creature less
volatile, more pungent and persistent, which bears its name, murdered
sleep; and when Monday morning came, I was glad to arise and get into
one of the carriages, although it was full of noisy soldiers, bound to
the camp at Corinth, in the state of Mississippi, who had been drinking
whiskey all night, and were now screaming for water and howling like
demons. At Holly Springs, where a rude breakfast awaited us, the
warriors got out on the top of the carriages and performed a war-dance
to the music of their band, which was highly creditable to the
carriage-maker’s workmanship. Along the road, at all the settlements and
clearings, the white people cheered, and the women waved white things,
and secession flags floated. There is no doubt of the state of feeling
in this part of the country; and yet it does not look much worth
fighting for--an arid soil, dry water-courses, clay ravines, light
crops. Perhaps it will be better a month hence, and negroes may make it
pay. There were many in the fields, and it struck me they looked better
than those who work in gangs on the larger and richer plantations. Among
our passengers were gentlemen from Texas, going to Richmond to offer
service to Mr. Davis. They declared the feeling in their state was
almost without exception in favor of secession. It is astonishing how
positive all these people are that England is in absolute dependence on
cotton for her national existence. They are at once savage and childish.
If England does not recognize the Southern Confederacy pretty quick,
they will pass a resolution not to let her have any cotton, except, &c.
Suppose England does ever recognize a Confederation based on the
principles of the South, what guarantee is there that in her absolute
dependence, if it exists, similar coercive steps may not be taken
against her? “Oh! we shall be friends, you know;” and so on.

On the train before us there had just passed on a company armed with
large bowie-knives and rifled pistols, who called themselves the
“Tooth-pick Company.” They carried a coffin along with them, on which
was a plate with “ABE LINCOLN” inscribed on it, and they amused
themselves with the childish conceit of telling the people as they went
along that “they were bound” to bring his body back in it. At Grand
Junction station the troops got out and were mustered preparatory to
their transfer to a train for Richmond, in Virginia. The first company,
about seventy strong, consisted exclusively of Irish, who were armed
with rifles without bayonets. The second consisted of five-sixths Irish,
armed mostly with muskets; the third were of Americans, who were well
uniformed, but had no arms with them. The fourth, clad in green, were
nearly all Irish; they wore all sorts of clothing, and had no
pretensions to be regarded as disciplined soldiers. I am led to believe
that the great number of Irish who have enlisted for service indicates a
total suspension of all the works on which they are ordinarily engaged
in the South. They were not very orderly. “Fix bayonets,” elicited a
wonderful amount of controversy in the ranks. “Whar are yer dhrivin to?”
“Sullivan, don’t ye hear we’re to fix beenits?” “Ayse the sthrap of my
baynit, sarjent, jewel!” “If ye prod me wid that agin, I’ll let dayloite
into ye,” &c. Officer reading muster--“No. 23, James Phelan.” No reply.
Voice from the ranks--“Faith, Phelan’s gone; shure he wint at the last
dipôt.” Old men and boys were mixed together, but the mass of the rank
and file were strong, full-grown men. In one of the carriages were some
women dressed as _vivandieres_, minus the coquette air and the trousers
and boots of these ladies. They looked sad, sorry, dirty and foolish.
There was great want of water along the line, and the dust and heat were
very great and disagreeable. When they have to march many of the men
will break down, owing to bad shoes and the weight of clothes and trash
of various kinds they sling on their shoulders. They moved off amid much
whooping, and our journey was continued through a country in which the
railroad engineer had made the opening for miles at a time. When a
clearing was reached, however, there were signs that the soil was not
without richness, and all the wheat ready cut and in sheaf. The
passengers said it was fine and early, and that it averaged from forty
to sixty bushels to the acre (more than it looked). Very little ground
here is under cotton. It was past one o’clock on Monday when the train
reached Memphis, in Tennessee, which is situated on a high bluff
overhanging the Mississippi. Here is one of the strategic positions of
the Confederates. It is now occupied by a force of the Tennesseeans,
which is commanded by Major-General Pillow, whom I found quartered in
Gayoso House, a large hotel, named after one of the old Spanish rulers
here, and as he was starting to inspect his batteries and the camp at
Randolph, sixty odd miles higher up the river, I could not resist his
pressing invitations, tired as I was, to accompany him and his staff on
board the Ingomar to see what they were really like. First we visited
the bluff, on the edge of which is constructed a breastwork of cotton
bales, which no infantry could get at, and which would offer no
resistance to vertical, and but little to horizontal fire. It is placed
so close to the edge of the bluff at various places that shell and shot
would knock away the bank from under it. The river runs below deep and
strong, and across the roads or watercourses leading to it are feeble
barricades of plank, which a howitzer could shiver to pieces in a few
rounds. Higher up the bank, on a commanding plateau, there is a
breastwork and parapet, within which are six guns, and the general
informed me he intended to mount thirteen guns at this part of the
river, which would certainly prove very formidable to such steamers as
they have on these waters, if any attempt were made to move down from
Cairo. In the course of the day I was introduced to exactly seventeen
colonels and one captain. My happiness was further increased by an
introduction to a youth of some twenty-three years of age, with tender
feet, if I may judge from prunella slippers, dressed in a green cutaway,
jean pants, and a tremendous sombrero with a plume of ostrich feathers,
and gold tassels looped at the side, who had the air and look of an
apothecary’s errand boy. This was “General” Maggles (let us say), of
Arkansas. Freighted deeply with the brave, the Ingomar started for her
voyage, and we came alongside the bank at Chickasaw Bluffs too late to
visit the camp, as it was near midnight before we arrived. I forgot to
say that a large number of steamers were lying at Memphis, which had
been seized by General Pillow, and he has forbidden all traffic in boats
to Cairo. Passengers must go round by rail to Columbus.

_June 18._--I have just returned from a visit to the works and batteries
at the intrenched camp at Randolph’s Point, sixty miles above Memphis,
by which it is intended to destroy any flotilla coming down the river
from Cairo, and to oppose any force coming by land to cover its flank
and clear the left bank of the Mississippi. The Ingomar is lying under
the rugged bank, or bluff, about 150 feet high, which recedes in rugged
tumuli and watercourses filled with brushwood from the margin of the
river, some half-mile up and down the stream at this point, and
Brigadier-General Pillow is still riding round his well-beloved
earthworks and his quaint battalions, while I, anxious to make the most
of my time now that I am fairly on the run for my base of operations,
have come on board, and am now writing in the cabin, a long-roofed room,
with berths on each side, which runs from stem to stern of the American
boats over the main deck. This saloon presents a curious scene. Over the
bow, at one side, there is an office for the sale of tickets, now
destitute of business, for the Ingomar belongs to the State of
Tennessee; at the other side is a bar where thirsty souls, who have
hastened on board from the camp for a julep, a smash, or a cocktail,
learn with disgust that the only article to be had is fine Mississippi
water with ice in it. Lying on the deck in all attitudes are numbers of
men asleep, whose plumed felt hats are the only indications that they
are soldiers, except in the rare case of those who have rude uniforms,
and buttons, and stripes of colored cloth on the legs of their
pantaloons. A sentry is sitting on a chair smoking a cigar. He is on
guard over the after part of the deck, called the ladies’ saloon, and
sacred to the general and his staff and attendants. He is a tall,
good-looking young fellow, in a gray flannel shirt, a black wide-awake,
gray trousers, fastened on a belt on which is a brass buckle inscribed
“U. S.” His rifle is an Enfield, and the bayonet sheath is fastened to
the belt by a thong of leather. That youthful patriot is intent on the
ups and downs of fortune as exemplified in the pleasing game of euchre,
or euker, which is exercising the faculties of several of his comrades,
who, in their shirt sleeves, are employing the finest faculties of their
nature in that national institution; but he is not indifferent to his
duties, and he forbids your correspondent’s entrance until he has
explained what he wants and who he is--and the second is more easy to do
than the first. The sentry tells his captain, who is an euchreist, that
“It’s all right,” and resumes his seat and his cigar, and the work goes
bravely on. Indeed, it went on last night at the same table, which is
within a few yards of the general’s chair. And now that I have got a
scrap of paper and a moment of quiet, let me say what I have to say of
this position, and of what I saw--pleasant things they would be to the
national general up at Cairo if he could hear them in time, unless he is
as little prepared as his antagonist. On looking out of my cabin this
morning, I saw the high and rugged bluff of which I have spoken, on the
left bank of the river. A few ridge-poled tents, pitched under the shade
of some trees, on a small spur of the slope, was the only indication
immediately visible of a martial character. But a close inspection in
front enabled me to detect two earthworks, mounted with guns, on the
side of the bank, considerably higher than the river, and three heavy
guns, possibly 42-pounders, lay in the dust close to the landing-place,
with very rude carriages and bullock-poles to carry them to the
batteries. A few men, ten or twelve in number, were digging at an
encampment on the face of the slope. Others were lounging about the
beach, and others, under the same infatuation as that which makes little
boys disport in the Thames under the notion that they are washing
themselves, were bathing in the Mississippi. A dusty track wound up to
the brow of the bluff, and there disappeared. Some carts toiled up and
down between the boat and the crest of the hill. We went on shore. There
was no ostentation of any kind about the reception of the general and
his staff. A few horses were waiting impatiently in the sun, for flies
will have their way, and heavy men are not so unbearable as small
mosquitos. With a cloud of colonels--one late United States man, who was
readily distinguishable by his air from the volunteers--the general
proceeded to visit his batteries and his men. The first work inspected
was a plain parapet of earth, placed some fifty feet above the river,
and protected very slightly by two small flanking parapets. Six guns,
32-pounders, and howitzers of an old pattern were mounted _en barbette_,
without any traverses whatever. The carriages rested on rough platforms,
and the wheels ran on a traversing semicircle of planks, as the iron
rails were not yet ready. The gunners, a plain looking body of men, very
like railway laborers and mechanics, without uniform, were engaged at
drill. It was neither quick nor good work--about equal to the average of
a squad after a couple of days’ exercise; but the men worked earnestly,
and I have no doubt, if the nationalists give them time, they will prove
artillerymen in the end. The general ordered practice to be made with
round shot. After some delay, a kind of hybrid ship’s carronade was
loaded. The target was a tree, about 2,500 yards distant I was told. It
appeared to me about 1,700 yards off. Every one was desirous of seeing
the shot; but we were at the wrong side for the wind, and I ventured to
say so. However, the general thought and said otherwise. The word
“Fire!” was given. Alas! the friction-tube would not explode. It was one
of a new sort, which the Tennesseeans are trying their ’prentice hand
at. A second answered better. The gun went off, but where the ball went
to no one could say, as the smoke came into our eyes. The party moved to
windward, and, after another fuse had missed, the gun was again
discharged at some five degrees elevation, and the shot fell in good
line, 200 yards short of the target, and did not ricochet. Gun No. 2 was
then discharged, and off went the ball at no particular mark, down the
river; but if it did go off, so did the gun also, for it gave a frantic
leap and jumped with the carriage off the platform; nor was this
wonderful, for it was an old-fashioned chambered carronade or howitzer,
which had been loaded with a full charge, and solid shot enough to make
it burst with indignation. Turning from this battery, we visited another
nearer the water, with four guns (22-pounders), which were well placed
to sweep the channel with greater chance of ricochet; and higher up on
the bank, toward a high peak commanding the Mississippi, here about 700
yards broad, and a small confluent which runs into it, was another
battery of two guns, with a very great command, but only fit for shell,
as the fire must be plunging. All these batteries were very ill
constructed, and in only one was the magazine under decent cover. In
the first it was in rear of the battery, up the hill behind it. The
parapets were of sand or soft earth, unprovided with merlons. The last
had a few sand-bags between the guns. Riding up a steep road, we came to
the camps of the men on the wooded and undulating plateau over the
river, which is broken by watercourses into ravines covered with
brushwood and forest trees. For five weeks the Tennessee troops under
General Pillow, who is at the head of the forces of the state, have been
working at a series of curious intrenchments, which are supposed to
represent an intrenched camp, and which look like an assemblage of mud
beaver-dams. In a word, they are so complicated that they would prove
exceedingly troublesome to the troops engaged in their defence, and it
would require very steady, experienced regulars to man them so as to
give proper support to each other. The maze of breastworks, of flanking
parapets, of parapets for field-pieces, is overdone. Several of them
might prove useful to an attacking force. In some places the wood was
cut down in front so as to form a formidable natural abattis; but
generally here, as in the batteries below, timber and brushwood were
left uncut, up to easy musket-shot of the works, so as to screen an
advance of riflemen, and to expose the defending force to considerable
annoyance. In small camps of fifteen or twenty tents each the Tennessee
troops were scattered, for health’s sake, over the plateau, and on the
level ground a few companies were engaged at drill. The men were dressed
and looked like laboring people--small farmers, mechanics, with some
small, undersized lads. The majority were in their shirt sleeves, and
the awkwardness with which they handled their arms showed that, however
good they might be as shots, they were by no means proficients in manual
exercise. Indeed, they could not be, as they have been only five weeks
in the service of the state, called out in anticipation of the secession
vote, and since then they have been employed by General Pillow on his
fortifications. They have complained more than once of their hard work,
particularly when it was accompanied by hard fare, and one end of
General Pillow’s visit was to inform them that they would soon be
relieved from their labors by negroes and hired laborers. Their tents,
small ridge-poles, are very bad, but suited, perhaps, to the transport.
Each contains six men. I could get no accurate account of their rations
even from the quartermaster-general, and commissary-general there was
none present; but I was told that they had “a sufficiency--from ¾lb. to
1¼ lb. of meat, of bread, of sugar, coffee and rice daily.” Neither
spirits nor tobacco is served out to these terrible chewers and not
unaccomplished drinkers. Their pay “will be” the same as in the United
States army or the Confederate States army--probably paid in the
circulating medium of the latter. Seven or eight hundred men were formed
into line for inspection. There were few of the soldiers in any kind of
uniform, and such uniforms as I saw were in very bad taste, and
consisted of gaudy facings and stripes on very strange garments. They
were armed with old-pattern percussion muskets, and their ammunition
pouches were of diverse sorts. Shoes often bad, knapsacks scarce,
head-pieces of every kind of shape--badges worked on the front or sides,
tinsel in much request. Every man had a tin water-flask and a blanket.
The general addressed the men, who were in line two deep (many of them
unmistakable Irishmen), and said what generals usually say on such
occasions--compliments for the past, encouragement for the future. “When
the hour of danger comes I will be with you.” They did not seem to care
much whether he was or not; and, indeed, General Pillow, in a round hat,
dusty black frock-coat, and ordinary “unstriped” trousers, did not look
like one who could give any great material accession to the physical
means of resistance, although he is a very energetic man. The
major-general, in fact, is an attorney-at-law, or has been so, and was
partner with Mr. Polk, who, probably from some of the reasons which
determine the actions of partners to each other, sent Mr. Pillow to the
Mexican war, where he nearly lost him, owing to severe wounds received
in action. The general has made his intrenchments as if he were framing
an indictment. There is not a flaw for the enemy to get through, but he
has bound up his own men in inexorable lines also. At one of the works a
proof of the freedom of “citizen soldiery” was afforded in a little
hilarity on the part of one of the privates. The men had lined the
parapet, and had listened to the pleasant assurances of their commander
that they would knock off the shovel and hoe very soon, and be replaced
by the eternal gentlemen of color. “Three cheers for General Pillow”
were called for, and were responded to by the whooping and screeching
sounds that pass muster in this part of the world for cheers. As they
ended a stentorian voice shouted out, “Who cares for General Pillow?”
and, as no one answered, it might be unfairly inferred that gallant
officer was not the object of the favor or solicitude of his troops;
probably a temporary unpopularity connected with hard work found
expression in the daring question.

Randolph’s Point is, no doubt, a very strong position. The edges of the
plateau command the rear of the batteries below; the ravines in the
bluff would give cover to a large force of riflemen, who could render
the batteries untenable if taken from the river face, unless the camp in
their rear on the top of the plateau was carried. Great loss of life,
and probable failure, would result from any attack on the works from the
river merely. But a flotilla might get past the guns without any serious
loss, in the present state of their service and equipment; and there is
nothing I saw to prevent the landing of a force on the banks of the
river, which, with a combined action on the part of an adequate force of
gun-boats, could carry the position. As the river falls, the round-shot
fire of the guns will be even less effective. The general is providing
water for the camp, by means of large cisterns dug in the ground, which
will be filled with water from the river by steam-power. The officers of
the army of Tennessee with whom I spoke were plain, farmerly planters,
merchants, and lawyers, and the heads of the department were in no
respect better than their inferiors by reason of any military
acquirements, but were shrewd, energetic, common sense men. The officer
in command of the works, however, understood his business, apparently,
and was well supported by the artillery officer. There were, I was told,
eight pieces of field-artillery disposable for the defence of the camp.

Having returned to the steamer, the party proceeded up the river to
another small camp in defence of a battery of four guns, or rather of a
small parallelogram of soft sand covering a man a little higher than the
knee, with four guns mounted in it on the river face. No communication
exists through the woods between the two camps, which must be six or
seven miles apart. The force stationed here was composed principally of
gentlemen. They were all in uniform. A detachment worked one of the
guns, which the general wished to see fired with round shot. In five or
six minutes after the order was given the gun was loaded, and the word
given, “Fire.” The gunner pulled the lanyard hard, but the tube did not
explode. Another was tried. A strong jerk pulled it out bent and
incombustible. A third was inserted which came out broken. The fourth
time was the charm, and the ball was projected about sixty yards to the
right and one hundred yards short of the mark--a stump, some 1,200 yards
distant, in the river. It must be remembered that there are no disparts,
tangents, or elevating screws to the guns; the officer was obliged to
lay it by the eye with a plain chock of wood. The general explained that
the friction tubes were the results of an experiment he was making to
manufacture them, but I agreed with one of the officers, who muttered in
my ear, “The old linstock and portfire are a darned deal better.” There
were no shells, I could see, in the battery, and, on inquiry, I learned
the fuses were made of wood at Memphis, and were not considered by the
officers at all trustworthy. Powder is so scarce that all salutes are
interdicted, except to the governor of the state. In the two camps there
were, I was informed, about 4,000 men. My eyesight, as far as I went,
confirmed me of the existence of some 1,800, but I did not visit all the
outlying tents. On landing, the band had played “God Save the Queen” and
“Dixie’s Land;” on returning, we had the “Marseillaise” and the national
anthem of the Southern Confederation; and by way of parenthesis, it may
be added, if you do not already know the fact, that “Dixie’s Land” is a
synonym for heaven. It appears that there was once a good planter, named
“Dixie,” who died at some period unknown, to the intense grief of his
animated property. They found expression for their sorrow in song, and
consoled themselves by clamoring in verse for their removal to the land
to which Dixie had departed, and where, probably, the revered spirit
would be greatly surprised to find himself in their company. Whether
they were ill-treated after he died, and thus had reason to deplore his
removal, or merely desired heaven in the abstract, nothing known enables
me to assert. But Dixie’s Land is now generally taken to mean the
seceded states, where Mr. Dixie certainly is not, at this present
writing. The song and air are the composition of the organized African
association, for the advancement of music and their own profit, which
sings in New York, and it may be as well to add, that in all my tour in
the South, I heard little melody from lips black or white, and only once
heard negroes singing in the fields.

Several sick men were put on board the steamboat, and were laid on
mattresses on deck. I spoke to them, and found they were nearly all
suffering from diarrhœa, and that they had had no medical attendance
in camp. All the doctors want to fight, and the medical service of the
Tennessee troops is very defective. As I was going down the river, I had
some interesting conversation with General Clark, who commands about
5,000 troops of the Confederate States, at present quartered in two
camps at Tennessee, on these points. He told me the commissariat and the
medical service had given him the greatest annoyance, and confessed some
desertions and courts-martial had occurred. Guard-mounting and its
accessory duties were performed in a most slovenly manner, and the
German troops, from the Southern parts, were particularly disorderly. It
was late in the afternoon when I reached Memphis. I may mention,
_obiter_, that the captain of the steamer, talking of arms, gave me a
notion of the sense of security he felt on board his vessel. From under
his pillow he pulled one of his two Derringer pistols, and out of his
clothes-press he produced a long heavy rifle, and a double gun, which
was, he said, capital with ball and buckshot.

_June 19._--Up at three A. M., to get ready for the train at five, which
will take me out of Dixie’s Land to Cairo. If the owners of the old
hostelries in the Egyptian city were at all like their Tennesseean
fellow-craftsmen in the upstart institution which takes its name, I
wonder how Herodotus managed to pay his way. My sable attendant quite
entered into our feelings, and was rewarded accordingly. At five A. M.,
covered with dust, contracted in a drive through streets which seem
“paved with waves of mud,” to use the phrase of a Hibernian gentleman
connected with the luggage department of the omnibus, “only the mud was
all dust,” to use my own, I started in the cars along with some
Confederate officers and several bottles of whiskey, which at that early
hour was considered by my unknown companions as a highly efficient
prophylactic against the morning dews, but it appeared that these dews
are of such a deadly character, that, in order to guard against their
affects, one must become dead drunk. The same remedy, I am assured, is
sovereign against rattlesnake bites. I can assure the friends of those
gentlemen that they were amply fortified against any amount of dew or
rattlesnake poison before they got to the end of their whiskey, so great
was the supply. By the Memphis papers, it seems as if that institution
of blood prevailed there as in New Orleans, for I read in my papers, as
I went along, of two murders and one shooting as the incidents of the
previous day, contributed by the “local.”

To contrast with this low state of social existence there must be a high
condition of moral feeling, for the journal I was reading contained a
very elaborate article to show the wickedness of any one paying his
debts, and of any state acknowledging its liabilities, which would
constitute an individual _vade mecum_ for Basinghall street. At Humboldt
there was what is called a change of cars--a process that all the
philosophy of the Baron could not have enabled him to endure without
some loss of temper, for there was a whole Kosmos of southern patriotism
assembled at the station, burning with the fires of liberty, and bent on
going to the camp at Union City, forty-six miles away, where the
Confederate forces of Tennessee, aided by Mississippi regiments, are out
under the greenwood tree. Their force was irresistible, particularly as
there were numbers of relentless citizenesses--what the American papers
call “quite a crowd”--as the advanced guard of the invading army. While
the original occupants were being compressed or expelled by
crinoline--that all absorbing, defensive and aggressive article of
feminine war reigns here in wide-spread, iron-bound circles--I took
refuge on the platform, where I made, in an involuntary way, a good many
acquaintances in this sort: “Sir, my name is Jones--Judge Jones, of
Pumpkin County. I am happy to know you, sir.” We shake hands
affectionately. “Colonel (Jones’ _loquitur_), allow me to introduce you
to my friend, Mr. Scribble! Colonel Maggs, Mr. Scribble.” The colonel
shakes hands and immediately darts off to a circle of his friends, whom
he introduces, and they each introduce some one else to me, and,
finally, I am introduced to the engine-driver, who is really an
acquaintance of value, for he is good enough to give me a seat on his
engine, and the bell tolls, the steam trumpet bellows, and we move from
the station an hour behind time, and with twice the number of passengers
the cars were meant to contain. Our engineer did his best to overcome
his difficulties, and we rushed rapidly, if not steadily, through a
wilderness of forest and tangled brakes, through which the rail, without
the smallest justification, performed curves and twists, indicative of a
desire on the part of the engineer to consume the greatest amount of
rail on the shortest extent of line. My companion was a very intelligent
Southern gentleman, formerly editor of a newspaper. We talked of the
crime of the country, of the brutal shootings and stabbings which
disgraced it. He admitted their existence with regret, but he could
advise and suggest no remedy. “The rowdies have rushed in upon us, so
that we can’t master them.” “Is the law powerless?” “Well, sir, you see
these men got hold of those who should administer the law, or they are
too powerful or too reckless to be kept down.” “That is a reign of
terror--of mob ruffianism?” “It don’t hurt respectable people much; but
I agree with you it must be put down.” “When--how?” “Well, sir, when
things are settled, we’ll just take the law into our hands. Not a man
shall have a vote unless he’s American-born, and, by degrees, we’ll get
rid of these men who disgrace us.” “Are not many of your regiments
composed of Germans and Irish--of foreigners, in fact?” “Yes, sir.” I
did not suggest to him the thought which rose in my mind, that these
gentlemen, if successful, would be very little inclined to abandon their
rights while they had arms in their hands; but it occurred to me as well
that this would be rather a poor reward for the men who were engaged in
establishing the Southern Confederacy. The attempt may fail, but
assuredly I have heard it expressed too often to doubt that there is a
determination on the part of the leaders in the movement to take away
the suffrage from the men whom they do not scruple to employ in fighting
their battles. If they cut the throats of the enemy they will stifle
their own sweet voices at the same time, or soon afterward--a capital
recompense to their emigrant soldiers!

The portion of Tennessee traversed by the railroad is not very
attractive, for it is nearly uncleared. In the sparse clearings were
fields of Indian corn, growing amid blackened stumps of trees and rude
log shanties, and the white population which looked out upon us was
poorly housed at least, if not badly clad. At last we reached Corinth.
It would have been scarcely recognizable by Mummius--even if he had
ruined his old handiwork over again. This proudly-named spot consisted,
apparently, of a grog-shop in wood, and three shanties of a similar
material, with out-offices to match, and the Acro-Corinth was a grocery
store, of which the proprietors had no doubt gone to the wars, as it was
shut up, and their names were suspiciously Milesian. But, if Corinth was
not imposing, Troy, which we reached after a long run through a forest
of virgin timber, was still simpler in architecture and general design.
It was too new for “_Troja fuit_,” and the general “fixins” would
scarcely authorize one to say “_Troja fuerit_.”

The Dardanian Towers were represented by a timber house, and Helen the
Second--whom we may take on this occasion to have been simulated by an
old lady smoking a pipe, whom I saw in the verandah--could have set them
on fire much more readily than did her interesting prototype ignite the
city of Priam. The rest of the place, and of the inhabitants, as I saw
it and them, might be considered as an agglomerate of three or four
sheds, a few log huts, a saw-mill, and some twenty negroes sitting on a
log and looking at the train. From Troy the road led to a cypress swamp,
over which the engines bustled, rattled, tumbled, and hopped at a
perilous rate along a high trestlework, and at last we came to “Union
City,” which seemed to be formed by great aggregate meetings of
discontented shavings which had been whirled into heaps out of the
forest hard by. But here was the camp of the Confederates, which so many
of our fellow passengers were coming out into the wilderness to see.
Their white tents and plank huts gleamed out through the green of oak
and elm, and hundreds of men came out to the platform to greet their
friends, and to inquire for baskets, boxes, and hampers, which put me in
mind of the quartermaster’s store at Balaklava. We have all heard of the
unhappy medical officer who exhausted his resources to get up a large
chest from that store to the camp, and who on opening it, in the hope of
finding inside the articles he was most in need of, discovered that it
contained an elegant assortment of wooden legs; but he could not have
been so much disgusted as a youthful warrior here who was handed a
wicker-covered jar from the luggage van, which he “tapped” on the spot,
expecting to find it full of Bourbon whiskey, or something equally good.
He raised the ponderous vessel aloft and took a long pull, to the envy
of his comrades, and then spirting out the fluid with a hideous face
exclaimed, “d----, etc. Why, if the old woman has not sent me syrup!”
Evidently no joke, for the crowd around him never laughed, and quietly
dispersed. It was fully two hours before the train got away from the
camp, leaving a vast quantity of good things and many ladies, who had
come on in the excursion train, behind them. There were about 6,000 men
there, it is said, rude, big, rough fellows, with sprinklings of odd
companies, composed of gentlemen of fortune exclusively. The soldiers,
who are only entitled to the name in virtue of their carrying arms,
their duty, and possibly their fighting qualities, lay under the trees
playing cards, cooking, smoking, or reading the papers; but the camp was
guarded by sentries, some of whom carried their firelocks under their
arms like umbrellas, others by the muzzle, with the butt over the
shoulder; one, for ease, had stuck his, with the bayonet in the ground,
upright before him; others laid their arms against the trees, and
preferred a sitting to an upright posture. In front of one camp there
were two brass field-pieces, seemingly in good order. Many of the men
had sporting rifles or plain muskets. There were several boys of fifteen
and sixteen years of age among the men, who could scarcely carry their
arms for a long day’s march; but the Tennessee and Mississippi infantry
were generally the materials of good soldiers. The camps were not
regularly pitched, with one exception; the tents were too close
together; the water is bad, and the result was that a good deal of
measles, fever, diarrhœa, and dysentery prevailed. One man who came
on the train was a specimen of many of the classes which fill the
ranks--a tall, very muscular, handsome man, with a hunter’s eye, about
thirty-five years of age, brawny-shouldered, brown-faced, black-bearded,
hairy-handed; he had once owned one hundred and ten negroes--equal, say,
to £20,000--but he had been a patriot, a lover of freedom, a filibuster.
First he had gone off with Lopez to Cuba, where he was taken, put in
prison, and included among the number who received grace; next he had
gone off with Walker to Nicaragua, but in his last expedition he fell
into the hands of the enemy, and was only restored to liberty by the
British officer who was afterward assaulted in New Orleans for the part
he took in the affair. These little adventures had reduced his stock to
five negroes, and to defend them he took up arms, and he looked like one
who could use them. When he came from Nicaragua he weighed only one
hundred and ten pounds, now he was over two hundred pounds--a splendid
_bête fauve_; and, without wishing him harm, may I be permitted to
congratulate American society on its chance of getting rid of a
considerable number of those of whom he is a representative man. We
learned incidentally that the district wherein these troops are
quartered was distinguished by its attachment to the Union. By its last
vote Tennessee proved that there are at least forty thousand voters in
the state who are attached to the United States government. At Columbus
the passengers were transferred to a steamer, which in an hour and a
half made its way against the stream of the Mississippi to Cairo. There,
in the clear light of a summer’s eve, were floating the stars and
stripes--the first time I had seen the flag, with the exception of a
glimpse of it at Fort Pickens, for two months. Cairo is in Illinois, on
the spur of land which is formed by the junction of the Ohio River with
the Mississippi, and its name is probably well known to certain
speculators in England, who believed in the fortunes of a place so
appropriately named and situated. Here is the camp of Illinois troops
under General Prentiss, which watches the shores of the Missouri on the
one hand, and of Kentucky on the other. Of them, and of what may be
interesting to readers in England, I shall speak in my next letter. I
find there is a general expression of satisfaction at the sentiments
expressed by Lord John Russell in the speech which has just been made
known here, and that the animosity excited by what a portion of the
American press called the hostility of the foreign minister to the
United States, has been considerably abated, although much has been done
to fan the anger of the people into a flame, because England has
acknowledged the Confederate States have _limited_ belligerent rights.

