Bugle Boy

The major theme of “Bugle Boy” is to tell the story of the deep relationship that develops between Andrew, the bugle boy, and his grandfather Wesley in the setting of the Civil War 1861 to 1865.

It is a historically accurate account of the Union Army’s 75th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) as they battled the Confederates in the Civil War at Gettysburg in July of 1963—the turning point of the war for the Union.

The key characters are Wesley Redick, my great, great, paternal grandfather; his cousin Captain William Redick; Frank DeSellum, armorer; Sergeant Wilson, the chief communicator; and Wesley’s 14-year-old grandson, Andrew Redick. Andrew is the company’s bugler/messenger. Wesley’s portrayals are factually accurate, Andrew’s fictional.

The story describes a brief portion of the successes and failures of battles between Union and Confederate troops, those in command, and how the typically horrific loss of life affects them.

*      *      *

The battlefield smoke billowed along the ridge line to the east. The caustic cloud-like presence partially masked the morning sun. A slight breeze slowly moved the mask, shielding the battle’s carnage to the ridge line on the horizon. Andrew, the bugle boy, was frightened. He was not certain he wanted to see the fighting. He could imagine the terror his ears could hear, but his eyes could not see. He was alone, save for the various wagons and horses and a few foot soldiers on sentry duty. Terror-stricken of the unknown, he felt as if his bones rattled. He was concerned. Andrew feared for the safety of his granddad. This was the first experience in support of Union troops, for his “Gramps,” too. Fighting the Confederates was a new threat for everyone. He was scared.

Andrew was waiting for his next order. Earlier, he had been told to sound “Assembly” . . . then: “Boots and Saddles” . . . and finally: “Charge” as the combined infantry and cavalry of the Ohio 75th joined the brigade to their left and right flanks, and charged over the ridge. As the bugle’s sound echoed over the hillock, a rush of pride filled his chest. The infantry advanced while taking a final check of their weapons . . . the cavalry steadied their spirited mounts as the major shouted orders . . . their swords thrust in the air.

Following his orders, Andrew returned to the headquarters area and stood by the tent, waiting for further instructions. He knew better than ask the major for permission to join the charge; it was clear that he was not about to take any unnecessary chances with Andrew’s life.

This was the first encounter by the 75th as it moved into its attack formation to effectively roust the Confederate troops dug in.

Andrew remembered Wesley’s stern command very well. “Go!” he shouted. “Do not stop until you reach the company area . . .  Go!”

Andrew ran to the rear as fast as his legs would carry him. He heard the cannon’s canister rounds of grape-shot riddle the trees overhead. A “Minie ball” struck a limb to his left, shattering it to bits . . .  he ran faster. He shivered in fear knowing what the company faced along the frontal assault. After several minutes running, he hit-the-deck after arriving at the HQ’s tent . . . he shook as much as the cannon’s report jarred the earth. He asked God to protect the men.

*      *      *

On the village green in Logan, Ohio.

Lincoln’s first call for troops in May, 1961, stirred interest in the men of Columbiana County, Ohio. Many of the local farmers answered the call posted on the courthouse bulletin board. The posting was direct and to the point:

Volunteers needed to form the

75th Ohio Volunteer Infantry OVI.

Those interested should come to the

courthouse this Saturday.

Signed: Wesley Redick

*      *      *

The War Between Brothers

The Final Act

Wes felt as though by talking to the troops he had purged many of the problems that had plagued his decisions as a commander. He had never been in a position like this before. Now his decisions, right or wrong, good or bad, cost lives. It was true, the men had volunteered to serve in the 75th. For many and varied reasons they had chosen war. Many of the single men were simply adventurous with an aggressive, combative personality; others, those married, exhibited a more cautious style. A common trait was their desire to fight Johnny Reb and his defiant attitude, his disregard for the Union, and his “radical” Southern crusade for secession. Both types of Union fighters were targets for the Rebel “ball” regardless of their reasons for fighting. Once armed, Rebel sharpshooters targeted the uniform, the enemy . . . whether friend, foe, or yes, even a relative. The operative word from commanders was “kill or be killed” and “do not hesitate even if your neighbor is in your sights. This is true, especially when his rifle is aimed at you.”

Wes had noticed Andrew’s melancholy mood as the campaign wore on and the trauma of death and destruction faced him daily. He quickly found Andrew with DeSellum and joined them by his pinto, Chico.

“How you doin’, son? Is your favorite steed holding up as we prance around the hills and valleys of Virginia? He is certainly a beautiful horse. How old is he?” asked Wes.

“Oh, hi, Gramps. He’s about eight years old . . . going on twelve with this campaign of the 75th. Frank was just showing me how to clean his hoof frog with a tool he made. It’s slick for digging out stones and small pieces of shrapnel.”

“I thought he was going lame or something.”

“No, just needed some maintenance. Frank also showed me how to trim his hooves and give him new shoes. The blacksmith let us use his tools and forge this morning.”

“Sounds good to me, can I take a look?”

“Help yourself.”

Wes lifted up each of Chico’s legs individually and examined how well Andrew had shod his horse.

“Hey, good job, I’ll know where to come when my horse needs some shoes,” Wes said while Wes patted Chico’s flanks and chatted about horses.

Frank seemed to sense their need to be alone.

“See you in the morning, Andrew. Keep up the good work. I’ll be waiting  for your melodic ‘Taps.’ See, ya.”

While leaving, Frank checked all the horses on the picket line where they were tethered, and left the two by themselves.

Wes asked if Andrew would like to have a snack in his headquarters tent. The boy would know, without a doubt, that it would be his grandfather’s favorite ginger-snap cookies. The answer was an eager, “Yes.” They walked shoulder to shoulder across the encampment in the early evening twilight. On the way, Wes asked him to sit on a log by a vacated camp firepit.

