Mrs. Sarah Darling, 25 Marathon St., Arlington, Mass.
Interview with Mr. Rice, April 8, 1905.
Mrs. Darling: When George was taken prisoner he had been to New Orleans. We were stationed up at Bonnet Carre. We were three miles above the camp, and three miles above us a little picket was drawn up and we were between the two. The 18th New York Cavalry was stationed ________. It did not bear a very good reputation, and while George was up there they did not feel very good towards the Provost Marshall.
We lived in Gen. Beauregard’s father-in-law’s house, on the Deslond plantation. He married this man’s daughter for his second wife. He had another son-in-law, Geall, who was in the Confederate army, but this place, the old gentleman lived there alone with his servants. No one troubled him at all, and they wanted us to come up there to live so we moved up there.
The officers at the camp did not feel very good and there was a picket supposed to be out at Bodiski’s Canal, and they did have a picket there and took that picket away, and what it was done for I don’t know, and they should have kept a picket out there, and it was only two days after, I think, George went to New Orleans and when he came back (he got home about midnight), before he got there somebody came and rapped on the door, on my outside door, and I says “Who is this?” and he says “Is the Captain home?” and I says “No, but will be here very soon.” He says “Open the door.” I says “I shan’t open the door.” He says “Open the door,” and I says “No, I shan’t open the door.” And he says “Where are the keys to the office?” and I says “There are no keys to the office.” The office was down stairs under my chamber. He gave his orders to march and they went downstairs. I knew something was up and got up and dressed myself. I heard the bayonets put in under the shutters (there were shutters on the windows) and heard the shutters ripped off. They came in through the window not through the door, and what they were after was the records.
The order was issued for drafting the men down there into the army, and of course the Union men didn’t think it was very good principles, and George had been obliged to register the men and it was all done and he went to New Orleans to carry the papers which were made in triplicate, and the copy he was to retain he said “For safe keeping, I will put this away” and threw it up on the top of the wardrobe in our room, and that was what they were after, to find out who had been enrolled, and they could not find any papers in the office and so they came upstairs.
They didn’t offer me any indignity at all, but just then the whistle blew at the landing and I knew George was coming. They went out straight through the garden to the levee and George was just landing, and he said “Good by Captain” and the Captain said “Good-bye, you will be going down with me again next week?” and George said “Perhaps.” And just then, he stepped on the landing and somebody said “Halt! Surrender!” and George said “To whom do I surrender?” and the man answered “To Capt. Poche [Capt. Felix Poche] of the Confederate States Army” and what could George do? And he said “I would like to go into the house. My wife has been sick and I would like to see her.” And the Captain said he might go into the house. I was waiting. Pretty soon, I heard Mr. Darling’s step on the stairs and he says “I am a prisoner, Sarah.” And I says “I expected it, they have been up to the house” and behind him was the Captain and he says “Good evening, Madam Darling.” I invited him to come in, and he came in and looked all around and then he looked at me. Pretty soon he says “Well Capt. I think we will have to go soon, and you had better put on as heavy boots as you have” and Mr. Darling put on a long pair of cavalry boots. I didn’t say one word to Capt. Poche, but I made up a face at him. I turned up my nose at him.
They came in and got all ready and Mr. Darling said he would have to have some money. I went and got him some. I thought Captain Poche would say I will take the rest, but he didn’t. He just said “Mr. Darling I would like your sword.” And Mr. Darling said “I have no sword.” He had a sabre, but his sword was in Boston. “Well,” said Capt. Poche “I will have to take your spurs, then.” But Capt. Darling had lost one of his spurs, so he said “I have no spurs.” So he kept the one spur, and then they started and went out and he turned and said as he went out, “Mrs. Darling, if you do not see the Captain in three weeks time you shall hear from him, I give you my word as a gentleman that he shall not be ill treated.” He was a fine gentleman. He lived in St. James Parish.
They had not been gone long before somebody came pounding on my door and I says “Who is that?” and he said “Lieut. So and So from camp. Open the door.” And I said “I shan’t open the door.” And he says “If you don’t open the door I will break it down.” And I said “If you break my door down, I will shoot you. I have got a gun here,” and he didn’t dare break my door down. He says, “The Captain has been carried off?” I said “Yes” and he said “Which way did he go?” and I says “That is your place to know which way he went. If you had been watching, he would not have been taken.” And then he went down into the office and searched through everything, but he didn’t find much because the Captain never allowed anything of any value to be downstairs, but he took Mr. Darling’s gold pen and everything he could find, and he went off after awhile.
I didn’t hear anything from Mr. Darling for I guess 10 days when a little message came to me saying he was well (I don’t know how it came) and for me not to worry. He was gone exactly three weeks, and one morning he came home. They took him way out into Mississippi and he was treated all right, and when the three weeks was out they let him come in on his own word. I cannot tell you exactly the date — it must have been — now when did they surrender?
Mr. Rice: The 9th of April.
Mrs. Darling: The 9th of April. Well, it was in March some time, I cannot tell you the date, and I have not the date when he was taken. I did have it at one time, but I have not got it now.
There were soldiers sent out to recapture him and instead of getting him they got some Confederate soldiers, a major and two men, and they [the Confederates] let Mr. Darling come in on his own personal parole, to come in and be exchanged. He was to take the major back to their camp, and he was to be exchanged.
