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March Date Sunday September 24, 2006 March Day 100

Good Day to all March to Yorktown followers and supporters ~

The night has been warm and humid...shortly after reveille we have our first short sprinkle of rain. The morning continues overcast as the men are delivered back to the trail leading to Mount Vernon. We send a message to Durf McJoynt who plans to meet the army during today's route.

A marathon is in progress on the already well-travelled path and the men are enjoying the many passing joggers. Durf intercepts the group near the gates of Mount Vernon, excitedly takes his photographs and extends an invitation for this evening's annual supper by the Friends of Mount Vernon.

Today's route continues down Mount Vernon Memorial Parkway, past Washington's Grist Mill and onto busy route 1, and we have a light shower that lasts for some time. Destination is the Occaquan River, a total of 13.1 miles. The group maintains a goodly pace walking against the fast carriages and are happy to turn onto rural Old Cochester Road, about the half-way mark.

Rose has driven ahead and brings the small carriage to a stop at Pohick Church. While touring the graves here, she is approached by a bare-footed soldier dressed in small clothes. "Are you Rose?" he asks. This is Mike Cecere accompanied by Will Strollo of the 17th Virginia regiment, and they have come to meet and march with the troops. Apparently, there is much local excitement and news of the army's approach and route of march. As the men approach this historic church site, a small crowd gathers, among them is Marty Malin, journalist and photographer from a local publication. She shoots her photos as the crowd converses and tags along with the group for the afternoon.

Mike C (so as not to confuse with Captain Mike) and Will don their packs and set off with the marchers...Mike C still barefoot with his shoes in his pack. A bit down this shady narrow road, they stop briefly for Mike C to don his shoes and stockings....stockings without feet? He forgoes the stockings and continues to march. Young Will, with musket at the ready, does a fine job running interference with any oncoming carriages. More than one unsuspecting carriage driver is surprised by this sight on the road.

An unexpected visitor is stopped at the side of the road, a cooler full of iced drinks in the bed of his pick-up. This is Joe Chudzik of the Lorton Heritage Society and planner of the W3R project currently in progress on this Old Colchester Road.

Another unexpected visitor arrives via carriage and this is Gary O'Brien of the 1st Virginia regiment, returned for a second day of march. These three additional soldiers, with their easy and happy manner greatly buoy the spirits and step of the troops and the day's destination to the river crossing is soon reached.

The locals from nearby cottages and homes come out to greet the marchers and many photographs are taken, It is now two of the clock and Mike C and Will are brought back to their carriage. We bid them adieu as they return to their homes.
Gary joins the group as we turn back to visit Mount Vernon.

Three of the group's members have never seen our General's greatly-loved homestead and we will visit before the planned evening supper there. Our photographer Marty is still with us and it is she who speaks with the gate manager and arranges our passes into the estate. She soon departs our company, however, as she is scheduled to record the evening's event here. Our thanks to you, Marty.

For the next two hours, we roam this wonderful site, Washington's love and personal haven. We tour the rooms, each with its own guide....the formal dining room with its elaborate furnishings and resplendent table, his study with well-worn desk and "uncommon" chair, the family dining room with its shocking bright green walls, and the bedroom where this great man breathed his last. We are silent in reverence at his tomb, and Gary performs a present arms in tribute.

We return to the back side of the large house where Damon photographs the group, and as we are posed, a touring group of fifty + people each take turns.....yes, one by one.....being photographed with us. Their tour guide smiles and thanks us for our time. We have surely been mistaken for workers at Mount Vernon, as we are photographed often as we stroll about.

We exit the grounds at their closing hour, browse the gift shops here and then re-enter with the throng of six hundred or more Friends of Mount Vernon for a wonderful supper on the lawn overlooking the Potomac. An enormous tent has been set and the buffet includes barbeque chicken, jambalaya with rice and beans, salad, coleslaw, cold beer and beverages. We dine on the lawn under a spectacular show of nature - a rainbow and its mate elongates in the sky across the Potomac to the east, and simultaneously a brilliant red, pink and blue-clouded sunset unfolds over the great house of Mount Vernon to the west. This celestial display chills us with gratitude ...we are meant to be exactly where we are.

As we work our way to exit, we pass the great front porch and stop for a visit wilth the first First Lady Martha, who gives her army words of encouragement and elegantly extends her hand for David's kiss. We leave the grounds thanking Durf for this evening, and return by carriage to Alexandria to again fetch camp Martha forward to this night's camp at Pohick Bay Park. Gary still accompanies us and guides us to the large route 1 where the Washington rig is allowed to travel. As we say adieu, he quickly tosses a donation to be used toward our horses' feed....you've done too much, friend. It's been pleasure enough to have had your company and support.

It is dark when we reach our campsite but we spend the rest of the evening taking advantage of the shower and laundress facilities and planning the route of march for the morrow. We have a night visitor...Joe Chudzik has returned with ice, potatoes, mushrooms, ale and a bottle of fine wine. We are grateful for all of this man's kindnesses today. Mike and Dave sleep under the night sky, sans tents and the forest is quiet. A demain.

Avec amour,