       *       *       *       *       *

CAIRO, ILLINOIS.

In my last letter I gave an account of what I saw on my way to the city
of Memphis, and of my visit to the Secessionists’ camp, and brought up
the narrative of the journey to my arrival at this place, which is the
head-quarters of the brigade of Illinois troops employed in behalf of
the Union to keep a watch and ward over the important point which
commands the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Major-General
Pillow, of Tennessee, blockades the current of the united rivers at
Memphis; Brigadier-General Prentiss blockades both streams before they
join at Cairo higher up. The former is in the midst of friends; the
latter is surrounded by enemies--across the rivers, in his rear, below,
behind, and above him--in his very camp there are Secessionist
feelings, sentiments, and wishes, sometimes represented by actual force.
There are in the larger states about this vast region conditions of
opinion on the subject of Union or Secession which are like the
electrical phenomena of a conductor, charged by induction. As the states
approach or recede from the great slave agriculturists they become
Secessionist, or divided, and finally Unionist. Western Virginia is
rather federalist than otherwise; Southern Illinois is in several
counties all but secessionist; East and West Tennessee differ in
sentiment on the great question. Missouri is also distracted by
federalist and disunionist.

It may be that this schism will not only break up the Union, but even
split up the states, for the sovereignity of which one part of the
republic is arrayed in arms against the other. The secessionists,
however, stop short with their universal remedy at the borders of each
state, and do not admit the right of separation to any portion of a
state unless it be in their own favor. A Union man is very glad to
observe discussion in a state when it is brought about by the friends of
the government at Washington. A Northern man will endure any thing but
the idea of the Union being broken up; he becomes intemperate and angry
if it be hinted at. But, in whatever way the end may be worked out, it
is clear the means used in doing so is the old-fashioned machine in
vogue in the old world in the hands of despots, kings, and rulers; and
that the majority in states which was the ruling power must be destroyed
by the process. The argument of a self-governing people for the whole of
the United States is now convenient enough; but we heard very different
language when England demanded redress for the imprisonment of her
subjects at Charleston, and when a British subject was seized in New
York because he had destroyed a vessel in the service of the enemy. In
fact, the whole of the philosophical abstractions on which the founders
of the republic based their constitution, have given way before the
pressure of events, and every step that is taken by the federal
government in vindication of its rights or prerogatives is embarrassed
by difficulties which in the end must be cut by the sword. The
authorities can scarcely deal even with a rebel privateer; and in the
case of the schooner taken by the United States brig Perry in all but
flagrant piracy, with proofs abundant of her guilt, there is no court to
condemn her, unless one be specially devised, inasmuch as she ought by
law to be condemned in the United States court in the harbor of
Charleston, South Carolina, where the United States processes at this
moment are not of much effect. It is obvious that such an emergency as
the present cannot be met by any constitutional devices. Republics in a
crisis have always had recourse to dictators. If word-splitters,
doctrine-mongers, and dodging politicians, at the forthcoming Congress
at Washington, attempt to control the action of the executive by
“constitutional” devices, motions, or resolutions, they will do more
harm to the cause of the Union than all the militia captains of the
enemy’s host.

A few hours took me out of the Southern camps to the Federalist
position; but secession sentiments travelled on board the steamer. An
English steward, who left his country so long ago that he forgets all
the feelings of his countrymen, expressed his opinion that the South
would hold its own on the slavery basis, and professed astonishment at
the notion that slavery was not in itself a good thing, which he found
prevalent in Great Britain. The passengers were rather Secessionist than
Unionist, and I must say, from what I have seen, there is far more
leniency and forbearance shown by the United States authorities to the
rebels than the latter exhibit toward those who are in favor of federal
principles, which are generally described down South as “abolitionist.”
On landing at the levee of Cairo, the passengers went where they listed,
and a very strong secessionist from New Orleans, who had travelled with
me in the train going north on “business”--I suspect _tam Marte quam
Mercurio_--was let go his way by General Prentiss after a brief
detention. Regarded from the river, Cairo consists of a bank of mud
running out in the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio, in the shape of
a horizontal <. The tops of certain unimpressive wooden stores appear
above the bank, and one tall hotel rises aloft near the sharp end,
before which the United States flag floats with all its thirty-four
stars. At the angle there is an earthwork, which is not yet complete,
but which will soon be finished, in very good order. It is a redan, or
rather a fleche, following the line of the banks, with a good profile
and command--a regular ditch, scarp and counterscarp, and it owes its
excellence probably to the skill of a Colonel Wagner, a Hungarian
artillery officer, who is in charge of it. The hotel was crowded with
men in uniform, and it was suggested by the landlord that one bed was
large enough for two stout gentlemen--my friend and myself--the
thermometer being at 100° or so in the shade; but there was a difference
of opinion on that point, and finally we were quartered in a secluded
little chamber, two-bedded, one-windowed, with a fine view into the
back-yard. The delta is strongly occupied by Illinois volunteer forces,
with two field batteries and several guns of position. On the opposite
shore of the Mississippi, at a place called Bird’s Point, in the State
of Missouri, is a detached post, with field intrenchments held by a
regiment composed of Germans, Poles, and Hungarians, under Colonel
Schuttner, about one thousand strong, and several pieces of light
artillery. Posts are also established higher up on the banks of each
river, but on the bank of the Ohio, opposite to Cairo, the soil is
tabooed. There is the “sacred soil” of Kentucky, and Beriah Magoffin has
warned the United States and Confederate States off his premises. It is
my belief, however, that Columbus will not be long unoccupied. The
Kentuckians opposite Cairo are very strong secessionists.

At the rear of the hotel, in the hollow between the levees and the
rivers, is “Camp Defiance,” which must be the base of operations of any
force proceeding down the Mississippi. On the morning of my arrival
(June 20), I was introduced to General Prentiss, whom I found in a large
room on the ground floor of the hotel, which is the head-quarters of the
brigade. He is a man in the prime of life, about forty years of age,
with a clear liquid blue eye, and very agreeable in manner;
smooth-faced, except as to the chin, which is adorned by the _barbe
d’Afrique_ or goatee, so much affected in America; over the middle
height, slight and active figure, and speaking with what is called a
slight western accent. Although he was aware I had just come from
Memphis, the general had the good taste not to ask any questions
respecting the position, which is more than I can say of all I met on
either side. By his elbow was his acting aide-de-camp and military
secretary, an Englishman named Binmore, who was formerly engaged as
government stenographer at Washington, and has now sharpened his pencil
into a sword. A number of officers were in the room, one of whom was a
Hungarian, Milotsky; another a German, a third a Scotchman, a fourth an
Englishman. In conversing on various matters, General Prentiss showed
me, with a smile, a copy of a newspaper, published in Kentucky, which
contained an “article” on himself that cannot readily meet with a
parallel even in the journalism of this part of the world. For the
benefit of your readers I send it, that they may judge what sort of a
people it must be which tolerates the use of such language:

