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effectual stop to any irregularities than by the most severe punishments. The only way to keep a negro honest, is not to trust him. This seems a harsh assertion; but it is, unfortunately, too true.

You will find that an hour devoted, every Sabbath morning, to their moral and religious instruction, would prove a great aid to you in bringing about a better state of things among the negroes. It has been thoroughly tried, and with the most satisfactory results, in many parts of the South. As a mere matter of interest it has proved to be advisable–to say nothing of it as a point of duty. The effect upon their general good behavior, their cleanliness, and good conduct on the Sabbath, is such as alone to recommend it to both planter and overseer.

In conclusion:–Bear in mind that _a fine crop_ consists, first, in an increase in the number, and a marked improvement in the condition and value, of the negroes; second, an abundance of provision of all sorts for man and beast, carefully saved and properly housed; third, both summer and winter clothing made at home; also leather tanned, and shoes and harness made, when practicable; fourth, an improvement in the productive qualities of the land, and in the general condition of the plantation; fifth, the team and stock generally, with the farming implements and the buildings, in fine order at the close of the year; and young hogs more than enough for next year’s killing; _then_, as heavy a crop of cotton, sugar, or rice as could possibly be made under these circumstances, sent to market in good season, and of prime quality. The time has passed when the overseer is valued solely upon the number of bales of cotton, hogsheads of sugar, or tierces of rice he has made, without reference to other qualifications.

In contrast with the instructions to overseers under the old management, I present the proclamation of General Banks, regulating the system of free labor in the Department of the Gulf. These regulations were in force, in 1864, along the Mississippi, from Helena to New Orleans. They were found admirably adapted to the necessities of the case. With a few changes, they have been continued in operation during the present year:–



The following general regulations are published for the information and government of all interested in the subject of compensated plantation labor, public or private, during the present year, and in continuation of the system established January 30, 1863:–

I. The enlistment of soldiers from plantations under cultivation in this department having been suspended by order of the Government, will not be resumed except upon direction of the same high authority.

II. The Provost-Marshal-General is instructed to provide for the division of parishes into police and school districts, and to organize from invalid soldiers a competent police for the preservation of order.

III. Provision will be made for the establishment of a sufficient number of schools, one at least for each of the police and school districts, for the instruction of colored children under twelve years of age, which, when established, will be placed under the direction of the Superintendent of Public Education.

IV. Soldiers will not be allowed to visit plantations without the written consent of the commanding officer of the regiment or post to which they are attached, and never with arms, except when on duty, accompanied by an officer.

V. Plantation hands will not be allowed to pass from one place to another, except under such regulations as may be established by the provost-marshal of the parish.

VI. Flogging and other cruel or unusual punishments are interdicted.

VII. Planters will be required, as early as practicable after the publication of these regulations, to make a roll of persons employed upon their estates, and to transmit the same to the provost marshal of the parish. In the employment of hands, the unity of families will be secured as far as possible.

VIII. All questions between the employer and the employed, until other tribunals are established, will be decided by the provost-marshal of the parish.

IX. Sick and disabled persons will be provided for upon the plantations to which they belong, except such as may be received in establishments provided for them by the Government, of which one will be established at Algiers and one at Baton Rouge.

X. The unauthorized purchase of clothing, or other property, from laborers, will be punished by fine and imprisonment. The sale of whisky or other intoxicating drinks to them, or to other persons, except under regulations established by the Provost-Marshal-General, will be followed by the severest punishment.

XL The possession of arms, or concealed or dangerous weapons, without authority, will be punished by fine and imprisonment.

XII. Laborers shall render to their employer, between daylight and dark, _ten_ hours in summer, and _nine_ hours in winter, of respectful, honest, faithful labor, and receive therefor, in addition to just treatment, healthy rations, comfortable clothing, quarters, fuel, medical attendance, and instruction for children, wages per month as follows, payment of one-half of which, at least, shall be reserved until the end of the year:–

For first-class hands….. $8.00 per month. For second-class hands…. 6.00 ” “
For third-class hands….. 5.00 ” ” For fourth-class hands…. 3.00 ” “

Engineers and foremen, when faithful in the discharge of their duties, will be paid $2 per month extra. This schedule of wages may be commuted, by consent of both parties, at the rate of one-fourteenth part of the net proceeds of the crop, to be determined and paid at the end of the year. Wages will be deducted in case of sickness, and rations, also, when sickness is feigned. Indolence, insolence, disobedience of orders, and crime will be suppressed by forfeiture of pay, and such punishments as are provided for similar offenses by Army Regulations. Sunday work will be avoided when practicable, but when necessary will be considered as extra labor, and paid at the rates specified herein.

XIII. Laborers will be permitted to choose their employers, but when the agreement is made they will be held to their engagement for one year, under the protection of the Government. In cases of attempted imposition, by feigning sickness, or stubborn refusal of duty, they will be turned over to the provost-marshal of the parish, for labor upon the public works, without pay.

XIV. Laborers will be permitted to cultivate land on private account, as herein specified, as follows:

First and second class hands, with families….. 1 acre each. First and second class hands, without families.. 1/2 ” ” Second and third class hands, with families….. 1/2 ” ” Second and third class hands, without families.. 1/4 ” “

To be increased for good conduct at the discretion of the employer. The encouragement of independent industry will strengthen all the advantages which capital derives from labor, and enable the laborer to take care of himself and prepare for the time when he can render so much labor for so much money, which is the great end to be attained. No exemption will be made in this apportionment, except upon imperative reasons; and it is desirable that for good conduct the quantity be increased until faithful hands can be allowed to cultivate extensive tracts, returning to the owner an equivalent of product for rent of soil.

XV. To protect the laborer from possible imposition, no commutation of his supplies will be allowed, except in clothing, which may be commuted at the rate of $3 per month for first-class hands, and in similar proportion for other classes. The crops will stand pledged, wherever found, for the wages of labor.

XVI. It is advised, as far as practicable, that employers provide for the current wants of their hands, by perquisites for extra labor, or by appropriation of land for share cultivation; to discourage monthly-payments so far as it can be done without discontent, and to reserve till the full harvest the yearly wages.

XVII. A FREE-LABOR BANK will be established for the safe deposit of all accumulations of wages and other savings; and in order to avoid a possible wrong to depositors, by official defalcation, authority will be asked to connect the bank with the Treasury of the United States in this department.

XVIII. The transportation of negro families to other countries will not be approved. All propositions for this privilege have been declined, and application has been made to other departments for surplus negro families for service in this department.

XIX. The last year’s experience shows that the planter and the negro comprehend the revolution. The overseer, having little interest in capital, and less sympathy with labor, dislikes the trouble of thinking, and discredits the notion that any thing new has occurred. He is a relic of the past, and adheres to its customs. His stubborn refusal to comprehend the condition of things, occasioned most of the embarrassments of the past year. Where such incomprehension is chronic, reduced wages, diminished rations, and the mild punishments imposed by the army and navy, will do good.

XX. These regulations are based upon the assumption that labor is a public duty, and idleness and vagrancy a crime. No civil or military officer of the Government is exempt from the operation of this universal rule. Every enlightened community has enforced it upon all classes of people by the severest penalties. It is especially necessary in agricultural pursuits. That portion of the people identified with the cultivation of the soil, however changed in condition by the revolution through which we are passing, is not relieved from the necessity of toil, which is the condition of existence with all the children of God. The revolution has altered its tenure, but not its law. This universal law of labor will be enforced, upon just terms, by the Government under whose protection the laborer rests secure in his rights. Indolence, disorder, and crime will be suppressed. Having exercised the highest right in the choice and place of employment, he must be held to the fulfillment of his engagements, until released therefrom by the Government. The several provost-marshals are hereby invested with plenary powers upon all matters connected with labor, subject to the approval of the Provost-Marshal-General and the commanding officer of the department. The most faithful and discreet officers will be selected for this duty, and the largest force consistent with the public service detailed for their assistance.

XXI. Employers, and especially overseers, are notified, that undue influence used to move the marshal from his just balance between the parties representing labor and capital, will result in immediate change of officers, and thus defeat that regular and stable system upon which the interests of all parties depend.

XXII. Successful industry is especially necessary at the present time, when large public debts and onerous taxes are imposed to maintain and protect the liberties of the people and the integrity of the Union. All officers, civil or military, and all classes of citizens who assist in extending the profits of labor, and increasing the product of the soil upon which, in the end, all national prosperity and power depends, will render to the Government a service as great as that derived from the terrible sacrifices of battle. It is upon such consideration only that the planter is entitled to favor. The Government has accorded to him, in a period of anarchy, a release from the disorders resulting mainly from insensate and mad resistance to sensible reforms, which can never be rejected without revolution, and the criminal surrender of his interests and power to crazy politicians, who thought by metaphysical abstractions to circumvent the laws of God. It has restored to him in improved, rather than impaired condition, his due privileges, at a moment when, by his own acts, the very soil was washed from beneath his feet.

XXIII. A more majestic and wise clemency human history does not exhibit. The liberal and just conditions that attend it cannot be disregarded. It protects labor by enforcing the performance of its duty, and it will assist capital by compelling just contributions to the demands of the Government. Those who profess allegiance to other Governments will be required, as the condition of residence in this State, to acquiesce, without reservation, in the demands presented by Government as a basis of permanent peace. The non-cultivation of the soil, without just reason, will be followed by temporary forfeiture to those who will secure its improvement. Those who have exercised or are entitled to the rights of citizens of the United States, will be required to participate in the measures necessary for the re-establishment of civil government. War can never cease except as civil governments crush out contest, and secure the supremacy of moral over physical power. The yellow harvest must wave over the crimson field of blood, and the representatives of the people displace the agents of purely military power.

XXIV. The amnesty offered for the past is conditioned upon an unreserved loyalty for the future, and this condition will be enforced with an iron hand. Whoever is indifferent or hostile, must choose between the liberty which foreign lands afford, the poverty of the Rebel States, and the innumerable and inappreciable blessings which our Government confers upon its people.

May God preserve the Union of the States!

By order of Major-General Banks.

_Assistant Adjutant-General_.

The two documents have little similarity. Both are appropriate to the systems they are intended to regulate. It is interesting to compare their merits at the present time. It will be doubly interesting to make a similar comparison twenty years hence.

While I was in Natchez, a resident of that city called my attention to one of the “sad results of this horrid, Yankee war.”

“Do you see that young man crossing the street toward —-‘s store?”

I looked in the direction indicated, and observed a person whom I supposed to be twenty-five years of age, and whose face bore the marks of dissipation. I signified, by a single word, that I saw the individual in question.

“His is a sad case,” my Southern friend remarked.

“Whisky, isn’t it?”

“Oh, no, I don’t mean that. He does drink some, I know, but what I mean is this: His father died about five years ago. He left his son nothing but fourteen or fifteen niggers. They were all smart, young hands, and he has been able to hire them out, so as to bring a yearly income of two thousand dollars. This has supported him very comfortably. This income stopped a year ago. The niggers have all run away, and that young man is now penniless, and without any means of support. It is one of the results of your infernal Abolition war.”

I assented that it was a very hard case, and ought to be brought before Congress at the earliest moment. That a promising young man should be deprived of the means of support in consequence of this Abolition war, is unfortunate–for the man.



The Negroes at Work.–Difficulties in the Way.–A Public Meeting.–A Speech.–A Negro’s Idea of Freedom.–A Difficult Question to Determine.–Influence of Northern and Southern Men Contrasted.–An Increase of Numbers.–“Ginning” Cotton.–In the Lint-Room.–Mills and Machinery of a Plantation.–A Profitable Enterprise.

On each of the plantations the negroes were at work in the cotton-field. I rode from one to the other, as circumstances made it necessary, and observed the progress that was made. I could easily perceive they had been accustomed to performing their labor under fear of the lash. Some of them took advantage of the opportunity for carelessness and loitering under the new arrangement. I could not be in the field at all times, to give them my personal supervision. Even if I were constantly present, there was now no lash to be feared. I saw that an explanation of the new state of affairs would be an advantage to all concerned. On the first Sunday of my stay on the plantation, I called all the negroes together, in order to give them an understanding of their position.

I made a speech that I adapted as nearly as possible to the comprehension of my hearers. My audience was attentive throughout. I made no allusions to Homer, Dante, or Milton; I did not quote from Gibbon or Macaulay, and I neglected to call their attention to the spectacle they were presenting to the crowned heads of Europe. I explained to them the change the war had made in their condition, and the way in which it had been effected. I told them that all cruel modes of punishment had been abolished. The negroes were free, but they must understand that freedom did not imply idleness. I read to them the regulations established by the commissioners, and explained each point as clearly as I was able. After I had concluded, I offered to answer any questions they might ask.

There were many who could not understand why, if they were free, they should be restricted from going where they pleased at all times. I explained that it was necessary, for the successful management of the plantation, that I should always be able to rely upon them. I asked them to imagine my predicament if they should lose half their time, or go away altogether, in the busiest part of the season. They “saw the point” at once, and readily acknowledged the necessity of subordination.

I found no one who imagined that his freedom conferred the right of idleness and vagrancy. All expected to labor in their new condition, but they expected compensation for their labor, and did not look for punishment. They expected, further, that their families would not be separated, and that they could be allowed to acquire property for themselves. I know there were many negroes in the South who expected they would neither toil nor spin after being set free, but the belief was by no means universal. The story of the negro at Vicksburg, who expected his race to assemble in New York after the war, “and have white men for niggers,” is doubtless true, but it would find little credence with the great majority of the freedmen of the South.

The schedule of wages, as established by the commissioners, was read and explained. The negroes were to be furnished with house-rent, rations, fuel, and medical attendance, free of charge. Able-bodied males were to receive eight dollars a month. Other classes of laborers would be paid according to the proportionate value of their services. We were required to keep on hand a supply of clothing, shoes, and other needed articles, which would be issued as required and charged on account. All balances would be paid as soon as the first installment of the cotton crop was sent to market.

This was generally satisfactory, though some of the negroes desired weekly or monthly payments. One of them thought it would be better if they could be paid at the end of each day, and suggested that silver would be preferable to greenbacks or Confederate money. Most of them thought the wages good enough, but this belief was not universal. One man, seventy years old, who acted as assistant to the “hog-minder,” thought he deserved twenty-five dollars per month, in addition to his clothing and rations. Another, of the same age, who carried the breakfast and dinner to the field, was of similar opinion. These were almost the only exceptions. Those whose services were really valuable acquiesced in the arrangement.

On our plantation there was an old negress named “Rose,” who attended the women during confinement. She was somewhat celebrated in her profession, and received occasional calls to visit white ladies in the neighborhood. After I had dismissed the negroes and sent them to their quarters, I was called upon by Rose, to ascertain the rate at which she would be paid. As she was regularly employed as one of the house-servants, I allowed her the same wages that the other women received. This was satisfactory, so far, but it was not entirely so. She wished to understand the matter of perquisites.

“When I used to go out to ‘tend upon white ladies,” said Rose, “they gave me ten dollars. Mistress always took half and let me keep the other half.”

“Well, hereafter, you may keep the ten dollars yourself.”

“Thank you.”

After a pause, she spoke again:

“Didn’t you say the black people are free?”


“White people are free, too, ain’t they?”


“Then why shouldn’t you pay me ten dollars every time I ‘tend upon the black folks on the plantation?”

The question was evidently designed as a “corner.” I evaded it by assuring Rose that though free, the negroes had not attained all the privileges that pertained to the whites, and I should insist on her professional services being free to all on the plantation.

The negroes were frequently desirous of imitating the customs of white people in a manner that should evince their freedom. Especially did they desire to have no distinction in the payment of money, on account of the color of the recipient.

After this Sunday talk with the negroes, I found a material improvement. Occasionally I overheard some of them explaining to others their views upon various points. There were several who manifested a natural indolence, and found it difficult to get over their old habits. These received admonitions from their comrades, but could not wholly forget the laziness which was their inheritance. With these exceptions, there was no immediate cause for complaint.

During the earlier part of my stay in that region, I was surprised at the readiness with which the negroes obeyed men from the North, and believed they would fulfill their promises, while they looked with distrust on all Southern white men. Many owners endeavored in vain to induce their negroes to perform certain labor. The first request made by a Northern man to the same effect would be instantly complied with. The negroes explained that their masters had been in the habit of making promises which they never kept, and cited numerous instances to prove the truth of their assertion. It seemed to have been a custom in that region to deceive the negroes in any practicable manner. To make a promise to a negro, and fail to keep it, was no worse than to lure a horse into a stable-yard, by offering him a choice feed of corn, which would prove but a single mouthful. That the negroes had any human rights was apparently rarely suspected by their owners and overseers. The distrust which many of the negroes entertained for their former masters enabled the lessees to gain, at once, the confidence of their laborers. I regret to say that this confidence was abused in a majority of cases.

I gave the negroes a larger ration of meat, meal, and potatoes than had been previously issued. As soon as possible, I procured a quantity of molasses, coffee, and tobacco. These articles had not been seen on the plantation for many months, and were most gladly received. As there was no market in that vicinity where surplus provisions could be sold, I had no fear that the negroes would resort to stealing, especially as their daily supply was amply sufficient for their support. It was the complaint of many overseers and owners that the negroes would steal provisions on frequent occasions. If they committed any thefts during my time of management, they were made so carefully that I never detected them. It is proper to say that I followed the old custom of locking the store-houses at all times.

Very soon after commencing labor I found that our working force must be increased. Accordingly, I employed some of the negroes who were escaping from the interior of the State and making their way to Natchez. As there were but few mules on the plantation, I was particularly careful to employ those negroes who were riding, rather than walking, from slavery. If I could not induce these mounted travelers to stop with us, I generally persuaded them to sell their saddle animals. Thus, hiring negroes and buying mules, I gradually put the plantation in a presentable condition. While the cotton was being picked the blacksmith was repairing the plows, the harness-maker was fitting up the harnesses for the mules, and every thing was progressing satisfactorily. The gin-house was cleaned and made ready for the last work of preparing cotton for the market. Mr. Colburn arrived from the North after I had been a planter of only ten days’ standing. He was enthusiastic at the prospect, and manifested an energy that was the envy of his neighbors.

It required about three weeks to pick our cotton. Before it was all gathered we commenced “ginning” the quantity on hand, in order to make as little delay as possible in shipping our “crop” to market.

The process of ginning cotton is pretty to look upon, though not agreeable to engage in. The seed-cotton (as the article is called when it comes from the field) is fed in a sort of hopper, where it is brought in contact with a series of small and very sharp saws. From sixty to a hundred of these saws are set on a shaft, about half an inch apart. The teeth of these saws tear the fiber from the seed, but do not catch the seed itself. A brush which revolves against the saws removes the fiber from them at every revolution. The position of the gin is generally at the end of a large room, and into this room the detached fiber is thrown from the revolving brush.

This apartment is technically known as the “lint-room,” and presents an interesting scene while the process of ginning is going on. The air is full of the flying lint, and forcibly reminds a Northerner of a New England snow-storm. The lint falls, like the snow-flakes, with most wonderful lightness, but, unlike the snow-flakes, it does not melt. When the cotton is picked late in the season, there is usually a dense cloud of dust in the lint-room, which settles in and among the fiber. The person who watches the lint-room has a position far from enviable. His lungs become filled with dust, and, very often, the fine, floating fiber is drawn into his nostrils. Two persons are generally permitted to divide this labor. There were none of the men on our plantation who craved it. Some of the mischievous boys would watch their opportunity to steal into the lint-room, where they greatly enjoyed rolling upon the soft cotton. Their amusement was only stopped by the use of a small whip.

The machinery of a cotton-gin is driven by steam or horse power; generally the former. There is no water-power in the State of Louisiana, but I believe some of the lakes and bayous might be turned to advantage in the same way that the tide is used on the sea-coast.

All the larger plantations are provided with steam-engines, the chimneys of which are usually carried to a height sufficient to remove all danger from sparks. There is always a corn-mill, and frequently a saw-mill attached to the gin, and driven by the same power. On every plantation, one day in the week is set apart for grinding a seven-days’ supply of corn. This regulation is never varied, except under the most extraordinary circumstances. There is a universal rule in Louisiana, forbidding any person, white or black, smoking in the inclosure where the gin-house stands. I was told there was a legal enactment to this effect, that affixed heavy penalties to its infringement. For the truth of this latter statement I cannot vouch.

With its own corn-mill, saw-mill, and smithery, each plantation is almost independent of the neighborhood around it. The chief dependence upon the outside world is for farming tools and the necessary paraphernalia for the various branches of field-work. I knew one plantation, a short distance from ours, whose owner had striven hard to make it self-sustaining. He raised all the corn and all the vegetables needed. He kept an immense drove of hogs, and cured his own pork. Of cattle he had a goodly quantity, and his sheep numbered nearly three hundred. Wool and cotton supplied the raw material for clothing. Spinning-wheels and looms produced cloth in excess of what was needed. Even the thread for making the clothing for the negroes was spun on the plantation. Hats were made of the palmetto, which grew there in abundance. Shoes were the only articles of personal wear not of home production. Plows, hoes, and similar implements were purchased in the market, but the plantation was provided with a very complete repair-shop, and the workmen were famous for their skill.

The plantation, thus managed, yielded a handsome profit to its owner. The value of each year’s cotton crop, when delivered on the bank of the river, was not less than forty thousand dollars. Including wages of the overseer, and all outlays for repairs and purchase of such articles as were not produced at home, the expenses would not exceed five or six thousand dollars. Cotton-planting was very profitable under almost any management, and especially so under a prudent and economical owner. Being thus profitable with slave labor, it was natural for the planters to think it could prosper under no other system. “You can’t raise cotton without niggers, and you must own the niggers to raise it,” was the declaration in all parts of the South.



Official Favors.–Division of Labor.–Moral Suasion.–Corn-gathering in the South.–An Alarm.–A Frightened Irishman.–The Rebels Approaching.–An Attack on Waterproof.–Falstaff Redivivus.–His Feats of Arms.–Departure for New Orleans.

Our cotton having been ginned and baled, we made preparations for shipping it to market. These preparations included the procurement of a permit from the Treasury agent at Natchez, a task of no small magnitude. An application for the permit required, in addition to my own signature, the names of two property-owning citizens, as security for payment of the duties on the cotton. This application being placed in the hands of the Treasury agent, I was requested to call in two hours. I did so, and was then put off two hours longer. Thus I spent two whole days in frequent visits to that official. His memory was most defective, as I was obliged to introduce myself on each occasion, and tell him the object of my call.

A gentleman who had free access to the agent at all times hinted that he could secure early attention to my business on payment for his trouble. Many persons asserted that they were obliged to pay handsomely for official favors. I do not _know_ this to be true. I never paid any thing to the Treasury agent at Natchez or elsewhere, beyond the legitimate fees, and I never found any man who would give me a written statement that he had done so. Nevertheless, I had much circumstantial evidence to convince me that the Treasury officials were guilty of dishonorable actions. The temptation was great, and, with proper care, the chances of detection were small.

Armed with my permit, I returned to the plantation. Mr. Colburn, in my absence, had organized our force, lately engaged in cotton-picking, into suitable parties for gathering corn, of which we had some three hundred acres standing in the field. In New England I fear that corn which had remained ungathered until the middle of February, would be of comparatively little value. In our case it was apparently as sound as when first ripened.

Corn-gathering in the South differs materially from corn-gathering in the North. The negroes go through the field breaking the ears from the stalks without removing the husk. The ears are thrown into heaps at convenient distances from each other, and in regular rows. A wagon is driven between these rows, and the corn gathered for the crib. Still unhusked, it is placed in the crib, to be removed when needed. It is claimed that the husk thus remaining on the corn, protects it from various insects, and from the effect of the weather.

Every body of laborers on a plantation is called a “gang.” Thus we had “the picking-gang,” “the corn-gang,” “the trash-gang,” “the hoe-gang,” “the planting-gang,” “the plow-gang,” and so on through the list. Each gang goes to the field in charge of a head negro, known as the driver. This driver is responsible for the work of his gang, and, under the old _regime_, was empowered to enforce his orders with the whip, if necessary. Under our new dispensation the whip was laid aside, and a milder policy took its place. It was satisfactory with the adults; but there were occasions when the smaller boys were materially benefited by applications of hickory shrubs. Solomon’s words about sparing the rod are applicable to children of one race as well as to those of another. We did not allow our drivers to make any bodily punishment in the field, and I am happy to say they showed no desire to do so.

As I have before stated, our first organization was the picking-gang. Then followed the gin-gang and the press-gang. Our gin-gang was organized on principles of total abstinence, and, therefore, differed materially from the gin-gangs of Northern cities. Our press-gang, unlike the press-gangs of New York or Chicago, had nothing to do with morning publications, and would have failed to comprehend us had we ordered the preparation of a sensation leader, or a report of the last great meeting at Union Square. Our press-gang devoted its time and energies to putting our cotton into bales of the proper size and neatness.

The corn-gang, the trash-gang, and the plow-gang were successively organized by Mr. Colburn. Of the first I have spoken. The duties of the second were to gather the corn-stalks or cotton-stalks, as the case might be, into proper heaps for burning. As all this debris came under the generic name of “trash,” the appellation of the gang is readily understood. Our trash-gang did very well, except in a certain instance, when it allowed the fire from the trash to run across a field of dead grass, and destroy several hundred feet of fence. In justice to the negroes, I should admit that the firing of the grass was in obedience to our orders, and the destruction of the fence partly due to a strong wind which suddenly sprang up. The trash-gang is usually composed of the younger children and the older women. The former gather and pile the stalks which the latter cut up. They particularly enjoy firing the heaps of dry trash.

It was on Saturday, the 13th of February, that our press-gang completed its labors. On the afternoon of that day, as we were hauling our cotton to the landing, the garrison at Waterproof, two miles distant, suddenly opened with its artillery upon a real or supposed enemy. A gun-boat joined in the affair, and for half an hour the cannonade was vigorous. We could see the flashes of the guns and the dense smoke rising through the trees, but could discover nothing more. When the firing ceased we were somewhat anxious to know the result. Very soon a white man, an Irishman, who had been a short time in the vicinity to purchase cotton, reached our place in a state of exhaustion. He told a frightful story of the surprise and massacre of the whole garrison, and was very certain no one but himself had escaped. He had fortunately concealed himself under a very small bridge while the fight was going on. He called attention to his clothes, which were covered with mud, to prove the truth of his statement.

For a short time the situation had an unpleasant appearance. While we were deliberating upon the proper measures for safety, one of our negroes, who was in Waterproof during the firing, came to us with _his_ story. The fight had been on our side, some guerrillas having chased one of our scouting parties to a point within range of our guns. Our men shelled them with artillery, and this was the extent of the battle. The story of the Irishman, in connection with the true account of the affair, forcibly reminded me of the famous battle of Piketon, Kentucky, in the first year of the war.

On the next day (Sunday) I rode to Waterproof, leaving Colburn on the plantation. Just as I arrived within the lines, I ascertained that an attack was expected. The most stringent orders had been issued against allowing any person to pass out. Ten minutes later a scout arrived, saying that a force of Rebels was advancing to attack the post. The gun-boat commenced shelling the woods in the rear of Waterproof, and the artillery on land joined in the work. The Rebels did not get near enough to make any serious demonstration upon the town. The day passed with a steady firing from the gun-boat, relieved by an occasional interval of silence. Toward night the small garrison was re-enforced by the arrival of a regiment from Natchez. On the following day a portion of General Ellet’s Marine Brigade reached Waterproof, and removed all possibility of further attack.

In the garrison of Waterproof, at the commencement of this fight, there was a certain officer who could have sat for the portrait of Falstaff with very little stuffing, and without great change of character. Early in the war he belonged to an Eastern regiment, but on that occasion he had no commission, though this fact was not generally known. Nearly as large as Hackett’s Falstaff, he was as much a gascon as the hero of the Merry Wives of Windsor. He differed from Falstaff in possessing a goodly amount of bravery, but this bravery was accompanied with an entire absence of judgment.

In the early part of the fight, and until he was too drunk to move, this _preux chevalier_ dashed about Waterproof, mounted on a small horse, which he urged to the top of his speed. In one hand he flourished a cane, and in the other a revolver. He usually allowed the reins to lie on his horse’s neck, except when he wished to change his direction. With his abdomen protruding over the pommel of the saddle, his stirrups several inches too short, one boot-leg outside his pantaloons and the other inside, a very large hat pressed nearly to his eyes, and a face flushed with excitement and whisky, he was a study John Leech would have prized. Frequent and copious draughts of the cup which cheers and inebriates placed him _hors de combat_ before the close of the day.

From the crest of the levee, he could at any time discover several lines of battle approaching the town. Frequently he informed the commandant that the Rebels were about to open upon us with a dozen heavy batteries, which they were planting in position for a long siege. If the enemy had been in the force that this man claimed, they could not have numbered less than fifty thousand. When unhorsed for the last time during the day, he insisted that I should listen to the story of his exploits.

“I went,” said he, “to the colonel, this morning, and told him, sir, to give me ten men, and I would go out and feel the enemy’s position. He gave me the men, and I went. We found the enemy not less than a thousand strong, sir, behind Mrs. Miller’s gin-house. They were the advance of the whole Rebel army, sir, and I saw they must be driven back. We charged, and, after a desperate fight, drove them. They opposed us, sir, every inch of the way for two miles; but we routed them. We must have killed at least a hundred of them, sir, and wounded as many more. They didn’t hurt a man of us; but the bullets flew very thick, sir–very. I myself killed twelve of them with my own hand, sir. This is the way it was, sir. This revolver, you see, sir, has six barrels. I emptied it once, sir; I reloaded; I emptied it again, sir. Two times six are twelve, sir. I killed twelve of them with my own hand. Let it be recorded.

“On my way back, sir, I set fire to the gin-house, so that it should no more be a shelter for those infernal Rebels. You yourself, sir, saw that building in flames, and can testify to the truth of my story.”

In this strain the warrior gave the history of his moments of glory. The portion I have written was true in some points. He found three men (instead of a thousand), and pursued them a few hundred yards. He discharged his revolver at very long range, but I could not learn that his shots were returned. He fired the gin-house “to cover his retreat,” and gained the fortifications without loss. I do not know his locality at the present time, but presume he remained, up to the close of the war, where storms of shot and shell continually darkened the air, and where lines of battle were seen on every side.

The siege being raised, I returned to the plantation. From Waterproof, during the fight, I could see our buildings with perfect distinctness. I had much fear that some Rebel scouting party might pay the plantation a visit while the attack was going on. I found, on my return, that Colburn had taken the matter very coolly, and prevented the negroes becoming alarmed. He declared that he considered the plantation as safe as Waterproof, and would not have exchanged places with me during the fight. The negroes were perfectly quiet, and making preparations for plowing. While the fight was in progress, my associate was consulting with the drivers about the details of work for the ensuing week, and giving his orders with the utmost _sang froid_. In consideration of the uncertainty of battles in general, and the possibility of a visit at any moment from a party of Rebel scouts, my partner’s conduct was worthy of the highest commendation.

Before leaving Waterproof I had arranged for a steamer to call for our cotton, which was lying on the river bank. Waterproof lay at one side of the neck of a peninsula, and our plantation was at the other side. It was two miles across this peninsula, and sixteen miles around it, so that I could start on horseback, and, by riding very leisurely, reach the other side, long in advance of a steamboat. The steamer came in due time. After putting our cotton on board, I bade Mr. Colburn farewell, and left him to the cares and perplexities of a planter’s life. I was destined for New Orleans, to sell our cotton, and to purchase many things needed for the prosecution of our enterprise.

On my way down the river, I found that steamboat traveling was not an entirely safe amusement. The boat that preceded me was fired upon near Morganzia, and narrowly escaped destruction. A shell indented her steam-pipe, and passed among the machinery, without doing any damage. Had the pipe been cut, the steam would have filled every part of the boat.

I was not disturbed by artillery on the occasion of my journey, but received a compliment from small-arms. On the morning after leaving Natchez, I was awakened by a volley of musketry from the river-bank. One of the bullets penetrated the thin walls of the cabin and entered my state-room, within two inches of my head. I preserved the missile as a souvenir of travel.

On the next day the Rebels brought a battery of artillery to the spot. A steamer received its greeting, but escaped with a single passenger wounded.

A gentleman who was on this boat had a very narrow escape. He told me that he was awakened by the first shot, which passed through the upper works of the steamer. He was occupying the upper berth in a state-room on the side next the locality of the Rebels. His first impulse was to spring from his resting-place, and throw himself at full length upon the floor. He had hardly done so, when a shell entered the state-room, and traversed the berth in the exact position where my friend had been lying.

Having narrowly escaped death, he concluded not to run a second risk. He returned to St. Louis by way of New York. Wishing to visit New Orleans some time later, he sailed from New York on the _Electric Spark_, and enjoyed the luxury of a capture by the pirates of the “Confederate” steamer _Florida_. After that occurrence, he concluded there was little choice between the ocean and river routes.



New Orleans and its Peculiarities.–Its Loss by the Rebellion.–Cotton Factors in New Orleans.–Old Things passed away.–The Northern Barbarians a Race of Shopkeepers.–Pulsations of the Cotton Market.–A Quarrel with a Lady.–Contending for a Principle.–Inharmony of the “Regulations.”–An Account of Sales.

The first impression that New Orleans gives a stranger is its unlikeness to Northern cities. It is built on ground that slopes downward from the Mississippi. As one leaves the river and walks toward the center of the city, he finds himself descending. New Orleans is a hundred miles from the mouth of the Mississippi and only six miles from Lake Pontchartrain, which is an arm of the sea. The river at the city is ten feet above Lake Pontchartrain, so that New Orleans is washed by water from the Mississippi and drained into the lake. The water in the gutters always runs from the river, no matter what may be its height. The steamers at the foot of Canal Street appear above the spectator, when he stands a mile or two from the landing.

There is no earthy elevation of any kind, except of artificial construction, in the vicinity of New Orleans. The level surface of the streets renders the transportation of heavy bodies a work of the utmost ease. The greatest amount of merchandise that can be loaded upon four wheels rarely requires the efforts of more than two animals. The street-cars, unlike those of Northern cities, are drawn by a single mule to each car, and have no conductors. The cemeteries are above ground, and resemble the pigeon-holes of a post-office, magnified to a sufficient size for the reception of coffins. There is not a cellar in the entire city of New Orleans.

Musquitos flourish during the entire winter. In the summer there are two varieties of these insects. The night-musquito is similar to the insect which disturbs our slumbers in Northern latitudes. The day-musquito relieves his comrade at sunrise and remains on duty till sunset. He has no song, but his bite is none the less severe. He disappears at the approach of winter, but his tuneful brother remains. Musquito nettings are a necessity all the year round.

The public walks of New Orleans are justly the pride of the inhabitants. Canal Street is probably the prettiest street in America. Along its center is a double row of shade-trees, a promenade, and the tracks of the street railway. These shade-trees are inclosed so as to form a series of small parks for the entire length of the street. On each side of these parks is a carriage-way, as wide as the great thoroughfare of New York. Canal Street is the fashionable promenade of New Orleans. In the days of glory, before the Rebellion, it presented a magnificent appearance.

Among the prettiest of the parks of New Orleans is Jackson Square, containing a fine equestrian statue of General Jackson. The pedestal of the statue is emblazoned with the words:


The French element in New Orleans is apparent on every side. The auctioneers cry their wares in mingled French and English, and the negroes and white laborers on the levee converse in a hybrid language. In the French quarter, every thing is French. The signs on the shops and the street corners, the conversation of the inhabitants and the shouts of the boys who play on the sidewalks, are in the vernacular of _La Belle France_. In Jackson Square, notices to warn visitors not to disturb the shrubbery, are posted in two languages, the French being first. On one poster I saw the sentence: “_Ne touche pas a les fleurs_,” followed by the literal translation into English: “Don’t touch to the flowers.” I was happy to observe that the caution was very generally heeded.

Before the war, New Orleans was a city of wonderful wealth. Situated at the outlet of the great valley, its trade in cotton, sugar, and other products of the West and South, was immense. Boats, which had descended from all points along the navigable portion of the Mississippi, discharged their cargoes upon its levee. Ships of all nations were at the wharves, receiving the rich freight that the steamers had brought down. The piles of merchandise that lay along the levee were unequaled in any other city of the globe. Money was abundant, and was lavishly scattered in all directions.

With the secession of the Gulf States, the opening of hostilities, and the blockade of the Mississippi at its mouth and at Cairo, the prosperity of New Orleans disappeared. The steamers ceased to bring cotton and sugar to its wharves, and its levee presented a picture of inactivity. Many of the wealthy found themselves in straitened circumstances, and many of the poor suffered and died for want of food. For a whole year, while the Rebel flag floated over the city, the business of New Orleans was utterly suspended.

With the passage of the forts and the capture of New Orleans by Admiral Farragut, the Rebel rule was ended. Very slowly the business of the city revived, but in its revival it fell into the hands of Northern men, who had accompanied our armies in their advance. The old merchants found themselves crowded aside by the ubiquitous Yankees. With the end of the war, the glory of the city will soon return, but it will not return to its old channels. More than any other city of the South, New Orleans will be controlled by men of Northern birth and sentiments. The day of slave-auctions in the rotunda of the St. Charles has passed away forever.

New Orleans has a class of men peculiar to the South, whose business it is to sell cotton for the planters. These gentlemen are known as “factors,” and, in former times, were numerous and successful. Whatever a planter needed, from a quire of paper to a steam-engine, he ordered his factor to purchase and forward. The factor obeyed the order and charged the amount to the planter, adding two and a half per cent, for commission.

If the planter wanted money, he drew upon the factor, and that individual honored the draft. At the end of the season, it often occurred that the planter was largely in debt to the factor. But the cotton crop, when gathered, being consigned to the factor, canceled this indebtedness, and generally left a balance in the planter’s favor.

The factor charged a good commission for selling the cotton, and sometimes required interest upon the money he advanced. In the happy days before the war, the factor’s business was highly lucrative. The advances to the planters, before the maturity of the cotton crop, often required a heavy capital, but the risk was not great. Nearly every planter was considerably indebted to his factor before his cotton went forward. In many cases the proceeds of the entire crop would but little more than cover the advances which had been made.

In New Orleans nearly all cotton is sold “by sample.” Certain men are licensed to “sample” cotton, for which they charge a specified sum per bale. A hole is cut in the covering of each bale, and from this hole a handful of cotton is pulled. Every bale is thus “sampled,” without regard to the size of the lot. The samples are taken to the sales-room of the commission house, where they are open to the inspection of buyers. The quality of the cotton is carefully noted, the length of the fiber or staple, the whiteness of the sample, and its freedom from dust or fragments of cotton-stalks. Not one bale in twenty is ever seen by the buyers until after its purchase. Frequently the buyers transfer their cotton to other parties without once looking upon it Sometimes cotton is sold at auction instead of being offered at private sale, but the process of “sampling” is carried out in either case.

In ’63 and ’64, New Orleans could boast of more cotton factors than cotton. The principal business was in the hands of merchants from the North, who had established themselves in the city soon after its occupation by the National forces. Nearly all cotton sent to market was from plantations leased by Northern men, or from purchases made of planters by Northern speculators. The patronage naturally fell into the hands of the new possessors of the soil, and left the old merchants to pine in solitude. The old cotton factors, most of them Southern men, who could boast of ten or twenty years’ experience, saw their business pass into the hands of men whose arrival in New Orleans was subsequent to that of General Butler. Nearly all the old factors were Secessionists, who religiously believed no government could exist unless founded on raw cotton and slavery. They continually asserted that none but themselves could sell cotton to advantage, and wondered why those who had that article to dispose of should employ men unaccustomed to its sale. They were doomed to find themselves false prophets. The new and enterprising merchants monopolized the cotton traffic, and left the slavery-worshiping factors of the olden time to mourn the loss of their occupation.

At the time I visited New Orleans, cotton was falling. It had been ninety cents per pound. I could only obtain a small fraction above seventy cents, and within a week the same quality sold for sixty. Three months afterward, it readily brought a dollar and a quarter per pound. The advices from New York were the springs by which the market in New Orleans was controlled. A good demand in New York made a good demand in New Orleans, and _vice versa_. The New York market was governed by the Liverpool market, and that in turn by the demand at Manchester. Thus the Old World and the New had a common interest in the production of cotton. While one watched the demand, the other closely observed the supply.

Some of the factors in New Orleans were fearful lest the attention paid to cotton-culture in other parts of the world would prove injurious to the South after the war should be ended. They had abandoned their early belief that their cotton was king, and dreaded the crash that was to announce the overthrow of all their hopes.

In their theory that cotton-culture was unprofitable, unless prosecuted by slave labor, these men could only see a gloomy picture for years to come. Not so the new occupants of the land. Believing that slavery was not necessary to the production of sugar and cotton; believing that the country could show far more prosperity under the new system of labor than was ever seen under the old; and believing that commerce would find new and enlarged channels with the return of peace, they combated the secession heresies of the old residents, and displayed their faith by their works. New Orleans was throwing off its old habits and adopting the ideas and manners of Northern civilization.

Mrs. B., the owner of our plantation, was in New Orleans at the time of my arrival. As she was to receive half the proceeds of the cotton we had gathered, I waited upon her to tell the result of our labors. The sale being made, I exhibited the account of sales to her agent, and paid him the stipulated amount. So far all was well; but we were destined to have a difference of opinion upon a subject touching the rights of the negro.

Early in 1863 the Rebel authorities ordered the destruction of all cotton liable to fall into the hands of the National forces. The order was very generally carried out. In its execution, some four hundred bales belonging to Mrs. B. were burned. The officer who superintended the destruction, permitted the negroes on the plantation to fill their beds with cotton, but not to save any in bales. When we were making our shipment, Mr. Colburn proposed that those negroes who wished to do so, could sell us their cotton, and fill their beds with moss or husks. As we paid them a liberal price, they accepted our offer, and we made up three bales from our purchase. We never imagined that Mrs. B. would lay any claim to this lot, and did not include it in the quantity for which we paid her half the proceeds.

After I had made the payment to her factor, I received a note from the lady in reference to the three bales above mentioned. She said the cotton in question was entirely her property; but, in consideration of our careful attention to the matter, she would consent to our retaining half its value. She admitted that she would have never thought to bring it to market; but since we had collected and baled it, she demanded it as her own. I “respectfully declined” to comply with her request. I believed the negroes had a claim to what was saved from the burning, and given to them by the Rebel authorities. Mrs. B. was of the opinion that a slave could own nothing, and therefore insisted that the cotton belonged to herself.

Very soon after sending my reply, I was visited by the lady’s factor. A warm, though courteous, discussion transpired. The factor was a Secessionist, and a firm believer in the human and divine right of slavery. He was a man of polished exterior, and was, doubtless, considered a specimen of the true Southern gentleman. In our talk on the subject in dispute, I told him the Rebels had allowed the negroes to fill their beds with cotton, and it was this cotton we had purchased.

“The negroes had no right to sell it to you,” said the factor; “neither had you any right to purchase it.”

“If it was given to them,” I asked, “was it not theirs to sell?”

“Certainly not. The negroes own nothing, and can own nothing. Every thing they have, the clothes they wear and the dishes they use, belongs to their owners. When we ‘give’ any thing to a negro, we merely allow it to remain in his custody, nothing more.”

“But in this case,” said I, “the gift was not made by the owner. The cotton was to be destroyed by order of your Confederate Government. That order took it from Mrs. B.’s possession. When the officer came to burn the cotton, and gave a portion to the negroes to fill their beds, he made no gift to Mrs. B.”

“Certainly he did. The cotton became hers, when it was given to her negroes. If you give any thing to one of my negroes, that article becomes my property as much as if given to me.”

“But how is it when a negro, by working nights or Saturdays, manages to make something for himself?”

“That is just the same. Whatever he makes in that way belongs to his master. Out of policy we allow him to keep it, but we manage to have him expend it for his own good. The negro is the property of his master, and can own nothing for himself.”

“But in this case,” I replied, “I have promised to pay the negroes for the cotton. It would be unjust to them to fail to do so.”

“You must not pay them any thing for it. Whatever you have promised makes no difference. It is Mrs. B.’s property, not theirs. If you pay them, you will violate all our customs, and establish a precedent very bad for us and for yourself.”

I assured the gentleman I should feel under obligation to deal justly with the negroes, even at the expense of violating Southern precedent. “You may not be aware,” I remarked, “of the magnitude of the change in the condition of the Southern negro during the two years just closed. The difference of opinion between your people and ourselves is, no doubt, an honest one. We shall be quite as persistent in pushing our views at the present time as you have been in enforcing yours in the past. We must try our theory, and wait for the result.”

We separated most amiably, each hoping the other would eventually see things in their true light. From present indications, the weight of public opinion is on my side, and constantly growing stronger.

My sales having been made, and a quantity of plantation supplies purchased, I was ready to return. It was with much difficulty that I was able to procure permits from the Treasury agent at New Orleans to enable me to ship my purchases. Before leaving Natchez, I procured all the documents required by law. Natchez and New Orleans were not in the same “district,” and consequently there was much discord. For example, the agent at Natchez gave me a certain document that I should exhibit at New Orleans, and take with me on my return to Natchez. The agent at New Orleans took possession of this document, and, on my expostulating, said the agent at Natchez “had no right” to give me instructions to retain it. He kept the paper, and I was left without any defense against seizure of the goods I had in transit. They were seized by a Government officer, but subsequently released. On my arrival at Natchez, I narrated the occurrence to the Treasury agent at that point. I was informed that the agent at New Orleans “could not” take my papers from me, and I should not have allowed him to do so.

I was forcibly reminded of the case of the individual who was once placed in the public stocks. On learning his offense, a lawyer told him, “Why, Sir, they can’t put you in the stocks for _that_.”

“But they have.”

“I tell you they can’t do it.”

“But, don’t you see, they have.”

“I tell you again they can’t do any such thing.”

In my own case, each Treasury agent declared the other “could not” do the things which had been done. In consequence of the inharmony of the “regulations,” the most careful shipper would frequently find his goods under seizure, from which they could generally be released on payment of liberal fees and fines. I do not know there was any collusion between the officials, but I could not rid myself of the impression there was something rotten in Denmark. The invariable result of these little quarrels was the plundering of the shippers. The officials never suffered. Like the opposite sides of a pair of shears, though cutting against each other, they only injured whatever was between them.

Not a hundredth part of the official dishonesty at New Orleans and other points along the Mississippi will ever be known. Enough has been made public to condemn the whole system of permits and Treasury restrictions. The Government took a wise course when it abolished, soon after the suppression of the Rebellion, a large number of the Treasury Agencies in the South. As they were managed during the last two years of the war, these agencies proved little else than schools of dishonesty. There may have been some honest men in those offices, but they contrived to conceal their honesty.

To show the variety of charges which attach to a shipment of cotton, I append the sellers’ account for the three bales about which Mrs. B. and myself had our little dispute. These bales were not sold with the balance of our shipment. The cotton of which they were composed was of very inferior quality.

_Account Sales of Three Bales of Cotton for Knox & Colburn._ By PARSLEY & WILLIAMS.
______________________________________________________________________ Mark, | 3 bales. || | || | “K. C.”| Weight, } 1,349 @…………..|| $0 | 60 || $809 | 40 | 533–406–410 } || | || | | Auctioneers’ commission, 1 pr. ct…..|| 8 | 09 || | | Sampling ………………………..|| | 30 || | | Weighing ………………………..|| | 50 || | | Watching…………………………|| | 50 || | | Tarpaulins ………………………|| | 50 || | | Freight, $10 pr. bale …………….|| 30 | 00 || | | Insurance, $2.50 pr. bale …………|| 7 | 50 || | | 4 c. pr. lb. (tax) on 1,349 lb …….|| 53 | 96 || | | 1/2 c. ” ” ” ” ……….|| 6 | 74 || | | Permit and stamps ………………..|| | 65 || | | Hospital fees, $5 pr. bale…………|| 15 | 00 || | | Factors’ commission, 1 pr. ct………|| 8 | 09 || | | || — | — || 131 | 83 | || | || —- | — E.O.E. | Net proceeds………………….|| | || $677 | 57 ———————————————————————- NEW ORLEANS, La., _February 22_, 1864.

It will be seen by the above that the charges form an important portion of the proceeds of a sale. The heaviest items are for Government and hospital taxes. The latter was levied before the war, but the former is one of the fruits of the Rebellion. It is likely to endure for a considerable time.

I knew several cases in which the sales of cotton did not cover the charges, but left a small bill to be paid by the owner. Frequently, cotton that had been innocently purchased and sent to market was seized by Government officials, on account of some alleged informality, and placed in the public warehouses. The owner could get no hearing until he made liberal presents of a pecuniary character to the proper authorities.

After much delay and many bribes, the cotton would be released. New charges would appear, and before a sale could be effected the whole value of the cotton would be gone.

A person of my acquaintance was unfortunate enough to fall into the hands of the Philistines in the manner I have described above. At the end of the transaction he found himself a loser to the extent of three hundred dollars. He has since been endeavoring to ascertain the amount of traffic on a similar scale that would be needed to make him a millionaire. At last accounts he had not succeeded in solving the problem.



Mysteries of Mule-trading.–“What’s in a Name?”–Process of Stocking a Plantation.–An Enterprising White Man.–Stratagem of a Yankee.–Distributing Goods to the Negroes.–The Tastes of the African.–Ethiopian Eloquence.–A Colored Overseer.–Guerrillas Approaching.–Whisky _vs_. Guerrillas.–A Hint to Military Men.

On my return from New Orleans to the plantation, I found that Colburn had been pushing our business with a rapidity and skill that secured the admiration of everyone around us. He had increased our working force, and purchased a goodly number of mules. We had seventeen plows in operation, and two teams engaged in gathering corn, on the day before my arrival. The “trash-gang” was busy, and other working parties were occupied with their various duties. We were looking to a brilliant future, and echoed the wish of Jefferson Davis, to be “let alone.”

The enterprise of a lessee at that time, and in that locality, was illustrated by his ability to supply his plantation with mules. There were many who failed in the effort, but my associate was not of the number. There were but few mules in the Natchez market–not enough to meet a tenth of the demand. Nearly every plantation had been stripped of working animals by one army or the other. Before our arrival the Rebels plundered all men suspected of lukewarmness in the cause. When the National army obtained possession, it took nearly every thing the Rebels had left. All property believed to belong to the Rebel Government was passed into the hands of our quartermaster.

A planter, named Caleb Shields, had a large plantation near Natchez, which had not been disturbed by the Rebels. His mules were branded with the letters “C.S.,” the initials of their owner. As these letters happened to be the same that were used by the Confederate Government, Mr. Shields found his mules promptly seized and “confiscated.” Before he could explain the matter and obtain an order for their return, his animals were sent to Vicksburg and placed in the Government corral. If the gentleman had possessed other initials, it is possible (though not certain) he might have saved his stock.

Mules being very scarce, the lessees exercised their skill in supplying themselves with those animals. On my first arrival at the plantation, I took care to hire those negroes who were riding from the interior, or, at all events, to purchase their animals. In one day I obtained two horses and four mules. An order had been issued for the confiscation of beasts of burden (or draught) brought inside the lines by negroes. We obtained permission to purchase of these runaway negroes whatever mules they would sell, provided we could make our negotiations before they reached the military lines.

Immediately after my departure, Mr. Colburn stationed one of our men on the road near our house, with orders to effect a trade with every mounted negro on his way to Natchez. The plan was successful. From two to a half-dozen mules were obtained daily. During the two weeks of my absence nearly fifty mules were purchased, placing the plantation in good order for active prosecution of our planting enterprise. At the same time many lessees in our vicinity were unable to commence operations, owing to their inability to obtain working stock.

The negroes discovered that the mule market was not well supplied, and some of the more enterprising and dishonest sons of Ham endeavored to profit by the situation. Frequently mules would be offered at a suspiciously low price, with the explanation that the owner was anxious to dispose of his property and return home. Some undertook nocturnal expeditions, ten or twenty miles into the interior, where they stole whatever mules they could find. A few of the lessees suffered by the loss of stock, which was sold an hour after it was stolen, and sometimes to the very party from whom it had been taken. We took every care to avoid buying stolen property, but were sometimes deceived.

On one occasion I purchased a mule of a negro who lived at Waterproof. The purchase was made an hour before sunset, and the animal was stolen during the night. On the following morning, Colburn bought it again of the same party with whom I had effected my trade. After this occurrence, we adopted the plan of branding each mule as soon as it came into our hands. All the lessees did the same thing, and partially protected each other against fraud.

White men were the worst mule-thieves, and generally instructed the negroes in their villainy. There were several men in Natchez who reduced mule-stealing to a science, and were as thoroughly skilled in it as Charley Bates or the Artful Dodger in the science of picking pockets. One of them had four or five white men and a dozen negroes employed in bringing stock to market. I think he retired to St. Louis, before the end of May, with ten or twelve thousand dollars as the result of three months’ industry.

Some of the lessees resorted to questionable methods for supplying their plantations with the means for plowing and planting. One of them occupied a plantation owned by a man who refused to allow his own stock to be used. He wished to be neutral until the war was ended.

This owner had more than sixty fine mules, that were running loose in the field. One day the lessee told the owner that he had purchased a lot of mules at Natchez, and would bring them out soon. On the following night, while the owner slept, the lessee called some trusty negroes to his aid, caught seventeen mules from the field, sheared and branded them, and placed them in a yard by themselves. In the morning he called the owner to look at the “purchase.”

“You have bought an excellent lot,” said the latter individual. “Where were they from?”

“All from St. Louis.” was the response. “They were brought down two days ago. I don’t know what to do about turning them out. Do you think, if I put them with yours, there is any danger of their straying, on account of being on a strange place?”

“None at all. I think there is no risk.”

The lessee took the risk, and expressed much delight to find that the new mules showed themselves at home on the plantation.

Several days later the owner of the plantation discovered the loss of his mules, but never suspected what had become of them. Two weeks afterward, the Rebels came and asked him to designate the property of the lessee, that they might remove it. He complied by pointing out the seventeen mules, which the Rebels drove away, leaving the balance unharmed.

I landed at the plantation one Sunday evening, with the goods I had purchased in New Orleans. I was met with the unwelcome information that the small force at Waterproof, after committing many depredations on the surrounding country, had been withdrawn, leaving us exposed to the tender mercies of the indignant chivalry. We were liable to be visited at any moment. We knew the Rebels would not handle us very tenderly, in view of what they had suffered from our own men. A party of guerrillas was reported seven miles distant on the day previous, and there was nothing to hinder their coming as near as they chose.

Accordingly, we determined to distribute the goods among the negroes as early as possible. On Monday morning we commenced. There was some delay, but we succeeded in starting a very lively trade before seven o’clock.

Shoes were in great demand, as the negroes had not been supplied with these articles for nearly three years. A hundred pairs were speedily issued, when the balance was laid aside for future consideration. There were some of the negroes whose feet were too large for any shoes we had purchased. It was a curious fact that these large-footed negroes were not above the ordinary stature. I remember one in particular who demanded “thirteens,” but who did not stand more than five feet and five inches in his invisible stockings.

After the shoes, came the material for clothing. For the men we had purchased “gray denims” and “Kentucky jeans;” for the women, “blue denims” and common calico. These articles were rapidly taken, and with them the necessary quantity of thread, buttons, etc. A supply of huge bandana kerchiefs for the head was eagerly called for. I had procured as many of these articles as I thought necessary for the entire number of negroes on the plantation; but found I had sadly miscalculated. The kerchiefs were large and very gaudy, and the African taste was at once captivated by them. Instead of being satisfied with one or two, every negro desired from six to a dozen, and was much disappointed at the refusal. The gaudy colors of most of the calicoes created a great demand, while a few pieces of more subdued appearance were wholly discarded. White cotton cloth, palm-leaf hats, knives and forks, tin plates, pans and dishes, and other articles for use or wear, were among the distributions of the day.

Under the slave-owner’s rule, the negro was entitled to nothing beyond his subsistence and coarse clothing. Out of a large-hearted generosity the master gave him various articles, amounting, in the course of a year, to a few dollars in value. These articles took the name of “presents,” and their reception was designed to inspire feelings of gratitude in the breast of the slave.

Most of the negroes understood that the new arrangements made an end of present-giving. They were to be paid for all their labor, and were to pay for whatever they received. When the plan was first announced, all were pleased with it; but when we came to the distribution of the goods, many of the negroes changed their views. They urged that the clothing, and every thing else we had purchased, should be issued as “presents,” and that they should be paid for their labor in addition. Whatever little advantages the old system might have, they wished to retain and ingraft upon their new life. To be compensated for labor was a condition of freedom which they joyfully accepted. To receive “presents” was an apparent advantage of slavery which they did not wish to set aside.

The matter was fully explained, and I am confident all our auditors understood it. Those that remained obstinate had an eye to their personal interests. Those who had been sick, idle, absent, or disabled, were desirous of liberal gifts, while the industrious were generally in favor of the new system, or made no special opposition to it.

One negro, who had been in our employ two weeks, and whose whole labor in that time was less than four days, thought he deserved a hundred dollars’ worth of presents, and compensation in money for a fortnight’s toil. All were inclined to value their services very highly; but there were some whose moderation knew no bounds.

A difficulty arose on account of certain promises that had been made to the negroes by the owner of the plantation, long before our arrival. Mrs. B. had told them (according to their version) that the proceeds of the cotton on the plantation should be distributed in the form of presents, whenever a sale was effected. She did not inform us of any such promise when we secured the lease of the plantation. If she made any agreement to that effect, it was probably forgotten. Those who claimed that this arrangement had been made desired liberal presents in addition to payment for their labor. Our non-compliance with this demand was acknowledged to be just, but it created considerable disappointment.

One who had been her mistress’s favorite argued the question with an earnestness that attracted my attention. Though past sixty years of age, she was straight as an arrow, and her walk resembled that of a tragedy queen. In her whole features she was unlike those around her, except in her complexion, which was black as ink. There was a clear, silvery tone to her voice, such as I have rarely observed in persons of her race. In pressing her claim, she grew wonderfully eloquent, and would have elicited the admiration of an educated audience. Had there been a school in that vicinity for the development of histrionic talent in the negro race, I would have given that woman a recommendation to its halls.

During my absence, Mr. Colburn employed an overseer on our smaller plantation, and placed him in full charge of the work. This overseer was a mulatto, who had been fifteen years the manager of a large plantation about seven miles distant from ours. In voice and manner he was a white man, but his complexion and hair were those of the subject race. There was nothing about the plantation which he could not master in every point. Without being severe, he was able to accomplish all that had been done under the old system. He imitated the customs of the white man as much as possible, and it was his particular ambition to rank above those of his own color. As an overseer he was fully competent to take charge of any plantation in that locality. During all my stay in the South, I did not meet a white overseer whom I considered the professional equal of this negro.

“Richmond” was the name to which our new assistant answered. His master had prevented his learning to read, but allowed him to acquire sufficient knowledge of figures to record the weight of cotton in the field. Richmond could mark upon the slate all round numbers between one hundred and four hundred; beyond this he was never able to go. He could neither add nor subtract, nor could he write a single letter of the alphabet. He was able, however, to write his own name very badly, having copied it from a pass written by his master. He had possessed himself of a book, and, with the help of one of our negroes who knew the alphabet, he was learning to read. His house was a model of neatness. I regret to say that he was somewhat tyrannical when superintending the affairs of his domicile.

As the day of our distribution of goods was a stormy one, Richmond was called from the plantation to assist us. Under his assistance we were progressing fairly, interrupted occasionally by various causes of delay. Less than half the valuable articles were distributed, when our watches told us it was noon. Just as we were discussing the propriety of an adjournment for dinner, an announcement was made that banished all thoughts of the mid-day meal.

One of our boys had been permitted to visit Waterproof during the forenoon. He returned, somewhat breathless, and his first words dropped like a shell among the assembled negroes:

“_The Rebels are in Waterproof_.”

“How do you know?”

“I saw them there, and asked a lady what they were. She said they were Harrison’s Rebels.”

We told the negroes to go to their quarters. Richmond mounted his horse and rode off toward the plantation of which he had charge. In two minutes, there was not a negro in the yard, with the exception of the house-servants. Our goods were lying exposed. We threw some of the most valuable articles into an obscure closet.

At the first alarm we ordered our horses brought out. When the animals appeared we desisted from our work.

“The Rebels are coming down the road,” was the next bulletin from the front.

We sprang upon our horses and rode a hundred yards along the front of our “quarter-lot,” to a point where we could look up the road toward Waterproof. There they were, sure enough, thirty or more mounted men, advancing at a slow trot. They were about half a mile distant, and, had we been well mounted, there was no doubt of our easy escape.

“Now comes the race,” said Colburn. “Twenty miles to Natchez. A single heat, with animals to go at will.”

We turned our horses in the direction of Natchez.

“Stop,” said I, as we reached the house again. “They did not see us, and have not quickened their pace. Strategy, my boy, may assist us a little.”

Throwing my bridle into Colburn’s hand, I slid from my saddle and bounded into the dwelling. It was the work of a moment to bring out a jug and a glass tumbler, but I was delayed longer than I wished in finding the key of our closet. The jug contained five gallons of excellent whisky (so pronounced by my friends), and would have been a valuable prize in any portion of the Confederacy.

Placing the jug and tumbler side by side on the veranda, in full view from the road, I remounted, just as the Rebels reached the corner of our quarter-lot.

“We have pressing engagements in Natchez,” said Colburn.

“So we have,” I replied; “I had nearly forgotten them. Let us lose no time in meeting them.”

As we rode off, some of the foremost Rebels espied us and quickened their pace. When they reached the house they naturally looked toward it to ascertain if any person was there. They saw the jug, and were at once attracted. One man rode past the house, but the balance stopped. The minority of one was prudent, and returned after pursuing us less than fifty yards. The whisky which the jug contained was quickly absorbed. With only one tumbler it required some minutes to drain the jug. These minutes were valuable.

Whisky may have ruined many a man, but it saved us. Around that seductive jug those thirty guerrillas became oblivious to our escape. We have reason to be thankful that we disobeyed the rules of strict teetotalers by “keeping liquor in the house.”

I was well mounted, and could have easily kept out of the way of any ordinary chase. Colburn was only fairly mounted, and must have been run down had there been a vigorous and determined pursuit. As each was resolved to stand by the other, the capture of one would have doubtless been the capture of both.

[Illustration: “STRATEGY, MY BOY!”]



News of the Raid.–Returning to the Plantation.–Examples of Negro Cunning.–A Sudden Departure and a Fortunate Escape.–A Second Visit.–“Going Through,” in Guerrilla Parlance.–How it is Accomplished.–Courtesy to Guests.–A Holiday Costume.–Lessees Abandoning their Plantations.–Official Promises.

As soon as satisfied we were not followed we took a leisurely pace, and in due time reached Natchez. Four hours later we received the first bulletin from the plantation. About thirty guerrillas had been there, mainly for the purpose of despoiling the plantation next above ours. This they had accomplished by driving off all the mules. They had not stolen _our_ mules, simply because they found as much cloth and other desirable property as they wished to take on that occasion. Besides, our neighbor’s mules made as large a drove as they could manage. They promised to come again, and we believed they would keep their word. We ascertained that my strategy with the whisky saved us from pursuit.

On the next day a messenger arrived, saying all was quiet at the plantation. On the second day, as every thing continued undisturbed, I concluded to return. Colburn had gone to Vicksburg, and left me to look after our affairs as I thought best. We had discussed the propriety of hiring a white overseer to stay on the plantation during our absence. The prospect of visits from guerrillas convinced us that _we_ should not spend much of our time within their reach. We preferred paying some one to risk his life rather than to risk our own lives. The prospect of getting through the season without serious interruption had become very poor, but we desired to cling to the experiment a little longer. Once having undertaken it, we were determined not to give it up hastily.

I engaged a white man as overseer, and took him with me to the plantation. The negroes had been temporarily alarmed at the visit of the guerrillas, but, as they were not personally disturbed, their excitement was soon allayed. I found them anxiously waiting my return, and ready to recommence labor on the following day.

The ravages of the guerrillas on that occasion were not extensive. They carried off a few bolts of cloth and some smaller articles, after drinking the whisky I had set out for their entertainment. The negroes had carefully concealed the balance of the goods in places where a white man would have much trouble in finding them. In the garden there was a row of bee-hives, whose occupants manifested much dislike for all white men, irrespective of their political sentiments. Two unused hives were filled with the most valuable articles on our invoice, and placed at the ends of this row. In a clump of weeds under the bench on which the hives stood, the negroes secreted several rolls of cloth and a quantity of shoes. More shoes and more cloth were concealed in a hen-house, under a series of nests where several innocent hens were “sitting.” Crockery was placed among the rose-bushes and tomato-vines in the garden; barrels of sugar were piled with empty barrels of great age; and two barrels of molasses had been neatly buried in a freshly-ploughed potato-field. Obscure corners in stables and sheds were turned into hiding-places, and the cunning of the negro was well evinced by the successful concealment of many bulky articles.

It was about two o’clock in the afternoon when I arrived at the plantation. I immediately recommenced the issue of goods, which was suspended so hastily three days before. From two o’clock until dark the overseer and myself were busily engaged, and distributed about two-thirds of our remaining stock. Night came. We suspended the distribution and indulged in supper. After giving the overseer directions for the morrow, I recollected an invitation to spend the night at the house of a friend, three miles away, on the road to Natchez.

I ordered my horse, and in a few moments the animal was ready, at the door. I told the overseer where I was going, and bade him good-night.

“Where are you going, Mr. K—-?” said the negro who had brought out the horse, as he delivered the bridle into my hands.

“If any one calls to see me,” said I, “you can say I have gone to Natchez.”

With that I touched a spur to my horse and darted off rapidly toward my friend’s house. A half-dozen negroes had gathered to assist in saddling and holding the horse. As I sprang into the saddle I heard one of them say:

“I don’t see why Mr. K—- starts off to Natchez at this time of night.”

Another negro explained the matter, but I did not hear the explanation. If he gave a satisfactory reason, I think he did better than I could have done.

Immediately after my departure the overseer went to bed. He had been in bed about fifteen minutes when he heard a trampling of horses’ feet around the house. A moment later there was a loud call for the door to be opened. Before the overseer could comply with the request, the door was broken in. A dozen men crowded into the house, demanding that a light be struck instantly. As the match gave its first flash of light, one of the visitors said:

“Well, K—-, we’ve got you this time.”

“That,” said another, “is no K—-; that is Walter Owen, who used to be overseer on Stewart’s plantation.”

“What are you doing here?” demanded another.

Mr. Owen, trembling in his night-clothes, replied that he had been engaged to stay there as overseer.

“Where is K—-, and where is Colburn?”

“Mr. Colburn hasn’t been here since last Monday. Mr. K—- has gone to Natchez.”

“That’s a —- lie,” said one of the guerrillas. “We know he came here at two o’clock this afternoon, and was here at dark. He is somewhere around this house.”

In vain did Owen protest I was not there. Every room and every closet in the house was searched. A pile of bagging in a garret was overhauled, in the expectation that I was concealed within it. Even the chimneys were not neglected, though I doubt if the smallest of professional sweeps could pass through them. One of the guerrillas opened a piano, to see if I had not taken refuge under its cover. They looked into all possible and impossible nooks and corners, in the hope of finding me somewhere. At last they gave up the search, and contented themselves with promising to catch both Colburn and myself before long.

“We want to go through those d–d Abolitionists, and we will do it, too. They may dodge us for a while, but we will have them by-and-by.”

Not being privileged to “go through” me as they had anticipated, the gentlemanly guerrillas went through the overseer. They took his money, his hat, his pantaloons, and his saddle. His horse was standing in the stable, and they took that also. They found four of our mules, and appropriated them to their own use. They frightened one of the negroes into telling where certain articles were concealed, and were thus enabled to carry off a goodly amount of plunder. They threatened Mr. Owen with the severest punishment, if he remained any longer on the plantation. They possessed themselves of a “protection” paper which Mrs. B. had received from the commander at Natchez several months before, and were half inclined to burn her buildings as a punishment for having sought the favor of the Yankees. Their stay was of only an hour’s duration.

From our plantation the robbers went to the one next above, where they were more fortunate in finding the lessees at home. They surrounded the house in the same manner they had surrounded ours, and then burst open the doors. The lessees were plundered of every thing in the shape of money, watches, and knives, and were forced to exchange hats and coats with their captors. One of the guerrillas observed an ivory-headed pencil, which he appropriated to his own use, with the remark:

“They don’t make these things back here in the woods. When they do, I will send this one back.”

These lessees were entertaining some friends on that evening, and begged the guerrillas to show them some distinction.

“D–n your friends,” said the guerrilla leader; “I suppose they are Yankees?”

“Yes, they are; we should claim friendship with nobody else.”

“Then we want to see what they have, and go through them if it is worth the while.”

The strangers were unceremoniously searched. Their united contributions to the guerrilla treasury were two watches, two revolvers, three hundred dollars in money, and their hats and overcoats. Their horses and saddles were also taken. In consideration of their being guests of the house, these gentlemen were allowed to retain their coats. They were presented with five dollars each, to pay their expenses to Natchez. No such courtesy was shown to the lessees of the plantation.

On the following morning, I was awakened at an early hour by the arrival of a negro from our plantation, with news of the raid. A little later, Mr. Owen made his appearance, wearing pantaloons and hat that belonged to one of the negroes. The pantaloons were too small and the hat too large; both had long before seen their best days. He was riding a mule, on which was tied an old saddle, whose cohesive powers were very doubtful. I listened to the story of the raid, and was convinced another visit would be made very soon. I gave directions for the overseer to gather all the remaining mules and take them to Natchez for safety.

I stopped with my friend until nearly noon, and then accompanied him to Natchez. On the next morning, I learned that the guerrillas returned to our plantation while I was at my friend’s house. They carried away what they were unable to take on the previous night They needed a wagon for purposes of transportation, and took one of ours, and with it all the mules they could find. Our house was stripped of every thing of any value, and I hoped the guerrillas would have no occasion to make subsequent visits. Several of our mules were saved by running them into the woods adjoining the plantation. These were taken to Natchez, and, for a time, all work on the prospective cotton crop came to an end.

For nearly three weeks, the guerrillas had full and free range in the vicinity of the leased plantations. One after another of the lessees were driven to seek refuge at Natchez, and their work was entirely suspended. The only plantations undisturbed were those within a mile or two of Vidalia. As the son of Adjutant-General Thomas was interested in one of these plantations, and intimate friends of that official were concerned in others, it was proper that they should be well protected. The troops at Vidalia were kept constantly on the look-out to prevent raids on these favored localities.

