Saturday, May 5, 2012
T. E. Story # 78
What a lovely little swimming hole! No wonder the moccasins like it so much! I had a friend who came from the swamps in North Carolina, and he both claimed and proved that he could smell the snakes from a distance. I don't have that ability, but I certainly welcome the assistance of any who do. Anyway, the bath is finished under Dan's watchful eye, and the moccasins probably sensing that they shouldn't mess with Col. Abert and his colleagues left us all alone(Grin!!). In answer to your question, about the fords, both of them were said to be downriver from Fredericksburg about 1 to 2 miles, just far enough that few people living there don't want to mess with them. There are two roads leading downriver, one on each side of the Rappahannock, and a very nice bridge over the river at Falmouth which is now almost immediately in the suburbs since the city has expanded to the North. From the earlier reports these fords are fairly shallow with rocky beds, but there is no record of the width of the river at these points, depth of water at low and high water, or the speed of the water. Also the slope of the banks into and out of the river interests me as well. Now one of the concerns is that these reports were made several years ago, and there is a possibility that a seasonal flood has causes the river bed to erode, or more likely the fords have been destroyed by a deepening of the river channel to accommodate steam boats. I am not sure of the navigation status of the river, but the height of the railroad bridge which crosses the river right in town would indicate that it was built for a river steamer to pass under it. All this is what we are here to discover and record. So, any assistance that you can provide in your scouting would be a big help. Also the same report mentions two sites for pontoon bridges in the same area. So, any sites for a makeshift bridge would need very shallow and low grade banks leading into the river without any cliffs or drop-offs. Places like this are to be found occasionally to be sure, however, it is usual for rivers in lowlands, like around Fredericksburg, to wind across the landscape and as they do they will cut into one bank leaving a cliff while the other side is a sand or mud bar. I know that you have seen many of them. So, essentially that is what we are looking for. It is good information either to find these sites and document them properly, or to find that they no longer exist. Both sets of information are both necessary and important. Your last has given me a further idea about our "services" to the civilian population. As you say, they probably don't have the funding for a paint job in the parlor, however, any one who needs a letter read to them, will also receive a written copy by me. That way the customer will have a more lasting idea of what the letter has said than trying to remember it. Anyone who wants a letter written will get two letters, one to keep for their letter book. That will make up our 'LOSS" of customers for parlor painting!! I have no objection to your accepting a commission as a Permanent Marshall. It assures that you will have a job throughout the war, if a war comes, and if not, or afterwards it assures you of a lifetime career, if that is what you desire. It also means that you would have the ability to assist Dan in his growth into a good citizen and help him to find his place in society with the funding to make a success of whatever he decides that he wishes to pursue. We will spend the second night here, and leave early in the morning. The road from here leads back through the woods about a quarter mile before it joins the main road. Just down the road about one/half mile is the farm of Mr. W. Aller. Apparently either some of the family are workers on the ferry, or they are boarding some ferry-hands in their house. The distance as the crow flies from the ferry to the village of Aquia is about 4 1/3 miles, and by road it will be five or six miles. Along that road I expect to encounter two streams to cross and the shelter of woods along the way. There are no other house / farms along the road until we get to Aquia. I believe there is a bridge at the first stream. The road that goes to Aquia that we will be following, crosses Telegraph road and is the road that we will return to Telegraph Road on after our visit to Falmouth and then upcountry to Skinner's Store as I mentioned. You may see signs along the road to Garrisonville before we get to Aquia. Once at Aquia we will go South to Stafford Court House, another four + miles as the crow flies, probably 5 1/2 or six miles to the Courthouse. We will cross one stream "Aquia Creek" and there are no farms along this stretch of road, so we should make good time. South of the courthouse it is seven miles to "Potomac Creek." That will be the planned end to our first day out of the farm, and that will give me a chance to sketch the bridge that I am sure that we will find there. Tomorrow we will continue our mission!!