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 15, 2013

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

15th April (Wednesday).—I slept well last night in spite of the tics and fleas, and we started at 5.30 P.M. After passing a dead rattlesnake eight feet long, we reached water at 7 A.M.

At 9 A.m. we espied the cavalcade of General Magruder passing us by a parallel track about half a mile distant. McCarthy and I jumped out of the carriage, and I ran across the prairie to cut him off, which I just succeeded in doing by borrowing the spare horse of the last man in the train.

I galloped up to the front, and found the General riding with a lady who was introduced to me as Mrs ——, an undeniably pretty woman, wife to an officer on Magruder’s staff, and she is naturally the object of intense attention to all the good-looking officers who accompany the General through this desert.

General Magruder, who commands in Texas, is a fine soldier-like man, of about fifty-five, with broad shoulders, a florid complexion, and bright eyes. He wears his whiskers and mustaches in the English fashion, and he was dressed in the Confederate grey uniform. He was kind enough to beg that I would turn back and accompany him in his tour through Texas. He had heard of my arrival, and was fully determined I should do this. He asked after several officers of my regiment whom he had known when he was on the Canadian frontier. He is a Virginian, a great talker, and has always been a great ally of English officers.

He insisted that McCarthy and I should turn and dine with him, promising to provide us with horses to catch up Mr Sargent.

After we had agreed to do this, I had a long and agreeable conversation with the General, who spoke of the Puritans with intense disgust, and of the first importation of them as “that pestiferous crew of the Mayflower;” but he is by no means rancorous against individual Yankees. He spoke very favourably of McClellan, whom he knew to be a gentleman, clever, and personally brave, though he might lack moral courage to face responsibility. Magruder had commanded the Confederate troops at Yorktown which opposed McClellan’s advance. He told me the different dodges he had resorted to, to blind and deceive the latter as to his (Magruder’s) strength; and he spoke of the intense relief and amusement with which he had at length seen McClellan with his magnified army begin to break ground before miserable earthworks, defended only by 8000 men. Hooker was in his regiment, and was “essentially a mean man and a liar.” Of Lee and Longstreet he spoke in terms of the highest admiration.

Magruder was an artilleryman, and has been a good deal in Europe; and having been much stationed on the Canadian frontier, he became acquainted with many British officers, particularly those in the 7th Hussars and Guards.

He had gained much credit from his recent successes at Galveston and Sabine Pass, in which he had the temerity to attack heavily-armed vessels of war with wretched river steamers manned by Texan cavalrymen.

His principal reason for visiting Brownsville was to settle about the cotton trade. He had issued an edict that half the value of cotton exported must be imported in goods for the benefit of the country (government stores). The President had condemned this order as illegal and despotic.

The officers on Magruder’s Staff are a very good-looking, gentlemanlike set of men. Their names are—Major Pendleton, Major Wray, Captain De Ponté, Captain Alston, Captain Turner, Lieutenant-Colonel McNeil, Captain Dwyer, Dr Benien, Lieutenant Stanard, Lieutenant Yancey, and Major Magruder. The latter is nephew to the General, and is a particularly good-looking young fellow. They all live with their chief on an extremely agreeable footing, and form a very pleasant society. At dinner I was put in the post of honour, which is always fought for with much acrimony—viz., the right of Mrs ——. After dinner we had numerous songs. Both the General and his nephew sang; so also did Captain Alston, whose corpulent frame, however, was too much for the feeble camp-stool, which caused his sudden disappearance in the midst of a song with a loud crash. Captain Dwyer played the fiddle very well, and an aged and slightly-elevated militia general brewed the punch and made several “elegant” speeches. The latter was a rough-faced old hero, and gloried in the name of McGuffin. On these festive occasions General Magruder wears a red woollen cap, and fills the president’s chair with great aptitude.

It was 11.30 before I could tear myself away from this agreeable party; but at length I effected my exit amidst a profusion of kind expressions, and laden with heaps of letters of introduction.

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