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Natchez, 1866
Adams County, Mississippi

As described by Harper's Weekly,Journal of Civilization
Vol. X. - No. 498 July 14, 1866

This material now resides in the Public Domain.
The file may be downloaded for personal, non-commercial  use only.

"Having already sketched Natchez under the Hill, to make sure of it before the Mississippi had washed it into its bosom, the next thing was to take the picture of the more aristocratic portion on the bluff.  So numerous are the trees and gardens that it is difficult to see much of the buildings from any point.  This view from the cupola of the Marine Hospital is probably the best.

Sketch of Natchez on the Hill by Harper's Weekly "Special Artist" A. R. Waud

The River is a prominent as well as necessary part of the picture [edited for space], as in all views of cities upon its banks. Then there is the Fort, with its inclosed buildings, surrounded by a ditch and palisade;  and in front of that a knoll covered with tents, occupied, I believe, by white troops.  On the left the Catholic Church is most noticeable.  The Market-house, the Episcopal and other churches, can also be made out by the initiated.  Natchez on the Hill was always claimed to be a very aristocratic place - in fact, the most select upon the river.  As far as my observation goes it is clean, healthy, and pleasant, and appears to be more orderly than towns higher up the river.  There is an ordinance against the opening of stores and places of business upon Sunday - so you do not meet a flaunting saloon on every square wide open to the street, as the custom is in so many places in Louisiana.  The air of Sabbath stillness in the city of Natchez was very grateful after seeing how little the decent observance of that day obtained in other places upon the river.  A number of gaps exist in the streets of Natchez, where houses have been burned, giving some part of it a ruined appearance - probably the effects of private incendiarism, as Natchez has not suffered from any battles being fought near it, although it got bombarded once by the fleet, owing to the folly of some citizens who fired upon a boat which came ashore for ice.  It is needless to state that the rapscallions who perpetrated that outrage were not property-owners, and if the in habitants had been wise they would have given them up to the commander of the naval force.  It was such tricks as this which brought destruction upon so many of the finest places along the river;  although if you ask a citizen of those parts why it happened, the answer is sure to be to the effect that it was all done in wantonness. The responsibility is mainly with those high-spirited young men who staid away from the army to indulge in a little safe shooting from behind the bushes.  Of course it is not to be denied by an impartial witness that many cases occurred where no excuse existed for destruction.

Along the edge of the bluff - a fine cliff of about 150 in height - the city of Natchez has reserved a strip of land, fenced in and planted with trees - a delicious place for a walk at sundown in the fresh breeze, and affording a fine view of the river, stretching away to the right and left till it disappears in the bends.

The river has been so high here that, on the other side, the deer have been driven from their accustomed coverts to the levee, and in one place some twenty lay rotting where they had been shot in mere wantonness.


"Early one evening in mid-July, 1863, several members of the Silver Grays, the Natchez town guard, spotted the Union gunboat Essex anchored in the river at Natchez.  Several guardsmen ran to the house of a young Confederate Major who happened to be home on recuperative leave.  In spite of his protest, the Silver Grays returned to the landing and opened fire on the Essex.  Commander Porter, skipper of the Essex, later stated that he had sent ashore to get ice for the sick on board, and that 200 citizens had attacked his shore party "scandalously," wounding the officers and killing one man.  He therefore shelled the town.  The bombardment lasted less than an hour, but set several fires and killed a child, the only civilian casuality in Natchez during the entire war.  Thus began a two-year Union occupation of Natchez."

Pack, Ellen Jane Allen;  "The Scully & Bauer Families of Natchez, Mississippi.  Pub 1996, Indianapolis, IN. All Rights Reserved.

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