     There is a man now vegetating at Cairo, by name Prentiss, who is in
     command of the forces at that point. His qualifications for the
     command of such a squad of villains and cut-throats are: He is a
     miserable hound, a dirty dog, a sociable fellow, a treacherous
     villain, a notorious thief, a lying blackguard, has served his
     regular five years in the penitentiary, and keeps his hide
     continually full of Cincinnati whisky, which he buys by the barrel
     to save money. In him are embodied all the leprous rascalities, and
     in this living sore the gallows has been cheated of its own. This
     Prentiss wants our scalp. We have no objection to his having it if
     he can get it; and we will propose a plan by which he may become
     possessed of that valuable article. It is this: Let him select one
     hundred and fifty of his best fighting men, or two hundred and
     fifty of the lager-beer Dutchmen, and we will select one hundred;
     then let both parties meet at a given point, where there will be no
     interruption of the scalping business, and then the longest pole
     will knock the “persimmon.” If he does not accept this proposal he
     is a coward. We think the above proposition fair and equal.

These gems are from a paper called _The Crescent_, printed at Columbus,
Ky., and edited by “Colonel” L. G. Faxon of the “Tennessee Tigers,” a
worthy and accomplished officer and gentleman, no doubt.

In the afternoon, General Prentiss was good enough to drive me round the
camp in company with Mr. Washburne, member of Congress from Illinois,
and several officers and gentlemen. Among them was Mr. Oglesby, colonel
of a regiment of Illinois volunteers, and, as it shows of what material
the commanding officers of these regiments, on whose individual action
so much depends, are made, I may be pardoned for stating that this
excellent, kindly, and shrewd old man, who was responsible for the
position and efficiency of 1,000 men, is one who raised himself from
obscurity to a competence by the drudgery of a lawyer’s office in spite
of a defective education, and that he never handled a company in the
field in his life. Apparently, he is selected to be a colonel because he
can make good, homely, telling speeches to his men, and he may think he
will be a good officer just as he may imagine he is an excellent
artilleryman because the first time he ever laid and fired a gun the
other day the ball hit the tree at which it was aimed. The bulk of the
troops are encamped in wooden sheds, provided with berths like those in
a ship, which are disposed longitudinally, so as to afford the maximum
of sleeping room. These sheds run continuously along the inward side of
the levees, the tops of which are broad enough to serve as carriage
roads. They answer well enough for temporary purposes, but would not do
for a lengthened residence. There can be no drainage, as the ground on
which they stand is below the water level. The parade is spacious and
level enough--the bottom of a swamp which the troops have cleared,
cutting down trees and removing stumps with great diligence and labor.
Our drive extended up the Mississippi shore, past two field guns in
position and some infantry tents, up to the camp of a company of Chicago
light artillery and of Hungarian and German volunteers, under Major
Milotsky. The guns fired a salute on the arrival of the general, and the
company were drawn up to receive him--an unequally-sized body of men,
most of whom, however, were quite fit for any military duty. The
captain, Mr. Smith, is, I should judge from his accent, a Scotchman, and
he told me the men in his company represented a million and-a-half of
dollars in property. The guns of the company (brass six-pounders), the
horses and equipments were clean and in good order; the firing was
well-timed. While seated in his tent several of the privates came
forward outside and sang “The Star Spangled Banner,” “God Save the
Queen” (to their own words), and other airs very pleasingly; but a
severe reception awaited the guests on going outside, for the whole of
the company were drawn up in line, and they then and there set up a
shouting for “Washburne,” so that the honorable member was fain to
comply and make a speech; and then General Prentiss made a speech under
similar compulsion; and next Colonel Oglesby; and then your own
correspondent, who has had quite enough of speaking in America, in his
first and last effort, was forced to say he could not make a speech; and
after other orations, in which the audience were always called
“gentlemen!” we got off (with “three cheers”) to the Hungarians, who
were waiting for their turn--a fine, soldierly-looking set of men, of
whom our Kentucky editor writes as follows:

     When the bow-legged, wooden-shoed, sourkrout-stinking,
     bologne-sausage-eating, hen-roost-robbing Dutch sons of ---- from
     Cairo had accomplished the brilliant feat of taking down the
     Secession flag on the river bank, they were pointed to another flag
     of the same sort, which was flying gloriously and defiantly about
     two squares distant (and which their guns did not cover), and
     defied, yea, double-big, black-dog dared (as we used to say at
     school) to take that flag down. The cowardly pups, the sheep-dogs,
     the sneaking skunks dare not do so, because those twelve pieces of
     artillery were not bearing upon it. And these are the people who
     are sent by Lincoln to “crush out” the South!

The officer in command put them through light infantry drill, advance of
line of skirmishers, charge, rally, retreat, etc., all well done, and
they marched back singing to camp and gave three good cheers for the
general. In our way back the party stopped at another camp which was
enlivened by the presence of ladies, who had come some hundreds of miles
to see husbands and brothers, and in the evening the usual parade took
place near the hotel. Four regiments of about seven hundred each were on
the ground, and never, perhaps, did any force only a few weeks in the
field look more like soldiers, march more steadily in line, or present a
better appearance in the ranks. When drawn up in line the difference in
uniform in various companies struck the eye as a disagreeable
novelty--one with white cross-belts between two companies with black
cross-belts, for example; but the line of bayonets was unwavering and
uniformly sloped--all the ordinary work of a very ordinary regimental
parade was performed by each with precision and rapidity, and the men
were as fine fellows as could be seen in any infantry regiments of the
line in any part of the world. The officers, however, did not seem very
quick--orders were carried at a trot--the combined movements were slow,
and a little clubbing took place in forming into line from columns of
companies marching in echelon. Just as it was dark there came into camp,
with a good band at their head, a remarkably stout-looking set of
fellows, armed with rifle and bayonet, very tall, in heavy marching
order, and stepping out like men who knew their business. Alas! that it
should be so. But these are Colonel Schuttner’s “Dutchmen,” as they are
called, who have been a little eccentric at Bird’s Point, going on
scouting parties, and making themselves generally active either without
or with the colonel’s sanction, and so they are marched to camp as a
punishment for their want of discipline, and their place is taken by
another battalion. I am informed the conduct of the troops on the whole
has been very exemplary.

_June 21._--I visited the earthworks at the end of the levee. Colonel
Waagner was ill with the usual camp diarrhœa, but he would insist on
getting up and showing me his performance. He has fought in many hard
fields in Europe, served in the Hungarian war, and accompanied Kossuth
to the United States. His right-hand man, Lieutenant O’Leary, was
formerly a petty officer in the British navy, served in the Furious in
the Black Sea, and was in the Shannon Brigade, under the
ever-to-be-deplored sailor who led them to the relief of Lucknow, and
finally to the reduction of that ill-starred city. Mr. O’Leary told me
he was not much credited here when he recounted the manner in which Sir
William Peel taught his sailors to toss about 68-pounders as if they
were field-pieces. The work I found to be rather “crowded” with guns,
but it gives promise of such strength as to enable the occupants to
command both rivers effectually. The armament is quite adequate to all
purposes, and consists of one 8-inch howitzer, two 24-pounders, two
32-pounders, and some lighter guns, the whole being dominated by a
10-inch columbiad in the centre, on a circular traversing slide, not yet
mounted. The magazine is well made and lighted; it is the safest and
best I have seen in the States. The practice I saw with a field-piece
from the work, at a small target 500 yards off, in order to try ricochet
fire, was by no means bad, and would have speedily sunk a boat in the
line of fire. Whenever a steamer is made out approaching Cairo a gun is
fired from one or other of the ports. The steamer then gives the private
signal agreed upon, and if she does not answer, is fired upon and
brought to by round shot.

In the evening, as I was walking up and down the levee after a day of
exhausting heat, an extraordinary tumult attracted my attention, and on
running to the hotel, whence the noise proceeded, I discovered a whole
regiment drawn up two deep without arms, and shouting out in chorus,
“Water! water! water!” The officers were powerless, but presently
General Prentiss came round the corner, and mounting on a railing
proceeded to address the soldiery in energetic terms, but in substance
his remonstrance would have been considered, in a French or English
army, as much a breach of discipline as the act it had censured. These
men had broken out of barracks after hours, forced their officers and
the sentries, and came up shouting to the head-quarters of their general
to complain of a deficiency of water. The general addressed them as
“gentlemen.” It was not his fault they wanted water. It was their
officers who were to blame, not he. He would see they had water, and
would punish the contractor, but they must not come disturbing him, by
their outcries at night. Their conduct was demoralizing to themselves,
and to their comrades. Having rated the “gentlemen” soundly, he ordered
them back to their quarters. They gave three cheers for the general, and
retired in regular line of march with their officers. The fact was, that
the men on returning from a hot and thirsty drill, found the
water-barrels, which ought to have been filled by the contractor, empty,
and not for the first time, and so they took the quartermaster’s
business into their own hands. Their officers did not wish to be very
strict, and why? The term of the men’s voluntary service is nearly over,
they have not yet been enrolled for the service of the state; therefore,
if they were aggrieved they might be disposed to disband, and not renew
their engagements, and so the officers would be left without any
regiment to offer to the state. But they went off in an orderly manner,
and General Prentiss, though much annoyed by the occurrence, understands
volunteers better than we do. There is no doubt but that the
quartermasters’ department is in a bad condition in both armies. Mr.
Forstall has proposed to the Southern authorities to hang any contractor
who may be detected cheating. There would probably be few contractors
left if the process were carried into effect at the North. The medical
department is better in the Northern than in the Southern armies. But
even here there is not an ambulance, a cacolet, or a mule litter. When
General Scott made his first requisition for troops and money, or rather
when he gave in his estimate of the probable requirements to carry on
the war, I hear the ministers laughed at his demands. They would be
very glad now to condone for the original figures. Little do they, North
or South, know what war must cost in money, in life, in misery. Already
they are suffering, but it is but a tithe of what is to come, for the
life and misery have not been expended and felt. In the Memphis papers
two days ago I saw a notification that drafts would be issued by the
magistrates to families left in distress by the departure of their heads
and supports to the seat of war. In the Cairo papers to-day I observe an
appeal to the authorities to do something to aid the citizens reduced to
pauperism by the utter stagnation of trade.

_Saturday, June 22_, 1861.

The information which Brigadier-General Prentiss received, of movements
on the part of the Missouri secessionists, induced him, in pursuance, I
presume, of instructions from the head-quarters of his district, or,
possibly, on his own responsibility, to send out an expedition secretly
this afternoon to break up their camp, and disperse or make them
prisoners. It is in that sort of guerrilla enterprises that much of the
time and strength of the federalists will be consumed. A good map of the
States may fail to show the little village of Commerce, on the
Mississippi, but it is about sixteen miles east of the town of Benton,
and is about two hours’ steaming from Cairo. Here the Confederates, or
“rebels,” as they are called in my present latitude, have collected in
two or three small camps, in numbers to which report adds and deducts
ciphers at pleasure. But General Prentiss does not think they can be
over a few hundred men, judging from the force he sent against them. It
is supposed these bands are the _debris_ of Governor Jackson’s
followers, who have been encouraged by promises of support from Memphis,
to assemble as rallying centres for the secessionists of Missouri, who
would, no doubt, collect in considerable numbers if they were permitted,
and would summon their defeated governor, now an exile in Arkansas, to
their head. But the position they occupy is very important in a
strategical sense, as it commands the Mississippi above Cairo, and if
they succeeded in getting a few guns, they could stop the navigation of
the river, and cause serious embarrassment to the right flank and rear
of the federalists posted on the junction of that river with the Ohio,
as well as neutralizing the work at Bird’s Point. In despite of their
great violence of speech, the secessionists, like other men in most
parts of the world, abate their rage in the presence of armed
force--_inter arma silent_; and the process which is going on in
Missouri may be equally successful if it can be applied elsewhere. Any
way, the results must show the government at Washington, that if they
could have acted on the same principles elsewhere they would now be in
a very different position. The outcry which would have been raised
against them could not be louder or stronger than it is at present. Why,
Cairo itself was a centre of disaffection and secession till the
Illinois volunteers occupied it militarily with artillery and a strong
force of infantry! For days they were threatened with an attack, and
were subjected to abuse and insults. All that has died away, and
outwardly, at least, Cairo is Unionist, although Southern Illinois is by
no means of the same mind, and General Prentiss finds it necessary to
station troops along the railroad, at the bridges, to prevent any
playful pranks in sawing the timbers or setting them on fire.

It was nearly dusk before the expedition started. It consisted of about
seven hundred men and one six-pounder field-piece, under the command of
Colonel Morgan, an officer who saw service during the Mexican war, and
who has the reputation--I should think well-deserved--of being a
skilful, brave, and prudent officer. I saw the companies paraded, and I
must say their appearance was most creditable to the officers and the
men themselves. Making allowance for diversity of arms and uniform,
company by company, they were well set up, stout, powerful,
infantry-looking, cheerful, and full of confidence, and among them were
many old soldiers, particularly Germans and Hungarians. The field-pieces
were very well horsed, probably provided with tumbril, spare wheel, and
a full compliment of well-equipped gunners. As they marched on board the
huge river steamer--a Pelion of light carpentry on an Ossa of engines
and boilers--the men cheered in the old English style, and gave three
thundering “hurrahs” as the steamer backed out and set her bow against
the stream. But now comes what seemed to me a little of the recklessness
and want of foresight, or, at least, of precaution, which has been
evident in more than one of the federalist expeditions, with the usual
consequences of disaster and loss. These men and horses and the gun were
put on board this big tinder-box, all fire and touchwood. One small
boat, capable of carrying a dozen men at most, hung at her stern.
Imagine an explosion, and her engines are high-pressure; a shot from a
masked gun into her boiler, and her boilers are exposed; even heavy
musketry fire opened suddenly from the wooden bank on the beehive-like
deck, where the solitary gun could scarcely be worked, and the men could
not be landed, and see what a catastrophe might ensue. To use a homely
simile, there were “too many eggs in one basket.” And there was no
necessity for doing this, inasmuch as many steamers lay at the disposal
of the authorities, and the steamer could easily have towed up flats or
boats for the gun and men. A handful of horsemen would have been
admirable to move in advance, feel the covers, and make prisoners for
political or other purposes in case of flight; but the Americans persist
in ignoring the use of horsemen, or at least in depreciating it, though
they will at last find that they may shed much blood, and lose much
more, before they can gain a great victory without the aid of artillery
and charges after the retreating enemy. From the want of cavalry, I
suppose it is, the unmilitary practice of “scouting,” as it is called
here, has arisen. It is all very well in the days of Indian wars for
footmen to creep about in the bushes and shoot or be shot by sentries
and pickets; but no civilized war, if there be such a thing at all in
civil conflicts, recognizes such means of annoyance as firing upon
sentinels, unless in case of an actual advance or feigned attack on the
line. No camp can be safe without cavalry videttes and pickets, for the
enemy can pour in impetuously after the alarm has been given, as fast as
the outlying footmen can run in. In feeling the way for a column,
cavalry are invaluable, and there can be little chance of ambuscades or
surprises where they are judiciously employed; but “scouting” on foot,
or adventurous private expeditions on horseback, to have a look at the
enemy, can do, and will do, nothing but harm. Every day the papers
contain accounts of “scouts” being killed, and sentries being picked
off. The latter is a very barbarous and savage practice; and the
Russian, in his most angry moments, abstained from it. If any officer
wishes to obtain information as to his enemy, he has two ways of doing
it. He can employ spies, who carry their lives in their hands, or he can
beat up their quarters by a proper reconnoissance on his own
responsibility, in which, however, it would be advisable not to trust
his force to a railway train. In talking to General Prentiss, this
evening, I was informed that the enemies’ spies visit Cairo every day.
Strict precautions are used to prevent access to the camps--a close
chain of sentries is posted all around, and in the day a pass is
necessary for admittance, unless one belongs to the force, and at night
no one is admitted without the countersign. An Irish gentleman, who had
been evincing his satisfaction at the receipt of his wages _more
Hibernico_, just now attempted to get past us--“Who goes there?” “A
friend--shure you know I’m a friend!” “Advance three paces and give the
countersign.” The gentleman approached, but was brought up by the
bayonet. “Send for the captain, and he’ll give you the word bedad.” The
intercession was unnecessary, for two policemen came up in hot pursuit,
and the general, who was sitting by, ordered the guard to deliver their
prisoner to the civil power. For some extraordinary reason this act
moved the prisoner to the greatest gratitude, and, taking off his cap,
he exclaimed, “Thank you, general; long life to you. Indeed, general,
I’m greatly obliged to you on this account.” Another sentry who
challenged an officer in the usual way, was asked by him, “Do you know
the countersign yourself?” “Indeed I don’t, sir; it’s not nine o’clock,
and they havn’t given it out yet.” A very tolerable military band played
outside the hotel in the evening, and I was pleased to see the quiet
manner in which the bystanders, of all ranks, sat down in the chairs as
they were vacant, close to the general, without any intrusion or any
sense of impropriety arising from their difference in rank.

