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February 9, 1862: San Francisco

February 9, 2012

I wrote you by the last steamer and also sent a paper. I have sent a paper by each steamer for some time and will send another by this. A mail now occasionally gets in, but many letters and papers must have been lost. For papers and printed matter the “Overland” is a total failure.

Since I last wrote the weather has been good and the waters in the great valleys have been receding, but there is much water still. I have heard many additional items of the flood. Judge Field, of Sacramento City, said a few days ago that his house was on the highest land in the city and that the mud was two feet deep in his parlors after the water went down. Imagine the discomforts arising from such a condition of things.

An old acquaintance, a buccaro, came down from a ranch that was overflowed. The floor of their one-story house was six weeks under water before the house went to pieces. The “Lake” was at that point sixty miles wide, from the mountains on one side to the hills on the other. This was in the Sacramento Valley. Steamers ran back over the ranches fourteen miles from the river, carrying stock, etc., to the hills.

Nearly every house and farm over this immense region is gone. There was such a body of water—250 to 300 miles long and 20 to 60 miles wide, the water ice cold and muddy—that the winds made high waves which beat the farm homes in pieces. America has never before seen such desolation by flood as this has been, and seldom has the Old World seen the like. But the spirits of the people are rising, and it will make them more careful in the future. The experience was needed. Had this flood been delayed for ten years the disaster would have been more than doubled.

The telegraph is now in working order, and we had news this morning—up to 5 P.M. last night from St. Louis—surely quick work. But the roads will long be impassable over large portions of the state.

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