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Jack Kenneth eyed the Confederate grey uniformed battalions marching out of the town. War torn and weary faces were stuck in the battalions.vWounded after the defeat at the Battle of Tennessee;Jack Kenneth turned his head to see the city of Columbia burning. His eyes raged in anger.
Those damn northerners had burnt his land, his state and his city. He could clearly see the blue uniformed troops hoisting their muskets up into the air. The North was damn well too destructive. The torn and weary War-flags of the Confederates could be clearly seen, with the white stars and blue bars and the fine color of red as the background.
General E. Joseph Johnson walked at the column of his troops. He was the latest of the Confederate Generals to surrender against the North.His army being too small to defend the state of South Carolina, Columbia being the last city in north Carolina to surrender. A sullen look had been imposed on his face. Soldiers surrounded him as they held their muskets and withdrew from the city of Columbia. Artillerymen pushed their cannons while cavalrymen marched slowly with their horses.
Jack had been a plantation owner before the war, becoming one of the most powerful plantation owners across the entire Carolinian state. He owned more plantations than anywhere else. He'd personally believed that slavery should be held for those who were the scum of the Earth. He enlisted into the army in December 1860 swearing his loyalty to the Confederate cause.
He didn't want to see the North winning the war and taking away his businesses. Since then, he had risen up the ranks becoming a Major. He had commanded battalions and driven of Yankee attacks. At the Great Battles of Gettysburg, First Bull Run and Fredericksburg, he had killed more Yankee men than the enemy could. His reputation in the army earned him the title '' The Butcher of Columbia.'' He was a Southerner, loyal to the Confederate cause and slavery.
He'd be soon called up to join the 406th Virginian regiment as soon as they left the city of Columbia. That was why so many men were leaving the city. Black slaves and freedmen peeked from the windows, looking down upon their former masters as they left the city.
The Confederates were now retreating backwards. The North's Generals had struck at them, beating them whenever they had the chance. The New Year was 1865; most of the Confederacy's strength and Generals had gone in vain. All had died in the attempts to keep the Confederacy and slavery alive. Now, Lee and his war cabinet struggled to maintain the once powerful Confederacy which had existed four years before.
The Confederacy had been awakened by the destructive forces of the North. The Confederates were now retreating backwards thanks to Sherman's march to the sea campaign. The North's Generals had struck at them, beating them whenever they had the chance. The new year was 1865; most of the Confederacy's strength and Generals had gone in vain. All had died in the attempts to keep the Confederacy and slavery alive. Now, Lee and his war cabinet struggled to maintain the once powerful Confederacy which had existed four years before.
'' Major! '' A solider called behind him.
'' What? '' He replied angrily.
'' Here's the telegram for you. '' The solider handed the telegram to Major Jack Kenneth; he grabbed the sheet of paper from the soldier's hand. The solider bowed and left.
The telegram was printed in block letters, black and plain, like a official telegram.
'' Major Kenneth, you have been assigned to the new army, the Army of the south. You will be commanding three battalions, since you have proved yourself useful. Your orders are to be given by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, you will report at Bentonville. Good day to you Major, signed by the War Office.
Kenneth scratched his beard and pulled his hat up. He wore a grey officer's uniform. His sword lay waiting to be drawn out.
'' Bentonville... '' He muttered. Now longer was he going to command any regiment, he'd be doing three battalions at once.
The Battle of Bentonville.
The eerie sky was a sharp blueness at this time of night. Union solider Ned Tucker wrote a letter to his wife. Tucker had been a lucky man. He'd survived throughout the war and before it he had been a baker. War had transformed him into something else, a cold blooded killer, soon at around 7:00 in the morning, they'd begin attacking the Rebels.
Despite the North's resounding success against the South, he, like any solider wanted the war done with. He silently cursed the Confederates for not giving up. All around him were white pitched tents, blue uniformed soldiers walked around in groups and circles. Most gambled, and most drank. Horses were being pushed by their masters.
'' My, My, if it isn't Private Tucky.'' A voice said behind him. Ned turned around to see a man taller than him.
'' Who are you? '' Ned asked suspiciously.
'' You don't remember me? I'm your long lost friend, Bucky. ''
Ned eyed him for a long time, and then he erupted into laughter and hugged Bucky.
'' Where have you been all this time? I gave up hope searching for you. ''
Bucky took a piece of grass and chewed on it.
'' I escaped to New York, had to make my fortune over there as an actor. ''
Bucky's face expressed something more of someone who had been rejected.
'' And you didn't make it. ''
'' Pretty much, how's Ma and Pa doing? ''
'' Fine, they're not crying as others would. ''
'' Think we're going to win the battle? ''
'' Of course we will, those damn Southerners don't stand a chance now.''
'' Sure on that? ''
'' Look at it this way, Ned, when the War first started, we had Generals that couldn't lead. Now with Grant and Sherman with us, and good ol' Abe Lincoln behind us, there's no doubt about it that the rebs over there are gonna lose the war sooner or later. Not even General Lee can fight of us off. Before you know it, we'll be in Richmond! ''
'' I sure do hope so. ''
Then the sound of horns rippled throughout the camp. Soldiers hustled and hurried to get their battle stations. Sergeants shouted orders as a sea of blue uniformed battalions massed. Calvary jumped in and out of the camp, the officers blowing the horns as loud as they could.
Ned and Bucky ran as fast as they could to their battalion. The 23rd New York Company it was called.
'' Atten-hut!! '' The Colonel raised his voice. The battlefield was a plain stretch of grass and rolling green slopes. Ned and Bucky could see the Confederate troops amassed in their groups. Both sides clearly saw each other.
'' New York Company.... Load your weapons!!! '' The Colonel barked.
Both the soldiers bit their cartridges off and loaded the powder into the muzzle while they smacked their muskets in the hard earth. Once done, they fixed bayonets and then pulled it up to waist level. Others solider rehearsed the loading technique in an instant. They raised their muskets to waist level form a sea of bayonets.
'' The 23rd Battalion....will march! '' He said, scratching his blonde beard.
The Battalion marched. The sounds of marching and beating drums could be heard as they stomped the ground alive, shaking the tiny pieces of grass and soil up into the air.
Major Kenneth shot a glance at a cluster of soldiers in thread-bare uniforms, sighing as he observed their pitiful state. Dixie's finest were being treated no better then slaves. He eyed the Union masses advancing forwards to them. He grunted.
'' Texans! Virginians! Colombians! Missourians! '' He shouted.
'' There stands the heathen Yankees Those dastardly cowards over there think they're gonna win! I'm not gonna lie to you, Men of the South, it is true we have lost the war, but if we fight on, we can win this battle. '' He silenced himself for a minute, letting the information he had just said absorbing into his men.
'' If we destroy those Yankees now, then we will have won the battle for the South!!! '' He roared.
A loud roar came from his men. Their roared reached to the enemy lines.
'' Bucky? Those backstabbers over there seem to be very confident. '' Ned said nervously, shaken by the confidence of the Confederate soldiers. He hadn't expected them to be so confident despite the fact that they were losing the war.
'' Confident? '' Bucky sniggered.
'' We'll smash them rebs up like a onion in a tomato. '' Bucky replied with a hint of arrogance.
'' Silence in the ranks! '' The Colonel barked.
'' Now, Men of the South, draw your weapons!!! I am the Butcher of Columbia!! And therefore I feel privileged to lead such men into battle. ''
At this moment, the rebel yell roared through the field, spreading to all parts of the battlefield.
'' March!! '' He said, and masses of Confederate soldiers poured out from the pit.
'' Form your battalions! '' He ordered
'' Now, Confederates, advance to that Northern column!!! '' He pointed to the Northern Column where Ned and Bucky were.
'' Ned? ''
'' Yes, Bucky? ''
'' Look who's there. '' He said
'' Company.... Make ready your guns!!! '' The Colonel barked. The Union soliders bought their guns up to shoulder level.
'' The Butcher of Columbia, '' Ned said. He remembered the days of battle when the Butcher of Columbia had fought them in Gettysburg. He was the most feared Major across the United States; even Abraham Lincoln had heard news of his reputation. The Confederacy had made full use of their press printing propaganda about the Butcher of Columbia.
'' Yup, '' Bucky replied.
'' Confederates!!! '' He said once the battalions had been drawn up.
'' March!!! ''
They marched to the Northern Battalion.
'' Wait for the Rebs to advance!! '' The Colonel ordered.
Once both battalions were in clew view of each other, orders were barked out on all sides.
'' Aim your weapons!!! '' Major Jack Kenneth drawled. He had made sure his men had loaded their weapons before they fired, just to make sure he wouldn't have to that many casualties.
'' Fire!!! '' A devastating volley was released from the Confederates. Scores of Blue uniformed soldiers fell done.
'' Reload! '' The Butcher of Columbia ordered.
His men reloaded in an instant.
'' Fire!!! '' Another volley shredded through the ranks of the Union soldiers in instant.
'' Men, get back into your formation!!! '' The Colonel shouted at fleeing soldiers.
'' Now, reform! '' He said, soldiers struggled to get back in formation as the Confederates shot them down.
The Colonel's face was that off an agonized person. He knew that the Major over there was the Butcher. Well he knew what was gonna happen now, if he didn't call for reinforcements, his battalion would be killed.
'' Lieutenant Baster! ''
Baster arrived ducking through the extreme firing of Confederate bullets.
'' Yes Colonel Sir! '' He shouted.
'' Call the Officer's call! Retreat to the hill! We'll make a stand there! '' He shouted in reply. The Colonel loaded his pistol and shot.
Lieutenant Baster waved to the blue uniformed officer placed on the horse. He saluted and began sounding through the horn.
'' Retreat!!! '' The Colonel barked, he pointed to the hill. '' To the hill men! To the Hill!!! ''
Ned ran as fast as he could to the hill. The Confederates kept on firing, shredding more Union soldiers up.
'' Cease firing!!! '' The Major called. His men stopped firing. At that moment, General E. Joseph Johnston arrived with his detachment of officers. He was a small man, with a small mountain beard placed on his chin and his black hat. He saluted to the Major.
'' Major Kenneth! ''
'' Yes General! '' The battalions saluted to the General.
'' You see that hill over there? '' He pointed as he turned his horse to the retreating Union soldiers.
'' Those Yankees hold the line over there; I'm going to send you there to attack that hill! '' He ordered, with a hinge of his Southern accent coming in.
'' That’s where our fortune lies men! You go over that hill and you destroy their flank! The fate of the South men lies upon you! Now, go out there and kill those Yankees! May God grant us glory! '' He shouted. A defying roar came from the Southerners. They hoisted their muskets high in the air, with their hats on top of the bayonets.
'' Major, '' The General bowed his hat down and galloped away. All around the battlefield, sounds of guns and cannons being fired could be heard around, Colonels ordering their second in commands to hold the lines, it was a wreckage of chaos.
Major Jack now knew the battle was in their hands. They'd have to take hill to fully drive the Union forces out of there. Then the South would be saved. He sighed, yet almost excited at the prospect that they could win this battle.
He took his hat off and placed it to his heart.
'' May God forgive me for the sins I will commit today. '' He said in a whisper.
The Lieutenants of the Southern ranks appeared at the front. A Confederate War Band began playing the military tune that would prepare them for the onslaught.
'' Raise your swords!!! '' He shouted.
'' Now, advance to the hill!!! '' The Lieutenants began waving their swords, the band played, and the Confederate Battalions advanced.
The Colonel stepped up from his position. He could see his men loading their rifles and waiting for the Confederates to attack the hill. They were placed on top of the hill, where a wide wooden trench had been constructed.
'' Load your weapons!!! '' He shouted, holding his hands at his waist level.
'' Baster! ''
'' Yes sir! '' Baster saluted.
'' Send Sergeant Killer to the Northern line, I want him to hold the line over there. And send Sergeant Fuller to the Southern line, they must both hold the lines at once! ''
'' Yes Sir! '' Baster replied and mounted on his horse.
Major Jack Kenneth waved his sword as did his lieutenants.
'' For the South! '' He said, as cheers came from other Confederate soldiers waving their hats in enthusiasm. They knew then that the Colombian commanded some of the best troops in the Southern Army, and were sure of their victory now that they had been sent to take the hill.
'' Remember men, duck under when the Yankees fire! '' He shouted as he pointed his sword to the Hill.
Confederates advanced through the thick wooded forest. Ned looked around for Bucky, but he hadn't seen him anywhere. He sat down on his trench when he saw thousands of grey uniformed rebels advancing towards him and quickly gave the call, '' Soldiers.... Fire!!! ''
'' Now, Duck!! '' Kenneth shouted. Most of his men ducked but the rest were too late to obey his orders. Many fell down, instantly struck by a bullet.
'' Charge at the Yankees!!! Brave men of the South!!! '' The Colombian shouted. His men let out such a terrifying yell that it almost reached to the Northern lines.
The Union Soldiers loaded and fired at any advancing confederate they could see coming through.
'' Don't let them get your morale low men! Kill those Yankess in their trenches!! '' Kenneth shouted. '' Now, charge!!! ''
As scores of Confederates died, more came to replace them. Most of Jack's men managed to attack the trench.'' Soldiers.... engage!!! '' He ordered and shot another Confederate.
Ned gripped his rifle tightly. He let out a yell and went over the trench, stabbing a Confederate soldier in the heart. He kicked out another charging Rebel solider and whacked him in the shin with the butt of his rifle.
'' Texans!!! In the trenches! In the trenches!! '' The Major ordered as he leapt into the trench, he saw a dozen Union Soldiers hoisting their muskets at him. He grinned, and then attacked.
'' Hold the line!! '' The Colonel shouted in urgency. They'd have to hold the line until reinforcements arrived, he guessed.
As scores of Confederates died, more came to replace them. Most of Jack's men managed to attack the trench.
'' Soldiers.... engage!!! '' He ordered and shot another Confederate.
Ned gripped his rifle tightly. He let out a yell and went over the trench, stabbing a Confederate soldier in the heart. He kicked out another charging Rebel solider and whacked him in the shin with the butt of his rifle.
'' Get them Yankees!! Fill the trenches with 'em dead Yankees!!! '' The Major roared as he lept into the trench, he saw a dozen Union Soldiers hoisting their muskets at him. He grinned, and then attacked.
The War flags of the Confederates were clearly seen with the blue stars and red background, waving over the trenches over the US flags. Union soldiers rained fire on many of the Southern soldiers. But the rebels soon began to overfill the trenches. Fights and clashes appeared everywhere. Stabbing and whacking was the order of the fight. The Major had suffered several wounds, and almost wiped out a dozen Union soldiers. His next target was the Colonel.
'' Onward, Southerners! Hurrah! Hurrah! For Southern rights! Hurrah! '' He shouted, displaying the old song of the Confederacy's cause.
'' For the United States!! '' The Colonel replied back.
Joseph E. Johnston eyed the situation on top of the hill. The Major's men were sooner or later going to deliver the crushing blow towards the Union flank. He gave his binoculars to the officer behind him. All around him, the Union soldiers were retreating from all sides, Confederate regiments and battalions were shooting them downwards. Johnston allowed himself a bitter smile.
'' Colonel Howard, '' He ordered
The Colonel saluted
'' Send two more battalions to reinforce Major Kenneth's attack. ''
'' Yes sir! '' The Colonel mounted on his horse and set off into the distance.
Kenneth was about to kill the Colonel when Private Ned whacked him in the waist. The Major fell down onto the ground.
'' Die, you damn reb! '' Ned cursed
The Major rose quickly and swung his sword at Ned. He slung back his rifle and blocked his sword. Kenneth attacked three times, but Ned kept on blocking them and tried this time to wack him again in the waist. But Kenneth saw it coming and stopped his rifle there. He shoved Ned to the ground.
Ned took his rifle as fast he as could and pointed it at Kenneth. Kenneth took hold of his collar and threw him to the ground, as if he were a play toy being held by a baby. Ned got up and aimed his rifle at him.
The Major grinned.
'' Go ahead, Yankee, shoot me. ''
Ned considered, but then the Major grabbed his throat and again shoved him to the ground , kicking him in the shins. He groaned in pain. Kenneth took was about to take his sword when a voice said
'' I wouldn't do that if I were you. ''
Kenneth turned around to see a fist smashing straight to him. Bucky took Ned's arm and held him up.
'' Bucky, where were you? ''
'' Wounded. '' He rasped.
Then a sword stabbed through him. The Yankee's facial expression twisted from one of anger into that of fear in an instant; He had recognized him as a butcher. Kenneth felt his grip over his repeater solidify as he rammed his bayonet into the Yankee's stomach. . Ned turned in horror to see the Colombian Butcher grinning.
'' That's what should you go to all Yankees. '' The Major declared.
Ned let out a terrifying yell, he lept on the Major. '' Die you goddamn greyback!! '' He roared
'' You'll die first, Yankee! ''
'' You damn Secesh.'' That enraged Kenneth.
For hours they kept on fighting. From the end of the rifle, to the sword clashing with the bayonet. Kenneth fought viciously, dashing at Ned as he had no defense against him. Then he heard a call coming from the Union side. He saw emerging more battalions of Union Soldiers, newly arrived, with a sea of bayonets pointed straight at his men.
And the battalions fired, producing ten a minute, his men fell down the minute.
Ned smiled in relief.
Kenneth observed everywhere, his attack had failed. More Union Battalions were reinforcing the faltering lines in the Union trenches. The Confederates were losing men by the instant as Union Soldiers drove them back. The attack on the flank had failed. Even if his men were the elites, they couldn’t stand against an overwhelming enemy.
Kenneth, seeing his men retreat, muttered
'' I'm going to stay whether I die here or not. '' He turned on to face Ned, but was then taken by his men.
'' I say let me go! Let me go and die in my state! '' He protested.
'' Sir, we're can't afford to lose you. The damn Yankees are overfilling the trenches! '' The solider pointed to the line where Union soldiers leapt out of the trenches and fired, while pursuing Union soldiers pursed fleeing confederates.
'' You must go with us! '' He answered in a slight Texas Swirl.
'' No, I will not go! '' He declared, but the three soldiers took him away.
Ned couldn't believe what had just happened. He could hear the Colonel shouting to go forward and drive the rebs off. He hadn't realised it was night.
Kenneth spat in anger.
'' From where the heck did three Union battalions arrive from? '' He exploded at General Johnston.
'' I didn't know where they were, Major. I thought you had already written them of the lines over there. ''
'' Damn sure we did. '' He muttered
'' We sure did waste a ton of good men out there. '' Sarcasm stepped up in his voice.
'' I'm afraid I must commit my condolences. Major, I know what you are feeling right now, but at this moment, if we can repulse the Yankess , then we will have won some decency. I am loyal as to the South, but I wonder if we could win this battle. ''
'' What do you mean? Sure we can win this battle if we had more me- '' Kenneth was interrupted by a Solider coming in.
'' Private Jeremiah reporting for duty, General! '' He saluted.
'' Good, have the trenches been dug? ''
'' Yes sir. ''
Johnston looked at the Major
'' I think you may have to repulse them. ''
Major Kenneth observed the trenches. They were well positioned for a major attack. But he wondered, did they have enough men to repulse them? The Yankees could just have well shot them down from they stood.
He hadn't seen the other Confederate Generals in Johnston's tent, but he guessed they were somewhere far away reorganizing their attack. While the Major believed in victory, he wasn't sure that they could outnumber the Yankees. The Yankees had more men than them. Not even the best General in the world could face a army outnumbering his.
He eyed more reinforcements arriving as they joined into the camp. Mill Creek was a low rollen rain marshland. He'd been given the task of defending the artillery and trenches, while the wounded would be evacuated to somewhere in a place called
'' Pray for God. '' He muttered.
He took his hat off, and sat one legged. He folded his arms and got out a black bible, he then put the cross's symbol on his neck and then started praying.
'' May God forgive me for committing these sins I have done today.... ''
Ned lay in the battlefield. He had seen the color of Bucky's face looming down as the sword had taken his life away. He had cried, cried for his long lost friend. He hadn't expected him to be snatched away. But then, this was the Lord's world, and he made the decisions, you could never question him.
Exhausted, he moved himself up and went back to the camp. Too exhausted to say anything, he slumped himself to bed.
The Second day of the Battle was filled with chaos. It had been fierce skirmishing on both sides. The Major had made sure that there was much causality on the Northern side. Ned had shot as many rebels as he could. The next day passed, and the Northern troops began their attack on Creek's Mill.
'' Load your rifles!! '' He ordered.
Whole battalions of blue uniformed soldiers were advancing through the trenches. On all sides the Confederates were being attacked.
'' Fire!!! ''
A massive volley was released, slaughtering whole herds. Ned ducked down. The Butcher of Columbia would be his today. He had made a promise to himself that he would kill him.
'' What you're doing over there you lily liveried rabbit? '' An Irish voice said behind him.
Ned turned to look around but he was picked up by the Irishman.
'' You're supposed to be attacking there, alight? '' He replied in his Irish twang.
'' Will you let go of me? '' Ned shouted.
'' I ain't gonna let go if you don't attack! ''
'' I am attacking! ''
'' Then what you're doing there ducking for? ''
'' This! '' He pointed to another cragged volley coming straight at them.
'' Duck, '' The Irishman shouted in alarm.
'' You were saying? ''
'' Sorry, Lad, must be my Irish spirit. ''
'' Name? ''
'' Ryan O'Coughnessy, Yours? ''
'' Ned Tucker.''
'' Which Battalion you from? ''
'' 210th Washington Irish Volunteers Company. '' He said with a grin.
He turned his head around.
'' Aiden, Conal , O'Conner, Maddy, commere' here now! '' He shouted. And a couple of Irish soldiers huddled around Ned and Ryan.
'' Right Lads, we're gonna go over there where that damn Reb Major is there, you see him? '' He pointed at the Major shouting orders at his men.
'' I sure do, '' O'Conner said.
'' I'll get there first, '' Aiden replied
'' No you ain't,'' O'Conner grinned.
Ned observed the relationship around him. He had never seen this much spirit of comradeship.
" Allright lads, no need to get worried here, you'll get your chance. '' Ryan interrupted them.
'' Southerners, aim at the Yankees over there! ''
'' Yankee? I ain't no Yankee you goddamn reb! '' Ryan replied back.
'' Well then, commere if you want to face a true southerner! ''' The Major laughed.
Ryan gave out orders.
'' That's it, Aiden, O'Conner, come with me, Maddy and Conal, protect Ned, we're gonna finish those damn rebs off. ''
They charged into the trenches.
'' Kill those Yankees!! '' The Major shouted.
The Irish began killing everyone in the Southern trenches, they pounded and stabbed any damn rebel that came forward to them. You could almost say that the Irish were the '' elite forces'' for the Union.
Kenneth collided with a group of charging soldiers and swung his sword widely. The soldiers ducked and began attacking him with their bayonets.
Ned was in the front.
Kennneth swung his sword once more, he grabbed the solider by his throat and gripping his rifle, threw it away, and then he stabbed into him.
'' O'Conner, '' Ryan shouted.
'' I'll show you,'' He let out a another yell and raised his sword.
'' Don't attack him,'' Ned said.
Eyes stared at him.
'' What? Lad, he killed one of my soldiers! ''
'' Don't attack him, Sergeant. The issue's between him and me. ''
Ned turned his head towards the Major.
'' You'll regret ever killing Bucky? ''
'' That was his name, Yankee? ''
'' Yes, you goddamn reb. ''
The Major's expression darkened.
'' I beg to differ on that.''
Kenneth charged at Ned, He blocked him and whacked him at the shin. Kenneth muttered angrily.
He attacked three times on the right and on the left with his sword. He flung around, attacking every side where Ned couldn't block him. Ned found it difficult to overcome the well built strong Confederate. The Irish soldiers began to move and attack anyone else.
Kenneth swung his sword once more and kicked Ned in the groin. He winced and fell to the ground.
'' Now, Yankee, die. '' He grinned.
'' No, you're not gonna do that when I'm here you damn reb! '' Ryan's voice came from behind.
Kenneth, annoyed, turned his head around to see another big fist smashing his face, Ryan wacked his head with the butt of his rifle, the rebel major groaned, then closed his eyes.
Ryan hurried to Ned
'' You all right Ned? ''
Ned nodded slowly.
'' I'm alright.... '' He said in a croaked voice.
Ryan took him to the nearest hospital amid the firing bullets on both sides.
Kenneth groaned and his eyes opened. He rose from the muddy ground and looked around him. The Union troops were overfilling the trenches. His men retreated from the masses of blue.
He hauled himself out of the trench and tried to assess the situation. But, he could not. The Union troops had broken through the trenches, though suffering more losses than the Confederates. He had no option but to retreat. The Yankees were gaining the fight in their hands.
'' Major Kenneth! '' A few voices said in front of him.
'' Major Kenneth! '' A few voices shouted in front of him.
'' Who's there? '' He said, alarmed. Here he was in the battlefield, running away from the trenches, and out of nowhere, three soldiers were coming in front of him while he and his men were being pursued
'' General Hardee's calling you, Major; He says you will need him.’’ The first solider said in an Alabamian twirl.
‘’ Right, tell him that I’m coming! ‘’ The Major said.
The next two soldiers took hold of him and they advanced to where General Mower was sitting on his horse.
‘’ General, here’s the Major. ‘’ The three soldiers saluted and went back to their battalions.
Hardee saluted the soldiers and dismissed them.
'' Major Kenneth, a pleasure to be meeting you on this fine day. '' He said in a calm voice shaking's the Major's hand.
'' General Hardee, '' He inclined his head.
'' Major, right now, we face a deadly situation. The Yankees threaten to break our flanks if we do not counterattack. Do you get me? ''
'' Yes, sir.,''
'' Here's how we're gonna attack. And by God we shall succeed for the South. ''
Hardee lent down and drew a line in the sand, and then a bigger line encircling it.
'' That’s where those Yankees are coming up now. I say you and me, we attack double their forces. Their flanks will be our main targets. We entrap the enemy there. '' He struck his baton at the center between the lines.
'' Do you understand? ''
'' Yes, Sir! '' The Major gave a grand salute.
'' You may go look to your division, Major; Sergeant Towick will take you there. '' He pointed his head to the Grey uniformed Sergeant and turned his head to look at the Union Battalions coming up to his hidden soldiers.
'' Major, come with me. ''
The Major followed the Sergeant.
'' Where you from? Sergeant? ''
'' Old Virginia, ''
'' Virginia, I'm from Columbia. ''
'' Well, I'm honored to be fighting with you, Major. ''
'' And I too, Sergeant,''
'' Here's the Battalion. '' He pointed to a sharp looking uniformed Battalion of Grey uniformed soldiers hoisting a sea of muskets in the air, waiting for orders. He sensed that the battalion was not confident enough to attack. Judging by the look on their faces, they feared the oncoming blue mass of soldiers.
'' Stand to Attention!!! '' The Major shouted. The Soldiers kicked their hills and saluted.
'' Southerners, do you see that mass over there? '' He pointed to the Union soldiers advancing.
'' I tell you that vile thing, that thing over there is the enemy. Those Yankees will never, and I tell you, will never take Southern ground! '' He roared.
'' We'll go out there and drive the Yankees back to hell! We will go out there and drive them back to Hell. We will stand out here and fight for our rights! '' He raised his fist.
'' Repeat after me! ''
'' Hurrah! ''
The Battalion shouted
'' Hurrah! ''
'' For Southern Rights, Hurrah! '' The Battalion cheered and whooped.
'' Now, Men of the South, attack them damn Yankees over there and drive them off! I am the Butcher of Columbia! '' He roared once more.
'' That's the spirit, Major. '' He nodded respectfully, He raised his hand and a dozen Confederate soldiers appeared from the bushes. Dirty sandy stained uniforms replaced most of their grey uniformed comrades.
'' Confederates!!! Advance!! '' He ordered.
The Union Mass embroiled itself slowly as it stopped to see a massive Confederate force attacking them. The sergeants shouted frantically as they tried to get their stations. For the Confederates, it was like taking catching fish trapped in a fish net. The Confederate Majors shouted their orders and a dozen spring of ten thousand muskets ran through the air, decimating tons of Union soldiers at that one single minute, obliterated at that one moment.
A another volley released and obliterated the endangering mob that had been the Union solders. The Confederates attacked everywhere on their flanks, driving them back to their original positions. They drove the Union troops straight out until they came close to the Union Army. Then they withdrew.
Ned imagined if he were in a dream. Wake up handsome, it’s me, Betty His eyes opened to see the most beautiful women in the world. Suddenly, his dream collapsed, and all he could see was his wife, And Ryan and O'Connal. Other patients were in the sick bay, being cared by nurses or Army doctors.
'' Where...am I? '' He rasped and rose.
'' Come, Ned, you'll need your rest. '' Betty said in her angel voice, making her husband lie down on the bed.
'' When did you come? ''
'' I came here, with some help from these two brave men, '' She smiled
'' I....was....weeping for you, I thought I lost you when they told me you'd been wounded, Ned, you're all right, aren't you? '' She laid her hand on his chest and caressed it.
'' I'm fine as I can be, '' He said holding her hand and feeling her soft skin.
'' If I may, '' Ryan said interrupting the conversation.
'' Madam, I may soon have to take your husband away. ''
'' What for? '' She asked nervously
'' It’s a surprise,'' Ryan smiled.
'' Commere... '' Ryan gasped as he took the bulk of Ned's body.
'' O'Connal, commere at once, '' O'Connal took hold of Ned, giving him balance.
'' Very funny, '' Ned grinned.
'' Come 'ere lad, '' He said once more.
They took him across the Union Camp, where soldiers drilled, trained and were camped in their white tent. Sergeants barked out orders at men. Horns were blown and the flag of the United States was been flown on the top of Confederate soil.
Many soldiers sat gathered in large groups. The Officers went in pairs and observed the might of their army. Muskets stood in piles, cannons were being moved to a new part of the battlefield.
Tons of men were still sleeping in the tent, the sound of snoring came from many of the tents, One solider stumbled drunk, unaware of nervous glances staring straight at him. The Sergeant looked at him and said.
'' Take to him to the barracks, will ya? '' He said and smoked his pipe.
The Soldiers cast nervous glances once more.
'' Did ya hear what I said? Take the man as of now! '' He ordered.
And then he was taken away by the group of soldiers.
Ned had observed all of this, when he noticed the General Sherman, the commander of the Union Army, was looking straight at him. He was a well-built man that had the sheer look of intimidating anyone.
Ned turned his head around to see a dozen soldiers standing in line with him. He could see the medals of honor dangling from their breast pockets.
'' Ned Tucker? '' The General asked.
Ned clicked his heels and saluted.
'' Yes, General, sir! ''
Sherman nodded, as if he were a schoolmaster inspecting his pupils.
'' Good, you know why these men here have got the medal? ''
'' For Bravery, sir, ''
Sherman shook his head.
'' I just got the word from your Irish friends about your fight with the Butcher of Columbia, ''
'' Didn't you? ''
Everyone looked at him. Ned stared at Sherman.
'' Yes sir, I did fight him. ''
Sherman nodded respectfully.
'' Which is why, I am rewarding you the Medal of Honor for your personal conduct, and the strength you have to face such fearsome men. '' He nodded, finishing his sentence and then nodding to the Colonel behind him.
'' Colonel, make this man promoted to Brigadier General, will you? ''
'' Yes, sir, '' He saluted.
'' Come with me, son. ''
And the Colonel took Ned with him.
'' And that's how the good ones never go to West Point. '' Sherman observed.
The three Confederate commanders saluted to each other. Johnston, Hardee , and Kenneth sitting on their horses at the top of the slope.
Hardee's face looked as if death had stamped on it. His face was no longer the colourful man he had once met, Kenneth observed.
'' They've beaten us every step of the way,'' Hardee began.
'' We're still not beaten, we can beat them. '' Kenneth replied with obvious enthusiasm.
'' We won't do that. We will withdraw through Smithfield. '' Johnston replied bitterly.
'' Why Smithfield, general? ''
'' We'll able to make good ground. Abandon our works as of now, ''
'' But Gener- ''
'' I do appreciate your concern , Major, but as of this moment now, you will tell your men to abandon the works! '' Johnston shouted.
A defiant Major nodded slowly and then galloped off.
'' I do feel sorry for your son; he was one of the best we had. '' He said, after the Major had gone.
'' I never should have taken him, he was too young, '' Hardee said, tears coming in his eyes.
'' He was in the 8th Texas Cavalry wasn't he? ''
'' He was sir, ''
'' How old? ''
'' 16, general. ''
Johnston turned his head at Hardee
'' 16? Why would you let a youngster serve in the army? ''
'' He was a lazy good for nothing brat. I thought by sending him in the army would do me some good. ''
'' And did it? ''
'' It did General, ''
Johnston smiled grimly.
'' I offer you my condolences, ''
'' I remember reading something one, the one you neglect the most, '' He paused. '' Will one day disappear from you. ''
With that the General saluted and galloped off, leaving Hardee on his own.
The Confederates had reached the hill of Hannah's creek after being pursued by the Northerners after ten hours of retreating. General Sherman had ordered not to pursue them anymore. As he thought that he would with meet with Johnston again. But it was not to be on that day.
He saw his troops occupy the town of Goldsbro. What’s more, his army needed supplies and more troops to finally finish them off.
'' You see Goldsbro, Brigadier Tucker? '' He turned his head to the newly promoted Tucker, clad in a fine felt blue uniform. Tucker had received a lot of praise from his Irish friends, he hadn't seen his wife in four years for now, and he had greatly celebrated their love on their wedding anniversary.
'' You'll fend them off, those damn traitors and rebels; I want you to defend it. ''
'' Sir, If I may ask, why didn't we finish off the Rebs? ''
'' Because I expect to deal with Johnston later, Tucker, he wouldn't want a full scale defeat; therefore I'm waiting for my moment of opportunity. '' Sherman muttered.
Major Kenneth spat into the ground with frustration. Three years, three long damn years he had experienced defeat after defeat against the Yankees; Was it right for his side to lose all the time? Even with Lee around, their fortunes had not succeeded. The Union was too powerful to defeat. Let alone Europe.
The discipline however, in the Confederate Army hadn't declined. Perhaps it had been the legendary toughness of the Southerners that still wanted to fight of the Yankees once and for all. This he had noticed.
General Johnston appeared in front of him wearing the same uniform as the major. The Major saluted him. Johnston nodded.
'' The battle's lost, isn't it General? '' The Major began.
Johnston slowly nodded.
'' We just don't have enough men to finish the battle off, ''
The Major couldn't deny the fact. The Confederate armies had suffered huge amounts of desertion when it was made clear that they were losing the war. It was the same with the North as well.
'' For four years, I've been fighting this war, you know that Major? ''
'' I know, General,''
'' And for those four long years, I have experienced victory after victory and defeat after defeat. It does not do me any good, I feel saddened that the South couldn't remain alive. ''
'' Agreed, we weren't fighting this war to conquer the North in the first place, we did it to preserve a new southern state, ''
'' Slavery is what they brand us, them Yankees. ''
'' General, what would you have me do? ''
'' Take Goldsbro, ''
The Major stared at Johnston.
'' Sir, taking the town will take no major strategic aims. '' He protested.
'' I don't care whether or not if it is a strategy, I have nothing left to do, The Yankees outnumber us from one to ten. This is my gamble, we take the town, we will have won a victory against the Union, hopefully this may alter the balance of this war. But we will have to conduct in such a way, that even Lee would be impressed. Is that understood? ''
'' Yes, sir, '' The Major inclined his head and withdrew.
'' So,'' Johnston briefed his generals the next day.
They were in a wide open tent; all the army's commanders had been summoned. This would be the last attack for the Army of the south. The Map showed the town of Goldsbro in a wide hook. The Union army had heavily fortified the town and remained in control. The red blocks, which were the confederates, were formed in a single line, each written with the names of their commanders.
'' Goldsbro is our main target. We shall begin by attacking the town early mid-day. ''
'' Major Kenneth and General Hardee shall attack with their divisions on the most weakest position of the Yankees. '' He pointed to where the bridge was.
'' From there on, me and my forces shall attack from the South east, causing Sherman's troops to withdraw. ''
'' Any objections? '' He turned his head around to see not many objections.
'' If I may, General, '' One of the commanders spoke out.
'' I do feel we cannot take Goldsbro. ''
'' And why is that, my good neighbor? ''
'' We don't have enough men, we've run out of supplies anyway, we don't have even have any more senior officers to lead the men, General Johnston, I say we stick to guerrilla attacks, ''
Kenneth eyed the conflict arising between the two generals.
'' No, sir, I will not resort to any damn brigand fighting. General Lee is out there fighting the Yankees and you sir request that I retreat from the enemy? Never! '' Johnston slammed his fist on the table.
'' We will follow this plan right to the page, do I raise any objections as of this moment? ''
'' No, I don't, very well then, Hardee and Kenneth, go and prepare for the attack, The others will come with me, '' He nodded, dismissing Kenneth and Hardee.
'' That bald man knows nothing, '' Hardee said as soon they left the tent.
'' I may second on that one, '' Kenneth agreed.
