Monday, April 15, 2013

April 13, 1863

April 13, 1863

---Gen. Hooker’s plans for Stoneman’s great cavalry raid focus on the goal of drawing Lee out of his trenches at Fredericksburg and into the open.  Stoneman and his force start out this morning, and as they bivouac for the evening, closer to his expected crossing points over the Rappahannock, temperatures fall below freezing.  During the night, the rains begin.

---Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle, of Her Majesty’s Coldstream Guards of the Royal Army, has entered Texas over the Rio Grande in order to be the observer of the American war for the British Crown.  He tells of his uncomfortable adventures traveling across the mesquite-tangled deserts of southern Texas:

We left Brownsville for San Antonio at 11 a.m. Our vehicle was a roomy, but rather over-loaded, four-wheel carriage, with a canvass roof, and four mules. . . . The country, on leaving Brownsville, is quite flat, the road, a natural one, sandy and very dusty, and there are many small trees, principally mosquites. After we had proceeded seven miles, we halted to water the mules.

At 2 p.m. a new character appeared upon the scene, in the shape of an elderly, rough-faced, dirty-looking man, who rode up, mounted on a sorry nag. To my surprise he was addressed by M'Carthy with the title of "Judge," and asked what he had done with our other horse. The judge replied that it had already broken down, and had been left behind. M'Carthy informs me that this worthy really is a magistrate or sort of judge in his own district; but he now appears in the capacity of assistant mule-driver. . . . The judge rides on in front of us on his "Rosinante," to encourage the mules. . . .

Mr Sargent, our portly driver, cheers his animals26 by the continual repetition of the sentence, "Get up, now, you great long-eared G——d d——d son of a ——."

At 5 p.m. we reached a well, with a farm or ranch close to it. Here we halted for the night. . . .

The water at this well was very salt, and made very indifferent coffee. M'Carthy called it the "meanest halting-place we shall have."

At 8 p.m. M'Carthy spread a bullock-rug on the sand near the carriage, on which we should have slept very comfortably, had it not been for the prickles, the activity of many fleas, and the incursions of wild hogs. Mr Sargent and the Judge, with much presence of mind, had encamped seventy yards off, and left to us the duty of driving away these hogs. I was twice awoke by one of these unclean animals breathing in my face.

---Sarah Morgan, a young woman of Louisiana, is on the road with her refugee family, on their way another refuge.  She records in her journal about a stop at the house of friends, and how some in her party found wild strawberries, and how this led to a proposal:

I have but one disagreeable impression to remember in connection with the trip, and that occurred at a farmhouse two miles from here, where we stopped to get strawberries. I preferred remaining in the carriage, to the trouble of getting out; so all went in, Mr. Halsey dividing his time equally between Miriam in the house and me in the carriage, supplying me with violets and pensées one moment, and the next showing me the most tempting strawberries at the most provoking distance, assuring me they were exquisite. The individual to whom the carriage belonged, who had given up the reins to Mr. Halsey, and who, no doubt, was respectable enough for his class in his part of the country, would allow no one to bring me my strawberries, reserving the honor for himself. Presently he appeared with a large saucer of them covered with cream. I was naturally thankful, but would have preferred his returning to the house after he had fulfilled his mission. Instead, he had the audacity to express his admiration of my personal appearance; without a pause gave me a short sketch of his history, informed me he was a widower, and very anxious to marry again, and finally, — Lams and Penates of the house of Morgan ap Kerrig, veil your affronted brows! You will scarcely credit that the creature had the insolence to say that — he would marry me tomorrow, if he could, and think himself blessed; for the jewel of the soul must be equal to the casket that contained it! Yes! this brute of a man had the unparalleled audacity to speak to me in such a way!

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