(Mss. 1850)


Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections

Special Collections, Hill Memorial Library

Louisiana State University Libraries

Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University

Reformatted 2003

Revised 2011


SUMMARY .................................................................................................................................... 3
BIOGRAPHICAL/HISTORICAL NOTE ...................................................................................... 4
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE ................................................................................................... 4
COLLECTION DESCRIPTION .................................................................................................... 5
INDEX TERMS ............................................................................................................................ 11
CONTAINER LIST ...................................................................................................................... 12

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72 items

Geographic locations.

Atlantic Ocean; New Orleans; Newfoundland; Cadiz, Spain; Cape Horn; Callao, Chincha Islands, Peru; Antwerp, Belgium; La Rochelle, France

Inclusive dates.

1855-1863, 1866

Bulk dates.





Letters of Marianne Edwards to members of the Edwards family relating experiences from voyages at sea.


Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access.

If microfilm is available, photocopies must be made from microfilm.

Related collections.



Copyright of the original materials is retained by descendants of the creators in accordance with U.S. copyright law.


Marianne Edwards Letters, Mss. 1850, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, La.

Stack location(s).



Marianne Edwards, formerly of Evansville, Indiana, was the wife of Guy M. Edwards, a Massachusetts sea captain. She took voyages from Boston to New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, France, Spain, Florida, and Brazil.


The letters, chiefly addressed to sister-in-law, Maria, concern a voyage (1855-1856) from Boston to New Orleans, to La Rochelle, France, and to Cadiz, Spain, aboard the trading vessel Bennington; a voyage aboard the George W. Bourne from Newfoundland around Cape Horn (1857) to Callao and to the Chincha Islands, Peru, and return to Newfoundland by way of New Orleans (1858); a voyage aboard the George W. Bourne to Pensacola Bay, Florida, for the transport of lumber to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1859), and travel from New Orleans to Bordeaux, France and back (1860). Topics mentioned include shipping and freight business, social and physical conditions aboard ships and in ports, incidents of yellow fever and scarlet fever, African American crew members, and personal matters including the education of Marianne's children.

Some letters (1862-1863) concern a voyage on the Nonantum on the Lower Mississippi River and at New Orleans, describe conditions during the Federal occupation of New Orleans, and comment on the regulations issued by General Benjamin F. Butler, the large number of casualties at the Battle of Port Hudson, Louisiana, and conditions in hospitals in New Orleans and Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Later letters (1866) chiefly concern family matters including farming in Hampton, Virginia, African American labor, and opinions of the Freedmen's bill.




Marianne Edwards on board ship, Bennington at:

New Orleans

Jan. 6, 1855

Letter comments on bad weather out of Boston, little business, activities of Emma (child), and longing for Minnie (child) left with aunt.

April-May 1855

2 letters to Maria Edwards (sister-in-law), Quincy, Massachusetts. Comments on high cost of postage, high cost of trip up the river, failure to receive mail from home, and states Guy writes owners and settles accounts weekly (May 12, 1855); comments on hot weather and many mosquitoes but has “enough Yankee” to “out do” the people who live here, states voyage to France approved by ship owner, describes extravagant dress of women (Apr. 13, 1855).

July 29, 1855

La Rochelle, France.

Letter to Maria. Comments on temptations shipmasters are exposed to in New Orleans and France, describes city, mentions that over 1,000 people visited ship because it was largest ever in port, comments on large number of social invitations received from upper class, and Guy’s ability to travel from New Orleans without chronometer.

Dec. 23, 1855

[Cadiz, Spain].

Letter to Maria. Fails to pick up freight and leaves for New Orleans, states 7 captains had yellow fever and 1 died of it, mentions death of Mrs. Field from typhoid.

June 4, 1856

New Orleans.

Letter to Maria. Mentions possibility of going to pine woods while ship is laid up, comments on favorable change in sister’s appearance, postscript by Guy.

Marianne Edwards on board new ship, probably George W. Bourne

Oct. 10, 1856

St. John, New Brunswick, Newfoundland.

Letter to Maria. Comments favorably on accommodations and crew of new ship and discusses husband’s attitude toward her joining him; states ship will lie in port for 25 days loading cargo.

Apr. 24, 1857

Callao, Peru.

