Before Mark Twain: A Sampler of Old, Old Times on the Mississippi

By John Francis McDermott | Go to book overview

FLATBOAT FLEETS IN 1808

CHRISTIAN SCHULTZ, Jr.

[Christian Schultz, Jr., one of the earliest tourists from the eastern states to make a personal examination of Thomas Jefferson's hopeful purchase of Louisiana, ventured from his home in New York State in 1807 down the Ohio, up the Mississippi to St. Louis, and thence in 1808 down to New Orleans. His many interesting impressions, sampled here, he published in two volumes in New York in 1810. His Travels on an Inland Voyage, which has never been reprinted, is being edited for issue in the present series. The passages below are from the second volume, pages 96-98, 100-101, 134-36, 140-46, in letters dated New Madrid, March 9, and Baton Rouge, April 13. The injury to which he refers was from a splinter which he had run under his finger nail.]

It was nearly sunset when we passed this stream [the Bayou de She]. Our pilot therefore thought it prudent to land on the farthermost shore, as there was no other safe landing-place within five or six miles below us. He gave orders accordingly; but the hands being all engaged in listening to some interesting story, the orders were not given quite early enough to attain our object; as the wind, which was off that shore, and the velocity of the current, soon carried us beyond our mark. In consequence of having been sheltered under the land by the trees for the last two hours, we had not noticed any change in the weather; but as the current now swept us past the point, which had covered us, and which we intended to make, into the middle of the river, we found a considerable swell, and every appearance of a heavy blow on a leeshore. It had now become quite dark, nor was it long before the wind and current had carried us over into the bend of the river on the opposite shore, which was full of sawyers and planters; and it was so dark, that we could not distinguish an object at the distance of fifty yards from the boat. We sent one of our men ahead

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