Civil War Transcendence, part 405

 

The sergeant returned in a jiffy, ushered me into Major Murphy’s office, and left us posthaste.  I removed my hat, came to attention and saluted the major.

The Major was impressed that a person of my supposed covert nature would pay him such respect. He heartily returned my salute and motioned for me to take a chair located across from his desk.

We eyeballed each other for a few seconds, and I was able to attain a first impression of the Major, based upon his physical appearance and bearing.

He was about five feet, ten inches tall and thin. His uniform fit him like a glove. He couldn’t have weighed more than 150 pounds. He had a full head of hair that was jet black, and I placed his age at twenty-nine. He sat very rigidly in his chair, and his focus on me was intense. His face showed the signs of maturity beyond his years. I guessed he might have been a West Point Cadet at one time. His hawk-like nose and deep set eyes gave me the impression of a wizard from one of my favorite sci-fi movies. His uniform had yellow piping, which indicated this was a cavalry garrison.

Finally, he spoke, “What may I do for ya, Lieutenant?”

I paused before I answered, “We’ve caught a spy in Shepherdstown and don’t have a place to put him. I wanted to have him closer than Harpers Ferry so that we could interrogate him without having to travel too far. I understand that ya have a brig, and I’m here to ask if we may use it.”

The Major looked at me like an eagle getting ready to swoop down and claw me with his talons.

I kept my eyes locked with his, but without any hostility.

Suddenly, he stood and said, “If ya would follow me Lieutenant, we will inspect tha brig.”

I stood, and he ushered me out of his office and down the hall to a back door. His sergeant followed us down the hall, but the Major said, “We will be back in a few minutes. Ya need to remain here and take care of tha office”

The Sergeant saluted and said, “Yes sah.”

The Major returned the salute, and we stepped out into the space behind his office that I decided acted as a drill field.  Once outside, he pointed at a building about fifty yards ahead. He directed me behind his office and began walking toward the brig.

I followed.

After about twenty paces, he said, “We’ve heard rumors about yar exploits both in Harpers Ferry, Shepherdstown, Pleasant Valley, and tha attack on Fredrick City. I understand that ya and Major Mosby have worked in close contact over tha last few months during all these combats. Why do ya still refer to yarself as a Lieutenant? I understand that yar a Captain.”

I was shocked that he knew my real rank and didn’t know how to answer for a few seconds, but then I explained, “I guess I didn’t really think I had earned it.”

The Major stopped, turned and looked at me as if I had just grown horns out of my forehead.

I stopped also and met his gaze. What I said was the truth. I had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and had survived. I wasn’t brave or courageous. I was cursed.

He just shook his head and started walking again. His whole demeanor changed after our little exchange. He didn’t have the chip on his shoulder anymore. He had let down the walls that he had erected between us.

As we came close to the brig, he said, “Well Captain, ya are welcome to use tha brig, and if there’s any way I can help ya in tha future, please let me know.”

I stopped and turned to look at the Major, and extending my hand, said, “Thank ya so much, Major, for yar cooperation. I really appreciate it.”

We shook hands as colleagues and, I might say, as friends.

We took a look at the brig, which was very clean. It consisted of two jail cells with a hall between the cells. There were no windows and each cell had one bunkbed.

As we exited the brig, I said, “Major Murphy, there’s one thing that would help me immensely. May I have one of yar sergeants assigned to me and act as liaison between our units?”

The Major clasped his hands behind his back and bent over slightly as we ambled back to his office. At length he asked, “Who do ya have in mind?”

“I was wondering if I we could have Sergeant Richard Kirkland to act as our go-between?” I replied.

The Major thought for a moment and said, “Only if ya will let me work with ya in tha area. We replaced tha company that was here and was part of yar fights in Pleasant Valley and Fredrick City. We haven’t seen any fighting, and we’re aching to see combat.”

I turned to the Major and responded, “I’d definitely appreciate yar help in combatting tha Yanks in this area. I believe Major Mosby would be inclined to include ya in any of our missions. I will talk to him about it.”

The Major smiled from ear to ear and declared, “Then ya can have Sergeant Kirkland.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 404

 

Stonewall snorted at my last statement and turned to look back at me, as if asking, “What now?”

I quickly said, “We need to go to the Martinsburg garrison.”

Stonewall nodded his head up and down. Then he trotted north out of town on the road that ran in front of the outpost.

I had to look at him in bewilderment and ask myself, “How’d he know to go north?”

Finally, I just quit speculating, sat back in the saddle, and let Stonewall dictate the route.

About thirty minutes later, the outline of the garrison appeared in the distance. As we approached the encampment, I could see a cluster of buildings, tents and a corral of horses. The entire layout of the camp was open. It must have covered about four acres. There were no walls, but guards appeared to be on patrol in many areas.

I picked out the biggest building and said to Stonewall, “Go straight ahead to the building in front of you.”  Believe it or not, he headed us to the aforementioned structure.

Of course, there was the ever-present guard station between us and what I hoped was the garrison’s telegraph office.

Right on cue, the guard stopped his marching, faced me, came to Port Arms and ordered, “Halt! Who goes there?”

Stonewall stopped without me telling him to, and I answered, “Lieutenant Hager to see the Garrison Commander.”

The guard immediately yelled out, “Sergeant of the guard. Post one.”

In a nearby tent, I heard rustling, as if someone was getting out of a cot and getting dressed. Momentarily a sergeant emerged from the tent fully dressed and walked toward us.

Since I wasn’t in uniform, he didn’t salute when he came to where Stonewall and I were located. The Sergeant looked us up and down. Then he asked the guard, “Why did ya call me?”

The guard inclined his head toward me and responded, “Lieutenant Hager wants to see Major Murphy.”

The sergeant jerked his head toward me and gave me a withering glare. Whereupon he sarcastically asked, “Why aren’t ya in uniform, Lieutenant?”

I smiled, dismounted Stonewall, walked to where I was about a foot in front of the sergeant, and looking him straight in the eye, said in a calm voice, “That’s none of yar business, Sergeant. Now do I get to see tha Garrison Commander or do I tell Major Mosby that ya have interrupted my mission, which he has specifically ordered me to conclude on his behalf?”

Bullies are so predictable.  The sergeant was completely taken back by my blunt and forceful elocution. He backed up and turned red in the face.

I kept looking at him without blinking, just daring him to give me anymore grief. I had, just about, had enough from the Martinsburg garrison personnel.

The sergeant turned to the guard, who was trying not to smile, and said, “Take this person to headquarters to see if he is who he says he is.”

Then he turned and went back into his tent.

The guard grinned at me, saluted, and pointing at the largest building in the encampment, said, “Lieutenant Hager, Major Murphy’s office is in that building.”

I returned his salute, mounted Stonewall, and rode to the indicated structure.

Once in front of the building, I dismounted and let Stonewall go. He immediately went to the nearest patch of green grass and began to grab a bite to eat. I entered the building and was stopped by another sergeant, who said, “What cha want?”

“If it isn’t too much trouble, I would like to speak with Major Murphy?” I said in a slow deep Southern accent.

I happened to have let my coat come unbuttoned, and when the sergeant saw the two Colts in my belt, he gaped at me with fear and trepidation.

I looked down to where his gaze was fixed on my pistols, and for some reason had the impulse to say, “My name is Lieutenant Hager of the Confederate Secret Service and I need to see Major Murphy on a matter of national security.”

The sergeant gulped, stood, saluted and promised, “I’ll get him immediately, sah.”

Then he briskly walked to the end of the hall, and after knocking on the door, entered the lair of the head honcho of Martinsburg Garrison.

I had to duck my head and put my hand over my face to keep from laughing out loud. For once in my life, bureaucracy had been thwarted and made a fool of at the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 403

The lieutenant nodded so hard he looked like a bobble-headed doll. Then he uttered, “Yes, sir, I can keep a secret.”

I crossed my legs and placed my hat on my knee.

“Well, Lieutenant,” I began, “I have a conundrum.”

“We’ve caught a spy in Shepherdstown, and we’re so close to Maryland that there is the possibility of a Yankee raid to free him. What we need is a place we can jail him that is a little farther inland from the Potomac. Do you have any kind of prison or jail that is available?”

If I had stunned the lieutenant before, it was nothing compared to the shock that I now bestowed on him. He looked at me for a few moments before he cleared his throat and rasped, “Yes sir. We have a stockade that we can put the spy in. It is empty at this time, but we can provide guards as needed.”

I smiled broadly and said, “That’s wonderful. When can we bring him here for imprisonment?”

“Well, sir, we would have to have orders allowing us to provide for the spy’s imprisonment,” he intoned in the haughty voice of a true bureaucrat.

I sighed and said, “Is your telegraph still operating?”

He nodded and replied, “Yes, it is.”

“Well, direct me to it. I need to contact Major Mosby to get ya tha orders ya need,” I stated.

He gulped and said, “Our telegraph office is at our main camp on tha north edge of town. It is where tha stockade is located also.”

“How far is it from this outpost?” I questioned.

“About a mile. Take tha road out front and follow it north. You can’t miss it,” he responded.

I picked up my hat, uncrossed my legs and stood up. The lieutenant followed suit.

I extended my hand and the lieutenant shook it in a soft grip, which was reminiscent of woman’s grasp.

Then he saluted, and I returned his salute. I turned and left the officer’s quarters without looking back.

As I walked past the sergeant’s desk, he looked up at me with an appealing glance, rose from his chair and saluted. I returned his salute. Then looking surreptitiously toward the lieutenant’s office, he motioned outside.

We walked out the door together onto the small porch. Abruptly, he turned to me and asked, “Captain, if there is any way ya could see yar way to lettin’ me join yar unit, I would appreciate it.”

I looked at him for a long moment and queried, “Why?”

He looked back toward the building and said, “I’m sick of being a nursemaid. I want to be a part of tha action.”

“If’n ya join me, ya could get yarself quickly and permanently dead. The hours are long, and the risks are many. My people are fighters and we protect each other,” I stated.

“I know Cap’n. I heared of all the scraps y’all have been in. I’m from this part of Virginny, and I know people and places that can help ya. What do ya say?” he asked like a true salesman.

“Let me think it over. I promise I will get back to ya one way or the other,” I promised. By the way, what’s yar name?” I questioned.

“It’s Richard Kirkland,” he stated.

My eyes nearly bulged out of my head. I took a gulp and mumbled to myself, “You aren’t supposed to be here.”

Kirkland inclined his head toward me, thinking I had said something to him, and asked, “I’m sorry sir, but I didn’t hear what ya said.”

I snapped out of my mental stupor and said, “Sergeant, you will definitely be hearing from me.”

He grinned from ear to ear and gave me a snappy salute. Then he walked back into the outpost.

I returned his salute and staggered down the steps to the road. Stonewall suddenly appeared in front of me, and in a trance, I mounted.

Stonewall just stood there waiting for my instructions. I looked back at the outpost and muttered, “Well, old friend. Looks like we are gonna be getting another member added to our band of brothers. Little did I know that tha Angel of Marye’s Heights was from Virginia in this universe.”

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 402

A Novelette of Travel Back in Time

There wasn’t a guard on duty outside the outpost door, but there was a sergeant seated at a desk facing the front door when I entered the building.

He looked up from a stack of correspondence when I entered. Laying the paperwork aside, he asked, “What may I do for ya, sir?”

I smiled and asked, “Is tha commanding officer available?”

The sergeant motioned toward a closed door, which was apparently the only other room in the building and divulged, “The Lieutenant is in conference at tha present time. If ya would like to wait, there is a bench on tha porch outside, or ya are welcome to come back later.”

I was about to answer when I heard a woman’s laugh emanate from the Lieutenant’s office.

I glanced at the closed door and raised my eyebrows. Looking back at the sergeant, I asked, “Do ya expect tha Lieutenant to be in conference for a long time?”

The sergeant blushed and answered, “No sir. He should be available any moment now.”

I nodded and remarked, “I’ll be on tha porch when he’s through.”

The sergeant wouldn’t look me in the eye as he responded, “I’ll come fetch ya when he’s out of conference.”

I didn’t reply but vacated the building and sat down on the front porch bench.

The porch had a small roof, so I wasn’t sitting in the sun. I looked around for Stonewall, but he was nowhere to be found. I figured he had found some shade somewhere and was resting from our journey.

The day wasn’t too cold, and I dozed off a few times before I heard voices raised in conversation approach the front door. Almost immediately, an attractive young lady dressed in a beautiful blue silk dress walked out on the porch, followed by a soldier in a lieutenant’s uniform that bore yellow piping, which signified he was in the cavalry.

I immediately stood and took off my hat.

The two were in such animated conversation that they didn’t notice me.

The lieutenant accompanied the young lady down the front steps to the street. Abruptly a carriage, which must have been waiting for her, came from the side of the outpost and stopped in front of her.

The lieutenant helped the lady into the carriage, whereupon she extended her hand to the officer, who eagerly kissed the back of her hand with all the flair of a 19th century gentleman.

The young lady giggled and then turned her face toward the driver. With a deep frown, which transformed her face from one of beauty to one of hatefulness, she snapped, “Driver, ya may take me home.”

Immediately, she turned her gaze back to the lieutenant and gave him a smile that was neither beautiful nor charming, but one of a petulant child. The carriage driver clicked at the team, flicked the reins and the 19th century equivalent of a Cadillac moved away.

The lieutenant smiled as the carriage disappeared down the street. Turning back toward the outpost, he saw me on the front porch with my hat in my hand.

He stopped and looked at me closely for a moment before he ventured, “May I help ya, sir?”

“Yes Lieutenant. If ya have a few moments, I would like to discuss a matter with ya,” I remarked.

“Certainly sir, please come into my office,” he declared. Ushering me into his inner sanctum, he offered me a chair facing his desk while he sat in a leather chair behind his desk. Once he was all comfy, he asked, “Well, what may I do for ya?”

I remained standing, extended my hand and said, “Please let me introduce myself. I’m Captain Jim Hager.

The lieutenant’s response was classic. His jaw dropped; his eyes bulged; and he took a big gulp, which made his Adam’s apple bob up and down.

Finally coming to his senses, he jumped to his feet and saluted.

I smiled, saluted and extended my hand again.

He tentatively took my hand but without much of a grip.

I shook his hand and let it go. I sat down, and he absentmindedly followed suit.

He was still stunned and didn’t know what to say, so I said, “Can ya keep a secret?”

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 401

 

I thought for a few moments and then said, “Why don’t we threaten him with being a spy, which is a hanging offense, and see if we can scare ‘im into revealing what we wanna know?”

“Sounds good to me,” Al remarked.

I added, “Why don’t ya stay here and wait on Mr. Poffenberger? Hopefully, our prisoner will still be out when Mr. Poffenberger sets his arm.  I’m gonna ride into Martinsburg and visit the cavalry contingent there. I hope they have a spare telegraph machine that I can confiscate. I don’t have a telegraph operator yet, but I’m working on it.”

Al nodded and said, “Whatcha want me to do with our prisoner when his arm’s set?”

I thought for a moment and suggested, “Why don’t ya take him to Hattie’s Place and put him in her barn? Ya can sleep in my room ‘cause it’s paid up, plus get fed ‘cause that’s paid up too. Keep him there until I come for him.”

I knew that I had made the right offer, because Al lit up with a grin from ear to ear. I expected that Ms. Hattie was going to be courted like she had never been courted before. I laughed and added, “Ya got a horse that ya can transport tha prisoner on?”

“I’m afraid not,” he reported.

“Well, when Mr. Poffenberger gets here, he’ll probably be in a wagon. Ask him if he’ll take the prisoner to Hattie’s Place for ya.”

I handed him a five dollar greenback, I directed, “Give him this for his trouble.”

Al’s eyes flew open at the sight of the U.S. currency. He looked at me and with a mischievous grin and asked, “Do ya have any more ya could spare?”

I chuckled and handed him another five dollar greenback and remarked, “Don’t spend it all in one place.”

He laughed and said, “Ya know. I’ve had been shot at more times than I can count; been part of more spy missions than the average spy; been advanced in rank from a private to a sergeant; and now been given more spondulicks that I never could hope for. Being yar second in command definitely has its advantages.”

I chuckled and added, “Ya might add that yar my friend, also.”

Al became serious and extended his hand, which I grasped. We shook hands like men who were friends and would be for life.

Once we had made our non-verbal bond of brotherhood, I asked, “Where did ya get the word ‘spondulicks’?”

Al grinned and explained, “We always used it as another word for money.”

I smiled and said, “I haven’t heard it in a long time. In fact my grandmother used it on occasion.”

Immediately, I thought, “In fact, Hattie said that to me when I was about ten years old.”

Coming out of my quick day dream, I said with a knowing smile, “I hope to be back today, but l won’t come see ya ‘til tomorrow, so make good use of yar time.”

Al turned red in the face and laughed good-naturedly.

I exited the school house and looked around for Stonewall. He had been grazing on the grass located besides the building. When he heard me come out on the small porch, he trotted around to where I could mount from the porch.

Once in the saddle, I said, “We’re gonna go to the cavalry outpost in Martinsburg.”

He immediately started trotting to the west toward our objective. Now, how he knew which way to go was a mystery to me. Anyway, we headed out, and once we had cleared the main intersection at the west end of Shepherdstown, Stonewall kicked into a higher gear and began to lope. Stonewall must have had a schedule all his own because, periodically, he would reduce speed to a walk, and after a few minutes again, start loping. Needless to say, we ate up the miles.

It had been a number of weeks since I had been in Martinsburg recovering from my wound. I definitely didn’t want to visit Daphne’s Cousin Jamison while in town, and I know he didn’t want to see me either.

Again, it was eerie when we entered the town that Stonewall went straight to the cavalry outpost without any direction from me.

When Stonewall stopped in front of the cavalry outpost building, I dismounted and looked at him for a long time. Then I said, “How did ya do that?”

He had been looking straight ahead, but when I tendered my question, he turned to look at me and snorted. Then he walked over to a water trough located in front of the outpost.

I just shook my head and muttered, “Will wonders never cease?” and entered the outpost.

 

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 400

Once in the schoolhouse, Al and I sat the man down in the dusty teacher’s chair.

He moaned and continued to cradle his right arm close to his body.

The man had lost his hat during our shootout, so we had a good view of his face. I looked at Al and ask, “Ya recognize him?”

Al shook his head and then put his hand on the man’s right shoulder and asked, “What’s yar name?”

The man cringed and let out a yelp, but didn’t answer.

Al increased the pressure on the man’s shoulder and he shouted, “Lemuel Johnson, and quit torturing me!”

Al took his hand off the man’s shoulder and responded, “Ya think that hurts? Wait til tha doctor has to set it. Then ya’ll really have sumthin’ to yell about.”

The man looked up at Al with a fearful glance.

Al continued, “If’n ya’ll tell us why ya took some potshots at me, we’ll make tha pain go away.”

The man gave Al a dubious look.

Al put his right hand over his heart and, raising his left as if he were being sworn in at a court proceeding, vowed, “I promise.”

The man was too far gone due to the pain to hold back any information, so he blurted, “I was told by my officer to shoot Jim Hager when he came to town alone. I been hanging out waiting ‘til you showed up. When you did, I did what I was ordered to do.”

Al and I looked at each other with surprised expressions.

Al continued, “Who’s yar officer?”

“I’m not saying another word until you make the pain go away,” dictated the ambusher.

Al and I looked at each other and I shrugged. I moved behind the teacher’s chair and waited.

