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

Post image for The Color Guard, A Corporal’s Notes, James Kendall Hosmer.

The Color Guard, A Corporal’s Notes, James Kendall Hosmer.

April 5, 2013

The Color Guard, A Corporal's Notes, James Kendall Hosmer

April 5.—At the “Bayou Bœuf.” The bayou is one of those characteristic Louisiana water-courses which do so differently from water in other parts of the world, —riding over a district, instead of boring its way through it. The land slopes back from the river-bank; so that the drainage of our camp is toward the swamp, a short distance in the rear, instead of toward the bayou. It is a dreamy afternoon. A heavy haze buries the distance, and veils even the trees and plantations a little way off on the other side of the stream. I sit on the huge root of a live-oak, whose heavy top hangs far out over the water, giving me a dense shade, — me and the brilliant little minnows that I see swimming up in shoals in the quiet water, as I raise my eyes.

We did not leave Terre Bonne until yesterday forenoon; making the whole time of our stay there a day and a half. We were piled, thick as we could sit, upon platform-cars, and then brought eighteen miles to this point. The road was a level, broad-gauge track, over which the engine drew us rapidly. We had the best opportunity we have had of seeing a wild Louisiana morass. For a long distance, we went through a dense cypress-swamp, — such an one as we have not seen before,—a dense growth of cypresses, with a very heavy undergrowth between the tall trunks, and, beneath that, a thick mat of water-plants lying upon the surface of the fen. It was like a wall of vegetation, almost, on each side; through which, occasionally, we could see deep, dark bayous flowing, and black pools. Alligators several feet long lay on logs, or in the water, with their backs just rising above; and, on floating timbers and little islands of earth, snakes, single or in coils, lay basking in the sun. Later in the season, I suppose, we should have seen even larger numbers of this agreeable population. Huge vines, coiled into knots, bound the cypress-trunks and other growths into one mass of vegetation. We saw, too, numbers of palms; which here grow short, by stumps and pools, spreading abroad their wide-divided leaves, as if they were showing hands at cards.

Previous post:

Next post: