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		97
                         Letter to the Tribune

[newspaper clipping: first column]
               FROM FLORIDA

                      -----*------

From Hilton Head to Ultima Thule of
       Secessia   Fernandinn and the Old Town
       of St. Augustine, Florida   Its Aspect,
       History, and Inhabitants.

From Our Special Correspondent.

                         St. Augustine, Fla., Aug. 1, 1862.
    The  Department of the South,  at present con-
trolled by Gen. Hunter, consists officially of  the
states of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida   
[unclear word]ally of the seaboard of the same.  Some weeks
back, I was honored with an invitation to accompany
the General on a voyage of inspection to the differ-
ent ports within its jurisdiction, comprising Fernan-
dina, St. Augustine, Key West, the Tortugas   per-
haps Pensacola.  The title of the voyage explains
itself; it involves a particular scrutiny into things
military within the department, and incidentally into
affairs in general.  Wearied with the sultry monot-
ony and military torpor of Hilton Head (relieved
only by a prospect of those necessary plagues of the
service, court-martials), I gladly accepted the oppor-
tunity of a temporary escape to a less tropical at-
mosphere, and, simultaneously, of a look into the
ultima thule of Secessia.  Accordingly, after a delay
of one of the dullest and hottest of weeks conceiva-
ble, I went on board the steamer Delaware, on the
afternoon of the 26th of July, in company not with
Gen. Hunter, but with Brig. Gen. Terry, to whom the
inspection had been worthily deputed.  Gen. Terry
commanded the 2d Connecticut during the three
months service, and was Colonel of the 7th until
May last.  He is a  tall  man, in the old as well as
the new English sense of the word, and a most
efficient officer.
   By 5   p. m. we got off.  The Delaware is a hand-
some, spacious steamer; in ante-secession times it
used to ply between New-York and Philadelphia.
Commanded on this occasion by Capt. Faircloth of
the Cosmopolitan, whose experience of the Southern
coast dates back to the bombardment of Hilton Head,
but who has been all round the world and further,
it affords more than average of nautical comfort,
the details of which are superintended by an espe-
cially excellent purser, Birdsall by name, as jolly,
and withal as able a man as I d with to meet with.
It had on board upward of 175 souls, including
about 30 officers, a company of the Volunteer Engi-
neer Regiment bound for Fernandina, the crew, and
five unlucky prisoners, sentenced to limited banish-
ment to the Tortugas.  With this freight we put out
to sea, and by 10 o clock next morning found our-
selves at Fernandina, Florida.  If you look at the
map you will find this place at the extreme northern
border of the State, closest to Georgia.  Like all
Southern ports, it is approached by a devious shal-
low river, obstructed by a sand-bar.
   Its aspect is one common enough in sea-board
Dixie.  On the right, salt marsh or long reaches
of sand; on the left, marsh and distant woods; a brick
fort, an anatomical pier, a skeleton saw-mill and
white cottage-like houses amid the luxuriant vege-
tation of a Southern Summer.  Go ashore and you find
neat walks, paved with small shells, two or three
wooden churches, and houses of the same material,
embowered in trees   blossoming oleanders, growing
as thick as rose-bushes, the  Pride of India,  the
spiky Spanish bayonet, the chapparat   and a per-

[newspaper clipping: second column]
spective of sunlight, sand, and moss-covered live-
oaks.  All the tenements   I do not think there is a
brick or stone one in the place   have long, covered
balconies, some of them a kind of arbor on top, evi-
dently for the benefit of coolness to the inhabitants.
Add a railway depot (disused since our occupation of
the place), the beginning of a hue crossing the Pen-
insula of Florida and you have New-Fernandina.
The old town, beyond Fort Clinch, we do not at
present visit, our time being limited; it forms the
site of one of the oldest Spanish settlements on this
continent; traces of the antique fortifications are yet
to be seen.
   Yulee, alias Levi, that  Israelite with Egyptian
principles,  lived in Fernandina, in one of the best
houses of the place.  We find it occupied by the
commander of the post.  Col. Rich, of the 9th Maine,
whose regiment is here, and invited by the chaplain,
our fellow-voyager, dined at the residence of the ex-
Senator and present Rebel.  He, it appears, was a
passenger in the last train that left Fernandina
(and conveyed away most of the inhabitants) un-
fortunately not the one killed upon the occasion.  A
leisurely stroll afterward through the sunny, de-
serted streets, during which we discover a hotel
turned into barracks, and a little open space, like a
miniature English common, with a very small grave-
yard in the center, where reposes   on the testimony
of a shattered tomb stone leaning against the fence,
 the body of Domingo Fernandez, native of Gal-
licia, Spain    and we are quite ready to re-embark
on board the Delaware, especially as the overcast
sky threatens rain, and as we meditate a longer
visit to Fernandina on our return.  Gen. Terry s
business there is, indeed, deferred until that occasion.
   We lay off shore, chiefly during a rain-storm al-
most tropical in its fury, until midnight, and early
next morning came  in sight of the place from which
I address you.  As the oldest town in the late United
States,  the first permanent settlement of the white
man by more than forty years in this Confederacy 
-- I quote its historian, Fairbanks, with a passing
wish that he were now a fugitive Rebel   I re-
garded St. Augustine with no small degree of curi-
osity.  When I caught my first glimpse of it, through
the window in the berth of my cabin; when I went
on deck and beheld, on the sedgy shores of the sinu-
ous river by which it is approached, pelicans fishing
(and looking very unlike their conventional picto-
rial representations,; when I saw the half-Spanish
pilot expressing his anxiety for the safe conduct of
the Delaware by a species of insane dance on the
deck, my curiosity increased.  It is by this time
justified and satiated.
   Looking landward from the river, one sees a
long sea-wall or esplanade, a gray old fort to the
right, with a tall martello tower or look-out at its
extreme angle, others of lesser hight at the remain-
ing corners; a long, slender pier on the left; be-
hind and between, brown-rooted, dilapidated houses,
with occasional verdure.  And this is  La Sumpre
de San Augustine,  as it was denominated in the
days of the Philips and Ferdinands, in anticipation
of a title since bestowed on Cuba.  Spain was al-
ways prodigal of fine names; they cost nothing.
   The guns of the old fort gave us a Major Gen-
eral s salute, in assumption of the arrival of Gen.
Hunter; the band of the 4th New-Hampsire   a
very excellent one   played the national tunes, and
the troops on the ramparts cheered, as we steamed
up to the slender pier.  Our appearance afforded a
sensation both to the inhabitants and military so-
journers; for St. Augustine is an extremely out-of-
the world place, particularly since the advent of
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Twenty: page one hundred and seven
Description:Newspaper clipping regarding Gunn's leaving Beaufort, South Carolina for St. Augustine, Florida, aboard the steamer Delaware.
Date:1862-08-01
Subject:Birdsall; Civil War; Connecticut Infantry Regiment, 2nd; Connecticut Infantry Regiment, 7th; Delaware (Ship); Faircloth, Captain; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Hunter, David; Journalism; Maine Infantry Regiment, 9th; Military; New Hampshire Infantry Regiment, 4th; New York tribune.; Ocean travel; Rich, Colonel; Terry, Alfred Howe; Travel; Yulee
Coverage (City/State):Hilton Head, South Carolina; St. Augustine, Florida; Fernandina [Beach], Florida; Key West, Florida; Pensacola, Florida
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.