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

By John Francis McDermott | Go to book overview

A LITTLE DIFFICULTY WITH ICE

CHARLES AUGUSTUS MURRAY

[Charles Augustus Murray, after a pleasant visit in St. Louis following his summer excursion to the Pawnee Country, found some difficulty in getting away to New Orleans because of ice in the river. The description of this experience is from his Travels in North America during the Years 1834, 1835, & 1836 (2nd edition, 2 volumes, London, 1839), II, 166-72. The time was November 1835. The cousin referred to was the well known Scottish sportsman, Captain William Drummond Stewart, who had returned from a hunting trip to the Wind River Mountains with the intention of wintering in New Orleans.]

I now prepared to leave the town with much regret. The frost had set in with considerable severity; and large floating masses of ice were scattered so thickly on the bosom of the water, that the navigation of the river became every day more difficult and dangerous. I was anxious to get as soon as possible to New Orleans, because I had desired all my European and other letters to be sent thither to wait my arrival.

I was fortunate enough to be able to collect a very pleasant little party, and we agreed to embark and keep together: it consisted of Captain S—, a cousin and old acquaintance of mine in Scotland, who had been above two years among the Indians, in and beyond the rocky mountains; my friend V—, and a Dr. W—, also from Scotland, a lively and well-informed companion. We took our passage on board of The Far West, Captain Fox; her machinery had been newly put in, and, although several parts of it were rather loose and out of order, the boilers were strong, and the cabin-berths, &c. remarkably neat and cleanly.

We embarked on the 29th of November, and were obliged to cross the river to the Illinois side, in order to take in some freight. On the following day the ice ran so heavy and thick, that the

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