500-words-a-day Group #1214629
|Sergeant of the Patrol
Broad shoulders with a rolling walk that ate up the miles during a pushed march. He wasn’t afraid to push his men to the point of thirst and hunger to achieve his orders. His men didn’t see him as cruel and uncaring because he carried the same lice and dysentery they did. His mustached face hardened by sun, dirt and gunpowder rarely smiled. The death and tragedy of this war did not escape him.
As a volunteer in the Union Army of New York State, 1st Infantry battalion, Gabriel Horton new why he volunteered. As a schoolteacher and private historian, he new the sacrifices being made by the states of the blue lline. He knew the dangers of separation in the north and south. The world waited behind the scenes secretly contributing to the efforts to split a new nation and leave the young south open for invasion and pillaging. The south would be nothing more than a deserted swamp with mosquitoes and malaria when the world was finished with the War Between the States.
Sergeant Horton talked and taught his men as they marched keeping pace by the rhythm of his baritone voice. Horton was a natural leader knowing his men needed nourishment for their brains and hearts more than their bodies. He taught them of Aristotle, Copernicus and Leonardo Da Vinci. He taught them to triangulate and read the topography of his maps. He endeavored to educate his men so that he would not lose them because of ignorance. The “schoolteacher” as he was sometimes known recited Shakespeare, Thomas Paine and the Declaration of Independence as a way to free their minds from the toils and tragedies of war. Sergeant carried the souls of every man in his patrol as he carried the souls of his family. The family he held close to his heart survived without him for the last four years. The New York homestead in ____________ consisted of his small farmhouse, hay barn, hay fields and orchards. His wife, blonde and buxom, kept his mind from the war when he allowed himself a few moments. The children she raised on her own for now were his pride and joy. He waited impatiently for the time he would walk through the front door of his home and breathe.
Three red headed boys blessed with hair of his ancestors worked beside their mother until the day of his return. The boys practiced many of the old Ireland sports such as jousting from their stick ponies, sword playing with swords built by their father before his leave, and reading. Whether his father was present or not the boys were expected to understand the rudiments of arithmetic, English grammar, German and Latin. The practiced also the art of handwriting. Sergeant Horton believed that a farmer had no need of ignorance. Learning the basics civilized education was always a guarantee against money shortages and crop failures. Plus, a man was never lonely when he read a book during the darkest solitude.
The man known as Gabriel Horton’s union cap barely harnessed the curls and frizzes of his knotted red hair. Rarely cutting his hair as his ancestors, Gabriel appeared as a combatant from the fields of Erin. His battle cries heard above the fighting were known throughout the New York infantry. It was said that if Gabe’s war cries didn’t scare the Rebs, the fiery bush of hair did.
One thing that always brought the Sarge to his knees was the sight of a young Johnny Reb lieing dead on the battlefield. How many of these children must he kill before the armies withdrew and counted the losses of such young minds.
Gabe heard through the grapevine that at least 750,000 casualties were counted and expected more when all was done. Most of the enlisted and conscripted were not privy to such information. The desertion rate was high enough already. But Gabe knew it was a matter of time before the dead children haunted all but that bastard Sherman
AndieK--don't forget "Life is an adventure . . . So write it down & treasure the memory forever."