It was a dismal April day and word was spreading through the camp that Bob Lee was going to throw in the towel. I don’t know how the other boys felt about it, but I hadn’t been fighting those damned Federals for four years just to walk in front of them and lay my Enfield down. Bob Lee could give it up at Appomattox, but I wasn’t by God going to do it. They could have my Enfield when they pried my cold dead fingers from it.
I wasn’t the only man in Company B of the First Texas Volunteer Infantry that felt that way. Zebulon Cade and Bertram Bryn’s felt the same way and we snuck out of camp and headed west for home. Home for me being Polk County, Texas. It wasn’t going to be an easy trip. There was going to be thousands of other gray clad boys making their way home, but they wouldn’t be looked at twice because they would be unarmed. Zeb, Burt and me still had our arms and accouterments so we would need to be ducking the Federals.
We was in fair shape money wise. On our forays into Pennsylvania we found that our Confederate money wasn’t acceptable to shopkeepers and such and looting to get what you wanted could get you in front of a firing squad since Bob Lee had put out the word that he wouldn’t tolerate such behavior. So for currency we started stripping the bodies of the Federal dead for their coin. That gave us what we needed to buy what we needed. Mostly food because our rations weren’t all that good. And whiskey of course. Couldn’t do without the whiskey.
We made fairly good time through Tennessee, Mississippi and it wasn’t until Louisiana that we had some trouble. Course it were of our own making. Came to a place just south of Monroe and we seen some smoke from a chimney behind a hill and we left the road to see if they had a well and we could refill our canteens. What we found was a small farmhouse. There was a dead man in the yard and two Yankee cavalrymen having there way with a woman on the porch. She was yelling and screaming and trying to fight them off and one of the Yankee’s pulled a knife, slit her throat and kept on fucking her as she bled out. We was too late to help the woman, but not too late to avenge her. Them two blue clad assholes never knew what hit them when we sent .58 caliber balls from our Enfield’s their way.
We came down off the hill toward the house and that’s when we lost Burt. There was a third Yankee, but he had been in the house. He got Burt, but Zeb and I got him. We cursed ourselves for being stupid. There was three mounts tied to the hitching post and we should have known there was three Yankees, but we didn’t stop to think.
We stripped the Yanks and tossed them naked into the hog pen and then we dug graves and buried Burt, the man and the woman. I was all for taking the cavalry mounts so we could put an end to walking, but Zeb pointed out they were all branded U.S. and we would surely be asked how we come to have them. We unsaddled them and turned them loose. We kept what was in their saddlebags. There was coin and some other valuables and we surmised that they was looting when they came upon this place and found the woman. We also kept their Colt Dragoons and Sharps carbines figuring we could sell them.
We searched the place for anything we could use and found that the dead farmer was of a size close to Zeb and me and we shed our gray and outfitted ourselves from his belongings. Not without some reluctance on my part. I’d proudly worn that gray sack coat and them gray trousers for four years and they was like a second skin. Even clothed in other garments I was going to feel naked until I got used to their being gone.
In the barn we found a horse and a farm wagon. We gathered up all the edibles we could find and loaded them in the wagon and then hitched the horse up to it. We took one last look around and then we moved out.
It took us thirty-nine days but we finally reached Texas. Along the way we bartered two of the Sharps for goods, but kept the revolvers. At Harshel Zeb and I said goodbye and he headed for his place at Sawell’s Landing and I headed for mine outside of Livingston. He had about a three mile walk and I had about thirty to my place so we decided I would keep the wagon. I tried to talk him into letting me take him to his place, but he wanted to walk it. Said he needed the time alone with his thoughts and time to prepare himself to say hello to a wife he hadn’t seen in over four years.
I knew what he meant. I hadn’t seen Martha in the same amount of time. I’d written her several times, but given the conditions of the time I weren’t sure she got them. I’d gotten three widely spaced ones from her and I could tell from the reading of them there had been others sent, but that I hadn’t gotten.
