Saturday, February 02, 2013

Interaction between Jenkins and Chisholm (Part I, 1st Chapter)

In the story I have Jenkins and Chisholm discussing the latter's first encounters with combat and how terrifying the experience was to the younger officer. But first, I provide a background for how Jenkins tries to awaken the officer after delivering the message from GHQ, Army of Northern Virginia, to the Confederate White House:

"Walking into the room, he found the lieutenant asleep where he’d sat down. As the colonel stood looking down at the  young officer before him, his thoughts went to his own son serving in the ranks of the Army of Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg.  I wonder where Bragg and his army are now, Jenkins thought. With a sigh, the colonel reached out and gently shook the young courier. Awakening with a start, the lieutenant jumped to his feet."

Following the disastrous defeat at Shiloh after the death of Albert Sidney Johnston, the main Confederarte Army in the West underwent re-organization and emerged as the Amy of Tennessee under the command of General Braxton Bragg. During the early days of September, 1862, the Army of Tennessee (along with othre CS forces) was engaged in the campaign  that would result in the inconclusive but bloody Battle of Perryville, sometimes referred to as "the Antietam of the West."

Jake and Hank Begin the Campaign

Elsewhere in the same chapter I have incidents where the entire Fourth North Carolina prepares to embark on the move north into Maryland. The orders have been given; the time is now for the weary men in the ranks to decide if their proclivities, health or otherwise permit then to cross over the Potomac into "Yankee" territory. For historical background on this, there is evidence of an order issues by General James Longstreet to his command excusing any soldiers who were barefoot and unable to keep up due to the expected rocky roads in Maryland.

This is how I presented that situation in the novel:

"As they listened to the orders excusing soldiers in the ranks who had no shoes from the upcoming campaign was read, both Jake and Hank thought they heard a slight intake of breath from those around them. While excusin’ soldiers who’ve no shoes might be a good thing, Jake thought, thar’s going to be h__ to pay if Billy really wants to have a dance. Why, the army needs all the help it can git, not less!

"All this -- and more -- went flashing through Jake’s mind as he stood at respectful attention. He was glad to hear  those who remained behind could perform guard duty for the supply trains.... Presently Colonel Bryan Grimes, the regimental commander, stepped forward to explain the operations orders they’d alljust heard announced. As Grimes spoke, Jake listened carefully so he could understand what was asked of them. The colonel explained the regiment, as part of Anderson’s brigade, was to march up the Potomac River and make a demonstration on the Virginia side just opposite a portion of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway. The regiment had to make sure  all Yankees left the Virginia side of the river near Berlin, Maryland. After that, they would return to Lovettsville and prepare to cross the Potomac at Cheat’s Ford. All eyes were on Colonel Grimes as he finished his talk. What Grimes did next seemed melodramatic, but Jake and Hank hadto admit it was a good way to inspire the men.

“Men of the Fourth State Troops Regiment!” thundered Grimes, as he drew his sword from its scabbard. “You have heard the orders from General Lee and from Generals Hill and Anderson! We prepare todayto march into Maryland to defend her honour and to win glory for our cause! Let me never heard it be said of any man of the regiment here that he failed to do his duty!”

While saying these words, he swiftly drew a line inthe dirt of the road before him. Continuing his little speech, Grimes exclaimed:  “Who amongst you will join me? Let each man decide according to his conscience and his honour. Know also that no censure will befall any man should he decide to remain behind. By your companies, if you will march with me,” Grimes  continued after a pause for emphasis, “step forward --- now!"

Jake held his breath to see who would move forward  and who would remain. His colonel’s words echoed in his ears. All along the regimental line, he could see those who chose to stay with the unit and cross the Potomac and those who, for reasons of conscience or sickness or lack of shoes, chose to remain behind with the army trains in Virginia. When the time came for his company to decide, he was relieved to see his outfit move forward as one man. After the last company was called, those who would not make the crossing formed up under the regiment’s assistant surgeon. (This included all those in the regiment on the sick listas noted for that day in addition to all those without shoes and those whose sincere sentiments would not allow them to agree to “invading” Maryland.) Under the watchful eyes of Major ___ of the regiment, the stay-behinds formed a marching column. With a rousing cheer for “the old Fourth” and “for Jeff Davis”, they began their march to-wards Winchester and the supply trains of the Army  of Northern
Virginia. "

More on the start of the campaign for the "Bloody Fourth" and on Chisholm's start to his amazing journey in the next blogs. Stay tuned!

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