Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

June 11th, 1863.

We are fairly packed on board a small transport; so thickly are we crowded in, it is almost impossible to stir; yet all will stir. Every man seems to think his very existence depends on movement. As I sit here on my knapsack, my back against the railing, inkstand between my feet to prevent it being kicked over, a continuous stream of restless, uneasy men is pouring around, on and over me, which, added to the motion of the vessel, makes writing difficult. We left Cairo yesterday at five o’clock in the afternoon, and steamed down the river a few miles below Cumberland, Kentucky, and anchored for the night.

The captain dare not run his vessel in the night, it being dark and cloudy, and the Mississippi being the most dangerous river in the world to navigate. We expect to reach Memphis early in the morning, and will then learn our final destination.

Having crossed the Mississippi at Dubuque, some three hundred miles above Cairo, I was somewhat disappointed, as it did not appear to be any wider at Cairo than at Dubuque, but, by close observation, I discovered that what it lacked in width was made up in velocity and depth.

At Dubuque, too, the water is clear as crystal; from St. Louis down it is the color of chocolate. The banks of the river are uninhabited and uninhabitable most of the way. Every spring and fall they overflow from ten to thirty miles, and then this mighty mass of water will not be confined. The river channel is constantly changing. The light, loose soil of the valley cannot withstand the tremendous power of the resistless floods that are hurled from the north upon its yielding bosom. This is one cause of disaster. The sand bars change so often it is impossible to keep track of them.

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