The last I’d gotten was in the middle of 64 and in it she was still bitter at my leaving her to go off on what she saw as damned foolishness. I remembered telling her she was getting all riled up over nothing. That it would only take about six months to put the Yankees in their place and then I’d be back home. She and Jared, our thirteen year old son, could handle the farm for that long.
We’d argued and argued, but I’d gone anyway. I wondered what my welcome would be after coming home from the four years my six months had turned into. Hopefully she would be so glad to see me that the arguments would be pushed aside.
The thing that displeased me the most as I approached my homestead was the presence of so many Federal cavalrymen. I’d looked down the long barrel of my Enfield at that blue uniform for too long for me to be comfortable around them.
When I topped the hill that looked down at my place I stopped and took in what lay before me. There was smoke coming from the chimney, a horse tied in front of the house and chickens pecking at the ground. Peaceful looking is what it was and I could stand some peaceful times after the last four years I’d been through.
“Come on horse” I said, “Take me home” and we started down the hill.
When I pulled up in front of the house I saw that the horse had the U.S. brand on it. It was wearing a McClelland saddle on it and the scabbard had a Sharps carbine in it. I had me a bad felling when I got down off the wagon seat. I checked the Colt Dragoon I’d taken off one of the dead Yanks a while back and checked the loads. I made sure the percussion caps were all tight and then I walked up to the door I’d walked out of four years before, opened it and went in.
I didn’t see anyone, but I could hear them. On the chair next to the table was a blue tunic with Sargent’s chevrons on the sleeve and I surmised it belonged to the man I heard saying:
“Like it bitch? Like my cock?”
It near killed me when I heard my Martha say “You know I do lover. Fuck me. Fuck me hard!”
I went to the back of the house where the bedroom was and pulled the curtain aside. The Federal was flat on his back and Martha was bouncing up and down on his dick. Martha’s back was to me, but the Federal saw me right enough and he saw the pistol in my hand. Had to hand it to him. I had a gun in my hand and he had Martha’s tits in his, but that didn’t stop him from sneering at me and telling me to get the fuck out of the house.
I smiled at him, cocked the hammer on the Colt and said “My house and I ain’t leaving, but best you do and right now.”
When she heard that Martha turned, saw me and her eyes got big with fright. She scrambled to get off the man and off the bed. It had been four years since I’d seen a naked woman and I would have thought that seeing Martha in all her naked glory would give me an erection, but it didn’t. The Yank started to get up and he reached for his pants that were lying on the floor next to the bed.
He almost got me.
I was watching Martha’s naked tits bouncing around and not him and he almost had the revolver out of the holster that was under his pants before I saw what was happening. I swung the Dragoon and pulled the trigger and he took the bullet between the eyes and when it busted out of the back of his head blood and gore went all over the wall behind him.
I looked at Martha and said “Looks like you got a mess to clean up. Cover yourself woman” and I turned and walked to the front of the house.
I had already picked out the spot where I was going to bury the man and I was trying to figure out what to do with his horse when Martha came out of the bedroom. She had a mean look on her face and had the dead man’s revolver in her hand.
“You just had to go and ruin things for me didn’t you. You walked out on me four years ago and when I finally get over you and find a new man you just had to come here and ruin things.”
I wasn’t going argue with her again over my going off to do my duty so I just asked “Where is Jared?”
“He didn’t take to my new man and last I heard of him he went down to Galveston and shipped out on some boat. What do you care? You walked away from him too.”
She lifted the revolver and pointed it at me and I didn’t know if she meant to shoot me or not, but four years of kill or be killed had stamped on me what to do when a gun was pointed at me and reflex’s kicked in and I shot her. She fell to the floor and I walked over to her and kicked the revolver away from her hand. She looked up at me and said:
“Damn you to hell!” and then she died.
Not quite the homecoming I’d expected.
I took the dead man’s money and watch and then buried Martha and her man under one of the stalls in the barn, spread some hay over the dirt and then put a horse in the stall to tramp it down. I stripped the place of everything usable and valuable and loaded it all in the wagon. I’d head north to the Colorado territories. I’d run into some boys from Colorado when I was in Richmond. They was from Virginia to begin with and had come home to fight for their state. From the way they described Colorado I thought I might like it there.
I wasn’t worried about what might happen to the farm. With Jared gone I couldn’t work it anyway at least not all by myself and I sure didn’t have the coin to hire any help. Someone would come along and take over the place. I could always come back and pretend I was just getting home from the war. I damned sure didn’t want to be there when the Federals came looking for their boy. No doubt in my mind, that the Yank wasn’t bragging to his mess mates about Martha.
They would come right here looking for him and finding Martha’s husband here and their man not around would sure enough make them suspicious. I didn’t need to be here for that. Maybe when they got here and couldn’t find their man and saw that Martha’s horse and saddle were gone they would think the two of them run off together. Near as I could tell no one had seen me come home so I didn’t think they would even think of me.
Maybe Jared would come home, find his ma gone and think the same thing and then take over the farm. I’d send a letter to him to Perry’s Mercantile with a note on it to hold it for him. Town didn’t have no post office so everyone used Perry’s as a post office. I was sure that sooner or later he would come home just to see if I’d made it home from the war.
The last thing I needed to do was see to the horses. Besides the one hitched to the wagon I had four more to take care of. The Yank’s, Martha’s, Jared’s and my horse Buck. I made a four horse hitch out of rope and lumber; loaded the wagon with some oats and hay and a rain barrel filled with water and then tied the Yank’s mount to the back of the wagon and hooked the other horses up. I took one last look around and then pointed the team north.
Two days ride from my place I turned the Yank’s mount loose. If the Federals ever found him he wouldn’t be nowhere near the farm.
In Dallas I traded the Sharps carbine I got from Martha’s man for some vittles and forage for the horses and continued on. From there I had a trouble free journey and fourteen days after leaving my place near Livingston I crossed into the Colorado Territory just north of Raton. About ten miles from Starksville I had something happen that made me shiver all over. It was like a bad dream come to haunt me.
I saw smoke that looked like it was from a chimney just off to the west so I headed that way hoping to fill up with water. I topped a rise and looked down on a homestead. I saw two men trying to drag a screaming and fighting woman into the house. I remembered the time we lost Burt, but I couldn’t do the same here. The Enfield would knock down one, but in the time it took to reload the other would be able to get to cover.
While I pondered the problem the two men managed to get the woman into the house. That made things a bit easier for me. If I was right in what I was thinking them two would be more interested in getting their britches off than worrying about anything else. I tied the team off to a tree, checked the loads in the Colt and headed for the house. I eased up to a window and glanced in. As I surmised the two were more interested in getting themselves and the woman naked. I saw I had a clear field of fire from the door and a quick look at the door showed that the locking bar was not in place.
When I came in the door one of them saw me and went for his pistol and I shot him. He dropped and the other pushed the woman away and threw himself at me. I put my second shot in the middle of his forehead.
I looked over both men and saw they were dead and then I looked at the woman who was scrambling to get herself covered.
“You all right ma’am?”
“I am now. Thank the Lord for sending you here to help me when I needed it most.”
She turned and yelled “You can come up now Katie.”
A trap door in the floor opened and a young girl climbed up out of the root cellar. Then the woman introduced herself and her eighteen year old daughter. Her name was Emma and her daughter was Katie. She had seen the men riding in and she recognized them as men her husband had had some trouble with and they had a reputation for being mean and nasty. Since the women didn’t have no guns she told Katie to hide in the root cellar.
“They wanted the money that they said Seth owed them and when I told them I didn’t have any money they said they had waited long enough for their money and they would just go ahead and take it out in trade. Then you come in and saved me.”
I told them how I’d come to be there and then asked why two women were out here alone and defenseless.
My husband went into town four days ago to get supplies. He should have been back two days ago. I don’t know why he ain’t back yet.”
“Sure you do ma. He got to drinking and chasing them whores at Charlie’s Saloon. How else them two on the floor knew we was out here alone?”
“I guess we can worry about him later” I said. “Right now we got to figure out what to do with them two” and I pointed at the bodies on the floor.
Emma said “I guess we have to bury them.”
“Why waste the effort” Katie said. Strip them, take their valuables, tie them onto their horses and shove the horses towards town. Let people see what can happen to you when you are a worthless asshole.”
