Civil War Transcendence, part 449

The late afternoon sun shone through the windows of the left parlor as I opened the doors to see if the planning cabal was still in session. Needless to say, they were hard at it.

Daphne looked up, smiled at me and blew me a kiss. Then she and Annie went into another round of discussion about the baby clothes and how they needed to be cared for.

Mrs. Douglas began to shuffle through a few piles of infant clothing, which had suddenly appeared since I had last set foot in the parlor earlier this morning. I took a wild guess and deduced that these were Willie Douglas’s old baby clothes that were now ours to use. The colors of the clothes ranged from white to a drab gray. It seemed that hand-me-downs were a customary sacrament in the 19th century, as well as the 20th century, when I was growing up.

I closed the parlor door and went upstairs to our bedroom. I retrieved all my extra loaded cylinders for my Colt pistols and put them in my vest pockets. Taking a deep breath, I looked longingly around at the bedroom that Daphne and I shared for the last few months. It had been heavenly. I was hoping that we would have many more years together.

Walking slowly downstairs, I went to the left parlor and peeked in. The three ladies had their heads together, probably conjuring up a whole passel of things to do at the cottage. I watched them for a few moments and then hissed, “Pssst,” at Daphne.

She looked at me and grinned.

I smiled back and motioned to her to come out in the hall.

Once in the hall, she rushed into my arms and said, “Ya won’t believe all tha wonderful things we’re gonna do to tha cottage.”

I laughed and squeezed her tightly. Then I said, “I can’t wait to see all ya’ve got planned.”

She had me in one of her chest crushing hugs and wouldn’t let go. Then she confessed, “I want ya to know that I’ve never been so happy in all my life as I am right this moment, and it’s all because of ya.”

If it is possible, I believe she gripped me harder. I finally had to plead, “Darlin, yar squeezing me to death. Can ya let go a little?”

She laughed and eased up, which allowed me to actually suck in a breath of fresh air. If I didn’t know any better, I believed Daphne was part boa constrictor.

I reached up and took her by her shoulders.  Gently I pushed her back, which caused her to let go of me. I held her at arm’s length and took a few deep breaths.

She chuckled and asked, “What did ya wanna see me about?”

I finally got my lungs operating again and uttered, “Whew.”

Then I lied.

“I got word from Mosby that he needed to see in Harpers Ferry as soon as possible.”

She immediately frowned, crossed her arms and demanded in a rapid staccato beat, “Haven’t ya done enough for tha Cause? Can’t he leave ya alone for a while? I’m ‘bout ready to declare war on the gov’ment if’n he don’t leave us alone.”

I had to smile at her onslaught, which was the wrong thing to do, because she stamped her foot and added, “I mean it Jim.”

I glanced down at the floor, got a hang dog look on my face and acknowledged truthfully, “I hate it just as much as ya do, but I promise to get back as soon as I can.”

She lost some of her bluster, but she still wore a frown and glared at me, which seemed to make her deep brown eyes flare to life.

I added, “Darlin, ya don’t need to get so worked up during this time cause it might hurt little Jamie Lee some way.”

This statement caught Daphne by surprise. She hadn’t thought about our incubating baby, and almost immediately, she let out a sigh and said, “Ya’re right. I have to think about her right now.”

Her whole mien changed as if another entity took control of her senses. She quit frowning and, looking reflectively at me, stated, “Thank ya for getting me to remember my duty to our child.”

It was all I could do to keep from crying. I just nodded and croaked, “I love ya Daphne. Thank ya …”

I couldn’t finish. So I took her in my arms and fought back the tears that wanted to spill down my checks. Somehow I was able to staunch the flow.

Daphne wrapped her arms around me, but didn’t squeeze too hard. She sobbed and declared, “I love ya too Jim. So very much.”

It took a few moments to regain control of my emotions.  When I had, I released my hold on her and she released her grip on me. We moved back so we could see each other’s face. She had her phantom handkerchief and was dabbing her eyes.

I pulled her to me and kissed her fiercely. She responded in like manner. It seemed as if each of us poured passion, love and adoration into each other during our prolonged embrace.

We broke from the melding of our spirits and looked at each other in a new light. It seemed as if we were now united on a deeper plane than just the physical plane.

We smiled at each other with a joy that was akin to a kind of mental rapture.

Daphne said, “I’ll be praying for ya.”

I put my left hand on Daphne’s shoulder and my right hand where our baby was located and vowed, “I will complete this mission and get back to my family quickly.”

Turning , I walked toward the mansion’s back door.


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Civil War Transcendence, part 448

We all retired to the parlor after dinner, and each of us told what had been happening during the last few months. I purposely left out a lot of military information.

We finally broke up about 9:00 pm. The Newcomers went upstairs to Willie’s room. Willie was relegated to sleeping in his mother’s room.

I told Daphne that I needed to speak with John Lee and went to the stables.

John Lee was working on a harness by lantern light when I encountered him at the end of the stable. He looked up and smiled.

I pulled up a bale of hay and sat down. He continued to work on the leather goods and didn’t say a word.

Finally, I said, “I’m gonna be leaving tomorrow night. I would greatly appreciate it if ya would have Stonewall ready to go with enough food for four days and a bag of oats.”

He looked up, and I could tell he knew something special was going on, because he had a very serious look on his face.

I continued, “I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I want ya to take care of Daphne and our daughter no matter what.”

He took a big gulp of air and nodded gravely at my request.

I reached my right hand to him, and he took it in his right hand.

Then I said, “Ya and Al are tha best friends I have. Thank ya for all ya’ve done for us. I hope I have returned that devotion in kind, but, if I haven’t, I apologize. I just wanted to let ya know I think of ya as part of our family.”

John Lee looked surprised at first, but then he gripped my hand, and we shook hands.

I got up, put the hay bale back in its proper place and walked out of the stable.

Stonewall must have been dead to the world because he didn’t whinny once while I was in the stable.

The next morning, we had a big breakfast and said our good-byes to the Newcomers.  They left for Halltown about 10:30am.

After they left, I went to the stables and let Stonewall out of his stall and gave him free rein of the area. Then I spent the rest of the morning and the early part of the afternoon in the stables, loading cartridge cylinders for my Colts. I had about eight of them completed before 2:00 pm.

I was feeling butterflies in my stomach because of the fateful mission on which we were about to embark.  I knew that Daphne would be able to pick up on my sense of trepidation. So I stayed away from her as much as possible.

Luck was with me because Daphne, Annie and Mrs. Douglas were deep in their final planning stages of our move to the cottage in Shepherdstown. They were ensconced in the left parlor and making out their lists of things to carry to the cottage. Lord only knows when this great exodus was slated to take place.

I walked around the grounds, with Stonewall following close behind, and looked at all the trees, which were just starting to show buds. A few flowers had bloomed and were brilliantly displayed for our pleasure.

Once we got back at the stables, I turned to Stonewall. He stepped forward and put his head against my chest. I began to rub and massage his jaws. When he went into his meditative trance, I said, “We’re going on a very important mission tonight. I don’t know how it’ll turn out. We both could be killed.”

Stonewall snorted his understanding and gently nudged me with his head.

I continued, “I never have had tha privilege of tha rapport we have shared before, and I just wanted ya to know I couldn’t have accomplished any of tha missions I was given if it hadn’t been for ya.”

Stonewall nudged me again with his head. In response I moved to his side, wrapped my arms around his neck and hugged him.

He whinnied and moved his head up and down.

I grinned and let him go. Then I said, “Well, it won’t be long before John Lee will saddle ya up and we’ll be on our way. So get as much rest as ya can.”

Stonewall snorted, turned, walked down to his stall and entered.

I grinned and walked to the back of Ferry Hill. Once at the back door, I took a deep breath and entered.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 447

We had a family reconciliation with Mr. and Mrs. Newcomer. I had never seen Mr. Newcomer as friendly toward me as he was during our reunion. Unfortunately, I am a skeptical person. Although I presented a friendly façade to the couple, I still had my doubts regarding their intentions.

Anyway, we talked and shared what we had being doing since leaving their home due to the warning at gunpoint that Daphne issued to Mr. Newcomer and his subsequent order to leave forever.

The big question I had was, “Where is Ahab?”

I counted him as one of the last dangerous enemies to Daphne and me. When I finally got the conversation around to asking Mr. Newcomer about him, Mr. Newcomer immediately looked at Mrs. Newcomer. She got a really angry look on her face, but didn’t say anything.

Mr. Newcomer bowed his head, cleared his throat, looked up at me and said, “He’s gone.”

I got a confused look on my face and looked at Daphne. She said gently, “Poppa, what do ya mean?”

Mr. Newcomer looked at her and explained, “He tied us up and gagged us, took all tha money we had in tha house from our secret places, which he had learned about over tha years, and took off.”

“What do ya mean, took off?” Daphne probed.

“He robbed us and then he and Bessie stole two horses from tha stables. They took off and we nor anyone else has seen hide nor hair of ‘em since,” Mr. Newcomer revealed.

I asked, “When did this take place?”

“I ’spect ‘bout a week ago,” Mr. Newcomer said.

“Was there anything that ya think could have caused him to do what he did?” I probed.

Mr. Newcomer bowed his head in thought and after a few seconds looked at me and disclosed, “Not really.” He got a confused look on his face and said, “But, it was right after we got word that Elias Throckmorton had been taken into custody for being a Yankee spy that all this happened.”

My eyes opened as wide as saucers. I looked at Daphne. She had the same surprised expression on her face.

Looking back at Mr. Newcomer, I asked, “Did Ahab ever have any meetings with Sheriff Gill or Elias Throckmorton that ya know of?”

Mr. Newcomer looked at the ceiling for a long time. Then he looked at me and  answered, “He was rarely away from tha mansion except on family business, but he often went to town by himself. I guess he could have met with ‘em there, but it don’t seem likely,”.

It was my turn to look at the ceiling and try to think when Ahab could have given information to Gill or Throckmorton that resulted in an attempt on Daphne or my life. One attempt came to mind, which was when we left Martinsburg and had the shootout with the two killers on our way back to the Newcomers home. Ahab had driven the carriage in which we traveled. However, he hadn’t participated in the gunfight. In fact he had helped in using the carriage team as a battering ram.

I looked at Mr. Newcomer and said, “I think ya had a spy in yar household that kept Sheriff Gill and, therefore, Elias Throckmorton appraised of Daphne and my movements.

Mr. Newcomer’s shocked reaction wasn’t an act. He responded as if he had been hit by a bolt of lightning. His fell back on the divan and his eyes took on a glassy stare. Once he assimilated the information, his face registered a look of total devastation. He looked at Mrs. Newcomer, whose face also showed a look of despair.

Tears of anguish began to run down Mrs. Newcomer’s cheeks. She put her hand on Mr. Newcomer’s arm and sobbed, “Oh, Horus.”

Mr. Newcomer put his hand over his wife’s and hung his head. When he raised his head, tears flowed down his cheeks. Looking at Daphne, he stammered, “I…I…I’ve been such a fool. Can ya ever forgive me?”

Daphne bolted out of her seat toward Mr. Newcomer. He stood up and took Daphne in his arms. They both shook with the release of emotions, which disintegrated the wall erected between them. Mrs. Newcomer stood and was welcomed into the family hug.

After a few moments I stood and smiled at the creation of a new family right before my eyes that was based on love and respect.

The three released themselves from the family hug and began to smile and then laugh at the wonder of this total injection of love into their family relationship.

Mr. Newcomer turned and walked toward me. He extended his hand and stuttered, “I…I’m truly sorry for all I have cause ya and Daphne. I won’t blame ya if ya don’t wanna shake.”

I laughed and hugged him, which led to another family hug, except this time there were four participants instead of three. We all laughed and cried together.

Mrs. Douglas, who must have been listening at the door to the parlor, entered with tears running down her cheeks and said, “Praise God!”

This brought a lot of “amens,” from us.

Each of the Newcomers took turns hugging Mrs. Douglas and expressing how much they appreciated her taking care of Daphne and me.

Then Mrs. Douglas said, “Let’s all retire to tha dining room. Dinner is already on the table.”

Everyone filed out to tha parlor with a new lease on life and headed to the dining room.


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Civil War Transcendence, part 446

Both men’s eyes got as big as saucers. They looked at each other and then back at me. The quizzical expression on their faces asked for more information.

I held up my hands with my palms outward and said, “That’s all I can tell ya at tha present time, but let me add that this mission really could change history.”

I let the importance of our task sink in and then I added, “We are going to be riding down tha C & O Canal path toward Washington City. Thar are seven Union check points along tha path that we will have to either go-around or bluff our way through. To allay suspicion we can’t be armed to tha teeth. So, only bring two pistols and four extra loaded cylinders.”

I stopped to let them register what I said. Then I began again, “We have to perform tha destruction during tha night. Since tha White House is next to tha Treasury, we’re gonna kidnap Lincoln and let him watch his Treasury building burn down.”

I took a deep breath and continued, “Tha distance from across tha Potomac here at Shepherdstown to Georgetown is about 75 miles. I want to start tha journey at night and end it at night, so we’ll leave tomorrow night and head south. I figure it will take us three nights of travel ‘cause we’re gonna hide during the day. As far as food, bring enough food for three days. I’ll fill y’all in with more information when we get on tha road. So let’s meet here tomorrow night at 8 ‘o’clock.”

The men were still in shock with the enormity of the mission and were still trying to process the information I had bestowed. Almost absentmindedly they nodded, rose from their seats like zombies and filed out.

I took a few moments to completely douse the fire in the fireplace and make sure all the windows were closed and locked. I took one more look at the interior of the schoolhouse. Being a teacher to the wonderful young men and women of the region had been one of the highlights of my life. I sighed and closed the door.

When I walked out on the porch, Stonewall was standing at the bottom of the porch steps looking at me. I climbed down the steps and walked over to him. He immediately placed his forehead against my chest, and I began our massage ritual.

Once he was in his meditative trance, I said, “I don’t know how this mission is gonna turn out. So, I wanted to say that it has been a privilege to know ya and for us to be pards. Ya have saved my life on numerous occasions, and I just wanted to thank ya for all ya’ve done for me.”

When I finished, Stonewall gently raised his head and, putting his mouth against my cheek, moved his lips in what I would describe as a kiss. Tears ran down my cheeks as I hugged his neck.  He whinnied in response.

I stood back and looked at him. It struck me, all of a sudden, that he was the epitome of the horse I had dreamed of riding when I was a kid and wanted to be a cowboy hero like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers or Hop-along Cassidy.

Stonewall made a sound that was what I would call a snicker.

I looked at him for a long moment. Then I put my foot in his left stirrup and mounted. All I said was, “Ferry Hill.”

He trotted out of the school yard and headed home.

When we got to the Ferry Hill stables, I found John Lee and gave Stonewall to him. As they were walking away, Stonewall looked back at me and snickered again. I don’t know what he was trying to tell me, but it was something I needed to understand.

I turned, walked to the backdoor and entered the famed mansion. There was some sort of merriment going on in the right parlor. I took off my coat and hung it on the hall coatrack. I decided to keep my pistols stuck in my belt.

As I walked into the parlor, I came to an abrupt halt.

Mr. Newcomer and Mrs. Newcomer were sitting on the two-seat divan with cups in their hands. Daphne rose from a chair opposite her parents, set down her cup on a small table, and came to me.

“Jim, Momma and Poppa came to see us. They heard they were gonna be grandparents and wanted to see us,” she explained.

I looked at her and nodded, but I was glad that I hadn’t left my pistols in the hall.

Mr. Newcomer rose from his chair, looked at Daphne and me, and awkwardly stammered, “I wanna apologize for all tha trouble I’ve caused Daphne and ya. I was wrong and I, ah….”

Running out of things to say, he looked back at Mrs. Newcomer for guidance.

Mrs. Newcomer took up where he left off and said, “We’re sorry for how we have treated ya. Please accept our heartfelt apology.”

I smiled at the couple and nodded my acceptance.

They both smiled.

I looked at Daphne and she let out a breath she had been holding and smiled also.


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Civil War Transcendence, part 445

After my rather ominous warnings and the requirement of the mission’s acceptance without further specifics, both men looked at each other in stunned silence. Then they looked at me as if to say, “Are you serious?”

I looked at both men in turn with a very stern expression. I could see they understood I was telling the truth about the danger and the various mission scenarios that could occur.

Lieutenant Kirkland was the first to give voice to his answer. He chuckled and remarked, “Well, it beats having to fill out daily reports and take troops on patrol.”

Caleb looked from Kirkland to me and said, “I don’t think that I could leave Momma right now. Joshua is just now recovering from tha beating he took, and she needs me to help with tha farming. If I didn’t have such responsibilities, I would jump at tha chance. Sorry, Jim.”

I said with a smile, “Don’t be apologizing. I understand completely. Ya are needed by yar family, and they come first. Take care and give my love to Ma Throckmorton and Joshua.”

I stood and so did Caleb. We shook hands and he left.

I looked at Kirkland and said, “Well, I guess it’s up to us to do this.”

He grinned and was just about to answer when the door to the schoolhouse opened and in walked Al Madigan.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. I had such a surprised look on my face that Al actually laughed. Then he said, “Jim, I don’t know what yar up to, but I could tell that me and Hattie getting hitched caused ya to forego whatever ya had come to talk about. So ya can count me in on whatever it is.”

I was at a loss for words, but I recovered quickly and said, “Al, if’n I got ya killed before ya married Hattie, she’d probably shoot me on sight.”

“Naw she wouldn’t. I talked it over with her and she knows something important is brewing or else ya wouldn’t have come to see me,” he declared. “So ya better let me in on it because I got her talked into jining ya right now, but if’n I went back to her tonite, she’d never let me leave until we met tha preacher.”

I grinned, and we heartily shook hands.

Al sat down, and I gave him the same warnings and the “no specifics” speech that I gave Kirkland and Caleb. He whistled and said, “I knew it was big, but I didn’t figure it was that big. Yeah, ya can count me in.”

I looked at both men and said, “This is going to be a real strange mission, so before we go any further, there has to be two conditions.”

Both men looked at me with a questioning expression on their faces.

I declared, “Y’all can’t wear uniforms on this mission and we can’t address each other by our military designation. Which means that if’n we are caught, we are on our own and we will be treated as spies.”

Kirkland nodded and said, “I kinda thought it would be something like that.”

Al just nodded and smiled.

I nodded at their acceptance of the conditions of the mission and stated, “Well, we’re gonna burn down tha Treasury building in Washington City.”

Both men looked at me as if I was crazy. Kirkland was the first to speak, “How is burning down tha Treasury Building gonna end tha War?”

Both men looked at me for a plausible explanation.

I grinned and said, “Because of what kind of fire we use to burn down tha building and who is going to be witnessing its destruction.”

The men’s brows furrowed in bewilderment.

I smiled and said, “Ole Abe is gonna witness tha destruction, and tha source of tha fire is something that hasn’t been seen on this Earth for almost two thousand years.”





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Civil War Transcendence, part 444

Kirkland and I both jumped when Caleb barged through the front door of the schoolhouse.

I came out of my chair into a crouch with a Colt in my right hand. The Lieutenant tried to get out of his confining desk, but was ensconced so completely that he finally stopped struggling and looked to see who had entered.

Caleb halted his forward progress when he saw what his entrance had caused and raised his hands.

I stood up, put away my pistol and said, “Hello, Caleb. Sorry for tha fearsome welcome.”

He grinned and lowered his hands.

I pointed at Lt. Kirkland and said, “Meet Lieutenant Richard Kirkland.”

I turned to Lt. Kirkland and said, “Meet Caleb Throckmorton.”

Kirkland was finally able to extricate himself from the school desk, walk over to Caleb and shake his hand.

I walked to Caleb and remarked, “I guess ya heard about yar uncle?”

Caleb looked at the floor and nodded.

I added, “I’m sorry it had to be me to discover his spying activity.”

Caleb looked up and said, “I’m glad it was ya that uncovered his treason. He caused ya enough trouble to last a lifetime, plus he was indirectly responsible for my father’s death. Momma was shocked when we heard tha news, but once she got to thinking about it, she remembered a few incidences over tha last few years that seemed really odd. I don’t know if ya knew it or not, but Dad and he were never really close.”

I nodded and remarked, “He’s in custody at tha Martinsburg Garrison. I dare say that he’ll be transferred to Harpers Ferry in tha near future for trial by tha military. To be truthful, I believe he will be found guilty, and either hung or shot by firing squad.”

Caleb nodded and said in a low voice, “I expected as much.”

To break the somber mood, I said, “Why don’t we sit down?  I want to talk to y’all about a mission.”

I brought my chair closer to the fireplace and motioned to Kirkland that he should sit there. I took over Kirkland’s desk, and Caleb pulled up a desk for himself.

Once we were all seated in a semi-circle in front of the fireplace, I sat in the middle with my head bowed. Finally after about thirty seconds, I looked up and said, “I really don’t know where to start.”

The men looked at me apprehensively, but didn’t say a word. So I began, “This is a very secret mission. In fact, most of tha chief military leaders don’t know anything about it.”

The men gave me looks of shock and confusion.

I hurried on, “I need to tell ya that this mission could end up being a complete failure and getting all of us killed. Or, it could be successful and mean tha end of tha War and our Country’s Liberty. Those are tha two extremes with a lot of variable results that could also occur based upon random circumstances. I have gathered y’all together because I trust ya. But I have to know if ya will volunteer without me going any farther in explanation, because tha specific facts can’t be disclosed without yar agreeing to participate in tha mission.”

I quit talking and waited for their responses.




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Civil War Transcendence, part 443

Lieutenant Kirkland looked at me for a long time and then said, “It must be dangerous.”

“Very,” I retorted.

He smiled and said, “Sounds promising.”

I didn’t smile when I remarked, “We’ll see. Ya might change yar mind once ya understand tha mission.”

The Lieutenant raised his eyebrows and stared at me intently. Then he inquired, “What are we waiting for?”

“Our third member,” I answered. Before he could interrogate me further, I added, “He should be here by late afternoon.”

The Lieutenant nodded.

“Why don’t we go down into town to wait?” I suggested.

“That sounds good.”

The Lieutenant got his horse, and we walked around the house to the stables. Once we entered the building, John Lee got up and walked toward us. He and Lt. Kirkland began to walk Kirkland’s horse to the end of the barn to procure feed and water for the animal.

I walked to Stonewall’s stall and said, “I need ya for an important mission.”

I didn’t hear a sound from the enclosure so I added, “I mean it.”

Not a sound came from the stall so I played my last card and said, “Alright, I’ll take Miss Dixie Belle instead.”

This definitely provoked a response. First a loud whinny erupted from the depths of the stall, which was followed by Stonewall butting the upper stall door open with his head. He moved to where his head was jutting out of the door opening and fixed me with what I would describe as an ears-laid back angry stare. Then he let out a disapproving snort and shook his head from side to side.

I smiled and disclosed, “I want ya in on this from tha start. We won’t be doing too much today, but we will be in tha near future.”

Stonewall nodded his head, and I administered his usual massage. He went into his meditative trance. I happened to turn and see John Lee and Lt. Kirkland standing stock still and looking at us as if we had grown two heads. They must have returned and witnessed some, if not all, my conversation with Stonewall.

There wasn’t much I could say, so I just smiled and remarked, “It isn’t what it seems.”

John Lee just shook his head and put Kirkland’s horse in a stall. Then he distributed oats and hay in a feed trough for the cayuse. Kirkland continued to watch Stonewall and me for a while. Then he said, “Y’all really have a rapport that is amazing.”

I answered, “Yes, we do. I don’t know how we connected, but we did.”

I turned to John Lee and asked, “Has Stonewall been watered and fed?”

John Lee answered, “He was watered and fed when he came back.”

I nodded and began to saddle Stonewall. While clinching the saddle, Stonewall turned his head back toward me and nipped me on my rear. I jumped and Stonewall let out what I would call a horse laugh. I put my hands on my hips and gave him a disgusted look, but this only resulted in another horse laugh. Suddenly John Lee began to laugh.

I turned to look at him and asked, “Did ya see what he did?”

John Lee nodded and kept on laughing. Finally, I caught the humor in the incident and began to laugh also. Kirkland, who was in the stall with his horse, came out to see what all the laughter was about. When he saw each of us laughing in his own way, he just shook his head and went back in the stall with Rowdy, his horse.

Once we got back to normal, Kirkland and I rode to my old schoolhouse in Shepherdstown. We dismounted, and after he tied Rowdy’s reins to a tree, we entered the old one room seat of education for this small burg. There was still some wood on the fireplace hearth, so we utilized it to make a fire in the fireplace. Thirty minutes later we had the building warm as toast.

Finally, Lt. Kirkland asked, “When are ya gonna tell me what this is all about?”

I rejoined, “As soon as our third member is here. I don’t want to repeat myself. So we’re gonna wait on him before I spill tha beans.”

Kirkland shrugged, pulled one of the desks closer to the fire, sat down and dozed off.

I smiled, sat at my old teacher’s desk, and in a few moments, I was in the Land of Nod myself.

It seemed as if just a few moments had passed before the front door of the schoolhouse opened.

Caleb Throckmorton walked in.


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Civil War Transcendence, part 442

The next morning, Daphne and I, plus Tom and Lt. Pelham, sent the four young Iadies on their journey to Staunton. It seems that Tom and Lt. Pelham were very taken with the two ladies they spent time with at last night’s dinner. Addresses were exchanged and promises of visits were vowed. The ladies’ carriage and additional wagon of luggage left Ferry Hill about 9:00 am.

After the ladies were on their merry way, I sent a courier to fetch Caleb from the Throckmorton farm on River Road.

During the rest of the morning, Daphne and I spent time together in the parlor. We participated in a game of sorts. Entering the left parlor, which also acted as a home library, each of us chose a poetry book we enjoyed. Then we sat on the two- person sofa and took turns reading our favorite passages to each other.

My initial reading was Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee”. Daphne’s was Part 1 of “The Lady of Shalott” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. It proved to be a very wonderful and restful morning entertainment.

At 12:30 pm, Anna announced that lunch was ready, and we went into the dining room. Mrs. Douglas, who had left about 9:30 am for the Shepherdstown market to procure food stuffs for the household, had returned. Willie had accompanied her and was allowed to seat on the carriage driver’s seat with John Lee and manage the carriage horses, but with John Lee’s able assistance.

Anna and the servant ladies joined us, and we had a good discussion about the four young ladies who stayed at Ferry Hill on their way to Staunton. By this time, everyone was accustomed to speaking their minds without any worry about repercussions. I glanced at Daphne when Anna described the way one of the young ladies was always in a tizzy. She was smiling and nodding her head in agreement. I happened to add, “Where I come from, tha lady would be known as a ‘Drama Queen’.”

Everyone at the table looked at me for a long moment. I guess they were thinking about the 21st century jargon I had laid on ‘em. Finally, Daphne said, “Ya know, Jim, ya never cease to amaze me with some of yar vernacular.”

Mrs. Douglas added, “That’s tha truth. Sometimes yar speech seems to come from another age.”

I just smiled at the ladies’ assessments and thought, “Y’all don’t know tha half of it.”

After lunch Daphne, Mrs. Douglas, Anna and the servant ladies went into another of their close-door conferences dealing with our move to the cottage in town.

I meandered to the stables and saw John Lee at the other end of the stable. He waved at me, and I walked to where he was working on a harness for the carriage team. As I got close to him, I heard a familiar whinny. I opened the top door to Stonewall’s stall, and my faithful steed stuck his head out. I immediately started rubbing his forehead, nose and ears. He instantly went into his meditative state.

I looked at John Lee and asked, “When did ya get ‘im back?”

John Lee answered, “We got ‘im back just ‘bout an hour ago. He mated with tha mare that we hoped he would. If’n tha mating takes, then tha mare should have a foal in about a year.”

Looking over what I could see of Stonewall’s body, I announced, “Well, he doesn’t look any tha worse for wear.”

John Lee chuckled and said, “Ya should have seen ‘im when he got back. He was plum worn out. I ‘spect that filly put ‘im through his paces.”

I started laughing, and John Lee joined in. We raised such a ruckus that Stonewall came out of his trance and looked at each of us in turn. I think he knew we were laughing at his expense, because he did something that I had never seen him do. There was a small rope nailed to the inside of the upper door of his stall. He backed deeper in his stall, grasped the rope in his teeth and pulled the upper door shut. Then he whinnied what seemed a reproachful answer to our laughter.

John Lee and I looked at each other and raised our eyebrows. Stonewall’s intelligence never ceased to amaze me.

I went back to the house just in time to see Lt. Kirkland ride into the lane leading to the house. Once he was near the front door, he dismounted and tied his horse to the ring in a statute by the front porch. I hastened to him and he saluted, which I returned. Then we shook hands.

Never one to bandy words, he immediately asked, “What’s so urgent that ya wanted me here today?”

I smiled and retorted, “In good time Lieutenant, in good time.”




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Civil War Transcendence, part 441

By the time I got back to Ferry Hill by way of the hidden path it was just about 9:00 pm, which is the time I had told John Lee I would return. I dismounted Miss Dixie Belle at the back of the mansion. By this time I had shortened her name to Dixie for convenience sake, and gave her reins to John Lee.

He asked, “How did she do?”

I smiled and said, “Just great. I really enjoyed her company.”

John Lee smiled and Dixie nudged me gently with her nose before she was led into the stables.

I walked to the backdoor of the mansion and entered. There was some kind of affair going on in the parlor. As I approached the large room, I heard a familiar voice say, “We just got back from Nawth Carolina and was it a real show.”

I hurried to the parlor door, stopped and surveyed Daphne’s oldest brother, Tom, surrounded by four young ladies, Daphne, Mrs. Douglas, Willie Douglas and Lieutenant Pelham. I felt such joy at seeing the familiar faces, and I could see the two Lieutenants were overjoyed to congregate with the four rather beautiful young ladies. How Daphne got the four young ladies assembled in such a short period to meet her brother and Lt. Pelham was another of her social engineering feats.

Tom happened to turn and see me in the doorway and hurried forward. We shook hands and then hugged like long lost brothers. Lt. Pelham advanced and we shook hands also. We all moved to the rest of the gathering. Daphne suddenly was in my arms and we hugged. Then she introduced the four ladies who were in her tutoring classes back in Philadelphia. They were staying the night and then moving on to Staunton, Virginia in the morning. I also greeted Mrs. Douglas with a hug and shook Willie’s hand.

Anna entered the room and announced, “Dinner is served.”

We all moved to the dining room and were seated for a formal evening meal. As usual, the conversation was on the war and its effect on the populace and the army. Tom and Lt. Pelham were a part of the cavalry unit that had been assigned to General Jeb Stuart’s corps. They hadn’t been in any real fighting yet, but it seemed that Burnside was going to move toward Atlanta any day now.

After the War news was discussed, the two officers revealed they were here on a short leave. Tom had invited Lt. Pelham to spend his leave here in northern Virginia, and Pelham had accepted. By the attention that the blonde, long-haired young lady sitting next to Pelham was paying to him, I don’t think he regretted his decision. Plus, Tom was having a great time wooing a beautiful, red-headed petite young lady, who was playing a coquettish game with him.

After dinner, the party moved to the parlor and partook of some light brandy aperitifs. At about 11:00pm the party broke up with the young ladies retiring to two bedrooms upstairs. The Lieutenants returned to the Confederate camp near the Potomac Bridge. Mrs. Douglas and Willie retired to Mrs. Douglas’ bedroom upstairs. Daphne and I occupied the parlor for the night.

Once we had closed the door to the hallway, we undressed and got into our night clothes. Then Daphne came to me and treated me to one of her rib-crusting hugs. After a few seconds, I picked her up and carried her to the large chaise lounge, which was our bed for the night. She giggled the whole way. Lying her down on the comfortable couch, I snuggled in next to her and we pulled the blankets up to protect against the night chill.

We faced each other, and she suddenly wrapped her arms around my neck and said fervently, “I love ya so much. Thank ya for being my husband.”

I was so overcome by emotion that I couldn’t reply immediately. I just pulled her to me and we melted into each other so deeply that we could feel each other’s heartbeat.

Finally, I was able to say, “Ya are my precious wife and my reason for living. I am still in awe that ya married me. I love ya with all my heart.”

We both lay there in each other’s grasp for what seemed like an eternity of joy.

Finally, Daphne said, “I always thought it would be rather naughty, but enjoyable to initiate a chaise lounge into a conjugal bed.”

I replied, “My thoughts exactly.”

She giggled, and we blew out the candles on the table behind the chaise lounge.


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Civil War Transcendence, part 440

The Elves left the conference by suddenly disappearing.

Jim shook his head and muttered, “I could really use that disappearing act of theirs. Wish I had the ability.”

Leaving the schoolhouse, Jim called to Miss Dixie Belle. She trotted over to him. He patted her neck, mounted and gave a clicking noise. She began a smooth forward trot, and Jim directed her toward the telegraph office using only his knees.

Once at the front of the telegraph office, Jim dismounted and opened the door. The cavalry telegraph operator, whom Jim had never seen before, looked up, saw Jim, immediately stood and saluted.

Jim returned the salute and asked, “Ya know where Lt. Kirkland is?”

The telegraph operator answered, “Sir, I understand he’s in Harpers Ferry.”

Jim nodded and said, “Please send him a request to come to Shepherdstown as quickly as possible.”

The telegraph operator nodded, sat down and immediately began to send the message. Once it was sent, an almost immediate response indicated he would be on the road tomorrow.

Jim grinned and stated, “Lt. Kirkland must have had tha outpost duty today.” Nodding to the telegraph operator, he said, “Thank ya for yar assistance.”

He left the 19th century’s answer to a telephone and mounted Miss Dixie Belle. Jim directed her to Hattie’s place.

Riding into the yard in front of Hattie’s kitchen, Jim saw Al’s horse tied up to the front porch. Dismounting, Jim gently rubbed Miss Dixie Belle’s nose and forehead. Then he mounted the porch steps and entered the house.

Al and Hattie were sitting at the dining room table drinking coffee and gawking at each other like two love-sick turtle doves.

Jim couldn’t help smiling at the two and was really glad they had grown so close to each other so quickly. The two friends looked up at Jim without the least bit of embarrassment and smiled.

Hattie pointed to the cups and the coffee pot on the hearth and said, “Why don’t ya join us?”

Jim nodded back and said, “Don’t mind if I do.”

Once Jim had poured some coffee in a tin cup, he sat down next to Al and took a sip of the hot savory liquid.

Al inquired, “What’s up?”

Jim smiled and remarked, “Y’all sure have hit it off big time.”

Al smiled and Hattie grinned sheepishly. Then Al uttered in quick succession, “We’re gonna be married. Ya wanna be my best man?”

Jim sat up straight, grinned from ear-to-ear and returned, “Well congratulations y’all”.

Turning to Al, he said, “I would be honored to be yar best man.”

Jim shook Al’s hand and kissed Hattie on the cheek.  Suddenly a jug of hard cider appeared and the three close friends drank a toast to the coming wedding.

After a few drafts, the couple sat down and faced Jim across the dining room table. Jim broached the next logical question, “When y’all going to tie tha knot?”

Hattie piped up, “Two weeks from Sunday at the Lutheran Church.”

Jim nodded and said, “Wonderful. Well, I just dropped by to see ya, since I ain’t seen ya for a while. I ‘spect I better get on tha way and spread tha wonderful news to tha folks at Ferry Hill.”

Hattie and Al walked Jim to the door and waved goodbye as he rode off on Miss Dixie Belle.

Jim muttered to himself, “Now who can I get to ride with us?” Almost immediately Caleb Throckmorton’s name popped in his mind. Jim nodded his head and said, “Yes, he’ll do. I need to contact him as soon as I can.”




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