Wes spoke. “You’ve carried yourself very well in the Company, son. I’m proud of your performance in the face of adversity. War is hell, isn’t it? Although we’ve taken our licks from Johnny Reb, his luck has just about run out. They’re on the move again, and we’ll be following them as they move north. To where, I’ve no idea . . . maybe Washington, for all I know. I’ll be giving the marching orders in the morning. One way or the other, we will stop them from reaching Washington. We’ll be on their eastern flank every step of the way. One of us will decide when to fight . . . and I guarantee you, if they head east to our capital, we will engage. It will be a donnybrook, a brawl, a free-for-all. This may be Lee’s last chance to launch a major offensive. His troop strength has weakened considerably this year. Yes, he’s won several fights, but lost many brigades doing so.

“I suppose you wonder what I’m leading up to? Here’s my point: Encounters will be more dangerous now. They will be overwhelming. Son, Lee is desperate. There will be unreasonable demands put on his troops to attack at all costs. As such, I’m concerned for your safety.

“As a family, we have lost William, and I do not want to lose you. Do you see where I’m going with this?”

“No,” said Andrew, his voice wary.

“I want you to leave the 75th and serve in the rear with Corps Headquarters. You’ll still be supporting our unit, our brigade, our president, our country. There’s no need for you to stay in harm’s way during these last few skirmishes. I’m thinking of your future, your mom’s concerns, and yes . . . mine. Do you understand my feelings?”

“Yes . . . yes, but you can save your breath. I’m even more resolved to stay since Uncle Bill’s death, and to pay homage to my fellow men of the 75th. If necessary, I choose to fight ’til death for our noble cause.

“No, Gramps, I’m staying ’til the bitter end. My emotions are certainly tied to the country and the president, but they are more permanently tied to your unit—my unit—the 75th. These men are who I fight with and care for. I couldn’t let them down; they depend on me, too. Oh, it may be in minor ways, but nevertheless, I’m there when they need something. Only a Rebel round will end my support for my fellow Union soldiers while the men of the 75th are still fighting.”

Silence.

Wes hugged Andrew around the waist as they walked to the tent for cookies. Andrew’s emotions were clear. Wes did not challenge them. He was a proud grandfather . . . Indeed, very proud.

They had a good night dunking cookies in coffee and milk until Andrew had to leave to blow “Taps.”

Wes had been favored by taps many times over the years, but tonight’s sound seemed clearer, stronger, and of a more wholesome tone than he had ever heard before.

Wes thought, as Andrew turned in for the night, Rest well, young man. May God be with you over the next few months.

*      *      *

As Wes had predicted, in June 1863, Lee’s army swung up the Shenandoah Valley into Pennsylvania. Both armies moved toward the little town of Gettysburg. The shooting started when a Confederate brigade, searching for shoes in town, ran into Union cavalry on July 1. This incident triggered one of the most decisive battles of the Civil War. Southern troops at 65,000 strength fought the Northern army of 85,000 during this fateful three-day period in our history.

On the first day, Northern troops were pushed east and south of town and later driven up a slope to the south. They finally settled in a defensive location resembling a fishhook, the curved “hook” to the north, and the rest of the men strung in a southerly line. With the hook at Culp’s hill and the troops along Cemetery Hill, it made for a very strong defensive line that terminated to the south at Little Round Top.

Confederate forces occupied Gettysburg to the north, and Seminary Ridge to the west.

On July 2, the second day of fighting, Lee tried a flanking attack up Cemetery Hill toward Little Round Top. Lee’s first assault crushed the first line of defense. However, on the top of the hill where the 75th dug in, the Northern lines held. In an extended, vicious battle, countless times the Rebels attacked up the hill only to by thwarted by the continuous rattle of musketry and withering cannon fire by a superior Union line of defense. Many men fought bravely to save the day, both at Little Round Top and Culp’s hill on the opposite flank.

*      *      *

During the attack on Cemetery Hill, desperate to hold the line and running low on ammunition, Wes asked Frank to go back to the Company area for more ammo.

“Frank! Frank, over here.”

Ka-Boom! A canister round exploded overhead.

“Frank! Do you hear me?”

Ka-Pow. A round almost took Wes’s head off as he raised up to see Frank. “Yep, I’m over here,” he answered over the roar of bursting shells. “Over here. I need to see you.”

“Okay, I’ll see if I can crawl over between bursts,” Frank yelled as he moved toward Wes. Musket rounds fell to his left, to his right, and they whizzed overhead as he crawled over dead and dying men in his path. Those who could speak cried out for help as he slithered by.

“There you are. You okay?”

“Yep, I guess. The blood you see all over my clothes is not mine. I had to crawl over many dead and wounded. What do you need?”

“Ammo! We need much more ammo. We’re running out. Jones, who normally would make the run, is wounded and unable to go. Can you go for us?”

“Sure, just keep an eye on my men. I won’t be gone that long.”

He crawled away about 30 feet, looked ahead to the right and left, stood up to run . . . and,

Ka-Pow!

Frank went down like a sack of flour and rolled over, grabbing his leg.

“Frank! Frank! Are you okay?” Wes yelled.

He yelled, “Let me check . . . yeah . . . I think I’ll be okay . . . it’s just a flesh wound . . . yeah, I’ll just hold my leg tight and it will probably stop bleeding. Damn, isn’t that something? I almost got shot in the arse. Now that would be hard to explain to my men.”

Ka-Boom! Another canister round exploded overhead.

“Okay, you rascal, get going and be sure to see the medics as soon as you return. We’ll try to hold off these screamin’ Rebs until you get back.”

Frank got up again while holding his leg, and ran to the rear not unlike a chimp’s loping sway. So as to be unencumbered by his rifle, be took Wes’s pistol for protection.

*      *      *

Assuming that Private Jones would be coming for more ammo, Andrew had already loaded several haversacks with .58 ball and percussion caps. He was also helping the wounded to the brigade medical tent nearby.

Clearing a hillock to the front, Frank arrived in a slow, staggering crouch. It appeared that he was hurting pretty badly.

“Frank! Are you okay?” Andrew yelled.

“Yep. Ammo, Andy, we need ammo up front . . . we’re about to run out. Jones is hurt, so I’m taking the run for him. I took a round in the leg . . .  I’m losing blood faster than I thought . . . get some ammo . . . quickly,” he moaned.

“Okay, Frank.” He turned and picked up several haversacks and brought them to Frank.

He threw them over Frank’s neck and shoulders—and he collapsed. “Frank, you’re in no condition to go back. Here, have a drink from my canteen.”

“Thanks. I’ll be okay. I just need to rest a little.”

Through fatigue, blood loss, and increasing pain, Frank’s wound had taken its toll. He asked for another drink, then rinsed his wound with a little water. When Andrew saw the torn muscle and bloody mass under his pant leg, he decided he had to take over Frank’s task. Frank wasn’t going back; he was going to the medical tent.

“I say again, Frank, you’re in no condition to go back. I’ll make the run for you. I’m going to carry you over to the medical tent right now, and then I’ll take the ammo to the men.”

“Okay, you’re right. But go now . . . forget about me . . .  I’ll crawl to the medics . . . and be aware, I’ll be in trouble with Wes for letting you go to the front.”

“Not to worry, I’m the only healthy one here. Besides, I’m in charge now. I’m taking you first,” Andrew said as he took the haversacks from around Frank’s neck, lifted him up, and threw him over his shoulder.

Frank yelled, “No . . . get going . . . no . . . don’t!” and he passed out, either due to shock, fatigue, or both.

Andrew now spoke to him as if the company’s sergeant. “Frank, I suppose you’ll tell me that I’m disobeying a direct order, and you’ll take one of my stripes . . .  But, I’ve got news for you . . .  I have no stripes . . . ha . . . now, be quiet.”

After dropping him off, Andrew picked up Frank’s pistol and haversacks of ammo, and ran toward the front.

*      *      *

Ka-Boom!

Wes kept looking to the rear for Frank. After a short lull, the Rebs were about to try advancing again. As expected, the sound of steady footfalls of a column, the tinkling noise made by bayonets striking tin cups, and the clanking and clanging of arms carried up the slope indicating the Rebs were about to attack. Seminary Ridge was about to explode.

The 75th waited. The new sound—silence—on the battlefield was deafening.

The time for attack was at hand; the men of Wes’s company tended to final rituals. Friends sought out friends and wished each other well until after the battle. Wes had directed all officers dismounted as they passed along the lines attending to the needs of their men. Many in the company had scribbled a letter to their loved ones and announced, “Sir, I feel this is the last letter I will write.” Reluctantly, Wes accepted the letters.

Now Wes reminded his men to “Remember what Ohio and our friends at home expect of us.”

Fearing the possibilities of being overrun for lack of ammo, Wes passed on an unfortunate, but practical, command down the line. “Fix bayonets.”

Wes was reminded of his recent training that surprisingly resolved that Civil War tactics were still fashioned after Napoleon Bonaparte’s Armies (early 1800s). Frequently commanders accepted the practice of using the bayonet as a last resort. But by 1862, after First Manassas (Bull Run), the rifle musket now in use on both sides had rendered the bayonet charge foolish. While Napoleon’s charging lines at Waterloo had been exposed to musket fire for a hundred yards, the rifle muskets could destroy a charging line with accuracy from 350 yards, and do damage at more than 500 yards.

By 1862, battle lines infrequently were close enough to engage in a classic hand-to-hand fight. In this case, Wes needed the bayonet for defensive purposes. If he ran out of ammo, the bayonet’s cold steel blade may be his last line of defense . . . the crucial element between life and death.

Wes paused  and gave a more encouraging order. “Select your targets carefully, boys . . . with limited ammo, drop those Rebs like the wind does the leaves in autumn.”

To strengthen the Union cannon batteries, Wes helped an artillery sergeant unlimber their cannon and move the horses, with flanks and muzzles covered with foam and eyes ablaze with fear, team to the rear. While helping the team move their gun into position, he thought, Where is Frank? I hope that bullet didn’t have his final number on it. Wait a minute . . . what’s that?

With his eyes straining to see through the battleground smoke, Wes saw a figure running toward him. It wasn’t Frank . . . he rose slightly to get a better view. He was shocked at what he saw . . . it looked like Andrew. He was running in a zig-zag pattern as all infantry men were taught. Being in a crouch, or bent-over stance, he wasn’t sure . . . until the figure got closer and Wes was sure who it was.

Wes yelled, “Get down, Andrew, the Rebs are about to attack. Crawl! For heaven’s sake . . . get down on your belly. This whole area’s going to be filled with ‘Minie balls’ at any moment.”

“No, Gramps, can’t yet . . . Frank says I’ve got to give out this ammo up and down the line . . .  I’ll be back in a second . . .  Oh, here’s yours.”

He threw a sack toward Wes, and crawled along the line giving the remaining sacks to the four platoons.

Ka-Pow! Ka-Pow!

As Andrew leaped over, around, and through the detritus of logs, rock, and bodies . . . some wounded, others dead, he finally made it back to Wes.

“Yip—Yip—A-A-E-E-EEEEEE,” suddenly rose from the attacking Johnny Rebs; the yelping screams shattered the air and echoed across the Union Lines.

“Get down, Andy, here they come . . . hit the dirt.”

Andy leaped behind the Union fortifications in front of Wes, gave him another sack, caught his breath, and quickly started loading a rifle musket like the others on the line.

While shooting and reloading, Wes yelled over the battle sounds, “Son, no matter what, don’t expose yourself to enemy fire like that again . . .  we don’t need any more fearless fighters falling . . . now get out of here—get!”

“Okay, Gramps. I was just filling in for Frank.”

“I know . . . and you did it well, but you’re too young to be up here. I promised your mother I wouldn’t put you in harm’s way . . . whenever possible. By the way, how is Frank?”

“He’ll make it, but a ‘Minie ball’ rearranged his quad muscle. I took him to the brigade medical unit.”

Ka-Boom! Iron pellets showered the area from a canister charge. Ka-Pow! Ka-Pow! Ka-Pow! Ziiinnnggg! Ka-Boom! Echoed across the front as the charge began.

Wes repeated, “Fine, now get . . . one thing, did Frank ask you to bring this ammo?”

“No. He had passed out by then.”

“Figures. Now get!” said Wes as he turned to face the charging Rebs.

*      *      *

While running back, a series of cannon bursts along his return route made Andrew alter his course back to the 75th. He circled around the southeast side of Little Round Top and headed northeast to reach Company Headquarters. He held his position a moment and looked around for a landmark or two to ensure he was on the right course.

He thought, Ah, this is the way, I’ll head for that toppled pine to the northeast . . . yeah, that’ll work.

He caught his breath, took a short swig from his canteen, checked his pistol, then took a long draft . . . and paused.

As he stepped off, a noise by a downed pine tree caught his attention. He paused. “What’s that?”

He looked around the area for the source of the sound. It was very weak sounding, like a moan. “O-O-HH-aa.” A mournful cry.

“There it is again.”

Andrew thought, I’d better check; it could be one of our wounded.

With his half-cocked .45 Colt leading the way, he walked toward the sound. He carefully stepped over the boulders and trees downed by cannon fire . . .

Ka-Boom!

He hit the deck.

With the aid of the flashing burst overhead, just ahead . . . a supine body with a pained face stared back at Andrew.

For a moment, in the dynamics of the fierce battleground, he turned to stone.

“I’ll be darned,” Andrew cried as his eyes caught the eyes of the injured man. Pressed in a soiled gray uniform, it appeared to be a Johnny Reb. The soldier’s rifle lay near his feet, an empty canteen by his side, and a red-to-black stain on his upper right arm indicated a serious wound. Additionally, most of the sleeve was torn away with a blood wrap encircling his upper arm.

With a strong Southern drawl, he said, “No—no—don’t shoot—leave me alone . . . I want to die, I’m bleeding to death . . . leave me alone—I want to die.”

Andrew lowered his pistol and relaxed; the wounded soldier was no threat.

Somehow, some way . . . the wounded man must have read Andrew’s body language and changed his mind.

The man raised up a little, and screamed, “Help me . . . please help me. I’m bleeding to death.”

Approaching carefully, Andrew put his pistol into his waistband and offered the man a drink.

He appeared to be in his mid-twenties, thinner than average, with soiled yellow hair. He had a long beard that masked his true appearance. His threadbare Confederate uniform was filthy and torn in several places. He had no shoes. A soiled blanket roll was wrapped around his shoulder.

“Do you feel better now?” Andrew asked after the Reb had gulped down the remaining water from his canteen.

“How can I help you? Are you able to walk? Can you move at all?”

“No, I also sprained my ankle after taking a round in the arm, and I’ve lost too much blood . . . I’m too weak to move. Please, can you help me?”

Andrew thought, Gramps told me this fighting would get worse. It has, but here I am in an unusual situation with a wounded, and probably dying, Rebel soldier, shot by a Yankee. What to do? I’ve got to do something.

“Okay, listen up, here’s what’ll happen. Our brigade’s medical facility is about 100 yards to the northeast. I’ve just been there with one of our wounded. Since you can’t walk, I’ll carry you, and our medics will do what they can to help. First, I need a little info. What’s your name?”

He answered, “Joseph Reddick.”

Ka-Boom!

“What?”

“Joseph Reddick . . . R-e-d-d-i-c-k, Reddick.”

“Well, I’ll be damned.”

“What?”

“You’ll never believe this. That’s my Mom’s and Gramp’s last name, too. They both mentioned there were a lot of Reddicks in the South, only spelled with a double ‘d’ . . . I wonder if we’re related somehow?”

Ka-Boom! More canister pellets rained down from the canopy above.

“Dang . . . let’s get the heck out of here. Some of those rounds are landing too far beyond the line for comfort. I think your cannons are trying to reach over the lines to quartermaster and medical.”

Without comment, Andrew picked Joe up, wrestled him over his shoulder, and struggled his way through the downed timber and rubble like a man afire. On the way, several rounds whistled overhead while he zig-zagged to the medical tent.

The medical officer at the brigade tent stopped Andrew. “Hold it right here! What’s this? What have you got there, soldier? It looks like Johnny Reb to me . . . explain yourself!”

Andrew explained who he was, his unit, and the circumstances leading to the Rebel being brought to the Yankee medical unit.

“Well now, you’ve certainly performed way beyond the call of duty today. We’ll take the Rebel and see what we can do for him. I suggest that you’d better get back to your unit—no telling whether our lines can hold. Lee has been throwing troops at us all day. They tell me we’re holding. The slope up to the Union positions, called Cemetery Ridge, is littered with Rebel dead and dying. My advice to you is to—get! This is no place for a 14-year-old.”

Andrew gave Joe one last look to say goodbye, but by then he had passed out either from pain or loss of blood. It was clear to Andrew that he had to get back to Company Headquarters—quickly. As he turned to leave, he stopped and yelled, “By the way, his name is Joe . . . Joe Reddick, that’s with two ‘d’s’. He may even be a relative. My Gramp is a Redick, but with one d. Interesting, huh?”

The medical personnel listened passively to this seemingly unimportant connection . . . and repeated: “Get!” He then added that Frank was doing fine.

Just after clearing the medical area, Andrew found the path back to the 75th and ran full tilt.

Ka-Boom!

An aerial canister burst overhead and rained pellets down on Andrew.

A jagged pellet hit him on the side of his head. It threw him off his feet and slammed him onto the littered ground. His pistol went one way, his canteen another, and his hat a third. His ever-present bugle wrapped around his body and fell underneath him as he rolled over and crashed into a downed log.

He quickly felt his body parts for any broken or fractured bones. He found none, but did feel the blood running down his face from a tear in the skin above his left ear.

“Damn, that pellet tore a pretty big hole in my skin, and I think another pellet may have punctured my bugle. Thank you, old horn, you may have saved my life. I’m lucky the hit on the head didn’t tear my ear off. The medical personnel were right, the Rebs are targeting support units behind the lines—or are just bad shots. That is awful, but as Wes said, ‘war is hell’ and just about anything goes.”

He decided to cleanse the wound himself, wrap it to stop the bleeding, and move out of the area as quickly as possible. He could use the first aid kit at headquarters to do a better job later.

“Wait, where’s my pistol, my hat? I’d better go back and get ’em. I’ve got to get out of this impact area, but I’ve also got to retrieve that gun.

He ran back, suddenly feeling a headache coming on from the wound, and searched for the big log that he had crashed into.

Ka-Boom!

Pellets riddled the area and splintered the overhead limbs.

Ka-Boom!

Just as he turned to leave, a canister burst at a lower level, throwing him to the ground. As he fell, he put his hands over his head . . . and got so low, he ate dirt in the process. It happened again. A pellet, ricocheting off a nearby rock, slammed into his right shoulder blade with a thud. It felt as though he had been hit with a ten-pound hammer. Painfully, he reached around slowly and found a blood-soaked pellet embedded in his back. His thick jacket had helped to lessen the impact on his flesh. He looked at it with contempt, but kept it as an example of a “lucky pellet,” for if it had been a direct hit, versus a ricochet . . . he would have been killed.

He knew he had to move and leave the impact area. So, despite being in great pain, he rose slowly and continued his route to the 75th.

There was no running this time, nor zig-zagging to avoid incoming rounds, no high stepping, leaming over freshly-downed trees; he carefully advanced using a slow, staggering off-balance crouch. One hand was on his wound above his ear, the bugle thrown over his back, and the pistol in his other hand. He felt pretty sure there would not be any more Rebels lost behind Yankee lines, but—one never knew in the chaos, the terror, the horror of war, what might pop-up unexpectedly.

At camp, he cleansed, disinfected, and dressed his head wound. He checked the horses on the picket line, looked to see if any rounds had hit the wagons—they had not—and thought of Frank. He thought, Maybe I should have stopped in to see him when I dropped Joe off. Oh well, there had been too many incoming wounded to linger there, and the medical personnel said he was doing fine. That’s okay by me.

Andrew finally sat down to rest and noticed how banged up his bugle had gotten. The flared horn end was bent a full 45 degrees to the right and the mouthpiece 45 degrees in the other direction. It did not look very melodic. He chuckled at the twisted musical piece of brass . . . until he noticed a hole torn through the flared end. “Holy-cow! There’s a large tear in the metal on one side of the flared end, and a big dent on the other side.”

He put his finger through the hole, “Damn, I think my bugle may have saved my life . . . I’in indeed a lucky guy.

“Guess what? I’m not going to straighten it. It’s earned its shape . . . through my travels and my falls. It has earned its battle scars. Then again, Wilson will probably make me straighten it, we’ll see. I’ll blow a few notes to see how she sounds.”

Da-da . . . da-da-da . . . da-da-da-daaaaa.

*      *      *

As Andrew tested his bugle, several heads turned in the medical compound. “What’s that?” a medical orderly said as the sound wafted through the air like a rhythmic tattoo.

A patient, Frank DeSellua, from the 75th, said, “That’s our bugler; he’s the boy who brought me in about an hour ago.”

*      *      *

Back at the 75th, Andrew commented, “She sounds good. I may not straighten her until I’m told to—by Wilson. I’d better stay put awhile, it sounds like the offensive probe by the Rebs has failed. The excitement I hear in the ranks sure sounds like Yankee cheers—thank God—I think it may be over soon.”

*      *      *

Wes looked at Wilson through the clearing smoke and exclaimed, “I think it’s over . . . thank God. Longstreet’s last advance has failed; the Rebels are retreating—at least for the day. Hurrah.”

Wilson agreed. “’Tis true, Wes. Johnny Reb is in full retreat. The 75th has held. We stood alone with their final rush . . . and held our ground. We held for many reasons: sheer guts under fire; leadership by officers and NCO’s, and an ample supply of fire power and ammo.”

Wes looked at Wilson. “Speaking of ammo, I wonder how Frank is doing? Remember, Andrew made the ammo run after Frank was hurt. I’d better check on him. It looks like the fighting is over for the day.

“Speaking of Andrew, did you hear that?”

A distant bugle sang faintly . . .  A familiar. sound, varying in strength, a rhythmic beating and rapping coming from the east. Someone was blowing a few notes as if to test a bugle. As quickly as it started, the sound abruptly stopped.

