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on foot, with the exception of two women who sat on ladders “and were drawn over by two men, who slipt off their shoes and run so fast that we could not keep way with them.” From Annapolis the traveler could go directly to Alexandria by way of Upper Marlboro, or he could take a somewhat more southerly route to Piscataway Creek and thence across the Potomac by ferry until he reached the road from Alexandria to Richmond and proceeded southward by way of Dumfries and Fredericksburg. From Fredericksburg and Falmouth a road ran to Winchester through Ashby's Gap and was much used for hauling supplies northwest from the stores there and for bringing down flour and iron from the farms and Zane's iron works in the Shenandoah. From Richmond one might go directly to Williamsburg, cross the James at Jamestown by the Hog Island Ferry, and continue by a rough road through Nansemond County, skirting west of the Dismal Swamp to Edenton; or he might cross the James farther down the peninsula at Newport or Hampton, go to Norfolk by sloop, and thence continue south on the other side of the swamp by way of North River, and southwest through the Albemarle counties to the same destination. Another road
which ran through Petersburg and Suffolk was sometimes used.
The traveling and postal routes south of Annapolis were much less fixed than those in the North, for transit by water was as frequent as by land, and the possible combinations of land and water routes were many and varied. According to the regulations of 1738, which for the first time established a settled mail service from the North to Williamsburg and Edenton, the postrider met the Philadelphia courier at the Susquehanna, rode thence to Annapolis, crossed the Potomac to New Post - the plantation of Governor Spotswood, the deputy postmaster-general, on the Rappahannock just below Fredericksburg - and ended his trip at Williamsburg, whence a stage carried the mail to Edenton by way of Hog Island Ferry and Nansemond Court House. The uncertainties of the Eastern Shore postal connections as late as 1761 can be judged from a letter which John Schaw wrote in that year: “You'll observe,” he says, “how difficult it is to get a letter from you, that post office at Annapolis being a grave of all letters to this side of the Bay. I am sending this by way of Kent Island, and am in hopes it will get sooner to you than yours did to me.”
From Edenton there was but a single road which ran as directly as possible to Charleston, but nevertheless it was long, arduous, and slow. There were many rivers to be crossed, including a five-mile ferry across Albemarle Sound, detours to be made around the wide mouths of the Pamlico and the Neuse, and much low and wet ground to be avoided. Frederick Jones took six days to go from Williamsburg to New Bern. Schoepf records how he was delayed at Edenton four days because the ferryman had allowed his negroes to go off with the boat on a pleasure excursion of their own — an indulgence which shows that even after the Revolution travelers in that section were few and far between. From New Bern to the Cape Fear or Wilmington was not a difficult journey, for Peter du Bois accomplished it on horseback in 1757 with no other comment than an expression of satisfaction at the fried chicken and eggs that he had for breakfast and the duck and fried hominy that he ate for dinner. From Wilmington, after ferrying over to Negro Head Point with bad boats and very poor service in 1764, the traveler might continue, by a lonely, desolate, and little frequented way, to Georgetown and Charleston. It was a noteworthy event in the history of the colonies when the first
post stage was established in 1739 south of Edenton and postal communication was at last opened all the way from Portsmouth and Boston through the principal towns and places in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina to Charleston, and even thence by the occasional services of private individuals to Georgia and points beyond. At Charleston, which was the distributing center for the far South, the road branched, and one line went back through Dorchester, Orangeburg Court House, and Ninety-Six, to the towns of the lower Cherokee, a route used by caravans and Indian traders; another turned off at Dorchester for Fort Moore and Fort Augusta on the upper Savannah; and a third curved away from the coast to Savannah to avoid the rivers and sounds of Beaufort County. In 1767 the mail was carried from Savannah to Augusta and on to Pensacola by way of St. Marks and Appalachicola, but the journeys were dangerous and sometimes the postman could not get through on account of raids by the Creek Indians.
Land travel before 1770 had become very common even in the South. Laurens wrote to John Rutherfurd of Cape Fear: “I believe you are the greatest traveler in America. You talk of a 400 mile ride as any other man would one of 40. I hope these frequent long journeys will not prejudice your health.” Laurens himself usually went by boat to visit his plantations in Georgia — a single day's journey instead of two by horseback; but in 1769 he went off for seven weeks almost a thousand miles through the woods to visit his upriver properties. Governor Montagu in 1768 went all the way from Boston to Charleston by land; and the Anglican missionaries traveled long distances in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina to visit their parishioners and baptize the children. Merchants are known to have journeyed far to collect their debts. Allason speaks of going from forty to ninety miles from house to house on collecting tours; merchants who sold their goods "in the lumping way" rode up and down the river towns and plantations in their efforts to dispose of their consignments; and itinerant pedlars, with their horses and packs, wandered on from place to