Nearly every day I heard of a fresh raid in our neighborhood, though, after the first half-dozen visits, I could not learn that the guerrillas carried away any thing, for the simple reason there was nothing left to steal. Some of the negroes remained at home, while others fled to the military posts for protection. The robbers showed no disposition to maltreat the negroes, and repeatedly assured them they should not be disturbed as long as they remained on the plantations and planted nothing but corn. It was declared that cotton should not be cultivated under any circumstances, and the negroes were threatened with the severest punishment if they assisted in planting that article.



Resuming Operation.–Difficulties in the Way.–A New Method of Healing the Sick.–A Thief Discovered by his Ignorance of Arithmetic.–How Cotton is Planted.–The Uses of Cotton-Seed.–A Novel Sleeping-Room.–Constructing a Tunnel.–Vigilance of a Negro Sentinel.

On the 24th of March a small post was established at Waterproof, and on the following day we recommenced our enterprise at the plantation. We were much crippled, as nearly all our mules were gone, and the work of replacing them could not be done in a day. The market at Natchez was not supplied with mules, and we were forced to depend upon the region around us. Three days after the establishment of the post we were able to start a half-dozen plows, and within two weeks we had our original force in the field. The negroes that had left during the raid, returned to us. Under the superintendence of our overseer the work was rapidly pushed. Richmond was back again on our smaller plantation, whence he had fled during the disturbances, and was displaying an energy worthy of the highest admiration.

Our gangs were out in full force. There was the trash-gang clearing the ground for the plows, and the plow-gang busy at its appropriate work. The corn-gang, with two ox-teams, was gathering corn at the rate of a hundred bushels daily, and the fence-gang was patting the fences in order. The shelling-gang (composed of the oldest men and women) was husking and shelling corn, and putting it in sacks for market. The gardener, the stock-tenders, the dairy-maids, nurserymaids, hog-minders, and stable-keepers were all in their places, and we began to forget our recent troubles in the apparent prospect of success.

One difficulty of the new system presented itself. Several of the negroes began to feign sickness, and cheat the overseer whenever it could be done with impunity. It is a part of the overseer’s duty to go through the quarters every morning, examine such as claim to be sick, determine whether their sickness be real or pretended, and make the appropriate prescriptions. Under the old system the pretenders were treated to a liberal application of the lash, which generally drove away all fancied ills. Sometimes, one who was really unwell, was most unmercifully flogged by the overseer, and death not unfrequently ensued from this cause.

As there was now no fear of the lash, some of the lazily-inclined negroes would feign sickness, and thus be excused from the field. The trouble was not general, but sufficiently prevalent to be annoying. We saw that some course must be devised to overcome this evil, and keep in the field all who were really able to be there.

We procured some printed tickets, which the overseer was to issue at the close of each day. There were three colors–red, yellow, and white. The first were for a full day’s work, the second for a half day, and the last for a quarter day. On the face of each was the following:–


These tickets were given each day to such as deserved them. They were collected every Saturday, and proper credit given for the amount of labor performed during the week. The effect was magical. The day after the adoption of our ticket system our number of sick was reduced one-half, and we had no further trouble with pretended patients. Colburn and myself, in our new character of “doctors,” found our practice greatly diminished in consequence of our innovations. Occasionally it would happen that one who was not really able to work, would go to the field through a fear of diminished wages.

One Saturday night, a negro whom we had suspected of thievish propensities, presented eight full-day tickets as the representative of his week’s work.

“Did you earn all these this week?” I asked.

“Yes, sir,” was the reply; “Mr. Owen gave them to me. I worked every day, straight along.”

“Can you tell me on which days he gave you each ticket?”

“Oh, yes. I knows every one of them,” said the negro, his countenance expressing full belief in his ability to locate each ticket.

As I held the tickets in my hand, the negro picked them out. “Mr. Owen gave me this one Monday, this one Tuesday,” and so on, toward the end of the week. As he reached Friday, and saw three tickets remaining, when there was only another day to be accounted for, his face suddenly fell. I pretended not to notice his embarrassment.

“Which one did he give you to-day?”

There was a stammer, a hesitation, a slight attempt to explain, and then the truth came out. He had stolen the extra tickets from two fellow-laborers only a few minutes before, and had not reflected upon the difficulties of the situation. I gave him some good advice, required him to restore the stolen tickets, and promise he would not steal any more. I think he kept the promise during the remainder of his stay on the plantation, but am by no means certain.

Every day, when the weather was favorable, our work was pushed. Every mule that could be found was put at once into service, and by the 15th of April we had upward of five hundred acres plowed and ready for planting. We had planted about eighty acres of corn during the first week of April, and arranged to commence planting cotton on Monday, the 18th of the month. On the Saturday previous, the overseer on each plantation organized his planting-gangs, and placed every thing in readiness for active work.

The ground, when plowed for cotton, is thrown into a series of ridges by a process technically known as “four-furrowing.” Two furrows are turned in one direction and two in another, thus making a ridge four or five feet wide. Along the top of this ridge a “planter,” or “bull-tongue,” is drawn by a single mule, making a channel two or three inches in depth. A person carrying a bag of cotton seed follows the planter and scatters the seed into the channel. A small harrow follows, covering the seed, and the work of planting is complete.

A planting-gang consists of drivers for the planters, drivers for the harrows, persons who scatter the seed, and attendants to supply them with seed. The seed is drawn from the gin-house to the field in ox-wagons, and distributed in convenient piles of ten or twenty bushels each.

Cotton-seed has never been considered of any appreciable value, and consequently the negroes are very wasteful in using it. In sowing it in the field, they scatter at least twenty times as much as necessary, and all advice to use less is unheeded. It is estimated that there are forty bushels of seed to every bale of cotton produced. A plantation that sends a thousand bales of cotton to market will thus have forty thousand bushels of seed, for which there was formerly no sale.

With the most lavish use of the article, there was generally a surplus at the end of the year. Cattle and sheep will eat cotton-seed, though not in large quantities. Boiled cotton-seed is fed to hogs on all plantations, but it is far behind corn in nutritious and fattening qualities. Cotton-seed is packed around the roots of small trees, where it is necessary to give them warmth or furnish a rich soil for their growth. To some extent it is used as fuel for steam-engines, on places where the machinery is run by steam. When the war deprived the Southern cities of a supply of coal for their gasworks, many of them found cotton seed a very good substitute. Oil can be extracted from it in large quantities. For several years, the Cotton-Seed Oil Works of Memphis carried on an extensive business. Notwithstanding the many uses to which cotton-seed can be applied, its great abundance makes it of little value.

The planting-gang which we started on that Monday morning, consisted of five planters and an equal number of harrows, sowers, etc. Each planter passed over about six acres daily, so that every day gave us thirty acres of our prospective cotton crop. At the end of the week we estimated we had about a hundred and seventy acres planted. On the following week we increased the number of planters, but soon reduced them, as we found we should overtake the plows earlier than we desired. By the evening of Monday, May 2d, we had planted upward of four hundred acres. A portion of it was pushing out of the ground, and giving promise of rapid growth.

During this period the business was under the direct superintendence of our overseers, Mr. Owen being responsible for the larger plantation, and Richmond for the smaller. Every day they were visited by Colburn or myself–sometimes by both of us–and received directions for the general management, which they carried out in detail. Knowing the habits of the guerrillas, we did not think it prudent to sleep in our house at the plantation. Those individuals were liable to announce their presence at any hour of the night, by quietly surrounding the house and requesting its inmates to make their appearance.

When I spent the night at the plantation, I generally slept on a pile of cotton-seed, in an out-building to which I had secretly conveyed a pair of blankets and a flour-bag. This bag, filled with seed, served as my pillow, and though my bed lacked the elasticity of a spring mattress, it was really quite comfortable. My sleeping-place was at the foot of a huge pile of seed, containing many hundred bushels. One night I amused myself by making a tunnel into this pile in much the same way as a squirrel digs into a hillside. With a minute’s warning I could have “hunted my hole,” taking my blankets with me. By filling the entrance with seed, I could have escaped any ordinary search of the building. I never had occasion to use my tunnel.

Generally, however, we staid in Waterproof, leaving there early in the morning, taking breakfast at the upper plantation, inspecting the work on both plantations, and, after dinner, returning to Waterproof. We could obtain a better dinner at the plantation than Waterproof was able to furnish us. Strawberries held out until late in the season, and we had, at all times, chickens, eggs, and milk in abundance. Whenever we desired roast lamb, our purveyor caused a good selection to be made from our flock. Fresh pork was much too abundant for our tastes, and we astonished the negroes and all other natives of that region, by our seemingly Jewish propensities. Pork and corn-bread are the great staples of life in that hot climate, where one would naturally look for lighter articles of food.

Once I was detained on the plantation till after dark. As I rode toward Waterproof, expecting the negro sentinel to challenge and halt me, I was suddenly brought to a stand by the whistling of a bullet close to my ear, followed by several others at wider range.

“Who comes there?”

“A friend, with the countersign.”

“If that’s so, come in. We thought you was the Rebels.”

As I reached the picket, the corporal of the guard explained that they were on duty for the first time, and did not well understand their business. I agreed with him fully on the latter point. To fire upon a solitary horseman, advancing at a walk, and challenge him afterward, was something that will appear ridiculous in the eyes of all soldiers. The corporal and all his men promised to do better next time, and begged me not to report them at head-quarters. When I reached the center of the town, I found the garrison had been alarmed at the picket firing, and was turning out to repel the enemy. On my assurance that I was the “enemy,” the order to fall into line of battle was countermanded.



The Soldiers at Waterproof.–The Black Man in Blue.–Mutiny and Desertion.–Their Cause and Cure.–Tendering a Resignation.–No Desire for a Barber.–Seeking Protection.–Falsehood and Truth.–Proneness to Exaggeration.–Amusing Estimates.

The soldiers forming the garrison at Waterproof, at that time, were from a regiment raised by Colonel Eaton, superintendent of contrabands at Vicksburg. They were recruited in the vicinity of Vicksburg and Milliken’s Bend, especially for local defense. They made, as the