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| Category: || War and History Script |
Posted:|| January 1, 2020 Views: 85|
Chapter 54 of the book She walks with beauty
Behind the scenes of the Civil War in West Virginia
"Continue,She walks in beauty"
by Ben Colder
Based on true American History from the diaries of Edward O Guerrant, (Bluegrass Confederate). The diary of James Williamson, (Mosby Rangers). The story speaks about the times and lives of those who really wanted statehood for West Virginia and the suffering it took to make it happen.
Names and some places are changed to protect the innocent.
Reading ease 68% Grade lever 8th
Captain Thomas Watkins of a local partisan group for the Confederacy has learned his brother and family have left from hiding and went to their family farm.
He is speaking to Ellsworth Taylor whom suffered burn out from Major Simmons's Union Army and sworn to rid northwest Virginia of southern supporters.
"Ellsworth, I'm going to leave; something has happened that requires my personal attention. You seem to have plenty of help, and I will come back when I can."
Poor man's valley lay almost ninety miles due south and traveling through Davenport Gap would save time. Thomas surmised Henry traveled a back trail and out of view from bounty hunters or perhaps Union patrols.
Second guessing ceased when Butcher's Tavern came in view.
Feeling superior of victory at Gettysburg, the Union Army rode more freely and looked to engage the Confederates anywhere they were.
Small rag tail groups posed little threat except for Partisan John Mosby, the previous year had surprisingly captured a Union General and scorn was still fresh among several Union officials.
Simmons operated on pure hatred toward anyone he thought harbored rag tail partisans. Though most citizens were for having statehood, troops like Simmons kept things on edge. Boy general Custer wanted to hang Mosby, and Simmons was determined to capture Thomas.
Not far, animal trails created a sense of safeness, sometimes so narrow through thick timbers causing the rider to dismount and walk his horse through unforgiving territory. Wild blackberry, honeysuckle, and various tangling vines, all hindered movement.
Entering Butcher's hollow presented slightly a test. On the hillside, Thomas sat crouched holding the horse's bridle reins while looking unclear across the valley. The noise of hammers rapping at rebuilding Butcher's Tavern gave a sense of safety.
The sight of two horses tied at the hitching rail inspired the slow ride toward the tavern. Claud Davenport sat alone on one horse.
Thomas recognized the man and spoke, "Howdy Claud! Are you waiting on your brother?"
Claud sat wordless but nodded.
Above the rapping of hammers, voices were heard.
Bertha and Hack were romantically embraced in the hallway,
Thomas spoke as he entered inside, "Wow! Excuse me!"
Bertha pushed Hack Davenport away and remarked, "Well, I see, Yankee Major Simmons ain't caught you yet, and lovely Caroline must have run you away."
Thomas ignored the comments and asked Hack if he planned to leave his brother sitting outside in the hot sun?
Hack Davenport responded, "He might be slow, but he's got enough sense to get off that horse and come inside if he minds too and besides, don't you think you're taking a big chance coming here? We saw a Yankee patrol coming out of the woods about two hours ago."
Thomas walked to the kitchen as Bertha and Hack followed. He sat at a new unvarnished table and laid his hat on the floor near the chair and remarked," Could a fellow get something to eat or maybe a cup of coffee?"
Bertha giggled, "Yep, only to paying customers."
She placed the hot brew on the table just as Claud Davenport came inside shouting, "Yankees!
Hack ran to see a column of Union Cavalry coming toward the Tavern. He shouted," We've got company and they're coming fast!"
Thomas scooped up his hat off the floor and rushed outside leaping from the porch into the saddle spurring the animal into the dense woods shouting, "Tell Bertha, I'll settle up with her later!"
Pressing hard against saddle stirrups, the clanging noise from sabers identified the column's distance.
Breaking through the timber line and disappearing into the dense forests, Thomas traveled the same route he previously came.
Through miles of thick unforgiving terrain, rocky hills presented challenge. The Taylor farm lay eleven miles due east.
Hindering underbrush forced the rider down from the ridge into a dry creek bed. Shell gravel created a stone bruise initiating a dismount and leading the animal to safety.
Beneath various evergreens and in a small opening, Thomas unsaddled the animal and doctored its hoof.
He rested on the ground and locked his arm into the bridle reigns stopping the animal from grazing too far. He closed his eyes but awakened by rifle fire. He prepared for the inevitable knowing war was uncertain and filled with surprises.
Crushing gravel offered reason for caution, a horseman riding an Appaloosa appeared as though he was tracking. He paused the animal and shouted, "Hello in the thicket!"
Thomas appeared in an opening aiming a short barrel carbine. In scolding voice, he asked, "Are you tracking me?"
"The name is Anderson, Will Anderson, I'm from north of here near Romney and I ain't tracking nobody."
Thomas kept the weapon pointed toward the man while speaking, "Partner, Romney is under federal control, perhaps you're a Jessie Scout?"
The rider burst with laughter," Me, a Jessie scout? I've been taken for a lot of things but never a Jessie Scout. Up until three days ago I rode with Morgan in Ohio."
The man's ragged appearance and reliable knowledge about General Morgan hinted a touch of truth.
