« PreviousContinue »
ignorance of what is passing in the South more profound than it is in the Northern States. In
consequence of a desire often expressed, I now publish the Diary which I endeavored, as well as I could, to keep up day by day during my travels throughout the Confederate States.
I have not attempted to conceal any of the peculiarities or defects of the Southern people. Many persons will doubtless highly disapprove of some of their customs and habits in the wilder portion of the country; but I think no generous man, whatever may be his political opinions, can do otherwise than admire the courage, energy, and patriotism of the whole population, and the skill of its leaders, in this struggle against great odds. And I am also of opinion that many will agree with me in thinking that a people in which all ranks and both sexes display a unanimity and a heroism which can never have been surpassed in the history of the world, is destined, sooner or later, to become a great and independent nation.
2d March, 1863.--I left England in the royal mail steamer Atrato, and arrived at St. Thomas on the 17th.
22d March.-Anchored at Havana at 6.15 A. M., where I fell in with my old friend, H. M.'s frigate Immortalité. Captain Hancock not only volunteered to take me as his guest to Matamoros, but also to take a Texan merchant, whose acquaintance I had made in the Atrato. This gentleman's name is M'Carthy. He is of Irish birth-an excellent fellow, and a good companion; and when he understood my wish to see the “South,” he had most goodnaturedly volunteered to pilot me over part of the Texan deserts. I owe much to Captain Hancock's kindness.
230 March.-Left Havana in H. M. S. Immortalité, at 11 A. M. Knocked off steam when outside the harbor.
1st April.--Anchored at 8.30 P. M., three miles from the mouth of the Rio Grande, or Rio Bravo del Norte, which is, I believe, its more correct name, in the midst of about seventy merchant vessels.
2d April.—The Texan and I left the Immortalité, in her cutter, at 10 A, M., and crossed the bar in fine style. The cutter was steered by Mr. Jolinston, the master, and having a fair wind, we passed in like a flash of lightning, and landed at the miserable village of Bagdad, on the Mexican bank of the Rio Grande.
The bar was luckily in capital order—31 feet of water, and smooth. It is often impassable for ten or twelve days together: the depth of water varying from 2 to 5 feet. It is very dangerous, from the heavy surf and under-current; sharks also abound. Boats are frequently capsized in crossing it, and the Orlando lost a man on it about a month ago.
Seventy vessels are constantly at anchor outside the bar; their cotton cargoes being brought to them, with very great delays, by two small steamers from Bagdad. These steamers draw only 3 feet of water, and realize an enormous profit.
Bagdad consists of a few miserable wooden shan
ties, which have sprung into existence since the war began. For an immense distance endless bales of cotton are to be seen.
Immediately we landed, M'Carthy was greeted by his brother merchants. He introduced me to Mr. Ituria, a Mexican, who promised to take me in his buggy to Brownsville, on the Texan bank of the river opposite Matamoros. M‘Carthy was to follow in the evening to Matamoros.
The Rio Grande is very tortuous and shallow; the distance by river to Matamoros is sixty-five miles, and it is navigated by steamers, which sometimes perform the trip in twelve hours, but more often take twenty-four, so constantly do they get aground.
The distance from Bagdad to Matamoros by land is thirty-five miles; on the Texan side to Brownsville, twenty-six miles.
I crossed the river from Bagdad with Mr. Ituria, at 11 o'clock; and as I had no pass, I was taken before half-a-dozen Confederate officers, who were seated round a fire contemplating a tin of potatoes. These officers belonged to Duff's cavalry (Duff being my Texan's partner). Their dress consisted simply of flannel shirts, very ancient trousers, jack-boots with enormous spurs, and black felt hats, ornamented with the “lone star of Texas.” They looked rough and dirty, but were extremely civil to me. The captain was rather a boaster, and kept on
remarking, “We've given 'em h--11 on the Missis sippi, 1-11 on the Sabine" (pronounced Sabeen), “and h-11 in various other places.”
He explained to me that he couldn't cross the river to see MʻCarthy, as he with some of his men had made a raid over there three weeks ago, and carried away some “renegadoes," one of whom, named Mongomery, they had left on the road to Brownsville; by the smiles of the other officers, I could easily guess that something very disagreeable must have happened to Mongomery. He introduced me to a skipper who had just run his schooner, laden with cotton, from Galveston, and who was much elated in consequence. The cotton had cost 6 cents a pound in Galveston, and is worth 36 here.
Mr. Ituria and I left for Brownsville at poon. A buggy is a light gig on four high wheels.
The road is a natural one—the country quite flat, and much covered with mosquite-trees, very like pepper-trees. Every person we met carried a six-shooter, although it is very seldom necessary to use them.
After we had proceeded about nine miles we met General Bee, who commands the troops at Brownsville. He was travelling to Boca del Rio in an ambulance, * with his quartermaster-general, Major Rus
* An ambulance is a light wagon, and generally has two springs behind, and one transverse one in front. The seats can be so arranged that two or even three persons may lie at full length.