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water was five or six feet above the street. The boat landed, but the people crowded around, and made such an ado over us, that they backed the boat into the middle of the river, and cast anchor, where we remained the balance of the 18th and the 19th, and until the afternoon of the 20th, excepting a short trip down the river to wood the boat, I think, on the afternoon of the 19th. All the while we rode at anchor, the citizens crowded around their skiffs, throwing us apples, oranges and other such treats. On the afternoon of the 20th, we were landed, (at the French landing, I learned from a fellow prisoner, who lived there) and were taken to the Pickayune Cotton Press No. 4. This was a square, containing two acres, enclosed by a brick wall, fourteen feet high, with a large gate on the east and west sides. The other two sides were shedded, about thirty feet deep, draining the water inside, which was carried off by gutters.

Here I will note that, although, in summertime, and considerably advanced in the spring, I came the nearest to freezing to death on the 21st that I ever did. The wind was so cold, just off the water; and they would not let us have fire in the early part of the day. They afterwards reconsidered, and we had fire that evening. Here we remained until April 5th, when we were brought up the river for exchange.

Our boat was the Polar Star. We came above Grantecore [Grand Ecore, north of Natchitoches, LA]. This was just at the time of the Mansfield and Pleasant Hill battles; and for that, or some other cause, we were not exchanged. Our boat turned down the river -- the officers in command promising to exchange us at some point below. On our way down, our boat was halted by Confederate Cavalry, and the officer in command went ashore and had an interview.

We could easily have taken boat, crew and guard, but we were upon parole, and did not suspect them of acting treacherously, and when they had decoyed us to Alexandria, within their lines, they became bold, and told us they were taking us back to New Orleans. This was about dark, and some of the men began to make preparations to jump off, which four succeeded in doing; the last of whom leaped from the top of the banister, which made a tremendous splash when he struck the water, and the guard upon hurricane deck, shot at him, with what effect none of us ever knew. But he had given away the plan, and the officers doubled the guard. Before the light of another day, we were again upon the bosom of the Father of Waters, where it required but little restraint to keep us aboard.

We arrived at the prison from whence we had come out, on April the 18th or 19th, having been aboard the Polar Star, thirteen or fourteen days. From this time up to July 21st, we never saw a green leaf, or anything cheerful, nothing but the walls, poor prisoners and the guard. The men, as a general thing, made the best of it they could -- most everyone had some occupation that he followed with as much energy as men follow their avocations at home. Some made rings, some fans, others traded, while still others gambled, in short, it was just like a city, you could see every avocation followed that could possibly be inside the wall -- every sort of game that is run in any city. Any sort of man from the lunatic and the dude, to the gentleman; also almost every nationality -- the American, the Frenchman, the Dutchman, the Irishman, the Mexican and perhaps others. We too had here a natural artist, who could draw the picture of a man from sight, every

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Life of John C. Porter and Sketch of His Experiences in the Civil War

John C. Porter 1874