At Baton Rouge.
[newspaper clipping: first column]
Things at Baton Rouge, La.�Prisoners
and Fugitives�A Visit to the Battle
Ground of Last August.
From Our Special Correspondent.
BATON ROUGE, La., Dec. 19, 1862.
I have but little news, properly so called, to com-
municate to you, but that little may justify an idle
letter, written in a zealous mood, to meet the pos-
sible contingency of a gunboat returning to New-
Orleans in time for to-morrow�s mail.
Contrary to our expectations, no fight, nor even a
skirmish, has ensued, since our peaceful resumption
of the capital of Louisiana. The Rebels postpone
action until we shall necessitate it by a further ad-
vance up the river. We have Baton Rouge; our
pickets stretch from three to five miles inland; our
transports and gunboats ride tranquilly at anchor
on the muddy Mississippi, whose waters are ren-
dered additionally turbid by innumerable boats con-
veying men and munitions on shore; the cold north
wind which seems to have accompanied us, blows
the dust to and fro about the sunny streets of the de-
serted city, and that is all. We expect Gen. Augur
up in a day or two, and then, perhaps, ho for Port
Hudson and what lies beyond it. Minor incidents
are occurring, of course. I write only of them.
From either shore of the river negro fugitives
come to us�those from the western bank with sto-
ries how they have been hunted with bloodhounds
to compel their return. The gentleman who told
me this�Major Harai Robinson, volunteer aid to
Gen. Banks, here temporarily on the staff of Gen.
Grover�added that he should take an early oppor-
tunity to make a raid for the purpose of extirpating
these quadrupedal adjuncts to Louisiana civilization.
And as the Major is a man very much in earnest,
and a soldier who has seen service on both sides of
the Atlantic, he is likely to be as good as his word.
He would have no such brutes or doings as those, he
said, in his vicinity.
Beside these accessions we have others, voluntary
and involuntary. By the courtesy of Gen. Grover I
was allowed to visit them.
Passing a barrack in which a negro man and
woman, and subsequently two queer little figures of
children, looking like dwarf parodies on their elders,
were dancing for the amusement of about twenty
good fellows of the Massachusetts 41st, I and my
party came to a bare whitewashed room, before the
doorless entrance of which stood two sentinels with
crossed bayonets. These being raised, we found
ourselves in company with upward of a dozen�
there may have been fifteen�prisoners. The ma-
jority of them stood slouching in a little group or
lounged against the wall, conversing with or cu-
riously eyed by some soldiers assembled outside
One sat on a stool or box, the only convenience for
that purpose in the place; another reclined wearily
on a scanty blanket spread against the wall on the
bare floor. The last was a deserter; the sitting man
a Rebel lieutenant; the rest, with one exception, to
be presently discriminated, were people belonging
to Baton Rouge or the immediate vicinity, generally
of the poor white order.
The lieutenant, a young man with a good forehead
and intelligent French face, suggesting his lineage,
sat, attired in one of those loose blanket-coats,
[newspaper clipping: second column]
fringed at the ends of the sleeves and skirt, affected
by Rebel officers, a little aloof from the rest. He
was evidently a gentleman, I should say of vivacious
and kindly temperament, and with head thrown
back and hands in trowsers pockets, he looked
upward with an expression of quiet nonchalance,
not unalloyed with a little latent contempt for the
promiscuous persons whose captivity he shared.
They did not speak to him, and were eager enough
to be questioned, to make complaints, to ask what
was to be done with them. He kept silent until
addressed, replying then with perfect courtesy (with
a French accent), but volunteering nothing. Really
the man was superior to circumstances, and, though
a Rebel to the very marrow, I respected him.
He belonged to the 11th Louisiana Regiment; his
name was L. G. Elger. When the Rebels evacuated
the town on the morning of the 17th, his horse had
been stolen by some of them, and he, a sick man, had
delayed to pay his hotel bill until it was too late to
escape. He thought he had plenty of time, for our
arrival proved a surprise to everybody. Arrested
on issuing from the door of his lodgings, he had been
examined by our officers and then brought hither.
I inquired how long he had served in the Con-
federate army. �Two years��with a smile��al-
most entirely in Mississippi and Louisiana.� He had
fought at Shiloh, and been to Richmond, Virginia �as
an amateur.� What did he think of the prospects of
his side now? �Our people will fight yet: they
believe they are right,� uttered with all the sim-
plicity of perfect conviction. You must conquer
such a man very thoroughly, or resolve him back
into his original element before you will get Seces-
sion out of him.
One of my companions asked, not too judiciously,
how many Rebel soldiers there were at Fort Hud-
son. �I do not know, and if I did, should not tell
you. I am one prisoner, not a spy!� was the an-
swer. Something being said of negro troops, and the
question put whether the ranks of the enemy con-
tained such, �No person of sense would ask it,� he
responded. When superfluously informed that slaves
had been compelled to load the cannon before York-
town, under the fire of our sharpshooters, he waived
the matter with, �I can have nothing to say to
that.� Evidently an impracticable man, master of
his position, of whom we should make nothing.
Close behind stood three singularly repulsive men
�one a coarse, squat Spaniard, the keeper of a
small store in the town, shaking with cold and
delirium tremens. The next, a farmer, with dull,
hazel eyes, sallow complexion, coarse hair, and a
sinister expression of countenance, had his arm in a
sling and his hand bound up, in consequence, as he
informed me, of a stab, received in a brawl; he
lived twelve miles inland, and was arrested when
within our lines, coming to town, as he said, to
obtain medicine for a sick wife, or, as was equally
probable, to act as a spy. The third, his neighbor,
an ugly dwarf, hideously twisted about his lower
extremities, said little or nothing. All complained
of the cold and of their detention.
I turned to the deserter who had come in early
that morning. He was simply a rustic, clad in a
rough suit of gray-brown, surmounted by a narrow-
brimmed felt hat. He had a heavy, obtuse, beard-
less face, not unpleasant of aspect. His answers
were almost monosyllabic. A Louisianian born,
from a locality with a name which I found it impos-
sible to discriminate, he had deserted because he was
�tired.� His comrades had been fed �pretty