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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 054 [03-18-1862]


[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
fort a visit�the river is altogether too deep and
rapid to admit of the cavalry fording it.  So he,
with Capt. Janeway, are rowed across.  The Sur-
geon and I follow.  And we question the idlers
assembled at the river-side end of a dingy street at
the top of the sloping bunk, awaiting our arrival.
They are not prepossessing-looking persons by any 
means�shabby, slouching, and exhibiting in perfec-
tion that griminess of cuticle common to the
�white trash� of Secessin�which a Northerner
can hardly behold without a yearning desire to put
the objects of contemplation under a pump.  They
peer at us curiously, saying bu little.  There were
a thousand soldiers and more in and around Occoquan
yesterday week, who have gone away now.  We
enter a store kept by a rigid woman (who says that
she belongs to Brooklyn, New-York, and is glad to 
see us), purchase a few cigars�nearly all that she
has to sell�and then signal across the river for half
a dozen troopers with carbines, who, arriving in due
time, go clanking about the town after us on a tour
of inspection.  Up the stream we tramp, over shaky
little foot-path bridges, by which the swollen river
roars and rushes, past a deserted mill, back again
through muddy by-lanes, carefully scrutinizing every-
thing on our way.  The Major descries certain bar-
rels piled in a loft, suspects ammunition, examines,
and gives the word to proceed.  Across a field or 
two in the slushiest condition, through thicket,
stream, and over hill-side to the abandoned fort,
named after the village.  Its site is well chosen,
placed on the summit of a hill; it commands the sur-
rounding country and river.  It consists of an earthen
parapet faced with logs, pierced by four embrasures,
a ditch in front.  A hut and certain shanties inside
have afforded shelter for the garrison.  Guns, men
and ammunition are all gone.  I make a hasty sketch
and plan at the Major�s request, and we then re-
turn to the village.  Here we are hospitably en-
treated by a poor woman, of Union sympathies, who
sets before us bread and milk�all she has�and
speaks dolorously and detestingly of the doings of
the Rebels.  Her son has been compelled to flee to
Washington; her fishing boats are destroyed; she and
her family have scarcely anything to live on, and
she hopes the Rebels will never come there again.
We eat, drink, accord thanks and payment and
tramp onward.  Five minutes are then spent in the

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
purchase of Confederate shinplasters, as curiosities,
from the townsfolk, who are ludicrously eager to be
rid of them.  I acquir two twenty cent Virginia
bank notes, and an equal number of half that
denomination, one Virginian, the other emanating
from the lordly State of South Carolina, the three
first being vilely executed, the latter about three
inches square.  One of the sellers obliges me with a
list of current prices of the vicinity.  Here they are:
Coffee, from $1 25@$1 50 [two unknown symbols]; Salt, $16 [unknown symbol] bush.;
Bacon, 30c. [two unknown symbols]; Whiskey, $17 [unknown symbol] gallon; Mo-
lasses, $12 50 per quarter barrel; Sugar, from 33 @
50c. [two unknown symbols]; a box of matches, 10c; Calico, 50c. [unknown symbol]
yard.  I infer that Secession is a costly luxury which
this generation will hardly care about paying the
price of a second time.  We leave behind us probably
more silver currency than the inhabitants of Occo-
quan have seen during the past six months, and then
cross the river and to horse again.  It is a dark and
devious ride that brings us back to Pohick Run, and
thence, under the direction of our guide, through an
abominable, thickly wooded swamp to Chichesters�,
so named from the ex-residence of an old Virginian
family�Rebel, of course.  Here we halt for the
night.  The men find ample quarters in deserted
tenements, barns and outhouses, build fires and
make themselves picturesquely comfortable.  The
officers obtain a hearty meal of bacon, eggs and hoe-
cake at the house of a Mrs. Baylis, from Bucks
County, Pennsylvania, whose husband is now a
prisoner in Richmond, Virginia, and I share with the
Major the only vacant bed in her possession.
  I must condense the next day�s doings, for my
letter has already exceeded all conscionable length.
We rode through woods, swamp, and thicket
toward an upper ford of the Occoquan, reported
blockaded by the Rebels, lost our way, visited sun-
dry Secession houses, where we were alternately
defied and blarneyed by the dreariest-looking and
shabbiest of women�all the men folk being in the
Rebel army.  We attempted a lower ford, found it
impassable, witnessed the involuntary immersion
over head and ears of one of our adventurous troop-
ers, turned our horses� heads camp-ward, and arrived
there merrily by sunset.  And so ended my first ex-
perience of making a reconnoissance in an enemy�s

[Gunn�s diary continued]
to some loose remark about the rebellion having
gone up, replied with feminine irony: �That
we had only to go to Richmond.�  (I did not know
then how much that only included.)     As the
day moderated we got into the �mail road,�               
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