After much schedule madness, Liz and I finally got on the water on Saturday, July 28th. We were joined by our friends Dan and Gerry. Gerry guided us to the put in for the Little Ogeechee, then we shuttled cars to the Lott Island public boat ramp on Hunter Air Force Base. We returned to the put in to load boats from a bridge overpass – treacherous, but we managed it without injury to bodies or boats.
We paddled upriver – against the tide – getting as close as we could to the source of the Little Ogeechee as the falling tide would allow.
We saw no other people on the water, but did see lots of birds, including wood storks, blue heron, egrets, and a tri-color heron. Two alligator sightings gave us a start, but they dipped below the surface and we hurried on by.
We paddled by old rice canals dotted with wild rice. Jim Byous’ essay on the Fortresses of Savannah describes how the rice canals and watery landscape were used against the Union troops:
The typography of Savannah accentuated the fortifications and helped create its own defense. On a peninsula, Savannah was surrounded by marsh mud, water, man-made dikes and rice fields that created a formidable moat for any invader. To slow the Yankees all that was necessary was to open the flood gates and guard the causeways. In a field near Savannah, Iowa infantryman Charlie Albertson wrote upon arriving there, “We had a fine time coming through when not marching too hard… We live on rice and Homony, or rather corn. They raise plenty of rice here. It grows in the water, they have levies and gates to cut off the water and let it on… Some times we march all night. Most through mud and water, sometimes almost knee deep.” Evaluating a potential charge across the mud and water he added, “We have a large force here…. We could easy take Savannah by storm but we would lose a great many men, And I for one do not feel ambicious to charge the large Reb fort in front of our division.”
When we could get no further, we turned around and headed downstream, with the tide. After we passed the put in, the river widened and sandbars appeared, which presented good opportunities to stop for a stretch and a swim.
Liz and I took a side trip up Salt Creek – our seventh river!
It was a long paddle on a hot day – we were all happy to sit in the shade, hydrate, and eat cold watermelon.
Rivers six and seven – complete!