Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field eBook

Thomas W. Knox
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 458 pages of information about Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field.

Natchez was the center of this newly-opened region.  Before the war it was the home of wealthy slave-owners, who believed the formation of a Southern Confederacy would be the formation of a terrestrial paradise.  On both banks of the Mississippi, above and below Natchez, were the finest cotton plantations of the great valley.  One family owned nine plantations, from which eight thousand bales of cotton were annually sent to market.  Another family owned seven plantations, and others were the owners of from three to six, respectively.

The plantations were in the care of overseers and agents, and rarely visited by their owners.  The profits were large, and money was poured out in profusion.  The books of one of the Natchez banks showed a daily business, in the picking season, of two or three million dollars, generally on the accounts of planters and their factors.

Prior to the Rebellion, cotton was usually shipped to New Orleans, and sold in that market.  There were some of the planters who sent their cotton to Liverpool or Havre, without passing it through the hands of New Orleans factors.  A large balance of the proceeds of such shipments remained to the credit of the shippers when the war broke out, and saved them from financial ruin.  The business of Natchez amounted, according to the season, from a hundred thousand to three hundred thousand bales.  This included a great quantity that was sent to New Orleans from plantations above and below the city, without touching at all upon the levee at Natchez.

Natchez consists of Natchez-on-the-Hill and Natchez-under-the-Hill.  A bluff, nearly two hundred feet high, faces the Mississippi, where there is an eastward bend of the stream.  Toward the river this bluff is almost perpendicular, and is climbed by three roads cut into its face like inclined shelves.  The French established a settlement at this point a hundred and fifty years ago, and erected a fortification for its defense.  This work, known as Fort Rosalie, can still be traced with distinctness, though it has fallen into extreme decay.  It was evidently a rectangular, bastioned work, and the location of the bastions and magazine can be readily made out.

Natchez-under-the-Hill is a small, straggling village, having a few commission houses and stores, and dwellings of a suspicious character.  It was once a resort of gamblers and other chevaliers d’industrie, whose livelihood was derived from the travelers along the Mississippi.  At present it is somewhat shorn of its glory.

Natchez-on-the-Hill is a pleasant and well-built city, of about ten thousand inhabitants.  The buildings display wealth and good taste, the streets are wide and finely shaded, and the abundance of churches speaks in praise of the religious sentiment of the people.  Near the edge of the bluff there was formerly a fine park, commanding a view of the river for several miles in either direction, and overlooking the plantations and cypress forests on the opposite shore.  This pleasure-ground was reserved for the white people alone, no negro being allowed to enter the inclosure under severe penalties.  A regiment of our soldiers encamped near this park, and used its fence for fuel.  The park is now free to persons of whatever color.

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Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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