Here is a small fanfic from the “NORTH AND SOUTH” miniseries that aired in 1985. This story is about the westward journey of newly commissioned Army officer, Charles Main and his westward journey to his new post in Texas, revealed in a letter to his cousin in South Carolina:
SUMMARY: A view of Charles Main’s journey to Texas, via a series of letters written to his Cousin Orry.
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DISCLAIMER: Charles Main, Orry Main and all other characters related to the North and South trilogy belong to Wolper Productions, Warner Brothers Television and John Jakes.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Here’s a little story I wrote in letter form. Newly commissioned Army officer, Charles Main, writes a letter to his cousin, Orry Main. The story is a combination of canon from both the miniseries and John Jakes’ 1982 novel.
October 10, 1856
Camp Cooper, Texas
Dear Cousin Orry,
After a month long journey that started in Charleston, I have finally, I have arrived at my new Army assignment. Camp Cooper. It is located in South Texas, on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River. Texas turned out to be more than a pleasant surprise. But I will talk about it, later.
My journey went off smoothly, despite the long distance. The steamer that conveyed me from Charleston, had arrived in New Orleans, six days later. I believe that Madeline LaMotte is from New Orleans. Right? I must say that it was a fine-looking city. Very exotic. I have not encountered so many different types of people since my four years at West Point.
Upon my arrival, I checked into the Saint Charles Hotel, which is popular with many American guests. You will be pleased to know that I did not waste my two days in New Orleans, visiting saloons and sporting houses. Instead, I explored the Old French Quarter, took a ride on the trolley that led from the Quarter to the Garden District – a residential area for many of the city’s well-to-do Americans, and took a brief train ride to Lake Ponchatrain. I also paid a visit to a local fencing hall on my second day, where many of the city’s gentlemen practice the sport. I managed to get into a match with Creole peacock named Emile Lacroix. Needless to say that my fencing had not improved since leaving the Academy. Mister Lacroix later invited me to join his family for supper at a restaurant called Antoine’s, where we ate a delicious meal. By the way, would you please ask Mrs. LaMotte if she has ever heard of the Lacroix family? My two days in New Orleans ended on a pleasant note. The visit was so splendid that I hated to leave. But, Texas awaited me.
Another steamer took me through the Gulf of Mexico, where I finally arrived in Indianola, Texas, a few days later. No one felt more happier to leave that steamer than me. All I had to do was mention I was from South Carolina and the conversation on board turned to Preston Brooks. You know, one of our congressmen who thrashed that Yankee senator in the Senate, last spring. In fact, he offered the others in the saloon a free drink. I realize that as a Southerner, I should be more sympathetic toward Congressman Brooks, but the idea of drinking to celebrate a man’s beating seemed distasteful to me. My reluctance to drink made me a little less popular.
As I had stated at the beginning of this letter, Texas appealed to me the moment I first arrived. The land looked nothing like I had ever seen before. Instead of our dank low country or the Hudson Highlands near West Point, Texas has low rolling hills that make me feel open and free. Not long after my arrival in Indianola, I boarded a stagecoach for San Antonio. Now that was an interesting little city. In a way, it reminded me of New Orleans, but not as grand. The homes seemed to be a mixture of American brick houses, German one-story buildings made of limestone and Spanish-style adobes. I also saw the Alamo, where Congressman Crockett, Jim Bowie and the other Texas freedom fighters took their stand against General Santa Ana. It is hard to believe you ended up fighting against the same man, eleven years later. The people here in San Antonio seemed very friendly. Especially the lovely senoritas. Do not worry, Cousin. You will be relieved to know that I had behaved like a Carolina gentleman.
Not long after my arrival, I reported to Regimental Headquarters, where I met Colonel Robert Lee. He was the Academy’s superintendent during my first two years there. It seems strange that an Army engineer would end up as a calvary regimental commander. I am happy to report that he still remembered me from the Academy. Or at least my riding prowess. Did you or George Hazard ever meet him when you were fighting in Mexico? Colonel Lee’s nephew, Fitz Lee, happens to be an old Academy friend of mine and Billy’s. I understand that he is now serving at Fort Mason.
Both Colonel Lee and Major George Thomas had invited me to supper at the Plaza Hotel in San Antonio. Major Thomas also happens to be a Virginian and Academy graduate – class of 1840. Both seemed to hold Academy graduates in high regard, in compare to the army officers that rose through the ranks. From them I learned that I had been assigned as Company “K”‘s second officer. The following morning, I accompanied the Department of Texas’ paymaster, as he left San Antonio to deliver the pay for various Army forts and camps throughout the region. I had a brief reunion with Fitz Lee at Fort Mason. From him, I learned that many of the Army officers assigned to the Second Calvary are Southern-born. No wonder so many Yankees are complaining.
The final leg of my journey took me from Fort Mason to Camp Cooper, where Company “K” was stationed. Along the way, our party encountered a brief rainstorm. Strange weather in this state. One minute it is hot and the next, it is pouring down buckets. The weather only endured me more to Texas. The only Indians I have encountered so far were a poor bunch who had formed several villages not far from Camp Cooper. I find it hard to believe that these people may be related to the Commanches and other tribes who are causing mayhem along the frontier.
My company commander seemed like a pleasant fellow. His name is Baldwin Wayne and he is an Ohioan who had graduated from the Academy two years before you did – in 1844. Do you remember him? What was he like back then? Captain Wayne informed me that he will not be “K” Company’s commander very long. He will be reassigned next spring. I can only hope that his replacement will prove to be just as easy to serve under. The company’s first officer is another Yankee from Ohio and his name is Lieutenant Lafayette O’Dell. Unlike Captain Wayne and myself, Lieutenant O’Dell started out as an enlisted man, some twenty-five years ago. He was fourteen at the time. Captain Wayne seemed to hold the lieutenant in high regard, despite the latter’s lack of Academy training. In fact, the entire company seems to like O’Dell. I guess I will have to work hard to earn the same kind of respect from the men. It looks I will have my work cut out for me, considering that I seemed to be the only Southerner in the company. Everyone else is either from Ohio, or had emigrated from Europe.
Please give my love to Aunt Clarissa and Cousin Brett. You can even say hello to Ashton for me. Speaking of my ‘dear’ cousin, has she married James Huntoon yet? Was their wedding supposed to be held this fall or next spring? I have forgotten. It is a shame that I will miss it. Honestly. One last thing I want to say, Orry. Thinking of my new situation has reminded me of how much I owe you. You gave a young and resentful boy a second chance to make something of his life. Namely me. Instead of ending up dead in a ditch with a broken neck, or killed in a tavern brawl, I am a West Point graduate and Army officer, serving my country on the Texas frontier. All of this happened to me, because of you. I will never forget your kindness and love and will forever be grateful.
Sincerely your beloved cousin,
2nd Lieutenant Charles Main, U.S.A