Letter to Maria. Comments on voyage of 94 days around Cape Horn, mentions death of relative, discusses damage done by revolution over presidential election in city, mentions foreign vessels in port and advantages of living on ship, and states husband’s charter requires him to remain 3 months at the Chinchas to load [guano].

Chincha Islands, Peru.

June 1857

Letter to Maria. Relates household matters and family news, comments on abundance of food, compares favorably the stores and churches in Lima to Cadiz, mentions matters concerning the crew, describes the North, South, and Middle Islands and states English and American ships load guano at North Island.

July 6, 1857

Letter by Guy M. Edwards to parents (friendly note by Marianne mentioning children and plan to return to Callao). States 35 days required to load ship with 12,000 tons of guano; describes Island with 100 ships loading guano; states Peru seems like a band of pirates governed by leader and not a republic; relates difficulties caused by no banks and only silver currency; states freight home amounts to $25,000.

July-Sept. 1857

2 letters to Maria. Relates plan to discharge load in Antwerp and return to New Orleans, comments on local news in Quincy (July 18, 1857); sends $300 to Charles [Edwards], describes daily life on board ship (Sept. 2, 1857).

Jan. 5, 1858

English Channel.

Letter to Maria. Mentions members of the Henry Ashley family in Evansville, Indiana; states husband trying to save “light dues” by sending pilot boat for his orders; discusses observance of Thanksgiving and Christmas on board ship; attributes good health of crew to ample food provided.

Jan. 12, 1858

Antwerp, Belgium

Letter to Maria. Friendly letter discussing behavior of children.

Apr. 1, 1858

[Apalachicola, Florida].

Letter to Maria. Spent 51 days in transit from Antwerp through West Indies to Apalachicola Bay, states pilot fee was $50 and advised going to New Orleans.

Apr. 16, 1858

At Sea.

Letter to Maria. Discusses happenings on board ship and family matters, comments adversely on possible marriage of Charles [Edwards] to Maria Newcomb.

May 1858

New Orleans (on board George W. Bourne)

2 letters to Maria. Discusses plan to return to Boston, care of parents, and possibility of visiting Evansville (May 11, 1858); complains about mosquitoes, heat, and deterioration of clothing due to guano, comments on low freight rates (May 27, 1858).

July 1858

St. John, New Brunswick.

Friendly letter discussing visit of “sailor runners” to ship and prevalence of scarlet fever in community (July 27, 1858, to children); comments on trip to Cape Ann, Mount Desert Rock, and Beavers’ Harbor and poor African American crewmen (July 25, 1858, to Maria).

Feb.-April 1859

Lower Mississippi River, on board ship George W. Bourne

5 letters to Maria. Comments on large number of ships waiting to pass the Bar because of law water (Feb. 24, Mar. 11 and 16); complains about manner in which ship was loaded (Feb. 24); mentions correspondence of Mr. Lord, owner of boat (Feb. 24 and Mar. 16); mentions visits to ships Josephus and William Lord (Mar. 25); comments on activities of family, household duties, clothing purchased (Feb. 24, Mar. 11, 16, and 25, and Apr. 16).

May 7, 1859

New Orleans

Letter to Maria. States cargo unloaded between decks, new mast to be installed next week; comments on clothing for daughter, Emma, in Quincy, high cost of shoes and stockings, and entertainment of friends.

Pensacola Bay, Florida

June 6, 1859

Letter to Maria. Comments on beauty and cleanliness of naval station; describes plantation home and family of Mr. Crigler, head of lumber mill, at Milton, Florida; states worse masters and mistresses of slaves are Northerners and foreigners; states sloop of war Savannah anchored next to them.

June 8, 1859

Letter to Maria. Comments on friendliness of naval station, friendliness of Commodore McIntosh and captain of Savannah, mentions Emma’s progress in school, states ship moved closer to mill.

June 17, 1859

Letter to Emma. Discusses health, clothing, and education of Emma; discusses treatment of Mina’s (daughter) stiff neck with bag of hops steeped in rum.

July 11, 1859

Letter to Maria. Relates personal interests, comments on law requiring African American crewmen on board ships to be jailed while in New Orleans, mentions visits with friends, fine fruit, gardens, and shopping, and sends forwarding address in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


2 letters by Maria. Enjoys visit with Mrs. Batchilder (?) at “Bagdad,” and Florida climate (letter No. 31); discusses lumber firm of Batchilder, Criglar and Pooley, profit from saw mills, friendship with Mrs. Batchilder; fails to celebrate Thanksgiving (letter No. 32).

July 13-Oct. 13, 1859

At Sea, in transit to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

1 item to Maria. Journal entries discussing food, weather, causes of ship’s poor sailing, shortage of water on 91-day voyage.

Oct.-Nov. 1859

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

5 letters to Maria. Considers half of what girls learn in school useless (Oct. 26); complains about coal dust from unloading of Liverpool boat, comments on restrictions governing work hours of laborers, visiting each other’s ship, high duty charges, and necessity of getting permit to bring anything, even fresh provisions, on board ship (Oct. 27); discusses customs of Brazilian women (Nov. 3); states captain gets 2¢ per letter and postage in addition, and mentions family matters and Christmas gifts for Emma [Nov. 9]; comments on shopping trip with Mrs. C. H. Esling (author of “Broken Bracelet”), sightseeing, behavior of crew when paid, abundance of fruit and fresh vegetables (Nov. 21).

Nov. 7, 1859

Letter to Emma. Friendly letter discussing Mina’s activities.

Dec. 1, 1859

Letter to Charles [Edwards], brother-in-law. Comments on plan of U. S. S. John Adams to hire island while ship is being repaired, explains difference in ship leaking badly and a leak of no consequence, states 10 African American crewmen ran away, but others know law in New Orleans, mentions earnings of ship and husband’s desire to enter lumber business.

Dec. 5, 1859

Letter to “Father and Mother” (Guy’s parents). Comments on cost of hiring “steam” to leave port, new crew members, danger in sailors carrying knives, and states that provision cost $1,000 but Guy will remit $6,000 to Mr. Lord; states only extravagance is barrel of ale at sea.

Jan. 25, 1860

Lower Mississippi River.

Letter to Maria. States 44 days in passage from Rio to Bar, failure to know regulation resulted in payment for powder fired at ship in passing fort, and “all our coloured people go to jail this morning.”

Feb. 18, 1860

New Orleans

2 letters to Maria. Mentions uncertain plan to return to Boston, and leaves Emma to care of certain members of family; discusses arrival plans and desire to take quarters near family.

Apr. 10, 1860

Evansville, Indiana

Letter to Maria. Discusses trip to parent’s home via Niagara and Detroit.

May-June 1860

New Orleans

2 letters to Maria. Discusses passengers, fees received, and quartering, comments on Emma’s schooling and clothes (May 2, 1860); hires white stewardess, opposes evening amusements for children under 15; states Lila (sister) and Mr. Field 5 months getting to Calcutta with English troops (June 1).

June 17, 1860

Atlantic Ocean

Letter to Maria. Describes 8 Irish children passengers; states little girls on Canal Street dressed “splendidly” but not “prettily.”

July 22, 1860

Bordeaux, France

Letter to “Father and Mother” Comments on sea voyage, freight offerings in port, sends Emma to private school to learn French, comments on fine houses, streets, beautiful public gardens.

July-Sept. 1860

3 letters to Maria; 1 letter to Mina. States all 3 ships leaving Bar at same time arrived here together in 6 weeks (July 22, 1860); discusses French school attended by daughter, port activities, pretty clothes of children, drilling of 5,000 soldiers in public square (Aug. 6, 1860); speaks sufficient French to do shopping in smaller places and describes Emma’s new clothes (Sept. 4, 1860) to Mina; engages $2,000 freight and expects to get 100 passengers at $10 each (Sept. 22, 1860).

Dec. 1860

New Orleans

Letter to Maria. Stresses necessity of good education for Cora, [niece] and plans to attend double wedding (Dec. 16, to Mary); relates plan to visit Evansville and not to return to sea, and Guy’s dislike for the sea, mentions railway of Charles [Edwards] (Dec. 29, 1860),

Jan. 13, 1861

Ohio River, steamer E. H. Frenchild

Letter to Maria. Returns to Evansville with Emma; ships box to Quincy on ship Rachel.

