I recently found a bit more evidence that the Wanderer, the young newspaperman for The Philadelphia Press who wrote the eleven letters describing his trip to observe the people and construction of the Beale Wagon Road in Indian Territory during 1859, became the famous writer “John Russell Young”—the Seventh Librarian of the Library of Congress.
In the book “A Crisis in Confederate Command—Smith + Taylor” by Jeffery S. Prushankin, on page 101 while describing US Gen. Banks retreat and debacle on the Mansfield-Pleasant Hill Road, Prushankin wrote: ”A Philadelphia newspaperman accompanying the invasion reported that Banks and his generals had tried valiantly to stem the fierce current of retreat.” A topical reference 27, p. 255 on Banks retreat includes: “Philadelphia Press article.”
So I started searching for more evidence on the Wanderer=Young connection, and here is what I found:
A complete three-column front-page story of the Red River Campaign thru April 10, 1864, including the Battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, as seen by a special newspaper correspondent (John Russell Young) traveling with General Banks’ caravan. Remember Young was on the speaker’s platform with President Lincoln during his Gettysburg Address in November 1863. Many thought that, with a great victory in Louisiana and later in Texas, General Banks, former Speaker of the House and Governor of Massachusetts, would become a leading candidate to follow Lincoln into the Presidency. In the Spring of 1864, Young was on a roll, rapidly climbing up the press ladder to the top rung. Young’s article follows:
The Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Campaign in Louisiana—The Battle of Pleasant Hill
Monday, April 25, 1864, P. 1
(Special Correspondent of The Press): J Y R (John Russell Young)
Grand Ecore, LA, April 10, 1864
Young describes the “Howling Wilderness” thick pine forest that General Banks Union Army marches thru from Grand Ecore, Louisiana northwest along the stagecoach wagon road thru Pleasant Hill toward Mansfield, where several battles will be fought from April 7-9, 1864. Young writes in The Press article, website noted above, that:
“The pine country extends from Opelousas, far in the South, to Fort Smith in the North,” …
Now Young, riding with General Banks caravan, never got the final three miles up the stagecoach road to Mansfield, much less to their ultimate destination of Shreveport, thirty-five miles on further north. Why then did Young cite “Fort Smith” (Arkansas) another 200 miles further north as the northern boundary of the piney woods?
To me the answer is apparent, because he (JRY writing as the Wanderer) had been around Fort Smith several weeks in 1859, visiting the countryside of Northwest Arkansas and nearby Indian Territory, and thus he knew the statement regarding Fort Smith was true.