Wes commented, “It’s gratifying to hear that sound. Wouldn’t you agree that it sounds like Andrew? Like he’s checking out his horn—testing it for some reason?”

“Wes, I think you’re correct, Andrew’s our boy . . . or more correctly, after today’s trial under fire, he’s the man from the 75th, who happens to blow the bugle, too.”

A Water Journey

 

The children’s story of an Indian boy, Wind Spirit,

and his river journey to meet
his friend, Raven Maiden

Samuel Bowman Cookson

and his grandfather, Mark Allen North

The journey of a young Indian boy to visit a likable girl began many years ago.  Several tribes of Indians lived on the shores of a series of large lakes.  The tribal leaders provided a cheerful place for children to live and learn the ways of Earth Mother and Father Sky.

*      *      *

They called the boy Wind Spirit, sometimes shortened to Windy.  He was learning many tribal tasks.  A young brave needed to learn how to survive in the wilderness.  His father, Golden Bear, taught him the ways of the forest and the habits of the four-legged animals.  Windy learned how to make hooks and spears to catch the finned, and weapons to capture the hooved and winged.  All these skills would be important in his search for self-discovery—his Quest—while on an adventurous journey.

*      *      *

Just as important was the work performed by his mother, White Dove.  She was in charge of the camp’s daily activities.  Wind Spirit was shown how the women prepared food, and how they selected healing plants from the forest and swamps.  He learned to treat animal skins with tanning solutions that changed them to beautiful leather and pelts.  He was shown how women of the tribe sewed many types of leather together to make shoes, pants, and decorative shields.  White Dove also showed him how she weaved yarn into clothing on a loom.

She showed him how to make soap, which was highly valued.  Very few knew how to make it from animal fat and fire ash.  Being part plant and part animal, it seemed as if it were almost alive.  While his mother washed clothes for the family, Wind Spirit often bathed nearby.  Sometimes he talked to his soap as if a friend.

*      *      *

One day Wind Spirit sat alone on the river bank, washing up after cleaning a deer hide.  He daydreamed of the charming Indian girl, Raven Maiden, who lived downriver.  He had met her on a trip to her village earlier in the year.  Wind Spirit wanted to be with her again, but he was too young to leave camp alone.  Still thinking of her, he washed the tanning liquids off his body.  Suddenly he felt a rush of wind from the river, followed by a bright light.

*      *      *

Holding his hand up to his eyes to shield the glare, Wind Spirit saw what looked like a “spirit being” hovering over the water.  It raised its hands and spoke: “I have heard your wish.  You are a good young man, so I will answer your request.  There is a way to let Raven Maiden know your feelings for her.  I will tell her that you will visit her soon with a gift of soap.  The gift will be special, since the soap was made by your own hands.  It is indeed a personal present.  What happens next will be up to her.  Go in peace, my son.”

“But…  Ah…  How…?” Wind Spirit mumbled.

The spirit form vanished as quickly as it appeared.

*      *      *

Not expecting an answer, Windy stood in silence, in wonder of The Spirits visit.  He thought, Mom and Dad told me that The Great Spirit visits His people in times of need.  I guess I’m a very lucky boy.  He picked up the soap and described to it what had happened.  Windy put the large, pearl-gray bar of soap in his pack.  He gathered up his tanning tools and hide.  He looked down the river one more time, and ran back to camp.

*      *      *

Wind Spirit told his mother everything that happened.

Based on her wisdom of many moons, White Dove told him, “The Great Spirit acts in mysterious ways.  The spirit may have big plans for you.  Remember, the soap is indeed a living part of Earth.  By taking the soap to the girl, The Spirit may be providing you with some problem-solving experiences.  It may be a test of your ability to survive hardships.”

“But Mom, I have no way to travel down the river.”

“True, my son, but with the skills you have learned from your dad, I’m sure you will find a way.”

He thought about it and remembered his father showing him how to make a raft.  “Yes!  I’ll make a very good raft!”

Very quickly, Wind Spirit built a raft of logs, and tied the soap on it.  He asked his Mother, “Isn’t it risky to float down the river?  There are many dangers along the way.”

“True, my son, but do not worry.  Although you are very young, you should go.  The Great Spirit will find a way to be at your side and help you.  Sometimes He appears to us as a raven.”

*      *      *

Wind Spirit drifted along the banks of the river.  He floated past large rocks, beautiful pines, and pleasing sandy shores.  As he paddled with a single oar, he kept checking the ties holding the soap.

Little by little, the current slowed, then almost stopped.  He drifted into a beautiful, smooth pool.  He came to a complete stop at the far end where a dam crossed the river.  Windy caught his breath and thanked the Great Spirit for a safe journey.  He rested, but not for long.  A series of small waves led to very fast rockin’-and-rollin’ waves.  He rubbed the water from his eyes and looked around.  He was being held captive by the current on the dam of a beaver pond.  Worse yet, two playful young beaver kits were headed his way.

*      *      *

Treating Wind Spirit’s raft as if a toy, the kits pushed him back and forth.  They separated more and more to see how far they could push the raft between them.  Losing interest in the game, the beaver kits started rocking the raft.

“Yikes!” Wind Spirit yelled, “I hope they’re not going to tip me over!”  Luckily, Mother Beaver called for the kits to leave the raft alone.  Seeing the bar of soap, she asked if she could use it for her daily wash.

He answered, “Of course.”

Mother Beaver washed her clothes, and returned the soap with a big “Thank you.”

Wind Spirit made his way slowly to the edge of the dam.  Giggling, the kits suddenly pushed the raft over.  He coasted safely into the current below.  “Hooray!” he shouted.

He got the break he needed to escape the playful young beaver kits.

