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Home > Civil War Sesquicentennial > George Dyer Downeast Transcript

George Dyer Downeast Transcript

Machias, Dec. 5th 1862

Dear General,

I am here in my travels – Have been to Lubec and Machiasport, go to Harrison, Harrington and Addison tomorrow, and back here tomorrow night, when I meet the wise and selectmen of Machiasport in solemn council then take Cutler and Trescott on my way home next week.

The delinquent towns, as you will see by inspection of the map lie along the coast of the County, off the stage lines, and scattered about long rocky capes, and in snug rocky coves, where they cling to little oases of dirt, like fleas on the unscratched part of a dog.

In these towns there are no taverns, and few roads, the inhabitants dwelling at home, receiving no visitors from abroad, and travelling by water. They live on fresh fish in the summer and on salt fish in the winter, wherefore their dialect is fishy. From such a point to such a point is about three or six “lines” (i.e. fishing lines) and the tides are the natural demarcations of time. Such a man died yesterday at “about half ebb” or “just on the turn” or at “dead low water.” The young men take to the sea, and are wanderers, until they have spent their prime on drink and strange women in foreign ports, and then they sink into tobacco and spitting kippers. The women stay at home and bear children past belief.  A stranger at this time of year, when none but fools travel there, is a marvel.

In these towns there is no snow, which is abundant everywhere else, so that I take a base line with my sleigh, and strike off at a tangent on basest lines to reach these Godforsaken towns. By dint of wagoning, and much walking, and a deal of shivering I have got so far.  I will write you fully on Sunday. (I forgot to say in its proper order, that these towns are the core of Democracy in Washington County.

Yours truly,
Geo. W. D.