The first leg of the trip was down the mighty Mississippi aboard the steamboat paddle wheeler Alec Scott. To Mace, this was the very heart and soul of the South. Slow and peaceful, the river carried them through vast farmlands of cotton. He could see from the deck as they passed by, the slaves working the fields, singing their songs. Occasionally, he could see a plantation home, with the genteel Southern ladies in their large hooped dresses walking about the porch. When the wind blew just right, he thought he could smell the gardenias that grew in their gardens.
The Alec Scott was carrying a large inventory of cargo, but also had among its passengers a good size contingent of soldiers. Many of them were, like Mace and Tom, on their way to Texas. Friendships among these men were quickly struck up, and the nights were passed with cordial, if competitive, card games.
One big fellow, about four years older than Mace, was on his way back home. His name was George Blaire, and he was a native of San Antonio. He was only too glad to be transferred back to his home state and fight alongside his own people. He was a talkative man, and regaled his comrades for hours with tales of Texas.
“Yup… I was born and raised in Texas. Lived all my life in San Antonio. I was only three when Pa was killed at Goliad, so don’t remember him much. But Ma, she told the stories. Like how in them early days just a few Texicans fought off Santa Anna and made a whole new country for ourselves. We’re proud of our heritage and our history. We may be Southerners all right, but we’re Texans first.
“What’s it like in Texas?” Tom asked.
“Big! Boys, it’s so big you could ride across it for a week and not reach the other side! Ranches hold thousands of head of cattle, and the land has everything you need.”