Civil War Transcendence, part 429

 

I fired my Colt into the floor between Eldredge’s feet. He jumped about a foot, screamed, and threw up his hands in front of his face. He remained in that position for a while and then began to cry. He opened his eyes and looked at me like I was the devil incarnate. Between sobs he pleaded, “Please don’t shoot me. I’ll tell ya everything. I promise. Don’t shoot me.’

I wasn’t the least bit moved by his performance. I reasoned that the spy ring with which he was affiliated was responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of our soldiers, as well as causing civilian casualties.

Without a preamble I demanded, “How about telling me how long Throckmorton has been a spy for the Union?”

Eldredge batted his eyes and said, “I don’t really know.”

I cocked and fired my pistol again only this time I came a little closer to his right foot.

Eldredge screamed again and yelled, “Sometime in 1859.”

I gave him a look of sheer revulsion and asked, “When did ya join ‘im?”

He hesitated, and I cocked my Colt.

He put his hands up in front of his body and quickly answered, “In 1859.”

“So y’all were in cahoots before the war,” I stated.

Eldredge lowered his head and looked at the floor.

“Where are ya originally from?” I challenged.

Without looking up, he said in a low voice, “Ohio.”

Changing the subject quickly, I rasped, “Who does Throckmorton get his orders from?”

Eldredge looked up and saw that I had the Colt pointed at his chest. He began to cry again and said between snivels, “At first it was tha Colonel over in Boonsboro. Then it was Captain Devlin, but now I don’t know who it is. Don’t shoot me. I promise that I don’t know who it is.”

“When does he get his orders, and how are they delivered to him?” I rejoined.

“He gets ‘em different ways. Sometimes it’s a customer that comes in and gives me papers along with a deposit or withdrawal. I take ‘em to him and he tells us what to do,” Eldredge divulged.

“Who has brought him orders like that in tha past?” I demanded.

He looked at me pleadingly and said, “If’n I tell ya, he’ll have me killed.”

I leaned forward and said, “Al, when was it that Eldredge was shot, trying to escape?”

“Oh, any minute now,” Al answered.

Eldredge’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head. He gasped for breath and then stuttered, “It was three men. One was Mr. Mills from Keedysville. Another was Mr. Kirby from Sharpsburg. I remember another was Mr. Hawks.”

The last name made Al and I look at each other in surprise.

Standing up and looking down on Eldredge, I asked with gritted teeth, “What other ways did he get orders from tha Yanks?”

Eldredge looked up at me in horror. He shrank down in his seat and put up his hands as if to ward me off.

“How?” I roared.

“Sometimes he got messages delivered to his home late at night,” Eldredge revealed.

“What operations did he carry out with Marshal Gill from Harpers Ferry and Marshal Wells from Kearneysville,” I bellowed.

“Well, he, ah, let tha Yank cavalry know when Miss Newcomer was out riding,” he confessed.

In a sarcastic voice, I yelled, “Is that all?”

“No, he gave information about tha best time to raid and burn tha town; where to find and attack ya after tha school dance; when to dynamite tha Potomac Bridge; and when ya crossed tha Potomac and headed into Maryland,” he disclosed.

“He also employed tha sharpshooter that killed Marshal Wells; took a potshot at me; and wounded Major Mosby, didn’t he?” I shouted.

Eldredge hid his head in his hands and nodded vigorously.

I felt the anger turn from raging hot to bitter cold. I stood up straight and looked down on the Yankee spy with an icy gaze.

Al must have been watching me closely and knew what that meant because he said in a low voice, “If’n ya kill ‘im, we’ll never find out all tha people that helped ‘em and where Throckmorton is likely to run to.”

I turned to look at Al. He looked me in the eyes and didn’t flinch.

Finally, I turned back, looked at Eldredge and said over my shoulder, as I began to walk toward the bank’s front door, “Ya keep him company. I’m gonna telegraph Mosby to come pick ‘im up.”

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Civil War Transcendence, part 428

 

I knew that Throckmorton was behind the local spy ring. His killers had tried to kill me, Daphne and my friends.  The ride-by shooting was the last straw.  I couldn’t allow this to go on. That was what led to the confrontation in the bank.

In prior confrontations, the perpetrators had been killed or gotten away. However, the difference this time was we had captured a viable local member of the spy ring, and he was ready to squeal. I wasn’t about to let him out of my sight. If I did, he would turn up deader’n a door nail, just like all the rest we had captured.

I kept aiming my Colt at Eldredge and ordered him, “Get in Throckmorton’s office and put your hands on his desk.”

