“Scout coming in and needs to report to you sir. I think you need to hear this.”
I nodded once again, chewing on a particularly tasty bit of possum fat. I couldn’t remember how long it had been since I had eaten last, other than a Johnnycake or two.
I watched the scout dismount from the horse before it came to a full stop. He was a young boy, with a dusty sweat stained face and a look on his face which shown me that he had lost his youth and was older than his years took him to be.
He saluted me.
“General Belvedere suh?” He asked.
I swallowed the possum fat and nodded. “Report.”
“Yankees suh. Seems to be Rosser’s Brigade. They’s moving south down the Tawneyburg Road and the main group of them seems to be camped on the rear slop of Harker Heights between Harkerville and Lumpkins Junction.”
I nodded. “A brigade you say?”
He nodded. “Yessuh. I counted at least 8 regiments of infantry, and a battery of guns.”
“A battery of guns? Hmmm…could you make out what kind?”
He nodded his head again. “Yessuh. Looks like them long range Parrott Rifled Guns.”
“Any cavalry or horse artillery?” I asked.
“Nawsuh; Just infantry and that battery of guns. They got the guns close to Harker Heights but they ain’t on it yet. Judged by the way they is camped there, I’d say that they either don’t know we are here, or aren’t expecting any real opposition until they move further South tomorrow.”
This boy was smart and observant for his age. I looked at Lt. Jasper. “Anything else from the scouts on any support on this?”
Jasper shook his head. “No sir. Seems that this is a forward brigade movement. Could be a diversion, could be a push this way to see where they can go.”
I place my plate onto the small table, and picked up my tin cup of black coffee. It had started to cool, and I took a small sip to get the taste of possum fat out of my mouth.
“Lt. Jasper, assemble my commanders for a meeting in half an hour.”
“Yes sir!” The young lieutenant nodded, saluted and quickly heeled away to his urgent task. Suddenly the peaceful silence of the evening twilight was quickly being replaced by the urgency of war.
“Anything else to report?” I asked the scout.
“No suh. That’s all I saw.”
“Good job. Let me ask you something…how old are you?”
The scout looked at me. “Thank you suh. Umm…I’m 16 suh.”
“Sixteen?Son, you should be back home courting your gal, and not out here riding around trying to get shot by bluebellies.”
He shrugged to me. “I know suh, but I got’s to do something. My brother was killed at Winchester and well, I had a gal, but she went and got herself engaged to a fella back home that is in charge of his paw’s general store.”
I nodded. War and Romantic Heartbreak, was what he had already experienced. He was a poet just waiting to happen. “Son..you had supper yet?”
He shook his head. “Nawsuh. Been out counting Yankees.”
I quickly scribbled on a piece of scrap paper, and handed it to him. “Here. Give this to Old George. He’ll fix you up something good. Plus, tell him that I said to give you a slice of the rhubarb pie he made.”
The boys grinned. “Thank yuh…I mean Suh!” Saluting, he practically ran out from beneath the fly and towards the company cook.
I watched him for a second and thought about the young boys in ranks under my command. Captain Butler my artillery commander had two 14 year olds in his battery, and a man that was almost 72.
War takes the young and the old.
My reflections started to fade as the urgency of the task came back to mind. I turned to the table, pushed the plate of possum stew aside and began to study the map of the land around Lumpkins Junction. Tomorrow there would be a fight, and we needed to be ready…
There was much to do tonight…
(Click on photo for larger version)
Tomorrow I will be in Brazil, Indiana playing fellow TMP'er Bill Rosser at 15mm ACW using the old RRTF rules. Seems that the Yankees are pushing and I've been ordered to meet them in/around the area of Lumpkin's Junction. My boys are ready, and got their dander up. He's got those damn long range Parrott Guns, but I've got cavalry!
More to follow...