This obscure seaman was apparently just your run-of-the-mill sailor; apparently he did see Civil War service, as he appears in the rolls of Civil War veterans from Connecticut. Item #47083
Interesting ALS describing a journey up the Orinoco River in Venezuela, 3pp (lettersheet), 7½" X 10", Angostura, Venezuela, 8 November 1858. Addressed to his sister, Livy. Very good. Routine folds and minor age toning. Fascinating travelogue up one of the longest rivers in South America. Angostura, from where Talcott writes, is today a city of over 400,000 people called Ciudad Bolivar and is a major riverport. He writes from aboard ship, "seated in the large armchair intended for the captain, but usually occupied by Cousin Fannie, also that I have the cabin and spermaceti candle entirely to myself for Captain and Fannie are spending the evening on shore...." He continues: "After sailing sometimes fast and at other times slowly till October twenty fourth we entered the mouth of the Orinoco river. We were then only three hundred miles from Angostura. The land for the first hundred miles from the mouth is low and while sailing that distance we did not at most see over twenty huts." The mosquitoes were horrific: "The night of the twenty sixth we anchored in one of the worst musquito regions ever known, at least by me, and were soon attacked by an overwhelming force. The greatest relief was found by walking upon deck, but we were soon so tired that various means for obtaining a little sleep were tried. Some got into their berths and tried to rest after covering head and all, but were too warm to sleep much. Other slept under the long boat and some did not retire. As for myself my musquito curtains were not up therefore after walking till very late I put on my boots, tucked my pants into the legs as if I was going into the snow, put my head into a pillow case, tied a handkerchief round my neck, rapt my hands up in a blanket and tried to sleep on the cabin floor. Though sweating profusely I slept nearly an hour which was better than many did that night.... Before leaving those low grounds we saw an alligator six or seven feet long running himself upon the bank." Further up river: "As we ascended farther up the river we found the land more elevated and fit for cultivation, yet almost destitute of inhabitants." By November 5th they had arrived at Angostura: "Mr Hall who has come to find some profitable employment was much crest fallen when he saw that it was a small poorly built place and has decided to leave for Trinidad...." Of the city, he notes: "We have no wharf here and are obliged to use boats for unloading & c. The place is supplied with river water, which is carried to the houses by pack donkeys. Though this is a good place for roads the only wheeled vehicles I have seen are two or three truck carts. Captain was told that there were only twelve horses in the city. Donkeys are used almost exclusively for moving burdens -- remember these are not mules but little things no larger than yearling colts....." Interesting that, although Angostura was renamed Ciudad Bolívar to honor Simón Bolívar in 1846, Talcott only refers to it as Angostura. Whether Talcott pursued a naval career for the six decades following this letter is unknown -- but it's interesting that a late-life portrait shows him wearing a black-brimmed white skipper’s cap!