Thursday, May 17, 2012

T. E. Story #86

"Gentlemen," I addressed the group seriously, "You have found out a good deal of information about the purpose of our mission.  It is obvious that you have found out about my previous military experience, and I thank you for your previous kind words.  However, you have interfered with a government project designed to help you as you have stated.  Now, as to my joining your militia, I am afraid that I cannot accept your very kind invitation simply because I am under a long time contract to the government already, and that forbids any other contract acceptance at the same time.  However, because of my experience in the Mexican War, I fully understand that an Engineer is necessary in a military organization.  If you desire, however, I give you my word, that if you will choose a young man from your organization that is smart and wishes to learn how to be an engineer, and who is a full member of your militia,  I will write him a letter of introduction to Col. Abert who is the Corps Commandant of the U.S. Topographical Engineers.  When I get back to Washington City, I will be pleased to insure that your young man has the best of training, and I will add his presence to my field work at least once a year during his training.  Would that meet your needs and desires in this instance?"
There was a silence around the table for a full minute.
Charley turned to the others and said, "Well, what do you think about this offer?"
Cass answered after a moments consideration, "Mr. McKay is right, in that we have interfered with his government mission, however, my response to that is that he is the only person who has answered our concerns about an engineer.  I have come to believe that Mr. McKay is trustworthy and I am in favor of his offer.  Both you and I know of a good candidate for such an appointment and training."
He looked around the room and slowly the others nodded their heads.  Charley looked at me and said, "Well, I guess that you have your answer."
I replied, "Very Well, then if you will provide me with your candidate's name and contact information, I will write the letter of introduction and deliver that letter to you when I return to Aquia.  Now I need your promise to keep this discussion very private.  The reason is that apparently we have raised some hackles somewhere, probably in those large businesses who would much rather keep this report quiet or still more probabble would rather do the survey themselves so they could pad the items found to be repaired or rebuilt for a much bigger contract value.  If you will do that for the mission I will be pleased to give you credit for assisting me rather than obstructing the mission."  I smiled at the men after this last.
Charley grinned and then chuckled out loud,  and the other three men began to laugh as well.  Charley said when his chuckling was over, "Mr. McKay you should be a storekeeper.  You haggle well!"
I replied, " My thanks again, for this chance to assist you.  Perhaps now we could get some help in the restoration of the trace buckle, since we really must be on our way, as we are behind our schedule significantly.  I do not want our assistants to worry that we have been injured in some way."
Say no more, said Charley, and he pointed as Cass, "Please get the wagon hooked up properly -- Oh!!!  And by the way don't upset His young friend Josh.  Make sure you explain what you are doing to the wagon."
Cass and the other men saluted and left the room.  Charley turned to me and he said, "Now you and I have another item to discuss."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

T. E. Story # 85

I was sure that nothing else could surprise me on this mission, but I guess I was wrong.  "What??  I said, “ You are asking a perfect stranger to join your militia organization?  You know nothing about me and you are willing to potentially put your lives in my hands as your military engineer?  That is a very strange request."
Everyone was quiet for a moment, and Charlie cleared his throat.  "Wal, " he drawled, "We know a little bit about you, which is why we delayed your departure earlier today.  The price for the work that the saddler has done for you, as well as the blacksmith has been taken care of.  We felt that we needed to insure that we had the time to check up on you through our local people, and we think that we know you pretty good.  We know that you served in the Mexican War and your brief service was applauded by Col. Lee in regard to your field map sketches.  We know that you were very successful as a river clearance engineer.  We also know about your recent success and your present activities.  Added to that, we see that you have established yourself in a successful business to disguise your mission to avoid all contract proposals from people who might take undue advantage of our Virginia Communities with the advanced knowledge.  After all, we have seen many such antics by local groups."
I froze in my seat, the pistol under my armpit suddenly feeling very insignificant.   There were four men in the room and I was not absolutely positive that I would be allowed to get my pistol out and into action.  Even more important, I have no desire to shoot any of the people who shared the room with me.  It will be difficult to talk my way out of this situation, but it probably will be the only way I can or will be able to ease out of this problem if there is any way at all.
"In that case I guess I don't have any secrets from you people,"  I grinned as much as possible and waited for the other shoe to drop.
"Yes, sir," said Charlie, " We do know a bit about you, thanks to our resident Deputy Marshall.  We know that you carried out a very complicated river clearance project on the Mississippi.  But the real clincher was what we found out about how you have been advanced in the engineering and that is why we have asked you to join us.  We believe that your advancement to being a Major in today's world of the military is very impressive, but the important thing is what you are doing now."
This last, kind of, threw me.  He seemed to be very excited over this information which, if accurate, should be a much darker for me that it seemed.  What was going on?  "Well, it seems that you have me pretty well figured out.  So, what do you think of my present duties?"   I figured that it couldn't be much worse, so I might as well find out what was going on.
Charlie looked me and asked, "What's not to be impressed with?  Anyone who gets sent into the South in order to determine a better way to improve our civil necessities is welcome in this small town."  All the others nodded their heads and murmured in the positive.  Charlie continued, " Some of our lads noticed the interest that you had in the old steam powered ferry.  Then, it was your interest in bridges which have been mentioned by several people we have talked with.  Then your interest in the roads have also been noticed.  The Marshall told us that you are down here to provide a list of major improvements to our communication lines, roads, ferries, bridges, etc.  Obviously, with your experience, you were the one to choose for this task, and the task badly needs to be done, as you well know.  So we have decided that you are the person that we need for our unit."
I was stunned.  The ideas that these people had, and which were supported by the Deputy Marshall, made sense in one way, and, of course, it was advantageous to them to believe what they had been told. Now the trick would be to convince these people that it was to their advantage for me to complete the mission before making any further commitments.  Of course, these people do not apparently see the move towards war that seems so clear to the military authorities in the North.  Hopefully, this information will not be obvious to these people, any time soon, also hopefully I can talk with these people in such as way as to neither commit myself to their desire or to make them angry.  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

T. E. Story #84

Josh and I approached the blacksmith.  As one would expect the man was huge and he was stripped to the waist, and rivulets of sweat rolled off his shoulders and forehead as he pounded the orange colored iron held before him on a huge anvil where he was working.  As we stepped into the working area, he put the iron that he was working back into the fire, and turned to me,  " What kind I do for yuh , Sir?"
I replied, " My young friend here mentioned to you about a badly bent metal trace buckle.  It is badly cracked in a couple of places as well.   Can you reproduce such a piece of hardware?"
The blacksmith turned away to a wooden chest sitting on a side stool not far from the anvil.  He flipped up the chest lid and reached inside.  He drew out  three buckles which resembled our badly bent buckle.  He grinned and said, "I reckon," handing the buckles to me.  I looked them over  and could see that the workmanship was excellent.  
"These look very nice, " I said, and handed the buckles back to him.  "How much will it cost to remake this buckle?" fishing in my pocket for the damage buckle and handing the damaged item to him.
The blacksmith looked at the damaged piece and said, "If you want the brass buckle restored that will take some time, and cost a lot more.  If you want the buckle made from iron, then I can have it done for you within the hour."
"Well," I replied, " Let's make it out of iron, since we will need to get on down the road as soon as my customers are taken care of."
The blacksmith nodded his head, and for the life of me, I could not detect any indication of guilt or participation in the breaking of the buckle.  I was sure , however, that the answer would be revealed before we left Aquia, if we were allowed to leave.  To the blacksmith I said, "Well then, I will leave you to it and I will get back to the wagon.  Is it all right to leave the wagon parked where it is?"  
"Oh, sure not a problem, " He said laying the broken buckle on the chest and drawing some thin square rods out of a wooden cask.
Josh and I turned away from the blacksmith and I retrieved my case with my writing materials and I headed back to the General Store.  Josh gestured that he wanted to stay with the wagon and water the horses, and I said that he was welcome to stay as he wished.
For my part I made my way back to the General Store, and saw Cass behind the counter again.  I asked him, "Can I use your Poker Room to take care of any customers that are coming down?"  
"Be my guest,  You will find some people in there already waiting for you."  
"Okay!!  That's great," I said, and I immediately headed for the Poker Room.  Arriving at the door, it stood ajar, and there were at least ten people in the room.  I greeted my customers, put my case on the table and opened it.  I sat down and asked around the room, "All right now, who is first, and then why don't you all figure out some kind priority list about who is next."  Looking at the tall gentleman who stepped forward, I asked, " What can I do for you, Sir."  The gentleman sat down and within a short minute we were in a deep conversation about the rewriting of a contract.  The rest of the day went by quickly, and when the last person had her letter in hand,  Ian had the idea that he didn't have a long time to wait for his answer.  He was correct, almost immediately Charlie and Cass came through the door with the two other men that Ian had met that morning.  Charlie immediately took a chair at the table and waved the others to chairs sitting around the  room.
Charlie said, " I am glad that you are still here. "
I replied, "Well, I wasn't going anywhere with the broken buckle that somebody arranged this morning.  Was that you?"
Charlie slowly nodded his head,  "We had to detain you here until some business was undertaken." 
"Okay, here I am, and I am not going anywhere until the new buckle is made by the blacksmith, and I find out what this problem is."   I looked around at the men seated and hoped that I was not being too abrasive.  This was getting close to the mission and I was not very excited about that idea.
Charlie spoke up,  "It must have been pretty obvious this morning that the letter that you read for us, was somewhat of a shock  It was obvious that we have a bad hole in our organization.  As I had mentioned this morning I had served in the militia during the Mexican War.  I remember very well the way we cheered Col. Lee but nobody here has any skill or knowledge at this area of military expertise.  What  did you say your specialty was?"
I replied, "I didn't, but my specialties were River Clearance, Bridging , and Canal Design and Construction.  Just what do those specialties have to do with my being detained?
Charlie looked around the room and all his friends nodded their heads.  Charlie looked back at me, took a big breath, and said, "  We would like you to join the Aquia Militia, and be our engineer!!!!"

Thursday, May 10, 2012

T. E. Story # 83

It was pretty obvious that the letter disturbed Charlie, the Commander of the Prince Williams County Militia and those who were close to him.  His actions together with the storekeeper and the other men at the Poker Room  this letter was not welcome news, nor was it a reasonable request in the eyes of these militiamen.  However, to leave now would not be a good idea.  Charlie had asked me how long I was planning to stay which indicated that he wanted me around.  I suspect that were I to leave now, they would soon be in pursuit of me.  I think the best way is to stay a reasonable length of time and deal with any customers and see what comes next.  In this community I am a stranger, that is true, but my truthful answer to the question of who I knew in the Mexican War seems to have garnered some respect.  So, to these people I am a southern businessman who served in the state militia, and in the Mexican War with one of their respected citizens, who is currently the Commanding Officer of the military region in the West.  So, I think that Josh and I are reasonably  safe for the moment.  However, I need to get to the wagon and apprise Josh of the new situation.
As I walk out of the store, I notice several people in the street walking toward the Sheriff's Office.  I am wondering if the Marshall there is in attendance at this meeting.  I sit down on one of the empty chairs in front of the store and finish my apple.  The street is quiet again now and I throw my apple core into a nearby cigar butt can.  I get up and begin walking toward the blacksmith shop when Josh and the wagon are.  I would imagine that the leather trace is repaired by now, and I should get the wagon into a more suitable place where the signs can be seen.
A short walk through the town brings me to the Sheriff's Office.  There is a deputy sheriff sitting outside the entrance with a shotgun across his lap.  As  walk by the deputy looks me over but says nothing.  This is good and I make way to the leather shop.  The wagon is parked just outside the shop and the horses are gone.  I walk up to the wagon and hear some cursing just behind the leather shop.  Curious, I walk around the side of the shop and peek around the corner.  Josh is holding the two horses, while an old man (I suppose the saddler) is fitting the trace strap.  It looks repaired but the old man is having trouble with one of the trace buckles. I walk around the corner and greet Josh.  The old man looks up and then drops the strap.
"Have we got some trouble with the traces, 'I ask?
"The $%#@(*&^%$# buckle is bent and I can't straighten with this pry-bar!"  The old man was seemingly very frustrated and angry.
"Can the buckle be replaced?" I asked, curious as to why such a simple problem was raising the man's temper.
"Well, yes, I suppose so," said the Saddler," but I don't have one this size.  So, if you are in a hurry we will have to wire the straps together.  I f you have the time then the blacksmith over there," nodding his head toward the blacksmith shop, "will have to make another buckle."
"May I see the buckle please, " I asked the saddler?
"Sure enough," the old man said, I ain't sure how it got bent up so bad, cause it ain't a common thing to see."
I took the buckle in hand and examined it.  The buckle was bent nearly in two, and the bridge of the buckle was badly cracked.  "Thank you," I said to the saddler, "for finding this broken buckle.  I see that we will have to look to the blacksmith for a replacement.  How is the broken trace coming along?"
"Oh that is finished,  I just made a new trace strap for you, same price.  Sorry about the buckle, but it is funny tat I didn't notice it when unhitched the horses.  Well, I'll get back to work now.  Let me know when you get the new buckle."  The old man picked up his tools and went back into the shop.
I walked over to Josh and he pointed to the buckle in my hand and shook his head.  He pulled a scrap of paper out of his pocket and a pencil stub.  He wrote:
>>>Buckle good at store<<<
Hmmmm! that meant that the buckle was in good shape when we first stopped at the store.
I turned to Josh, "Did you leave the wagon at any time?"
Josh looked at me for a minute and then hung his head, and nodded.
"Josh, I said, putting my hand on his shoulder, 'It's okay.  "You can't be with the wagon every minute of every day.  Now, this is important, where did you go, and how long were you gone."  Josh looked me in the eye for a full minute, and I said again nodding my head, "Really my friend, it's okay, we just need to figure where and how long."
Josh bent to the paper and pencil again.  He wrote:
>>>Blacksmith look at wagon and show me tools, behind screen, five minutes<<<  Josh pointed to the heavy canvas screen that hung from the tree that shaded the blacksmith, and which separated the blacksmith shop from the leather shop.
I patted Josh on the shoulder.  "Good man, okay lets see the blacksmith about a new buckle, 'I said with resignation.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

T. E. Story # 82

Charlie handed the envelope to me and I took it gingerly.  As I turned the envelope over, I noticed that the mark in the wax had a mark very much like something that I had seen years earlier during the war.  However racking my mind as I was I could not remember where I had seen that design.  I opened the envelope and took out the single sheet of paper.  The letter head on the paper was the design of the Virginia State flag.  The letter was dated some two weeks prior to the present date.  And it was signed by the Commander  of the State Militia.  It read as follows:
>>>>   From:  Commander of the Virginia Militia;
>>>>   To:  Commander of the ------------County  Militia;
>>>>   Sir:
>>>>   You are directed to immediately submit to this office a list of the militia members under your command.  In addition you are directed to forward to this office a list of all >>>>  >>>>   uniforms, accouterments, and weapons needed to bring your militia up to a wartime status.  Further you are hereby requested and required to male list of the steps that >>>>   you have taken in your county to fortify your borders against unwanted visitors, and those who would do your citizens harm.
>>>>   Your Servant;
>>>>   Respectfully ;
>>>>   George Nanson , State Militia Commander
As I read this letter aloud to the group, I was interested in their receipt of this information.  Frankly they were all shocked.  When I finished reading the letter, I folded the page and put the letter back into the envelope and handed the envelope back to Charlie.  The look of shock on his face told the whole story.  I asked, "Would you like to write a letter of responses Charlie?"
"Huh??! Uh--- I-- uh NOt right now, uh-- How long do you plan to be here in town."  Charlie's question was like listening to a ghost whose attention was totally taken by another subject.
"A day or two I suppose, depending  on the business that comes our way," I replied
"Thanks," said Charlie as he turned away and headed for the door, motioning for Cass to come along with him.  I needed to get back to the wagon, but under no circumstances could I arise the smallest suspicion in regard to Josh and I and our business.  The words of this letter were the first authority which definitely had given some advance notice of the possibility of an armed insurrection.  This material needed to get back to Washington as soon as possible.
I walked leisurely out of the poker room with the others, and remained silent listening to the others.  Obviously, I was not a member of the village or the militia, so I had little to contribute.  The others were very vocal about the impossibility of doing what the letter demanded, and the amount of material and uniforms that would be needed.
When we got to the part of the store where the merchandise was, I spent a few moments looking over the selection of fresh fruit.  There was a large basket of apples which looked very good.  I took one of them and carried it to the young girl who looked like she was in charge of the store.  Cass was nowhere to be seen.  "How much for the apple," I asked.
The little girl said, " Just a nickel Mr.  My Dad said to tell you thanks when you came out of the Poker Room."  The little girl said as though she was the real owner of the store.  I decided to leave it at that.  I definitely needed to get to the wagon and get the words in that letter down on paper!

T. E. Story # 81

Josh and I  walked the horse the last mile before entering the village.  The little town is sure to grow once the commerce begins getting better here in the South, just as long as the ferry runs, I suppose.  I sent "JJ" up one of the side roads along the river bank.  There are a couple of landings along the river bank that I wanted to have him take a look at as well as the fishery.  He will go on back to Washington City from there and report to Col. Abert about what has happened so far, in relation to the Engineer Captain and the attempt to stop this expedition.  As we enter the little town, we see that is only a single street which is the Telegraph Road going through the center of the village,  There is a saddler here, and we have a broken trace strap, so we will take care of that problem while we are here.  I will give Josh a paper and pen and let him handle getting a new trace strap.  Meanwhile I think that I will go into the general store here and see if there are any fresh fruits or vegetables available.  I enjoy going through old general stores since there is always a surprise around each corner.  Besides, it is the best way to advertise ourselves, and our services, while we make notes about the town.  Aquia has about 15 buildings, approximately half of them are private homes, and the rest are some kind of commercial buildings.  There is a stage stop here at the General Store.  At the edge of town there is a mule mill for grinding corn, and at the other end of town is a blacksmith shop. There is a combination restaurant and road house with what looks like rooms on the second floor, and a small bank building, "The First Virginia Bank,"  a stone building which is the Sheriff's / Marshall's  office, (and presumably a jail), and a stable.  The telegraph office stood by itself with the lone telegraph line coming down from the line of wire and poles that disappeared off to the North and south.  There is also a dry goods store with a fairly wide selection of cloth, ladies dresses and such.
We pull the wagon up to the General store , and there are several old men seated along the plank walk.  At the main entrance is a large pickle barrel and just inside the door a wooden indian holding a both of broken wooden cigars.  I will leave the wagon at this point, and let Josh take the wagon over to the saddler whose set up is in the same building as the blacksmith.
I greet the men seated on the porch of the general store and they all return my greeting,  There appears in the doorway a gentleman with a dark canvas apron.  He looks over the rig as Josh moves it away and asks, " What's the sign all about mister?"  This in a loud enough voice to insure that all the men along the wall can hear.
"Just a traveling Secretary," I reply.  "You know, for those folks who need a letter written, read, or copied."
One of the old men speaks up and asks, "Is the writing on your letters fanciful writing or just a no nonsense letter for business?"
I turn to the speaker and reply," Whichever way that you want it sir.  I can write in copperplate, which is the accepted business script, or Spencerian, for those who enjoy a more fanciful and flowing script.  I also do a Spencerian kind of drawing if the letter is  to be sent t a lady of your heart.  Do you have such a need sir?"   I ask of the man .  He is at least sixty years of age with a white beard and a large shock of white hair, long and windblown.
The other men erupt into laughter, at this, and the storekeeper says, " He's got you there Charlie,  We always knowed you had a secret love tucked in that tent a-hint yer house."
Charlie flushed at this gibe, and I hurriedly said, "My apologies sir, I did not mean to embarrass you.  But some people do have a need for such, and that is one of the things that I can do."  Charlie, looks my way, and asks can you read as good as you write," he asks.
My response is, "Why yes, I think so, as long as the text is in English.  I don't do so well in a foreign language."  I grin at this and the others including Charlie laugh and nod their heads.  A man next to Charlie says, "Hey, Charlie what about that letter you got  the other day."  The gentleman turned to me and said, "Charlie here is the head of the local militia hereabouts.  You know, the home guard and we get together once a month  and drill with our wooden rifles and then finish the day with a big feast , fiddle dancing, and lots of games.  It's a kind of holiday for everybody ."
I nod my head, I have seen such in my own hometown in the West.
"Wal he got this here letter from the govamint, and we've been kind of wondering what it had to say.  We-uns here didn't want to show it around cause we didn't want to upset the people in town, but we should know what the govamint is wantin' with us.  There's been some strange stuff in the newspapers that come through here and we are a little concerned.”
"Shut yer fool trap Pete, this man we don't know nothin' bout him.  Beside the letter came to me.  If there's any reading or decidin’ to be done . I'll be the one to do it.  I command the militia here!"
"Well, then do somethin’, you old fool, and let's see what the letter says.  We got as much right as you do to know what is in it."  Pete turns to me and asks, "You look like you might have done some time in the military, can you keep shut about what you read in the letter?"
I ponder for a moment," Yes," I reply," I have served in the military during the Mexican War.  If you decide to let me assist you, Yes, I can promise you that no one else here will hear of anything in that letter."
Charlie slowly reached inside his vest and pulled out a long envelope with a swatch of Sealing Wax on the back.  The envelope looked as though it had been handled a great deal.  "What do the rest of you think about this?"Charlie asked the others.
The other men all raised their voices in agreement and Charlie said," Alright! alright! we'll do it.  But Cass we need yer back room."  Charlie addressed this last to the man in the apron.
Cass replied, " Sure , we only use it fer poker and such.  I reckon that it will serve for a readin""  He laughed, "Come on," he waved his arm, and then looked at me, “follow me mister, it ain't fancy but it is secure."  We walked through the store, and out onto a porch in the back.  The land fell away into a revene in the back of the store, and just off the porch was a small room, obviously added after the original building was constructed.  It stood on stilts about ten ft high over the slope, and was isolated except for the access through the porch.  "It's the "Poker Room" built this way to keep certain people's old ladies from peekin in to see what's goin' on," Cass explained looking back at the other men.  He took a large key out of his pocket and unlocked the door.  Inside the room was a table and about eight or ten chairs.
"Charlie spoke up, and said, "Alright, now you all have a seat, " and he motioned me to take the chair next to him.  "Before we start, I want all here to pledge to me that what is revealed here will stay here.  Nobody else is to know anything about this.  All here swear!"  All the men held up their right hands and swore to keep the information to themselves.  Then Charlie turned to me, “We don't know nuthin' about you mister, except that you do this fer a livin'.  I reckon yer word is good since you served in the Mex War.  Who did you serve with?"
"I was an engineer then, and I was lucky enough to be with Lt. Col. Lee when he surprised the Mexican Troops with his artillery, " I replied, curious as to how that would go over here.
"Hell!, said Cass. "Anybody who was with Col. Lee on that little trick, has got my vote.  I was in the batch of fellers that would've got ticked off bad if he hadn't been so dang clever!!”  Everyone in the room nodded their head.
Charlie said," Wal, I reckon then you is one of us."  He handed me the letter and said,
" Read it out and let's see what kind of trouble that the derned govamint has got us into this time!"

Sunday, May 6, 2012

T. E. Story #80

We are underway again!   Before sunrise the next morning Josh and I  drove out of the farmyard and bid goodbye to the friendly farm.  Into the woods and then after a few minutes we reach the main road .  Our destination is Falmouth, a small town on the North side of the Rappahannock River just Northeast of Fredericksburg.    We pass the one house along the road that leads to Telegraph Road and we see no lights in the house as we drive by .  On both sides of the road the forest is dark and somewhat forbidding.  As the wagon moves to the westward  the forest continues on both sides of the road.  The road itself is gravel and well constructed.  It looks as though it wold hold up to heavy wagons in a rainstorm.  I would give the road a "4" for it's  structure.  There are deep ditches along each side of the road which drain into the woods on either side.   As we approach the stream along this road the road winds down into a shallow canyon.  The is a 2 to 3 degree decline into the canton until the bridge over the creek is reached.  The stream is small this far from the Potomac, and it runs fairly slow and no deeper than ten inches.  However, there are marks on the rocks under the bridge that the depth was at one time about three feet deep.  The water rising to the height would be moving fast and well might wash out the bridge.  The ridge itself is a timber bridge supported from each bank with heavy timber s and also supported in midstream by upright loge bolted to the bridge mainframe.  The bridge has at least three layers that make up the roadway across the bridge, logs planks or chesses, and a layer of brush held down with a layer of gravel.  Like the road way I will give the bridge a "4" for strength and utility.  Across the bridge the road winds up out of the shallow valley .  The hillsides are covered with wild blackberries, and n the background the tall pines hold in the last shadows of night as the sun just peeks over the horizon.  The inclination is close to 4 degrees and in three places as the road clears around the shoulder of the canyon there are three places where the corduroy roads have strengthened  the curves by deep cuts and half bridges where the road crossed deep cuts in the hillside.
At the top of the hill the forest receded and the fields spread ahead of the wagon track, and  and both sides of the road  have split rail fences.  These fences are apparently or the purpose of corralling the few cattle that we see grazing on the tall grass wet with a morning dew.  The road here is straight  and it's heading down a long shallow hill into the the blue haze which covered the distant hills.    Somewhere out there was the village of Aquia, and we would be there probably well after  10:00 A. M.   The road ahead dips just a bit  and the split rail fences both turn sharply away from the road and in the distance the housetops signaling our approach to the village of Aquia.

T. E. Story # 79

 I am pleased that you had a good dip in the swimming pool, and
relaxed.  This wee break has helped us all I think.  As the population
drops, and the country opens up it makes Dan, and I more apparent, and
we will have to disguise some of our equipment.  We are hoping that
the river banks will provide cover.  If not than we will have to
change tactics.  Cover in the daylight, and do our thing after dark.
Might work well.  Basically what we were doing, but got used to the
heavy cover.  It seems however that this will help the Major, and move
things along for us.  Using some guise I will strike up some
conversations with the locals, and see what I can come up with. HUM!!!
Dan should love this one.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

T. E. Story # 78

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

T. E. Story # 77

Dan, and I are enjoying this down time also, and also pleased that this recluse spot meets with your approval.  Kind of tailor made so to speak.  Makes it easier for us to keep an eye on you folks without the outriding.  The horses are relieved also I think.  Our gear, and tack takes a beating, and we have a bit of time to mend it.  i have watched Dan, and for the first time in his life he belongs to something, and a purpose.  I am hoping that you have indicated the area that you believe the two fords might be located.  I wouldn't be surprised if Dan, and I might not be able to locate them.  You, and Josh are going to be busy with your objectives, and JJ has a lot of roads to cover.  I am more comfortable that the big threat that lurked over you has been lifted and we will have a bit more latitude to work on this area of importance to you.  Do you know why these fords  ceased to be used. Have bridges made it easier, or has the population in that area moved on?  Dan made a quick trip down to the ferry to fill in the gunsmith on your stay at the old farm, and how pleased you were with it, and pick up a supply of rolled loads that he had made up for me.  His work, and ideas might someday be popular.  He also told Dan that I had been made a full US Marshall with complete authority where ever I traveled.  For the time being until I wish to revel it, this info will only be known to a very few undercover Deputies such as myself.  This will allow me to make on the spot decisions in our mission or where ever I am.  I hope this meets with your approval, and give you some comfort in the fact that you won't have to bear the responsibility for some of my questionable activities.[grin].  I know that I make you a wee bit nervous on occasion.  Keep your eyes open when you decide to bath, as there are a couple of cottonmouths that also share that spot.  Be a good idea if Dan, or myself keep you company.  Dan can sense their presence.  We both have been bitten several times in the the past, and have developed an immunity to them it seems.  The wagon looks good after your touch ups, and is in excellent shape after so many days on the road.  The horses are also doing extremely well. Hugh certainly knows his way around them, and matched them to your needs.  Looking forward to the new maps.  Your Servant,  Hezzy

T. E. Story # 76

I am relaxing on a bed in the farmhouse as I finish my journal for the day, Hezzie and Dan have done a great job in finding a place to relax.  Josh is taking a bath in the stream and I understand that Dan is watching.  As soon as I finish here I will join him.  Then into the new-old clothes and burn the others.  The new map is finished and I will distribute them as soon as the copies are made.  I am still pondering about Fredericksburg.  I can see no reason to cross the river at this time.  Actually while we are gathering loads of good information, this is still a  big test to see if this type of mission can be sustained.  Entrance into a lager city is simply not necessary at this point in my estimation.  Not only that but my attempt to draw a map of the city would surely be detected, especially by a people who are suspicious of strangers.  So, we will confine ourselves to the North side of the Rappahannock River, and try to find the two fords mentioned in an earlier report of the area.  The plan that I outlined yesterday, I believe will be the best one for this mission as it will certainly prove he value of this kind of mission and gather some valuable information as well. Since we have rehung the signs on the wagon advertising what we do, we will only touch up those places where the message has been chipped or rubbed off.  Our venture into the woods and under the bridge left several marks on the signs that need to be covered.  However, we will not change the message on the signs.  Josh can take care of that when he has finished in the stream.  Hezzie has provided a good load of food that will hold us very well until we get back to Washington City.  We will begin the second half of the mission tomorrow when all have gotten a good rest. Josh and Dan have both been of great assistance in this mission, and we must not forget to provide for them something special that also meets their needs and desires.  I make the note that Hezzie and I must talk this over in detail when the mission is complete. The farm rests in a shallow valley surrounded on all sides by a narrow stand of trees along the main road, to the South  To the North and West is the main forest of both broad-leafed and needle trees of some size, perhaps even an original stand of forest.  Then to the East is a strip of the same forest that separates the farm from the house beside the ferry.   The road which is just two bare stripes in a fallow field leaves the main road about a half mile from the hillock where we contacted Hezzie and Dan.  The road leads North through the strip of forest, about a quarter-mile wide and then across a wide field to the farm house and barn plus three outbuildings.  The barn is in fair shape but the outbuildings are badly sagging and probably dangerous to enter.  The farmhouse is fairly sturdy and in god shape.  Much better inside than the outside when first seen.  The fields around the house bear remnants of a wheat crop, but if is obvious that it has been some time since the farm has been productive.  Just East of the farmhouse are five trees which form a kind of an orchard.  Three of the trees are apple, and two are peach trees.  There is a large raised garden plot to the North of the house just off the back door overgrown with weeds, however there are some wild greens there as well as wild blackberries and raspberries.  the fields around the farm run to approximately 30 acres.  There is a portion of these field which have been fenced off  (split rail fence), probably for a few cattle.  Closer to the house but downwind is a pigsty and chicken coup.  The farm could be quite productive if it were handled right.  I will make a note that with the right people in charge and some money to repair the buildings, this farm could become a Union refuge for missions similar to what we are doing. Well, that is it for today's journal, and now for the stream, a good bath and maybe even a dry out in the sun before getting back to work.

T. E. Story # 75

Dan, and I are enjoying a break, and some camaraderie for a wee bit. The maps will be a big help for sure.  Dan is beginning to understand them.  This is a slow process, but worth the effort.  His sense of humor is very limited because he has very limited experience with people hence has little exposure with relaxed humor.  Living as he had to every moment was a challenge.  After every contact with you folks, I spend a lot of time answering his questions.  The talk of war is still foreign to him.  Your new, old clothing clothing is in the farm house.  All well boiled.  You chaps should spend some time in the stream near by before you put them on, and burn your old stuff.  Sorry about JJs pants.  These people are a bit shorter than he is.  These people are more reserved on this side of the river.  Life has taught them to be wary of strangers, but are not unfriendly.  They just need to be sure of who you are.  Be careful not to slight them, or peer down on them, and their suspicions will fade a bit.  Also news between settlements travels faster down here, so you will also always be expected when you get there.  The knew what to expect awhile before you crossed over on the ferry, so be very careful about any changes you make.  This will trigger alarms. In the spring house you will find new provisions including, a new quarter of smoked bacon, and pork chops.  There are some eggs, but they will not keep long after you leave this place.  The basics should get you pretty much thru the balance of this mission.  There is less small game down here as these people live close to the land.  Trout are plentiful in the clear streams so we will get you some for a change of diet. Do not be surprised if the need for your house painting skills etc are not as much in demand as these people do not have the coin for such luxuries, however letter writing, or reading may be far more popular as education is not as common here.  Not sure about  what your concerns are about Fredericksburg are, however Dan and  I are concerned about your safety, and our ability to protect you is severely hampered. Hopefully you won't need to.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

T. E. Story # 74

Yes, you are right.  Josh was a little shaken.  However, I think than Dan has to remember that we spent some time in a cave wondering what was going to happen, yesterday, and I don’t think Josh is completely over it quite yet.  Dan startled me as well.  It is good to have such detailed watchmen though, and I am very pleased at the effort that you two have put out to keep us safe as we proceed.  I am sure that Josh will get over his trauma as soon as he gets a big bowl of your delicious beans and rice in his belly!   I know for a fact that Col. Abert would never have approved this mission had he known the extent of this plot that almost overtook us.  You and Dan have managed to do what the Army could not do, even though some of your procedures are only allowable during wartime (Grin!!). We will proceed down to the off-road and into the abandoned farm house.  I have been working on a detailed map similar to the one that we have just left, and I think I will have it done by tomorrow night.  I want to stay at the farm until I can finish the map and make copies for  both you and “JJ”.  As you have said both of you will need a map to keep track of us and where you have to go to carry out your part of the plan.  Considering the attitude of the people here in the South I will not go into Fredericksburg.  What I principally want to see is the river, the bridges and locate the two fords that are down river.  If you and Dan want to go in and make some notes that is fine with me, but I an somewhat nervous about the town. In regard to the signs on the wagon, we can touch them up a little bit when we are at the farm, and rehang them .  That is no problem, but even though both you and Dan were watching , as I mentioned I was not sure that both of you had gotten back to the Ferry, and I decided that the better part of valor was caution.  The only people that we missed was the Water's house and that was more of a place for the ferry crews to stay than a family house, even though there may be a family somewhere in that place. At the bottom of the hill we reach the off-road track to the farm.  In the distance we can see dimly the lights from the house where the two ferry crewmen went.  We move slowly into the forest and we can see ahead a field lit by the moon's radiance.  Just a half-moon tonight but there is enough light to see the road.  The woods are cool this time of the night, and a small breeze riffles through the broad-leafed trees overhead.  The road is a two track line and there seems to be a lot of high grass and weeds in the middle of the track.  We reach the ranch as we come out of the woods.  I would have to estimate that the woodland here is about a quarter mile deep, before we reached the farm's now fallow fields.  Beyond the fields stands another woodland black against the night sky.  The outline of the trees indicate both broad-leaf and needle trees in that woodland.  "JJ" meets us as we exit the woods and Dan has disappeared.  That boy is both quick and quiet.  "JJ" points out an old barn and we drive the wagon in and then unhitch the horses and lead them to stalls.  Josh will water and feed them while I get out my letter book and drawing pack to take in the house.  I will be working late tonight on my journal and the next map.  I will ask "JJ" to get some supper started, and as soon as we eat, then we can all get together, and have a little confab about what has occurred and what our plans are for the next few days . Essentially we will go to the Rappahannock River, from the ferry to Aquia, Stafford C. H., and Falmouth this is the lower part of the Telegraph Road.  Col. Abert particularly wanted to map that road.  We will sketch the bridges there and then we will search downriver from the town for the two fording places which are said to be there.  From here we will head back West to Falmouth and take the Northwest Road to Alcock, Skinner's Store, Waggerton's Store, Palten Junc., and then turn southeast through Garrisonville and back to Aquia.  From there we will turn North , back onto Telegraph Road (the northern part) and head toward Dumphies, Scabsco Mills, and Occoquan.  That will be the end of that map.  By that time, I should have a third map finished which will take us to Alexandria and then on to Washington City.  That is the current plan.  What do you all think?

T. E. Story # 73

 OOPS I guess that we owe you, and Josh an apology once again. Sometimes we need a wee bit of fun.  I think that poor Josh just about peed in his pants when he climbed into the wagon, and saw Dan calmly sitting on his bed roll grinning.  Good thing that he couldn't scream. Yes, Dan was in the back while you chaps crossed over, and I was in the steeple of that small church.  We are focusing closely to see if there are any people showing any unusual interest in you folks.  We never take anything for granted, and are just as vigilant as before. We spent some time on this side getting a feeling for their feelings for separating from the Union.  They are not looking forward to this happening, as their lively hoods depends on trade  from both sides of the river.  They are a quiet people who tend to their own business, and wish others would do the same.  The Deputy Marshal who is the local gunsmith, and was one of us at the little party at your camp lives near here, but wishes to be unseen as his Deputy status is unknown to these folks.  When we last talked he indicated that the Marshals service has sent a request to Washington City to make me a full Marshall with absolute authority anywhere.  Now that we are together for a bit I will take the $100.00  that I forgot earlier.  You chaps can follow us to the place that we told you about, and be safe.  It is an abandoned farm a bit off the road, and the gunsmith now owns it, and it will make us a good base camp.  I was surprised that you had removed the signs from the wagon as news of your arrival has spread, and several people are looking forward to your services., and are a bit confused.  Good news travels fast.  You could always touch them up a bit when someone comes, and that will remove any questions.  JJ is awaiting us at the farm, and is getting a bit of much needed rest.  He spent the day checking out a couple of roads that might be of interest to you.  Poor chap doesn't quite know what to think about Dan, and myself.  Now that the team is ready to go we will take you to the off-road which leads to the farm.  JJ will great you, and settle you in.  Dan and I will circle around, and come in from another direction, and later this evening I think that we should have a meeting so we can all touch base together, and you can update us on what you wish to cover, how you choose to do it, and hopefully give us a map to guide us.  See you after you chaps eat, and settle in.  We will know the proper time.  Respectfully,  Sgt. Maj. Hezzy

T.E. Story # 72

Josh and I waited in the wagon at the top of the hill over looking the ferry landing.  Actually it isn't much of a hill rather just a little rise with enough trees on it to shade the wagon.  Josh and I have removed the signs, and stowed them face down in the wagon, and then we had lunch.  The wagon is off the road about thirty yards, which is sufficient.  There is nobody else waiting for the ferry so it will probably be a lone crossing for us.  I chose to use the time filling in my journal while Josh worked on a piece of harness strap that looked worn.  The lad is quite a companion.  It must be obvious that I need this kind of help on a mission like this, and he produces it without being reminded, and he is usually ahead of me anyway. About five o' clock the ferry came back to our side of the river.  It slid into the slip and tied up.  The crew came ashore an a nearby house, it seems , -- the Water's House, acts as a sort of rest area and shelter for the crew.  Josh and I got underway and moved down the road toward the ferry slip.  One of the crewmen came over and asked how many were in the wagon, while two others laid the planks for the wagon to go aboard.  A dollar for the wagon and fifty cents for each of us.  We paid them in southern bank bills which I had with me, and the two men at the pier waved us onto the ferry boat.  Actually the ferry was a big barge, and the eye bolts along the upper rails of the sides told the story of the barge being converted from a hand ferry to a steam operation.  The steam engine was on the far shore and held the ferry in the stream with two heavy cables.  These cables were rigged so that one cable held the ferry barge in the stream and a large pulley near the back of the barge drew the barge across the river.  A simple change of two large pulleys or blocks changed the direction of the barge.  The barge also had a rudder on both ends and two men manned the rudder to keep the barge in as straight a line as possible across the river.  I tried not to be very observant, and still see everything that I needed to see in order to get the rig down on paper.  The rig was new to me and both interesting to me as an engineer and also as the mission demanded.  Josh got down and walked around.  A couple of the off-crew who were going home for the day were deep in a conversation and Josh surprisingly was soon right in with the group.  I noticed before, that Josh has a way of directly focusing on what is being said in such a way that you get the feeling that he is really deeply interested in what you are saying.  Soon the two men and Josh were talking and laughing and it seemed that Josh was getting a lot of the local gossip.  I held my tongue, got out my bible, and read in it all during the ferry trip.  Reading a bible is a good way to maintain a distance from most people.  Finally, the ferry touched the slip at our destination, and we got ready to land.  The barge eased into the slip with a gentle bump and we made preparations to leave the barge.  Again the two men laid down the planks and Josh, now back in the driver's seat, eased the horse's and the wagon off the vessel.  During the way over Josh had walked over to the horses when the conversation lagged at one point, and calmed the horses by shading their eyes and talking with them as he petted and patted both of them. The road on this side of the river led up a small hill curving to the right, and just over the hill there were a couple of trees and smooth ground.  Josh pulled the wagon over and got out the wheel jack.  I helped him set up the jack and we removed the wheel.  I sat in the shade under one of the trees and Josh finished the wheel greasing.  In just a few minutes the two men that had been talking with Josh came over the hill and were headed for a house down in the woods about a half-mile from where we were.  They came over to say goodbye to Josh and one of them helped Josh put the wheel back on.  I was deep in my book.  The language these two men were using was a heavy southern twang, and my northern accent would certainly set me out as someone to be suspicious of.  Josh was doing well enough and when the wagon wheel was well greased and fastened back in place, the men waved goodbye and walked off down the road.  Josh came over and sat down beside me and gestured that he wanted a paper and pencil.  With these instruments he wrote out the following, "The ferry is closed for the night.  But there is a light on the far shore, and there is a relief crew to take the ferry back.  The steam engine is left to go cold and then a pitch pine fire lay is placed inside, if the engine has to be started again. " We didn't know if Hezzie and Dan were already here, or whether they would come on the first load in the morning.  So we settled in till dusk, until they would show up.  We moved the wagon farther off the road, and then we ate a cold supper.  Josh laid down in the wagon and I took the first watch.  The woods were very dark and the wind off the river was cool enough for a jacket.  Hezzie had said that he would contact us once we were over the river so we would stay where we were for awhile.  I wasn't worried at all that those two would lose us.  They were probably watching us now and waiting for full dark.

