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THIS TOWN WON'T BE IN THE UNITED STATES / Steve Yates ON THE MORNING OF AUGUST 10, 1861, miners at the Morkan Quarry heard thunder. They stepped from the shade of a tool shed and gazed west. Lime powdered them white and matted their hair gray with sweat. The water they'd been drinking left streaks of tanned skin showing beneath the dust on their chins and necks. Thunder rumbled, but there were no clouds. A column of black smoke twisted and rose from the prairie rrdles west of Springfield, Missouri. A cadre of wagons bearing Federal Greene County Home Guards pounded toward the center of town. The miners shouted questions at the Guards who clung to the sideboards: "Is it Rebels? What you after, Captain?" The Guards whooped and swirled their shining new caps in the air. "It's a battle for sure," one of the miners said. He Uved north of town. When he'd arrived that morning, he'd claimed the camps that had held more than six thousand Federal troops since July were empty. The quarry owner's son, Leighton Shay Morkan, clapped men on the back and nodded. The Rebel army, if that's what the men were hearing, had been a long time coming. One of the miUers had described the Rebel Missouri State Guard as fuUy outfitted, gray and resplendent, with hundreds of cannon from Louisiana and Texas, the scarves of New Orleans women flowing from their epaulettes. The blasts sounded nothing Uke the explosives the Morkans used at the quarry. Leighton had turned fifteen in January, and had quarried since he was eleven. He imagined the Federal troops he'd seen drilling in town; many had dark blue, woolen uniforms. Others wore gray with stripes of yeUow and bright red. They formed Unes, jogged and kneeled. He'd heard among them St. Louis accents he recognized, the bark of numbers in German, and tongues as strange as the burbles of fairies in his chUdhood nightmares. He imagined those voices now, raging from the forests and cornfields, shouting in a score of languages. In his mind the voices ceased and were replaced by the victorious whooping of the Rebel army. The Missouri Review ยท 9 Down in the quarry pit the door to his father's office slammed open. Michael Morkan strode across the gravel lot toward the gate, then stood with his hands on his hips, fadng west. He hooked two fingers in his mouth and whistled. Leighton hustled along the ox traU to the pit to meet him. Morkan kicked at the roots of one of the oak trees he'd left standing near the quarry gates. Leighton waited for his father to speak, marvelling at his wide hands and long arms. Morkan cleared his throat, spat a thick clot of gray. "There aren't enough slaves in this town to fill a church haU, and Usten at what we're doing over them." He was forty years old and had been in America for twenty-five years, but he stiU had the Irish accent Leighton worked diUgently to avoid. Leighton chewed his Up and tasted the bitter Urne. Morkan scanned the cliff. The miners shaded their eyes, pointed west, elbowed each other and argued. "If you can keep them working," Morkan said, "let's get at least a morning out of them. And then you and I may need to get to the bank, I'm not sure." That July, the Federals had marched on Jefferson City and disbanded the state's elected government. Though Morkan felt the invasion was an insult to Missouri, he was sure the state's resistance was foolhardy. In the pocket of his muslin coat he had a currency receipt for $2,500 in gold from the National Mineral Bank. If the Rebels won, their army would advance on Springfield and pursue the Federals north. If the Federals won, they would send the Rebel army clattering toward Arkansas, on the road bordering the two hundred acres Morkan owned five miles south of town in GaUoway. Morkan had no idea what either possibiUty reaUy meant. He blinked at his son. The boy's face: the plump curve...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 9-24
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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