'' Attack on Goldsbro? My God, we've lost the battle; we don't have the men to even attack that damn town. Where's the arterially? No one knows, so, now, I'm gonna have to attack with them, ''
'' Even if we win, it won't do us any good. We've already had enough defeats , this one won't be different, ''
'' Remind's me of Gettysburg, Granny Lee wouldn't follow Longstreet's advice, ''
'' That's because he believed the army was superior, ''
'' Well , our's isn't! '' Hardee spat.
'' By God, we need at least one victory, just one. ''
'' I doubt we'll get that. ''
A strange looking ragged man appeared from the tents inside the Confederate Camp. He took his horse, mounted on it and galloped away to the Union Camp.
He arrived at Sherman's tent.
'' General, '' He gave a stiff bow and saluted him.
'' Wisconsin, '' Sherman acknowledged him.
'' Tell me now, what of the rebels? ''
'' The rebels are at their weakest, sir. I've seen through every one of them and they can't destroy us, ''
'' I know that,'' said Sherman annoyed.
'' They're aiming to take goldsbro, sir, '' the spy tried once more.
Sherman spitted from his glass.
'' They're trying to do what? '' He asked, incredulously.
'' Johnston's aiming to get goldsbro at once, he takes the town, we will lose it. ''
'' While's Johnston good at attacking, I'm not sure why he would take goldsbro, he's clearly lost the battle.'' Sherman said, engaging in deep thought.
'' He's attacking from the left wings, where the village is, that's where we're weak, general, ''
'' The thing is, I would already expect this from him.'' Sherman gave a mere smile.
'' Sir? ''
'' Wisconsin, let me tell you something, before this damn war, we were all friends at west point, I knew Lee and Grant, saw them in action in the Mexican war, I knew them all, most of my friends are southerners, '' He reflected
'' And who would have thought that we would face each other in this war ten years later? No one would have, so I know what Johnston's doing, he's going to fail on this one.,''
'' They will attack mid-day, general, ''
'' Tucker will defend the city, send one of my officers to instruct him, he'll know what to do, I'll give the rookie a chance, if he does well, it'll be good for us, but if he doesn't, then we are finished, ''
Sherman turned his head with intelligence sparkling in his eyes.
'' You have your orders, Wisconsin, ''
Wisconsin nodded and left the tent.
Brigader General Ned Tucker stood proudly on the defenses of Goldsbro. He admired his new uniform with the new kep hat he had. The town was much like a very old western city, with houses and markets. The civilians had been forced to evacuate the city and Tucker had seen to it. Since his promotion, he had earned the respect of his comrades and friends alike. He had shown himself to be a man who did not waste time and who took action at the right moment. He hadn't been given any duties as of yet, but he guessed he would sooner or later.
'' Oh aye, Tucker, you just watch there while I have to slag up here walking around like this. '' An annoyed Irish voice rasped behind him.
Tucker chuckled and grabbed Ryan by is arm, pulling him up.
Ryan rubbed of the dirt on his sleeves and trousers.
'' Sure, I was just doing that, ''
'' Ha, very funny, ''
'' The damn rebs are beaten now, '' Ryan said
'' I'm sure of that, but that major.... ''
'' Forget him, he's a damn traitor to his country, Ned, I came here personally from Ireland because the english over there don't let us have our independence. ''
'' Is that so? ''
'' Yeah, but anyway, me and my lads will always stand by you, mate. ''
'' Thanks for the vote of confidence, by the way, when you arrived, did they enlist you? ''
'' Yep, thousands of us were conscripted, ''
'' And what do you think of America? ''
'' Love it, far better than what it is in Ireland, ''
'' Really? ''
'' Yup, I'm probably one of the few who like, the rest hated it, ''
'' Perhaps. '' Tucker finished the sentence.
A Union officer dismounted and walked to the two men standing.
'' Which one of you boys is Brigadier General Ned Tucker? ''
'' I am, ''
'' Then take this,'' he produced a hand written note and gave it to him.
'' General Sherman wants to meet you, Tucker, says the rebs are gonna attack goldsbro,''
'' You are...? ''
'' Oh, sorry, I'm Colonel Joshua Banks, ''
'' I am the commanding advisor to you, Sherman sent me, ''
'' I'm afraid only Tucker must come, '' he said, blocking the Irishman
'' What? But... '' Ryan pulled out a weak protest.
'' I am sorry, but Tucker must come with me now. ''
Ryan cast a furious glance at Ned, but before Ned could reply, he was taken by the Colonel.
Ned saluted as he entered Sherman's tent. Sherman sat there on a cracker box, wearing an old grey flannel suit, a blue blouse and trousers that he had worn long since the war started. He sipped his black coffee and placed it on the rough table, he smoked from his pipe and blew out large puffs of smoke. He had the look of an intelligent man and a golden beard ran through his face, covering up every section.
'' General, '' Tucker nodded his head.
'' Tucker, '' Sherman inclined, after a long moment of his silence, he beckoned Tucker to the chair that was behind him.
Sherman turned his head and a staff officer produced a large map and rolled it out on the table.
On the map was the town of Goldsbro. The Union forces in blue, the Confederate forces in red, commanded by a flag and the name of the commander on it.
'' You see that town over there? '' He pointed to Goldsbro
'' Yes, sir, I do, ''
'' That town over there will be taken by the Confederates, ''
'' Sir? ''
'' You know the Major of Columbia? ''
'' Yes sir, ''
'' He'll be taking the assault, I want you to defend Goldsbro while I come with reinforcements, '' Sherman said bluntly.
'' General....I... '' Tucker was overwhelmed. Since the start of the war, he had been fighting as a private, not as an officer nor lieutenant. It was too much for him to take it in all at once.
Sherman, seeing the nervousness of Tucker, went to him and touched his shoulder.
'' Don't you worry about a thing over there, I know what it is like, I didn't become a general just like that, Ned, you have got to think one thing here, the rebels in our position threaten to break us if we don't beat them back, you know very well that Lincoln isn't faring well over the elections, so I'm depending on you, brigadier, to hold goldsbro. ''
'' If we lose, Lincoln loses the election, and then we lose the war to McClellan, ''
'' Do you understand? '' Sherman veered his head towards Ned, staring down at him.
Ned rose up from the chair.
'' Sir, the only thing I have with me is your faith in me, I will be honored to lead the defense of goldsbro, and you may have my word on it, ''
''Good, but they will not attack now, they're still following the policy of bleeding us, well I just won't give them the chance to do that,''
''They will commence the attack within three weeks, ''
'' Within that time, you and the Irish brigade here will help you in the defense of the town.''
“They may be battle-hardened troops, but I promise you that the confederates won't get this town, general,''
Sherman gave a huff.
'' Why did they never send the good ones to west point? ''
'' Atten-hut!!! '' The officer drawled. The troops had already begun marching 25 miles from the town till the army camp. The Irish Brigade, Ryan, and Tucker had been given their jobs to train their troops for the defense of Goldsbro.
And so far, Tucker hadn't found it very nice.
“Come on , Tucker, at this rate, Sherman's not gonna let you defend the city if you keep on lagging on like that." Banks said as Tucker groaned as he struggled to keep his legs straight. Many others were in the same condition as Tucker.
“Bet you didn't think you would have walked that old 25 miles again, would you Tucker? ''
'' Sure didn't so, Colonel, ''
'' Company....Halt!!! '' Banks ordered.
The mass of soldiers stopped down, sitting down.
'' Gentlemen! '' Banks said once they were on the ground.
'' At this town here you will defend goldsbro. It is my duty to see you overcome this damn reb force which will attack us. “
“Now, you will train for these three weeks, stand to attention!!! '' He drawled.
'' Company... get to your posts, '' He said.