*      *      *

Wind Spirit noticed that the soap was rounder and smaller now.  Still, he smiled after the tiring time in the pond.  The downriver current effortlessly weaved him between large boulders.  Many of them displayed Native Indian drawings of deer, bear, the sun, and other symbols.  He enjoyed the warmth of the sunshine, and took pleasure in his time alone as he traveled Earth Mother’s waters.  Soon he floated under low-hanging branches covering the river.  The sun was partially blocked as he entered the arch-shaped overhanging trees.  In the dark shadows, he found himself in a swampy section of the river.  Some of the branches were so low the leaves rubbed against his body, causing a little tickle.

As it became darker, the raft slowed down like a lazy mud turtle.  Misty rays of light pierced the trees’ canopy like flaming arrows.  The current wound around little islands of ferns, moss, and fallen logs.  This boggy swamp was indeed a silent and peaceful place.  He wondered where the outlet was to the faster-moving river.

Was he alone?

*      *      *

He was not!

Two black bear cubs barreled toward him as if racing to see who could catch him first.  Thankfully, they looked curious and playful, not like they wanted to chomp on him.  Just like the beaver kits, the bear cubs just wanted to play with the raft.  It must have been something they rarely saw on the river.  They used their outstretched paws to swat the edge of the raft.  Back and forth they swatted.  The calm waters soon turned into a torrent of waves like the lake’s shoreline in a storm.

Mother Bear came to investigate the commotion.  She silenced the cubs with a short grunt.  She asked Wind Spirit if she could use the soap to wash her cubs.  Wind Spirit granted her wish.

*      *      *

Delighted with the bar’s lather, she scrubbed her cubs.  Then she returned the soap to Windy with a big “Thank you.”

He happily said, “You’re welcome,” then paddled into the main current and out of the swamp.  But he realized his soap was slowly wearing away and was even more rounded on the edges.

“Ah,” he said, “I’m finally back to the big river.  I’m away from the young beavers and bears—and their mothers’ wash.”

*      *      *

Tired from his romp in the swamp, Windy managed a smile.  He lay back and enjoyed the warm afternoon sun.

Later, he traveled between many fog-covered islands near the river’s end.  He was getting close to the big lake.  He rode a gentle current to the rippling waves of the river’s shoreline.

Surprised, he bumped up against an elevated nest.  It held a bunch of eggs.  As he looked inside, the mother swan returned to her nest and pounced on Windy.  The swan beat Windy with her powerful wings again and again.  Windy held the bar of soap tightly.  She must have thought the soap was one of her eggs.  Windy lowered his head and paddled away.  She chased him and kept beating him with her wings.  Windy held out the soap for her to see.  She looked closely.  Seeing her mistake, she smiled.  Windy laughed, too, and wished her good luck with her young cygnets that were about to hatch.

Slightly wing-beaten, Windy paddled on.  Misty fog grew so heavy it was hard to see.

*      *      *

Soon the current started going faster.  Waves began breaking over the front of the raft.  Windy thought he heard the wind picking up as he approached the big lake.

The raft gained more speed.  That sound was not the wind; it was rushing water!  Rapids roared, there was whitewater—dead ahead!  Too late to portage around the rapids, he held on tightly.  The front of the raft bobbed up and down in and out of the water.

Klunk!  The raft slammed into a half-buried rock.  Splinters flew as the raft spun around and turned over.  Windy and the soap broke loose.  He went one way, and the soap went another.  After struggling and tumbling underwater, he suddenly surfaced near the bobbing soap—and grabbed it.  With a heroic lunge, he exploded out of the water, grabbed the paddle, and climbed back onto the raft.  He continued downstream, holding tightly to the damaged raft with one hand, cradling his soap with the other.

He finally found some quiet water and relaxed.  The current carried them toward the big lake.  A raven followed.

*      *      *

After drifting a while, Windy heard another rushing sound ahead.  It sounded strange.  He was concerned.  Much to his surprise, the entire river was blocked by a fragile fish weir.  It stretched across the water and directed the fish to a trap in its center.  “Oh no!” he shouted.  “Either I have to break through the sticks forming the funnel, or go to shore and portage around the weir.”

The decision was quickly made for him.  He crashed into the side of the funnel-shaped sticks and rode over the top of the weir.  The sticks sprung back to their original position.  He moved on with only slight damage to the weir.  He still had a firm grip on the soap!

*      *      *

As the river flowed into the lake, the water felt warmer.  When the current slowed, he paddled toward the shore.  He rubbed his eyes and watched for Raven Maiden.  He hoped that she would be doing her wash today.

He found her!  She was at the washing station.  He paddled to her and smiled, keeping hidden his gift of soap.

*      *      *

When she saw Windy, she broke into a big smile, too.  “You made it!  I’m so excited!  Come over here and clean up.  You look like the river has tossed you around a bit.  Come.”

When he stepped off the raft, he dropped the soap in the water.  His gift being discovered, he banded her the soap.

She said, “Oh, that’s just what I need.  I’ve run out of soap while washing my family’s clothes.  It looks like this soap has been on a long voyage, too!”

She gave Wind Spirit a quick hug!  He was indeed a happy fellow as he helped her finish washing the clothes, a task not normally done by a young brave.

Later, he sat with Raven Maiden on the beach.  They thanked the Great Spirit for protecting him on the exciting journey down the river.  Both realized the soap he had made was a sign, a symbol of Windy’s desire to reunite with her.

A raven croaked and perched nearby.

*      *      *

Wind Spirit held Raven Maiden’s hand as she showed him her village.  He met their chief, Soaring Eagle.  Everybody welcomed him and made him feel very comfortable.

