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

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Cruise of the U.S. Flag-Ship Hartford – From the Personal Journal of Wm. C. Holton

July 28, 2012

Cruise of the U.S. Flag-Ship Hartford–Wm. C. Holton

We had a pleasant passage to New Orleans, where we arrived July 28th, and found the U. S. transport Connecticut awaiting us with a large mail. On this evening we had a heavy shower of rain, accompanied by heavy thunder and sharp lightning, purifying the air to a very pleasant degree. We now proceeded to coal ship preparatory to proceeding on our way. The sailors were here given liberty on shore—about eighty at a time—for twenty-four hours each. I here took a few hours to myself, and set foot on shore for the first time in six months. I had a very limited view of a portion of the city, and came back to the ship after a stay of four hours.

On the night of the 25th intelligence arrived from Baton Rouge that the rebels had made an attack on the latter place and, killing General Williams, had been repulsed. The Hartford was immediately turned up the river for Baton Rouge. On our passage we lost our orderly sergeant of marines, who died of bilious colic; we buried him at the latter place. On arriving we learned that a hard battle had been fought, and that the rebel ram Arkansas had been attacked and destroyed. As the rebels had left the place, and the Arkansas had ceased to trouble us, we turned our ship, and for the last time sailed down the stream. Things went quietly until arriving at Donaldsonville, where we came to, and after bombarding the little village for an hour, sent a few boats ashore and burned the place to the ground. This act was occasioned by guerrilla bands repeatedly firing upon our transports, and after being warned, the Commodore determined to make an example of it. Nothing in the line of eatables was found here, but large quantities of choice wines were discovered, of which our sailors partook freely, notwithstanding their fear of poison.

We arrived at New Orleans on the following day, where we remained several days.

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