Wednesday, April 18, 2012

T. E. Story #22

Capt. Scott was just as I remembered him.  He didn't like me from the beginning of our introduction but we managed to endure one year together at the academy.  I'm not sure who tried the hardest to get our room moved but we both managed to succeed.  He was a drinker and managed to accumulate quite a few demerits, while I was fortunate and saw what happened to him, as a result.  Not that I didn't spend a sufficient amount of time walking post on a garbage can or scrubbing my share of bricks with a toothbrush in the courtyard, but the result was that I graduated in the top part of the Engineer's list and he just made it into the bottom of the list.  This put me enough ahead of him that I was no longer required to put up with his antics.  Later when I was advanced to Captain early because of the work on the first Red River project and Capt. Bailey's (of the "Bailey's Bridge" fame) glowing recommendation of me (probably overdone) Scott became quite upset.  Now it was clear that I would be in the East and he in the West which suited me just fine.

I wonder at Hezzie's light amount of gear.  I think it probably derives from his army experience as well as his upbringing and while I applaud it, I hope he doesn't take it too far.  What we will be doing, particularly if and when the war starts may require a little more equipment.  However, I am willing to wait and see.  He has managed well so far, and I am not about to correct anyone until I can do it well myself.  The task is too important for that.

The stage ride North to St. Louis was uneventful, thank God.  I had my fill of adventure, as the dime novels would say, on this trip last time.  I noticed that both the driver and the guard wore guns this time around, and the guard was holding one of the new repeating rifles.  I don't doubt that there was a double barreled shotgun in the boot with a box of shells.  Good, that gives me a better feeling.  My own pistol is loaded and set on an empty chamber as Hezzie has suggested.  His explanation makes sense.

The train trip to Chicago was also uneventful.  I read over my notes from the conversation with Col. Abert yet again and then gave them to Hezzie since we are going to be working together, and he has the right to be aware of what we will be doing and how.  Also, how much of this task rests on second-guessing which way the war will go if and when it comes.  Who will be the first attacker?   Where will the attacker be aimed for, how will the attacker plan his avenue and where will the defender have to set his defense lines?  What routes need to be looked at first and which ones secondly?  What avenues of transportation will be used?  It is almost a sure thing that railroads will be used, but which ones and where?  General MacClellan was a foreign observer in the war with Russia, so if I get the chance to talk with him I certainly will as well.

Looking at the current General Officer's in the Federal Army,Unfortunately  I am not impressed, but there are several Colonels who I wish I could interview before we get very far.  Unfortunately Col. Lee is in Texas, but I shall certainly keep my eyes open and if he comes back to Washington City for any reason I shall do my best to speak with him.  His work at St; Louis and later on the Atlantic Fortifications has been well advertised.  Well, perhaps Col. Abert will have some suggestions.

Much is being said about Secession, but that has been going on since the Missouri Compromise about 30 years ago.  I cannot believe that there are Americans who really feel that way.  However, I must admit that my being mostly in the West for the most of my career has been with people who are more concerned with getting along and taking care of themselves, rather than worrying about politics.  Now, I will be getting back into it and that is another thing I will have to get familiar with.  I know just enough about it now to know that I don't know enough!

As we pulled into the Chicago station, I turned to Hezzie and asked, " Is there anything that you would like to put into a telegram to Washington?  I have to notify Col. Abert where we are, and how long before we will be in town.  I guess we will be staying in a hotel for the first couple of days until we can find a more permanent place.  Then we have to find a couple of horses and saddles, tack and some supplies for the first foray.  Also we will have to determine where would be the most profitable place to look at first.  Since time is of the essence, we will have to look over some maps and plan our immediate efforts.  Give it some thought if you would.  I would like to hear your ideas.  Give some thought as well to whether we want to use a local stable to hold and care for the horses for the first few months until we fill out the detachment, or do we look for a small farm? "

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