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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI chapter 13


Yankee Soldiers Taking Over
courtesy photobucket.com
 
The rumors increased about both the Union army and the Southern army taking the ferries and using them to haul soldiers and equipment.

Captain Jack knew that Sam Huston had done that during the war with Mexico and he had then burned some of the ferries to keep the Mexicans from using them.  This knowledge gave him concern that the same thing could happen on the Mississippi.

Captain had no choice but to keep running his boat, for he couldn't just leave it at a dock because he had too many expenses.

They loaded at New Orleans with cotton, coffee and a full load of passengers many of which were planning to head west away from the conflict.

They were just about to St. Louis when they came upon the first ferry that was on fire. The further they went the more they saw burning.  There were people on shore waving and wanting to board Captain Jack's boat but there wasn't any more room.

As they rounded a bend and approached the wider part of the river and were met with gun boats which signaled then to pull over to the river bank.  One of the gun boats pull along side the ferry and they instructed everyone to disembark.  They gave the passengers one hour to gather their things and leave the boat.  The captain and crew were to remain on board.

Captain Jack told Lee to take off his cap and coat, and put on some old clothes.  

He gave Lee some money and said, “I want you to leave with the passengers.  Dressed like that they won't know you belong to the ferry and you can get away.”   Then Captain Jack said, “I don't know what they have planned for us or when we will be turned loose if ever.”

The deck passengers had very little to pack so they were the first ones to wade ashore.
 
They let down the narrow gang plank and the cabin passengers were using that to get off the boat.

Then the one hour warning time was up passengers were told that those who didn't get off immediately would go to prison.  Hearing that message they started jumping in the river and wading ashore.  The ferry was then boarded by the Yankee troops and the pilot was instructed to head down river.

It was soon out of sight leaving on the river bank all the passengers who were left to walk to St. Louis or wherever they were going.

Lee did what he could to settle the passengers down and said if we don't want to sleep out in the open tonight we had better get moving.

It wasn't long before they were tired of all the baggage they were trying to carry and began to only take what was really valuable.  Lee and some of the more fit men were soon way ahead of the slower passengers and the lights of St. Louis came into view.

Lee headed to Louise's hotel for he was pretty tired himself. He thought a warm bath and some food would perk him up. When he got there, the place was closed so he knocked on the door loudly.  After awhile Louise came and let him.  She was glad to see him and gave him a big hug and took him into her apartment.  

She told him the Northern commander had ordered her to close the place down and there were only a couple of girls still there because they had nowhere else to go. 
 
Louise told him to come on back to the kitchen and have something to eat.  She said, “The food isn't as good as it once was but it is what we can afford.”  

After a filling meal Lee said he wanted to take a bath. Louise said, “You will have to use the girls bathroom for that is the only one with hot water.”

While he was bathing Louise went and got him some nice clothes from one of the vacant rooms, because when they were closed down the tenants weren't allowed to take anything with them so Lee had a new wardrobe.

The girls came in while he was getting cleaned up and wanted to know what was going on, and why he had left the river.     
 
To be Continued   
 
 

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