The day I went back to the future.
|I was sitting behind my desk the other evening doing some detailed research on the American Civil War.
Suddenly, I felt a dizzy sensation, a chill ran down my back and I must have dozed off or passed out for a few moments. When I recovered my senses, I was not sitting behind my desk, I was not in my warm comfortable room, I was sitting on a cold damp log in the middle of a frozen thicket of woods.
Instead of my big home computer I had a laptop computer balanced precariously on my knees and it was no longer evening, the bright sun shining through the treetops told me it was near high noon.
I was wearing blue jeans and my favorite T-shirt, the one with four of my Union Army heroes on it, but I still had my raggedy old moccasins on my feet, the comfortable ones I wear around the house.
"OK Oldwarrior," I told myself, "you're either dreaming or you've finally flipped your lid."
All of a sudden a squad of men charged from the blackjack thickets on my right and surrounded me. They were dressed in rag-tag Confederate uniforms and pointing antique .58 caliber black powder rifles at me. The leader, a grizzled old man wearing sergeant chevrons yelled, "Follow us you (blankety-blank) Yankee, and don't pull any shenanigans!"
It was then that I knew I had flown over the coo-coo's nest and landed in the loony bin.
I guess I had been doing so much research on the Civil War, my mind had finally snapped and sent me there.
After walking for about two miles we broke into a clearing with hundreds of military tents, thousands of soldiers, squadrons of cavalry, and artillery lined up almost hub to hub. The overpowering stench of unwashed bodies, burned food, horse patoodie, and a miasma of other smells assaulted my nostrils.
I was turned over to a man in Confederate uniform wearing a star on his collar, a rank I identified as a Major. The Major asked me whom I was spying for. When I told him that I was from Mississippi and I was not spying but was from the future, he tossed me a grin and said, "Yeah, and those Yankees on your shirt are invisible."
There was a sudden yell behind me. The Sergeant had opened my laptop computer and the screen display had frightened him. It had reverted to screen saver and a Star Wars pattern was running with star ships battling each other.
For what seemed like hours, but were mere minutes, the Major and squad of soldiers gaped open mouthed at the incredible futuristic battle scene. The astonished Major then turned to me and ordered me to pick up the laptop and follow him.
We walked to a large tent near the center of the encampment. The Major disappeared inside but returned shortly followed by a regal General with a graybeard. It was my turn to gape with my mouth wide open.
Standing before me was none other than General Robert E. Lee, the greatest and most beloved general of all time. In person, my hero was much greater than any history book could possibly describe him.
For hours on end I demonstrated the vast store of knowledge that my laptop computer could provide. How it went through time to collect the cyber-space signals I didn't care to think about, it just did.
We ended up with diagrams of 21st century weapons. Small arms like the M-16, the AK-47, the Uzi, the Sten Gun, M-60 machine gun, and others, plus modern artillery, special powder formulas, how to make electricity, internal combustion, a history of small arms, and finally a short history of the Civil War.
Much later I was taken by coach to a warehouse along the James River where I was introduced to a Confederate General in charge of armaments and what we today would call Research & Development.
We spent days going over items on my computer until we hit one the General fell in love with. It was Hitler’s V2 Rocket Program.
I think it was then that I passed out again and awoke sitting at my desk behind my computer. I quickly turned it off and made a pot of coffee to get the cobwebs out of my head. What a strange dream it had been.
I didn't think more on it until I got to work the next day. At first nothing appeared different.
But, when I made my routine courthouse run, all the documents were marked with official CSA seals, the Confederate flag was flying on the flag pole, and CNN News was running a story about how the President of the USA and the President of the CSA had agreed to send a joint humanitarian expedition to wipe out starvation in Africa.
With the information and knowledge I had passed on to my hero, General Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy had won their independence.
At the coffee shop, the headlines in the Richmond Times caught my eye:
CONFEDERATE SPACE MISSILE FOUND
A Vienna correspondent signing himself simply as “F.R. Johnson” presented a tale, which challenges the imagination.
Late in the American Civil War, by his story, the Confederacy launched a two-stage rocket from near Richmond, Virginia, aiming at Washington approximately one hundred miles away.
This extraordinary missile was made possible by the work of a secret agent in England, who persuaded Lord Kelvin to liquefy oxygen (well before its accepted date of development), and enlisted the aid of German physicist, Ernst Mach, who contributed a small turbine and a gyroscopic stabilizer.
Their idea, or so they say, came from a time traveler from the year 2009. A Newspaper Editor of all people!
With British-built machinery for liquefying oxygen and Mach's turbine, Confederate experts went to work in a shed somewhere along the James River.
Supposedly, a deep hole in the riverbank was fitted with a tube made of dismembered barrels of naval guns. The celebrated Matthew Fontaine Maury, father of modern navigation, calculated the trajectory.
The rocket itself was to get its original thrust from gun cotton fired at the bottom of the tube, and was made at the famous Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond.
The missile was transported through Richmond's streets to the launching site in early March 1865. Men from the Torpedo Bureau worked around the clock to prepare the rocket; a steam pipe was fed into the launching tube to provide power for the stabilizing vanes.
The missile arrived with the letters CSA cut into its nose cone and President Davis and other officials added their names before the firing.
A large network of scouts was spread in the country between Richmond and Washington to act as crude tracking station outposts, and when an electrical switch fired the rocket, men with telescopes saw it roar skyward, lose its first stage, and disappear from sight. The first stage, by this one account, was recovered and returned to the torpedo shed.
A mystery soon developed: No eye saw the rocket come down, and since record books were destroyed with the great fire of Richmond, the fate of the two-stage rocket was unknown.
Yesterday the space shuttle Voyager encountered an object in space they could only identify as a UFO. As they maneuvered to close with the strange object, with video cameras working, they captured this astounding photo of a rocket bearing the initials of – you guessed it – CSA!
A closer examination of the photo showed the signature of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and other Confederate dignitaries and the hard to see name which is thought to read – Oldwarrior?