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 21, 2013

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

21st May (Thursday).—I rejoined General Johnston at 9 A.M., and was received into his mess. Major Eustis and Lieutenant Washington, officers of his Staff, are thorough gentlemen, and did all in their power to make me comfortable. The first is a Louisianian of wealth (formerly); his negro always speaks French. He is brother to the secretary of Mr Slidell in Paris, and has leamt to become an excellent Staff officer.

I was presented to Captain Henderson, who commanded a corps of about fifty “scouts.” These are employed on the hazardous duty of hanging about the enemy’s camps, collecting information, and communicating with Pemberton in Vicksburg. They are a fine-looking lot of men, wild, and very picturesque in appearance.

At 12 noon a Yankee military surgeon came to camp. He had been left behind by Grant to look after the Yankee wounded at Jackson, and he was now anxious to rejoin his general by flag of truce, but General Johnston very prudently refused to allow this, and desired that he should be sent to the North via Richmond. By a very sensible arrangement, both sides have agreed to treat doctors as non-combatants, and not to make prisoners of war of them.

The chief surgeon in Johnston’s army is a very clever and amusing Kentuckian, named Dr Yandell. He told me he had been educated in England, and might have had a large practice there.

My friend “Major” —— very kindly took me to dine with a neighbouring planter, named Harrold, at whose house I met General Gregg, a Texan, who, with his brigade, fought the Yankees at Raymond a few days ago.

After dinner, I asked Mr Harrold to take me over the quarters of his slaves, which he did immediately. The huts were comfortable and very clean; the negroes seemed fond of their master, but he told me they were suffering dreadfully from the effects of the war—he had so much difficulty in providing them with clothes and shoes. I saw an old woman in one of the huts, who had been suffering from an incurable disease for thirteen years, and was utterly useless. She was evidently well cared for, and was treated with affection and care. At all events, she must have benefited largely by the “peculiar institution.”

I have often told these planters that I thought the word “slave” was the most repulsive part of the institution, and I have always observed they invariably shirk using it themselves. They speak of their servant, their boy, or their negroes, but never of their slaves. They address a negro as boy or girl, or uncle or aunty.

In the evening I asked General Johnston what prospect he thought there was of early operations, and he told me that at present he was too weak to do any good, and he was unable to give me any definite idea as to when he might be strong enough to attack Grant. I therefore made up my mind to be off in a day or two, unless something turned up, as I could not afford to wait for events, I have still so much to see.

General Johnston is a very well-read man, and agreeable to converse with. He told me that he considered Marlborough a greater general than Wellington. All Americans have an intense admiration for Napoleon; they seldom scruple to express their regret that he was beaten at Waterloo.

Remarking upon the extreme prevalence of military titles, General Johnston said, “You must be astonished to find how fond all Americans are of titles, though they are republicans; and as they can’t get any other sort, they all take military ones.”

Whilst seated round the camp fire in the evening, one of the officers remarked to me, “I can assure you, colonel, that nine men out of ten in the South would sooner become subjects of Queen Victoria than return to the Union.” “Nine men out of ten!” said General Johnston— “ninety-nine out of a hundred; I consider that few people in the world can be more fortunate in their government than the British colonies of North America.” But the effect of these compliments was rather spoilt when some one else said they would prefer to serve under the Emperor of the French or the Emperor of Japan to returning to the dominion of Uncle Abe; and it was still more damaged when another officer alluded in an undertone to the infernal regions as a more agreeable alternative than reunion with the Yankees.

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