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Text for Page 111 [08-01-1862]

              101
                   Florida and Key West

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[unclear word]inorcans and Levantine islanders, imported, years
ago, by a Dr. Trumbull, during the time of the
indigo cultures on this peninsula.  They speak the
Maharese dialect, a bastard Spanish, or American,
indifferently.  Of course, there are also plenty of
negroes and half-breeds.  The white people lived on
them (not cannibalically but pecuniarily) in ante-
Secession times, and on the invalids attracted
hither by the delightful climate � hiring out the
slaves and feeding the visitors.  Now, they
have but a few of the later, mostly clad in
blue, with Uncle Sam�s insignia upon them.
It is edifying to witness these sturdy New-Hamp-
shire lads, with their honest, sun-browned Northern
faces, strolling through the torpid streets of this half-
Spanish city.  I wonder what they will think of
their sojourn in this portion of Dixie when the war
is over, and they are home again!  God send them
there, in health and happiness!
   Shall I tell you of their inspection by Gen. Terry
yesterday afternoon?  He did it very thoroughly,
scrutinizing, I believe, every musket in the seven
companies with a pertinacity at once admirable and
remarkable, considering how the thing is generally
slurred.  I came away before it was half over, tired
out, and anticipating a thunder-storm � such a one as
I am now writing in, expecting to rend my letter by
the Burnside, which starts for Hilton Head to-mor-
row morning.

                         FROM FLORIDA.
                              ------*------

    Key West and the Tortugas � Gen. Terry�s
          Visit of Inspection to the Ports of the
           Southern Department � The Yellow
          Fever at Key West � Fort Jefferson �
           Items.

From Our Special Correspondent.
                                    Off Key West, Fla., Aug. 13, 1862.
    My last letter to THE TRIBUNE was dated from the
picturesque old town of St. Augustine, twelve days
ago.  Since then the Delaware has voyaged to the
ultima thule of our seaboard Slave States, and a
little further, even to the southern extremity of those
formidable reefs and sand-bars which render the coast
of Florida the most dangerous in the world.  We
have visited the Tortugas, suggestively denominated
�the dry;� and now, returning, make a four days�
pause at the island-harbor, from which I address you.
To-morrow we hope to hoist anchor, and to start for
Hilton Head, again looking in at St. Augustine and
Fernandina by the way.  Pending which I propose
to improve the opportunity of a mail for New-York
via Havana, whose departure from here is simul-
taneous with ours, in relating my recent experi-
ences.
   A voyage of just 53 hours 49 minutes brought us
from St. Augustine to Key West.  It was a very
brisk one, considering the distance � about 430 miles
-- and the prevalence of head-winds during the entire
transit.  Here, by the way, let me put in a word of
merited encomium for Capt. Faircloth (of the Cos-
mopolitan, but specially detailed to his present com-
mand).  A skillful, a watchful, a conscientious sea-
man is, as Mr. Sparrowgrass would say, �a good
thing.�  Let any one glance at the map of Florida,
reflecting that more vessels are wrecked every year
upon this coast than elsewhere throughout this
planet, an they may duly estimate his value.  It is

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a sandy, shoaly shore, full of treacherous reefs and
bars and ever-changing currents � a place appropri-
tely prolific in sharks, alligators, and wreckers.
All of which the Delaware, under Capt. Faircloth�s
control, satisfactorily avoided; and on the third
night we slept tranquilly anchored off Key West,
dubious as to whether it might be prudent to go
ashore in the morning; for an hour before, we had
received a visit from a gunboat, bound northward
from New-Orleans, which had informed us of the
appearance of yellow fever upon the island.
   Key West looked pretty enough, and very tropi-
cal with its white houses embowered in cocoanut
trees, its big coal depot, Government buildings, and
strong fort, all seen under a blazing sun, whose
fierce heat only those familiar with ulterior Dixie
can realize, and islanded by water as clean and
green as a sea of emerald.  I have beheld the water
of Lake Superior and that which in midsummer
pours over the Horseshoe Fall at Niagara, but I never
witnessed the full pomp of aqueous glory until I
came hither.  The Gulf Stream, for instance, is so
darkly, deeply, beautifully blue, that you might
suppose that a glass full of it would exhibit as in-
tense a color as if taken from a dye-tub; you ob-
serve the divergent line between it and the �ocean
green,� as clearly as if ruled or cut with a knife.
Spenser might have imagined such water laving the
shores of the Bower of Bliss, in the last canto of
the Second Book of the Faery Queene.
   Steaming up to the wharf, after some parley with
the shore, we lay there all day, taking in coal.  By
noon it appeared that what we had heard of yellow
fever had, as usual, been exaggerated; hence Gen.
Terry relaxed our involuntary quarantine; defer-
ring, however, his purposed inspection until our re-
turn.  So, as such of us as were authorized rambled
ashore, making what discoveries we might.
   Key West is, in every respect, the antipodes of
St. Augustine, being essentially modern.  I doubt if
its existence as a port dates back above half a dozen
years.  Yet it has flourished apace, and is, they say,
the largest populated town in Florida.  Inhabited
principally by Bahamans or their descendants, its
architecture and origin; but for the piazzas surround-
ing its houses, and the strange foliage, the town
might have been bodily transplanted from New-
England.  But the before-mentioned cocoanut trees
(with their fruit clustering by the dozen beneath the
feather foliage), the plantains, the limes, the lemons,
the bananas, are altogether suggestive of the West
Indies.  The whole island lies basking or blinking
in the sunlight like one of the turtle indigenous to it,
asleep upon its blue waters.
   The yellow fever made its appearance here about
the middle of July � whether imported from Havana
or indigenous to the climate and season, I do not
venture to decide, inclining, however, to the latter
supposition.  It is not of a violent type, about eight
cases out of ten being curable.  The numbers of
deaths are variously stated � in no case averaging
more than a dozen.  Unhappily, the fever is in Fort
Taylor, and is expected to run through the garrison.
   By 10 p.m. we started for the Tortugas, and early
next morning woke up to find ourselves at anchor in
the green water of the Gulf of Mexico, near an im-
mense fort standing on a coral reef in the midst of
the sea.  Adjacent was a long streak of sand-bar �
a �key� � and a vessel at quarantine, being, like us,
from Key West.  Here, after a visit from Gen.
Terry to the fort, that gentleman, with character-               
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