Eldredge gave me a questioning look, but finally nodded and walked into Throckmorton’s windowless inter sanctum.  He put his hands on the banker’s desk. I immediately commanded, “Move your legs back and spread ‘em.”

The teller turned his head to look at me with a quizzical look.

I was sick and tired of this whole bunch of killers, snipers and sneaky spies, so I jammed my Colt into the back of Eldredge’s neck and yelled, “You heard me. Now do it.”

I have never seen a person react so quickly. Eldredge backed his legs up, which caused him to lean on the desk. However, he didn’t comply with the second item of my order so I kicked his right leg and yelled, “I said. Spread ‘em.”

Eldredge moved his legs further apart.  He now was off balance with most of his weight on his hands. I moved my Colt down to the middle of his back and cocked the hammer.

Eldredge began to tremble and pleaded, “Please don’t shoot me.”

“Why shouldn’t I?” I retorted.

Eldredge began to whimper just as Al walked in.

Al took one look at the situation and said, “Don’t do it Jim.”

Eldredge turned to look at Al. Then he looked at me with a hopefully expression and said, “Please listen to your companion.”

Al added, “Let me shoot him instead.”

Eldredge got a horrified look on his face, turned back to face the desk and began to cry.

I chuckled and said, “Al, keep a close eye on this bird.”

Al drew his pistol and said, “I got ‘im, Jim.”

I uncocked my Colt, stuck it in my belt and performed a quick search of Eldredge, which produced a small derringer in his vest pocket and a sheathed knife stuck in his belt, in the small of his back and underneath his vest.

I slapped Eldredge across the back of his head and said, “Sit down you slimy traitor.”

Eldredge ducked his head from the blow and pushed himself to a standing position. He looked at me with tears running down his face with an expectant expression. I gripped Eldredge’s cache with my left hand, pulled out my Colt with my right, pointed it at a chair and said, “Sit.”

Eldredge let out a sight of relief and sat down.

I sat on the edge of Throckmorton’s desk and threw Eldredge’s weapons on Throckmorton’s desk.  Pointing my Colt at Eldredge, I declared, “Quite a lot of armament for a bank teller. Don’t’ ya think?”

Eldredge gave a half-hearted smile and nodded.

I smiled back and, nodding slowly, declared in a sarcastic tone, “Now we’re gonna have a very in-depth conversation about what’s been going on around here over tha last eight months. Aren’t we?”

Eldredge looked at me with a fearful expression, but didn’t say anything.

I pulled the Colt’s trigger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 427

I walked over and hoisted myself into Stonewall’s saddle.

Lieutenant Kirkland and Al mounted their cayuses, also.  Al was still looking apprehensively in my direction. I know he thought I was coming down with some sort of illness.

I looked at him, smiled and said, “Al, I’m alright. Don’t be a mother hen.”

He grinned and retorted, “Ya never can tell when ya might get hurt again. For a time back there, I thought ya might have been shot and didn’t even know it.”

I chuckled and returned, “If’n I was hurt, I’d let ya know. If’n I didn’t, Daphne would whip me within an inch of my life.”

Al chuckled, and looking at Kirkland, said, “Lieutenant, don’t let the Capt’n fool ya. His wife would have my guts for garters if I let anything happen to him.”

Lieutenant Kirkland looked back and forth between Al and me. Finally, he shook his head and said, “Y’all definitely have a comradery in the Third Virginny Cavalry that is to be envied.”

I looked at the Lieutenant and added, “Ya are a part of tha Third now. Ya are our compatriot. We take care of our own.”

Kirkland grinned from ear to ear and said, “It’s a privilege to be in tha Third.”

I grinned and looked at both men. Then I got a serious look on my face and said, “I would like for us to visit Mr. Throckmorton at the bank.”

Suddenly the grin on Al’s face was replaced by a frown, and Kirkland looked at me with a questioning expression.

 

 

I turned Stonewall toward the bank, and we walked our horses to the largest brick edifice in Shepherdstown.

We dismounted and entered the bank. No bank patrons were present. However, the two tellers on duty looked up as we strolled in. Mr. Eldredge, the clerk that had opened my bank account, asked, “Is there some way I could help you gentlemen?”

“Yes, is Mr. Throckmorton in?” I asked.

“No suh. He left just before all tha shooting occurred at tha telegraph office,” Mr. Eldredge remarked.

“Know where he went?” I asked.

“He went out back and got on his horse.  I think he headed to his house,” answered Eldredge.

“Where does he live?” I inquired.

“Why do ya ask?” intoned Mr. Eldredge with an edge to his voice.

“What’s it to ya?” I retorted belligerently.

Mr. Eldredge had been standing behind one of the teller windows. My shocking rejoinder made him take a step backwards. However, he quickly recovered and stepped back to his original position as his haughty veneer returned.

I looked at Eldredge with as much disdain as I could muster and added, “In answer to yar question, we’ve come to clean out a nest of vipers.” Then I pulled out one of my Colts and pointed it at him.

Eldredge’s eyes widened, as he raised his hands and rasped, “They made me do it. They made me do it.”

I saw movement out of the corner of my eye as the other teller pulled a gun out of his belt. However, he didn’t have a chance to point it before he was blown off his feet and landed on his back. I turned and saw that Al had a smoking Colt in his hand.  I smiled and nodded. Al grinned and returned my nod.

I kept my pistol pointed at Eldredge and said, “Lieutenant Kirkland, I think ya better tell Major Mosby in Harpers Ferry that he is needed here as soon as possible.” I took a quick glance at Kirkland. His eyes were as big as saucers and his mouth was open so wide that it was the perfect trap for flies.

Finally, he stuttered, “Yes suh,” and exited the bank for the telegraph office.

I gestured with my pistol for Eldredge to back up, which he immediately performed.

Walking to the waist-high gate to the rear of the bank with my pistol still pointed at the teller, I said, “Al, why don’t cha close and lock the doors to the bank and put up the ‘Closed’ sign. When yar done, come join Mr. Eldredge and me in Mr. Throckmorton’s office. ”

Al said, “Sure nuff, Jim.”

 

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 426

 

A NOVELETTE OF TRAVEL BACK IN TIME

 

We rounded up the horse belonging to the killer that Al had just offed, along with the horse of the man that died on the river bank. That cayuse was temporarily lame. After we massaged the leg that it was favoring, he recovered quite rapidly.

We draped the killers’ bodies across the backs of their horses, and were just about to take them to town, when five Confederate troopers forded the Potomac and yelled at us to hold up. Once they came ashore, I saw that Lieutenant Kirkland was leading the contingent.

He and I had a great reunion, and I introduced him to Al. They seemed to hit it off; for which I was really thankful. They had been in the Confederate camp across the Potomac and had heard the shooting. The Lieutenant had come to investigate.

When I told him of the circumstances, he was truly amazed and said, “I need to stay around ya more often. I knew that I would see action when I joined up with ya and Major Mosby. However, lately it has been very quiet and I would like to have some action.”

Al laughed and said, “Lieutenant, be careful of what you wish for. When it comes to being around Jim Hager, ya will definitely get a barrel full of action.”

Lieutenant Kirkland laughed and said, “I truly believe ya.”

“We’re headed back to town to deposit these corpses at the mortician’s parlor,” I stated. “Do ya want to accompany us?

Kirkland said, “Yes. I’d be happy to. It’d give me a chance to survey the site of the shooting.”

Dismissing his troopers and telling them to return to camp, Lieutenant Kirkland rode with us to town. Once we had left the dead gunmen with the mortician, we went to the telegraph office.

When we arrived, the private whom I had told to find a guard for his protection was trying to tidy up the telegraph office. He had already nailed some boards over the blown-out window and swept up the glass and chunks of wood that were the results of the laceration of the front wall and office door by the buckshot from the assassins’ shotguns.

When we walked in the office, the private and his guard came to attention. They saluted. Kirkland and I returned the salute.

The private took a deep breath and said, “Capt’n, ya was surely right that sumthin’ was gonna happen. I wanna thank ya for sending me outta here before the shooting started.”

I grinned and said, “Well private, I ‘spect it was the least I could do.”

Looking around the place, I added, “Looks like ya have the situation well in hand. Do ya have the armament that I told ya to get?”

“Yes suh. Plus a few more pistols besides,” he answered.

I chuckled, “Well good. I just hope ya don’t have to use ‘em.”

Looking at the other private that was still standing at attention, I asked, “Are ya the guard?”

“Yes suh,” he replied.

“By tha way, what’s y’all’s names?” I inquired.

The soldier that operated the telegraph responded, “I’m Private Richards, and this is Private Gray.”

My mouth dropped open so wide that I could have put a large apple in it without touching a tooth.

The Privates looked apprehensive and thought they had done something wrong.

I closed my mouth, but continued to look at them with a stunned expression. I finally got control of my mental capacities and asked, “What’s y’all’s first names?”

Private Richards said, “My name’s Charles,” and, pointing at the Private Gray, he added, “This here’s Oscar.”

This really hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to put my hand on the counter of the telegraph desk to keep my equilibrium.

Al slipped up beside me and whispered, “Are ya alright, Jim?”

I nodded and looking at Private Richards inquired, “Is the telegraph okay?”

“Yes,” he answered in a perplexed voice.

“Good” I answered and walked out of the office.

Al and Kirkland followed, but I could tell they were wondering what was wrong with me.

 

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 425

It didn’t take long.  I saw two riders come galloping down the street brandishing shotguns. I immediately hit the floor as sprays of buckshot busted out the front window and permeated the façade and door of the telegraph office.

Once I knew the would-be assassins had emptied their weapons, I jumped up, opened the ventilated office door and ran outside. I was just in time to hear the screams of the town folk and see the riders disappearing in the distance.

I suddenly hear hoof beats and turned to see Stonewall gallup up and stop abruptly beside me. I shoved my Colts in my belt, grabbed the saddle pommel and said, “Let’s go.”

That’s all it took. Stonewall didn’t do one of his famous lunges, but began a slow steady gallop allowing me to hang on to the saddle’s pommel and execute a Pony Express mount. It was the first time we tried this, and I let out a “wahoo” when I landed in the saddle, which was matched by Stonewall’s whinny. Stonewall didn’t tarry, but launched into what I call his passing gear. In other words, once I was safety aboard, he took off like he had been shot out of a cannon.

I don’t believe that the ride-by shootists believed we would react to their attempted murder as quickly as we did, because we gained on them rapidly.  They had ridden from the north part of town to deliver their bombardment and now headed south toward the River Road, probably to cross the Potomac at Boteler’s Ford. They had slowed down, but once they heard Stonewall’s hoof beats, they turned, saw us and spurred their horses to a gallop.

I put Stonewall’s reins in my mouth, pulled out both of my Colts, and since we had already vacated the town, I began to shoot, first one pistol and then the other, at the would-be killers.

They tried to return my fire, but it was hard for them to ride down the semi-winding road and shoot backwards at the same time. Finally, they gave up and just concentrated on riding as fast as they could.

Once they had descended to where the River Road ran along the Potomac, they turned north and made for Boteler’s Ford, which was the wrong thing to do because they went right past Hattie’s place. Guess who happened to be visiting Hattie?

Al Madigan must have heard my shooting, because he had climbed up on the River Road and was ensconced behind a tree with a Sharps Carbine. He saw the riders first, and when he saw me in pursuit, he waited until the riders were abeam his position. Then he leveled his weapon and blew one of the would-be killers out of his saddle.

The other rider ducked to avoid being shot and directed his horse off the road and down to the river. This was not a good move. The river bank was steep and pock-marked. The assassin’s horse didn’t make it to the river before it fell and rolled over its rider.

I brought Stonewall to a halt at the place the assassin had traipsed off the road and dismounted. Al came up to me at a dead run. I extended my hand and said, “I’ve never been more thankful to see ya as I am right now. Thanks for taking out that killer.”

Al grinned and retorted, “Glad to help ya out, Jim. By tha way, we better see to tha man on tha river bank.”

I nodded and we both approached the face-down prone figure with weapons at the ready. The rider’s horse had gingerly gotten to its feet while favoring its right fore leg.

The man didn’t move as we reached his position. Al turned him over. His open eyes stared at a sky that he would never see again.

“Well, ‘spect that takes care of these two,” Al commended.  “By tha way, why was ya shooting at ‘em?”

“I was in tha telegraph office, and as they rode by, they tried to shoot me with shotguns,” I answered.

Al’s eyes widened and he said, “My lord. Ya must be hurting tha Yank spies really bad. That’s the second time they’ve tried to kill ya in broad daylight.”

I just nodded and said, “I ‘spect so. I know one thing.”

Al asked, “What?”

“I can’t risk bringing Daphne into Shepherdstown with all tha shooting that’s been going on. She’s gonna have to stay at Ferry Hill,” I explained.

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 424

Stonewall must have been keeping an eye on me, because as soon as the aliens disappeared, he trotted over to me.

This prompted a massage session for my faithful cayuse, who I believe went to sleep with his head against my chest. When I finally brought the massage to an end, Stonewall opened his eyes and had to blink a few times to get his bearings.

I chuckled, and he snorted so I knew all was right with the world.

I climbed in the saddle and said, “Telegraph office.”

Stonewall took off in an easy lope and we were soon in front of the 19th Century’s answer to a phone exchange. As I dismounted, I saw Elias Throckmorton enter the bank at the corner of German and Princess Streets. He seemed to be in a hurry and didn’t see me. I wondered what our local answer to the CIA was up to now.

When I went into the telegraph office, the duty Corporal stood up and saluted. I returned his salute and he informed me, “Sir, I was just getting ready to send this message from Major Mosby to Ferry Hill.”

I said, “Thank ya Corporal. I can take it now. I possibly will need to reply immediately anyway.”

Once the Corporal handed me the message, I opened the envelope and read, “We know there are at least seven Union posts along the C&O path from about Point of Rocks to Georgetown. What are you up to?”

I grinned and told the Corporal to take the following, “Just getting together some ideas about how to plague the Yanks. I promise to get back to you with something in two days.”

The Corporal took my message and sent it post haste. In just a moment he got an answer, “Looking forward to it.”

For some reason I happened to look over my shoulder and see Throckmorton look in the window of the telegraph office as he passed by. He quickly averted his gaze and kept walking toward the north part of town and away from the bank.

I looked at the telegraph operator and asked, “Does Mr. Throckmorton utilize the telegraph very much?”

“Naw sir,” was his reply.

“Does he come in here and ask questions? I prodded.

“He did once we were up and running. He really wanted to know why tha cavalry was in charge of tha telegraph office and not tha telegraph company that use to run tha office,” he offered.

“What did ya tell ‘im?” I ventured.

“I was on duty when he first came in and asked his questions. I told him, ‘Since tha last operator was murdered and tha telegraph was destroyed, that the cavalry had to make sure the office was open at all times,’” the Corporal related.

“Has Throckmorton ever sent a telegraph since the cavalry took over?” I asked.

“Not that I know of,” the Corporal replied.

I looked at him for a long moment and then stated, “I want ya to contact yar immediate superior and tell him that I ordered that a guard to be present in this office at all times with tha telegraph operator, and I want tha telegraph operators to have a pistol on their desk and one on their person, as well as a loaded carbine next to their chair at all times.”

The Corporal’s face showed a shock and dismay all at the same time. He gulped and said, “Is something wrong, Captain?”

I nodded and retorted, “I got a bad feeling that something is about to happen. Now, I’m gonna stay in this office, but I want ya to slip out tha back door and get to a horse and ride to yar camp, and get a guard with all tha armament that I mentioned. Get back here as soon as ya can.”

The Corporal just looked at me until I finally had to say, “Get.”

My admonishment must have broken his mental logjam because he was up and out the backdoor like a shot.

I moved to the side of the window so I could look out on the street and drew my Colts.

Stonewall looked up at me, and I motioned for him to walk away from the hitching post outside the telegraph door.

He obeyed by turning and walking leisurely toward the bank.

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 423

Imbued with the new spirit of cooperation, I asked Kann Mer Ray and San Cirr Ray, “Please, listen to my proposal, and cut it to pieces if you don’t like it. I’m a big boy and can take the criticism.”

They both grinned and nodded their assent.

Once I began the preliminaries, I noticed a look of approval from Kann Mer Ray. I think he liked the idea of destruction of machinery and currency only, and that it didn’t entail killing some major Union personage, like Lincoln or one of the Union Generals.

San Cirr Ray had a perplexed look on her face. I believe she thought I would want to assassinate someone vital to the Union government or military.

When I got to the part about using Greek Fire, Kann Mer Ray grinned and San Cirr Ray gave a short gasp. She turned toward Kann Mer Ray and gave him a wide-eyed look that seemed to say, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

I have to give them an “A” in social etiquette. Both listened to the end of my monologue without interruption.  Once I finished, they looked at me for a long time and then turned to face each other. Neither of the two said a thing, but they just looked at each other without any change in their body language or facial features.

This led me to believe they were communicating via mental telepathy, which apparently was on a wave length from which I was excluded.

After about five minutes they turned back toward me. Kann Mer Ray asked, “Why did you want to use Greek Fire?”

I shrugged and answered, “Based upon what little researched I conducted on the unusual aspects of the concoction, it has some unique aspects that might terrorize to the point that the Union would be fearful of its application on the field of battle. If the Confederacy waved an Olive Branch after the foray into Washington, maybe the Union would call an end to the invasion of the South and be open to the secession of the Southern States.”

Kann Mer Ray looked at me for a moment and then said, “Do you advocate using Greek Fire on The White House?”

It was my turn to look at him for a long moment and then answered, “In my universe, the British burned The White House. I don’t want the Confederacy to be put in the same category. However, I would like for Lincoln to witness the destruction of the Treasury Department. If my facts are accurate, I understand that Greek Fire can eradicate metal as well as wood and paper. If so, we can use it on the printing presses to burn them to molten metal.”

Kann Mer Ray smiled and began, “Jim your idea of hurting the Union government in their pocket book is admirable. However, the Union’s monetary system is more cumbersome here in the East than in the West. The Union at this time in history has minting facilities in two cities: San Francisco and Philadelphia. In the West there is enough gold and silver being mined to provide coinage for the populace. Not so here in the East. Paper money or Demand Notes, what you refer to as greenbacks, have undergone a metamorphosis due to the shortage of silver and gold.”

“Your idea is a good one, and it couldn’t have been conceived at a better time. At the beginning of the war, two companies printed script for the Union. However, on July 11, 1862 the Second Legal Tender Act was signed into law, which provides for the Treasury Department to print currency. So, the Treasury Department is a viable target.”

At this point Kann Mer Ray stopped, looked up at the sky, crossed his arms and lifted his right hand to gently rub his chin. He appeared to be in deep concentration. After a few seconds he said, “The idea of using Greek Fire to eradicate the machinery and any currency at the building is excellent.”

I nodded in his affirmation, but asked the sixty four thousand dollar question, “Do you have the formula for Greek Fire?”

Kann Mer Ray chuckled and intoned, “Well not at this very moment, but I believe we can replicate the formula.”

I added, “You know that it would help our foray immensely if the Greek Fire could be confined to individual weapons instead of the large machines used in the past.”

Kann Mer Ray focused his gaze on me, and it felt like he was looking into my soul. After a few seconds he noted, “Yes, that would be a much easier way to transport the mixture and apply it quickly at the needed areas.”

Kann Mer Ray turned to look at San Cirr Ray. They seemed to be communicating again. After a few seconds they both looked at me and Kann Mer Ray asked, “Can you find out how many Union command posts there are between here and Washington?’

I nodded that I could.

Suddenly, Kann Mer Ray said, “Good. Then why don’t we meet here again in two days?”

We all nodded in agreement, and suddenly the aliens disappeared.

 

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 422

 

How could we get into Baltimore and do damage without it resulting in death to the local populace or our raiders?  I thought on it long and hard and came to the conclusion that Baltimore was too far behind enemy lines to accommodate a one-day raid that would cripple commerce.

So, I began to look at other targets, but nothing came to mind other than another landmark in Washington City. It finally came to me that the U.S. Treasury was located next to the White House. So instead of scaring Lincoln, why not burn the White House after getting all the occupants out and letting them see the destruction?

This could result in one of two outcomes. One is fear of how we were able to penetrate deep into Union territory and destroy portions of the U.S. Capital. Two is that it could make the North madder than a wet hen and strengthen their resolve.

I began to make specific plans for the foray. Our logistics required that we have some kind of tools to disassemble the treasury machines; that we have some sort of accelerant for the fires we would be setting; that we wear Union cavalry uniforms; and that our horses have U.S. brands on them. In addition, we had to carry the accelerant in our saddle bags and our tools on our horses. We couldn’t afford to have a pack animal. We had to move fast.

The most important part of the logistical supplies had to be the accelerant. What could we use? I came up with the idea of Greek Fire, which was used back in the 7th century AD by the Byzantine Empire. However, to this day no one has been able to replicate it. So, I needed to see if Kann Mer Ray liked our plan and could provide us with portable hand held Greek Fire weapons. If we were able to show Lincoln that the South had this advanced weapon, it might lead to the war being brought to a halt.

I went to work on the Washington area maps that I was able to accumulate from the cavalry over the last few months. I determined the distance from Harpers Ferry to Georgetown, where the C & O Canal Path becomes Bridge Street, was about 120 miles. I needed to know how many Yankee camps and posts were along the C & O byway in that 120 mile stretch. So, I boarded Stonewall and rode to the telegraph office.

When I entered the office, the private stood and saluted. I returned his salute and asked him to send a message to Major Mosby about the Yankee emplacements along the C & O path south of here and toward Washington City.

I got an answer almost immediately from Major Mosby that he would find out and send a message via the telegraph with the data. Before I left, I glared at the private and made it quite clear to have someone come to Ferry Hill with the message from Major Mosby; and not let anyone else see it, no matter if they were of the military or civilian persuasion.  The private gulped and nodded vigorously that he understood.

I left the telegraph office, mounted Stonewall and rode north out of town about a mile where no homes or barns were visible. I dismounted and let Stonewall mosey. Then, trying my best to visualize Kann Mer Ray in my mind, I mentally stated, “I need to speak with you.” No acknowledgement came to me, so I tried it again. I guess the second time’s the charm sometimes, because I received a mental answer, “I will be with you momentarily.”

Image via TeenyScarlett on flickr.com

In just a matter of seconds a greenish glimmer appeared a few feet in front of me and then Kann Mer Ray appeared in the flesh, so to speak. Unfortunately, San Cirr Ray was with him.

I nodded at the male and gave a quick glance to his assistant, but without acknowledging her. I could feel the heat of her anger from the slight and almost smiled, but was able to stifle it at the last moment.

I believe that Kann Mer Ray had enough of our one-upmanship contest because he said, “If we are going to be able to help this planet and save lives, you two must work in harmony.”

Looking at me he stated, “Jim, if you would be so kind to let yourself believe in the project we have proposed, and that we are here to help you, I would appreciate it.”

Turning to San Cirr Ray, he uttered, “Cirr, Jim has more than proven himself worthy of being our human agent in this endeavor. He has eluded Druids and has killed to protect his friends and family. I believe you need to show him some respect and quit dallying with him.”

San Cirr Ray looked at Kann Mer Ray for a long time. It seemed she was running through a list of details in her mind. Finally, she turned to me and said, “I apologize for the dalliances. I have to admit that you intrigued me. Your actions do speak louder than words.”

She came to stand in front of me, raised her hand toward me and asked, “If you will forgive my foolishness and work with me to accomplish our mission, I would be most thankful.”

I was astonished at the warmth and feeling of her words and emotion. I gulped and grasped her hand in friendship and stuttered, “I accept your apology, but only if you will accept my apology for being such a stubborn mule.”

She smiled and said, “Done.”

I grinned, and Kann Mer Ray gave a sigh of relief. Even Stonewall got in on the act with one of his famous whinnies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 421

 

We must have napped for about twenty minutes before the four of us began to stir. Daphne gave a big sigh and sat up. I stood up and helped her to her feet. Mrs. Douglas and Willie both yawned and got to their feet. Like a herd of cattle we all moseyed into the main hall. Daphne, Mrs. Douglas and Willie went toward the back of the house. I kissed Daphne on the cheek and told her I was going into town to do some work at the schoolhouse. She gave me a big hug and left to accompany the Douglas clan.

I went out the backdoor and walked toward the stables. I heard Stonewall give me a welcoming whinny as I entered the front of the livery. I gave him his accustomed massage, saddled him and mounted. We rode out the building and used the steep backdoor trail to the Potomac River. At the bridge, the Confederate pickets quickly passed me through, and in a few more moments, we rode up into the school yard In Shepherdstown. I dismounted and let Stonewall have his head. He wandered over to a patch of new green grass and began to graze.

Going into the school, I was amazed at how dusty it had gotten in just a few months. It took me about an hour to dust and sweep out the building. Then I settled down to construct the plan that was requested by Kann Mer Ray.

As I contemplated the logistics, I began to have ideas come to me with the rapidity of a Gatling gun. Most were idiotic, but after a few hours, the seeds of a plan germinated. The object of the whole mission was to create fear and trepidation in the Northern Psyche.

I finally decided that multiple strikes should be made simultaneously. One attack needed to be against the seat of government, Washington City. One needed to be against Baltimore and the last needed to be destruction of the C & O canal at various points.

The next puzzling aspect was what to do while in Washington City to give enough impetus that would cause chaos. I didn’t want to even think of assassinating anyone. I was thinking more about destruction of some object that would cause wide spread hysteria. A few things came to mind, but the one thing really seemed the best goal was the destruction of the Union money printing presses in the Treasury Department and burning of any currency we could get our hands on. I didn’t believe just robbing the Capitol of its capital (no pun intended) would serve any purpose, because more currency could be minted in short order.

The goal in Baltimore was the port area. If we could start a raging fire in the warehouses along the wharf area, I believe we could have the city in a state of panic.

Lastly, the aqueduct over where the Monocacy River joins with the Potomac River would be the main object of destruction.

So what information had to be procured?  For one thing; we didn’t know how much of the C & O Canal Path the Yanks occupied north of Leesburg, Virginia.  I figured that we could kill two birds with one stone if we advanced a force south on the C & O path and took the area around the Monocacy. One part of the force could start work on the destruction of the aqueduct, and another could continue down to invade Washington City to destroy their mint.  Since we didn’t want this to be a suicide mission, I believed the only way we could get safely into the Union Capital, and out again, was to be wearing Yankee uniforms. As an afterthought, I seemed to remember that the Treasury Department was located close to the White House in 1862. Maybe our foray could scare Lincoln also.

In my mind, the best way to egress the Capitol was to go back the way we came, which was up the C & O Path

In regard to the Washington City portion of the plan, this incursion had to be completed in one day. We had to come in at night, destroy our designated target, and get out before daylight.

