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

Post image for Playing “catch up” again–and a new civil war era writer.

Playing “catch up” again–and a new civil war era writer.

April 17, 2013

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

Hi all,

Once again, I got behind on some of these diaries, journals and other works from 1863.  I thought I had more margin than I did – and neglected to make sure.  When I did, I found that a number of the writers had no posts for several weeks.

I’m in the process of correct that and, when I’m caught up, will provide a summary of all of the posts, with links, in chronological order.

In the meantime, I do have one new 1863 writer, Sir Arthur James Fremantle, a British Coldstream officer that recorded his 1863 journey through the southern states in a diary that was subsequently published.  This diary started in March 1863.



At the outbreak of the American war, in common with many of my countrymen, I felt very indifferent as to which side might win; but if I had any bias, my sympathies were rather in favour of the North, on account of the dislike which an Englishman naturally feels at the idea of Slavery. But soon a sentiment of great admiration for the gallantry and determination of the Southerners, together with the unhappy contrast afforded by the foolish bullying conduct of the Northerners,, caused a complete revulsion in my feelings, and I was unable to repress a strong wish to go to America and see something of this wonderful struggle.

Having successfully accomplished my design, I returned to England, and found amongst all my friends an extreme desire to know the truth of what was going on in the South; for, in consequence of the blockade, the truth can with difficulty be arrived at, as intelligence coming mainly through Northern sources is not believed; and, in fact, nowhere is the ignorance of what is passing in the South more profound than it is in the Northern States.

In consequence of a desire often expressed, I now publish the Diary which I endeavoured, as well as I could, to keep up day by day during my travels throughout the Confederate States. The latter portion of the Diary, which has reference to the battle of Gettysburg, has already appeared in ‘Blackwood’s Magazine;’ and the interest with which it was received has encouraged me to publish the remainder.

I have not attempted to conceal any of the peculiarities or defects of the Southern people. Many persons will doubtless highly disapprove of some of their customs and habits in the wilder portion of the country; but I think no generous man, whatever may be his political opinions, can do otherwise than admire the courage, energy, and patriotism of the whole population, and the skill of its leaders, in this struggle against great odds. And I am also of opinion that many will agree with me in thinking that a people in which all ranks and both sexes display a unanimity and a heroism which can never have been surpassed in the history of the world, is destined, sooner or later, to become a great and independent nation.

2d March 1863.—I left England in the royal mail steamer Atrato, and arrived at St Thomas on the 17th.

22d March. — Anchored at Havana at 6.15 A.M….

23d March. — Left Havana in H. M. S. Immortality, at 11 A.M. Knocked off steam when outside the harbour.

1st April.—Anchored at 8.30 P.M., three miles from the mouth of the Rio Grande, or Rio Bravo del Norte, which is, I believe, its more correct name, in the midst of about seventy merchant vessels.

2d April. — The Texan and I left the Immortalité in her cutter, at 10 A.M., and crossed the bar in fine style.

3d April (Good Friday).—At 8 A.M. I got a military pass to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico, which I presented to the sentry, who then allowed me to cross in the ferry-boat.

4th April (Saturday).—I crossed the river at 9 A.M., and got a carriage at the Mexican side to take my baggage and myself to the Consulate at Matamoros.

5th April (Sunday).—Mr Zorn, or Don Pablo as he is called here, Her Majesty’s acting Vice-Consul, is a quaint and most good-natured little man—a Prussian by birth.

6th April (Monday).—Mr Behnsen and Mr Colville left for Bagdad this morning, in a very swell ambulance drawn by four gay mules.

7th April (Tuesday).—Mr Maloney sent us his carriage to conduct Captain Hancock, Mr Anderson, and myself to Brownsville.

8th April (Wednesday).— Poor Don Pablo was “taken ill” at breakfast, and was obliged to go to bed.

9th April (Thursday).—Captain Hancock and Mr Anderson left for Bagdad in Mr Behnsen’s carriage at noon.

10th April (Friday).—We roused up at daylight, and soon afterwards Colonel Duff paraded some of his best men, to show off the Texan horsemanship, of which they are very proud.

11th April (Saturday). — Mr ——, the Unionist, came to me this morning, and said, in a contrite manner, “I hope, Kernel, that in the fumes of brandy I didn’t say anything offensive last night.”

12th April (Sunday).—I took an affectionate leave of Don Pablo, Behnsen, Oetling, & Co., all of whom were in rather weak health on account of last night’s supper.

13th April (Monday).—I breakfasted with General Bee, and took leave of all my Brownsville friends.

14th April (Tuesday).—When we roused up at 4 A.M. we found our clothes saturated with the heavy dew; also that, notwithstanding our exertions, the hogs had devoured the greatest part of our pet kid, our only fresh meat.

15th April (Wednesday).—I slept well last night in spite of the tics and fleas, and we started at 5.30 P.M. After passing a dead rattlesnake eight feet long, we reached water at 7 A.M.

16th April (Thursday).—Now our troubles commenced.

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