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 25, 2013

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

25th April (Saturday).—San Antonio is prettily situated on both banks of the river of the same name. It should contain about 10,000 inhabitants, and is the largest place in Texas, except Galveston.

The houses are well built of stone, and they are generally only one or two storeys high. All have verandahs in front.

Before the war San Antonio was very prosperous, and rapidly increasing in size; but trade is now almost at a complete stand-still. All the male population under forty are in the military service, and many necessary articles are at famine prices. Coffee costs $7 a lb.

Menger’s hotel is a large and imposing edifice, but its proprietor (a civil German) was on the point of shutting it up for the present.

During the morning I visited Colonel Bankhead, a tall, gentlemanlike Virginian, who was commanding officer of the troops here. He told me a great deal about the Texan history, the Jesuit missions, and the Louisiana purchase, &c.; and he alarmed me by doubting whether I should be able to cross the Mississippi if Banks had taken Alexandria.

I also made the acquaintance of Major Minter, another Virginian, who told me he had served in the 2d cavalry in the old United States army. The following officers in the Confederate army were in the same regiment—viz., General A. S. Johnston (killed at Shiloh), General Lee, General Van Dorn, General Hardee, General Kirby Smith, and General Hood.[1]

By the advice of McCarthy, I sent my portmanteau and some of my heavy things to be sold by auction, as I could not possibly carry them with me.

I took my place by the stage for Alleyton (Houston): it cost $40; in old times it was $13.

I dined with McCarthy and young Duff at 3 P.M. The latter would not hear of my paying my share of the expenses of the journey from Brownsville. Mrs McCarthy was thrown into a great state of agitation and delight by receiving a letter from her mother, who is in Yankeedom. Texas is so cut off that she only hears once in many months.

Colonel and Mrs Bankhead called for me in their ambulance at 5 P.M., and they drove me to see the source of the San Antonio, which is the most beautiful clear spring I ever saw. We also saw the extensive foundations for a tannery now being built by the Confederate Government.

The country is very pretty, and is irrigated in an ingenious manner by ditches cut from the river in all directions. It is thus in a great degree rendered independent of rain.

At San Antonio spring we were entertained by a Major Young, a queer little naval officer,—why a major I couldn’t discover.

Mrs Bankhead is a violent Southerner. She was twice ordered out of Memphis by the Federals on account of her husband’s principles; but she says that she was treated with courtesy and kindness by the Federal General Sherman, who carried out the orders of his Government with regret.

None of the Southern people with whom I have spoken entertain any hopes of a speedy termination of the war. They say it must last all Lincoln’s presidency, and perhaps a good deal longer.

In the neighbourhood of San Antonio, one-third of the population is German, and many of them were at first by no means loyal to the Confederate cause. They objected much to the conscription, and some even resisted by force of arms; but these were soon settled by Duff’s regiment, and it is said they are now reconciled to the new regime.

My portmanteau, with what was in it—for I gave away part of my things—sold for $323. Its value in England couldn’t have been more than £8 or £9. The portmanteau itself, which was an old one, fetched $51; a very old pair of butcher boots, $32; five shirts $42; an old overcoat $25.

[1] Also the Federal Generals Thomas and Stoneman.

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