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.

May 15, 2013

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

15th May (Friday).—I nearly slept round the clock after yesterday’s exertions. Mr Douglas and I crossed the father of rivers and landed on the Mississippi bank at 9 A.M.

Natchez is a pretty little town, and ought to contain about 6000 inhabitants. It is built on the top of a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi river, which is about three quarters of a mile broad at this point.

When I reached Natchez I hired a carriage, and, with a letter of introduction which I had brought from San Antonio, I drove to the house of Mr Haller Nutt, distant from the town about two miles.

The scenery about Natchez is extremely pretty, and the ground is hilly, with plenty of fine trees. Mr Nutt’s place reminded me very much of an English gentleman’s country seat, except that the house itself is rather like a pagoda, but it is beautifully furnished.

Mr Nutt was extremely civil, and was most anxious that I should remain at Natchez for a few days; but now that I was thoroughly wound up for travelling, I determined to push on to Vicksburg, as all the late news seemed to show that some great operations must take place there before long.

I had fondly imagined that after reaching Natchez my difficulties would have been over; but I very soon discovered that this was a delusive hope. I found that Natchez was full of the most gloomy rumours. Another Yankee raid seemed to have been made into the interior of Mississippi, more railroad is reported to be destroyed, and great doubts were expressed whether I should be able to get into Vicksburg at all.

However, as I found some other people as determined to proceed as myself, we hired a carriage for $100 to drive to Brookhaven, which is the nearest point on the railroad, and is distant from Natchez 66 miles.

My companions were a fat Government contractor from Texas, the wounded Missourian Mr Douglas, and an ugly woman, wife to a soldier in Vicksburg.

We left Natchez at 12 noon, and were driven by a negro named Nelson; the carriage and the three horses belong to him, and he drives it for his own profit; but he is, nevertheless, a slave, and pays his owner $4½ a-week to be allowed to work on his own account. He was quite as vain as and even more amusing than Tucker. He said he “didn’t want to see no Yanks, nor to be no freer than he is;” and he thought the war had already lasted four or five years.

Every traveller we met on the road was eagerly asked the questions, “Are the Yanks in Brookhaven? Is the railroad open?” At first we received satisfactory replies; but at 6 P.M. we met an officer driving towards Natchez at a great pace; he gave us the alarming intelligence that Jackson was going to be evacuated. Now, as Jackson is the capital city of this state, a great railroad junction, and on the highroad to every civilised place from this, our feelings may be imagined, but we did not believe it possible. On the other hand we were told that General Joseph Johnston had arrived and assumed the command in Mississippi. He appears to be an officer in whom every one places unbounded confidence.

We slept at a farmhouse. All the males were absent at the war, and it is impossible to exaggerate the unfortunate condition of the women left behind in these farmhouses; they have scarcely any clothes, and nothing but the coarsest bacon to eat, and are in miserable uncertainty as to the fate of their relations, whom they can hardly ever communicate with. Their slaves, however, generally remain true to them.

Our hostess, though she was reduced to the greatest distress, was well-mannered, and exceedingly well educated; very far superior to a woman of her station in England.

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