It might not take much to tip the balance in the Valley, and a defeat in the Valley could tip the balance of the war. I opened the folded note inside the foil.
He had obviously written it in haste, since he had coded nothingexcept the signature. Large numbers of CS infantry embarked on V. Central tonight in great secrecy. Believed to be Kershaw's division joining Early.
I felt as if I were holding a bomb. I put it down very carefully, and went to fetch the papers I had secreted on the mantel, and with them my cipher code and the half-finished letter I'd been writing to Colonel Sharpe at City Point.
An hour ago, everything in the letter had seemed important. Now it all seemed trifling indeed. I rewrote it, putting Sam's message at the start, and ciphered it. By then dawn light was creeping in around the curtains, and the servants were starting to get up How many nights did I spend in this fashion, through those four years of war? Truly, I don't remember. And there were others like me; don't ever believe different. Every man and woman who gave me information had sources of their own, supplying them. We weren't legion, perhaps, but we were thousands, all through Richmond, all across Virginia.
Much later, I learned that my message to City Point was confirmed three times, from three different agents on the way to Orange Court House. Sheridan knew exactly when Kershaw arrived; and later in the summer, thanks to a loyalist schoolteacher in Winchester, he knew exactly when Kershaw left. And that was the end of the Rebels in the Valley.
Margaret Mitchell began writing Gone with the Wind in to pass the time while recovering from a slow-healing auto-crash injury. More than 20 editions appeared during the 19th century, including German, Dutch and several British editions. New Softcover Quantity Available: Book Description Forge Books, Thomas Jefferson penned a similar authorship list in his copy.
But it isn't part of the myth, and some of you will say I'm just making it up: all the resistance, all the people who never believed in the glorious Confederacy. All the forgotten stories I still remember, and want to tell--about the loyalists, yes, but many other things as well--the courage we saw in the war, and the cleverness, and all the craziness, too. Five-course dinners at the Spotswood Hotel, served with music and candlelight, while Lee's half-starved men were gnawing on the corn the army bought for their horses.
A young Northern prisoner, a tailor in private life, toadying up to the Rebel officers something shameful, until one of them actually gave him a uniform tomend--which uniform the prisoner quietly put on, and so, transformed into a good Confederate major, walked out of Libby Prison in broad daylight, and never bothered to go back again.
Abel Streight, cavalry colonel from Indiana, watching in the same Libby Prison while the names of his junior officers were scrawled on bits of paper and thrown into a dirty cardboard box. I wasn't there, of course, and so I can only tell it the way it was told to me, the way I see it sometimes, pageant-like, the faces and the deeds played out again, always familiar, and yet never quite the same MAY, Colonel Streight was a big man, with a westerner's occasional rough edges, and a tendency to bluntly speak his mind.
No one would ever have called him soft or sentimental, but on a day like this one, he would have found it easy to cry.
He was hungry right down to his toes. He was exhausted.
It was impossible to sleep in Libby, two hundred bodies in a single room, all squashed together like sausages in a tray, some mumbling and some coughing and some yelling at everyone else to shut up, and one damn fool or another always having to go, and always managing to step on somebody's ankle or in somebody's face on the way Sometimes, when Abel Streight longed for home, he didn't even think about his wife's warm body or his two winsome children; he just wanted a big feather bed, far away in a darkened house on an utterly deserted street, not a sound for twenty miles, not even a cat out, just black Indiana night and sleep.
Just sleep. Just one night to forget where he was, and how he came to be there. He had led a raid out of Nashville in April, a diversionary action deep into enemy territory. By early May he was in Georgia; the horses and mules were giving out, and his supplieswere almost gone. The forces of Nathan Bedford Forrest were all around him, outnumbering him more than two to one. Or so Bedford Forrest had led him to believe.
It was all deception, all huffery and puffery, the same little bands of Rebel cavalry riding around in circles, seeming to be thousands when they were only hundreds. Had Streight chosen to fight instead of surrender, it might have been Forrest, rather than himself, who would have found the situation hopeless. Every time Streight remembered it, he felt another stab of dark humiliation and regret. Especially on a summer day in '63, the day they drew the names. The day Captain Turner took his little clerk Erasmus Ross into Libby Prison, the pair of them flanked by armed guards, and called the prisoners to order.
There had been a hanging in Kentucky, he told them, a vile and unconscionable murder by their vile and unconscionable army of invasion. Two Confederate captains had been falsely accused of being spies, and put to death. Now, by order of the Confederate government, two men of the same rank would be chosen by lot from among the prisoners, and hanged in retaliation.
Turner shouted to silence the outburst of rage and disbelief. He had not come here to discuss the matter. There was nothing to discuss. The decision had been made; the decision was final. Justice according to King Jeff. Clumsily, painstakingly, the way he did everything, Little Ross wrote out the names--all the company commanders in seven regiments, including Streight's Fifty-first Indiana Cavalry. Ross could have done it before they came.
The prison officers had all the information in their records. But he did it in front of them, offering them his vile little grin sometimes, his knowing look: You're in for it now, Yankees, oh, yes, indeed, you're in for it now Richard Turner was undoubtedly the most hated man in Libby, but Ross ran a very close second.
The prisoners called him Little Ross when they were being nice. Most times they called him Erasmus Rat, and the little worm, and a great variety of things unprintable. Ross never walked past a shelf without knocking someprecious personal treasure onto the floor, and if it broke, he smiled.
He rarely opened his mouth without insulting someone.
He lost mail and bragged about it. Perhaps he had a natural talent for nastiness, Streight thought, or perhaps he worked at it. He could picture Ross sitting up nights thinking about his charges, and how to get them good; meditating on them with his lonely sandwich and his comfortless bowl of soup. He had no wife; he had no friends.
He had only the secret life of his warped, cold, incomprehensible mind. Abel Streight didn't swear much, but he swore all the time when he talked about Ross. The little son of a bitch got eyes all around his head, and he never blinks. He was one of the most timid men there, probably, one who would find this especially horrible to remember.
Streight no longer wanted to cry. He wanted to strangle Richard Turner. That one again. Cavalry raider, cattle thief, destroyer of railroads and bridges and barns, trampler of sacred Southern soil. The man who lured half the Southern cavalry out of Mississippi for Grant, led them on a devil's chase into Georgia, while that other hellion Grierson ran the rest to Baton Rouge. Had it not been for those two, the Yankee general and his army would have ended in the river. They'd have been wrecked and gone now, instead of blasting cannonballs into the streets of Vicksburg, morning, noon, and night.
It was reason enough to detest Colonel Streight, but Turner had another reason. Prisoners were supposed to act like prisoners, and Streight never did.
He was aggressive and mouthy, always looking for trouble, always stirring things up. Damnable dog of a Yankee. A ripple of fourteen hundred hands slithering out of sight behind seven hundred sullen Yankee backs. It had not been planned, but between two blinks of Richard Turner's black eyes, every prisoner in Libby looked like Venus de Milo in blue, only grubbier, without the nice curves. Convert currency.