Jan. 2, 1857, Diary William Henry Hart

    Source citation
    Hart, William Henry. Diary 1852-1888. Special Collections, Brigham Young University, Prove, Utah. [From American Memory project]
    Author (from)
    Hart, William Henry
    Date Certainty
    Meghan Allen
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as true to the original written document as possible.

    January 2, 1857

    2d Land close by this morning Last night we experienced a heavier sea than we have been accustomed to and it being dead ahead our ship pitched considerably. Yesterday our baggage was all weighed, preparatory to the transit

    The cabin passengers are entitled to pier transit for 50 lbs each Steerage 25. All are preparing to go ashore having delivered my valise 23 lbs over to the transit agent I made a roll of my blankets and put the rest of my plunder in a carpet bag. Loaded my revolver and put it on. At 10 o.c. we were approaching the harbor and at 12 o.c. noon landed at San Juan del Sur. There is a wide wharf with a hulk stranded at the end of it, and we were soon hauled along side. Found the place in the possession of the filibusters who assured us that the transit was clear. This is but a small village of adobe & frame houses near the beach Lying in the little bay was the filibuster schooner Grenada, that a short time before had destroyed a Costa Rican sloop of war of twice or thrice its size and armament. Ox carts and wagons were soon gathered at the landing to transport the mail express, specie, and baggage across to Virgin Bay on Lake Nicaragua. The wharf was about half a mile from the town and we were soon in disorderly procession along the sandy road to the village

    each man carrying such baggage as he would need on the transit and leaving the balance to the charge of the company. Our transit tickets procured us seats in the stage prepared for our transportation. They are clumsy vehicles, carryall build, seats like an omnibus and frame work heavy enough to carry three tons each. The teams are all mules wiry tough looking little fellows. The walker flag is flying here but there seems to be very few soldiers and they are pale sickly looking creatures The wagons soon received their cargoes and we started off at a brisk trot. We are here in the midst of a most luxuriant tropical vegetation the ground being completely hid by the thick growth of grass, plants, under brush & timber. The passengers were all in fine spirits shouting to each other form wagon to wagon and urging the drivers to the top of their speech. The road was excellent, considering the country, having been worked the whole way, and in many places McAdamized – Our driver was a mere boy but he managed his team with dexterity. There being no brakes to our

    wagons & the mules being untaught or unable to hold back the only way was to let them run in going down the hills. Several times we found rickety looking unprotected bridges at the bottom of the hills but our driver always managed to strike them fair, even at a galloping gait and we met with no accident Two or three miles brought us to the foot of the main mountain and our progress was necessarily slow and difficult. The men all walked and even assisted our poor little mule team in their long hard pull. A shower of rain now and then mad a variety for us. At the summit of the mountain we came to a place where two weeks ago the road was torn up and a formidable barricade erected by the Costa Ricans. Natives were at work repairing the road at that point by Walkers directions. At several points along the road we found native huts and women with bread, lemonade, cakes, oranges, limes &c which they offered for sale. I tried their cakes and lemonade and found them very palatable. Having passed the summit our road

    was very straight and good running nearly north and with a regular and gentle declination to Virgin Bay. The ladies of our company appeared much pleased with the ride considering it a delightful change from the monotony of steamer life. At the Halfway house, we stopped for refreshments and to rest the mules. Arrived at Virgin Bay just at dusk. This place is twelve miles and a half from San Juan del Sur and is a prettily situated village. Those of us that felt so disposed took supper at the different eating houses, but some of the boys brought cakes eggs plaintain rolls coffee &c at the stands with which the street was lined near the wharf These were attended almost exclusively by native women and lit with candles or torches The warmth of the air, the crowds of people the torch lit stands with their half clad attendants and the strange admixture of English French, German & Spanish sounds that met our ears give the scene a novelty never to be forgotten

    The Company have erected here a long wharf to connect the shore with the navigable water of the lake and across the wharf, a gate to prevent the passengers from crowding aboard before they are ready to receive them. This gate was opened for us about eight o clock and we removed our baggag abroad the steamer “San Carlos” a fine large boat reminding me of our Hudsen river boats. The wagons containing the baggage &c did not arrive till near midnight and in the meantime I had amply time to reconnoiter the town/ Their were several of Walkers men here, some sick, others discharged and going to the states with us. The recruits that came down with us when mustered into line to march to Rivas Walkers Head Quarters only numbered some ten or dozen instead of 100 as the San Francisco papers reported. The discharged men (their term of service having expired) had sold their landwarrants and their Government paper for twenty five dollars just enough to carry them to New Orleans, and all but Walkers present favorites cursed the day they set foot in Nicaragua

    A trade wind blows here so they say all the year around and the roar of the surf on the beach was loud enough to be heard some distance. I secured a berth aboard in the after cabin, a portion of the main deck with the hurricane deck for a roof and with out any sides to obstruct the free passage of the breezes such perfect ventilation being very suitable to this mild climate. Our deck hands are mostly natives but the Capt, pilot, engineer &c are white men. Between 12 & 1 o.c. left the wharf and stood across the lake

    How to Cite This Page: "Jan. 2, 1857, Diary William Henry Hart," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/107.