Letter from the Gulf shore.
bowie — the men who carry them — the enemy on the coast — the Burnside
expedition — the stampede from the coast--Major Hesse
--his Court-martial and his smile.
[Special correspondence of the Dispatch.]
Mobile, Jan. 11th, 1862.
The ‘"dreadful note of preparation"’ is heard on all sides now, and the city begins to look as military as a camp., Some features skin to martial law are symptomatic of further progress to that end, for provost marshal regulations have been established by Gen. Withers
The reserve city companies of organized and ununiformed militia are brushing up their information as to the manual of arms, and every citizen who has a firearm is brushing it up. The foundries are at work night and day making shot and shell for the forts and batteries, and forges are busied on a heavy State order for pikes, a painful description of cold steel which we will introduce to the attention of Butler
's Yankees if they advance upon the city — no doubt as much to the disturbance of their delicately nervous sensibilities as the display of bayonets and bowie-knives
has always proved.
Speaking of bowie-knives
, I wish Butler
's Yankees could have the privilege of examining an implement in that line which has been largely prepared for their entertainment in this region.
Few of them but would be so well satisfied with what they had already seen in the South
as to be willing to take passage home to Puritandom in the very next returning transport.
To this tool the cane knives which the ‘"Tigers"’ wielded at Manassas
are mere playthings--‘"barlow knives"’ by contrast, you might say. It is about two feet six inches long in the blade, which is about a hand's breadth in width, slightly curved, keenly ground, and so thick as to be utterly inelastic.
The mere weight of the falling weapon would almost cleave a man from crown to chine; and, in the hands of stalwart, large limbed, back-country Alabamians, they will shear away heads and limbs as a scythe does cornstalks.
They were forged in the country smiths from old mill saws, wagon springs, and such good steel as could be had, and are worn swinging from the belt straight on the thigh.
A regiment of stout and gallant fellows, armed with these and miscellaneous fire-arms, have just occupied an important position on the line of defence between the city and the coast.
They are determined to, and will use these terrible side arms if they meet the enemy; and, when they do meet him, a black flag
will wave in the breeze over their charging column.
If the enemy advance on Mobile
, the worst slaughtering work of the war will be done.
The ‘"fire and fait back"’ tactics will not be practiced in this institute, for such a consuming rage of hatred and vengeance is burning in the hearts of the people as will know but the alternatives of death or victory.
The enemy have landed at Pocaguela, forty miles from the city, but in what force it is not know.
They are on the side of the river which.
They are on the side of the river which pertains to General Lovell
's New Orleans and Mississippi department.
Our cavalry, which is splendid, scout and picket the country to our side of the river; but as to what is being done on Lovell
's side I can hear very little, as the country is deserted by the residents and the military of the two departments — Bragg
's and Lovell
's --do not act in any sort of accord or conjunction.
Our people have heard that Burnside
's expedition passed Hatteras
on Tuesday, and expect to hear of its arrival in our waters about the 16th or 17th inst. It is the general belief that its destination is some point within this department, and that its intent is either a grand attack on Pensacola
, or on the harbor defences of Mobile
, in conjunction with a land movement from the rear by Butler
This is a two-handed game which we can play at; and at Pensacola
, too, there is every preparation to give them an awful whipping.
There is an immense stampede going on now along our coast, both in obedience to military orders to remove stock and negroes ten miles inland, and to the apprehensions or residents, which have been quickened within two or three days past by the appearance of some half a dozen gun-boats within cannon shot of the shore residences on the Sound
, eighteen or twenty miles below the city.
The oystermen and the tar makers, the charcoal burners and the duck hunters, the farmers and the doctors, and the storekeepers, are making straight chutes for city or interior, bringing their miscellaneous ‘"plunder"’ with them in all sorts of miscellaneous conveyances from a six-horse team to a one steer wagon, or a wheel borrow.
The fecundate influence of a saline atmosphere are curiously illustrated by the extraordinary quantity of one article of household goods in every family batch of refugees from the coast, to wit: tow-headed children, with salt-water scabiaton their sun-browned legs and feet, that look like barnacles, as they well might be. One prolific old lady can only ascertain whether all her responsibilities are safe by regularly calling the roll of them three times a day. Two or three would not be missed, in appearance, from that crowd of repetitions of themselves, but would leave a grievous void in the old lady's maternal heart.
A court-martial has been busted for some time in investigating alleged abuses of his office committed by Major Julius Hessee
, who, until removed from that post and cited for trial, was the big gun of the Quartermaster's Department here.
I forbear giving currency to the various leakings out of the developments of the investigation, as I know not how much is true and how much is false; but these reports do not show much mercy to the Major
, who is a long-time Israelite resident of the city.
I trust he will be able to clear up everything which is alleged against him. The Major
is one of the best-natured looking, fat, chuckle headed little men you ever saw, and if he was ordered to be shot would smile about it, had as he might feel.
But this is his falling — he can't help smiling.
Nature put a smile on his face with set-screws, and there it stays.
It has been there always, and is there now, as if there was no such thing in the world as a court-martial.
Whether it is ever a smile more, or a smile less, I don't know, but it's a smile, certain — and ‘"than"’ it is in fair weather and foul.
Whether he enjoys it, likes or dislikes it, I don't know, but there it is, and he can't help himself.