The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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and accomplished gentleman, who landed us in December, 1854, after a long voyage of nearly thirty days, at San Juan del Norte. The mild climate, the gorgeous foliage and rich scenery, created pleasure and surprise. One can hardly realize, who has never visited the tropics, the mildness and beauty of the climate; the very air is redolent with the fragrance of fruits and flowers, to breathe which renders existence itself a luxury. The evenings are still more delicious. These have been graphically described.

        "By and by night comes on; not as it comes to our northern latitudes, but it falls suddenly, like a rich drapery, around you. The sun goes down with a glow, intense and brief. There is no lingering twilight, but suddenly the stars burst forth, lightening, one by one, the horizon. They come in a laughing group, like bright-eyed children relieved from school, and reflected from the lake they seem to chase each other in frolicsome play, printing sparkling kisses on each other's luminous lips. The low shores, lined with heavy foliage of the mangroves, looked like a frame of massive antique carving around the mirror of the quiet lagoon, across whose quiet surface streamed a silvery shaft of light from 'the Southern Cross,' palpitating like a young bride at the altar. Then there were whispered 'voices of the night,' the drowsy winds hushing themselves to sleep, and the gentle music of the little ripples of the lake, pattering with fairy feet along the sandy shore. The distant heavy and monotonous beatings of the sea, and the occasional sullen plunge of some marine animal, gave a novelty and enchantment to the scene, and entranced my senses during the delicious hours of my first evening alone with nature on the Mosquito Shore."*

        * "Waikna, or Adventures on the Mosquito Shore;" by Samuel A. Baird.

        We could well ask, with Rodgers:

                         This region is surely not of earth.
                         Was it not dropped from Heaven?
                         Not a grove but is of citron, pine, or cedar;
                         Not a grot, sea worn, and mantled with the gadding vine,
                         But breathes enchantment.

        This lovely region, where Providence has done so much and man so little for himself, we found, as already stated, involved in the tumults of civil war. As we journeyed to Castillo, some seventy miles up the river, the marks of blood spilled in a battle fought on the day before on the wharf on which we landed were seen. As before stated, both parties claimed to be the supreme power of the government. The Democratic party, headed by Castillon, held most of the republic except Grenada, and had that city under close siege. I was assured that this would be soon raised, and the Legitimists resume the authority of government. I was instructed to present my credentials to "the President of Nicaragua." Now a knotty diplomatic problem came up, which I alone must solve. A mistake would be fatal. I applied for instructions, but none came. Mr. Stephens, a predecessor, was involved [1841] in a similar quandary. He tried in vain. Once, as he states, he thought "he came very near discovering a live President. But suddenly he vamosed on the back of a mule." Mr. Squire [1849] did find a President in Ramirez. But when Mr. Kerr [in 1851] came he was not so successful, for the republic, as now, was in civil war. Mr. Borland, my immediate predecessor, did find a President, (Don Fruto Chamoro,) but he is now beleagured by superior force, and inaccessible.

        By instructions of the Government, I remained some time in Greytown, or San Juan del Norte, engaged in collecting testimony as to the destruction of property by the bombardment of Greytown [9th July, 1854] by Captain Hollins, and then went to Virgin Bay, on Lake Nicaragua, where I remained three months, during which time the siege of Grenada was raised, General Chamoro died of cholera, and General Estrada was declared President and assumed the duties, and in April, 1855, I was recognized by him as the Envoy Resident, and raised the flag of the United States at Grenada.

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