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

Post image for John C. West–A Texan in Search of a Fight.

John C. West–A Texan in Search of a Fight.

May 5, 2013

John C. West–A Texan in Search of a Fight.

Tuesday, May 5th. Yesterday evening there were heavy clouds and a good deal of lightning in the North; after supper laid down on the deck and slept very comfortable until awakened by a heavy rain; gathered up my blanket and crowded into the state room, which proved to be almost suffocating. I was very sleepy, so went down in the engine room and slept until morning, crosswise on two barrels of rum; waked up quite refreshed to enjoy the beautiful scenery on the banks of the Ouachita, among the most picturesque of which was a high bluff on which was a single grave; a romantic lady, the wife of a pilot, was buried there by her request, where her gentle spirit might keep vigil over the destinies of her husband. We stopped during the morning to take an old rail fence for fuel; a soldier shot a hog, which gave us fresh pork for dinner; found some very nice mulberries on shore and wished my children, little Stark and Mary, had some of them. Had a very pleasant trip on to Hamburg; went ashore there and got transportation to Trinity; after supper proceeded down to the river and met the steamer, Tucker; stopped and had a talk and got the Natchez Courier.

Forgot to say above that I met Dr. Bock on this steamer; learned from him that Lieutenant Brandon was at Pine Bluff on the 8th of April, and was going to Virginia. Dr. Rock is on his way to Richmond. We reached Trinity about 12 o’clock at night, on Tuesday, the 5th, and have not stopped long enough during the day to write up this diary, and at night had no light; left the Trinity in a skiff with five others; proceeded up the Ouachita for about six miles; then into Brushy Bayou; after following this for about two miles the thorns and bushes were so troublesome that we had to get to land and walk about four miles, while the negroes worked the skiff through. In this walk I got far enough ahead of the skiff to take a nap; laid down on the ground and slept gloriously for an hour; would have enjoyed it more with a blanket to lie on. At the end of this walk we had a very good breakfast by paying five dollars a dozen for some eggs and furnishing our own coffee, and then paying two dollars a piece for breakfast. After breakfast pulled the skiff overland into Cane Bayou, and proceeded up this for six miles to Turtle Lake, a beautiful sheet of water three miles long; from this we entered Cocoda Bayou, which we followed for eight miles into Concordia Lake, up which we rowed for seven or eight miles, which landed us about three miles from Natchez. All this skiff trip is through just such a country as an alligator would thrive in; affording fine facilities for fishing and duck shooting; no one but a Newfoundland dog would enjoy it. We procured a cart to take our baggage to the Mississippi river; crossed in a skiff to Natchez; remained there all night and left Thursday morning for Brookhaven; stopped at Dr. Holden’s and got the second good dinner I have had since I left home; reached McDaniel’s at dark and found it quite a nice place, and met here that rare creature of the West—an old maid; she seems to be quite a nice person and I think has been doomed to this state of single felicity by circumstances for which she is not responsible. We got a good breakfast at 4 o’clock in the morning, which enabled us to reach Brockhaven (where I am now writing) by 10 o’clock. On the road to this place I passed a bridge which Grierson’s Cavalry had destroyed, and here I see the remains of the depot which they burned. These are the first practical examples of Yankee vandalism I have seen during the war. I expect to leave here to-day at 2 o’clock.

Reached Jackson at 6 o’clock and found the train for Meridian about to start and had no time to get transportation, and so have to remain here against my will until to-morrow evening. All these days which I have been delayed I had hoped to spend in Columbia, South Carolina.

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