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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  GENERAL TOPICS  |  Saddlebag Tales (Moderators: Marshal'ette Halloway, Lucky Irish Tom)  |  Topic: The Last Patrol 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: The Last Patrol  (Read 116575 times)
Elegant Ella
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« Reply #850 on: January 05, 2010, 11:44:18 pm »

Ella finished her morning rounds in the nursing tent, completing the night shift, and turned responsibility over to Orville Torres for the rest of the day. She had chosen to take the night shift, so she would be there when the light of life was weakest, to do what she could to ease the soul's departure. Litter bearers had already removed the two patients who had died during the night. There were still a dozen who were unlikely to survive.

She found Cyrus easily at the scout's camp. "Dick wants to talk to you. He refused to take morphine this morning, to be alert for you."

"How's he doing?"

"His spirit might cling to his flesh for a few more days, but he's not likely to be conscious and coherent past today."
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1stSgt Fritz King
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« Reply #851 on: January 06, 2010, 09:27:45 am »

"I have to write my after-action report of the battle," Fritz replied.  Can you hand me my journal?"

Scarlet handed him his journal and a pencil, and lit the candle.

Fritz reached out and took her hand.  "Listen, I know you've got a lot on your mind.  I do too.  Once I get this report done, I'd like to spend some time with you...okay?"

"You read me well," Scarlet whispered.  "I'll be checking on Bo."

He kissed her hand before she left.  "I'll be happy to get back home."       
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« Reply #852 on: January 06, 2010, 12:28:04 pm »

Official Report of Captain Frederick H. King
Camp on Goose Creek, Wyoming Territory
June 20th, 1876
Sir,
In obedience to Paragraph II of Circular of this date from HQBn, 2nd and 3rd Cavalry, I have the honor to respectfully report that my command was resting at the first halting place after leaving camp on the 17th instant, the horses being unsaddled and grazing, in obedience to orders received…  


“Shit.”

Fritz put the pencil down and rested his head in his hands.  Things had gone badly, and he didn’t want to sugar-coat them.  They had been caught off guard, despite his warnings.  They had entered the Rosebud Valley, and decided to take a coffee break!  

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He awoke early, as the first grey streaks of light crossed the horizon.  3:00 AM was mighty early for the average man, but the average man wasn’t a Soldier.  Fritz rolled out of his greatcoat and checked Strider.  He’d run a lead loop from his halter and slipped it under his coat.  If someone tried to take his horse in the night, he’d feel the movement.  Whatever sugar cubes left in his pocket had been crushed by sleeping on the hard ground.  He turned his pocket inside out, dumping the contents into his palm, which Strider greedily licked up.

“That’s it, buddy,” Fritz said, rubbing his mount on the spot between his eyes.  The horse dipped his head to the touch, neighing softly.

“Yeah…I know.  They’re close.”

Fritz found Scott, who was sliding his boots on.  There would be no trumpet calls this morning, unless an attack came from the darkness.  Men were roused by a word or a touch.  They busied themselves by tending to their mounts, or talking in small groups.  Cigars or pipes went unlit.  Those who chewed tobacco spat happily, while others looked on enviously.  Fritz chewed on a few coffee beans to wake him up.  

Three hours later the command was ready to move out.  As he mounted, Fritz prayed that Scarlet would stay safe, and that the command would fare well.  The Infantry was first on the road, followed by the Cavalry, then the Packers and Miners who had joined the expedition.  The scouts were Cyrus’s concern.  

They had been augmented by about 250 Crow and Shoshone Scouts.  General Crook had finally received the “Indians to fight against the Indians,” but they were a mixed blessing at best.  True, they were probably the finest horse soldiers he had ever seen, but their noise and light discipline sucked.  They were issued their rations, and immediately began feasting and dancing.  If Scarlet were concerned about the noise the command was making, she was probably having kittens by now.  They fired their weapons indiscriminately, without regard to ammunition stores.  The Shoshones were armed with .45 caliber Springfield rifles; where they got them Fritz hadn’t a clue.  The Crows were armed mostly with older .50 caliber Allin conversions.  That ammunition would be hard to come by.  Perhaps the Crows thought they would re-arm themselves with more modern, cast-off weapons.  Whether they came from Soldiers or Sioux didn’t matter.  

This morning, however, the Indian scouts were quiet.  They knew there was danger in the air.  Death was in their midst.
 
The Cavalry quickly outpaced the Infantry, and led the way into the Rosebud Valley.  It would’ve been a lovely place; the river wasn’t very wide, and easily fordable.  Thick blankets of roses covered both banks of the river, and the fragrance reminded him of his wife.  The valley was a mixture of green grasses and blue wildflowers.  It would’ve been a pleasant place to picnic…if not for the Sioux.

The column marched on both sides of the river.  Three miles into the valley, the Rosebud River turned sharply north.  The river then ran east for about three miles, and then turned sharply north again.  The 2nd and 3rd Cavalry were midway between the bends when the order to halt came down the line.  It was 8:00 AM.  

“What???” Fritz said, not quite believing what he’d heard.  He waited for Captain Mills to repeat the order.                      

“General Crook has ordered a halt.  Some of the horses are done in…not to mention the men.  We DID march 35 miles yesterday.”

Fritz was hurting too, but didn’t want to admit it to the younger man.  “Very well,” he replied.  

“And Captain,” Mills replied, “have the men unsaddle their horses.”

Before Fritz could protest, Mills was splashing back across the Rosebud to his command.  Fritz made eye contact with Scott and motioned him over.  

“What was that about?” Scott asked.

“A halt has been called.”

“Why?  We’ve only made a few miles by my count.”

“Not my call,” Fritz spat.  “The General says we need a rest.  Have the men unsaddle their horses.”

“Are you kidding?  We’re in Indian country for sure!”

“Pass the word slowly,” Fritz replied.  “No rush.”

Scott nodded and began to move slowly through the company.  He found Dave and Johann, and let the Sergeants pass the word down the chain.  It would take 15 to 20 minutes before the word reached every ear.  

The veterans wasted no time, turning to to unsaddle and boil water for coffee.  Small fires popped up everywhere; luckily there was very little smoke to mark their presence.  Men happily lit pipes and cigars.  Fritz rolled one between his fingers.  Remembering Scarlet’s warning, he slipped it back into his vest.  Pockets of men chatted; some took the opportunity to catch a few winks.  After 20 years, the capacity of a Soldier still amazed Fritz.  

“Why walk when you can ride…why stand when you can sit…why sit when you can lie down,” he whispered.  

He took a look at his surroundings.  It was not the place Fritz would’ve chose to stop, but then again, he wasn’t a General.  Water was plentiful, as was grass for grazing.  To the south was a 500 foot high bluff.  “That’s where I’d be,” Fritz said to no one.  To the north were a series of low ridges, running from 150 to 800 yards distant.  He could see the prairie rising behind those ridges.  A lone crest, running northwest to southeast, terminated about one mile east of the west bend of the Rosebud.  This crest separated the second, smaller valley called the Kollmar from the Rosebud.  The Kollmar was created by a spring-fed creek, which was mostly dry this time of year.  There was a solitary homestead on the banks of the Rosebud, owned by the Kobold family.  I Company was situated near this house.

Fritz could see General Crook talking with Major Shurmann near the mouth of the Kollmar.  He was sure that Bill was telling the General the same thing he thought.  Several Crow and Shoshone scouts rode up to the pair.  They were animated, and pointing towards the ridges to the northwest.  Bill shielded his eyes from the sunlight, and looked in the direction the scouts pointed.  The scouts wheeled and rode off towards the ridges.

“Scott,” Fritz called.  “Post some pickets to the north of camp please.”  Scott picked four men from the company.  The four took their carbines and moved about fifty yards north of the camp.  There they took interval and took a knee.  They would wait there until relieved, or until something started.  Fritz prayed it wouldn’t.

It was quiet and cool.  The stillness was bothersome.  Fritz walked back to Strider, checking his pistols as he went.  He opened the loading gate of each Colt, dropping a round into the empty chambers.  Several Soldiers took his cue and did the same.  Fritz pulled the Berdan from its scabbard.  There was no need to check the chamber.  He rested the butt on his boot and looked off to the north.  

Some of the Shoshones began racing their ponies, much to the amusement of the troopers.  Fritz shook his head.  There was nothing that could be done.  At the first report of a rifle, he lifted his Berdan and dropped to one knee.  One shot erupted into many, and the sound echoed over the valley floor.

“Maybe they’re hunting buffalo over there,” one trooper remarked.

“My ass,” Fritz replied, dropping to the sitting position.  He thumbed back the hammer and put his rifle to shoulder.  Suddenly, the Indian scouts galloped over the ridge top.  One of them was yelling at the top of his lungs, “Lakota!!!  Lakota!!!”  

As the scouts bolted towards the safety of camp, hundreds of Sioux and Cheyenne boiled over the ridge top.  Fritz flipped up the ladder sight and estimated the range.  He released the set trigger, and took a bead on the closest attacker, who was wildly waiving a pistol in the air.  Fritz held his breath and squeezed the trigger.  The report of the big rifle sounded enormous by the river.  The round struck the Sioux in the jaw, the heavy round tearing through it and the skull behind.  The rider flipped backwards off his mount, and was promptly trampled by the hoard.

The battle of the Rosebud had begun.
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« Reply #853 on: January 06, 2010, 09:23:50 pm »

Scarlet was worried when Teddy wasn’t waiting for her when she arrived in the scout’s camp. She figured he would beat her as she had ridden up to check on Bo before riding back to the scout’s camp. About the time she started to think she might go looking for him she saw Teddy leading Strider towards camp.

The horse had his head up and seemed to be shying from things, the fact he would not bear much weight on his front leg was probably what was keeping him from running Teddy over.

Scarlet dismounted and walked out to meet them. “What’s got him so excited, that’s not like him.” She said.

Teddy stopped and stepped to the side so she could see the side of the horses face.

“Damn.” Scarlet mumbled.

“Took us awhile to catch him. One of Fritz’s men was over there helping. One would think a three legged horse would be easy to catch but he kept spinning around on his haunches and hobbling away.” Teddy replied.

Scarlet slowly walked into Strider’s line of sight and took the reins. She talked softly to the horse and stroked his neck working her way up to his head. Teddy wasn’t sure how long they had stood there but the horse finally calmed down. When Strider put his head close to her chest and let out a sigh Teddy just shook his head. “Ya shoulda been a horse doc Scarlet.”

Scarlet smiled “Problem is I have a hard time getting along with most the owners Teddy.”

She wasn’t really sure if Strider found comfort in the fact he knew her or the fact he could probably smell Fritz on her.

“By the way he moved when you tried to catch him what do you think of his leg?” She asked.

“He’s not going to be running any races any time soon but I don’t think anything is broken. He was putting weight on it when he needed to.”

“Do you think you can find me some water that’s not so cold? We need to clean him up so we can see what we have to work with.”

By the time she got Strider into the camp the sun was starting to rise. At least it would be easier to see what she was doing Scarlet thought.

The side of the horse’s face looked like he had hit the ground with it first. A large flap of skin stuck to the dried blood over his eye that was swollen shut, and part of his lip was split and puffy. Scarlet opened Strider’s mouth and looked inside for any obvious broken teeth.

Scarlet carefully peeled the bridle from Stirder’s head leaving the halter in place, checked the shoulder and the leg he was favoring, and then removed his saddle.

She didn’t seem very concerned about the piece of wood that was stuck under the skin. “Whatcha lookin’ for?” Teddy asked walking up with a pail of warm water and some clean rags he’d been able to gather from some of the others, who had followed him back.

“Things that may tell me it would be better off to put a bullet in him.” Scarlet said softly as she continued to look the horse over.

Some of the men looked at one another in confusion. “If his leg ain’t bad enough what about his face?” Black beard asked.

“Been my experience if an animal has the fight in him to follow the others he has enough fight in him to survive a lot of things. His gums are not swollen and jaw are not swollen bad enough he can’t eat.” Scarlet reached into the space between his teeth where the bit would normally ride, pulled his tongue out to the side and looked at it and as far into his mouth as she could see. “He didn’t bite his tongue off. There’s a small chip in one of his teeth that could have had for years so that doesn’t concern me.” She replied to nobody particular as she let go of his tongue.

“Thank you.” She said to Teddy as she picked up the cloth that had been dropped into the pail and began to gently clean his face.

The flap of skin was still attached, but by very little. Scarlet went to her saddle bags, removed a few things including a flask. She poured the liquid over the blade of her knife. The men looked from one another wondering if she was about the cut the horse’s throat or something.

“Carefully take hold of his lip and squeeze it” She said to Teddy “should keep him from moving too much.”

  Once Teddy had a good hold Scarlet cut quickly the flap free. Strider tilted his head away but did fight much. “You can let go of his lip now.” She said as she started to apply some salve from a small jar she had taken from her saddle bags to his face.

Scarlet washed his shoulder best she could before she cut the skin that was stretched tight over the piece of wood. She pulled the wood free and looked at it; it was probably a piece of the pole from the Gideon she thought tossing it to the ground. She sutured the cut after cleaning it, and then applied some of the slave to what looked like rope burn around his ankle. It was hard to say what he had gotten tangled in, could have been the reins, they had been broken.

Once finished she stood up and looked at him. The horse turned his head so he could see her. “Your gonna have to tolerate me for a few days messin’ with your face.” She said hoping that when the swelling in his other eye went down he wouldn’t be blind. It had been too hard to tell and to much of a fight when she had tried to do that. Strider rolled his eye at her. “I know, better than the alternative I think.” She remarked.

Scarlet could feel the lack of sleep catching up to her but she knew she still wouldn’t be able to fall asleep so she decided to go back and check on Fritz. If he was asleep she would leave word with someone she could be found at the scout’s camp.

“Who would like to be in charge of Strider for awhile? He needs to stay put.” She asked.

“I’ll watch him.” Black beard offered.

Scarlet waved a thanks as she rode across camp.

 


 

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« Reply #854 on: January 06, 2010, 10:05:30 pm »

Cyrus couldn’t help be suspicions why Dick would send for him. He bit his lower lip trying to decide if he should ask Ella or not. Maybe it was a silly question but he had seen people attack one another when you thought they were lying there dead.
 finally he asked.

 “In his state should I be concerned for my safety.”
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"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

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« Reply #855 on: January 07, 2010, 12:06:53 am »

Ella considered the question carefully before she answered, "No. The fever has taken the strength out of him, and he's been undressed, so he shouldn't have any concealed weapons. I doubt he's got enough dexterity to aim a pistol, or enough strength to cock a hammer. He knows he is dying. For the sake of his soul, I hope he wants to ask for forgiveness."
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« Reply #856 on: January 07, 2010, 08:19:28 am »

Without waiting for orders, the scouts formed a skirmish line on the ridges north of camp.  Fritz saw Scarlet and Bo riding hard to get into position.  His pickets raced forward to aid the scouts, as did the pickets from the other companies.  Fritz ordered “boots and saddles,” and the command made ready.       

The warriors closed to within 500 yards of camp when the scouts’ line erupted in flame.  The line held firm and kept the Indians at bay long enough for the column to get organized.  The scouts’ line formed a wide arc, attempting to cover all avenues of approach.  The Sioux and Cheyenne were coming in from the north, east and west now.  This was the first time anyone had seen them fight in an organized fashion, rather than the hit-and-run, guerilla type tactics they were accustomed to.  There were no organized volleys of fire at this point.  Braves yelled their war cries.  The sharp, flat crack of pistols and the loud report of rifles filled the air.  Arrows arced and whistled overhead, to fall in bunches near the horses. 

General Crook dispatched Captain Van Vliet of the 3rd Cavalry to take the high ground to the south, while the Infantry companies deployed as skirmishers to assist the scouts.  Fritz saw B, D and E Companies of the Second falling into line.  Company A of the Second remained behind as horse holders.

“FIRST SERGEANT!!!   Assemble the men!  Deploy as skirmishers.  We’re taking the right of the line!”

Trumpeter Sergeant Powell sounded “assembly.”  The Men fell in at the order, shoulder to shoulder.  Scott fell in to the right of the line, and Johann the left.  Dave and the guidon bearer joined Fritz behind the formation.  Fritz chambered a cartridge in the Berdan and closed the action. 

“COMPANY!!!” Fritz yelled.  The commands were echoed by Scott and Johann.  “ PORT…ARMS!!!”  Carbines came up to hand.

“At the Double-Quick, FORWARD…MARCH!!!”

I Company, 2nd Cavalry, moved forward to support the Infantry’s right flank. 
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« Reply #857 on: January 07, 2010, 11:13:36 am »

Fritz hadn’t seen a skirmish line this long since the war.  It was over a mile long, advancing over open ground towards the heights.  Each man was separated by five paces; units butted in against each other to prevent holes in the line.  There was no cover.  There was a 300 yard gap in the main crest which the combined Indian forces were using as their main entry/egress point.  This gap was roughly a mile away.  Scott saw it too, and began to angle their force towards the gap.  The attackers hadn’t found their range yet; most of their shots were dropping well ahead of the line.

“Steady,” Fritz called out.  “Don’t fire unless you have a target.  Don’t waste ammunition.”

Rounds began to strike among them.  So far, no one had been hit.  That would change.  Fritz noticed that to the east of the
gap, there was an area which would provide good cover.  Large boulders, sandstone crevices and pines would be proof against Sioux and Cheyenne rounds.  I Company commenced a right oblique and headed into cover.  

“All right Scott,” Fritz yelled.  “Let’s introduce ‘em to the boys!”

Scott raised his hand.  "Company…Volley Fire…ready…Aim…FIRE!!!”

A sheet of flame erupted from the company’s carbines.  Not all rounds found their targets, but Fritz was sure the volley had a telling effect.  The battle had the feel of a tug-of-war match; individual Soldiers or Sioux would advance ahead of their lines, only to be pushed back by a hail of bullets and/or arrows.  Some Crow and Shoshone scouts attempted to lure the enemy into ambush, but were unsuccessful.

Fritz advanced to the line and took a knee, raising his rifle to shoulder.  An Indian rode close to his lines.  Fritz was about to squeeze the trigger when he saw the red cloth tied to the man’s arm.  Sioux and Shoshone were almost identical in their battle dress.  Fratricide would be unavoidable.  

Suddenly, a hail of lead fell within their lines.  Sioux and Cheyenne marksmen occupied the higher ridges east of the gap, and were pouring in a galling fire.  The Second couldn’t advance without exposing themselves.  The stayed behind cover and returned fire as targets became available.  

“Damn it, where’s the Third?” Fritz said.  Just then, he heard the call to “charge.”  The 3rd Cavalry charged up the slope with drawn pistols.  A cheer came up from the Infantry and the 2nd as Mills’ troopers took the Sioux lines in the front and the flank.  Mills’ troopers bellowed as they dismounted and formed skirmish lines on the spot formerly occupied by the enemy.

“On your feet Troopers!!!” Fritz yelled.  “The 3rd has cleared the road!  Advance the colors!!!”  Fritz and the guidon bearer took off at a run to support the 3rd.  He watched as the enemy shifted position from one crest to another.  Once the 2nd had reached the 3rd’s new position, Mills remounted his troopers and charged again.  It was like a giant game of leap-frog; each time the cavalry charged, the Indians just moved back to the next crest.  

The 2nd exchanged long-range volleys with the enemy with little effect.   Fritz dropped into the sitting position and began searching for targets.  He didn’t waste ammo; each time the Berdan barked, someone fell.  At this range it was difficult to make out strips of red cloth tied to Crow and Shoshone arms.  He did his best, and prayed his shots killed foes rather than friends.

A trooper rode through his lines and moved towards Mills.  He saluted and spoke briefly with the Captain.  At this distance Fritz couldn’t make out what was said, but he got the gist when Mills dismounted his troop to form skirmish lines.  “This far, and no further,” he thought.  By all accounts, the column held the high ground.  

Fritz counted the cost.  Several of his men were wounded, but none severely.  Glancing wounds and ricochets caused most of the damage.  A field hospital had been established on a ridge below his position.  Any man needing additional care was sent to the rear.  

There was activity to the west, but Fritz’s last orders were to hold this position.  Here they were, and here they’d stay unless ordered to the contrary.
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« Reply #858 on: January 07, 2010, 03:04:46 pm »

At about 10:30 AM, Fritz saw Captain Mills withdraw to the hill where General Crook commanded the operation.  A brief conversation ensued, and Mills rode hard back to his unit.  Fritz watched in stunned silence as Mills mounted his unit and withdrew to the Kobold House.  As soon as his unit left, the Sioux and Cheyenne warriors scrambled back to occupy those heights.  Firing ensued again.  This didn’t make sense.  One of the first axioms of warfare Fritz learned was “once you take something, you don’t give it back.”  They had given the advantage back to the enemy.  Fritz began to distribute his cartridges to young troopers who had run low.  Firing slackened, and Fritz correctly surmised that the fight had shifted to the west.  A younger man might’ve run to the sound of the guns, but Fritz stayed put.  He’d not leave this gap wide open. 

A rider tore up to Fritz’s location and dismounted.  He saluted Fritz and said, “General Crook sends his compliments, sir.  You are ordered to withdraw from this position and regain your mounts.  Once mounted, you are advised to augment Captain Mills’ force.”

Fritz asked “Where the devil is Mills, and why did he leave the line?”           

The trooper said “Mills is preparing to advance down the ravine, to take the Indian village and hold it.”

Fritz nodded.  “Very well.  Tell the General that we’ll do our best.”  The young man mounted, saluted and rode off.

“FIRST SERGEANT!!!”

Scott ran up.  “Orders, sir?”

“Yes,” Fritz said.  “We’ll retreat by fire to the Kobold House.  Once there, we’ll mount up and back up Anson Mills and the Third.  Move in good order.  Don’t let those bastards see our backs.”

Scott sounded the order to retreat.  At that order, every other man in the skirmish line ran forward five paces and fired a volley.  The then turned and ran five paces behind the existing line and took a knee to reload.  The troopers who hadn’t moved then fired a volley and retreated five paces behind the kneeling troopers.  This process was repeated until the Second was safely back at the Kobold House.  There the men took their reserve ammunition from their saddlebags and replenished their belts and pouches. 

Fritz mounted up, and slid the Berdan back into its scabbard.  He drew his short Colt and advanced the column.  Anson Mills and his troop were slightly ahead and already advancing into the valley.  The Second closed the gap.  There was a low line of hills on the left, just to the east of the creek.  As Fritz passed within 75 yards of the hills, shots rang shots rang out.  Fritz began to wheel Strider about to face the threat, swinging the short Colt towards the rocks.  A giant hammer ripped the pistol from his hand.  It shattered as it flew mere inches from his face, the barrel and cylinder spinning through the air.  Carbines thundered in the valley, silencing the threat.

Fritz’s left hand was numb.  He could move his fingers, which was a good sign.  Before the feeling came back, he swapped the reins to his left hand, wrapping them around the palm.  His arms still worked, and he could control Strider with hip and thigh movements.  He looked down at the pieces of his shattered pistol.  Shaking his head, he twist drew the Army Colt from its flap holster with his right hand.

“Let’s do what we came here to do.”   
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« Reply #859 on: January 07, 2010, 08:55:34 pm »

The column moved out smartly, with units on both sides of the creek.  All guns faced outboard; the men were ready.  About two miles into the valley, the 3rd halted to tighten girth straps.  Fritz and his men stayed in the saddle in case anything broke bad.  A scout rode forward and had words with Mills.  The valley was only about 150 yards at this point, and was tapering.  The consensus was that this would be the perfect setting for an ambush.

Feeling had come back to Fritz’s hand, and it wasn’t a good feeling.  His palm throbbed with a dull ache.  He pushed the pain aside and focused on the mission at hand.  The men were getting restless.

Heavy firing echoed through the canyon from the west.  Suddenly, General Crook’s Adjutant, Captain Azor Nickerson, rode through the column and directly to Mills.  What came next was unbelievable.

Nickerson said “Mills, Royall is hard-pressed, and must be relieved.  Henry is badly wounded, and Vroom’s troop is all cut up.  The General orders that you and the Second file by your left flank out of this canyon and fall on the rear of the Indians who are pressing Royall."

Mills looked at Nickerson and said “Are you sure he wants me to go back?”  Nickerson repeated the order, to which Mills replied, “We have the village…and can hold it.”  Nevertheless, orders were orders.  Mills shouted to Fritz, “Turn your squadron to the left and come into line.  We’ll be charging the Indian positions.  Let’s hope we catch them in the rear!”

The Second came into line.  Fritz gave the order to “Sling…Carbines!!!” and to “Draw…Pistols!!!”  The combined forces of the 2nd and 3rd Cavalry climbed out of the canyon into line of battle.  Dave raised his bugle and sounded the “charge.”  Excited troopers spurred anxious mounts.  The line surged forward.  Fritz shouted “Stay by me!!!” over the din.  Men screamed and whooped.  He even heard that blasted Rebel yell again.  He smiled despite himself.  Cavalry pistols barked.

The Sioux and Cheyenne warriors were taken by surprise.  They wheeled about and began firing wildly into the screaming mass.  Fritz looked out of the corner of his eye to see his guidon bearer surging forward, the guidon staff held like a lance.  Its spear tip glistened in the midday sun.

A round struck the guidon bearer’s mount in the neck.  The horse screamed and buckled, falling directly into Strider’s path. Strider tangled in the mount’s legs and went down hard, pitching Fritz forward.  He tried to pull his feet from the stirrups as the world went black… 
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« Reply #860 on: January 07, 2010, 11:10:56 pm »

Ella wasn’t sure if she detected a look of concern or sadness in Cyrus’s eyes at her comment.

Cyrus took a breath “I wonder if he even knows how to ask forgiveness and be sincere and if he does there is a part of me hopes he doesn’t ask Ella….because if he does I will have to find it in my soul to forgive a man that I have been wishing out of my life since we were boys.”
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« Reply #861 on: January 07, 2010, 11:48:04 pm »

"His flesh will be out of your life in a few days, at most. If you don't forgive him when he asks, you may never be free of his ghost," replied Ella.
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« Reply #862 on: January 08, 2010, 12:10:34 am »

Cyrus raised an eyebrow "Now you sound like Teddy," he half laughed "but that certainly makes it eaiser for me to find forgivenss should he ask."

With that Cyrus went to find Dick.
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« Reply #863 on: January 08, 2010, 07:13:17 am »

…he awoke in the sweat lodge of his brother Grey Eagle.  The fire had gone cold.

“Now you will speak to my people.  Are you ready?”

Fritz stood and noticed his gun belt was missing.

“Your weapons…you will not need them.”  Grey Eagle opened the flap and Fritz passed through.  

He entered into a large council lodge.  Old, wise men and young impetuous warriors filled the tent.  The young ones began protest as he entered, but Grey Eagle silenced them.

“This is my brother, Ni Itzo.  He has come to speak for our people.”

A young warrior with hailstones painted on his chest stood and said, “What gives this white man the right to speak for us?”

Grey Eagle stepped between them.  “He has honor.  He shows it both in battle and in the lodge. “

Fritz stripped off his sack coat and handed it to his brother.  He walked into the council circle and said, “You fight well, and for good reasons.  But this fight you cannot win.”

With those words and uproar stirred in the tent.  Many men rose to their feet.

“Hear me!” Fritz cried.  “It is not because you are not brave or strong.  You fight for your homes, and for those you love.  This is good.”  The men took their seats again.

“The whites are coming like rainclouds across the prairie.  There are more than can be counted. “

“Then we kill them,” another warrior said.

“You cannot kill them all,” Fritz said.  “And the more you kill, the more will come.  They will call for your blood.  They will wipe your kind from the Earth, until all that remains is a memory.  You must make peace before it is too late.”

The news wasn’t good, but reasonable men accepted it at face value.

“Then it is you who will speak for the people,” an elder warrior stated.  “Let us keep the lands we now have.  Let us live our lives in peace.  We will not enter the white man’s lodge.  He will not enter ours.”

Heads nodded in agreement.

Grey Eagle touched his shoulder.   “It is you,” he said.  He placed his hand on Fritz’s arm…

…Fritz awoke with a start.  Cyrus was moving his arm.  “This is going to hurt…”  He popped the shoulder back into its socket.  The world went dark again…
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« Reply #864 on: January 08, 2010, 11:54:03 pm »

Scarlet slid off of Lucky next to Fritz’s tent and began to unsaddle him. “This is the last time for a few hours at least.” She said as the horse turned his head and looked at her.

“I’m glad to see you Mrs. King.” Billy said walking towards her.

Scarlet raised an eyebrow wondering what news he was bringing.

“I mean I’m glad you are not among the wounded.”

“It’s good to see you to Mr. Glass.” She replied.

It was his turn to raise an eyebrow; he could not remember if she called him Mr. Glass it had always been Billy.

“I am not a soldier so if you insist on Mrs. King I will call you Mr. Glass.” She said as if reading his thoughts.

Billy smiled and slightly blushed. “Is there anything you would like?”

Scarlet looked towards the fire they had the coffee pot on. A smile slowly parted her lips at a long ago memory. “Yes, I would like I hot bath in front of a roaring fire and a glass of wine.” The sentence brought on a more recent memory that included Fritz and her smile grew into more of a smirk.

Billy stood there looking at her not really knowing how to reply to the statement as he grew more red at the very thought. “I….I…don’t know where to find that. I can get you hot coffee.”

“That will work today, thank you.” She said picking up her gear and heading for the front of the tent.

Billy went to fetch a cup wondering if all women were as hard to figure out as she was. How on earth did she expect to get a hot bath out here anyhow?

Scarlet slipped quietly into the tent wondering if Fritz would be asleep or not. He sat on the edge of his cot with head in his hands looked to be asleep or very deep in thought. She would have left without waking him if he had been lying down but he didn’t look all that comfortable.

Billy had returned with two cups by the time she put her gear down so she stepped back out to accept them and quickly stepped back in thanking him for his consideration. She put the cups down and walked over to Fritz.

She could think of a few pleasant ways to wake him but after the last few days wondered if it might startle him.

“Fritz” she said softly. 
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« Reply #865 on: January 09, 2010, 05:09:10 pm »

“uhhhh…”

Fritz lifted his head.  His back ached.  He was lucky he hadn’t stabbed himself in the eye with his pencil when he fell asleep.  Fortunately, he hadn’t drooled all over his journal.

“You need some coffee,” Scarlet said, handing him the cup.  Fritz took a sip and read what he’d written.

Scarlet noticed his pain.  She slipped behind him on the cot, rubbing his back.  “How far did you get?”

“Far enough to realize that I’m not going to tow the company line,” he replied.

He began to write again.  “The command was halted in the Rosebud Valley, near abundant water and forage, in consideration of the horse’s condition.  The valley, though fertile, was surrounded on all sides by high ground, providing excellent cover and concealment to the enemy.  The order was given to unsaddle only after two hours on the march, again in consideration for the horses.  While the regulars boiled water for coffee, the Crow and Shoshone scouts reconnoitered the ridgeline to the north. 

I Company, as well as the remaining companies of the Second Cavalry, deployed pickets to the north.  The Indian scouts made contact with the enemy, who pursued them in force towards the encampment.  If not for the quick thinking and fast actions of the scouts, the command would have been decimated.  The scouts bought the command valuable time, which was used to re-saddle horses, which should never have been unsaddled in enemy territory to begin with.  The Infantry Companies deployed as skirmishers, supported on the right flank by companies of the Second Cavalry, ours included.  We advanced by fire and maneuver, taking and holding key terrain to the north.  While the Second kept the Sioux and Cheyenne warriors at bay, the Third Cavalry conducted a mounted charge, pushing the Indians further back along the ridgelines. 

Once the enemy broke contact to our front, the Third Cavalry was withdrawn from the lines and moved back to the Kobold House.  The enemy immediately reassumed their prior fighting positions, pouring fire to our front.  I Company expended the majority of its ammunition in keeping these attackers at bay, until it too was withdrawn from the lines, in support of the Third Cavalry.  The combined forces of the Second and Third Cavalry proceeded further into the Rosebud Valley, where they were ambushed by a small party armed with repeating rifles.  This party was neutralized, and the command continued on its mission, with the intent of striking the Indian village that was presumed to be in the vicinity.  Prior to locating said village, the General’s Adjutant met the command, and advised them to climb out of the valley and attack the rear of the enemy force.  The attack was successful; however, I was thrown from my horse during the charge and lost consciousness.  Commendations recommended to 1stSgt Scott Crisp, Trumpeter Sergeant David Powell and Sgt D. H. Johann for their bearing and demeanor in the face of a well-organized foe.  I am,

Very Respectfully,

Your Most Obedient Servant

Frederick H. King”


Scarlet read over his shoulder as she worked the knots out of his neck.  “People aren’t going to like that,” she said.

“I don’t care,” Fritz replied.  “It’s the truth.  Ummmm…that feels good.”

“Would you like me to continue?” Scarlet whispered in his ear, nibbling on the lobe.

Fritz turned to kiss her lips.  “Yes.” 
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« Reply #866 on: January 09, 2010, 11:46:28 pm »

She kissed him soft and sweet.

Fritz looked at her; she smiled and began to gently work on his shoulder, her touch softer on the one he had hurt. He wondered if it was his imagination or was there something more working her mind than of course the past few days?

“Is there something bothering you Darlin’?” he asked.

Scarlet half smiled “There’s plenty bothering me Fritz as I am sure there are things on your mind.”

“Would you like to talk about it?”

Truth was there was something working her mind but she figured this was not the time but more so not the place so she replied “No, is there something you want to talk about?”

He heard her words, yet couldn’t help feeling there was something she had pushed under the surface. He knew if there was and she didn’t want to discuss it she would bury it deep enough his chances of finding out were slim. He thought about it a moment.

“How is Bo?” He tried to reposition himself so he could see her better without twisting his back.

“He is lucky to be alive and looking as well as can be expected. I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t worried about him, but I keep telling myself he’s pulled through worse.” She replied.

He took her hand “between you and Ella he couldn’t have better care.” He said.

“Thank you Sugar.” She said with a soft kiss.

Afraid the news might be he’d lost another mount Fritz was almost afraid to ask “Did you find Strider?”

“Yes. He pulled some muscles and needs to stay put for awhile. He has some burns where it looks like he got tangled in reins and I cut a hunk of wood out of him. It looks as if he went down nose first, the side of his face is looks bad. I’m concerned most about infection. If we don’t break camp for a few days he’ll have a chance at keeping up with the wounded men, if we were home I would tell you he needed to be stalled for a few weeks without moving much but that will not be an option so we will do what we have to do and hope for the best.”
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« Reply #867 on: January 10, 2010, 01:13:39 am »

As Cyrus walked he searched his mind for some good times with Dick. The fact he could hear Dick calling him “mommy’s boy” or “daddy’s boy” irritated him. In fact come to think of it he couldn’t even remember writing more to his folks besides the army treats me well, I am still alive or thank you for the care package. His folks had written often over the years.

He stopped at the opening of the field hospital for some reason he could remember his mother’s pie. She had a way of making pies out of things he thought one could never make taste good. He smiled and shook his head at the thought of the way he and his brother would run around with excitement while they waited for one of them to be done and he almost laughed aloud at the thought of the two of them sitting in cellar of the house eating an entire one and getting sick from it. Perhaps if he tried hard enough he could remember a brother he was sorry to see disappear.
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« Reply #868 on: January 10, 2010, 09:01:22 am »

"I imagine that Ella would prefer I stay put for a week or so to heal," Fritz replied.  He was relieved that he wouldn't lose yet another friend.  Fritz rested his hand atop Scarlet's, feeling the warmth flowing between them.There WAS something on her mind.  "Please...tell me what you're feeling."
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« Reply #869 on: January 10, 2010, 12:31:21 pm »

Scarlet sat quietly for a long time searching for the right words. Words that would mean little to others if overheard but Fritz might get the meaning of.

“My heart fears that this kind of a fight will come home Fritz. The army has been trying to flush the Indians out of Devil’s mountain for years for one reason or another. The few scouts that I know that could find them plain refuse the army or fear the mountain because of legends, but not all men fear ghosts and stories.

I have always been clear when asked that I will stand with my brothers if that fight comes. I hope I will never find a friend in my cross hairs. ” She whispered so softly Fritz’s had to strain to hear her.

 
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« Reply #870 on: January 10, 2010, 01:10:11 pm »

Cyrus ducked inside and went to Dick’s cot.

“How ya feeling Ricky?” Cyrus said taking a seat near him.

Dick looked at him somewhat confused. His little brother Cy was the only one ever called him Ricky. He couldn’t remember the last time he saw his little brother. What was he doing here? He was waiting for the man he hated to show his face.

