Friday, June 13, 2014

The Civil War Short Story - Part 4 of 4

The Civil War Short Story
Part 4 of 4

The following excerpt is from Part III of the forthcoming Short Story Collection:

“American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)”

The "Civil War Short Story" is considered by the author as the Feature Presentation of the book.

Statue of a Civil War Soldier at Gettysburg
Source: user smithwil

The Civil War Short Story - Part 4 of 4:

As that summer of 1865 moved along we worked together and separately on the various jobs we felt needed done, in order, based on the weather, our projected needs and individual interests in moving back toward normalcy - if there ever again would be such a thing. From the beginning, we agreed to each keep our rifles within reach and to be constantly on alert for raiders, outlaws or strangers coming into the valley.

It turned out we did have two incidents of note. One occurred in July and and the other in the middle of August. I remember that the first occurred about a week after we paused in our work to celebrate Independence Day. On that occasion, among us we had actually talked at length about how “lucky” we had been not to have any raiders, but, we also reminded ourselves to remain alert. And, by being alert, we spotted the group of about ten horsemen entering the valley, along the river, from the southeast before they saw that we were here. We all converged, as we had planned, just north of a little ridge on the west side of Oak Creek, just south of the McDonald land. As the horsemen were beginning to come up that ridge from the south, we all emerged, spaced out, rifles at the ready, like a well-drilled military squad, to challenge their approach. Whatever their original intent, they were not expecting what they found. They claimed to be ranchers from the Jack’s Fork area scouting for unclaimed cattle. We all knew better, but as long as they were willing to turn around and return the way they came, no one challenged their assertion. We were even more vigilant for the next couple of weeks, but no further  incidents occurred at that time.

I’ll never forget the mid-August incident, because it was the one and only time I was actually shot at. That is something you do not forget. This time, we didn’t spot the eight riders quite as early, and only three of us got to the ridge in time to confront them. Without sufficient numbers we did not intimidate them, and they decided to challenge us by drawing pistols and firing at us almost immediately, without more than a few words exchanged. Lewis, Daniel and I were the three on the ridge. Each of them had seen combat, so were well prepared, hit the dirt and came up firing. I did hit the dirt, effectively, and the shot in my direction flew over my head. Since I was not combat trained, they had told me to just stay down and assess my situation before moving. In those couple of seconds, thankfully, David and Liam, both also combat veterans, emerged over the hill to our left. All four of our veteran’s were firing at the invaders, who decided the odds had changed significantly, wheeled around, and headed back south. We were pretty sure that four or five of them actually were hit, but they all stayed in their saddles as they hightailed it out of our valley. We kept on high alert, again, for the next couple of weeks, by never had another encounter. 

Early in the fall, the outdoor saw mill at the mill was producing lumber three days a week and the grist mill was operating on a small scale three days a week with a workable temporary shelter. Pairs of the men made several trips to Houston to the west and Salem to the north for more supplies and occasional replacement parts for the mill and other operations. 

By late in the fall when cold weather really set in, collectively, we had three houses constructed. One was over west by the old Patton Blacksmith Shop. My sister, Caroline, had arrived to join her husband, Lewis Truesdale (Lewis was your mother Jane’s brother, of course; both children of Hugh Truesdale and Victoria Patton). Lewis and Jane’s grandfather, Colonel Jake Patton, though 67 years old, had decided it was critical to the valley and his family to return, reestablish political relationships, if possible, sufficient to assure continued title to the respective properties in the valley. From the time of his arrival, Colonel Patton made regular trips south to participate in county government representing this part of the county. While in the valley, he lived in the house with Lewis and Caroline.

The second house was built near the Baldridge mill. David Baldridge and Liam Olson lived there, initially. Liam had hoped to bring his family before the winter season arrived, but then decided it would be best to wait until spring. A few other woman and children had arrived as well as two additional families who resettled in the western valley.

Along with your father, Daniel, GranPa Henry and I occupied the third house which was at the McDonald farmstead. Before long your mother, Jane, also arrived with you, William, and joined us there.

The End

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