The need of understanding whereabouts of the patrol prompted a question.
"On the ridge; were those Yanks shooting at you?"
Will Anderson paused before answering.
"I sent a few rounds their way, but they left traveling toward the Pike. They looked like young recruits and I doubt they'll chance their horses down these rugged slopes."
Thomas put away the carbine and invited Anderson to dismount.
Low hanging dark clouds and a clasp of thunder motivated the idea of moving from the dry creek bed to higher ground.
Anderson led the Appaloosa to where Thomas stood. He spoke, "We might should move into those junipers and sit up camp near the ridge. If we get rain like those clouds show, this creek bed will be a swift river in no time."
Thomas pointed toward the base of the crest. "We can get beneath that ledge; it should be enough room for us and the horses."
Wisdom prevailed. Twenty minutes after securing a safe dry place, torrent rain formed Will's prediction.
Near a small fire, both men sat waiting for a coffee pot to boil. The question was asked why the man left General Morgan.
Will was hesitant, but responded, "Watkins, last month, twenty-four hundred men including myself followed General Morgan out of Tennessee deliberately to cause the Union Army to ease up on our forces. Our intentions were to push them back north.
We had a fight at Corydon and won that one, but we traveled east and crossed the Ohio River where I almost got captured. Those Yanks scattered us like corn shucks, and many of our main force was either killed or captured. I was lucky to have been with Adam "Stovepipe" Johnson. He brought about three hundred of us back across the Ohio where I took that Appaloosa from a Yankee supporter who wished to be a hero."
Aroma of fresh coffee quickly changed moments of quietness. The men sat staring into the fire realizing the Heavens were in total control and neither wished to go anywhere.
Anderson broke the silence by telling his opinion of the war and how devastating things seem to be. Both men shared thoughts concerning the cost and purpose.
Major Simmons and his carnage highlighted topic for Thomas while Anderson told of things he did in Ohio.
He murmured, "We're guilty as Simmons. Though, I took part of being a soldier in war, I was never proud of burning innocent farms or the killings."
As evening spent the remainder of daylight, the rain slowed to a drizzle. It was certain the men would spend the night acquainting each other with various rumors and actual war events. News of Gettysburg and confederate defeat surfaced but soon replaced for future predictions.
Thomas asked," Got any plans when you get home?"
Will responded, "Not sure. If Romney is under federal control, I may not even have a family."
Except for a lone howling Timber wolf, night sounds muffled away into the quietness.
A slight wind challenged causing the campfire to flicker when placing a dry branch across the flame.
Blankets on dry ground, saddles for a pillow, each man lay waiting for dawning.
Raindrops splashing the surface of a small pool encouraged, "Hey Watkins, are you asleep?"
Thomas lay awake listening as Will began sharing thoughts toward the war.
"When we crossed the Ohio, I saw a family existing much like the man in the Robinson Crusoe tale. They lived in a hut built around an open fireplace and barefoot kids playing in the snow. We never stopped, but I have often thought about those kids."
Wheezing noise coming from Thomas halted the conversation. Raindrops splashing in nearby puddle soon quieten the moment into a deep snore.
Ninety-two miles due south, Henry Watkins awakened to a small voice whispering, "Poppa, the roof is leaking in my bedroom and my bed is getting wet."
Violet, (Trooper)Watkins scooted in bed next to her mother as Henry got up to face the problem.
Mildred left Trooper in bed and went to see if she could help Henry, but while they assessed the situation, someone in a nearby town desired to earn $300 by revealing Henry's location.
On the porch of Judith Langston's boarding house, a drenched poncho shimmered in the outside light. Thunderstorms thru northern Virginia brought travel to almost no existence.
A distant relative of the Watkins knocked on the door until Mrs. Langston answered.
Union Provost Marshall, Captain J. D. Maddox sat in an Ethan Allen arm rest chair near the fireplace reading a month-old newspaper.
Judith was hesitant before interrupting, "Captain, someone is here to see you. He said he has information concerning a person you are looking for."
Maddox met the man in the hallway and listened to a low tone voice describing Henry with the possibility of capture.
later, the stage was set, the ploy prepared, but in order to be paid for the ordeal, the informer needed to lead the way.
The man growled, "I ain't going with you but I will tell you where he is."
Judith stood hidden near the hallway and listened to every word.
To the reader: I hope you find this Historical Fiction novel interesting and will continue supporting the write. It is a good story based upon true events and real people of the time.
I never reject good critical advise providing it comes from creditable knowledge.
Jessie Scout- Union spy sometimes dressed as Confederate.
Henry and Thomas Watkins are look alike brothers. Though fifteen months apart they are sometimes thought to be twins. Ancestors- from thirteen colonies. George Washington troops. Farmers by trade. Henry, draft age, Thomas, Confederate partisan. A bounty hunter captured Henry and after a short stay in prison, he was released to server the Union Army but deserted in the battle of Brandy Station. He is a wanted man but has joined his family and now at their farm in Poor Man's Valley. Thomas learns of this and on his way to protect his brother from the Union. He and Caroline Glass are lovers, but she grows weary of his dare deviling schemes.
A new character enters the picture and the plot thickens.
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