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I HAVE LOST MY RIGHT/R. T. Smith WHEN WE HEARD THE HORSE we moved from the firelight by the ivied oak where we'd been bivouacked and stood to our mounts. It was coming right at us. Pistol aimed at the snapping brush, I called out a challenge. Virg was crouched beside me, his hackles stiff and fangs bared. Haemon Willis and Coates had their Sharps at the ready. Nobody was our friend; we couldn't be too careful. "Name your Jesus or get misery and oblivion." I cocked the hammer. "Gentlemen, my Jesus is the roaring boy Jeff Davis," the voice came back. "I smelled your smoke." He could have been the worst foe, might have been our nightmare, and we couldn't allow him to go back and reveal us. "Approach and be recognized. Come slowly, stranger." The rider emerged from the copse astride a huge chunk of a horse, wide as a wagon, and Coates called out, "What in the black hell is that? Looks like you could have the whole Trojan army stowed in that thing." I didn't like Coates. He was cross-eyed and ornery. I didn't trust his resolve, but I was stuck with him. "It's a Morgan. My own sweet Caesar took some shrapnel down by the Wilderness Church. I had to put him down, and this monster was standing, drinking from the narrows of Scott's Run. He'd dragged a sledge with a man on it. That unlucky Christian must have caught some lead. His head was all caved in, what was left looking like a cherry cake. Tm Reeves Eason. Captain. I've been riding around all evening with these dispatches, and I am spent. Do you gents mind if I unlimber?" An officer, but his outfit and accent were the right color to match us, so we stood down and offered him a cup of our rye coffee. At least he wasn't a danger right off, but Virg still acted cautious, slinking around the work horse, which paid him no mind and started tearing new grass. Eason swung down from the stirrups and wrapped the strap of his pouch around the pommel a couple of extra loops. "Some mastiff you have there. He wears his muscles like an acrobat." "He's a dragon on people he don't take to. Who you with?" "A courier out of Old Jack's staff." "You with him when he got popped?" The Missouri Review ยป11 "As it happens, fate assigned me that sad vantage. The night was black as the inside of a musket, just a glint of moon. Boswell was reaching me a map when the idiots volleyed. He snapped to attention, said, 'Lordy/ and dropped stone dead. I think Old Jack was just hit in the hand, but then Little Sorrel ran him at the flashes. He gotbucked about and branch-lashed across the eyes. Another round and he was hit bad." Here he paused and squatted on his heels like a countryman. "It should have all been over before that. We had the bluebellies fooled. We hit them at Talley's, at Dowdell Farm. Hazel Grove was an error, but we recovered. We knew the terrain and we had their right flank under. We were rolling them up, but it got dark. Then it was pure bedlam, skirmishers blazing away in all directions, taking down their own people. That was why he chose to scout it, to discover the right conclusion in person." "We heard they took his wing, but he's strong and sure to come back riled." "That's the current story. They're moving him over to Guinea Station to rest up. Hunter McGuire is a keen doctor, smart as a whip, no nonsense . Put him under the laudanum. They say Jack dreamed music while they sawed him, a sorrow song of a blade on bone. Might as well be our anthem now. I see by your caps you're from the Two Corps, Barton's. What mission are you pursuing so far off your unit?" That was the one we were dreading, but we had a story. The confusion that...


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