_June 22._--The expedition had not returned at four this evening when I
started in the train for Chicago. I bade General Prentiss and the
officers of his staff good-by, and I doubt not, if the brigade is
enrolled in the United States army it will do good service. At the
present moment these officers are without pay, and they make a joke of
their empty pockets; but it is one of those jokes which spoil by
iteration. I saw more of Cairo from the windows of the carriage than it
was my lot to behold during my stay in the place. The rail is laid on
the levee, and I looked down on a flat land, which would become a swamp
if Ohio and Mississippi were not kept out assiduously, dotted with
wooden houses, a church or two, and some poor shanties, in wonder that
people could live in it on any food but quinine. The lower story of the
houses built along the levee must be below water level, and proper
drainage cannot be effected. A short way outside the “city” there is,
indeed, a veritable swamp, out of which a forest of dead trees wave
their ghastly leafless arms. But Cairo is to be a great place when all
the land between the two rivers is filled up, and raised above
inundation.

Mound City, the first station, is occupied by an outpost or small camp.
It consists of several log-huts, some tumbling rotten wood hovels, and a
fine growth of trees--white oak, &c. Land here is to be had at $10 to
$25 an acre. Better land lay further on, and through fields and cleared
ground, where the “army worm,” however--not a soldier, but an insect of
that name--had been at work--we passed on to Jonesborough, a large
village of houses and stores, with an “eating and drinking saloon;” and
next came to Cobden, named after one who is better known than the Jones
who founded the former settlement. The name of the great political
economist and reformer has not worked a spell upon the place, for it has
more drinking saloons than manufactories, and the houses--vote and
all--would not be thought much of even by a Dorsetshire peasant. The
inhabitants of Cobden are to be counted by the dozen rather than by the
hundred. It may be “great hereafter.” Carbondale, still further on, is a
more flourishing looking and larger village, and it possesses a “bank,”
which does its business in a small wooden house resplendent with the
names of “cashier” and “president,” painted on a sign-board. In spite of
the name there is no coal here, but a large field of bituminous deposit,
good for domestic purposes, crops out in the prairie at a nice little
place called Dugoyne, some miles further on, and is sold at the pit’s
mouth for $1 25, or about 5_s._ 2_d._, a ton. Here, out of compliment to
Cairo, perhaps, is a store rejoicing in the style and title of “The
Commercial Emporium of Egypt,” and, in keeping with the primitive habits
of the people, there was an announcement on the boards that the terms
were “cash or produce.”

_June 23._--A large-bodied Yorkshire man, who had a full share of most
of the attributes of his shire folk, in the service of the land
department of the Illinois Central Railroad, gave me all the information
necessary about the country. He was called “major” by his intimates,
and, said he, with a wink, “Once I was a major, but, unfortunately,
there was a word before it--I was troop sergeant-major in the Queen’s
Bays.” He pointed out the fat places where “we put our Englishmen” when
they come to settle on the prairie lands on which we were just entering
as morning broke, and seemed hopeful of a grand future for the vast
plains, which only stand in need of a little wood to render them fit for
the reception of despairing agriculturists when the war fever is over.
How pleasant it was to see white faces in the fields, to gaze on the
waving corn, and on the martial rows of wheat-sheafs! to behold the
villages and the Christian spires rising in the distance; to observe, as
it were, under one’s eyes, the growth of civilized communities; the
village swelling into the town, and the town grasping the dimensions of
a city.

And how wonderful has been the work of the rail; in a night it has
spanned the interval between war and peace, between swamp and
harvest-fields, between sedition and contentment. Last night we
travelled through lines of outposts, over danger-haunted bridges, by
camps where the soldiers watched eagerly for their supply of bread, and
cheered lustily as it was delivered to them from the train, for without
its aid they could get none. This morning Union flags floated from the
little stations. Corn is abundant. The vast plains are rich with crops,
or are ready to yield to the tilth. A city worthy of such a name rises
above the waters of the sea-like lake whose waves roll from the
boundless horizon in crisping foam on the smooth sandy beach. The pure
clear air invigorates the frame, weakened by the warm clammy breath of
the South. The notes of the mocking-bird are heard no more, but the
prairie hen gets up with a sharp whirr from the roadside, and drops with
her brood into the deep, flowering clover; the partridge calls from the
stubble, and instead of the foul turkey-buzzard and his lazy wheels,
swoops the gray falcon over the broad meadow in rapid curves. Chicago
receives us, and comfort, cleanliness, quiet, good meat, butter and
bread--of which, indeed, we had a foretaste at the refreshment rooms at
Centralia, where I took tea last night--assure the traveller that he is
not the inmate of a Southern hotel.

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

admiration for pacfic tendencies=> admiration for pacific tendencies {pg
11}

can he accepted=> can be accepted {pg 18}

is loading the barges=> in loading the barges {pg 34}

the haunts of aligators, cranes, snakes=> the haunts of alligators,
cranes, snakes {pg 37}

with a trail of light seawerd=> with a trail of light seaward {pg 38}

Bragg would be obliged to retrie=> Bragg would be obliged to retire {pg
58}

Its only the signal, sir=> It’s only the signal, sir {pg 58}

As a _näive_ specimen=> As a _naïve_ specimen {pg 78}

chifly occurred among early settlers=> chiefly occurred among early
settlers {pg 107}

the Mississppi, a large portion=> the Mississippi, a large portion {pg
113}

complements for the past, encouragement for the future.=> compliments
for the past, encouragement for the future. {pg 123}

       *       *       *       *       *





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