Soldiers practiced their rifle training, shooting into their targets. Patrols of uniformed soldiers marched down the town; others practised their firing, while many eat their lunches, sandwiches and coffees from the supply wagons, salt and pork, beef and hard bread. Many colonels drilled their battalions into advancing in a proper line. Tucker was leading the Irish Washington Company.
'' Get your backs into it, lads! '' He had picked up the twirl of the Irish accent long back.
'' Company....forward! '' He said.
Banks watched as he saw Tucker commanding the Irishmen.
'' Oh aye, we will, sir, '' Ryan mocked him
'' Silence in the ranks, I'm here to lead you sons of Ireland, don't fail me in this one, ''
The Company advanced to the bank of the town. Tucker got in the middle of his men.
'' Company, Halt! ''
The company halted.
'' Company....load your rifles! ''
And the Irishmen stamped their rifles into the ground and began ramming the muzzle into its lair while putting the gunpowder, a smell of rotten eggs and ash.
'' Fix bayonets!! '' The Irishmen fixed their bayonets onto the rifles, positioning them perfectly.
'' Now, fire!!! '' A tremendous fire exchange sprang from the rifles bayonets.
" Faugh a ballagh!! '' The Old Irish War cry roared, it meant clear the way.
The Flag of the Irish fluttered in the wind, a dark green flag with the yellow harp as its symbol, woven by red and maroon at the edges of the background.
Tucker nodded, satisfied.
The Major gritted through his teeth. He turned his head and waved his sword high into the air. He took a step down on the stone rock he was looking through. A few rebel soldiers went as fast as they could, hiding in the shrubs. Ten more soldiers hid into the camouflage.
'' Major, do you really believe that the Yankees over there won't suspect us? ''
'' Of course not, Sergeant, ''
'' We're spying on them, Major, ''
'' And we shall do so, ''
'' All the same, I don't think the Yankees wouldn't notice us, '' The Sergeant spoke through gritted teeth.
Early morning rose in the Union Camp, soldiers got out of their sleeping tents to stretch their arms. Old friends through the war had been separated throughout the war, being on both sides, they must have wondered what their friends were doing on the other side. The Union officers called the bugles and assembled rows of blue uniformed soldiers in a columns.
A blue uniformed man on a horse with a grey bag entered the camp.
'' Letters, Letters, the letters are here'' One of the soldiers called out , and a dozen soldiers rushed to the messenger. He trotted his horse at the center of the camp and began distributing the letters to the soldiers. Tucker took the letter from the postman and opened it.
'' My Dearest Husband
How can I begin? I miss you from the bottom of my heart, it swells with the knowledge that I know you will come back to me, this war has gone on for too long, I cannot express the feelings of how much I regret missing you, I don't have much that time left, but know of this, I will always love you for generations to come. ''
Your Dearest love
After reading it, Tucker shed a tear from his war torn face. He closed his eyes and prayed for a few minutes, then he turned to see a Confederate grey uniformed officer advancing to the camp, holding a flag of truce, on the other side, two more officers held the Dixie Flag in their hands. This caught glares from the Union soldiers.
Tucker saluted the officers. The Confederate Officers in turn saluted him back. Banks arrived first at the scene.
'' Colonel Stovington of the army of the south at your service, and...? '' The first rebel officer began.
'' Colonel Joshua Banks and Brigadier Ned Tucker of Sherman's army, '' Banks came first
The rebel officer nodded, moving his horse around.
'' What have you come for? ''
'' General Johnston has requested a temporary truce between the two armies, colonel, he wishes that before the final fight, that the army of the south will be able to talk with each other, he requests that the troops between the two armies have a final meeting before commencing the attack. I do hope you understand, the war is not going so well for us, so allow us some modesty, colonel banks, ''
'' And that will be agreed, '' A voice appeared behind them, Tucker's eyes darted to see Sherman in a dirty stained blouse and navy blue trousers forwarding to the Confederate officers on horseback. Everyone saluted him.
'' I will agree to the truce, how long? ''
'' The truces will last three days, General Sherman, ''
'' Three days will be enough, '' Sherman said, nodding his head like a wise man. '' Send my compliments to General Johnston, I do hope he is doing fine. ''
Tucker's eyes impatiently awaited Stovingtin's response.
'' I will send the compliments to Johnston, general; I give you my word as a southern gentlemen on it. We will arrive at around 9:00 am in the morning. ''
“I hope to you see then, my thanks, colonel, ''
'' I shall do so, '' Stovington nodded and galloped away from the camps, the flag bearers behind him.
The Major sweated under the hot sun, for about the whole night they had been spying on the Union army in the town, it was to get an idea of what would happen, he wished that he had never volunteered for this spying mission. He had so far, seen nothing useful. The Yankees had made good use of their town, to distract the Confederates, he observed.
Stovington and his parade galloped far away from them, but the Major had already noticed them. He wondered, what were they doing there over there in the Union camp? He sighed in disgust and rose from his position.
'' Common boys, seems like Johnston's talked out a truce for us, '' He reflected sadly, he rose and left the bushes, the men soon following him.
'' Could you tell me the meaning of this? '' Kenneth demanded.
'' I can only tell you that we have a truce between the two armies, '' Johnston shot back.
'' A truce? When will we commence the attacks??? ''
'' In due time, major,''
'' Major, you call me major, '' Kenneth bowed his head. '' Do you know that the Union army out there is weak and we can strike now, sir , I request you to attack as of now, ''
" Damn you major, I am the general and I will decide when we attack, '' He slammed his fist on the table.
'' No wonder you lost us the battles, '' Kenneth nodded his head slowly, then went out of Johnston's tent.
The next day began with a bright sunshine morning, enveloping the town with a blanket of dark shadows covering it. At the time of 9:00 am, a drum began far away from the city. Then it overlapped, joining more drums. A large grey uniformed infantry army appeared wide open in the plain green field. The Confederates had appeared in their best, totally uniformed in a style that had been previously envisioned, all were grey coated, wearing proper uniforms, not the torn and tattered ones.
Johnston, Kenneth, and Hardee rode in the front of their army, their arms on their hips, they grey uniforms with the gold buttons running down, the hardee hat placed on Kenneth's head, and slouch grey hats located on Kenneth's and Johnston's heads.
'' Men of the Union, salute!! '' Tucker said as he led his troops out from the town. A union battery fired in the traditional way, the confederate battery replied back.
As soon as the Union army was drawn out, the three rebel leaders nodded to each other and rode out to meet Sherman, Tucker was given a horse by banks, at first he hesitated, but with Bank's encouraging, he mounted on the horse and went out where Sherman was.
Sherman gave a stiff salute to the Confederate commanders. They saluted back.
'' Generals, '' He began
'' General Sherman, will our truce go as agreed? ''
'' It will, Johnston, I give you my word on that, ''
'' I see you've bought the Butcher of Columbia here too me, '' Kenneth raged at the insult.
'' Perhaps, General Sherman, you may focus onto the officer coming at you, ''
Sherman turned around to see Tucker furiously riding his horse, then stopping at once when he reached the general's horse.
'' Brigadier Tucker, ''
'' General, ''
Kenneth couldn't believe his eyes, the damn Yankee which he had fought , the private, was now in front of him, dressed in a splendid navy blue uniform with a kepi hat, wearing grey bluish gloves.
'' May I say how well dressed you look, brigadier, '' Hardee complimented.
'' Why, thank you...general... ''
'' General Hardee, ''
'' Hardee, yes, Hardee '' he nodded to himself and instantly memorized it.
