"I found here five regiments of infantry of the newest and most mobbish species."

      "During the shelling of the town on Sunday previous [January 5], the people had left their houses, food, furniture and all, which our troops (some fording the river arms deep and others sent up from below) had occupied and literally appropriated to themselves. Food, furniture, forage, fuel and all had been used and destroyed with out thought or decency. Three of the regiments were new and had been armed with Belgian [rifles] the day of the attack. They knew nothing of camp, garrison, or other military duty, and were literally a mob firing their loaded muskets right and left and playing the very devil generally.

      "I did not wait to get my overcoat off before I began a reform. I appointed a provost marshal and gave him a guard as soon as my own brigade came up of reliable men [and] ordered a report of the strength of regiments, established a grand guard and outposts four miles up and down the river, shut up the groggeries, and filled up several respectable sized rooms with arrested rowdies. Two of these regiments had lost all their camp and garrison equipage and the weather was cold to zero. Every particle of space in the whole town was crowded. Retiring citizens from the country rushed upon me with violent complaints of robbery, plunder, destruction of all their edibles, and with all the ten thousand complaints of a people scared out of their homes at a moment's notice, which a hungry and irresponsible soldiery had taken possession of.

      "To add to my tribulations up came my four regiments, three of them without winter tents and the ground so frozen that tents could not be pitched at any rate. I hardly know now how I disposed of them -- some in barns outside, some in canal boats, and some in bivouac. But the thing was done, and I went to my blankets a tired and anxious man. I had at least 6000 men crowded into a little village, not 500 yards from the opposite bank [of the river] held by the enemy in force not less than 15,000 with twenty pieces of artillery. It seemed but a stone's throw to the high hills opposite, which looked down upon this town, which is at the foot of the hills on our side."

Art work by Lowell Boileau based on image by W. Skelton.

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