Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Three Months in the Southern States–Lieut. Col. Fremantle, Coldstream Guards.

Three Months in the Southern States–Lieut. Col. Fremantle, Coldstream Guards.

April 7, 2013

Three Months in the Southern States–Lieut. Col. Fremantle, Coldstream Guards

7th April (Tuesday).—Mr Maloney sent us his carriage to conduct Captain Hancock, Mr Anderson, and myself to Brownsville.

We first called on Colonels Luckett and Buchel; the former is a handsome man, a doctor by profession, well informed and agreeable, but most bitter against the Yankees.

We sat for an hour and a half talking with these officers and drinking endless cocktails, which were rather good, and required five or six different liquids to make them.

We then adjourned to General Bee’s, with whom we had another long talk, and with whom we discussed more cocktails.

At the General’s we were introduced to a well-dressed good-looking Englishman, Mr ——, who, however, announced to us that he had abjured his nationality until Great Britain rendered justice to the South.[1] Two years since, this individual had his house burnt down; and a few days ago, happening to hear that one of the incendiaries was on the Mexican bank of the river, boasting of the exploit, he rowed himself across, shot his man, and then rowed back. I was told afterwards that, notwithstanding the sentiments he had given out before us, Mr —— is a stanch Britisher, always ready to produce his six-shooter at a moment’s notice, at any insult to the Queen or to England.

We were afterwards presented to ——, rather a sinister-looking party, with long yellow hair down to his shoulders. This is the man who is supposed to have hanged Mongomery.

We were treated by all the officers with the greatest consideration, and conducted to the place of embarkation with much ceremony. Colonel Luckett declared I should not leave Brownsville until General Magruder arrives. He is expected every day.

Mr Maloney afterwards told us that these officers, having given up everything for their country, were many of them in great poverty. He doubted whether —— had a second pair of boots in the world; but he added that, to do honour to British officers, they would scour Brownsville for the materials for cocktails. At 3 P.M. we dined with Mr Maloney, who is one of the principal and most enterprising British merchants at Matamoros, and enjoyed his hospitality till 9.30. His wine was good, and he made us drink a good deal of it. Mr Oetling was there, and his stories of highway robberies, and of his journeys en chemise, were most amusing.

At 10 P.M. Mr Oetling conducted us to the grand fandango given in honour of the reported victory over the French.

A Mexican fandango resembles a French ducasse, with the additional excitement of gambling. It commences at 9.30, and continues till daylight. The scene is lit up by numerous paper lanterns of various colours. A number of benches are placed so as to form a large square, in the centre of which the dancing goes on, the men and women gravely smoking all the time. Outside the benches is the promenade bounded by the gambling-tables and drinking-booths. On this occasion there must have been thirty or forty gambling tables, some of the smaller ones presided over by old women, and others by small boys.

Monté is the favourite game, and the smallest silver coin can be staked, or a handful of doubloons. Most of these tables were patronised by crowds of all classes intent on gambling, with grave, serious faces under their enormous hats. They never moved a muscle, whether they won or lost.

Although the number of people at these fandangos is very great, yet the whole affair is conducted with an order and regularity not to be equalled in an assembly of a much higher class in Europe. If there ever is a row, it is invariably caused by Texans from Brownsville. These turbulent spirits are at once seized and cooled in the calaboose.

[1] It seems he has been dreadfully “riled” by the late Peterhoff affair.

Previous post:

Next post: