previous next

[297] sides as we advanced, but failed to find an enemy. The country for miles on both banks of the river was flat and marshy, and of the most uninviting kind. The river itself was so muddy and red you could hardly persuade yourself there wasn't an immense brick-yard underneath. It was full of alligators of all sizes and degrees of ugliness. It was past noon when we reached Darien, and, of course, from the warning we had given, it was useless to proceed further — we should find the country deserted, go where we would. Not a soul was to-be seen in Darien. We were ordered to disembark and form in line of battle in the public square. Pickets were sent out to the limits of the town. Orders were then given to search the town, take what could be found of value to the vessels, and then fire it. Officers then started off in every direction, with squads of men to assist. In a very short time every house in town was broken into and the work of pillage and selection was begun. The fire had begun, too, from the lower end of the town (caused by a shell thrown before we landed) and a high wind was driving it resistlessly up the main street.

Soon the men began to come in in twos, threes, and dozens, loaded with every species and all sorts and quantities of furniture, stores, trinkets, etc., etc., till one would be tired enumerating. We had sofas, tables, pianos, chairs, mirrors, carpets, beds, bedsteads, carpenters' tools, coopers' tools, books, law books, account books in unlimited supply, china sets, tin ware, earthen ware, confederate shinplasters, old letters, papers, etc., etc., etc. A private would come along with a slate, yardstick, and brace of chickens in one hand, a table on his head, and in the other hand a rope with a cow attached. (I here actually described Milo's state on his first return to the ship.) An immense pile of lumber lay on the wharf, and men were detailed to load it on the boats. Droves of sheep and cows were driven in and put aboard. Along the shore were large warehouses of rice and rosin — what rosin we could, we put aboard. While this was going on, the Harriet A. Weed steamed up the river and captured a schooner and flatboat with eighty-five bales of cotton. She was loudly cheered as she passed us on her way down. Darien contained from seventy-five to one hundred houses, not counting slave cabins, of which there were several to every house, the number varying evidently according to the wealth of the proprietor: one fine broad street along the river, the rest starting out from it. All of them were shaded on both sides, not with young saplings, but good sturdy oaks and mulberries, that told of a town of both age and respectability. It was a beautiful town, and never did it look so both grand and beautiful as in its destruction. As soon as a house was ransacked, the match was applied, and by six o'clock the whole town was in one sheet of flame. It was a magnificent spectacle, but still very few were found to gloat over it. Had we had a hard fight to gain the place, or had we taken a thousand slaves by its destruction, we would have had no compunctions. And I suppose we should have none any way. The South must be conquered inch by inch, and what we can't put a force in to hold, ought to be destroyed. If we must burn the South out, so be it. The store-houses along the river were fired last, and the burning of their was the signal for departure. We hurried on board, and well it was for us — it was so hot then we could not stay on that side of the boat next the wharf. Had the wind shifted, no power on earth could have saved us — we barely escaped as it was. It was sundown as we dropped into the stream. A whole town on fire, from one end to the other! it isn't often one sees it, and it's seldom he wants to. But it is a spectacle grand in the extreme. When the rosin took fire a dense black smoke rolled up and almost, shut out the light of the conflagration. As night came on, a terrific thunder-storm came up, and heaven's artillery finished the havoc that ours had begun. We anchored in the stream for the night. Thus began, continued and ended the first expedition or raid into Secessia, in which the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts bore a part. We have all only this comment to make — we pray God that the next town we burn we may first have to fight to get it.

We reached camp next day, Friday, about three P. M. The next morning the plunder was divided, and now it is scattered all over camp, but put to good use, the whole of it. Some of the quarters really look princely, with their sofas, divans, pianos, etc. In place of the customary privations of camp, we have almost the comforts of home, with not a few of its luxuries. Don't get the idea that the rebels had taken themselves away only. They took every thing they could carry off in the time they had. Many houses had absolutely nothing in them of value to any body.

St. Simon's Island is flat, but wonderfully productive and beautiful. It has never been my fortune before to see its equal. Our camp is close on to the old town of Frederica, which in its palmy days had some three thousand inhabitants. Now it has not one. The north end of the island forms Pierce Butler's plantation — Fanny Kemble's husband, and the man who had that immense auction sale of negroes several years ago. It is deserted now, save by some dozen or two darkies, once Butler's slaves. “Ole massa run away, de darkies stay at home.” Truly the “Kingdom is coming” to these poor blacks.

The weather here is warm, and uniformly so. We have had nothing here yet hotter than our July's best at home. Thus far I have experienced no great inconvenience from the heat, and am in good health and good spirits day in and day out. *

A rebel account.

Savannah, June 16, 1863.
Our readers have been informed that the city of Darien, one of the oldest towns in the State, the New-Inverness of Oglethorpe's time, has been totally destroyed by Yankee negro forces. We have been kindly permitted to make some extracts

Creative Commons License
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.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Milo (1)
Fanny Kemble (1)
B. F. Butler (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
June 16th, 1863 AD (1)
July (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: