Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Diary of John Hay: Wednesday, March 9, 1864

I found a very decent darkey with a very decent buggy belonging to a v. d. Dr. Sweet; and they, all together, took me riding to my engagements. The only blot of decency on the Key West escutcheon. Otherwise they are a race of thieves and a degeneration of vipers.

We cast off about noon, and night came on us before we had made Indian Head, which was to be our anchorage for the night, as we wanted to be in the lee of Alligator Bank and reef to avoid the fresh gale now blowing in the gulf. We all stood wide-legged and anxious on the forecastle as men will about little things on ships, — Joe heaving the lead, — the Captain leaning to the breeze, his alpaca coat bagging like a seedy balloon, — old Reed confident and oracular,—till Strong who had been hanging like a pointer dog over the rail, sung out — “Light ho! 4.” This was old Bethel, and we at once knew where we were. We anchored and lay there quietly.

I finished my poem, “Northward,” begun to-day on leaving Key West.

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 177-8. See Michael Burlingame & John R. Turner Ettlinger, Editors, Inside Lincoln's White House: The Complete Civil War Diary of John Hay, p. 178 for the full diary entry.

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