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 16, 2013

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

16th April (Thursday).—Now our troubles commenced. Seated in Mexican saddles, and mounted on raw-boned mustangs, whose energy had been a good deal impaired by a month’s steady travelling on bad food, McCarthy and I left the hospitable mess-tent about midnight, and started in search of Mr Sargent and his vehicle. We were under the guidance of two Texan rangers.

About daylight we hove in sight of “Los Animos,” a desolate farmhouse, in the neighbourhood of which Mr Sargent was supposed to be encamped; but nowhere could we find any traces of him.

We had now reached the confines of a dreary region, sixty miles in extent, called “The Sands,” in comparison with which the prairie and chaparal were luxurious.

The sand being deep and the wind high, we could not trace the carriage; but we soon acquired a certainty that our perfidious Jehu had decamped, leaving us behind.

We floundered about in the sand, cursing our bad luck, cursing Mr Sargent, and even the good Magruder, as the indirect cause of our wretchedness. Our situation, indeed, was sufficiently deplorable. We were without food or water in the midst of a desert: so were our horses, which were nearly done up. Our bones ached from the Mexican saddles; and, to complete our misery, the two rangers began to turn restive and talk of returning with the horses. At this, the climax of our misfortunes, I luckily hit upon a Mexican, who gave us intelligence of our carriage; and with renewed spirits, but very groggy horses, we gave chase.

But never did Mr Sargent’s mules walk at such a pace; and it was 9 A.M. before we overtook them. My animal had been twice on his head, and McCarthy was green in the face with fatigue and rage. Mr Sargent received us with the greatest affability; and we were sensible enough not to quarrel with him, although McCarthy had made many allusions as to the advisability of shooting him.

We had been nine and a half hours in the saddle, and were a good deal exhausted. Our sulky Texan guides were appeased with bacon, coffee, and $5 in coin.

We halted till 2 P.M., and then renewed our struggle through the deep sandy wilderness; but though the services of the Judge’s horse were put into requisition, we couldn’t progress faster than two miles an hour.

Mule-driving is an art of itself, and Mr Sargent is justly considered a professor at it.

He is always yelling—generally imprecations of a serio-comic character. He rarely flogs his mules; but when one of them rouses his indignation by extraordinary laziness, he roars out, “Come here, Judge, with a big club, and give him h—11.” Whilst the animal is receiving such discipline as comes up to the judge’s idea of the infernal regions, Mr Sargent generally remarks, “I wish you was Uncle Abe, I’d make you move, you G—d d—n son of a ——.” His idea of perfect happiness seems to be to have Messrs Lincoln and Seward in the shafts. Mules travel much better when other mules are in front of them; and another dodge to which Mr Sargent continually resorts is, to beat the top of the carriage and kick the foot-board, which makes a noise, and gratifies the mules quite as much as licking them. Mr Sargent accounts for his humanity by saying, “It’s the worst plan in the world licking niggers or mules, because the more you licks ’em, the more they wants it.”

We reached or “struck” water at 5.30 P.M.; but, in spite of its good reputation, it was so salt as to be scarcely drinkable. A number of cotton waggons, and three carriages belonging to Mr Ward, were also encamped with us.

We have only made sixteen miles to-day.

Previous post:

Next post: