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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 052 [03-18-1862]

              39
		In Hostile Country.

[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
dinner, I find that the family subscribe to THE
WEEKLY TRIBUNE, and the daughter tells us how
they had mounted a little Union flag�no bigger than
a pocket-handkerchief�on the house, which the
Rebels pulled down, adding that �it took twenty of
them to do it.�  An hour afterward, we discover our
Major and Captains the recipients of the hospitality
of the cousin of our host (who has likewise
a pretty daughter), and the word is passed
for an attempt to cross the run.  It is effected, with
no worse mishap than the upsetting of one unlucky
trooper over his horse�s head into the stream, which
comes up to our saddle-girths, affording a chilly but
needed bath for the equine legs of the company.
Forthwith we bear westward for Pohick, at three
miles distance.
      DEBATABLE LAND AND POHICK CHURCH.
  We are now on debatable ground�the scene of
many skirmishes between the Rebels and Loyalists
�beyond the picketing places of either side.  Our
party advances cautiously, our flankers scouring the
dense thickets to the right and left, and upon every
ascent or point of observation our Major uses his tel-
escope.  A few spits of rain have sprinkled us, died
away, and the sun comes out, but feebly and fitfully.
The roads, the mud, the mire, the slush, the water,
are atrocious, and provocative of anything but re-
spect for a people who for a hundred years have 
tolerated such a state of thoroughfare as their abnor-
mal Winter and Spring condition.  So we ride
through the froward March afternoon for three miles,
and then strike the direct telegraph road to Rich-
mond.  Here, at this junction, is Pohick Church, a
name that has become familiar enouh to the read-
ers of THE TRIBUNE during the present rebellion.
George Washington rode hither to worship in post-
revolutionary times; they show you the locality of
his square, old-fashioned pew, near the equally old-
fashioned pulpit, now.  The building, a squarish,
brick-built one is dismantled, its doors and windows
gone, names scrawled all over its white-
washed interior; it has been bivouacked in
repeatedly by both parties, as the rough planks and
fir-boughs covering its broken flooring�used as ex-
tempore bedding�mutely testify.  Seen under this
dilapidated aspect, on a Sunday, too�I thought it
mournfully suggestive of the results of civil war,
and experienced a wholesome and realizing sense of
the wickedness of those whose insane devotion to the
great American juggernaut of Slavery brought it
about.  Two or three common-faced country boys,
idling listlessly outside, gather at the portal and look
in, as the major, surgeon and myself, survey the in-
terior.  They know or will tell us nothing.  There�s
been no Secesh about there�at least, they �ain�t
seen none for a week or more.�  We mount again,
and resume our journey.
	        BEYOND POHICK RUN.
  Through a stony ford, dangerous to horses� feet,
across Pohick run, a mile beyond the church, and

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
thence on the Richmond road for the Occoquan.
Here we cross the original line of the Rebel pickets,
where the past localities of certain of their videttes,
thrown forward on neighboring hills and concealed
by bushes, are pointed out.  Here, too, I should sup-
pose that four Rebel bullets, at the present moment
in the body of Capt. Janeway and a similar number
in his horse, might cause both steed and rider a
twinge of retrospective uneasiness, for they were re-
ceived from an ambush on the adjacent stream, not
far from this locality, subsequent to which the assail-
ants, after robbing the gallant young Jerseyman of 
his money, his coat, and making an abortive attempt
to despoil him of his long boots, left him to crawl
back to safety.  In this vicinity, also, less than three
weeks ago, a captain, quartermaster, and private of
the 63d Pennsylvania were killed.  However, we
ride on cautiously and in safety.  Our Major present-
ly hires a guide from a neighboring house, an adven-
turous Virginian, whose familiarity with the sur-
rounding country has heretofore been found of good
service to the Union cause.  Looking in at
another dwelling, our chief returns with a smile
on his lips and the information that he has conversed 
with a couple of Secesh women, who have informed
him that their brothers are in the Southern army,
and that they themselves would be there too, but for
their sex.  And this introduces anecdotes of the gen-
eral feeling manifested toward the troops, from
which it appears that the dirtiest, the stupidest, the 
meanest of Virginian women considers herself
privileged to insult by word and deed any or every
defender of the Government, while �our boys�
make a jest of it.  Our guide, though he has made a
recent reconnoissance of the country, even beyond
the Occoquan, on his own account, relaxes none of
the vigilance that has become habitual to him.  I re-
mark him plunging through the thickets and brush-
wood, �over the hills and far away;� always on the
lookout for Texan Rangers or Secesh farmers of
amateur murderous proclivities.  But we encounter
none, and the country seems deserted.  Five miles
from Pohick lies Occoquan, on the other side of the
river of that name, and our cavalcade comes in sight
of it, winding along the steep declivity above the
river at about 3 in the afternoon.
		      OCCOQUAN.
  Occoquan may have been �quite a place� before
Secession ruined it�sending fish, lumber, grain and
farm produce by water-carriage to Alexandria, for
further transportation.  At present it looks as
deserted as may be, only a small knot of idlers hav-
ing collected on the opposite bank to gaze at the first
appearance of Yankee troops in that vicinity.  Our
Major levels his telescope in the direction of a Rebel
fort to the left, perhaps three quarters of a mile off,
which the guide has spoken of as abandoned by the
enemy; hails one or two dingy flat-bottomed boats,
and announces his intention of paying the city and               
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