Monday, April 30, 2012

T. E. Story # 69

Josh and I covered the rear of the wagon with some cut branches, and settled down to wait.  Josh looked li he was a bit scared.  I was a tad scared myself.  My view of the whole problem was that we had to avoid these people.  It was obvious to me that if the two men that Hezzie and Dan met were associated in any way with the people in Washington City that Col. Abert was looking into, probably they had notified the local constabulary and told a wild story.  Now the Sheriff and Posse were seeking to find out where they are, and apparently these two men had linked us to their mission in some way.  Now the only people that the sheriff has to contact are us.  Therefore I am sure that they will come back this way and they will be looking for us, possibly to take into custody for some lengthy questioning.  This I would much prefer not to undergo.  Not far from the wagon is an old stone wall and I have taken all the papers that would reveal or give a clue to who we really are, and wrapped them in an old piece of canvas and stored them in the stone wall.  They are hidden well.  Then Josh and I erased the wagon wheel marks which indicated that a wagon had turned off the road  just before the bridge.  The wagon is invisible from the road, and Josh and I found a shallow cave under the bridge where we will wait until we hear the posse returning as I am sure it will do.  Once I am sure that the posse is out of our way, Josh and I will make a dash for the ferry.  Now it may be that the sheriff and his men will be at the ferry, so hopefully Dan or Hezzie can arrange some kind of warning a mile or so up the road so that we will know, and find some place safe to wait until they clear the ferry vicinity. Josh will set up a set of rocks with a note, along the wrong side of the road to warn "JJ" and give him directions.  I will send him to the Ferry to make sure it is clear, so that at least one of us can make contact and arrangements to avoid these people.  If the sheriff and or his posse take the ferry to the other side then we must assume that word will be carried to the other bank of the Potomac.  We will then be forced to take a steamer back to Washington City, and leave the remainder of the mission to complete another time.  The problem of "melding in" with the locals is bad enough without the law looking for us. This is my way of dealing with the problem.  However, if Hezzie has a better set of ideas, I am certainly willing to listen.  I would much rather complete the mission than have to report failure to Col. Abert no matter what the reason.  I have explained my reasoning to Josh and my plans and he has agreed that they are sensible, but like myself he would much rather complete the mission.

T. E. Story #68

    Hum, you chaps sure do snore loudly.  Dan, and I are glad that we are some distance away as neither of us do.[grin]  Finally some stirring, and, Good Morning Major, you seem to have rested well.  To much partying I guess.  Glancing over I noticed that JJ was laying there completely aghast at seeing me sitting there grinning.  I heard footsteps, and Josh came sheepishly thru the door in front of Dan. Well Gentleman it seems that we caught you napping a wee bit!!   A nice safe place it is to.  I won't take up to much of your time, however I have a need to replenish my funds, and see what your plans are between now, and crossing the Potomac.  We have been over there a bit as you know, checking things out, gathering gossip, and getting the lay of the land.  That crossing seems to be a magnet for attracting all kinds of people watching  who ever comes across.  Almost like another culture so to speak. Just before you cross over Dan will join you in the wagon, fill you in, and cross over with you.  Our horses will be on this side safely hidden, and Dan will guide you to a spot that we feel is best for you to layover.  P;an to be the last to cross over as the gathering will be fewer.  I will be up in the church steeple with binoculars watching for any who might show an interest in you folks. I now have the rifle that I told you about, and you will be safe enough.  I am sure that you will agree when you see it. Dan has taken to it, and has pretty well mastered it, so either of us can cover you out to about 1200 yards if need be.  JJ needs to stay near to you until you arrive at the spot that Dan will show you.  There is a bit more unrest on the other side, and war talk is heard more often.  Police yourselves for any gear showing that might spell Yankee.  You will notice that our apparel is some different.  There is a shop that sells used clothing, well boiled to kill any coots living in them.  All of this just reenforces what you already know of course. JJ is going to have to be very sly, and aware of his surroundings as he rides the roads.  I think that he needs to make his notes mental, and record them when he gets back to the wagon.  This is a suggestion on my part only.  You chaps know your business.  I will be leaving now as you chaps probably need to relieve yourselves, get yourselves together, and the Ladies seem to be getting some grits, and black eyed peas ready for your breakfast.  Ok, Dan, give Josh back his gun.  We will leave you with this thought, How Safe, is Safe with the Sgt. Major, and Dan around. Smile, Relax, Keep doing what you have been doing, just be aware that we must keep moving at a reasonable pace to get this material back to Col. Abert!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

T. E. Story # 67

I walked out to meet the boys and the wagon.  I told them about the invitation to put the wagon in the carriage house and attend a picnic at the lady's house.  I got up on the wagon and followed the directions and when we got to the house the carriage door was open and a black man in a livery uniform was standing by the open door.  Josh drove the wagon into the shed and the black man shut the doors.  He came up to me and said," "Suh, De lady ob de house, she say to make your beds in de loft ob de shed heah.  I done got dat done suh."  He leaned into the side door and pointed at a set of stairs leading up to the second level.  Then he showed me the sliding bar lock on the door, and said, "Suh, if you and de udder gent'men will follow me...."  The butler led us around the end of the house and there on the lawn was as neat a layout as you could imagine, tables and chairs from a parlor somewhere, six or seven black men laying the table and bringing trays of food heaped high out. the kitchen.   Meanwhile all the ladies I had met at the alehouse were in attendance and as we walked up, the lady who had invited us, Mrs. Beatrice Semmes, brought us into the group and reintroduced us.  There were some other people there as well, and we met them all,  After shaking hands all around, Josh drew me off to one side.  He wrote a little note saying that he really didn't want to stay for dinner. He pointed to his mouth.  I took him gently by the arm and we sat down on a bench under one of the big trees that shaded the big yard.  I turned to him and said, "Now Josh, I want you to listen to me very carefully.  Everyone in this old world has some sort of problem.  Some not as apparent as yours, and some much. much. worse.  But each person must learn to deal with other people, because that's the way one gets through life.  These people have invited us to a nice supper and have offered the storage of the wagon for tonight.  I don't suppose that you would want to hurt their feelings would you?" Josh looked at me for a few seconds and then slowly shook his head. "Okay, then my friend, here's how we will do this.  Stay close to me and when the first person engages you in a conversation just give him or her a wide grin, and I will say something like 'the lad is rather shy but has a great appetite!'  You nod your head and that will bring a laugh.  Then tuck into whatever is served and I guarantee that you won't have any more trouble.  Do you think that you want to try that?"  Josh looked at the ground for a moment and then looked at me.  He nodded his head slowly and tapped me on the shoulder.  I replied, "You bet son, we are a team."  Josh gave me a great big grin and we got up from the bench and wandered over to the table.  The rest of the evening was very enjoyable.  A couple of people tried talking with Josh , but I mentioned that he was a little shy and as he shoveled another fork full of beans and greens into his mouth, he would grin widely and that would draw a chuckle from the guests.   To make a long story short, we garnered four more contracts over the evening, and almost everyone asked that we return at some future time.  Finally  as the servants were cleaning up the dishes and the folks were headed for home, I said good night to our hostess after flattering her in regards to dinner and thanking her about the carriage house.  I led the way around the house, having gotten a candle from one of the servants.  We went upstairs in the carriage-house and there were three beds all made up, and the room had been swept down and cleaned up a bit.    I checked all the doors locked from the inside in the carriage-shed downstairs and all the windows closed and locked as well.  Then I went up to the second deck to get some rest.  Josh looked a little nervous and I asked him what was wrong.  He said that he would feel better sleeping in the wagon.  Now, since we have been on this mission, Josh has been right on the ball, and I could not have asked for a better companion.  Not only that but he anticipated what needed to be done and then did it without needing any orders.  I was just about to tell him that it was okay to sleep out of the wagon for one night, but then I wondered what Hezzie would have said to that kind of a response?  "JJ" at that moment , asked me if I was ready for him to tell me about the mill and the blacksmith shop.  I gestured to Josh to wait a minute, and "JJ" started to give me the information that he had picked up. First, "JJ" asked me about some horses at the blacksmiths and I told him what Hezzie had said about that.  I asked him about the mill and he indicated that it was a small mill, but it would sure come in handy with a full crew to man it.  At the time he visited there were only two men there, using a single bladed up and down saw.  But he estimated that the mill could probably do three times what it was producing now.  In fact, he had seen a old three bladed gang-saw that was leaning against the wall in the mill house.  The blacksmith shop was the same, in that there was room there for three men working all three anvils and there was a large store of black iron for new projects.  Both places would be valuable to know about should the worst happen.   I thought again about what Josh had asked to do. So, I sat down with Josh, and asked, " Would you really feel better if you slept in the wagon?"  Josh nodded his head vigorously.  "Do you have any particular reason to be by yourself downstairs?"  Josh shook his head no.  He patted me on the shoulder and then patted his own shoulder and it was plain that he was saying I trusted you at dinner, now it's your turn to trust me.   He was right, and so we went downstairs again and I helped him to rig his bed.  Just before I left, I gave him my pistol, and told him just for safety sake. Then I went back upstairs to my bunk, but this time I left the door to downstairs open, and blew out the candle.

T. E. Story #66

   It has been interesting for Dan, and I to observe how easily you are fitting in with the locals wherever you travel.  Dan is not used to any of this, and it is helping his ability to talk in longer sentences, and be aware of what, and how,  people integrate, and function in groups.  His whole existence has been food, clothing, and shelter. so social needs have never come up.  I see him beginning to relax a wee bit. It has been fun for us to be within a few feet of you, Josh, and JJ, and these people, and remain undetected.  JJ had a good trip to the blacksmiths, and apparently you had given him some task to do.  He is very diligent in his task.  I was surprised to see that neither of them realized that our horses were there at the smiths.  I decided that we would swap out our horses for a pair that he had, and the tack.  This gives Dan a better horse, that he now has skills for, and endurance.  Our clothes are gradually changing also so if observed we will not be stereo typed at a glance.  If studied we are as local as are they.  This will be much more valuable to us after crossing the big river.  Going to be interesting how you fit JJ into your two some so he doesn't stand out anymore than he does now. It is apparent that you chaps are going to eat well, and practice your social skills.  It pleases me that all of the planning and prep at the beginning of this venture is paying off.  At our next meeting I will need a bit more funding. We  have already picked up most of the gear that we will need after crossing the river. A long range rifle is being put together, with a new fangled telescope on it. Premonition demands this. Instinct!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

T. E. Story #65

After a brief look at the bridge, Josh and I moved into the village of Piscatawny proper.  There is a small green in the center of the village with a marker on a green and an old pirate cannon in the middle.  This celebrates some small skirmish here with the town and some river pirates about a hundred years ago.  Anyway, we stopped in front of an alehouse there and Josh and I went in for a drink and some lunch.  Two glasses of sasperilla and bowl of tasty stew later we went back out to the wagon to find several people gathered around it.  There were six wagons parked around the center of the village and we were immediately approached and asked if we were were the painters with the sign on the wagon.  So commenced the involvement with the customers.  Two of the wagons had come down from around Oxen Run, by another road on the advice of Mrs. Mattingly, and three were from along one of the side roads that saw the signs that Hezzie put out on that area church.  One of the wagons was from the village.  The lady was shopping for some cloth and saw the sign on the wagon while we were eating lunch.  One of the families wanted me to come to their house to do some painting similar to what I did for the Mattingly's, four needed letters written and one person wanted me to do a fancy sign for his farm to put along the road.  It looked like a full afternoon, so I asked "JJ" when he came in to go with Josh up to the blacksmith, and get the wagon taken care of.  The alehouse owner offered me a table in the back of the dining room to work on the letters and the sign, so I moved my stuff out of the wagon, and moved it into the alehouse.  Several of the men were wearing or carrying guns so I slipped my revolver into it's shoulder holster and donned my coat to cover it.  Josh and "JJ" left town and headed across the bridge taking the road North to the blacksmith.  "JJ" took his horse and will look at the mill while he is in the area. I got busy with the letters, asking the gentleman wanting a sign to wait for the letters to be finished and he was agreeable as it gave him a good excuse for a few beers.  The lady who wanted her parlor painted was one of the ladies from the Oxen Run area and I settled with her for a date next month to come and do the painting.  She described what she wanted and I drew a design for her, and she left happy.  The four letters were rather lengthy, and by the time I finished with them and the sign it was afternoon again.  Josh and "JJ" were still gone, but I really didn't expect them to get back before dusk.  During these hours, I noticed that the alehouse had a lot of customers and most of them came over to the table and wanted to see what was going on.  I made it clear that I had a long-standing commitment on the other side of the Potomac, and the people were very understanding.  Five more people made appointments for the next time I came to town, and I have started a log book of appointments which was necessary for the promises to convince the customers. I asked the alehouse owner if there was some place that I could park the wagon out of the way for the night.  One of the ladies heard me ask, and volunteered her carriage house.  She said that she had gotten rid of an old sleigh and was in the market for another, but the space was vacant temporarily.  Another lady invited the three of us to supper, which got the attention of the other ladies waiting for their letters to be written.  Three of the other ladies also wanted us to come to their place for something to eat , and one of the husband's suggested a picnic under the trees by the carriage house.  The ladies were in a hurry to leave to prepare something to contribute to the feast, and by the time I had finished the letters, I had kissed the hands of at least eight ladies and shook hands with ten men.  When I finished the sign the owner of the alehouse came over and thanked me heartily.  He said that he hadn't had that much business in one afternoon since the last fourth of July.  He invited us to return and plan to use his place to set up whenever we came to town.  I have really been surprised at the hospitality of these people, and I suspect that more could be done in this way if it were done right. I was sitting on the front porch in a old rattan chair having another sasperilla with the alehouse owner, while he told me about the heavy rains that scoured the town last winter, and he mentioned that the bridge had stood up very well to the floodwaters in Piscatawny Creek.  This I was glad to hear.  We talked about the area around the village and it was clear that he was quite proud that the village had grown in the last ten years.  He spoke about the political situation and then about the Cook's Ferry and how that got started.  Just then, I saw the wagon with Josh and "JJ" roll into town.  Looks like it's time to park the wagon and head out for the lady's feast!!  I thanked the alehouse owner for the use of his dining room and he thanked me in turn for all the business that he credited us with bringing him!  Much mutual admiration!!

T. E. Story #64

 Hi Major,  Dan, and I have covered the ground with a fine toothed comb from here to the Potomac.  From the info I gleened from the chap that is now RIP in the cave the next area of real concern is after crossing this.  JJ will be busy, but the roads easily tell their story, and are easily traveled.  The Blacksmith is a very agreeable chap, and somewhat knows Dan.  He is pretty gabby, and I was able to learn a bit of usefull info that I can use after we cross over the river.  When you cross over one of us will be on the other side mingling with the people that usuall hang out to watch the ferry, and the other will be on the ferry crossing over with you unnoticed.  The blacksmith was able to fashion us with a few more articles of equipement that we will need in the days ahead.  We have already crossed over on the ferry, and purchased the supplies that we will need on this next step.  I have kept the slips, and will turn them in to you at our next gathering.  As neither of us has traveled this far south we will need the maps that you will supply us with, and any other info that you deem prudent.  I also have armed Dan with a firearm, and taught him how to use it.  He picked it up readily, however neither of us will use these only as a last resort.  They are far to loud, and not dependable.  The blacksmith also fashioned up a pair of tomahawks fashioned after one that my Aunt, Walks Alone gave me.  Very effecent. This has become Dans favorite weapon.  We have cached our gear on the Southern side of the river, along with a few garments that seemed to be prevelent on that side also.  Interesting.   By now you chaps are a bit well known, so it won't be neccessary for you to change.  Dan, and I are betting on how long it will take you chaps to get thru the locals in need of your services.  News travels fast down here.  JJ has been noticed as a part of your group>>>>>  The Ladies are curious to see this tall, slender young rascal..  You will probably be asked a few questions.  Dan, and I are looking forward to some good possum stews, and roasting some delicious rattlesnakes.  They grow bigger in the South we hear.  We will come in after the river crossing at a point of your choosing. Probably could put a mark on your new map.  I suspect also that the wagon wheels should be greased, rims checked, harnesses checked, and oiled, collars burr checked, and new shoes on the horses if needed. also check the Hames out well.  These must always be in tip top shape should you need to hastly remove youeself should we deem it prudent.  If you pull into the Blacksmith Shop afore mentioned he will immedeatly take care of these without question.  You only need to show up.  Your servant,  Hezzy  Glad that you, and Josh are bonding!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

T.E. Story #63

As Josh and I drove slowly South we took the main road closest to the coast.  This gave me a chance to review the previous events in my mind and the instructions given to those of this mission who are scouting for us and riding the off-roads for more information from Oxen Run, through Oxen Hill out to a distance of five miles, and down to Broad Creek.  Then my assurance to Hezzie that our target in two more days was the ferry across the Potomac.  Now all that I have to do is get to each of them a map of the peninsula from Swan Creek to the ferry.  Beyond the ferry, of course, is the real South down to Fredericksburg and North as far as Alexandria.  We will follow what is mentioned on the various maps as "Telegraph Road," from Fredericksburg to Alexandria. Within a mile or so from Broad Creek is a right-handed turnoff.  The road is definitely secondary and at the turn it is dirt and turf, a double line of tracks leading off to the West, overgrown with brush in spots.  There is a signpost there which lists the Eytes and Edelen farms and one other which has been obliterated.  "JJ" should see what is there and investigate to see if the road goes farther down the riverbank.  The fields to the right and left of the road have cattle grazing and on both sides of the road are split rail fences.  The next road to the right is to the E. A. Kiren farm, the building whose top is just visible from the road.  Probably the barn from its height and bulk..  To the right, the cattle grazing fields continue, as does the split rail fence.  However to the left the rail fence turns sharply East and the land along the road is second growth leafed timber.  We travel another two miles and come to another right handed turn-off with a brightly painted sign "T. Thorn."  I instruct Josh to pull into the drive and follow it at a slow walk.  Within a half mile it becomes obvious that this is a large farm / ranch for cattle.  There are two barns and several out-buildings and the main house is shaded by several trees and sits back from the drive about 100 yards.  The drive on both sides is lined with a rubble stone wall.  In the driveway to the house is a man with a scythe.  He looks to be engaged in trimming the high grass and weeds along the interior and exterior of the stone wall.  He waves at us and steps into the driveway, and Josh brings the rig to a stop.  The man asks if he can help us in any way and I rely, "We just took the wrong turn I guess, sorry for any inconvenience we have caused." "Think nothing of it, " the older man said," We like to see new people every now and again."  He stepped back and looked at the sign on the wagon.  "That's a nice sign you've got there.  Are you in the market for a little business?" "We are always looking for a little business, " I replied, " but we have promised some earlier people that we would be in Swan Creek within an hour or so, and they will be waiting.  I understand that is not too far from here." "Nah, just a hop and a skip down the road from the end of this drive, and you come to Tinker's Creek.  Then within a mile or so is Piscatawney Creek and then you are in the village of Piscatawney. just off the bridge.  I would imagine that you will get more business there than at Swan Creek."  The old man leaned on his scythe and spit a stream of tobacco juice in the ditch. "I can't disagree with that," I said.  "Maybe we will take you up on the tip.  I am still learning the territory around these parts, we began this business along the western bank of the Potomac." "Yeah" responded the old man, "Things is a tad different over here, and that's a fact that even a Yankee can't dispute. "  He laughed at his own joke.  "Iffen I can pry the lady of the house away from her knitten,' and the old horse ain't too cranky, maybe we'll see you in Swan Creek," the man grinned widely again. "Or in Piscatawney," I said, and motioned for Josh to move ahead.  I waved goodbye and the old man raised his hand as well.  We got to the end of the driveway, and back onto the main road.  The fields on both sides of the road now gave way to second growth timber with a mixture of pines among the leafed trees.  The road descended at a steady rate of about 1 to 2 degrees to a bottom land which was swampy and brushy with the smell of swamp cabbage in the still air.  Then we reached a ford with a very small creek, however the piles of dead brush along the sides of the creek gave witness that in rainy weather this creek could be a real problem to get across.  The road had degraded from macadam surface to a dirt road, and there were several wheel tracks where other wagons had gotten into the creek.  Josh drove through the water and out onto the other side which was gravel.  The creek was about ten yards wide at this point, with a gravel / mud bottom, and a current of about 2-3 mph.  I would have to rate this ford at a !. (infantry) or a 2. (Cavalry).  Obviously this was Swan Creek!  No wonder the man had grinned at my mention of it as a meeting place.  I left a note pinned to the tree in clear view of the road that the Sign Painter will go on to Piscatawney with the date and time The road ascended the hill out of the swamp, and the forest replaced the swamp growth as the wagon climbed out of the small valley. The rate of ascension was approx. 2 to 3 degrees, as we crested the hill through the trees we could see another larger creek below us and the road began to descend again.  The road here was steeper than before, near the 4 degree mark and I would recommend extra teams for artillery and freight wagons at this spot.  Within another mile we got to what was marked on a well-worn sign as Tinker's Creek.  There was a bridge here, but it was clear that it was built only for local traffic.  I would rate the bridge as  a 2. (cavalry) at most, as the bridge was constructed of local small logs and spiked together roughly.  The log joints were poorly cut reducing the bridges strength and there was no ground support for the stringers.  Also the stringers were fastened in the middle of the bridge with no side supports.  The builder's apparently were not well-experienced and I was glad to get across the bridge without a problem.  I would strongly recommend that this bridge be rebuilt. The creek had approx. the same width and speed as the former creek that we had crossed. Just prior to the bridge, had been two turnoff roads to the left which "JJ" should ride.  The first road also led right to the West and is marked on my map as going out to Fort Washington and a steamer landing there.  My map shows a mill on Tinker's Creek about four miles North of the bridge.  The lush lowland forest continues on both sides of the road all the way to the Piscatawney Creek Bridge.  Just before the bridge is a road leading off to the left toward the Northeast with a fairly new sign indicating that there is a blacksmith shop on this road.  This is something for "JJ" to ferret out.  I should like to know the type of mill, the extent of the blacksmith shop and the size of the landing at Fort Washington.  As we cross the bridge we can see the village of Piscatawney laid out before us.  Piscatawney Creek is about 30 yards wide here, and the color of the water is a deep green, indicating deep water under the bridge.  The water appears to be effected by ocean tides with a maximum tidal rise of some two feet. The bridge is well constructed out of large timbers with a number of supports in the creek supporting the bridge center.  The stringer beams are heavy timbers well well fastened and well matched.  I would give this bridge a 4. (freight wagons).

Sunday, April 22, 2012

T. E. Story #62

 Hi  Jim,  I met Dan when I was looking for someone to return our boat back up to Washington.  He is an orphan who has never known who his parents were, how old he is, or ever had a friend.  He has never known new clothes, has no education or ever lived anywhere except where he could find shelter.  No one ever cared about him, or he them.  Even his ability to converse is limited.  On the flip side I have learned that he has a knowledge of this country which exceeds anything I have ever seen.  His ability to blend into the country is scary.  I always thought that I was good, but in his area of knowledge he is the Master.  I place him around 13-14 years of age.  The clothes that I gave him for his trip up river with our boat, and the excessive food we had seemed to single me out as someone he might like for the first time in his life. He started following me traveling by foot easily, and than I finally convinced him to ride with me.  Whenever we stopped we started to talk, and I started to show him, and tell him about my young life, and how my Aunt, Walks Alone, had taught me the woods lore that I know.  It was apparent that we had grown to like each other, and our shared knowledge enabled us to accomplish things that enabled us to oversee you, and Josh, and keep you safe.  He has since made it very clear that he has given me his loyalty, and to no other.  He has a deep seated suspicion, of anybody, and everybody.  We have since acquired him a very sturdy mount, and additional gear, and are able to more easily to cover you better.  Better that you don't know the details.  It is also apparent to us that the threat against your safety is still very real, and requires our vigilance to a much higher degree than we thought when we started.  Your acquiring another engineer should be very much an asset to get the mapping done. Don't be alarmed if Dan is distant, and wary.  I trust his instincts.  I will follow your wishes, and orders in all things except when it conflicts with my ability to keep you safe.  If JJ seems to be doing Ok at his assigned task there will be times that I will disappear, and he will be left to his own devices.  I ask for your understanding that the mission requires this. Hezzy   It will be interesting to see where this tale leads us.  I have absolute no problems with JJ joining in, but he will be more a beneficial asset to your side, and a liability to my side in the story as now we know that the threat to you is still there.  I think that the intrigue about your safety, and the unit safety sets squarely on my shoulders.  Your skills, social abilities, and Mission Leader keep you occupied, and JJs ability to travel the roads ahead, bringing back the mapping details will keep him busy.  I will need updated maps of your intended routes, and timetables, so I can go ahead on the roads that JJ will travel checking them out.  I will have contact with him almost daily to keep him updated.  This mission will require all of our skills to bring it to completion.  Respectfully,  Your Friend, and Servant  Jack, and Hezzy

T. E. Story #61

"I am he," I replied, my hand still firmly engaged on my pistol butt.  "Please step down from your horse, and tell me who you are.  Night riders approaching a wagon camp are surprisingly few and far between."  Josh had taken refuge inside the wagon and out tof the corner of my eye I could see just the tip of a gun barrel at the edge of the box cabin on the back of the wagon.  Damn, I thought, that boy is a wonder!. The gentleman got down from his horse and stood before me.  He was a handsome man, tall, probably about 35 years of age, sandy hair cut close, and his clothes were clean but obviously well worn.  The horse tack was also worn but looked to have many more years of use.  He rode a tall horse, who looked big and powerful.  The man tipped his hat back and said," Well boss, I'm  "JJ".  I'm glad to make your acquaintance again, I think, " he grinned and motioned with his head toward the wagon.  He had seen the gun barrel as well. I jumped down and grabbed his hand.  "I am really glad to see you again.  How did you know where we were, and what are you doing here?"  I had met "JJ" during the war, but I had lost touch with him over the years.  The Capt. and Lt. that recommended him had also been good friends in that conflict. "I have a letter for you from Col. Abert, "JJ” said and handed me a letter.  I motioned for Josh to come down, and took the letter.  Josh got off the wagon still holding the rifle and leaned against the rear wagon wheel with the rifle on the ground butt first.  I broke the seal and Josh came forward with a match and struck it for light on the wagon seat.  The letter read: >>>>>>>>> From: Col. Abert, Commandant, U. S. Topographical Engineers To. Major (by brevet) Ian McKay, Cdr. NE Detachment of Topographical Engineers This letter will introduce Captain John Johnson ("JJ"), who will accompany you on your mission.  He is an accomplished field engineer and should be of significant assistance to your mission.  He is to assume command of the mission should anything befall you that would render you unable to continue in command. In regard to the concern we discussed before your departure, two more of the people have been arrested, and if their confessions are at all accurate the group is pretty well destroyed except for two individuals who have escaped the police net.  Unfortunately they are the leaders of this group and are described as fanatical in their support of the possible insurrection of the Southern states against the U. S. Government. Take care, my friend, and let me know as soon as you may have a way to do so, how the mission is progressing.  Your friends on the farm are all doing well and no attempt has been made on them at this time. Respectfully; Col Abert >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Josh blew the long match out, and I folded the letter and gave it to Josh.  "Please put this with my other papers, Josh," I said handing the letter to him.  He nodded and climbed back into the wagon.  I turned to “JJ”, and said, "Well, welcome to the mission.  We already have one problem which may or may not develop into importance." "What might that be?" asked “JJ” leaning against the front wagon wheel? "Hezzy was supposed to meet us here for lunch, and he is several hours overdue.  I am really worried.  I don't suppose you saw anyone on horseback on your way down?" “JJ” shook his head, "No, I came down by way of Alexandria, and came across the river on the Fox Ferry.  The Col. made arrangements for the horse and gear to be ready at the Alexandria Livery."  I waited for an hour at the Fox hotel to see if anyone followed me, but this time of night I was the only one on the ferry.  From there I asked directions to the Broad Creek church and took a road about three miles southeast to the main road and from there to the church." "Damn," I said, " somethings is wrong.  Hezzie would never be this late unless something has happened.  The problem is I have no idea where he was scouting.  He took off this morning and I haven't seen him since. Well, it’s too dark now to do anything, but if I haven’t heard something by morning, we will have to set up some kind of a search grid and go find him.” I looked around at “JJ” and Josh. Josh was almost asleep standing by the wagon wheel and “JJ” was as well. I was sure that both were pretty much played out after the day on the road. “Let’s get some shuteye for now. “JJ” you can either bunk down under the trees or under the wagon. I imagine that under the trees with the big leaf-fall over there would be more comfortable. Josh and I will bed down in the wagon, and we will make our plans early.” We all went to our bunks without any further discussion, and within minutes we were all asleep. I awoke to Josh shaking me, and when I sat up, there was Hezzie squatting at the foot of the bed. He put his finger to his lips and motioned me out of the wagon. I put on my boots and climbed down. He led me away from the wagon and over under a large oak tree where it was very dark. In low tones Hezzie told me what had happened earlier in the evening and in his view that he would have to assume a much more watchful aspect over the mission if it was to continue successfully. At first I wanted to know where the two men were that he and Dan had caught. I wanted to interrogate them as to what and who they were. Hezzie hesitated and then I realized that I probably really didn’t need to see them at all. Hezzie seemed relieved that I was satisfied with what he had told me. Based on his new view of the Mission and the danger that we were all facing, I asked him if he had any desires about changing the plans I had laid out. I told him that I would abide by any changes that he thought necessary except scrapping the mission. He assured me that his goal was the same as my own, which I, of course, knew from the beginning. He said that he would give the matter some thought and he would get back to me with any changes if he thought them necessary. I told him that midway between Broad Creek and the Ferry there was a double road and that it had been my intent to go one way with the carriage, and send “JJ” the other. However, if he felt that he could use that second stretch of road to manage our mission better and safer, I would get a copy of the map to him as soon as possible. He said that he would give that some additional thought as well. With that he said that he had to get back to Dan, and Josh and I went back to sleep. The next morning I awoke to the smell of coffee and found both “JJ” and Josh squatting around a small fire, As I climbed down from the rig, “JJ” said, “So what are your plans for today?” I replied, as I poured a cup of the dark brew, “Hezzie came in last night late, and said that we have been watched and it appeared that two men were looking to stop us and do some harm!” “JJ” said,”Holy Cow, where are these guys. We have to----!!??” I held up my hand. “It’s been taken care of, and we now know as much as they did, er do!!” I stumbled a bit and “JJ” looked at me strangely. “Ahhh, well, --- what I mean to say is that they will pay to the fullest extent of the law! HUM!!! Now, moving on to more important things, I would like you to start riding some of the roads between here and Oxen Run. Ride five miles along each road make note of all the elements along the roads and then catch up to us on this road further South. We'll meet you in Swan Creek, further down this road and wait for you there.  I expect some more people will meet us for services at that point.  Josh and I will be fine. Hezzie will be out ahead of us somewhere to the South."  I looked at Josh, and the young man smiled. I put my arm around his shoulders.  "We're a team now,’I said fondly and “JJ” grinned. After a hasty breakfast of eggs and salt pork “JJ” turned his horse northward.  Josh and I watched as he disappeared around the church building, and then we packed up all the camp gear.  A last minute check of the ground indicated that we left it, as good as we found it.  I climbed up on the wagon and said to Josh with a grin, "Let her roll."  Josh grinned back and we were off again on our adventure, a little more cautious now and still under the cloud of being in danger from more than one source..

Thursday, April 19, 2012

T. E. Story #60

 Hi Major,  I am sure that you are concerned that I was remiss in showing up sooner.  Dan the young chap that you met upon arrival, and I have been covering your back side closely for the past few days, and had to deal with what could have been a rather bad situation.  Dan knows every inch of this country in the day or night, and he wanted to side with me since we started.  I managed to get him a few clothes, and we acquired a small horse for him, and I am showing him how to use a knife in several nasty maneuvers..  We happened on some sign at the edge of dark while you and Josh were enjoying your meal that the ladies had prepared, and after sunset we took up the trail.  This is where Dan, and I really enjoy ourselves. There were two of them who had tried to conceal themselves, and had a wee fire heating some coffee water.  How wonderful of them to be so foolish.  These smells were like a magnet.  It appeared that they were waiting for something a bit later, so we hunkered down, and waited. After a while they covered the fire, and moved out.  It became clear that they were headed toward the road that you would be taking back to the wagon.  It wasn't long before they took up positions in ambush along that trail.  I drew Dan back, and asked him if he felt that he could take the smaller one out if need be.  His eyes told me he was. The moon was out, and the cloud cover was moving slowly by.  We arranged a signal, and moved out in our separate ways.  A bit later I caught the sound of your travel back to camp, and made the decision to act. Upon my signal I saw Dan strike as I disabled my target.  Dan came over, as I gaged my chap, and we dragged him back from the road. Dan knew of a small cave close by, and we descended back into it. After starting a small fire it wasn't long before I had extracted the info that I needed from him, and than we dumped both of these chaps deep in the cave, and headed for your wagon to update you on this incident.  Dan as usual would not come in, as he is determined to cover my back where ever I am.  This, and some other happenings have led me to know that your safety is now going to require my full attention.  Would you be able to get another engineer to help you with your mapping project.  I am pleased that you are blending in so well, but I must become invisible for all practical purposes.  I will come in, in the dark of night, and report. Dan, and I can live off the land easily.  You will need to keep me well informed as to your direction of travel, and stops along the way. We can try nightly, except when I feel it is not safe.  Knowing your direction of travel I will always be ahead of you checking the countryside for your safety.  Dan will travel back any messages that I have in that regards.  We are committed to this project, and must see it thru.  Should anything happen to me, Dan will find you, and discard my body so it will never be found.  Respectfully,  Your Servant,  Hezzy

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

T. E. Story #59

We pulled the wagon in under the trees and an got out to greet the people who were approaching the wagon.  I asked, "How may I help you ladies and gentlemen?"

A tall gentleman, nicely dressed, jumped down from the wagon seat and walked toward me.  He seemed to speak for the group as he stepped forward and extended his hand, " "Why, " he said, " We are here to greet you.  Mrs. Mattingly spoke of you and your wagon in glowing terms this morning and urged this meeting knowing that you would stop here for lunch.  The ladies have prepared a luncheon for us and we most heartily invite you and your men to help us eat it."  The man smiled a boyish grin, and looked around at the several ladies in the group.  They all nodded their heads and each lady carried a wicker basket with a white towel covering the contents.  Two men were moving portable tables from their wagons and setting them up.  I could well imagine what was in those baskets and my stomach rumbled in spite of me.

I shook the gentleman's hand and said, " I am Ian McKay, and who may I have the pleasure of addressing?"

The gentleman answered , " I am Robert Hunter, and the young man who is setting up the tables is my son James Hunter.  The three ladies with the baskets are Lilly Frey, Joelina Webster, and Mrs. Kidnell.  The two men in the wagon handing out chairs and boxes are Mr. Thomas Thorn, and Mr. Ezekial Firstin."

This was way more publicity than I wanted but in turn it was a further indication of our acceptance in this community.  I decided that the best course was to go along with this hospitality and see where it led.  I relied to Mr. Hunter, " Well, this is a real surprise, and I will accept your very kind offer both for myself and for my young friend Josh who is my driver.  Let me talk with him and inform him that there is no need to break out his food or fire making tools.  I will be right back."  I turned to seek out Josh and as usual he stood right behind me.  I put my arm around his shoulder and as we walked back to the wagon, I said in a low voice, "cover the paint and brushes that we used at Mrs. Barry's House.  We will use only paper and ink today."  Josh climbed back into the wagon to cover those things and dig out the paper, pens, ink, and sealing wax kit.  I turned towards the tables which were now set up and I saw a fire going in a large ring of rocks that had apparently been set up for that purpose by the church.  They were black and burnt showing much use for previous picnics here.  The ladies were setting out the luncheon that they had brought together with plates of fresh vegetables and fruit from local gardens.  A big turkey was being wired to a spit and set over the fire .  The turkey had been precooked so the idea here was merely to warm it up and crisp the skin.

I walked over to the table and the people came over to shake my hand and one by one we greeted each other, exchanged names, and all had something to say about how the community needed what we were here to perform and how glad they were to see us.  Josh joined me and the handshaking went on all over again.  I mentioned to Mr. Hunter that Josh had a speech problem and he mentioned that aside to several people waiting to greet Josh.  Soon we all sat down and the ladies filled our plates with piles of delicious food.  After about an hour the meal was over and the remaining food and dishes were being put away, I broached the subject of  payment for this wonderful meal to Mr. Hunter who seemed to be the spokesman for the group.  "How can we repay you for this very delicious meal Mr, Hunter?" I asked.  "We have enjoyed ourselves hugely ."  

Mr. Hunter said, "Just call me Bob and I'll call you Ian.  It will be much easier this way.  Actually, we in this community have need of someone who can write well as we have several people who need to have letters written for legal purposes, replies to loved one, and letters for making various inquiries.  However, those of us who can write do not do it well and several in this community cannot write at all.  We wonder if you would be willing to stay for a few hours and take care of these people's needs.  We should be glad to pay your rates whatever they are, and the meal was just a small bonus insisted upon by the ladies in the community."

"All right Bob, that sounds good to me, " I said.  " What do you have in mind for the writing?"

Bob waved to one of the men at one of the wagons, and the man reached under the seat to get a leather case which he brought to the table.   I waved to Josh to bring me my case and and writing equipment.  Once both cases were on the table, Bob Said, " There are fifteen letters that need writing and there are notes here about the letters but each person will have to tell you personally what they want to do."

I said, "All right if those who need the letters done will gather round I will show you some examples of my letter writing.  Here we have a plain letter in Copperplate writing for everyday use.  Here is a letter written in Spencerian Script which is more for contacting a loved one."  Several women expressed their obvious delight at the Spencerian Letter example.  I continued on in my explanation, " and here are some examples of Spencerian decoration that you can have at the end of the letter,  There are seventeen different examples of this kind of decoration from which to choose in this booklet.  Each person should determine what he or she wants in a letter design and any decoration to go with it.  The price for a letter in Copperplate without any decoration is seventy-five cents a page, and a letter in Spencerian Script is one dollar a page.  Each Spencerian decoration is fifty cents."  

One lady dressed very well in a white and red trimmed full skirted dress and a black vest with black lace came forward, "Oh I already know what I want to send to my dearest George.  I want the Spencerian Script and one of the blue bird decorations.  I will be first, while everyone else is choosing what they want."

I looked up at the lady and smiled.  I dipped my pen into th inkstand that Josh had put on the table and began the letter writing.  I noticed as I put the words on paper that the lady provided, Josh had gone back to the wagon and was sitting in the front keeping an eye on things.  Good man, that youngster.  He has a second sense about what needs to be done and when to do it.

Three hours later I finished the last flourish, with my pen and handed the letter, wrapped and sealed to it's owner.  Everyone there had wanted the Spencerian Script, and at least one decoration, even the ones that were written for legal purposes.  Our business had garnered a total of $24.50 in the second day of business not to mention three delicious meals which cost nothing.  It was obvious that someone in this business for true could make a good living at it.  It was late and the sun was going down.  Most of our customers had left after thanking me most handsomely with their letters clutched in their hands.  

"Hezzie" should have been here by now.  That was another reason to stay the night here.  I decided to stay where we were and as I got up from the table to stretch the last two men put the table and chairs in the one wagon that remained, and then all three shook my hand , thanked me and waved goodbye to Josh. As their wagon pulled away and rattled toward the main road, I walked over to our wagon and noticed that Josh was looking hard at me.  I asked him what was the matter and he pointed to a word that he had scribbled on the wagon seat with a piece of charcoal from the fire-pit, "Hezzie" with three question marks.  I looked at him and put my hand on his shoulder.  "I surely don't know son," I said.  "He was supposed to meet us here.  We will wait the night here, since I don't like the idea of moving at night.  We don't have a good map of the road to the South and I think moving during the day would be more productive considering why we are here."  Josh looked down at the word he had scrawled on the seat and nodded his head sadly as he brushed away the marking.  

An hour later I had sketched out the area where we were, and I was about to call it a day, when I heard a horse approaching.  It was closer to us than the main road, and as the hoofbeats got louder a lone rider came down the road .  He slowed, looked around and saw the wagon under the trees.  I slipped my hand into my coat for the Colt Pistol that hung there under my armpit.  Josh moved back into the wagon. The stranger walked the horse over to the wagon, leaned down from his horse and said as a question, "Mr. McKay??"

T. E. Story #58

There is old beat-up sign at the crossroads that says that it is 3 1/4 miles to Broad Creek.  I told Josh that we would stop for lunch and we would make it a cold lunch stop.  That will save some time and effort at least.  The river side of the road continues to be fallow fields as far as we can see.  It is probably somewhere between two and three miles to the river (Potomac) and the sketch map that I have shows the road first closing that distance slightly, and then going inland as the shoreline of Broad Creek Bay indents into the river bank.  On the landward side of the road are cattle feeding behind a rickety wire fence and in the distance smoke curling up as from a chimney.  That is probably the home of B. Kirby.  As we pass the dirt road leading to Mr. Kirby's house and small barn we see that it is not well kept and there is no name sign.  The next house down the road will be on the right side and that will be C. Rosier's place.  The fields to the right of the road are fenced with a split timber fence.  I see several men working to repair the fence in one place.  The house comes into sight and it has two barns and two other outbuildings.  Josh pulls the carriage over to that side of the road and using my pocket spyglass I can see that one of the barns is resting on a stone wall and foundation.  This barn is the older one of the two, and would make an excellent fortification base.  I will mark that down.  I carefully put the glass away as Josh keeps a steady pace with the wagon.  Directly across the road from the Rosier entrance is the entrance to the A. Brook House with a small sign also reading that this dirt track is a through track to the Uniontown--Broadcreek Road in 1 1/3 miles.  Just below the dirt track the forest starts again, it is a second growth woodland with lots of brush.  This woodland extends to both sides of the road and as we move further South the trees get much bigger and I believe we are now viewing a first growth woodland.  There is no fencing on either side of the road.  The road is cast in shadow and the gravel Macadam surface has given way to a dirt road.  This would be a real mud-hole in short order with artillery or heavy wagons moving over it.  Also the road dips into a cut below the surface of the ground above by about four feet.  There is evidence her of large puddling of water during a rain.  It is dry now, but it will not take much to collect water here and with the shade it will take a long time to dry out.

Just past the dip in the road is a road junction.  The right hand road -sign says that the road goes on to the "Dangerfield's Fishery" and then tacked on below that sign is a new board which notes the B. Elders house and Notley Hall at a distance up the road of 4 1/2 miles.  This will be a road for Hezzie to ride.  The road is a two track, one horse carriage, road, which probably means that the fishery does all it's outgoing and incoming fish and supplies by boat.  This would mean a significant pier, something to note.  In another quarter mile we site the next bridge.  This one is over Henson's Branch.  So I ask Josh to pull the wagon over and while I wander over to the bridge, he will be checking the wagon wheels for grease.  The bridge rests on a double set of timber uprights.  A quick look under the bridge reveals that the timbers extend into the creek and they are badly corroded by river water and green moss.  The timbers are about 10" in diameter and look to be pine.  This bridge is only good for light carriages, infantry, and cavalry.  We are back on the road in ten minutes, and I continue my description; Henson's Branch is about 30 feet wide at the mouth and the canyon that it runs in has steep banks (30 degrees) and is probably 40 feet deep.  The branch itself has dark water just North of the bridge in sunlight, so I would estimate something over ten feet deep in the canyon.  The branch runs deep in it's canyon North, out of sight.  It is my belief that one would either have to re-bridge the Branch or go a long way North to ford it effectively.

In another quarter mile we come to a T-intersection with a road leading directly East.  The road has no signs to tell where it is going.  This will be another road for Hezzie to ride.  The road has a gravel base but looking down the road it does not look heavily traveled.  In another one/half mile a church steeple is seen to the left and soon there is a nicely graveled road leading to the left.  The appears to be some trees in back of the church and a good place to stop for lunch.  As we pul into the lot behind the church there are four wagons already parked there, and one of the men standing on a wagon seat shout to the others, "They're here!!"


All the Best To You and Yours;

Your Good Friend;

Jim Mathews

T. E, Story #57

It is obvious that in carrying out this mission that not only must one fit in to the part being played, but to some degree must fit in also with our "customers" schedules and wishes.  We have already encountered much more possible "continuing business" than anticipated when the planning of the mission was laid out.  While in one consideration this is a good thing, it also impinges on our advance guard to avoid any suspicion or consideration which might reveal the real purpose for our being here.  However, this first effort while being a real one with real goals is also for the purpose of dealing with all the elements of a longer foray into the more southern climes.  My original idea was to spend some five to six days on the road to iron out any concerns, however, the group has worked well together and operated to date like a very well oiled machine.  This one concern may not be a major one.

I had hoped to reach the ferry across the Potomac by the end of the third day on the road.  However, that may well be extended if we continue to meet folks who have needs which we advertise.  I see no real problem there, since we have been provided with meals and places to camp which are perfect cover for what we are doing.  My sketch book is already beginning to fill with information that I have gathered as we move along the roads and I am sure that Hezzie has a significant amount of information as well.

We will leave here tomorrow morning and move on to the South.  As I mentioned the goal will be to reach the ferry by the evening of the third day.  However, there is no way to predict the way we will be received further down the road based on what has happened here, so we must play it by ear.  Once on the other side of the river, I had planed to be in Alexandria , by the evening of the seventh day at the latest.  We will hew to that schedule as well as we can, taking into consideration the needs and desires of our "customers."  As Hezzie has rightfully said, we must at all cost blend in, and from what we have seen of this tip and what we offer, we will be successful in that only if we deal with the people along our route in keeping with our advertisements.

Early the next morning I asked that we break camp and move off further to the South.  The lads let me sleep late and I enjoyed a quick breakfast of fried bread and scrambled eggs and sausage.  Josh is obviously a candidate to be an excellent military aid!  The road moving South


Road Sketch Plan

Draw a picture of the road on one side of the sheet, with all the items that are a part of the road, and on the side of the sheet next to the road list all the information pertaining to the lists below:

Bridges, fords, walls, fences, ditches, bordering fields, woods, rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, buildings;
Food plants in fields adjacent to the road (wheat, barley, corn, etc., orchards, cattle, sheep, goats , etc.; Roads leading off the main road with any destination and distance signs to a distance of five miles unless more or less is indicated by the engineer;
Compass bearings from specific points along the road to distant features such as mountain, hills, large trees, large rock, etc.; Condition of road dry and wet for infantry, cavalry, freight wagons, and artillery; Depth of water and creek bottom make-up at fords and approximate up and down angles of the road (above 4% and extra teams will be needed for wagons and artillery; Evaluate the strength of bridges for infantry, cavalry, artillery, and freight wagons.


Jim Mathews

T. E, Story #56

It has been interesting for Josh, and I, to watch the Major, and the
Ladies. {grin]  We may have to readjust this trip.  The Major hasn't
shared a schedule for the time frame that we have to work with.  This
is important for me as it determines how far ahead I can work ahead of
him.  It also gives time for those who might be interested in checking
out his presence in this area.  It also increases our difficulty in
covering his movements, and hide our presence in the area.  On the
reverse side it is nice to know that he fits in so easily.   Balance,
balance, balance.  In, and out, makes for less chances for troubles
which we hope to avoid.  Need to consider more sketching,, and letter
writing, and less house painting. HUM!!!

T. E, Story #55

I walked up the road toward the farmhouse with my painting kit and Lady Daisy Lee, came out on the porch to meet me.  She took my arm and we paraded into the house making a joke of the whole thing.  She took me into their parlor, a very beautiful old room with some very valuable furniture.  The room was in the shape of a hexagon, which was rather unusual, but which did provide a very nice view through three windows of their fields.  Lady Daisy asked," where is the best place to put the wall painting?"  

As I viewed the walls, they were painted in a light pinkish-tan color and the green and brown of the trees and grass would stand out well against that color of a background.  I told Lady Daisy, "I think that I would recommend one of the corners of the room to begin with."  

She looked at the six wall corners and selected the one which was an interior corner, one wall away from the door to the kitchen.  "Let's try this one," she said pointing to where she wanted the painting.

I got out my charcoal marker and began an outline of the drawing, two trees and a swath of long grass with a handful of varied colored blossoms.  I was painting with water colors since I wasn't sure how well oils would due on the plaster surface, and it was soon apparent that the colors were holding their brightness as the painting progressed.  It didn't take very long and the one wall painting was finished.  Lady Daisy was very excited abut the finished painting and called her husband in to view the artwork.  She explained to him what we had agreed on and then turned to me and asked, "Do you come by here very often?"

I smiled at her and replied," probably just as often as I manage to get any business ma'am."  

Lady Daisy turned to her husband and asked, "Can we have him back to do the other corners?  I think that would be very lovely, and no-one hereabouts has anything like this."

Mr. Barry took another pull on his pipe and asked, "How much would the additional five paintings cost?"

I thought about an answer for a moment, and then said, "Well sir, the price is not so much a factor as is when I will be back.  I have some commitments further South and I must attend to them before I can return.  Let us say that twenty dollars would do the trick and  if we could set up on your property as we are now for two days.  That would be a big help."

Mr. Barry took the pipe out of his mouth and extended his hand.  "That's a deal young man!  When do you think that you would be back this way again?"

"About three weeks, give or take a day or two unless I get hung up painting a barn or some such.  In a case like that I would send a rider to notify you," I explained

"That sounds good to me, Mr. Barry relied.  "Oh, by the way, the Mattingly's wanted you to write a letter for them to their boy.  He is presently in England serving as supercargo on a grain ship company that visits here to pick up cotton and wheat.  I said that I would pass that on to you."

"Thank you very much, "I said.  "They may be waiting for me in camp.  I will take my leave and see if I can locate them."

Lady Daisy said," We will have your meal out just as soon as the dumplings are done!" 

I thanked both of them and shook hands again and gathered up my equipment.  I left the house and walked back to the wagon.  Josh had a fire going and there was a coffee pot sitting by the side of the fire on a bed of ashes.  Mrs. Mattingly was sitting on a stool by the fire talking with Hezzie.  As I walked up Lady Mattingly asked after the painting.  I told her about what I had done and that we had been asked back to do some more painting in the parlor.  Lady Mattingly said that she would have to visit the Barry's tomorrow and see what the painting looked like.

I said, "I am sorry about the delay in writing your letter.  Mr. Barry just informed me about your request as I finished the painting job.  Can we sit down in the wagon and get started on that project?"

Lady Mattingly agreed, and I helped her into the wagon seat, and I found my sketchbook.  She gave me the address from a slip of paper that she took from her purse, and as I wrote she indicated what she wanted to say.  I was using Spencerian script and she commented on my handwriting.  "I learned it in school," I explained.   "I had a teacher that was good at it and my father hired him as a tutor to teach me the writing style.  My father wanted me to be a supercargo on a British ship, but I am afraid that I am a chronic seasick, and cannot go to sea."  I grinned ruefully and the lady put her hand on my arm saying how unfortunate that was.  In a few minutes  the letter was finished and it was folded into a cover sheet and sealed with wax and stamped with the lady's ring.  

Lady Mattingly asked after a price for the letter, and I said that since it was so late and she had to wait for me, the letter was free this time and she had my apologies for keeping her waiting..  She thanked me and said, "The next time you come by, I want you to stop in again, and write another letter."  She grinned widely and added,Maybe I will have you paint my parlor, if I like what you did for Mrs. Barry."  I replied that it would be my honor to stop and say hello.  

Hezzie helped the lady off the wagon and onto her horse, and as she rode away, one of the slave servants from the farmhouse brought a kettle of steaming chicken stew with dumplings down  the road for supper.

For a first day, the contacts that we made, I felt sure would be valuable in the future.

T. E, Story #54

After we got underway, I got busy gathering up my sketch book and getting started with the drawing. First I drew a picture of the bridge as we first saw it from Oxen Run in the boat, and then I drew a larger sketch of the bolted log joints to the trestle tower. I added the comments about the bridge and the suggestion of a careful inspection. Next I will mark the page as a five mile stretch of road. During the next five miles, I will make notes on the page about anything that needs marking on the road or along the side of the road. The bottom of each page will be North and the top is South. We will, of course, be moving South for a good part of our trip down the Northeastern Peninsula.

I noticed that Josh kept watching what I was doing, so I started talking out loud as I set up the drawings and and sketch book. He seemed very interested and so I explained everything that I was doing, and he smiled and nodded his head when I asked him if he wanted me to continue. For the first couple of miles, after I finished the sketch of the bridge, I concentrated on drawing a set of old trees by the side of the road as we passed hem. I did a quick sketch so we wouldn’t have to stop, and filled it in as we went along.

At just over about four miles we came upon our first crossroad, and I tucked the road sketch book under the seat cushion. and was working on the tree drawing as we drew up to the sign. Hezzie had gone on riding ahead, so I stopped and got out of the carriage to read the sign post. The sign post had four signs on it. They all pointed West and they read:


2 Miles -- Blacksmith Shop>>>>

3 1/2 Miles -- Catholic Church>>>>

6 1/2 Miles -- Henson’s Branch Creek>>>>

The road to Fox Ferry and Henson’s Branch is a dirt-gravel road. It is probably impassable for artillery / heavy wagons after a good rain. There are fields on both sides of the road which are laying fallow, and a few head of cattle grazing. I will send Hezzie down the road when he returns to find out if there is a:
-- ford or bridge across Henson’s Branch;
--the depth of water at the bridge or ford;
--Fences or stone walls along the roadside:
--what the two churches are like on the basis of available wood in each building;
--condition of road surface;
--angle of decline or incline if any.

I was going to go myself as far as the creek but some people came out of the trees from some kind of meeting or picnic, and they saw the wagon and the signs. So the came over and one of the men asked, “Hey there, what kind of art do you do?”

I replied, “I draw freehand.. I draw things from nature mostly and then painted those things on the walls of your home as a decoration, like in the dining room or the Meeting room. I paint signs as well for homes, farms and businesses. Here is the latest drawing I did just on my way down here from Uniontown.“

The other man, a little short fellow, dressed in a nice brown suit, said, “ Uniontown! What were you a-doin; in that Yankee Nest!” The little man seemed as though he was going to bust right out of his suit. His face turned rad and his hands clenched into fists.

“I was there to finish up some bank business for my uncle. He died last week and I had to sell his house and property, and find a place for his mother to live. She didn’t want to leave her friends there. I’m not much on Yanks either but family ,-- well you know, you have to take care of them”

One of the ladies, who was holding a basket with some wild flowers in it, said, “Now you just apologize for your words, George. The man is takin’ care of his family and that’s surely the honorable thing to do. So you just keep your upset behind your teeth or this gentleman will think we’re as bad as those loud Yankee peddlers!!”

The lady turned to me and said in a very nice voice, ”Don’t you pay him no mind, young man, he’s still grumping about the price he got for his hogs last week.”

“No problem ma'am,” I said, removing my hat and stepping down from the carriage. “My goodness what lovely flowers you have there, are they from your garden??”

The lady blushed and turned to the other lady and they both giggled at my question, The second lady waved her hand at me and said, “Land sakes, no! Them pretties came out of the woods over yonder where we was having a picnic. Have you got a picture of them trees that you was a-talkin’ about?”

“Why yes I do, “ I said reaching for the nature sketch book. “These trees are drawn in black and white, but when I paint them on the walls of your dining room they will be in color, of course, and if I may say so those lovely flowers would be a dash brilliant colors to go along with the trees!”

“Oh do you think so,” the second lady said. “ Well . of course they would.” she said handing the drawing to the second man.
“My name is Barry, and that’s my farm over there.” The gentleman pointed to some buildings down the road a ways toward Fox Ferry, “How much would you charge to do a painting in the dining room of the trees, uhh, and the flowers too.” The second Lady gave him a stern look. “This is my wife Daisy Lee, and my short friend over there is Mr. Mattingly. The other lady is Lydia Mae and she is wife to Mr. Mattingly.

“I am very glad to meet you all,” I answered, shaking the two men’s hands, and bowing smartly over the ladies hands. “In answer to your question, the price of the painting depends really on whether you like it or not, but my associates and I have had a full day and a meal and a place to set up camp would be much appreciated.”

Daisy Lee said, “Well that is very reasonable. You have a sale my young friend. Show them where they can camp George, and we will see our new artist friend in the parlor in a few minutes. The four of them got into a nice little carriage just off the road and behind the trees, and went of down the road with the lady Daisy Lee beckoning to me to follow.

“Go ahead and follow the carriage Josh, while I dig out my paints and brushes,” I said to my young compatriot, “And keep an eye out for Hezzie.” As I had my paints and brushes in hand and climbing back into the wagon seat, Josh joggled my arm, and pointed down the road. It was Hezzie coming back. I hailed him over and bade him to follow us.

Hezzie rode ahead a bit and disappeared into the tree line. We followed the carriage when it turned off the road, and the lead carriage pulled over some ways down the road and about a hundred yards from the farmhouse. It was a nice grassy place and there was a big oak tree close by for shade.

George got down from his carriage and said, “You can set up your camp here, and when you have your gear, just come on up to the house. Daisy Lee is all excited over this painting deal so get there as soon as you can please. She and the other lady will be fixing dinner for you. Will that be okay?”

“That will be fine,” I said. “I’ll be there as soon as my friend joins us to set up the camp.” I could see Josh was already busy unharnessing the horses and I could see Hezzie just coming out of the tree line. I think that Hezzie will be pleased with how we handled that. The little man was a real firecracker, and I was really relieved that Daisy Lee shut him up, because that could have had really bad results if he had gone n just a bit longer.

T. E, Story #53

 Well the time has come to get the wagon wheels turning.  My first
concern however is the Majors well being.  Drawing along side I
engaged him in small talk for a few minutes, than broached the subject
that worried me the most at this point.  Did you enjoy your breakfast
Sir.  Suddenly a huge grin crossed his face, and he put his arm around
Josh, and nearly squeezed the breath out of him.  I have seldom seen
such a look on the Majors face.  My question was answered.  These two
had bonded, and I couldn't have anything please me so.  Than I
broached another touchy subject head on.  Major I said, you will need
to work on that smile because it will stand us in good stead for the
balance of this trip.   As we meet the people they may test your
patience to the max.  As a successful business man, you, and we
cannot afford any lose of temper.  Being successful, means that you
are comfortable, and worry free, and that Major is a huge key to our
being successful.  They will react to smiles, and easy going readily,
however the opposite will cause suspicion, and doubt.  It is you who
must set the example for us.  Having said that we set out on the road
indicated. As I left, I turned to see a look of utter surprise on the
Majors face.  I had traveled this last night with Dan, and was
comfortable with it.

 Although we must not dawdle too much.  I suggested that the Major
pick a spot up ahead where there would be some people, and he should
pick something to sketch for a bit as I am going to leave, and check
out some interesting spots in an area that he hoped to gain some
important map info.  Getting into the swing of things right off would
alleviate some of the jitters that he, and Josh were sure to have.
While the Major was busy, Josh would putter around the horses, and
wagon, watching the people for anything suspicious.  I had spent a lot
of time with him, at the farm on things to do on his own, without one
friend that he should look for.  One of my secret weapons.  The other
was Dan.  This Lad was able to cover the ground almost as fast as a
horse, and faster in cover.  My instincts were honed by my Aunt, Walks
Alone, and Dans from survival.  There was not one inch of this ground
or water that he didn't know.  The thing that really fascinated me was
his ability to disappear in broad day light, with no apparent cover.
His primary job was to cover my back among other details.  Only he,
and I knew these things.  The trade off is that I am going to teach
him how to defend himself with a knife.  He had seen mine, and
whenever we were together he would handle it.  The sooner the better.

 After selecting a good place for the nights encampment I headed back
to check in with the Major, and Josh.  As I moved closer thru the
trees, I observed the Major happily chatting with a small group, of
interested people who were fascinated with the sketch he was working
on, and a couple of others that he had hanging around.  I heard one of
them ask him if he would write a letter for them after evening choirs.
He seem pleased, and readily agreed.  Josh had watered the horses,
and brushed them down, than sot the shade, and pretended to nape.  A
very comfortable scene.  As I arrived the Major introduced me, and
explained that he had hired me to ride ahead, and locate some places
of interest that the he could sketch, and find the best roads to
travel with the team, and wagon.  Laughing, and indicating that he had
in the past gone down some bad roads, and into trouble a couple of
times, and learned his lesson.  Several nodded their heads in
agreement, and agreed that this was a smart move, and suggested a
couple of places they knew where this could happen.

 After a bit I suggested that we move on, and look for a place to
settle in for the night.  The couple who asked for the letter writing
invited us to stay at their farm for the night.  There was a clear
small stream, and plenty of good grazing for our horses, and they had
plenty of fresh eggs to be had.  I had seen this place from a
distance, and felt it to be safe.  After a good shaking of hands all
around the people left for home, and Josh, and the Major started to
pack up their gear, and hitch up the team.  I indicated that I would
meet them at the last turn going into the farm, and disappeared into
the tree line.  Soon Dan, and I headed for the farm, and quickly did a
360 checking it out.  I than went to the meeting point, and Dan
disappeared.  When the Major arrived I joined them as if I had never
left them, and we rode in, and set up where the people indicated.  A
beautiful spot indeed.  It wasn't to long before Josh had a small fire
pit dug, and a nice pot of coffee brewing.  It wasn't to long before
the wife showed up with a side of bacon, and some stew makings.

 After a wonderful meal, and some hot coffee the Major, and Josh
ambled down to the farm house, with the materials that he needed  for
his writing job.  He asked if he should entertain a fee, or not,
being aware that he might insult them if they really wanted to pay.
Na I said. this is a barter system that they were comfortable with,
and readily agree to.  They had determined how much it meant to them,
by the size of their half of the trade.  I hope they had several
things they needed to  have written.  Upon their leaving I fed Dan all
he could eat, and some for later.  When Dan left I settled in by the
fire, and went over the events of the past couple of days.  At this
point I was comfortable.  It had been some time since I had slept, so
I left my bed roll by the fire, left a note for him, and headed back
to a secluded spot, and settled in.  Just before I dosed off I heard
some quiet breathing, and looking over my shoulder I made out Dan fast
asleep within arms length.  That Kid was good.

 Yes, we were off to a good start.


T. E, Story #52

When Hezzie returned with the lads, I came down from my hiding place, and dan asked who it was that I expected.  I just grinned and shook hands.  Hezzie was busy with the boat, so I left him alone to make his plans with our friends.  My job is to map these roads and make suggestions about the elements of the maps that we DON'T have.  Hezzie's job is to keep this mission secret and get us all back to the Farm hopefully in one piece.  He will now play the part that I knew he could do and do well when I invited him along.  This was not the time to interfere!  So here we are in Northeastern Virginia, and we are about to embark on the river road to the Cook's Ferry at Sandy Point.  However, there are three roads which can get us there, and I should like to travel all of them if Hezzie thinks we can do this.  The first road goes South along the Eastern shore of the Potomac and just after crossing Matawoman Creek splits into two roads both of which join again at Posey's Store.  The third limb of our mission splits off at the village of Pomankey on Pomankey Creek.  This road goes directly South to the Port Tobacco Road turn right and follow the road to a turnoff which puts you directly on a road back to Cook's Ferry.  I have made rough copies of these maps, and they will be improved with the information on road condition, bridges, side roads, and the ninety-seven other items that are to be watched for and mentioned in the road record as we travel.  Hezzie has a list of some of the items that we are looking for, so he will know what to report along the side-roads that he will explore ahead.

The rough maps and the road records will be constructed into new maps when we return, and those will be given to Col. Abert for his personal portfolio and to the mapping office for reproduction.  The trick will be to get all the road / terrain information down as it currently is, but also to draw a few pictures of items along the way to show anyone who is interested.  We will have to stop periodically and show these pictures, take orders ad write letters  as our "customers" demand, and as Hezzie says is safe to do.  As Hezzie has said, our "hiding" must be in the open, because we are an Itinerant Company relying on sales of signs, pictures, and letter writing to earn our money.  Our equipment and horses will tell everyone that we are pretty successful, so people will want to see our wares that have made us so.

The roadbed of the Oxen Run Bridge is wooden planked over logs.  The log stringers are bolted to the trestles.  There is a lot of rust in the areas f the bolts and I notice in the roadway lines of openings where pebbles and sand is falling through which would indicate that the road planks (chesses) are beginning to rot.  Digging into one of the planks with my pocketknife I see no evidence of oil, coal-tar or paint.  My thought is that this bridge would have to be strengthened for artillery and Freight wagons.  The trestles seem sound enough, but the log connections are deteriorating.

Josh tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the wagon in the brush.  I could see that the coverings had been removed and hidden, the horses were harnessed and ready to go.  Young Dan was anxious to move the boat down river and meet us at Matawoman Creek.  Hugh was ready to leave , and Hezzie was due back anytime now.  We were supposed to meet him on the road further South so it was time to go.  I shook hands all around, told Hugh to give my best to Sarah and thank her for the food she packed for Hezzie and I.  I climbed aboard the wagon and Josh moved the wagon onto the road and then onto the bridge, a last goodbye and we were off on the second leg of our adventure!  

T. E, Story #51

 Pulling up to the bank the Major seemed to be pleased, and indicated
that we had arrived at our destination.  I climbed the bank, and
shortly located Dan, and he took me to where Hugh, and Josh were
concealed.  After chatting for a couple of minutes, and sizing things
up I decided that we would unload the wherry, and put our few things
under the bridge in the heavy brush, and Hugh would take the Major
back to the wagon, and I would get Dan underway.  Although young Dan
was born on this river, and loved being called a River Rat, and took
deep pride in being absolutely loyal to those that he decided to like.
I was happy that he took a shine to me, and we shook hands.  I had
decided that taking the wherry back up stream was not the thing to do
for countless reasons.  Upon talking to Dan we decided that he would
take the boat farther down stream, up a really deep, and muddy creek,
and there he would put rocks in both ends of her, and with his hand ax
he would chop big holes in the bottom.  She would sink down into the
deep water, and settle into the deep mud.  Never to be seen again.
When he was done he was to come back to bridge, and wait for me to
come after dark

 Making my way back to camp we settled down to a light meal,and go
over our immediate plans.  After dark they would quietly strip off the
top, and sides of the wagon that we had put on for cover at the
beginning. Next would be getting the inside ready for the Majors
sketching artist, and scribe business.  Toward morning Hugh would head
back home with just his horse, and a hugh grin, as he had been able to
sell the ones he had brought down for that purpose.  When he left he
was to see that Josh, and the Major were ready, and moving slowly
along the main road just after dawn.

 I pulled the Major aside, and asked him what direction did he wish
to go in, and the roads that he had considered.  At that point I
saddled my horse, and disappeared into the darkness, picked up Dan at
the bridge, and we set off so I could get my bearings, and become
familiar with this area.  Dan true to his word proved that he knew
every inch of it.  After checking every place that the Major indicated
I decided which would be the best to start on.   Back at the bridge I
offered Dan some gold coin, but he absolutely refused, saying that he
felt that he was able to really do something important, and he was
proud of it, and disappeared into the night taking with him the
supplies that we had left under the bridge.  With a deep sigh of
relief, and satisfied that I was comfortable with where I was I
headed out to meet the wagon, and get this adventure underway.


T. E, Story #50

Hezzie and I climbed out of the boat, and I stayed below the bridge while Hezzie went up the side slope to see if our carriage had arrived as yet.  I sat down with my sketch pad and made some quick drawings of Oxen Run and the Bridge.  This bridge would not support anything heavier than a farm wagon with a medium load.  It would have to be strengthened significantly for artillery and freight wagons.  The timbers supports were fairly old, I should say about ten years, and two kegs of gunpowder properly placed would bring the whole bridge down from one edge of the canyon to the other.  Fifteen minutes later I heard some brush move, and I took refuge close under the bridge supports on the Northern bank with my hand on my pistol.  It was probably Hezzie, but as he has said, in this country you can take nothing for granted.  As it turned out it was Hezzie and the lad.  Looking at the boy now in the surrounding in which we found ourselves he looked pretty young to take the boat back up river, against the current all the way to the farm by himself.  We had it easy coming down, but going back would be hard work for the two of us, and I knew where I was going and he best way to get there.  I was sure that Hezzie saw the same thing, so I waited to hear what he had to say.

Apparently the wagon had arrived and without any outstanding concerns.  I supposed that it was hidden above, in the area that I had suggested, was not visited much, and could not be seen from the road during the summer.  The road South from here stayed close by the shoreline until we reached the Pomankey Creek and then it veered inland and divided.  There were two divisions which I hoped to follow and see if there were any surprises.  One was as long (on the map) as the primary route, the other was  approximately twice as long and touched one small village along the route.  One of the alternate routes had a bridge over the Matawoman Creek as did the primary route, both of which I wanted take a look at to see what kind of support was there, what it would take to destroy and then rebuild each bridge.

I knew that I would need to run all this by Hezzie and give him the final say since it was his task to keep us safe and out of local speculation.  However both those bridges were the key to those roads as much as the bridge I was standing under at the moment.  I wondered if this information would ever become vital due to fighting or if the diplomats could work it out again.  The question of secession had been brought up as early as 1836, and the diplomats had been successful at squashing it until now, but both sides were pulling stunts that could very well not be pushed under the rug again.

T. E, Story #49

  What a good trip this has been so far.  I have found this to have
been very interesting in terms of the country that we have seen, and a
real chance to observe the Major in his element.  The passion for his
mapping seems to be a natural part of him.  Up until now maps were
just another tool to be used, and the officers always held them, and
I never had much contact with them.  I suspect that before our trip is
over I will have learned a bit more about them..

