Front Page Titles (by Subject) NOTES ON THE DISMAL SWAMP. 1 - The Writings of George Washington, vol. II (1758-1775)
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NOTES ON THE DISMAL SWAMP. 1 - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. II (1758-1775) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. II (1758-1775).
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October 15, 1763.
From Pocoson Swamp to Cyprus Swamp (which conducts more water into the Great Dismal Swamp than any one of the many that leads into it) is about 2½ miles. This also is dry at present, but appears to be 60 or 65 yards across in the wettest part.
The next Swamp to this is called Mossey Swamp, and distant about 3 miles. Near this place lives John Reddick on good land; but hitherto from Pocoson Swamp, the land lyes flat, wet and poor. This swamp is 60 yards over and dry.
Between Cyprus Swamp, and the last mentioned one, we went on horseback not less than ½ mile into the great swamp (Dismal) without any sort of difficulty, the horse not sinking over the fetlocks. The first quarter, however, abounding in pine and gallberry bushes, the soil being much intermixed with sand, but afterwards it grew blacker and richer with many young reeds and few pines,—and this, it may be observed here, is the nature of the swamp in general.
The Main Swamp of Oropeak is about ½ a mile onwards from this, where stands the Widow Norflets, Mi & Luke Sumner’s plantations. This swamp cannot be less than 200 yards across, but does not nevertheless discharge as much water as Cyprus Swamp.
At the mouth of this swamp is a very large meadow of 2 or 3000 acres, held by Sumner, Widow Norflet, Marmaduke Norflet, Powel and others, and valuable ground it is.
From Oropeak Swamp to loosing swamp is about 2 miles, and this 70 yards across.
From hence again to Bassey Swamp the lower road may be allowed 2 miles more, but this swamp seems trifling.
And from Bassey Swamp to Horse Pool (which is the last, and including swamp running into the Dismal) is about 2 miles more and 35 yards across only.
The whole land from Pocoson Swamp to this place and indeed all the way to Pequemin Bridge, is in a manner a dead level, wet and cold in some place sandy in others, and generally poor.
This last-named swamp, viz., the Horse Pool, is called 9 miles from the upper bridge on Pequemin River; within a mile of which lives one Elias Stallens, and within 5 miles is the lower bridge, from whence to the bridge, or ferry over Little River is 15 measured miles, ye course nearly due south, as it likewise is from Suffolk to the said bridge, ye Dismal running that course from that place.
From little River bridge (or ferry) to Ralph’s ferry on Paspetank is (I think we were told) about 16 miles, the course east or northeast, and from thence, if the ferry is not crossed along up the west side of the river to the River bridge of the said Paspetank is reckoned—miles, and about a north west course, ye Dismal bordering close upon the left all the way.
Note. Ye above account is from information only, for instead of taking that rout, we crossed from Elias Stallens (one mile above the upper bridge on Pequemin) across to a set of people which inhabit a small slip of sand between the said river Pequemin and ye Dismal Swamp, and from thence along a new cut path through the main swamp, northwardly course for five miles, to the inhabitants of what they call new found land, which is thick settled, very rich land, and about 6 miles from the aforesaid river bridge of Paspetank. The arm of Dismal, which we passed through to get to this new land (as it is called) is 3¼ miles measured; little or no timber in it, but very full of reeds and excessive rich. Through this we carried horses, without any great difficulty.
This land was formerly esteemed part of the Dismal, but being higher, though full of reeds, people ventured to settle upon it, and as it became more open, it became more dry and is now prodigious fine land, but subject to wets and unhealthiness.
It is to be observed here that the tide, or still water that comes out of the sound up Pequemin River flows up as high as Stallens, and the river does not widen much until it passes the lower bridge some little distance. At Ralph’s ferry upon Paspetank, the river is said to be 2 miles over, and decreases in width gradually to the bridge, called River bridge, where it is about 30 yards across, and affords sufficient water for New England vessels to come up and load.
From the River bridge of Paspetank to an arm of the Dismal at a place called 2 miles bridge is reckoned 7 miles, and a branch of Paspetank twice crossed in the distance.
This arm of the Dismal is equally good and rich like the rest, and runs (as we are informed) 15 or 20 miles easterly, and has an outlet (as some say) into Curratuck Inlet by North West River, or Tull’s Creek; but these accounts were given so indistinctly as not to be relied upon. However it is certain, I believe, that the water does drain off at the east end somewhere, in which case a common causeway through at ye crossing place would most certainly lay all that arm dry.
From this place, which is 2 miles over, to the Carolina line is about 4 miles, and from thence to North West Landing on North West River, a branch of Curratuck, is 3 miles more.
From the Great Bridge to Colonel Tucker’s Mills is about 8 miles, within which distance several small creeks, making out of South River, head up in the Dismal.
Farley’s plantation, at the forks of the road, is reckoned 5 miles from the aforesaid mills, near to which the Dismal runs.
From hence to Robert’s ordinary is 6 miles, and from thence to Suffolk 10 more. The lands from the Great Bridge to within a mile or two of Robert’s is generally sandy and indifferent. From hence to Cowper’s Mill they are good, and from thence to Colonel Reddick’s mean again.