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
[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
into the lake.  Then the barrier of blue-coated offi-
cers protecting the tabooed space gave way, and the
populace rushed inward, waving handkerchiefs and
hats, cheering for Jeff. Davis and the Southern Con-
federacy, and shouting messages to friends existing
within it.  Running alongside the tow-path, disre-
garding tumbles and mud, they raced to the very
extremity of the pier, and there we left them a
human hive still agitating their handkerchiefs and
indulging in shrill cheers.
  It was a dull, overcast day, threatening rain, the
surface of the lake mirroring the leaden sky over-
head.  The J. D. Brown is not a boat I should 
select for a pleasure excursion, being old, ricketty,
and out of repair; she was captured from the enemy
some time during the past year.  In addition to her
other disadvantages, she possessed no seats to speak
of, except those afforded by her paddle-boxes, which,
in a raw, cold, February morning, were hardly
desirable.  However, we adopted the inevitable
policy on such occasions of making the best
of it, and the choky little saloon on the upper deck
being unsavory and full of baggage, we strolled out-
side and improved our acquaintance with the ladies.
At least I did, and do not repent it.
  They were all Rebels, of course, and the lovely
one before-mentioned rampantly so.  She had lived
in New-Orleans during the whole of Gen. Butler s
administration, and though she knew the General
and had a good word for him, I am afraid she be-
lieved all the monstrous stories to his discredit which
are afloat here, which people invent and credit with
all the credulity of hatred.  Furthermore, she as-
serted the heroism of all Southerners, the intrinsic
cowardice and despicability of all Yankees.  I am
not ass enough to argue with a pretty woman, know-
ing that the sex get their convictions entirely through
the medium of their feelings, reason having nothing
whatever to do with the matter so I did not at-
tempt to convert her, nor she me.  Only this I will
say: I wish Northern women were as intensely
sympathetic on the right side as Southern ones are
on the wrong.  Every one of the latter is an intense
propagandist of Rebellion, splendidly irrational,
superbly perverse.  To be sure the thing bores one,
carried to the extent that it is, but all Southern peo-
ple are bores on the subject of their  rights  and
 institutions,  and have been for the last quarter of 
a century.
  We chatted then with the ladies and officers, ate
fugitive lunches standing, smoked, and disported
ourselves promiscuously.  In the saloon, beside the
baggage, and also crouched on the deck outside, were
perhaps twenty negro women, servants or slaves to
the ladies; with their black faces, neat, cheap
dresses, and bright handkerchief-turbans, adding an
additional spice of picturesque to the scene.  I was
told that we had 94 of their mistresses on board,
bound for Secessia, and perhaps half-a-dozen of their
lady friends, intending to return with us to New-
Orleans.  So, with our flag of truce (a white pillow-
case, with the ends sewn together) streaming to the
fore, we plashed across the dull waters of Lake
Pontchartrain, which improved in aspect as we
progressed for the opposite shore, coming in sight of
it at about 3 in the afternoon.
  A white light-house, a ragged, woody shore, the
thick trees of which were entirely covered with the
omnipresent log gray moss, and a sinuous river,
banked by sedges and forest, were what awaited us.
Up the river, the Chifunctee, we glided, the land-
scape on either side being as weird, and gray, and
old, and elvish, as if it lay, not in actual Louisiana,
but on some shore in old romance.  Merlin might
have retired hither after being jilted by Enid, or the
Genius of Despondency have wandered hither after

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
completion of his slough in Pilgrim s Progress.  Ten
minutes brought us to Madisonville.
  It is a little place, of no importance, comprising a
few streets, a hotel, and a closed shop or two.  On
the margin of the river, in front of the town, almost
the entire population had assembled to welcome our
arrival perhaps a couple of hundred persons.
  They were a picturesque assemblage the men
attired in homely garments, the women in cheap but
cleanly dresses; nearly all, I should say, country
people of the poor farmer sort.  The latter waved
their handkerchiefs, cheered for Jeff Davis, and
uttered shrill cries of recognition of friends on board.
The former gazed curiously under their worn
slouched felt hats at the crowded decks of our
steamer, not without a certain latent civility.
Speedily they bestirred themselves, catching ropes
and thrusting out planks, and in a few minutes we
had all swarmed ashore.
  Close by, on a pole, fluttered a Confederate flag,
the well-known  stars and bars,  looking gay
enough, with its two broad red stripes and blue
patch in the inner corner.  Here and there were
magnificent live-oaks, their foliage more or less de-
formed by pendant moss.  Leaving our officers to
shake hands with friends to whom they had become
known in previous excursions, and the majority of
the women to be swept triumphantly into the hotel,
there to obtain a clamorous welcome, and the re-
mainder of the population to group themselves about
the landing-place, I, in company with the beautiful
Rebel, and a friend, escorting  a registered enemy 
(bound for Richmond), strolled into the village,
through it, and toward the outskirts.  It was almost
entirely deserted, three-fourths of the simple dwell-
ings being closed.  The men had gone into the army,
the women further into the interior, up the country.
  Having satisfied our curiosity, we were about to
return, when seven Rebel soldiers rode by at an 
easy canter, and on my companion s addressing them
drew rein to converse with us.  Soldiers I have
called them, though they had but little of the outer
semblance of it.  Attired in well-worn rustic suits
of homespun, of a dingy brown, surmounted by felt
hats, each with a rifle or earbine slung at his back,
with exceptional old-fashioned spurs garnishing
their rough boots or old shoes, they looked as they
proved, of the guerrilla order.  Three had good faces,
simple, earnest, countrified, and civil; the fourth
was a mere lad of 16; of the remaining three, I no-
ticed only an ugly fellow, with deformed shoulders.
   What are you going to do with those guns?  in-
quired my companions.   You wouldn t shoot those
Yankees who were so kind as to bring us over? 
   I don t know as we wouldn t!  answered one of
the horsemen, a tallish, good-looking fellow, with
light gray, earnest eyes; spreading in his soft, rustic
speech, and exhibiting a good set of teeth in smiling.
   They ve been very polite to us,  and forthwith
the speaker began to pour forth inquiries, laudations
and sympathies, with all of a pretty and petted wo-
man s volubility.  In the course of her remarks she
uttered the words  Rebel army. 
   Why not say our army?  asked the horseman
above mentioned, good humoredly, but with a spice
of earnestness.
   We are proud of the name in New-Orleans.  I m
known as the Rebel lady there,  and she talked on
as before.  In the meantime her lady friend had ad-
dressed the foremost rider, endeavoring to borrow
his horse, wherewith to ride to Coving[unclear words]
miles distant, thence to proceed to Po[unclear words]
fourteen more.  Then men belonged, as the[unclear words]
told us, to the 4th Arkansas cavalry, b[unclear words]
tached service a mere company under[unclear words]
of a lieutenant.  After five minutes co[unclear words]
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Twenty-One: page two hundred and twenty
Description:Newspaper clipping written by Gunn for ''The New York Tribune,'' regarding a trip into the Louisiana countryside.
Date:1863-02-04
Subject:African Americans; Arkansas Cavalry Regiment, 4th; Butler, Benjamin F.; Civil War; Clothing and dress; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Harris, Lizzie; J. D. Brown (Ship); Journalism; Military; New York tribune.; Slaves; Women
Coverage (City/State):Madisonville, 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.