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 13, 2013

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

13th April (Monday).—I breakfasted with General Bee, and took leave of all my Brownsville friends.

McCarthy is to give me four times the value of my gold in Confederate notes.[1]

We left Brownsville for San Antonio at 11 A.M. Our vehicle was a roomy, but rather over-loaded, four-wheel carriage, with a canvass roof, and four mules. Besides McCarthy, there was a third passenger, in the shape of a young merchant of the Hebrew persuasion. Two horses were to join us, to help us through the deep sand.

The country, on leaving Brownsville, is quite flat, the road, a natural one, sandy and very dusty, and there are many small trees, principally mosquites. After we had proceeded seven miles, we halted to water the mules.

At 2 P.M. a new character appeared upon the scene, in the shape of an elderly, rough-faced, dirty-looking man, who rode up, mounted on a sorry nag. To my surprise he was addressed by McCarthy with the title of “Judge,” and asked what he had done with our other horse. The judge replied that it had already broken down, and had been left behind. McCarthy informs me that this worthy really is a magistrate or sort of judge in his own district; but he now appears in the capacity of assistant mule-driver, and is to make himself generally useful. I could not help feeling immensely amused at this specimen of a Texan judge. We started again about 3 P.m., and soon emerged from the mosquite bushes into an open prairie eight miles long, quite desolate, and producing nothing but a sort of rush; after which we entered a chaparal, or thick covert of mosquite trees and high prickly pears. These border the track, and are covered with bits of cotton torn from the endless trains of cotton waggons. We met several of these waggons. Generally there were ten oxen or six mules to a waggon carrying ten bales, but in deep sand more animals are necessary. They journey very slowly towards Brownsville, from places in the interior of Texas at least five hundred miles distant. Want of water and other causes make the drivers and animals undergo much hardship.

The judge rides on in front of us on his “Rosinante,” to encourage the mules. His back view reminds one in a ludicrous manner of the pictures of Dr Syntax.

Mr Sargent, our portly driver, cheers his animals by the continual repetition of the sentence, “Get up, now, you great long-eared G—d d—d son of a ——

At 5 P.M. we reached a well, with a farm or ranch close to it. Here we halted for the night. A cotton train was encamped close to us, and a lugubrious half-naked teamster informed us that three of his oxen had been stolen last night.

In order to make a fire, we were forced to enter the chaparal for wood, and in doing so we ran many prickles into our legs, which caused us great annoyance afterwards, as they fester, if not immediately pulled out.

The water at this well was very salt, and made very indifferent coffee. McCarthy called it the “meanest halting-place we shall have.”

At 8 P.M. McCarthy spread a bullock-rug on the sand near the carriage, on which we should have slept very comfortably, had it not been for the prickles, the activity of many fleas, and the incursions of wild hogs. Mr Sargent and the Judge, with much presence of mind, had encamped seventy yards off, and left to us the duty of driving away these hogs. I was twice awoke by one of these unclean animals breathing in my face.

We did about twenty-one miles to-day.

[1] The value of Confederate paper has since decreased. At Charleston I was offered six to one for my gold, and at Richmond eight to one.

Previous post:

Next post: