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                        Tribune letters from

[newspaper clipping: first column]
Arrival of Gen. Banks s Expedition at
Baton Rouge State of Affairs at the
Capital.
From Our Special Correspondent.
			BATON ROUGE, La., Jan. 12, 1863.
  The Galveston disaster chronicled, I find myself
at liberty to revisit Louisiana s capital, just to ascer-
tain what has transpired there during the past two
weeks.  Your New-Orleans correspondent will take
care of what reaches the Crescent City touching the
expedition of the Brooklyn and Scioto to the place 
from which we have been so completely  cleaned
out,  both by land and water; may it prove better
news than has fallen to my share to record of late!
Attached as I am, to Gen. Banks s expedition, I
deem it my duty to go whithersoever symptoms of
activity become manifest; hence my presence just
now at Baton Rouge.
  I left New-Orleans on the afternoon of Friday,
the 10th, on board the Laurel Hill, which, notwith-
standing its Philadelphian name, is a big Mississippi
steamer, of the orthodox two-story, elongated
smoke-stack patter one of the latter, by the by,
displays a cannon ball perforation, received in one
of those frequent guerrilla attacks which have en-
[?]vened the passage up this otherwise monotonous

river any time during the past six months.  The
boat a Government transport is yet allowed to
receive passengers voyaging to Baton Rouge on
their own business, of course being duly authorized
by Col. Holabird, Gen. Banks s Chief Quartermas-
ter.  Wherefore we had on board a very miscella-
neous crowd of civilians, both male and female,
white, black, and parti-colored.  From the camp at
Carrollton (about 12 miles above New-Orleans, fol-
lowing the windings of the river), we were re-
enforced by the following companies of the 25th
Connecticut, under command of their Lieut.-Colonel,
Stevens: Company C, Capt. Head; D, Capt. Fos-
kett; F, Capt. Napheys; G, Capt. Talcott; K,
Capt. Sillaway.
  With this company, then, the Laurel Hill reached
Baton Rouge at 7 on the following morning, the sol-
diers on board finding no greater occasion for the
use of their muskets than was afforded by the wild
ducks on the river.  I cannot say that they hit many 
of them; but no doubt they will do better when
they come to practice on canvas-backed Rebels.  At
least I hope so.
  Before quitting the Laurel Hill, I wish to record
my obligations to Capt. Thomas, its good-natured
commander; also to his clerk, Mr. Brayfogle.  The
latter gentleman gave up his cabin to a little party
of three of us, by which admirable arrangement two
were enabled to play poker entirely out of respect 
to Mississippi traditions and the third (your corres-
pondent) to score up half a weeks  diarizing, which
had gotten in arrears.  
  At Baton Rouge I find things quiet enough; our
troops brigaded and intrenched, and a good deal
effected, in a quiet way, by Gen. Grover and his
officers.  I do not consider myself at liberty to tell
you how many soldiers we have here, as I believe
THE TRIBUNE has underground subscribers in Dixie,
and the telegraph between Richmond and Vicksburg

[newspaper clipping: second column]
is still in working order.  Suffice it to say that
when the fighting begins we hope to take the in-
itiative which won t be immediately.  We are sup-
posed to know pretty accurately the state of affairs
in Port Hudson (commanded, by the way, by Brig.-
Gen Frank Gardiner, formerly a brother officer of
Gen. Grover s), through the usual trustworthy medium
of deserters and negroes.  We have got upward of
3,000 of the latter since our re-occupation of this
locality.  They unload vessels, drive mules, act as
servants, and do any work we put them at, wanting
judicious superintendence.   On the night of our ar-
rival I attended a  minstrel  performance by ne-
groes, as excellent, intrinsically, as anything done
by Christy s or Bryant s.  Done by white folks, I 
consider this a mean sort of entertainment, but I
laughed heartily at the genuine article.
  Baton Rouge proper exhibits more signs of life
than at the time of my last visit.  Some of the in-
habitants have opened their doors and windows;
others have come in from the interior but only a
few, after all.  Half-a-dozen shops invite custom,
while the extortionate sutler repels it from the street
corners where he has squatted, for the depletion of
human blue-bottles.  The walls of the State-House
are uninjured, but the interior is entirely destroyed.
An inquiry, on the part of Gen. Grover, as to the
origin of the conflagration, confirms my assertion
that it arose from a defective flue, which had before
threatened the same result.
  I was no sooner accommodated, by the courtesy of
Capt. Seaman, Provost-Marshal, in a stately dwell-
ing adjoining his own it belongs to a Union man,
resident at West Baton Rouge, half a mile up on the
other side of the river when we had a sensation.
The aforesaid trustworthy contrabands brought in-
formation to headquarters that we were to be at-
tacked by the Rebels.  They intended to make a
false demonstration on the eastern shore (where we
have but one regiment, the 8th New-Hampshire,
Col. Fearing), and subsequently to pour down upon 
us from the interior, a la Galveston, driving us into
or down the river.  It was added, by way of rider,
that the enemy had been badly whipped at Vicks-
burg, and were desperately determined to avenge
the disaster.
  The news sounded probable, and, likely or un-
likely, Gen. Grover took every precaution to meet
possible danger.  Our First Brigade (Col. Billy
Wilson acting Brigadier-General) and our Third
(commanded by Gen. Paine) were brought into the
outskirts of the town, cartridges served out, and the
whole of the garrison got under arms.  It was a 
lively right to witness the boys of the 41st Massa-
chusetts, in their picturesquely-intrenched camp,
 going through the motions  of repelling and ad-
vancing force.  Col. Chickering, on a little hilly
graveyard dotted with sepulchral monuments, super-
intended the operations.  Before and beyond the
intrenchments lay a marshy plain, looking desolate
enough in the last beams of the declining sun; be-
hind were the camps and Baton Rouge.  To the
credit of this regiment I may add that two score of
its members, sick in the hospital, insisted they were
well enough to shoot or be shot at, and incontinent-
ly got ready for either.
  But Sunday night passed tranquilly, perhaps to the
disappointment of our soldiers, but certainly to the
relief of the inhabitants of Baton Rouge, who had,
during the afternoon, assembled at the street-cor-
ners, in terror of another bombardment.  I dare say,
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Twenty-One: page one hundred and seventy-one
Description:Newspaper clipping written by Gunn for ''The New York Tribune,'' regarding the state of affairs at Baton Rouge.
Date:1863-01-12
Subject:African Americans; Brayfogle; Chickering, Thomas E.; Civil War; Connecticut Infantry Regiment, 25th; Fearing, Colonel; Foskett, Captain; Gardiner, Frank; Grover, Cuvier; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Head, Captain; Holabird, Samuel B.; Journalism; Laurel Hill (Ship); Mann; Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 41st; Military; Music; Napheys, Captain; New Hampshire Infantry Regiment, 8th; New York tribune.; Paine, Halbert E.; Seamans, William H.; Sillaway, Captain; Stevens, Lieutenant-Colonel; Talcott, Captain; Thomas, Captain; Wilson, Billy
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.