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						111
                   [Letter to the] Tribune

[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
well  on fresh meats and corn for the last six
months, but had no shoes until after our evacuation
of Baton Rouge, and were badly off for clothes.  He
sirred us civilly in his replies, but knew or commu-
nicated nothing.  There are thousands like him in
the Rebel armies.
  All this time there paced up and down, aloof from
the others, a well-dressed and really intelligent-look-
ing negro a deserter also.  He paused in his walk
when I approached him, and told his story fluently
and with animation, yet without any objectionable
air of propitiation.  He had belonged to Major
Bynum of the 4th Louisiana, once editor of The Ba-
ton Rouge Advoate, being his body servant.  Of
that regiment he named the following officers: Cap-
tains Buffington, Burnett and Chinn; Lieutenants
Ognier, Harbor, Richardson and Dural.  Cols. Jor-
dan and Chinn (brother of the Captain just named)
were in command on our arrival; the former had
sent off for 6,000 soldiers to dispute our landing, and
intention abandoned upon the appearance of our
armada.  (I may add here that this statement con-
flicts with other testimony.)  The Rebels certainly
intended to give us battle further up the river, or in-
land; they had constructed batteries on every road,
fortified farm-houses with siege guns, and cut loop-
holes for musketry in them; in short, made every
belliferent preparation.  Most of the inhabitants of
Baton Rouge had gone to Jackson or to Clinton.
The troops fled upon the firing of the first shell from
the Essex, some of them before, all of them making
off in disorderly fashion.  It had been reported, and
the negro believed, that one man was killed.  The
Rebels generally were badly off, had talked very
largely before our arrival, but were secretly dis-
heartened.
   What would his master do to him were he again
to fall into his hands?  was asked of the negro.  He
made a movement suggestive of decapitation:  Cut
him head off, sure!   Once said master had a boy
run away from him  A mis able nigger, no account
no how  when he advertised a reward of $500 for
him.  On representing the worthlessness of the
missing chattel, as proportioned to the proposed 
bounty, Maj. Bynum had explained that he intended 
to remove the head of said fugacious negro from his
shoulders, just as a caution to others not to allow
similar ideas to enter theirs.
  The rest of the prisoners were merely less striking
developments of the farmer, and from them nothing
more important was elicited than a sullen,  I sup-
pose you think you re going to give us h__l now? 
Leaving the party (not before the Lieutenant had
requested our possible influence to procure his re-
moval from  this crowd ), we continued our walk.
That room contained a perfect sample of Southern
society.
  Through the deserted city we went by a straight
road leading inland to the as quiet country.  Past
abandoned houses and gardens, the former sometimes
just closed and locked up; sometimes open and
emptied of everything.  It was a melancholy busi-
ness to be tramping through the bare chambers lit-
tered with household rubbish suggestive of its occu-
pants, to pick up old letters, full of domestic prattle
and family gossip.  One thought of what one s own
house might look like under similar circumstances.
But War, like all of Providence s doings, acts by
the gross; it is indiscriminating in detail.
  A mile and a half brought us to the battle-field,
the scene of the fight of last August.  It is a woody

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
tract, not much encumbered by undergrowth, bor-
dered on one side by a road (or street as the country
people call it), beyond which is a spacious cemetery,
where, I am told, rests the body of Zachary Taylor,
the last honest President of the United States before
the advent of one to whom the adjective is especially
applicable.  Across this cemetery, in the gray of the
morning, and scarcely distinguishable from it, the
Rebel hordes under Breckinridge came pouring down
upon our soldiers, to meet a bloody reception.  The
replaced rails fencing the grounds, the trunks of the
trees, the torn boughs, the trampled earth, testify
mutely of the combat, and at five minutes distance,
one comes upon rows of graves, where
	 Stiff in their still mounds lie the slain, 
under the shelter of trees, weird and mournful with
pendant moss.  Despite the fresh, sunny afternoon,
and the occasional chirp of a bird, that wood, to me,
was almost as dreary as the ghastly one in Dante,
every tree in which entombed eternally the soul of
a suicide, and along the margin of which ran a little
rivulet of blood.  We heard the story of the fight,
told upon the spot, by a friendly ex-school-teacher,
ex-overseer (hailing from Utica, New-York), and
then gladly returned to Baton Rouge and the friend-
ly North Star.
  Do you care to hear that a negro lad has just come
within our lines from Port Hudson, shot through the 
left shoulder by the Rebel pickets, at three miles dis-
tance from the town, while effecting his escape?
Because that has just happened, and the  item 
has been vouchsafed to me five distinct times, by
persons entering the cabin in which I write.
						T. B. G.

[newspaper clipping]
The Expedition Up the Mississippi The
  Occupation of Baton Rouge Descrip-
  tion of the Place Large Accessions of
  Contrabands Billy Wilson s Regiment
  at Baton Rouge.
From Our Special Correspondent.
		ON THE MISSISSIPPI, thirty miles above}
			New-Orleans, La., Dec. 21. 1862.}
  When I ascended this river, five days ago, it was
with considerable expectation of witnessing a fight
at and for the capital of Louisiana.  I return on the
vessel which has almost exclusively been my home
for the last three weeks the North Star having
chronicled the peaceful occupation of the place by
our troops, leaving Gen. Grover busied about many
things, but not as yet belligerent.  The present as-
pect of what I leave behind me may warrant a brief
letter.
  Baton Rouge is, as I have written before, all but
entirely deserted by its inhabitants.  What few re-
main have little to do, less to sell, and scarcely any-
thing to eat.  The houses remain closed; from most
the furniture has been removed; all are under lock
and key in this particular scrupulously respected
by our soldiers.  The people are civil enough, com-
monly expressing a hope that their city will not
again be, as they think, causelessly abandoned, thus
subjecting those who have the boldness to declare
themselves loyal citizens of the United States to ill
treatment on the part of the Rebels.  Some who did
this were forced into the army; slaves who gave in-
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Twenty-One: page one hundred and twenty-two
Description:Newspaper clipping written by Gunn for ''The New York Tribune,'' regarding the re-occupation of Baton Rouge by Union forces.
Date:1862-12-19
Subject:African Americans; Breckinridge, John C.; Buffington, Captain; Burnett, Captain; Bynum, Major; Chinn, Captain; Chinn, Colonel; Civil War; Dural, Lieutenant; Elger, L.G.; Essex (Ship); Food; Grover, Cuvier; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Harbor, Lieutenant; Jordan, Colonel; Louisiana Infantry Regiment, 4th; Military; Military deserters; North Star (Ship); Ognier, Lieutenant; Prisoners of war (Confederate); Richardson, Lieutenant; Slaveholders; Slavery; Slaves; Taylor, Zachary
Coverage (City/State):Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Scan Date:2010-11-18

 

Volume
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Twenty-One
Description:Includes Gunn's descriptions of his experiences as a war correspondent for ""The New York Tribune"" at New Orleans, Louisiana, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; boarding house living; a visit to the Rawlings family; a fight with Mr. Blankman at his boarding house; his journey on the North Star with the Banks expedition; the re-occupation of Baton Rouge by Union forces; a visit to a sugar plantation in Louisiana; and Fanny Fern's daughter Grace Thomson's death.
Subject:African Americans; Boardinghouses; Bohemians; Civil War; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Military; Publishers and publishing; Transportation; Travel; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York; New Orleans, Louisiana; Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2010 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.