I liked the girl. She had spirit. Not bad to look at either. Not quite as lush as her ma and I’d seen just how lush she was before she managed to get herself covered up.
“Good idea” I said, “You clean out their saddle bags while I drag them outside.”
“While you do that I’ll clean up the mess in here” Emma said.
Once outside I stripped them bare, tossed them over their saddles so their feet hung down on one side and their arms on the other. Then I tied the arms and legs together so they wouldn’t fall off. Katie walked them up to the road, pointed the horses to Starkville and slapped their haunches to get them moving on their way.
While she was doing that I brought my team down so I could water the horses. I was filling the rain barrel when Emma came up to me and asked what I was doing.
“Watering the livestock and loading up on water before getting back on the road and on my way.”
“You’ll do no such thing. I’ve got supper on. Wash up when you’re done and come on up to the house.”
While we were eating I asked them why they didn’t have guns in the house for protection. Emma told me that her husband had taken them all with him when he went into town. He was going to sell them to get enough money to buy supplies.”
“Most likely sold them for money to buy whiskey” Katie said.
“Well you have some now. You’ve got the pistols and rifles them two had when they come here. If you don’t know how to load them and use them I’ll show you how.”
“We know how” Katie said.
Then Katie asked me where I was going and I told her I had no set destination.
“Just trying to find a place to settle. I met some boys in Richmond and they told me about Colorado. I liked what I heard so I thought I’d come and see for myself.”
There was a small silence and then Emma said “I know I’m asking a lot of you, but before you head out could you ride into Starkville and find out what happened to Seth for me?”
I didn’t much like the idea of the two women being out here alone and on their own so I said I’d do it the next day.
After I finished eating I stood up and told the women that I was going down to the barn, take care of the stock and then bed down.
“You don’t have to sleep in the barn. It would be more comfortable for you here in the house” Emma said.
“I’ve slept out in the open and in tents for the last four years. I don’t think I could be comfortable in a house right now.”
That was a lie. After seeing Emma’s lush body and me being four years without a woman I couldn’t trust myself in the house with her. Or Katie for that matter.
When I finished feeding and watering the horses I scattered some hay around to make a sort of mattress and then I put a blanket over it. It was a warm night and whenever I could I liked to sleep naked and so I stripped, laid down on the makeshift bed and pulled another blanket over me.
I was almost asleep when one of the doors opened and someone came in. I sat up and saw Katie walking towards me.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came to ask you why you ain’t up to the house and in bed with my ma. She’s been a long time without a good man.”
“Your father isn’t a good man?”
“He gets drunk a lot and when he does he beats on her. Once when he was drunk he tried to fuck me. That sound like a good man to you?”
“What did your ma do when you told her?”
“I ain’t never told her. She’d not take it well and if I told her she would go after him and he’d just beat her some more. So why ain’t you up to the house seeing to her?”
“Because she’s another man’s wife and it wouldn’t be right.”
“Well I ain’t married” she said as she took off her shirt.”
Her tits were well shaped and firm looking and my dick started to rise and as it went up it made a tent in my blanket. She pushed off her jeans and said:
“Show me what you got that’s making that blanket stand up.”
I guess I wasn’t moving fast enough for her because she reached down, took hold of the blanket and pulled it off me. “It’ll do” she said as she went to her knees and reached for my hardon.
“I hope you ain’t one of them what thinks that having fun is dirty.”
She bent and took me in her mouth. It had ben four years since I’d been with a woman so it didn’t take her all that long to get me to where I was going to burst. It happened so quick that I didn’t have time to warn her off. It surprised her, but she stayed with it until it was soft again and then she pulled her mouth off me.
“You coulda warned me.”
“Sorry. It’s been so long for me it happened too quick.”
“No never mind; I like the taste, but you can’t do me no good like that.”
She bent and took me in her mouth again and she got me up quicker than I thought and then she swung over me, lined me up and then sat down on it. She started working up and down on it and as I looked up at her I saw that her eyes were closed and she had a look on her face that had me believing that her thoughts were far, far away.