'' There will be no fighting? ''
'' It is a fine Sunday morning, and I wouldn't think the lord would accepriate that we, his sons and daughters, fight on the seventh day, ''
Johnston nodded in agreement.
'' We shall not fight as for now, ''
'' General, sir, '' Tucker saluted
'' What is it, Tucker? ''
'' Sir, if we may, will the troops be requested now to meet each other? ''
'' Yes, Tucker, they will be, I bid you all good day, '' Sherman gave a stiff salute and turned his horse around, the leaders of both armies rode back to their armies, issuing orders to abandon weapons and to meet in a friendly manner. The armies abandoned their weapons and took their hats off, the armies dissolved into individuals greeting and shaking hands. Old friends met each other for the first time in four years since the war started, others traded coffee and meat, and northerners had talks with the southerners, wanting to each discover what was in their side.
Tucker walked with Banks accompanying him as they went to meet the southern soldiers on the other side. They saw men greeting each other in a somewhat cordial, yet friendly way, old friends were reunited, and brothers separated by the war could not bear to see themselves in their condition, and so greeted each other as family.
'' Why you walking with me, Colonel? '' Tucker asked.
'' I'm walking with you under Sherman's orders, ''
He cut off Tucker before he could ask any more.
'' All will be revealed sooner or later, now , look on those johnny rebs coming right here now, '' He pointed to the group of Confederate officers and soldiers advancing to them. One of them shook Tucker's hand in greeting, and they sat down on the rocks situaited close to them.
'' So , how come you Yankee Officers coming around here? '' The first in the group asked.
'' Nothing, we're just curious, that's all, '' Banks said.
'' Where you boys coming from? ''
'' Me and Tucker, we're both New Yorkers, ''
'' New Yorkers? Most of us are from Virginia, we got called in by the general, by the way, Seward is my name, '' He introduced the rest of the officers to Tucker and Banks.
'' Have you had enough of this war? '' he asked the group.
No one replied as he saw the disturbing expressions appear on the Confederate officers faces.
'' I guess we have so, '' Seward replied
'' Three years of victory and then defeat, I guess you could say it so, but by god, we will win this final battle, ''
'' Really? Your cities are devastated, your country lies ruins, your armies are outnumbered and beaten, and yet you're still fighting? I don't even think General Lee could even stand against Sherman or Grant, ''
'' And you , you damn yankee, you think you're gonna win this? Oh no you ain't! '' Seward raged.
'' Yeah? And who are you to tell me? The entire confederacy's dead. Your country only exists in the names of armies, nothing else, ''
'' We are not dead, we will rise, the South will rise again, '' Seward replied with defiance edging in his voice,
'' Perhaps in two hundred years, but you have lost everything, accept it, we are the victorious, not you, ''
'' Live in your victory for now, but be warned, our blood will remain in our generations after us, and when they rise, we will not surrender, ''
'' And then enslave people for your own sake, ''
'' Sake? We take the damn darkies and put them in slavery, its where they should be! It is our life in the south, we will not yield to any damn yankee telling us what to do, ''
'' I ask you one thing, what have the darkies done to you? ''
Seward never replied, for at that moment, he was interrupted by a another person, Major Jack Kenneth.
'' Because we have preached them our ways, and then with all our generosity, they rebelled against us, '' Kenneth grinned as he saw the anguished look on Tucker's face.
'' You see, Brigadier, we have given everything to them, they have taken advantage of our generosity, and have then used it against us, if you understand, ''
Tucker huffed and nodded his head.
'' You southerners just don't know when to quit, do you? ''
'' No, we will not yield, ''
'' Why won't you just accept that you've lost? '' Banks asked.
'' Because we do not yield to any Yankee. '' Kenneth raged. '' I will have not any Yankee coming in my house and telling me what to do, I will not let the yankee have his way, I certainly would tell him to rectify the proclamation that freed those damn slaves, there ain't no law that objects us to kill the darkies, there ain't no law that is going to object us from lynching! There will be no one, no, not any damn yankee to surrender Dixie to that godforsaken damn Union flag which it is itself is a heretic, its objects its true course. We will never, never, and I will tell you once more, surrender, ''
'' Even so, do you consider for once, major, that someday the color line may be broken? That people will be living without boundaries restricted to them, without the judging of their race, color, nor nationality. And one day, that may come, it will come, and then you and your lot will lie in small groups, never rising to power any more, and you have my word on that, ''
Silence. Total silence settled the atmosphere as it took time to absorb Tucker's words. Then after an hour, the major began again.
'' Surely, this must- ''
'' That is something I always have wondered, ''
'' Yes, I do know that, '' Kenneth said, annoyed at the proposals of this damn Yankee private. Who was he to tell him what needed changing in the natural cycle of life?
'' So now what? Will you rebs fight on? ''
'' We will, ''
'' But I'll tell you rebs one thing, betraying your country is one of the worst things any one can do. We fought against the English during our independence, but to see brothers against brothers.... '' Ned paused. '' Is the worst thing that can happen to us, I see you all as rebellious fools. Didn't America provide you with everything you wanted? What was the need of making this cause for the south up? Why did you need to separate? Why? ''
'' As I have explained to you before, Mr Tucker, we do not want to be a part of the north any longer, ''
'' Well, then, I guess you're left to your own fate, '' He rose and saluted the officers.
'' What the hell do you think you were doing back , there talking to them rebel officers? '' Banks said as soon as they had left the place.
'' I told them what I had to sir, ''
'' Well you better keep it in your mind, don't want people thinking you're one of them abolitionists, ''
'' But- ''
'' To goddamn hell! I will not have any of that, brigadier, you're in the army now, and you will fight accordingly, you will not mention about them slaves, is that understood? ''
'' Yes sir, ''
And so the conversations between the Yankees and Johnny Rebs went on for hours. Ned had met some southerners which he thought were almost exceptional in their spirit for not giving up to the North. After noon, it ended. The soldiers went back to their camps. Both armies would fight another day. Ned fell asleep once he left Sherman's tent.
Major Kenneth wondered in his mind. He rose from where he sat on a cracker box. He rose and went out from the camp. He marveled at the beauty of the forest of the night. The silent night, the sounds of the owls hooting, the squirrels walking up the trees, far away from the barrage of war. It seemed as if war hadn't touched upon it. Even though it was pure darkness, nature always had that effect on you. Kenneth explored through the forests, until he stumbled onto something big and shiny. It was covered in a big cloak, and seemed to end for miles.
Kenneth grabbed hold of the cloak, and began pulling it off. What he saw astounded him. It was an entire arsenal of weapons, and not just any weapons, these were gifted by the British Government during the war, as a secret gift to the Confederates. They were prototypes of new weapons, ones which would have been used had the Confederates not been so foolish as to lose it somewhere during the middle of the war. And they were large weapons. Each armed with different firing modes, odd shapes and sizes. It was a jackpot for them.
'' My god, '' He said in awe.
He at once ran off to the camp. When he came back, he'd bought with him the whole confederate command. When they eyed it, the troops began to whoop and cheer. Happy at last that they had something to beat the damn Yankees at. These weapons or arteirly as they would soon call them would have to be tested. They could either work, or just even blow up.
'' Major, I think God may congralute you for this one day, '' Johnstan said eying him.
'' Perhaps, General, perhaps, ''
'' But the problem is we don't know how to use them, ''
'' Don't you worry sir, I'll find them, ''
'' Find what? ''
'' Find the people- ''
'' Major, I think you understand one thing, however powerful these weapons may be, they will not do us any justice until we know how to operate them, ''
'' Yes sir. '' silently Kenneth fumed.
Life is too short to spend with people who suck the happiness out of you.
e "faugh a ballagh