Lehigh University
The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
Previous Issue Next Issue
Previous Page Next Page
0 matches
               A Visit to a Crevasse

[newspaper clipping: first column]
About Crevasses Threatened Inundation
  of Lower Louisiana Speculators A
  Visit to a Crevasse on the Mexican 
  Gulf Railroad.
From Our Special Correspondent.
					Jan. 31. 1863}
  Not long ago there appeared in The Delta (the
only loyal newspaper published in this place) a 
statement accredited to Col. T. B. Thorpe, City
Surveyor who certainly ought to be an authority
on the subject to the rather startling effect that by
next month the whole of Lower Louisiana might be
under water.  The levees above, said the Colonel,
had been so much damaged by the construction of
Rebel batteries, in addition to the neglect inevitable
in war time, that on the rising of the river to its or-
dinary altitude, there was every reason to appre-
hend crevasses of enormous magnitude, sufficient to
accomplish the general, indiscriminate swamping of
all of us.  Without venturing an opinion on the
matter, or imitating Carlyle, who recommended the
sinking of Ireland under the sea for a limited period,
as a cheap and effectual means of regenerating that
island, I cannot but believe that a good deal might
be said in behalf of such a deluge, as involving
both the  cleaning out  of treason in this State and
the drowning of the innumerable scoundrels who,
since our advent in it, have done their worst to jus-
tify the Southern estimate of the word  Yankee 
as the meanest, most grasping, most unscrupu-
lous name in the English language.  I allude
to the hordes of so-called  Union  speculators,
the contrivers of the huge net of mercantile villainy
which seems to have underlaid the whole of our mil-
itary administration here, all being fish that came
within its meshes.  Their existence can only be jus-
tified as akin to the plagues of frogs and lice in
Egypt, visited upon the people for their hardness of
heart, and preceding the more appalling but less
odious punishment of the deaths of the first-born 
which, by the way, has already come upon us, both
loyalist and rebel.  If it should be followed in this
locality by a universal noyade, through the conve-
nient medium of the Mississippi, I for one shall
hardly dispute the justice of it, so omnipresent are
the evidences of rascality, lack of patriotism, and
miserable self-seeking surrounding me.  It is true
that we have an honest man at the head of affairs 
nobody disputes that but we need a Hercules ten
of them to purify such an Augean stable as this
Department of the Gulf has become; and perhaps the
turning of a river into it, after the demi-god s fash-
ion, would be the best, as the shortest means.  If
the Muse of History were not perfectly well accus-
tomed to this kind of sewerage, I should surmise
[that] she would hold her nose, and pass by in silent
[words cut off], when she comes to this despicable chapter
[words cut off] history of the great American Rebellion,
[words cut off] doings, knowing that they exist, is to
[words cut off] ther the Southern estimate of Northern

[newspaper clipping: second column]
character may not be the right one, after all, and to
despair of our ability to give the Rebels their richly-
deserved thrashing.
  That is not what I set out to write about, how-
ever, and I turn from it gladly.  The Delta s warn-
ing on the subject of crevasses rendered me curious,
and, hearing that one not important had occurred
within an easy distance of the city, I resolved to go
and see it, which I accomplished after the following
  It was a clear, cold, sunny morning, actually
worthy of a Northern January, when I, with a
couple of companions, jumped on board a Canal
street car for transportation to the Mexican Gulf
Railroad.  Twenty minutes of leisurely locomotion
accomplished this, during which time we were sub-
ject to the inspection of a female Confederate, who
regarded us with a pleasant Hiberian scowl as she
noisily removed to the opposite seat on our entrance;
a bony-legged girl, who sniggled disdainfully at the
military camp of one of the party, and an elderly
Frenchman, a miracle of ugliness, partially absorbed
in the perusal of the Gallic side of The Bee of
course a Secession journal.  Having taken at least
the full value of the little five-cent pasteboard
checks that form the principle currency of New-
Orleans, we alighted, and ten minutes  walking
brought us to the town terminus of the railroad.
  This is a mere shed, covering a single track, bor-
dered on either side by a raised platform.  As we
had relied confidently on the universal Southern
practice of running cars at least half an hour behind
their stated time, forgetting that this one happened
to be, just now, in Northern hands, of course the
train had departed.  There was only a battered
rusty-looking locomotive and tender in possession of
the track, the cow-catcher of the former pointing
townward.  But the locomotive had a head of steam
on, and Capt. Sawyer, just then riding up. was
good enough to offer it as an express for our special
accommodation.  Of course we accepted with due
  Capt. Sawyer is Provost-Marshal of the district,
and lord of the Mexican Gulf Railroad.  When Gen.
Butler came hither and learned that the line be-
longed to an English woman, a widow, whose son
was in the Rebel army, he incontinently took pos-
session and inquired, in that practical way of his,
of Capt. Sawyer:  Will it pay to run it?    I
think so, General.    Then go ahead!   And the
Captain went ahead accordingly, and has been run-
ning it ever since, to the average weekly emolument
of the United States Treasury of from $700 to $1,400.
I shall come to its characteristics presently.
  We experienced some delay at the outset, in con-
sequence of our rashly yielding to the representa-
tions of one of our party the correspondent of The
Boston Traveller asserting that he had had no
breakfast, and wanted some; on obtaining permission
to procure which, he went to an adjacent restaurant
and deliberately caused oysters to be killed and
cooked for him, while we sat on the chilly platform
waiting his reappearance.  Only a visit and ener-
getic remonstrance effected it.  Then we mounted
the tender, with a convoy of two soldiers, duly
equipped with musket and bayonet, and began our
journey, the locomotive propelling us backward, for
the depot is unprovided with switch or wheel on
which the progressive medium might turn itself.
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Twenty-One: page two hundred and two
Description:Newspaper clipping written by Gunn for ''The New York Tribune,'' regarding a visit to the crevasse.
Subject:Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss; Butler, Benjamin F.; Civil War; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Hills, A.G.; Railroad; Sawyer, Captain (Connecticut); Thorpe, Thomas B.
Coverage (City/State):New Orleans, Louisiana
Scan Date:2010-11-18


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.