After coming to the above conclusions about the assault on the Capitol, I began to think of probably the greatest hindrance to any bold plan against the enemy; and that was talking the higher brass into allowing us to have enough men and equipment to conduct the raid. Old men with closed minds were the bane of audacious military plans. Invariably, worst case scenarios automatically infested their psyche and resulted in the shaking of their heads before they ever heard the complete details of any new way to wage war.

After a few moments, I shook off this negative invasion from my monkey mind by verbally saying, “Shut up and leave me alone.”

Then I began to think about the Baltimore part of our mission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 420

It took a while for the war news to be cussed and discussed by Mosby’s group. At long last the discussion got around to the expected arrival of a new Hager in the world. I had been dreading this conversation, but took a deep breath when Major Mosby asked, “When did Mrs. Douglas become a spiritualist?”

I was shocked by his straightforward question. It took me a few seconds before I responded, “Major, I don’t think that she has joined that freakish cabal. She stated that she only started to get visits from her deceased husband just before I arrived in Shepherdstown.”

Major Mosby looked at me for a long moment, and nodding his head, replied, “I can believe that.”

I looked at him with a confused expression. He didn’t elaborate, and I didn’t question his response.

He delicately asked, “I take it that Daphne has accepted Mrs. Douglas’ prophetic names for tha baby?”

I let out a sigh and said, “Yes, she has. I really don’t have tha belief that our baby will be a girl, but, if we do have a girl, Jamie Lee is a beautiful name. If that makes Daphne happy, then so be it.”

Major Mosby and the rest of the gentlemen nodded their agreement.

Then I added, “Ya know, Major, the old saying: If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

This brought a hearty laugh from all members of our little group. I happened to look up to see all the women staring at us. Our exuberance must have intruded on their dialogue. Daphne gave me an inquisitive look, and I just grinned sheepishly.

The ladies quickly turned back to their symposium, and our group began to discuss what was happening out west in the Indian Territories, plus New Mexico and Arizona.

I have to admit that I hadn’t kept up with the news from those areas. Mosby said that there had been a small cavalry division from El Paso that had plunged into New Mexico. The unit was commanded by General Thomas Munford, and they had marched across southern New Mexico into Arizona to take the settlement at Tucson.

I have to admit I was struck dumb. In my universe, Munford was serving with the Army of Northern Virginia and was in charge of Confederate Cavalry at the Battle of Sharpsburg, which had never occurred in the universe I presently inhabited.

I also listened to Mosby tell of Confederate General Stan Waite, who was an Cherokee Indian, leading soldiers from the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma against Union forces that had invaded from Kansas. General Waite had achieved success in defending Oklahoma’s northern border by driving the Union invasion force back to Wichita.

Mosby must have become aware of my shocked expression with all the western war news because he asked, “Jim did ya have any questions? Ya seem to be stunned by tha developments.”

I took a few deep breaths and replied, “No, it’s just I didn’t know we had achieved such success out west.” I looked up to see everyone looking at me, so I quickly added, “It’s very gratifying.”

That must have been answer enough for them, because they all turned back to look at Mosby for more western war information.

I have to admit I tuned out the rest of the men’s conflab. In my mind I began comparing what little I remembered of the Civil War fighting in the west that had occurred in my universe with the history of what had transpired in this universe.

As I remember from my brief reading about the far west Civil War campaigns, General Waite had repelled Union forays into Oklahoma and Northwest Arkansas.  However, the other information about the Confederate invasion of the New Mexico territory, which included Arizona, didn’t jive with what I had understood happened. I know that, in my universe, Munford didn’t have anything to do with the Confederate far west operations.

Finally, I gave up trying to remember what I had read about during the 1862 Confederate campaigns in New Mexico and Arizona and thought I better just concentrate on what was happening in the here and now.

Mosby and the rest of our group had run out of things on which to comment, and several of the baby celebration attendees were beginning to take their leave by going to Daphne and wishing her well. Then they descended on me, and it seemed that I shook hands for hours, but it was only a few minutes.

All of a sudden, the parlor was empty except for Daphne, Mrs. Douglas, Willie and me. Even the servant ladies and Anna were in other parts of the house attending to the packaging of food stuffs for depositing in the coolness of the cellar, plus the cleaning of dishes.

The four of us grabbed seats in the parlor, and I believe in a few moments, were all napping or about to go to sleep after a busy morning of celebrating and fellowship.

Daphne and I were on a two person sofa. I had put my arm around her, and she had laid her head on my chest. Just before I drifted off into the land of dreams, I looked down on her beautiful face and uttered a quick prayer of thanks for all my blessings.

Daphne gave a deep sigh and squeezed my chest. After a few seconds, all I heard was her heavy breathing.

 

 

 

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