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		85
                            Port Royal

[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
which reached us in the midst of a furious rain-storm
on the evening of the Fourth:  The South Caroli-
nians have lately re-possessed themselves of works
at Port Royal Ferry, in the Coosaw River, from
which they were driven by our troops in January
last.  On the morning of the Fourth, they opened
fire upon our pickets, drove them in, crossed the
river in a boat, and burned some boats and a block-
house at the end of the causeway.  Our artillery
being ordered up, fired at the boat, and a little field
(and water) practice occurred between it and the
enemy.  He fired 150 round shot; we, in like manner,
wasted 100 shells.  No damage on either side.  The
Rebels attempted the same work on the same day
with more or less of success at Seabrook.
    I have just learned that although the Potomac
starts to-morrow.  being an old and slow boat she
will carry no mail.  Never mind, you will get this
letter, together with an indefinite number of others
of my inditing, at some time during the present
month.  I shall keep on writing for my own satisfac-
tion.

                   FROM SOUTH CAROLINA.
                            -------*-------

A Sunday at Port Royal   The Negro Sun-
       day-school-Gen. Hunter   Negro Physi-
       ognomy and Behavior   The  Contra-
       band  Regiment   A Drill, Sermon, and
       Prayer   Stories of Runaway Slaves.

From our Special Correspondent.
Hilton Head, S.C., Headquarters of the 1st Regi-
         ment South Carolina Volunteers, July 7, 1862.

I have just beheld the two best things that have
yet to come out of this war   a Sunday-School for ne-
groes in the State of South Carolina, and an embryo
negro regiment.  In accordance with a promise ex-
pressed in a recent letter, I am about to give my ex-
perience of, and impressions with regard to them.
   Sunday is, as you may suppose, a more than usu-
ally tranquil day at Hilton Head.  Then its busiest
locality, the long pier, instead of its working-day as-
pect of arriving or departing steamers, its bustle of
embarkation and debarkation, its perspiring white
and black laborers, exhibits no livelier spectacle than
a score or so of military or nautical idlers   we have
very few civilians here   gratefully inhaling the sea
breeze and enjoying the prospect.  The many vessels
in the bay ride easily at anchor, the waves dance
and shimmer in the sunlight, making exhilarant
music on the long reaches of white sand forming the
shore; the unpainted store-houses and Government
buildings seem newer than ever, and the tents of the
various encampments stand out against the cloudless
blue sky with a purity of effect befitting the scene
and the occasion.  I can imagine nothing more deli-
ciously tranquil, nor less suggestive of war.  Yet we
are here, with hostile intent, on the soil of the State
most inimical to our national unity; here, apparently
waiting what you are going to do about Richmond.
Half the civilized world is similarly employed, I
fancy, a part of it with a not at all friendly inten-
tion of waiting but a very little longer.  Hadn t
you better hurry up matters in that direction that
we may do so in this?
   On Sundays, the troops have a company inspec-
tin in the morning, a drill just before sunset, gen-

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
erally followed by a prayer and sermon by the regi-
mental chaplain.  (I wish, by the by, that there was
an order prohibiting these gentlemen from extending
their discourses beyond ten or even five minutes
duration.  To enranked soldiers, immediately after
the fatigue of drill, a larger amount must become
irksome, even when they are  standing at ease. 
One can, or ought to, be able to say a good deal in
five minutes; the Sermon on the Mount hardly occu-
pied longer in delivery.  The rest of the day is a
holiday, or nearly so.  I believe there is preaching
somewhere of Sunday mornings, at Hilton Head,
but I had heard of the negro school, and preferred
going to it.)
   It is at about fifteen minutes distance from Gen.
Hunter s headquarters ( a neat row of unpainted
wooden buildings, fronting the bay, or rather a con-
tinuous one.)  To reach the school involves a sandy
walk out to the negro quarters, past divers long
buildings filled with commissary stores, some of
them smelling so strongly of pork, that a man of
faint appetite might satiate it by walking through or
across them.  Leaving these behind, a torrid five
minutes of sand, with a prospect of marsh to the
right, brings us to the aforesaid negro quarters and
the school, a room fitted up for its present purpose,
and forming part of a long, whitewashed building,
one story in hight, tenanted by black women and
children.
   When our party arrived school had not yet com-
menced.  It was summoned by a decently-dressed
negro, ringing a bell suspended outside the building,
at the sound of which the scholars appeared, drop-
ping in by ones and twos   first the children, then
boys and girls, and grown-up men and women.  The
very first   a shy, dusky urchin of five, who came
decorously in and deposited himself in a corner  
was promptly rewarded for his zeal with a quarter
dollar, given to him by a middle-aged gentleman,
clad in a loose flannel coat, ample, blue, military
trowsers, and a straw hat.  His quietly-resolute face,
and thin, grizzled mustache, were strongly indicative
of character: one did not need the removing or
touching of hats on the part of bystanders to an-
nounce that he was somebody.  It was Major-
General Hunter, Commander of the Department of
the South, who will be known in future histories of
the rebellion as the man who first acted upon the
necessity of wresting from the Rebels their main
weapon   Slavery   and striking at them with it.  I
was better pleased to see Gen. Hunter than many
another of his rank that I could name.
   But the school-room is filling.  Immediately in
front of me (I sit below the principal teacher s desk,
facing the scholars) is a bench, seating nearly a
dozen very young children   none, I should say, older
than four years, two or three scarcely one; hardly
any of their little, black, bare legs touch the ground.
They are all cleanly dressed; one has a gay straw
hat, decorated with ribbons, but the majority are
bare-headed.  Their soft-skinned, dusky, infantile
faces and white eyeballs look upward at us, beneath
the close-curling black wool, with that appealing
glance peculiar to the negro   always, to my think-
ing, irresistibly touching, and suggestive of depend-
ence on, humility toward, and entreaty for merciful
consideration at the hands of a superior race.  On[e]
has a really charming countenance   none are posi-
tively ugly.  The physiognomy of one queer little
thing is, indeed, comically suggestive of its owner
having recently eaten a bad oyster, and being
dubious as to the results (as a friend whispers in my
ear); and another, seated upon the ground, being
too small for elevation to the bench, is engrossed
with her toes, to the exclusion of all other sources of
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Twenty: page ninety-five
Description:Newspaper clipping describing Sunday services for the Union troops and the gathering for morning lessons at an African American Sunday school.
Date:1862-07-07
Subject:African Americans; African American troops; Civil War; Children; Clothing and dress; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Hunter, David; Military; Potomac (Ship); Schools; South Carolina Infantry Regiment, 1st (Union)
Coverage (City/State):Port Royal, South Carolina; Hilton Head, South Carolina
Scan Date:2010-09-10

 

Volume
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Twenty
Description:Includes Gunn's descriptions of his experiences as a war correspondent for ""The New York Tribune"" at Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, especially Hilton Head, Port Royal, St. Augustine, Key West, and the end of his experiences with the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsular Campaign when he had to leave camp due to illness.
Subject:African Americans; Boardinghouses; Bohemians; Civil War; Diseases; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Marches (U.S. Army); Medical care (U.S. Army); Military; Military camp life; Peninsular Campaign (Va.); Travel; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York; Port Royal, South Carolina; Hilton Head, South Carolina; Key West, Florida; St. Augustine, Florida; Virginia
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.