He came into camp outside of Vicksburg somewhere, and the officer says “Well you can go to New Orleans, and we will retain the two men, and you can find the Major and bring him back here and then you can go back to your own regiment.” And he said “Well I will do that.” And so he had his parole and came to New Orleans and found the Major in person and of course everything was gone through and he and the Major were to start such a day to go back, and George was walking along through Camp street when an officer came up to him and said “Here, Captain Darling, you are wanted. Come with me.” And he says “What for?” and the man says “You are wanted.” And they took him to the prison on Carondelet Street and put him in there and never said why he was arrested. That was while Hurlbut was in command. They left him in command while we went to Mobile. The trouble with him and Mr. Darling commenced before this.
Well they put him in prison and I got word to go to New Orleans to see him and I, of course, went around to get permission to go and see him and I was snubbed everywhere by the Federal soldiers. I went into the Prov. Marshall’s office and I asked if I might have permission to go and see Capt. Darling, and they looked at me there as much as to say “What are you to him?” and I says “I want you to distinctly understand he is my husband.”
I went to the commander of the defenses, and to Hurlbut’s office, and I had to go around three times before they would give me a permit to go and see him. Then I had to go back, finally, and get it countersigned, but when I got it, it gave me permission to go to the prison each day to see him for one half-hour.
Well, I went up to Carondelet Street and went up into the room. He was sitting back on the other side of the room as I went in, but the officer came and spoke to me and asked me who I wanted to see, and he allowed me to stay and when my half hour was up and I started to go he said “You may stay as long as you please Mrs. Darling.” So I went there every day and stayed as long as I could.
I was in New Orleans ten days and he was still there waiting to get paroled, then Gen. Banks was sent back, and the first thing he sent up to know why he was retained there, and Gen. Banks signed a paper “There are no charges against Capt. Darling in this office and never have been. Release him immediately.”
I was boarding on Canal Street and the first thing I knew he came to see me. “Now,” he said “I have to go back up there to Vicksburg.” Up there, they had asked Capt. Poche “Where is your Yankee Captain now?” And Capt. Poche said he would come back all right. But it was three weeks since he left and when he got around, he took the Major and went up there and was exchanged and came back to New Orleans.
Mr. Darling was Prov. Marshall up there and lots of times there was a chance to make money on the levee. The levee broke on the other side of the river and, of course, he had charge of the stores and men and everything, and the men drew the rations and you know our Government gave very generous rations. They took $1200 worth of rations on that work and they were stored in our house in the attic, and I had the key and I was afraid there would be trouble, and this officer from the camp that came up there he wanted this and he wanted that and I wouldn’t give him any satisfaction at all. I simply asked him if he would give me rations for my horses, and first he said he would. And then he said Capt. Darling was as good as any of the rebels and his horses could not have any rations, and so I could not get any rations and the planters fed my horses. They knew there must be rations in the house. There were some rations downstairs in my pantry and I had them put upstairs in the attic, while I entertained those two men I had a man going barefooted carrying those rations into the attic, and so they could not find anything downstairs. In the first place in building this levee Harai Robinson at Bonnet Carre wanted the Captain to go with him into some deal whereby they could make two or three thousand dollars apiece in that business, and they could not influence him to do it and so they were bound to trouble him as soon as they could. Hurlbut was in command and afraid the Captain would peach on them, but he said he didn’t care anything about it. Lots of the men were followed just the same way, but they came out all right.
When he came back to Bonnet Carre there was a new Prov. Marshall appointed in his place and he went to his regiment, but he was not there, but a little while before the Confederacy went up. I went down to the plantation and stayed while Mr. Darling went over to Mobile.
Capt. Poche came in one morning after we were back on the plantation and says “Well, Captain, I carried you off one day and now I have come to see if you will carry me home.” And Mr. Darling took him in his team and carried him home. He lived in St. James Parish. He and Mr. Darling were always good friends. He was afterwards Judge Poche in New Orleans. He was very, very nice, indeed.
Mr. Rice: It was in July, I think, that you came North, in ’66?
Mrs. Darling: Yes, sir. (But afterwards Mrs. Darling corrected this and told me she thought she came in the latter part of ’65.)
Mr. Rice: You came in a year after the regiment came home?
Mrs. Darling: Yes sir.
Mr. Rice: Didn’t you tell me about how the Captain (Capt. Poche) and his people got up to you at that time?
Mrs. Darling: They came up the bayou out back of the plantation and the canals that ran up to the plantations, where they had this detail of men — Bodiski’s canal — and they came up there and walked up over the plantation, no hindrance at all, you know, and walked right up to the house, the Captain and 12 men. They came for those papers but they didn’t get them. They had to take the Captain because he came home from New Orleans. He told Mr. Darling afterwards that if he hadn’t come home he would have been all right, that he came for the papers. And Capt. Darling said “You didn’t get them did you?” and he said “No”. When they got out the next morning one of the men asked Capt, Poche, what did his wife do, and Capt. Poche said, “She looked at me from head to foot and made a face at me.”
I did not know who he was, but I had a nurse girl who saw him and she said “I know who that is. That is Capt. Felix Poche. He lived next house to where I did in St. James Parish. He’ll be good to the Captain.”
Mr. Rice: You retained the acquaintance of this Capt. Poche?
Mrs. Darling: Yes, sir, as long as I lived in New Orleans, and I often would hear from him through Mr. Williams, but I have not heard from him for a long while now.
Mr. Rice: How far were you located from where Capt. Page was?
Mrs. Darling: Capt. Page, I guess, had left the service before you went down. He was married and lived on the Frelsen plantation, and then he lived in town and his place of business was Magazine Street. He resigned in ’64 during the Red River campaign. He died about three or four years ago.
Capt. Darling died in Baltimore, January 25, 1878.