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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 190, November 12, 1853

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Identifier: DX04203536

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 6, page 190, November 12, 1853

Description: Describes the beginning of his journey up the Mississippi River on the steamboat Swamp Fox.


to wait. Soon the distant roar of one of the huge, high pressure Mississippi steamboats is heard, and she is seen afar off, doubling the “trend.” Half an hour and she is close up to us, has responded to the niggers energetic waving the flag, by two strokes of her her bell; and runs in against the steep bank for me. I shake hands with Oliver Kellam, with a hearty “God bless you!” say good-bye to his uncle, give the nigger a quarter dollar and jump aboard. Carpet bag and a big-bear skin presented to me by Oliver are thrown in, and in another moment the “Swamp Fox” is steaming with me, up the Mississippi. It is a huge vessel, heavily laden, with sugar and molasses, bound for St Louis: not a regular Mississippi, but a Red River boat, temporarily withdrawn in consequence of the shallowness of the latter. I pay my $15 for passage to Cairo, at the mouth of the Ohio, thence designing going to Louisville, New York wards; secure my cabin, and walk about. The boat is, like all Southern ones, high pressure, machinery open on the lower deck; draws but little water 3 1/2 feet. The rushing river roars by the unguarded deck scarcely a foot below it. In the forepart, on the heaped up barrels, bales and cordage are some half dozen negroes, a mother and her woolly headed offspring, one or two men, and children. They belong to one of the passengers, who is taking them up the river. / A dozen or more rough men, the “hands” of the boat are burying themselves about the raging fires; two wretchedly anatomical cows are wedged up betwixt the wood piles, which occupy all the space left available by bales and barrels. The aft part of the boat is inaccessible. Above, the passengers stroll about on the open space fronting the cabin, or on the roof; some play cards within. There are a party of returned Californians, perhaps twenty. Some have the hugest beards and the longest hair, others have slightly abridged both, others denuded themselves to the stupidity of clean shaven faces. I talk with some of them,

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1853-11-12

Type(s): Diary

Maker/Creator: Gunn, Thomas Butler, 1826-1903

Subjects: Diaries
Mississippi River
African Americans
Ohio River
Red River (Tex.-La.)


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