Civil War Transcendence, part 156

All of us ducked and I even hit the dirt like an infantryman being shot at by a sniper, who undoubtedly had taken the marshal out. Apparently, he was considered a weak link, and I don’t mean on the internet.

No more shots rang out, so we gingerly got to our feet. I went over to the body and rolled it over. The marshal had a perfectly round hole in the center of his forehead, without an exit wound. I considered that for a moment. It meant either the shot came from a large caliber weapon, but was so far away that it didn’t have enough force to totally penetrate the skull, or the weapon had been of such a small caliber that it didn’t have enough inertia to exit the back of the skull.

I asked Jonah if he remembered which direction the marshal was facing when he was killed. Jonah thought for a moment and said the marshal had been facing south. I then requested the men to hold up the corpse and face him south. I found a small stick and barely put it in the wound. It showed an upward slant, and as we all looked south, there appeared to be a line of trees behind a row of houses about 350 yards away. I believed the shot had come from a sharpshooter sitting in one of the distant trees using a Whitworth rifle, which could be equipped with a scope and was a favorite rifle for this type of assassination.

156 sharpshooterI removed the stick and asked the men to please carry the body to the mortician. I could see that my utilization of the stick had made a few of the men queasy. Each of them gulped a few times and began to transport the body across the street to the mortuary.

This left Mr. Throckmorton and me standing in the middle of the road, facing a fast-gathering crowd. Everyone was asking what had happened and who had shot the marshal. Luckily, Mr. Throckmorton took control and explained that all the information would be forthcoming at a public meeting that he was going to call tonight. Seeing the Methodist minister in the crowd, Mr. Throckmorton got an approval to hold the meeting in the Methodist Church.

I had wandered to the south, away from the crowd and, once at the livery stable, I stopped and continued to look at the supposed position of the assassin. I kept asking myself, “Now who could have pulled off that kind of shot in this day and time?”

About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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