leans, and has halted there, awaiting reenforcements. The stake the rebels are playing for is the capture of the Crescent City itself, and to effect this they are rapidly massing all their forces upon the one point. The Texan brigades were poured rapidly across the frontier and thrown against our feeble defences along this railroad, with what effect I have already told you. We delayed their advance one week, however, according to their own account, by the bold front put on by our almost empty camps, and by fortifying Bayou Boeuf and other places along the road. A fragment of the One Hundred and Seventy-sixth, assisted by a part of the Twenty-third Connecticut, held them at bay four or five days more at Lafourche, a little further down the road, with considerable loss of life on both sides. So that we did our share toward resisting the invasion of the Vandals; and if New-Orleans is not prepared, it is not our fault. A column of eight thousand men, from the rebel army in Arkansas, is daily expected to cross at this place and support the Texans, while General Kirby Smith is said to be advancing down the east bank of the Mississippi with the troops from Mississippi and Alabama. According to their own accounts they have risked all on this last attempt, and are bound to regain possession of the Department of the Gulf or perish in the struggle. I think they are in earnest, and I do hope Banks and his advisers are aware of and are equal to the exigency of the moment. Our wounded have not been badly treated by our captors; they give them what they have, but that is often very little. The weather has been very hot for the last few days, and the poor fellows have suffered much, and we have lost several. To-day little Newlan died; he was a German boy, not more than seventeen years old, but a good soldier and a brave fellow. He, with three others and a lieutenant, stood by one of our two cannons till the last moment. Three of the five were struck down, and his comrades, scattered by the fire, fled to the depot and called upon him to follow, but he would not leave his lieutenant. In another moment they fell together; Lieutenant S----with a bullet through his foot, and poor little Newlan with his arm fractured, a ball through his body, and a charge of buckshot in the head. He stood his wounds bravely, but this hot weather proved too much for him, and he died in great pain, babbling about his home in the “vaterland.” There are many other pitiful cases in our hospital, and it makes one's heart sick to witness so much misery. But I suppose it is good discipline for a man. We did not, as you may suppose, pass a very joyous Fourth. I never expected to celebrate it in captivity, where, among greater troubles, champagne and fire-crackers are an impossibility. Yesterday our colonel, lieutenant-colonel, and two lieutenants, who have been here on the sick list, were carried off up to Franklin, a town farther inland, where there is less danger of recapture. Colonel Nott was as dignified, graceful, and self-possessed as ever, and appeared confident that this reverse was but temporary, and that our arms would soon recover their ascendency. Brashear looks dreary enough at present; our long line of deserted and pillaged encampments, the closed and empty houses, the vacant railroad depot, once so busy, the cars standing idly on the track, the cessation of all business, the desolation and disorder everywhere apparent, contrast most painfully with the animation, busy life, and neatness of the scene a fortnight ago. The view from my window of those fatal woods, of the disaster-bringing orange groves, and of the ruins of our once beautiful camp, is hateful to me, and it will be an immense relief to get rid of it. One of the most melancholy features of the recapture I have omitted to notice — the hundreds of poor negroes who, taken with our troops, are doomed to a harsher fate, to a worse captivity than they ever before experienced. Oh! it is bitter to see them look half-reproachfully, half-imploringly to us, as they are driven off like sheep to the slaughter, as if to say: “How could you betray us, promising us liberty and safety, and now abandoning us to slavery and misery worse than death?” It makes my blood boil to see (as I saw yesterday) three cowardly ruffians driving before them a poor tottering old woman, and not to be able to strike a blow in her defence; to see my own faithful and intelligent servitor, lame and unfit for work, led off, separated from his wife, to hard labor, and to be obliged to disregard his appealing glance for help; to see able-bodied men on horseback driving before them at the point of the bayonet old and young, sick and well, all weary and starving so that they can hardly stand. God must give us strength and victory to rescue these poor creatures, and I believe yet, in spite of the dark clouds about us, that he will do it. During the attack many of the negroes escaped to the swamps, and some of the men probably succeeded in getting through to our lines. Many, however, as I was told by eye-witnesses, were shot down like dogs by the rebel pickets; and others, old women and mothers with babes in their arms, unable longer to stand the pangs of hunger and want of rest, have come in day after day, covered with mud, emaciated, and in rags, and surrendered themselves to the Texans. If you had seen these swamps, and could picture to yourself the horrors of exposure to the darkness, mire, alligators, snakes, flies, and mosquitoes, the wandering without food and without hope, you would form some idea of the fear with which these poor creatures regard their former masters, which induces them to dare all dangers rather than be again enslaved. July 11.--I am still a prisoner and a hospital nurse, and shall hail with relief being freed from both positions, which I hope soon to be. My duties
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.