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

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

April 8, 2013

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

8th April (Wednesday).— Poor Don Pablo was “taken ill” at breakfast, and was obliged to go to bed. We were all much distressed at his illness, which was brought on by over-anxiety connected with his official duties; and the way he is bothered by English and “Blue-nose”[1] skippers is enough to try any one.

Mr Behnsen and Mr Colville returned from Bagdad this afternoon, much disgusted with the attractions of that city.

General Bee’s orderly was assaulted in Matamoros yesterday by a renegado with a six-shooter. This circumstance prevented the General from coming to Matamoros as he had intended.

At 5 P.M. Captain Hancock and I crossed over to Brownsville, and were conducted in a very smart ambulance to General Bee’s quarters, and afterwards to see a dress parade of the 3d Texas infantry.

Lieutenant-Colonel Buchel is the working man of the corps, as he is a professional soldier. The men were well clothed, though great variety existed in their uniforms. Some companies wore blue, some grey, some had French kepis, others wideawakes and Mexican hats. They were a fine body of men, and really drilled uncommonly well. They went through a sort of guard-mounting parade in a most creditable manner. About a hundred out of a thousand were conscripts.[2]

After the parade, we adjourned to Colonel Luckett’s to drink prosperity to the 3d Regiment.

We afterwards had a very agreeable dinner with General Bee; Colonels Luckett and Buchel dined also. The latter is a regular soldier of fortune. He served in the French and Turkish armies, as also in the Carlist and the Mexican wars, and I was told he had been a principal in many affairs of honour; but he is a quiet and unassuming little man, and although a sincere Southerner, is not nearly so violent against the Yankees as Luckett.

At 10 P.M. Captain Hancock and myself went to a ball given by the authorities of the “Heroica y invicta ciudad de Matamoros” (as they choose to call it), in honour of the French defeat. General Bee and Colonel Luckett also went to this fete, the invitation being the first civility they had received since the violation of the Mexican soil in the Davis-Mongomery affair. They were dressed in plain clothes, and carried pistols concealed in case of accidents.

We all drove together from Brownsville to the Consulate, and entered the ball-room en masse.

The outside of the municipal hall was lit up with some splendour, and it was graced by a big placard, on which was written the amiable sentiment, “Muera Napoleonviva Mejico!” Semi-successful squibs and crackers were let off at intervals. In the square also was a triumphal arch, with an inscription to the effect that “the effete nations of Europe might tremble.” I made great friends with the gobernador and administrador, who endeavoured to entice me into dancing, but I excused myself by saying that Europeans were unable to dance in the graceful Mexican fashion. Captain Hancock was much horrified when this greasyfaced gobernador (who keeps a small shop) stated his intention of visiting the Immortalité with six of his friends, and sleeping on board for a night or two.

The dances were a sort of slow valse, and between the dances the girls were planted up against the wall, and not allowed to be spoken to by any one. They were mostly a plain-headed, badly-painted lot, and ridiculously dressed.

[1] Nova-Scotian.

[2] During all my travels in the South 1 never saw a regiment so well clothed or so well drilled as this one, which has never been in action, or been exposed to much hardship.

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