T. E. Story # 71

Well, Josh and I were listening for the return of the sheriff' and his men, but I didn't hear anything.  I am very appreciative of your involvement since the alternative would have been very unpleasant.  I understand that you and Dan like living in caves, but I must admit that I really prefer a ballroom with a bowl of punch and a lovely lady to share it with.  I guess that I am spoiled, but God help me I do enjoy the music and dancing!  I am wondering why Col. Abert didn't see that problem.  He is usually a pretty sharp old man.  Maybe it was too close to him to be seen or determined.  I had no idea at all that the Capt. was involved in anything like this.  I knew that we usually disagreed, but hat isn't unusual in engineering where each person has his own views about what needs to be done and how it gets done.  He had never to my knowledge voiced his political views, but I would suppose if it comes to a war, politics will play a large part in the overall plan. I will leave it to you and Dan to dispose of the remains, and we will move on.  The target is still the Ferry boat, so we will move ahead.  I think that I will alter my route to some degree.  The road we have been traveling on seems sound for artillery (3) and freight wagons (4), so I am going to take the lower road.  It should be about the same time, and you and Dan have already been over the upper road along the river so we know what that road is like.  Josh and I will drag the wagon out of the brush where we had it hidden and get it on the road again.  One of the horses has strayed a bit but Josh has the problem in hand.  As soon as we get the horses all set we will move on down the road.  Leaving Matawoman Creek and the bridge behind we are moving into a deep forestland on the left while to the right from the road to the river the land seems to be used primarily for grazing.  Both horses and cattle.  There is a stone rubble wall that keeps the cattle on the field, but the horses are tied (two front legs ).  About a mile down the road is a road to the right which goes over to an alternate road going south to Port Tobacco and Hilltop, both villages n the lower part of the peninsula.  Mr. Wills lives along this road somewhere.  This would be a good road for "JJ" to ride and make some notes.  Another mile and we will take the left hand road and head for the feeder stream to Matawoman Creek.  This is a ford, about two feet deep, with a gravel bottom.  Water is barely moving, but some brush along the other slope indicates that it can get pretty high here in wet weather, perhaps as much as four feet.  Marbury and Skinner live close by the creek.  There is a long drive on the left leading to Green's house and Clemet lives close by the road to the left.  Stone has a house on the right.  This would probably be a good community to stop and have lunch if we were not in a hurry to get to the ferry.  Mr Speaker has another long drive to the left and the last house in this group is Wheeler close by the road on the left.  The road is macadamed but has not been kept up and in several places the surface as deteriorated.  This would be a hard go for artillery (3) or fright wagons (4).  I would have to rate this road as a cavalry(2) and infantry (1) road only.  About three miles further on we come to the headwaters of Chicamawon Creek.  This is a ford as well, the water is less than six inches deep, and the bottom is a bit rocky.  The water flows steadily about 1 02 mph, and there is no sign of flooding.  However there are two rock abutments of dressed stone directly across from each other which says to me that there was once a bridge here.  I asked Josh to stop the carriage and I got out to explore a bit.  there is a heavy timber imbedded in the creek bottom, and one end still bears the charring of a heavy burn, probably a lightening strike.  We did the last six miles smartly, and finally came back to the main road and saw Posey's house ahead of us.  It looks like they have a farm stand, but nobody is there now so we go on.  There was a patch of woods and a road leading off to the left with a sign pointing to Hilltop about 12 miles away.  The fields on both sides of the road for the last three miles were lying fallow and overgrown with weeds and brush.  We will stop at the Posey House and water the horses and give then a bit of a rest.  Josh wants to give each one a measure of grain and I see no harm in that.  I go to the house and ask Mr. Posey to water the horses and he says certainly.  As soon as he sees the wagon sign he asks who is the letter writer.  I tell him that I am, and he has three letters he wants to write.  So, while the horses are being water, fed, and rested I am busy writing letters.  he lady of the house (Mrs. Posey) a delightful personage asks about the sign painting, and contracts for a nice house sign to put along the road.  I collect my four dollars, and have a long drink of cool well water, and we move on.  It is now about 3:0 P.M. and it will be another hour before we arrive at the ferry.  hat should be about right.  We will find a place where we can see the ferry slips and we will wait there until the ferry comes. I hope "JJ" can ride the length of the road with the dotted line from Wills house to the ferry that will give us a great deal of information about the peninsula.

T. E. Story # 70

 I am sorry that Josh, and the Major are huddled under the wagon, and stone wall.  Not exactly their style however hopefully they will excuse us when this ruse comes to an end.  Thru my questioning of the chap that I gave an incentive to in the cave to spill his guts I learned what I needed to know, about this great interest in the Major and his trip south.  It winds, and is twisted thru a lot of this area, and took us across the Potomac.  Before leaving on this trip Hugh, gave me a letter of introduction to a Deputy US Marshal who was also the gunsmith who built my new rifle.  It turned out that he had been made aware of this plot by the Marshal in Washington, and one of the reasons that I was so readily made a permanent Deputy.  The trail led us to the Sheriff, and his small band of hoodlums.  This all leads back to the Officer in Washington that took over your river project. He is a die hard Southern sympathizer who wishes to use you to help him ruin you, and discredit Col. Abert.  We believe that he is getting upset with your ease at gaining the info that you need, so he is engaging the Sheriff to take care of you chaps.  He is totally unaware of Dan, and I, and we have been on his tail, and our plot has set him up to settle his score with you once, and for all.  He located your camp under a pretense of searching for someone, and than going back to your old friend who is to return with them for the Coup.  Dan, and I with the help of 5 other Deputies have your camp ringed, and are awaiting for their arrival.  With the help of a waning moon the wait was not long.  As we had hoped they broke up, and ringed your position not knowing exactly where you were hiding, but between us, and you.  Those of us are of the same meld, and prefer not to use firearms unless driven to it. At the hoot of an Owl, the signal, we struck.  It was all over in a passing moment without a sound.  One was left alive, your antagonist, and I will make him rue the day he was born before he heads for Hell.  Dan once again proved himself as a true man, and was accepted into our small group of deputies.  We took the would be murderers back to the cave, and disposed of them.  I gave your friend a special send off after he spilled his guts to me, maybe literally.[smile]  He was behind the whole plot, for personal gain, and a deep hatred for you.  After finishing you he was going to try to ruin Col. Abert, take over his position using guile, and cunning, and distort the maps to send our troops into traps, set by the south if war starts.  I am sorry to have put you thru this however it had to be done. Nothing will change in the way that Dan, and I cover you chaps just in case some others try some mischief, but I believe that the weight has been taken off your shoulders now, and you can relax.  Please explain all of this to Josh as you see fit.  I'll thank the deputies, as it is best that you don't know them.  Like me they work unseen better as do I.