Billy Oldham's War
There didn't seem to be much going on on the south side of the river, so they crossed over at the next ferry they could find. They turned toward Kansas City on the first road they found going in that direction. Without a map, they were pretty much playing things by ear, but that was common for the time. They knew that any road this near the river had to lead to Kansas City eventually, so they knew that they were not that lost.
This was reasonably close to where they had met the Bartlett gang, so they did not expect to see any large gang of bushwhackers for a few days, at least. However, that did not mean that they wouldn't find some small gangs, or even individuals, working along here. It was common for bushwhackers to hang out near ferry crossings, so they expected to get some sort of contact before long. They were right.
Somebody seemed to have staked out the next crossroad they came to. Josh had not driven the wagon all the way through the intersection before he was accosted by two men on horses. As soon as the men showed themselves and before they had even spoken to Josh, both Ann and Maria pulled Colts from convenient holsters, but kept them concealed from the riders. Both men were brandishing Colt Pocket Pistols as they demanded from Josh, "OK, Old Man, stop right where you are."
The conversation never got any further than that. Each woman fired a bullet into the chest of the man nearest her, and that settled the whole thing. Billy had not even known that there was a problem until he heard the gunshots, but they brought him in a rush. He arrived just in time to do the dirty work of searching the bodies and moving them off the road. He found a total of $56 on the two bodies, but their weapons were not worth taking. However, he did tie their horses to the rear of the wagon for sale at the next livery stable.
Jokingly, Billy said, "It don't look like y'all really need me taggin' along, y'all are doin' such a good job of takin' care of Josh." This produced the expected laugh, and they resumed their patrol toward Kansas City. They had no trouble getting rid of the two horses and tack, but that was the end of the encounters for the day. That day, they found another hotel to stay in and Josh had his usual room alone.
The next morning at breakfast, they were warned by the waiter that they might encounter a gang of bushwhackers that had been working the road west of town. Traffic along the road had really dropped off in the last few months, and the business at the hotel and restaurant had really fallen off as a result. They thanked the man for the warning and left the restaurant with high hopes of some fun that day. Based on their previous experience, they were convinced that they were practically invulnerable.
They were now in the middle of summer, and the heat and humidity were taking a toll on everybody. It was really hard to concentrate on anything else when you had to struggle to take a breath and fight off flies and mosquitoes at the same time. Dammit, they just had to find some relief somewhere! About mid-morning, they came to a larger than normal stream, so they decided to try to cool off in the water. Maria waved Billy up to the wagon and told him their plans. Josh was going to drive off the road and try to find a place where they could get into the water.
Billy rode ahead and found a small swimming hole-like pool they could relax in for a few minutes. He led the wagon to the spot, and everybody was ready to jump in. Fortunately, they did not do something so foolish. First, they checked for poison ivy and for snakes; not finding any, they considered it safe to enter the water. The two men courteously let the women go first while they stood guard.
Almost before the men could turn their backs, the women had shucked their clothes and were in the pool. They splashed around in the waist deep water for about 20 minutes. The women then got out of the water, but refused to get dressed immediately. It was too nice to feel the cooling effect of the water evaporating from their bodies.
The women climbed into the wagon to be near the guns and assumed the duties of watchmen. The men took a minute or two longer to get into the water, but it was not a significant difference. The men splashed around for a few minutes, but they were not ready to leave the water, yet, when there was a shout of surprise from the women.
A moment later, gunfire was heard as a troop of 9 men rode into the clearing where the wagon was standing. Bullets were flying everywhere as the women dove to the wagon floorboards and pulled guns from the holsters to began shooting at the men. The initial gunfire had been from the men shooting in the air as they rode in on the frolickers, probably to intimidate them into surrendering without a fight.
Well, that was not going to work. The men were so close that the women had easy targets and no qualms about shooting at the men. Billy and Josh had foolishly left their guns too far away from the water to be reached easily, so the battle was left to the women. The only harm was to the egos of Billy and Josh, since the women had the situation well in hand. The bushwhackers were understandably reluctant to shoot such fuckable women, so they were not shooting as carefully and as accurately as they should have been doing. Besides, everybody knew that women couldn't shoot worth a damn.
The result was that the women easily repelled the initial rush of the bushwhackers and killed all of them in only about three or four minutes of fighting. Billy and Josh rushed to see that the women were OK before doing anything else. However, they were soon dressed and examining the bushwhackers to be sure that none were still alive. None were, so the looting began. One of the horses had a bullet in his throat, so it had to be dispatched, but they still came up with eight horses to be sold. They got nine Colts and two Mississippi rifles, as well as eight salable knives. The monetary yield was $87, so they came out well ahead in this little dust up.
They all realized just how lucky they had been, and, had they been a little more religious, they might have had a prayer meeting on the spot! As it was, they all breathed a silent "Thank God!" and went about their business. The bodies were dragged away from the clearing so that it would be reasonably pleasant for the next people to use it. While they were there, they just ate lunch before they left.
The resumption of the journey put them on the way to a small town where they sold seven of the horses they had most recently acquired, and Josh joined Billy in riding drag. They had wondered if some of their lack of success in attracting bushwhackers might have been because of the presence of a man in the wagon. Therefore, they decided to test the theory by going back to just the two women acting as bait.
They got an answer to that pretty damned quick! It was barely past noon when they got a bite at their bait. Three men rode up to the wagon, and it was obvious that they were already working out the fucking order. The bushwhackers were so confident that they did not even draw their guns. One of the men signaled for the women to halt, and Maria, who was driving, pulled the mules to a stop. She said in her most womanly voice, "What kin we do fer y'all gentlemen on this fine day?"
The leader was a little surprised at the lack of fear shown by either of the women, but he ordered them out of the wagon. This was the last thing that he had a chance to say. Both of the women were holding Colts where they could not be seen, so when they stood up as if to climb from the wagon, they had their guns ready to shoot. And shoot they did! The three men never did have time to react to the guns being shot at them. All three sprouted one or more new holes in their chests right where they would do them the least amount of good. The three bushwhackers were lying on the ground by the time Josh and Billy arrived.
Maria said, "Well, it looks like ya were right, Billy. Josh was scaring off some of the no-goods what might of showed up. I think that we should continue like this fer a while." She was echoed by Ann, so that's what they decided to do. Unfortunately, from one point of view, they didn't get any more takers that day.
The next day, it was just after lunch when there were sounds of gunshots coming from around the next bend. The woods were not too dense, so Billy and Josh cut through to save a little time. They came upon five bushwhackers attacking a wagon. An elderly man was lying on the ground, apparently dead. There was a woman about the same age hunkered down in the wagon trying to fight off the bushwhackers, but she really stood no chance because the bushwhackers were attacking from both sides.
Billy and Josh burst on the scene and began shooting as soon as they had clear targets. Bullets were flying in many directions, but one of them hit the woman in the wagon. She screamed and collapsed onto the floorboards just as Billy put a ball through the head of a bushwhacker. His shot was followed up by Josh hitting a bushwhacker in the chest. The three remaining bushwhackers quickly decided that they didn't have enough to gain for them to hang around much longer.