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A Trip to Dixie.

[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
parted yesterday, and that he didn t believe that
any boat started to-day; but beyond this cheering
piece of information of course incorrect he had
none to impart.  So that when we alighted at a col-
lection of shabby wooden houses (which looked as if
they had yielded to the dreary influences of the lo-
cality and settled down into suicidal rottenness), it
was to learn our mistake from an intelligent United 
States soldier, who also pointed out the way to
remedy it, namely, a walk along the margin of the
lake to  Hickox s Landing. 
  We set out accordingly, at a brisk pace, being
haunted with lively apprehensions that we should
be too late, for our information of course erro-
neous started it at eight precisely.  The road, at
first good enough and straight, with the exception
of occasional bends round the bayous, lay through
the swamp, which completely encircles Lake Pont-
chartrain, whose wide waste of dreary waters
stretched away from our right to the indefinable
distance.  The sun, as yet but low on the horizon,
did his best to cheer a prospect of which the pre-
ominant characteristic was desolation, but with
half a dozen parhelia to help him he would have 
failed to do it; still, as he warmed our backs and
the raw morning air, we were grateful to him.  He
might have looked on such a scene ages ago, before
an was an inhabitant of this planet.
  In the swamp all the melancholy trees were
bearded with moss, a jungle of undergrowth, of
weeds, of reeds and rushes, hiding the mud and
water in which they had root, the whole being ap-
propriately bordered by a straight-cut canal, in
which a boy was fishing he said for perch, but I
suspect frogs.  Altogether, a magnificent preserve
for alligators, of which, no doubt, there were plenty.
  We saw nothing of them, however, nor for half a
mile anything animate larger than a flight of wild
ducks on the lake and a lonely mocking-bird in
the swamp demented, probably, or he would never
have been there.  Then our difficulties began.  Ar-
riving at a bayou, large enough to be a little river,
on which a sail-boat manned by Indians was being
propelled lakewards, we crossed a foot-bridge, be-
yond which was a house, a high fence and a garden,
and where our path seemed abruptly to terminate.
  First we inquired of an Irish soldier in posses-
sion of the house, the locality of  Hickox s,  who
responded with Celtic promptness and with the ut-
most confidence by pointing directly to where we
had come from.  On our demurring at this, he sug-
gested our skirting the projection on which the
house and grounds stood, by means of a tow-path
leading apparently to nowhere.  Our trust in him
shaken, we asked an aged Frenchman who objected
to the tow-path and vehemently insisted, first that
we wanted to go to New-Orleans, then to an un-
known place, the name of which sounded like the
drawing of a cork out of a bottle.  Abandoning
him, when he had worked himself into a state of
partial frenzy at our not starting immediately for
the latter, we attempted several Indians, a negro,
and an individual who looked like a hybrid between
the two with a dash of the fisherman thrown in.
He proved a person of rare intelligence and, recog-
nizing the word  Hickox s,  contested stoutly with
his companions (who all pointed different ways)
finally overruling them.  We skirted the grounds as
guessed by the Irishman, forded a bayou by means
of a plank, and then had two and a half miles of
the most abominable traveling before us conceiv-
able.
  Our feet were on the mud of Louisiana, our name
Exasperation!  The road, a mere foot-path, scarcely

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
discernible, followed the indentations of the lake,
thereby affording us an additional mile and a half s
locomotion, agreeably diversified by wading.  Some
times the track disappeared wholly, when we had
to trust in Providence and the length of our boots.
An icthosaurus, a cayman, an eel, might have
found himself charmed with the locality, not so your
correspondent and his comrades.  Cheered, however,
by the prospect of two tall smoke-stacks in the dis-
tance, we held on and presently arrived at the de-
sired landing-place.
  Hickox is a name proper belonging to the pro-
praetor of a hotel, who appears to have been created
for the purpose of keeping it, of interesting himself
in a certain  India-rubber  team owned by a
friend of his, and of affording Col. Thorpe, our City
Surveyor, a subject for ludicrous stories.  Hickox
received us agreeably, condoled with us as to mud,
and produced breakfast.  That disposed of, we
turned out to make observations.
  It was a busy scene into which we issued, sur-
rounding the hotel.  Suppose a handsomish two-
story house, encircled with balconies, trees in bright
spring-like verdure, gardens, ten-pin alleys, shoot-
ing galleries bits of artificial lawn, a canal stretching-
ing out towards the lake, a bridge over it, a maini-
ficent  shell  road in-land these constitute the
locality.  Fill it up with fifty or more vehicles,
either stylish, private carriages or trim-hired ones
(New-Orleans shames New-York in the latter con-
venience), by and from which are momentarily ar-
riving ladies, officers, and civilians a parti-colored
crowd pleasant to see.  The first are either  Regis-
tered enemies of the United States  bound to Dixie,
or friends  going to see them off,  the second here
on duty, the third actuated by curiosity or political
sympathy.  We need not have hurried ourselves,
after all, for the J. D. Brown lies quietly enough in
the canal, beyond a tabooed space of lawn, and the
constantly increasing crowd on the near side of it,
no less than the piles o baggage about the hotel in-
dicate that there s a good deal to be done before we
get off, which proves to be the case.
  All baggage was to be examined.  Of that, The
Picayune, the most outspoken of the muzzled Se-
cession newspapers of this city, had cautioned its
lady friends, adding suggestively that they might
save themselves trouble and annoyance by attending
to it.  Whether it was unaware that the ladies were
to be examined also, I know not.  Any way, that
proved to be the fact, and one inciting no little in-
dignation in the feminine bosom.   They searched 
them even to taking off their stockings,  said one
lovely Rebel, to whom I was introduced by her hus-
band, of the friends she intended to cross the lake
with; while another lady declared  audibly that she
would rather submit to such another examination at
the hands of men than her own sex!  Beyond a few
smuggled letters, which were opened, and with one
exception restored to their custodians, nothing con-
traband was discovered on the persons of the ladies.
I heard of six bottles of excellent brandy being
found in the trunk of a matron, but, on her explain-
ing that she was in invalid, and that the cognac
was intended to  rub her with,  they were allowed
to pass freely.
  Col. John S. Clark, Aid-de-Camp to Gen. [unclear words]
who had charge of the expedition, was a bus[unclear words]
that morning generally the center of a little [unclear words]
of ladies, six deep.  I hear he is popular with [unclear words]
Under his superintendence things were ke[unclear words]
ing, but it was not until within fifteen m[unclear words]
noon that we were all aboard the J. D. [unclear words]
and she fairly off, steaming down the [unclear words]
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Twenty-One: page two hundred and seventeen
Description:Newspaper clipping written by Gunn for ''The New York Tribune,'' regarding a trip into the Louisiana countryside.
Date:1863-02-04
Subject:Civil War; Clark, John S.; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Hickox; J. D. Brown (Ship); Journalism; New York tribune.; Thorpe, Thomas B.; Women
Coverage (City/State):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.