« PreviousContinue »
to inundation, with the exception of some spots, where cabins have been erected for the cultivation of rice. The settlements above New Orleans extend to Pointe Coupée and Fausse Riviere, 172 miles, and in all this distance have the appearance of a village. Those of Baton Rouge extend thirty miles along the river, and to a considerable distance from it, in an eastern direction. Those of bayou Lafourche extend about fifty miles on both sides of that stream, from the outlet of which to New Orleans, the bank of the river admits of cultivation nearly for a mile in breadth. Fifteen miles below the city is the St Bernardo, or Terre aux Bæufs settlement. In the country of Opelousas, the best settlements are fifty miles to the south-west of the Atchafalaya outlet. Concord settlement, opposite to Natchez, between the Mississippi and Tensaw rivers, contains 400 families. The settlements on Red river extend from near its outlet to the distance of several hundred miles. At the rapids, 100 miles from its mouth, is the village of Alexandria, the population of which is chiefly from the United States. At the Avoyelles, fifty miles higher, there is a considerable settlement. On the woody borders of the Prairie, nearly forty miles in circumference, is the settlement called Baker's Station, composed of natives of France, Spain, Ireland, and the United States. Forty miles higher is another called Holmes's Station ; and thirty miles still higher is that of the Bayou Rapide branch of the Red river, twenty-four miles from the Indian villages. On a fertile island of this river, fifty miles in length, and three or four in breadth, is the river
Cane settlement. On the Bayou Pierre branch there is a considerable population. This settlement was commenced by the French in the year 1750. At Natchitoches, 250 miles from the Mississippi, there are about 100 houses extending along the right bank of the river. The first were constructed by French families in 1714. Thirty miles higher, at a place called Comté, and near the Spanish posts of North Mexico, one of which is said to be within the limits of this state, some families are established. The settlements on the Washita, which the French commenced in the year 1727, extend thirty miles above Fort Miro, in latitude 32° 30'. There are some rich settlements on the Bayou Siard ; and on the eastern branches of the Sabine several families are established, some of which came from St Antonio and Nagodoches. The houses of the settlers are generally of wood, one storey high, and painted white. On the levee, or embankment of the Mississippi, which extends from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, they are elevated above the surface by means of piles, or pickets.
Diseases. In the lower parts of Louisiana, bilious fever often prevails, particularly in autumn, when it assumes the symptoms and character of the yellow fever. The other most common diseases are, sore throat, tetanus, and dysentery : consumption, rheumatism, and cutaneous maladies, are rare. A disease of a new character, a malignant pneumonia, prevailed at New Orleans and Fort St Philip, in April and May 1814. The troops at Fort Bower, on Mobile Point, were subject to ophthalmia, owing probably to the reflection of
light and heat from the burning sand. * watered by Red river is as healthy as other parts of the state, though six-tenths of the surface, near the present settlements, are covered with water, and there is no sea-breeze to cool the hot atmosphere of summer. To the west of Red river the country is elevated, well watered and healthy. † At New Orleans the most sickly season is in August, when the water of the adjacent ponds, evaporated by the great heat, leaves their muddy bottoms to send forth daily clouds of pestilen. tial vapours. This does not take place during a very rainy season, which has a contrary effect on other parts of the country. F
Beyond New Orleans and the Bayou St John, there is a place called Le Lepreux, which supposes the existence of the loathsome disease of leprosy. In the city of New Orleans the number of births and deaths, from March 1807 to March 1808, were as follows: Births, 456 ; deaths, 769. Of the former 137 were whites, and 319 persons of colour. Of the latter 318 were whites of adult age, 56 children, and 286 were persons of colour and of adult age, and 109 children. S According to the report of Major Stoddard, several creoles of New Orleans, at the time of the cession of this country to the United States, were found to be between 70 and 80 years, and three nearly 100.
* Heustis, p. 132.
Heustis's Physical Observations in Louisiana. New York, 1817, p. 39.
L'Annuaire Louisianois, par B. Lafon.
Mr Bartram gives an account of a Frenchman, the proprietor of a plantation on an island near the mouth of Pearl river, who was eighty years old; his mother 105, and both were active and cheerful. It has been observed, that the Ohio boatmen are more subject than any other description of people to inflammatory bilious fever, owing, it may be presumed, to habits of intemperance, when exposed to the sun and heavy dews of the evening. There is no donbt concerning the unhealthiness of the climate in autumn in the low country; but many diseases are produced by local or per. sonal circumstances. For several years previous to 1817, yellow fever had not prevailed at New Orleans, though the increase of population had multiplied the causes of its production. But a highly bilious fever made its appearance in the month of August 1817; during a week, ending the 25th, 41 persons were interred in the Protestant burying-ground; and from the 1st to the 25th, 127, in the Catholic burying-ground, including those from the Charity, Hospital. The average annual number of persons buried in the last place, from the year 1813 to 1816 inclusive, was ninetyfour. The deaths in the city and suburbs from the 25th August to the 3d September following, were 100, of whom 84 were whites, and 16 people of colour. The American troops quartered at the Chickasaw Bluffs, Fort Adams, and other places on the banks of the Lower Mississippi, suffered severely, while those at Natchitoches and in the Opelousas enjoyed good health. The malady known by the name of Coup de Soleil, or stroke of the sun, affects those only who re. main for some time in the same place exposed to the sun's rays. Dr Heustis, in his account of the pestilential scurvy
* which prevailed in the army at camp Terre aux Baufst during the months of June, July, and August, of the year 1809, observes, that “ such was the progress of this destructive malady, that of 2000 troops that were encamped at Terre aux Bæufs, 1000 fell a sacrifice to its ravages. The place of their first encampment, however, was not the only scene of their destruction, though it was the source of the mortality : 150' were destroyed at Terre aux Bæufs, 250 upon their
passage up the river to Washington on the Mississippi, and about 600 after their arrival there." “ They were transported up the river in open boats, and were forty days in ascending, during which time they were enveloped in an idio-miasmatic atmosphere, generated by their own putrifying and filthy bodies.” This afflicting malady is ascribed by this physician to unwholesome provisions, the want of vegetables, and the immoderate use of mercury as the means of cure. Other circumstances increased the mortality. The detachment consisted of new levies; the season was unusually sickly; the situation was marshy; there was no hospital ; no protection against the bite of musquitoes ; and the troops, overpowered by excessive fatigue during
* Second Chapter of his Physical Observations, &c.
+ This place is about fifteen miles below New Orleans, at the distance of a quarter of a mile from the river Mississippi on its eastern side,