Feb.-April 1861

Evansville, Indiana

2 letters relate personal enjoyment with family, (Feb. 11, 1861); desires safer place now that country is in arms, and states “Old Boy” not very patriotic but has nothing to fear in bringing home cargo of salt, states Mr. Lord offered Guy the H. M. Haynes, (Apr. 23, 1861)

Aug. 26, 1862

New Orleans on board barque Nonantum

Letter to “Father.” States children wear white “Spencers” here; states Tudor Company barque to leave.

Dec. 22, 1862

Letter to “Father.States Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes coaled at Martinique under nose of “brave men of war,” thinks family would turn “secesh” if they knew about “Wretch Butler,” relates hardships suffered by Brentford (?) family in New Orleans and Batchilder family in Pensacola, discusses effect of Butler’s order giving freedom to slaves for reporting disloyalty of masters, comments on change in appearance of New Orleans with only “flouncing Negroes and lower whites” on streets, mentions heroism of “Secesh” women, gives reasons why Butler wants New Orleans Free Market closed and states Mr. Murry imprisoned because he headed Free Market, states “Old Boy” went to see Banks on behalf of his Pensacola friends but was not granted interview, states all prisoners guilty of political offenses to be released except Mayor Monroe.

Dec. 1862-

Jan. 1863

4 letters to children, Emma and Mina, commenting on scarcity of apples and stating 2 men from Massachusetts visited ship to give sailors the oath (Dec. 28, 1862); urging children and aunt to visit ship when docked in New York (Dec. 28, 1862); stating hard times have helped to make women slender, commenting on New Year’s Eve party and the closing of stores at 3 p.m. (Jan. 3, 1863); carries freight of Alabama iron at $2.50 per ton, prefers the Alabama to be away from here, hears minstrels at museum, comments on burial ground of soldiers with coffins floating until dirt thrown on them and bad odor, mentions fine care given Confederate soldiers by Confederate women, visits St. James Hospital and comments on pitiful conditions of soldiers (Jan. 27, 1863).

May 1863

Lower Mississippi, on board barque Nonantum

Comments on 12 ships ahead of them to be towed by only 2 steamboats, urges Emma to practice regularly, and tells about children’s birds (May 3, 1863, to children); states government bought all steamboats except one or two for own use (May 24, 1863, to “Father”).

June-Aug. 1863

New Orleans, on board [Nonantum]

3 letters to Maria commenting on difficult trip upriver, poverty at Brentfords, and describing pitiful sights in [St. James Hospital] with wounded from Port Hudson (June 4, 1863); relates difficulties encountered in visiting St. James Hospital and states Marine Hospital has over 1,000 patients and St. Louis Motel 300 patients, mentions lack of forces to hold New Orleans if Magruder comes, states Federal soldiers tied white handkerchiefs to bayonets and refused to fight because time expired (June 24, 1863); states Tudor Company paying 15 days demurrage fee, mentions fighting in Berwick Bay area, complains about hospital restrictions regulating visiting hours, states food brought by Confederate women to Vicksburg wounded at St. Louis Hospital shared alike with Rebels and Federals, describes departure of prisoners for Mobile and waving of handkerchiefs, describes conduct of Southern women on levee in bidding prisoners farewell (Aug. 6, 1863).

ca. 1863

1 fragment discussing Bank’s campaign at Port Hudson

Feb. 1866

Hampton, Virginia

2 letters to Maria Edwards commenting on hard times on farm, property injunction, custom of African Americans to take Saturdays off and wood cutters to take Mondays, mentions stealing habits of African Americans (Feb. 18, 1866); mentioning purchase of 4 government boats for $100 to haul wood, stating region infested with mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and “jiggers,” criticizing Freedmen’s bill but for any measure that opposes Rebel [President] Johnson, and mentioning rental of farm to African Americans for $5 an acre or ¼ of crop (Feb. 21, 1866).


Bennington (Ship)

France--Description and travel.

George W. Bourne (Ship)

Hospitals--Confederate States of America.

Letters (correspondence)

Louisiana--Description and travel.

Louisiana--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives.

Nonantum (Ship)

Ocean travel.

Peru--Description and travel.

Port Hudson (La.)--History--Siege, 1863.


Shipping--Louisiana--New Orleans.


Spain--Description and travel.

United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Medical care.






Contents (with dates)




Correspondence (1855-1863, 1866)