HOMELESS AND SHELTERLESS
Thursday, July 10, 1862. (—— Plantation._)—Yesterday about 4 o’clock we walked to the lake and embarked. Provisions and utensils were packed in the lockers, and a large trunk was stowed at each end. The blankets and cushions were placed against one of them, and Annie and I sat on them Turkish fashion. Near the center the two smaller trunks made a place for Reeney. Max and H. were to take turns at the rudder and oars. The last word was a fervent God-speed from Mr. E., who is left in charge of all our affairs. We believe him to be a Union man, but have never spoken of it to him. We were gloomy enough crossing the lake, for it was evident the heavily laden boat would be difficult to manage. Last night we staid at this plantation, and from the window of my room I see the men unloading the boat to place it on the cart, which a team of oxen will haul to the river. These hospitable people are kindness itself, till you mention the war.
Saturday, July 12, 1862. (Under a cotton-shed on the bank of the Mississippi River.)—Thursday was a lovely day, and the sight of the broad river exhilarating. The negroes launched and reloaded the boat, and when we had paid them and spoken good-bye to them we felt we were really off. Every one had said that if we kept in the current the boat would almost go of itself, but in fact the current seemed to throw it about, and hard pulling was necessary. The heat of the sun was very severe, and it proved impossible to use an umbrella or any kind of shade, as it made steering more difficult. Snags and floating timbers were very troublesome. Twice we hurried up to the bank out of the way of passing gunboats, but they took no notice of us. When we got thirsty, it was found that Max had set the jug of water in the shade of a tree and left it there. We must dip up the river water or go without. When it got too dark to travel safely we disembarked. Reeney gathered wood, made a fire and some tea, and we had a good supper. We then divided, H. and I remaining to watch the boat, Max and Annie on shore. She hung up a mosquito-bar to the trees and went to bed comfortably. In the boat the mosquitoes were horrible, but I fell asleep and slept till voices on the bank woke me. Annie was wandering disconsolate round her bed, and when I asked the trouble, said, “Oh, I can’t sleep there! I found a toad and a lizard in the bed.” When dropping off again, H. woke me to say he was very sick; he thought it was from drinking the river water. With difficulty I got a trunk opened to find some medicine. While doing so a gunboat loomed up vast and gloomy, and we gave each other a good fright. Our voices doubtless reached her, for instantly every one of her lights disappeared and she ran for a few minutes along the opposite bank. We momently expected a shell as a feeler.