Wednesday, April 18, 2012

T. E. Story #30

Ian had been contacted by Hezzie and given directions to the farm where Hezzie had made the arrangements.  In the afternoon after the meeting at the Engineering HQ, Hezzie took the Major around the farm, introduced him to the family living there, and had been invited to a great dinner meal.  Ian was really impressed with what had been accomplished in the short time that Hezzie had been working on the project.

"Hezzie," Major McKay said to his friend, as they sat on the porch swing, "In the officer's corps there will always be at least ten people poised to take credit for any good work that you can manage to accomplish.  Then there are another ten men who are ready to pounce on any significant mistakes that you make, if it can boost their career just one small iota.  This is why it pays great dividends to have someone in your corner that trusts you and will support you in whatever you do.  It is also the reason why detailed reports are necessary, not too full of what wonderful things that you have done, but rather just the "facts if you please" and those facts have to be dressed in a way that tells even those who are looking to gain from your efforts, that you obviously know what you are doing, and that you are aware of what they are up to.  The reports must also be written in such a way as to support your senior as he has supported you."

Ian took another drink of his warm tea.  "So with all that in mind, many people say why put up with that kind of crap?  I guess the answer is that when you finally have the luck and expertise to do something which badly needs to be done and done right, the stimulation of pride in service is simply overwhelming.  Not only that, but there is always the chance that the officer will go on to bigger and better things, and if that happens then the rewards are significant both in pride, success, and even on occasion-- wealth!"

"I have been very fortunate in my career, I have a great senior protecting me from above, and great friends protecting me from below.  Unfortunately Capt. Lewis hasn't learned those lessons and probably never will.  He tried stepping on his underlings and got stepped on himself for his trouble."

"Politics is everywhere Hezzie," Said Ian thoughtfully, Ticking off on his fingers, "in church, in the military, in a civilian job, and anywhere else that you have anyone who chooses to advance on the back of another, or simply because he can't do the work that he has committed to."

"You have done very well here,” Ian turned to face Hezzie, "Much better than I could have done because I don't have your special skills and of course I had not met these folks prior to today.  That is the good luck that I spoke about in having you on my side."  Ian grinned, and downed the last of his tea.  "Great supper," he said, rubbing his waist belt, "And it is good to get out of that uniform for a change!"

Ian went on to explain about the route plan.  "I have made a small rough sketch map of the route I hope to take for our first effort.  As I said earlier, this is the route that everyone in the Engineering Office has agreed that is probably the most direct route that anyone would take to launch an attack on Washington City.  If the South could pull off the capture of the capitol, any war effort would be over as soon as it was begun.  This route must be mapped and the map recorded in the Topographical Portfolio. The route is marked and I will forward a copy of the map to you by military pouch, together with your rank and status certificates.  I think that is the most secure way to get those documents to you.  They are currently in Col. Abert's Office for final signature, and when that is done I will get them to you immediately."

"Alright now, the next item is your plan for the first trip. Remember that there is a certain amount of training in this first effort in becoming familiar with the items that need to be included in the mapping notebook.  You already have a partial list of these items from an earlier message.  I also have a copy of a engineer's notebook done at the beginning of the Rev War by a well known British Engineer.  His notes on an early pre-war trip into the Territory of Maine were used by Gen. Washington and Benedict Arnold to map out a military advance into Canada.  I think it will definitely help you in keeping a notebook.  I will try to get those copied into the mailing along with the map.  Then, if you have any questions, I will be here to answer them."  

"Now, in respect to your cautions about "blending in," I fully understand.  This will be new to me, so essentially I will put myself and Josh into your hands.  You will be the "pilot" for this adventure.  Just as in a ship on the high seas, the Captain is the person who knows where the target is and why.  The "pilot" is the person that gets him there safely.  My suggestion about the uniforms, I didn't state that very well.  You are certainly correct, in that a military uniform under outer clothing should only be worn in wartime, and you are certainly right again in that in order to sell myself as a scribe, artist, and mapmaker, I must remember at all times to "insure the customer is always right!"

“Now, if you will be kind enough to show me my office, so I can make up a report about all these arrangements that you have made, I shall get started on doing the necessary paperwork and then to bed.  It has indeed been a very long and exhausting day! I suggest that we refer to the owners of the farm by a code name in all correspondence.  The first report will notify Col. Abert who they are, and then that information will be locked in a safe.  After that, all further mention of them in reports and dispatches will be with the code name.  I am still worried about the "man in the black suit."  I am positive that he was looking for me, and I do not think that he was hoping to provide me with a lottery award!"

Unfortunately, today Margaret had a bad fall.  She tripped and fell over backward , landing on her left shoulder and arm.  The upper left arm is broken all the way through, and we spent a couple of hours at the Hospital getting X-Rays, strapping up the break, and getting some pain medicine.  She will have to go to a specialist on Monday to get the bone set.  Right now she is wearing a strap sling and I have her confined to bed for a rest.  I wanted you to know, so if I miss a day or two in the coming weeks you will know why.  I fixed dinner tonight, and already the pile of dishes in the sink is really overwhelming, so it looks like I will be busy driving around and doing the housework too.  She is stabilized now and the pain pills are starting to work, but she will be uncomfortable over the weekend, I suppose.

All the Best to you and yours;

Respectfully, Your good friend;

Jim Mathews    

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