 The hat that we saw disappearing as we came upon the bridge seems
to have really concerned the Major, however unless I miss my guess it
is being worn by one of our party, and they were probably also worried
about being discovered.  If so I will need to remind them that tall
hats can give one away easily.  As they are new to this type of
adventure they will learn quickly.  I need to file away in my brain a
message to thank Sarah for the excellent food stuffs that she had
packed away in the boat for us.  The Major seemed to be quite pleased
also.  There is plenty for the lad taking the boat back to hold him
for the trip if he does not dawdle.  I am still having some concerns
about this, and I may just send him downstream for another day or two,
and just leave it completely empty floating gunwale deep in the water,
as if who ever had it had met with an ill fate.  He will not return to
Washington, and not go near the farm.  I had used a bit of the money
that the Major had given me to buy two of these boats, not exactly the
same, and one is still hidden back at the farm.  If someone should
have suspected any thing this should divert their attention.


T. E, Story #48

We are well on our way now and even this close to land with the sun coming up, we are close to the main dredged channel which has been dredged out to an average depth of about 30 feet. Just ahead the piece of land that is jutting out is Geisborough Point. Once past that we will be in the main stream for fair. From now on, until our destination, we will probably find some local fishermen in everything from a punt boat to a Grand Banks Schooner. The fishing along this area of the river is very popular and there are two fisheries along the river bank on this side of the river. It might be prudent to get out pole and drop a line over the side. I asked Hezzie, “Did you bring any fishing gear? Now is the time to get it out and play the game to its maximum. Nobody ever thinks badly of two innocent fishing partners in an open boat, particularly in the early morning when the fishing is at its best.

We had passed under the Uniontown Bridge and as we went by, I took a careful look at the superstructure underneath the roadway. Everything looked very good and the lumber which supported the bridge was built like a strong railroad trestle. The brace platform n the near bank was stone with mortar, what looked like eight x eights for the main support timbers. All looked well oiled and maintained and there were no flood lines indicating that someone was taking good care of the bridge. It would support anything that a wagon could haul.

Next along the bank were two small streams each one bubbling across a short sandy beach, and making no noise. These streams cut their way through small canyons between the bluffs ahead. The streams were not long based on the amount of water they carried.

On a bluff just above the water, as we passed by in the early dawn light we could make out a large building still dark but large an somewhat forbidding. I called Hezzie’s attention to it, “That’s the U.S. Lunatic Asylum,” I said pointing to the peak of the roof that we could see as we went by.

As we eased around the Gieshborough Point, we could see C. W. Young’s white house perched on the bluff overlooking the river. I told Hezzie, ”He had been a another of those who had captained several ships, sailing clippers and steamers in his day, and was now retired. I understand that he has models of every ship he ever sailed in around his day room overlooking the river. From this point we have about six and one-half miles to go before we get to the inlet and the Oxen Run, then just over one mile upstream on the run to the bridge. Forts Carrol and Greble can be seen from here on top of the high ground about a mile from the beach, and Messrs. J.F. Young, W. Berry, and W. Berry’s mill is along this stretch about one-half mile from the beach. As we enter the inlet for Oxen Run, just to the left, as we come around the corner, there is a small stream. About a mile up that little stream Mr. Berry has his mill. It is an up and down sawmill, and shingle maker. He has a pretty big mill pond behind the mill and can take in about a hundred trees or so for sawing during the rainy season when the water in the pond is high enough to operate the horizontal water wheel the operates the saw. He calls it a “turbine” and it’s the damnedest rig you ever saw!” I chuckled a bit at the thought of a waterwheel lying down. “I have to admit, though, it does a fair job and he has made a good career supplying lumber for houses and boats along the Potomac.

The little inlet that hides the mouth of Oxen Run is just a head now, about a quarter of a mile.  As we round the small sand bar there is the mouth of the run, wider than one would think.  I will get out the polling stick and help Hezzie move the boat along.  The current is not bad here but up by the bridge it will run faster and shallower.  Here it is about five feet deep according to the pole and now it has gotten almost dark as steep banks rise up on either side of the run, about 20 feet high or so, and the trees are growing next to the steep bank and provide a cover overhead.  It would very difficult to climb out of the boat and up these steep banks.  The maps indicate that to woodlands end about an eighth of a mile from the bridge, but the map is an old one and the old bridge was rebuilt so I am not sure what we will find as we close on the river road.

We move ahead slowy, Hezzie at the oars and I on the poling staff.  As we move through the shaded gloom the run slowly begins to turn shallow, finally with only two feet of water under the boat we take a slight turn and break out of the tree cover.  The banks are not quite so high or as steep and they are covered with tall grass that moves with the wind.  I sit down abruptly as I spotted a figure on the bridge.  I whisper to Hezzie and we pull to one side of the stream now hidden in the tall grass each of us grabbing a handful and holding the boat in position.   I ease over to one side to see if we had been seen.  Nobody is on the bridge and a hat was disappearing in the tall grass on the opposite bank.  We both release the holds on the grass and move quickly under the bridge.  Here the stream has pooled to some degree and the gravel beach receives the keel of the boat.  We have made the first part of our journey with no problem.  Now the next thing to do is to make contact with the rest of our party.

T. E, Story #47

 Our trip downriver has been uneventful so far.  The weather, and
river conditions are with us so far.  The Majors uncanny sense for
seeming to know exactly where we are shows his years of map making
experience. It is interesting to see how differently we view each
passing bend in the river, and to lay of the land it brings.  My
senses are always on alert for shape changes as it applies to my
traveling both in stealth, and openly depending upon the situation at
the moment.  Cover and hiding, low lands, marshes, streams, and rivers,
and wind direction.  During the hours from dawn, to dusk I am very
much attuned to the type of people in this area, and what they do.  If
I travel openly, and wish not to draw any attention than I must blend
in.  If they are farming people than anyone that passes thru not
reasonably attired like them stands out, and is immediately watched
closely.  This is becoming more noticeable as tensions are increasing
due to the session talk.  Every traveler is under surveillance, and
will be more so from now on.  The least time lingering, and to much
time observing will also become suspicious.  Also asking to many
questions will be suspect.  I am beginning to feel at home here.  One
big thing that I will need to keep in the fore front of my mind is the
fact that I am not traveling alone.  By instinct I react as one.


Ahead the shadow of the first bridge loomed over our heads and as we passed beneath it the boat was enveloped in deep shadow, which was very welcome.  As we passed by the center support tier I noticed that two of the support timbers were broken and hanging at a drunken angle from the bolts that held them in place.  The old waterline came up close to the beams which indicated that at some past flood situation some steamer had clipped the main pier.  The fact that the break was an old one indicated that the accident had not been reported, so I made a quick not to include such on my report.  When the current took us out from under the bridge the lights of Washington City cast a yellowish glow over the sky.  From down on the river surface even the oil street lamps caused a glow overhead.  The southern bank began to recede away from us and I said to Hezzie," Let's move a little closed to the South bank so I can see the first of the streams coming into the river.  If there is a falls or strong rapids there it will make a good navigation point for any boats coming up the river.  It will help your friend when he brings the boat back to the ranch."

With in just a few minutes the first stream rippled gently over a lowland next the river.  No rapids or falls here and the water silently ran into the river without any noise .  Eastern Bridge Road was up on the heights but back from the river out of sight in the darkness, which was fine with me.  That was the turnpike that ran between Blandensburg and Uniontown, so we were right where we should be.  I hadn't expected any problems in navigation and these lowlands with their overgrowth of head-high brush and small trees right down to the river bank was a good background to coast slowly by.  On the North side of the river one could just make out the pointed end of the Redan at the Fort Lincoln Battery that overlooked the river.  However, we were shielded by the luxurious growth of small trees along the river bank, as well as the darkness of the night.

Second stream coming up, and again the creek had cut a v-shaped inlet in the river bank  which allowed the stream to enter the river quietly.  On the North side of the river there was a point of land which jutted out into the river.  The current was swifter here and there were several houses visible from our position.  These houses were the more run-down part of the city and were found adjacent to the docks and warehouse district.

The third stream was just visible as a set of rapids tumbling into the river and the sound of rushing water was soon heard.  The South bank was elevating as we moved toward the Main Potomac River.  The stream was falling perhaps ten feet or so into the river over some large rocks.  The sound was covering any sounds made by the boat or oars.  This was a good sign that maybe the fourth stream would be higher still.  Across the river we had passed the point of land and now the shoreline was crowded with piers and warehouses..  A small steamship was backing slowly out of its slip, and turning for its trip downriver to the Potomac .  It was probably the Alexandria and Aquia Creek Station ferryboat that connected with the Fredericksburg and Potomac RR farther down the Potomac River.

As the steamer completed its turn and Hezzie slowed the boat so as to remain in the shadow of the bank foliage,  I could hear the rush of water.  At first I thought it was an echo from the third stream, but then there was a white patch in the darkness towards shore.  We were moving a little faster now and it was only a few minutes before the fourth stream revealed itself as a twenty foot waterfall into the river.  I said to Hezzie, "I think that will mark his position pretty well when your friend brings the boat back.  We will have to remind him that rowing upstream will be easier on a rising tide.  By my mapping we have gone six miles altogether so far tonight, four miles since the Toll Road bridge.  It is four miles to Poplar Point and after one and one half miles more we will be in the Main Potomac River.  We should enter he river just after dawn if the current keeps this up.  I hope that the current will begin to pick up just past Poplar Point since it forms a kind of blockage across the Eastern River."

The South shore flattened out to some degree and within a few more minutes a house came out of the darkness.  It was sited almost on the shoreline sitting above the river about ten feet on the right bank of a small stream whose course as dug deep into the shoreline and choked with brush.  "That must be Mr.Talberg's house. No lights on, he must be asleep.  They tell me hat he is a former first mate on one of the China ships and lost his leg in one of the brushes with pirates on the way home, and there is Polar Point." I pointed at a light southwest of us.  That must be Mr. Barry's lighthouse.  He maintains a light for the Potomac steamers on the end of Poplar Point.  There used to be a lot of accidents before the light.  Barry worked for one of the steamer companies and when he retired put the idea to his company.  The city put up some money as did the steamer companies and built a light on top of his house.  They say he dresses like the Captain of a ship since he got the light."

In another half an hour we had rounded Polar Point and were headed South along the Eastern bank of the Potomac.  In the East just there barest beginning of a false dawn was lighting the night sky, and a new day of adventure had begun.