I let out a long sigh and exclaimed, “Oh Lord, where can he be?” I took my feet out of the stirrups and slid off Goliath. I was too tired to attempt the standard dismount.

The Lieutenant was still on his horse so I asked him, “Please go down to the bank and ask if they have seen Mr. Black today. I’ll stay here just in case he comes back.”

overturned chairThe Lieutenant looked at me with a troubled look and asked, “Are you alright?”

I grinned and answered, “I’m pretty tired, but I’ll be fine.”

The Lieutenant nodded his head and trotted down to the bank. He looked back at me once to see if I was still standing. I had walked over to the telegraph office and looked through the small window into the interior of building. I was startled that a chair was overturned, and it looked as if a lantern was on the floor with the outer glass case smashed.

I immediately yelled at Pelham, “Lieutenant, never mind the bank, come back here and help me.”

The Lieutenant must have thought I was about to collapse, because he turned his horse around and galloped back to where I was standing. Bringing his mount to an abrupt stop he dismounted and demanded, “What’s wrong? Are you hurt?”

“It’s not me. I think something has happened to Mr. Black. Help me get this door open.”
We both put our shoulders to the door and forced it open. On entering I could see all the way to the rear of the office. In addition to the disarray I saw from the window, the box that normally held the telegraph was broken and the telegraph was missing.

I advanced into the room. There was blood on the floor, and the desk was pushed out of its normal position. Mr. Black must have put up a fight before being overcome.

There was a door at the back of the office. The Lieutenant was still looking around the room and taking in all the disorder, so I walked to the back door and opened it. Mr. Black lay just to the right of the door. There was blood on his head and face. I hollered at Pelham, “Lieutenant, come quick!”

I felt for a pulse, but there was none. The Lieutenant looked down at Mr. Black and asked, “Who’s that?”

“The telegraph operator,” I informed him. “Well, Lieutenant, how far is Martinsburg?”

“About 10 miles,” he replied. “I guess you’ll need to send a rider to the Martinsburg Garrison and have that message send to Richmond.”

“We seem to have a traitor in our midst,” I postulated.

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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