One hundred fifty years ago, on August 20, 1863, Robert McMahan of the 25th Ohio Artillery wrote in his diary:
This morning Serg’t Knowlton went back to Clarendon and back to our old camp where we had left a guard over our forage. Went after our colored man (cook), but found him on board one of the captured steamers about to be sworn into Uncle Sam’s service. He was crossing last night on one of our furnish hands for manning the new boats. So we lose one cook. In fact all the available darkies were put on board the boats for service yesterday. We heard that a slight skirmish was had with some of the enemy a short distance out on the prairie and that some of Kirby Smith’s men were captured. Say he is in command at Bayou Metro[sic] near the Arkansas River.
Our well is 25 feet deep and has excellent water—vein in quick sand, quite bright with gold specks of flakes lighter than sand and composed of their lumina easily separated and not very brittle, but quite flexible—fools gold. Sand highly colored with red oxide.