“Ma was right in sayin’ the army was a dangerous place ta be, look what the Indians done to ya. I was thinkin’ how if we were home we’d be eatin’ onea ma’s pies. You remember the taste of her pies don’t ya Ricky?”

Dick’s eyebrows drew together. “Yeah I do. Why are you here? Are ma and pa here? She’s gonna be mad at me for the things I done.”

“I won’t tell her Ricky. I promise ya that.”

Dick rolled his head towards Cyrus. “What will ya tell them Cyrus Kane?” he said in that arrogant tone that Cyrus recognized in the man he called Dick.

Cyrus ignored the tone and kept talking.
“I’m gonna tell ‘em you fought with honor Ricky, they’ll be proud. Nana’s pies were even better than ma’s and she’s got one waitin’ for ya. Member don’t hide in the barn and eat to much or you’ll get sick. I’ve missed YOU Ricky.” Cyrus said standing up.

Dick was completely confused now. He had not expected this at all. It was hard to think and he couldn’t remember exactly why he had sent for Cyrus.

“I failed you as a good brother Cy, look at ya. Big brothers are supposed ta watch out for little brothers.” Dick said softly closing his eyes.

“Don’t keep Nana waitin’ and you save me a piece o pie.” Cyrus replied before walking out.

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« Reply #871 on: January 10, 2010, 01:16:08 pm »

"I've been having visions.  The last was very potent.  In it, I was brought by Grey Eagle to a council lodge.  The elders of the tribe told me I would speak for the people."

Scarlet took his hand hands.  "Perhaps your purpose has changed.  You understand both sides of the equation.  As a decorated Soldier, your voice could carry.  It would benefit the people."

Fritz nodded.  "Then perhaps it's time to get back to what we do best.  Once I and Strider have healed a bit, let's plan to head home."      
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« Reply #872 on: January 10, 2010, 02:11:09 pm »

Scarlet didn’t remember when she had slipped off to sleep. It had been  quiet and dreamless for the first time in weeks. Fritz appeared to be resting quietly too. She got up and kissed his cheek.

“Where are you off to Darlin’?” he said.

“I am off to go see Ella, Bo and Strider while I can still see without a lantern.” She said walking over and picking up her gear.

“That is safe here, and that way I know I will see you sooner rather than later.” He said with a smile.

“I know it is safe here, but there are a few things I need for Strider and I will not leave my guns and be caught with my pants down.”

Fritz grinned “stop right there. Just leave me with that and promise you’ll be back before the sun rises again, I won’t expect you before sunset.”

“I will do my best Sugar.” She said with a chuckle ducking out of the tent.




Scarlet was glad to see somebody had brought Dancer to keep Strider company, she left Lucky with the other two horses and went off to find Ella to find out how she was doing and ask about Bo’s condition.


 
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« Reply #873 on: January 10, 2010, 07:28:50 pm »

Ella was at the scout's camp cooking something that looked bland and boring in a kettle over the fire, while Samuel and Chris gathered up some real food.

"Hi, Scarlet," she called. "Want to help me feed some patients?"

When Scarlet answered, "Sure", Ella handed her a handful of cups and spoons, then took the kettle from the fire. Accompanied by Samuel and Chris, they headed for the nursing tent.

"Bo needs to be propped up, and can only have a little soft food at a time. If he eats too much, or too fast, or food that's too solid, the food won't stay down and vomiting risks damaging the stitches," instructed Ella.

At the tent, Chris and Samuel set their loads down on a table, and filled plates which they took to some of the patients. Ella set the kettle down, and scooped some of the gruel into a cup, which she handed to Scarlet. "That's what he gets this meal. He will get another dose in a couple hours." Ella scooped up another cup, and took it to another patient.
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« Reply #874 on: January 10, 2010, 10:49:08 pm »

Bo was happy to see Scarlet, he wasn’t so sure about the food.

“Ella made it special just for you.” Scarlet teasingly said putting it down next to him.

Bo looked strangely at her “What?”

“Ella slaved over a big ol’ pot so you men would have something you could eat and keep down.” She commented.

 “Why is it you women sew us back together then try to poison us with something you call nourishment?” he teased back.

Scarlet winked at him as she took off her coat and rolled it up. She gently him and stuffed the coat under his shoulders and head.

He spoke between mouthfuls.

“Scarlet this seems to become old habit for us. One of us propping the other up and feeding them….by the way Ella cooks a lot better than this.” He said after swallowing.

“Well get used to it. I think it will be main fare for a bit.”

Bo rolled his eyes. “mmmm mmmm” he said sarcastically.

“I’ll tell her you said thank you.”

“I do thank her, and you. Did the others make it?”

“One of the other scouts was wounded and Dick is not going to make it.” She replied.

“I heard Cyrus in here earlier. Scarlet when we get home will bake a pie for me?”

Scarlet raised an eyebrow at the strange request. “Course Darlin’ any flavor you like.”

Bo finished his meal and Scarlet took her coat and put it back on. She leaned down and kissed his cheek. “I’ll be back later, you should get some more rest.”

Scarlet finished helping Ella feed the other men. “Bo looks very good considering.” She said as they were cleaning up.



 
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"The Scarlet Angel, heaven and hell all rolled into one.... I’d hate to be the one on the hell side.” ~Patches McDuff

"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."  Mark Twain

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