Thursday, March 25, 2010
The Rappahannock: Their Faces Were Blue and Their Bodies Were Red
"The next day, being the fift of May, the Werowance [Chief] of Rapahanna sent a Messenger to have us come join him. We entertained the said Messenger, and gave him trifles which pleased him. Wee manned our shallop with Muskets and Targatiers sufficiently: this said Messenger guided us where our determination was to goe. When we landed, the Werowance of the Rapahanna came downe to the water side with all his traine, as godly men as any I have seene of Savages or Christians: the Werowance comming before them playing a Flute made of a Reed, with a Crown of Deares haire colloured red, in fashion of a Rose fastened about his knot of haire, and a great Plate of Copper on the other side of his head, with two long Feathers in fashion of a paire of Hornes placed in the midst of his Crowne. His body was painted with Crimson, with a Chaine of Beads about his necke, his face painted blew, besprinkled with silver Ore as we thought, his ears all behung with Braslets of Pearle, and in either ear a Birds Claw through it beset with fine Copper or Gold. He entertained us in so modest a proud fashion, as though he had beene a Prince of civill government, holding his countenance without laughter or any such ill behaviour. He caused his Mat to be spread on the ground, where hee sate downe with a great Majestie, taking a pipe of Tobacco: the rest of his company standing about him." -- George Percy, explorer, "Observations By Master George Percy, 1607", Narratives of Early Virginia 1606-1625, 1607
"SIR: I have obtained information through contrabands that the enemy are fortifying Fredricksburg and are building gunboats on the Rappahannock under the superintendence of Mr. Matthew F. Maury. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant." -- Lieutenant R. H. Wyman, Commanding Potomac Flotilla, Official War Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, March 13th 1862
"SIR: I have the honor to report to you that, in my absence up the river to Fredricksburg, the steam transports Telegraph and Rotary came into the mouth of the Rappahannock and the crews from both vessels went on shore and robbed the houses on shore, breaking into the women's trunks, taking their jewelry and clothes, and taking their beds away with them. Respectfully your obedient servant...." -- F. Josselyn, Acting Master, Commanding U.S.S. Reliance, Official War Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, August 26th 1862
"SIR: I have the honor to make the following statement:
At 2.25 p.m., on our return from the mouth of the Rappahannock River, when abreast of Brandywine Hill, the enemy opened fire on us from the hill, firing some thirty shells at us before we arrived at this anchorage, none of them taking effect. We beat to quarters and returned fire with our rifle gun. At 2:40 p.m. came to anchor. The enemy opened fire on the fleet from another battery about a mile north of the first. At 3:20 p.m. received orders to open fire with much elevation. At 4 p.m. a 30-pounder Parrott percussion shell struck our ship on the starboard side 20 inches under water, and as soon as possible we put a shot plug in the hole without ceasing firing. At 4:30 p.m. received orders to cease firing. At 4:35 p.m. a 30-pounder Parrott percussion shell struck our ship on the starboard side aft the main rigging, going through into the fire room and exploded, wounding three men, viz:
Jeremiah Daley (coal heaver), compound fracture of radius and right forearm and compound fracture of cranium and contused wound of right foot, with partial loss of first, second, and third toes.
Henry F. Smith (coal heaver), compound fracture of left femur at juncture of middle and upper third, and incised wound of face, laying bare left side of lower jawbone.
John McCluskey (first-class fireman), slight contusion of back in lower region.
Also broke blower, blower engine, and steam gauge pipe. I also state during the engagement my officers and men behaved nobly. At 7 p.m. ship still leaking badly.
Very respectfully your obedient servant...." -- T.J. Linnekin, Acting Master, Commanding U.S.S. Currituck, Official War Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, December 10th 1862
"SIR: I have the honor to report that at 3 o'clock this afternoon the enemy opened fire on us from a battery on the south side of the river. In obedience to your order I immediately responded with my 8-inch gun, 32-pounder, and 12-pounder rifle howitzer. I have reason to believe that our fire was effective. After expending eighteen 8-inch shell, twenty-one 32 pounder shell, and fourteen Schenkle shell, I ceased firing, in accordance with your order. I am happy to say that no one was injured on this vessel. I must say that the officers and men behaved admirably. I am, sir, very respectfully your obedient servant...." -- James W. Turner, Ensign and Exectuive Officer, Commanding U.S.S. Yankee, Official War Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, December 10th 1862
"I find myself at length an inhabitant of this pretty Southern village, this 'hot-bed of Virginia aristocracy.'" -- Emily C. Pearson, Life on the Rappahannock, 1864
"Fifty years ago the early oysterboat was an institution of the Rappahannock. About sunrise in every town and village on the river, black servants with tin buckets and white lads with capacious mouths flocked to the moorings where the negro oystermen dispensed the breakfast supplies and gave casual morsels on the half-shell to the watering palates around. They were called Carter Creek oysters. The name may be inexact; but they came from the lower Rappahannock, and chiefly, I believe from beds cultivated by old 'King Carter' of Corotoman." -- Moncure D. Conway, author, Barons of the Potomack and Rappahannock, 1892
"The Song has been silent for more than thirty years. In another thirty years it will cease to be a living memory save to a handful of very old men. But those who once heard can never forget it's weird, fantastic sinister tones." -- Ira S. Dodd, historian, Song of the Rappahannock: Sketches of the Civil War, 1898
"In a tract of short rolling hills, which the natives refer to in all seriousness as 'peaks,' an average rise of probably not more than twenty feet above the general level, is Bob's plantation. Five or six acres of cornfields, in which 'cornfield beans' are planted at the foot of the cornstalks, constitute Bob's domain. Surrounded for a number of miles by a heavy growth of mixed short-leaf pine (Pinus taeda) and 'spuce pine' (P. Virginiana), and tracts of varied oaks, his log-houses present a scene of remoteness and solitude that seem in proper accord with the solitary character of this old Indian. Not far from his houses are swamps of oak and gum where, until a few years ago, he was accustomed to kill wild turkeys, sometimes as many as thirty to forty in one season. Bob has been an expert marksman with his muzzle-loading gun, which he fondly treasures now in his old age with a deep feeling of friendship." -- Marshall H. Saville, Rappahannock, Archaeological Specimens of New England, Volume 5, Issues 1-3, 1919
"One of the big local myths is that the Rappahannock and the Potomac rivers are lousy with water moccasins (also known as cottonmouths). We do have aquatic snakes in the local waters, and they are aggressive little devils who would just love to bite you, but they are not poisonous. The northernmost, authenticated range of the cottonmouth is the Great Dismal Swamp. But if global warming [sic] continues, who knows? Don't kill aquatic snakes, unless of course, you have been lost between Motts Run and Fredricksburg for two weeks and are hungry enough to eat a snake. If you kill snakes indiscriminately, and think they have no place on this planet, you are, in effect, saying that the creator made a mistake putting them here in the first place." -- Bob Sargeant, reporter, Snakes Alive!, The Free Lance-Star, July 10th 1999
"The Native Americans who gave their name to the Rappahannock were a numerous and ancient people, and for much of the seventeenth century they were able to remain on their ancestral lands, albeit in much tension with the English settlers and bordering tribes. By 1670, the Rappahannock River was home to one of the Virginia colony's five forts (along with two on the James and one each on the York and Potomac Rivers)...." -- Frank E. Grizzard and D. Boyd Smith, historians, Jamestown Colony: A Political, Social, and Cultural History, 2007