Al sighed, drew back his fist and hit the man square on the point of his chin. Needless to say the man was knocked out and catapulted back in his chair, which I kept from overturning. We moved the chair so it pinned the man against the teacher’s desk without it touching his broken arm and draped his shoulders and head on the desk.

Al looked at his handiwork, grinned and said, “I didn’t know we looked so much alike. I really think this idiot was so scared that he took a shot at tha first stranger that rode into town. I’m just glad he was such a bad shot.”

Al suddenly ran his hand over his face in an exasperating jester and said, “I shoulda gotten tha name of his officer before I cured his pain.”

I took a moment to reflect on the whole escapade and said, “I don’t think this was tha work of tha spy ring. This little exploit has tha odor of a certain rogue Yankee captain, who has illegally sacrificed one of his worst troopers in tha off chance that he might kill me.”

Al looked at me with a grim expression and queried, “Ya mean that Yank that was gonna take ya, Miss Daphne and Mrs. Douglas to tha Yank camp in Boonsboro?”

“Yelp. I bet it’s him who sent that poor kid to do his dirty work,” I conjectured.

“Makes sense, Jim, but how do we find out for sure?” Al asked.

I returned a very sly grin and revealed, “Ya know tha penalty for spying, don’t cha?”

Al laughed, slapped me on the shoulder and answered, “I shore do, and I bet that youngster will blab his head off when he’s told tha consequences of his actions.”

Al then scratched his jaw and said, “Ya really plan to hang ‘im?”

“Naw, once he tells me what I wanna know, I’ll charge him with attempted murder and give him to tha local authorities,” I disclosed.

Al chuckled and commented, “Jim, tha local authority in this town has been kilt by tha spy ring, and ya done kilt off tha local authority in Harpers Ferry and his henchmen. There ain’t no local authorities left, except maybe tha ones in Martinsburg.”

I was shocked at Al’s accurate synopsis of the local law officer situation.

 

 

 

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Coming Soon
Book Two of the Assassins of History Series: Creators of Chaos

filigree

Once we got back to the school house, all the folk who hadn’t walked or rode to town to help put out the fires came out to greet us. There were questions all around, and for a few moments, it was pandemonium.

Finally, I yelled in a loud voice, “Friends, listen!” That got everyone’s attention.

Then I continued, “Let’s all go inside, and Mr. Mumma, who so graciously drove our wagon, will relate what happened.”

This seemed to satisfy the crowd, which perfunctorily went inside.

Once the gathering was inside, I invited Mr. Mumma to stand in the front of the room and give an account of what had occurred.  Everyone watched as he went to the front of the room and began his tale.

I weaved my way to the back of the room where Daphne had positioned herself near the door. Only Peggy Newcomer and Mrs. Douglas saw me take Daphne by the arm and slip outside.

We quickly walked around to the side of one of the wagons and into the dark.  I suddenly swung Daphne around and into my arms. I crushed her to me and kissed her with such fierceness that I thought it might scare her, but she pressed back with the same unrestrained passion.

When we broke apart, we both had to take deep breaths because, I believe, sheer desire had forced all the oxygen out of bodies.  It took a few seconds to recover. I was wobbly on my feet and had to put my hand on the side of the wagon to keep my balance.

I stammered, “I have wanted to do that for a month of Sundays.”

Daphne, who had bowed her head once we broke from our embrace, looked up into my eyes, blushed and admitted, “I have wanted ya to do that since ya left Harpers Ferry.”

It made me smile from ear to ear.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 399

I didn’t say a word to Stonewall but just nudged him with my knees and held on for dear life. He exploded forward and headed toward the periodic gunfire.

We raced up German Street about two blocks to Church Street, turned right and headed over to Old Queen Alley. Once I had recovered from Stonewall’s lightning bolt jump, I put his reins in my teeth and pulled both Colts from my belt.

When we climbed the small rise on Church Street, I was shocked when I saw Al Madigan firing from behind a tree at a figure near the cottage that Daphne and I had rented from Mrs. Douglas on Old Queen Alley.

Al turned when he heard Stonewall’s hooves hitting the dirt as we appeared on the scene and yelled, “Get back! Get back!”

I took one look at the situation. Al was shooting at someone who was shooting back. That was good enough for me. I nudged Stonewall, and he hit his overdrive gear as I began to fire my Colts, one at a time, at the person who was firing from the side of our cottage.

I guess the appearance of a berserker on a war horse bearing down on him was too much for the assailant, because he left his vantage position and headed to the back of the cottage. I must have gotten target fixation because, before I knew it, we came to the waist-high fence in front of the cottage. I still had Stonewall’s reins in my teeth and we didn’t have enough stopping distance before we hit the fence. I just closed my eyes and hoped Stonewall wouldn’t be hurt too badly when we rammed into the barrier.

Yet, instead of the sound of us crashing into the picketed barricade I suddenly felt as if we were flying. There were no more clippity-clops, but a complete silence, which I thought heralded my entrance into the great unknown.

However, I was unceremoniously jolted to full consciousness and opened my eyes to see we were on the other side of the fence and quickly gaining on Al’s antagonist.

I yelled, “Whoopee,” like a kid that had scored his first touchdown.

I was so happy that I didn’t shoot the escapee, but let Stonewall hit him a glancing blow that sent him airborne.  As we galloped pass the opponent, I spit out Stonewall’s reins, yelled, “Whoa,” and put the Colt in my right hand in my belt.

It took Stonewall about thirty feet to slow down enough that I could get his reins off his neck and direct him back to our prone adversary.

As we approached the enemy, Al came running around the side of the cottage and yelled, “Man oh man. I didn’t know Stonewall could jump!”

I yelled back, “I didn’t either.”

I dismounted, and we both converged on the man who lay on the ground. He was groaning and holding his right arm. Town’s people began to gather around, and a flurry of questions was being thrown at us.

I put both Colts back in my belt, reached down and picked up the assailant’s pistol before anyone could surreptitiously confiscate the weapon. Al and I disregarded all the questions and lifted the captive to his feet. He immediately yelled and cradled his arm close to his body.  The crowd of town folk hushed and looked aghast at the man’s arm. It had a decided bend in his forearm that wasn’t supposed to be there.

I said to the crowd, “Is there a doctor in tha town?”

One man in the crowd that I recognized as an apothecary clerk answered, “We haven’t had a doctor in tha town for nigh on to two years, but there is a doctor in Martinsburg.”

“Can ya send for him?” I asked.

“Yeah, but Mr. Poffenberger is good about setting broken bones and he’s a whole lot nearer,” the clerk stated.

“Will someone go and get him?” I pleaded.

“I’ll go,” said a young man that I didn’t recognize.

As he left I yelled out, “We’ll be in tha school house.”

He waved that he understood, and in a few seconds, we all heard hoof beats from the front of the cottage as he galloped away.

Everyone had been quietly following our conversation, but when the young man left, they began quizzing us again as to what happened.

I finally raised my hand and said, “Folks, please give us chance to get this man fixed up before we answer any questions.”  At the opportune silence that ensued, Al and I directed the captive through the crowd and toward the school house.

 

 

 

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Coming Soon: Book 2 of the Assassins of History Series

Creators of Chaos

I slowly faded into consciousness, hearing someone moaning loudly.  It took a minute to realize that I was the one who was moaning.

I could hardly take a deep breath without the right side of my rib cage aching. It was akin to the pain of pleurisy, except it was more excruciating, if that were possible.

Gingerly, feeling the source of the ache in my chest with a right hand that felt like it weighed a ton, I noticed that some type of tape was securely wrapped around my torso.

Gradually, my eyes focused on the immediate surroundings. A dim light illuminated what seemed to be a room that suggested a hospital environment.  It wasn’t so much the appearance of the room, but the sterile medical facilities’ smell that formed the basis of this deduction.

I was lying on a flat platform about three feet high that resembled a funeral pyre. Looking down at my left arm, I realized my forearm was pierced with three needles that were distributing liquids intravenously from a machine located next to my place of repose.

As an afterthought it seemed faintly amusing that the liquids were colored red, white and blue.

Blinking profusely for more short-sighted vision, I viewed a phenomenon. My right forearm had a two inch vertical incision that was healing without any scar tissue before my very eyes. I recoiled at this medical miracle, which elicited pain from my chest cavity. However, this time the pain was quickly replaced with a sense of elation, and I embraced what must have been a drug induced stupor.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 398

Since we were already downstairs, I asked Mrs. Douglas, “Ma’am, is any breakfast food still available?”

She and Daphne gave me exasperated looks and then continued dabbing their eyes with her phantom handkerchiefs while they watched the brothers disappear from view.

Anna turned to me and whispered, “Thar’s food in the dining room still on tha table.”

I smiled and patted her on the back as I hastened to see what was left after the brothers had attacked the victuals.

Entering the dining room, the air was still alive with the aroma of freshly cooked bacon. I also observed two sunny-side eggs and four biscuits available. Quickly taking a seat at the head of the table, I began to combine all the remnants of the once morning feast onto the egg platter. At that moment, Anna appeared with a pot of coffee, filled one of the cups from an unused place setting to my left, and left the pot on a heating pad.

I smiled and said, “Anna, yar a life saver.”

She smiled broadly and said, “I’ll see if’n there’s some left-over bacon in tha kitchen,” and left the room.

I stood-up and, using a boarding-house reach, extracted the molasses jar and butter crock from the center of the table. Then I began the ancient southern process of whipping together two huge tablespoons of molasses with three huge tablespoons of butter until a light creamy concoction resulted.

Cutting two biscuits in half, I slathered the sugar laden creation on the biscuit halves. Picking up one of the dissected biscuits, I took a bite of what I consider the ambrosia of the Gods and savored the sweet taste as I slowly chewed the disintegrating essence to extinction.

Just after I had gobbled down the biscuits and was enjoying a sugar high, Daphne and Mrs. Douglas entered the room, still in conversation about how wonderful Tom and Jonah looked in their uniforms.  Each lady then performed a magic act by making their handkerchiefs disappear. It was phenomenal. One second the 19th century answers to Kleenex were in plain sight, and the next, they were gone. I actually did a doubletake when the mystical event occurred.

However, it wasn’t important enough for me to stop eating. I continued to gorge on the leftover eggs.

I stood up briefly when the ladies sat down at the table, still deep in conversation as to how proud they were of Daphne’s brothers. As if in a daze, they filled cups with coffee from the coffee pot that Anna had left and continued their fashionista description of every minute detail of the brothers’ uniforms.

They didn’t even acknowledge Anna when she brought me the leftover bacon from the kitchen. After a few brief minutes, I was sated with a wonderful breakfast and ready to meet the new day.

I stood and excused myself, which didn’t even register on the ladies’ conscious minds, and went upstairs where I performed my morning cleanup, which included shaving without one mishap.

Once dressed, I proceeded downstairs and found the ladies still in conversation.

I said good-bye to the ladies, who just waved and continued their friendly banter.

Exiting the mansion via the backdoor, I went to the stables and, upon entering, heard Stonewall began whinnying from his stall, which had been moved to the middle of the stables to give him more warmth.  I unfastened the top part of the door to his stall, and he immediately stuck his head through the opening. I went through the usual practice of massage that he had come to expect, and when that was completed, I got him saddled. All the while I was relating all that had occurred since we had last seen each other. He snorted at the appropriate times to indicate he understood.

I often wondered if he really knew what I was saying. The Aliens had indicated he and I had a special rapport, so maybe he did.

Anyway, we rode out of the stable, took the shortcut off the back portion of the Ferry Hill property, merged with the road down to the covered bridge across the Potomac, and after being passed by the Confederate guards, continued into Shepherdstown.

It was a good thing that we did because, once we were on German Street, we heard distant gun fire.

 

 

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