Proud that he had completed his journey—his Quest—Windy joined Raven for a swim in the lake.  Then they sat close on a log and watched the sun set across the lake.

Windy smiled, happy that Raven Maiden would always be his friend.

The End

Stop by and say hello! #VoiceofIndiePodcast #VoiceofIndie #AuthorInterview @VoiceOfIndie #WritingCommunity #AuthorSupport #IndieAuthor — Author D.L. Finn

Hello! Later today I’m thrilled to be a guest on Voice of Indie Podcast with hosts, Stephen Geez and Beem Weeks. The show starts at 5:00 PST, my time, or 8:00 EST. You can always listen later if you can’t make it. I’ve been catching up on all their great shows and added them to…

Stop by and say hello! #VoiceofIndiePodcast #VoiceofIndie #AuthorInterview @VoiceOfIndie #WritingCommunity #AuthorSupport #IndieAuthor — Author D.L. Finn

An Impressive Debut — The Indie Spot!

Rating: ★★★★★ The Blurb Lippert was thrown into the bowels of the Michigan Department of Corrections as a seventeen-year-old adolescent. He remained entrenched in a world of malfeasance for the next forty years. With astonishing honesty, he reveals the raw details of what a life of incarceration looks like from the inside. His observations of […]

An Impressive Debut — The Indie Spot!

Discussing Books, Writing, Inspiration, and Reviews: A YouTube Interview! — The Indie Spot!

I was honored to be invited for an interview on Smart Cherry’s Thoughts YouTube channel back in December. We talked about writing, my books, where inspiration comes from, and opinions on positive versus negative reviews. Here is that interview.

Discussing Books, Writing, Inspiration, and Reviews: A YouTube Interview! — The Indie Spot!

Book Release – Concordant Vibrancy 4: Inferno

Congratulations to Beem Weeks and all the authors contributing to this new collection.

The Indie Spot!

Greetings, one and all!

If you’ve been following along this past week and a half you probably already know that this is the day that everything has been leading to.

During day one we introduced you to the ingredient of Purpose. Adonis Mann brought up, “Express-Oh”.

Day two we took a look at Commitment via Carol Cassada’s contribution, “Not Always Like This”.

On day three it was all about Consequences; we delved deep into this ingredient via Harmony Kent’s story, “The Fireman”.

Day four examined Love with Beem Weeks’ tale, “The Complications of Fire”.

Day five was overtaken by the ingredient of Reinvention as told by C. Desert Rose’s story, “Calliope’s Inferno”.

Day six told us that Tenacity was an important ingredient no matter what the circumstance through Y. Correa’s, “Moxy”.

Day seven touched on how the ingredient of Risk can be as scolding as any through Synful Desire’s, “Antipode”.

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Welcome to the “BOUND’ED BY CHAINS” Blog Tour! @FRStepnowski @4WillsPub #RRBC

Reblogged at North’s World (Mark Allen North) blog:

Stephen Geez Blog

About the Book

BOUND; The Lost Romanticism and Eroticism of Gay Men. Allow yourself to give in to your deepest fantasies, desires, and sensual dreams, BOUND is a collection of poetic works exploring the world of eroticism, romanticism, and fantasies of gay men of all ages. Walk through the mind inspired by fantasies, the hopes for romance, the desire to be swept off ones’ feet, and the longing to be touched through this anthology filled with lost romance and passionate memories. Escape into a world that allows you to be one with your desires, feel the heightened sensations and passion through random rendezvous and engagements.

  

Poetry Excerpt fromBound: The Lost Romanticism and Eroticism of Gay Men

Lost in Victory

Good night moon

good night stars

good night, sleep tight wherever you are

nay the sleepless evenings or twilights

nay the emotional firestorms or memories that converge

Like…

View original post 343 more words

Welcome to the “GRANDMOTHERS: A FORCE FOR GOOD” Blog Tour! @HealthMN1 @4WillsPub #RRBC #RWISA

Showing support for a fellow writer.

The Indie Spot!

Greetings! Today I am honored to welcome author Harriet Hodgson to The Indie Spot.

Excerpt from The Grandma Force

Readers remember stories more than statistics. I use personal stories to emphasize points and link me to readers. This is my favorite story in The Grandma Force.

It was early morning at the family cabin. I sat in a log chair on the dock with my granddaughter on my lap. Patches of fog lingered in the forest and mist was rising from the river. We sat there silently, no words, no wiggling, and watched the current carry a few leaves and twigs downstream. Mayflies had hatched in the night and trout jumped from the water to catch them. One trout jumped up inches away from us. We heard other trout splashing in the river as they tried to catch mayflies.

At the edge of our property, an eagle had built…

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Strange Hwy by Beem Weeks

5-star Review

 

9781947867406_Ebook Cover.pngI received a hardcover copy of Strange Hwy by Beem Weeks as a gift. I had read the author’s other two books, so when I heard he had another collection of short stories, I dropped enough hints to get it for my birthday. I read this book with high expectations. I like quirky literary shorts like TC Boyle, Stephen Geez, and Joyce Carol Oates write, and this book did not disappoint. With so much fiction these days skewing toward fantasy, I like how this book keeps the focus primarily in the real world, then only sometimes slipping into something just slightly outside the natural world—when you least expect it.

My favorite is “Sweetie Girl,” which is narrated in the first-person talking to another character, then is punctuated by a very poignant make-you-think point. “Monster” offers an excellent commentary on presumption and prejudice regarding a topic that is at the forefront today. “Taking Lumps” is a metaphoric look at girls’ perceptions of brothers and other boys, with sleeping outdoors having more than one meaning. I could talk about each story, but why take anything away from others reading them? I recommend this book for people who appreciate high-quality short stories.

 

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