Wednesday, April 18, 2012

T. E. Story #41

Riding along the main road North out of Washington City was a fairly peaceful ride, and the moon was almost full, with no clouds.  I thought that it was certainly lucky that I wasn't trying to sneak up on a defended position this evening.  There was a large ledge of boulders to the right and just as I rode into the shadow of a tree on my left, I heard a gunshot and just to my left and over my head a bullet knocked off a chunk of rock and whined off into the distance.  I immediately leaned way over on the horse;s side away from the invisible gunner and pt the spurs to my mount.  I left the road, and after a minute or two I stopped in the deep shadow of a large oak tree, and crouched behind the tree listening.  Almost immediately I heard the hoofbeats of a horse coming from the direction of the bullet, and I gave chase to see who was in such a hurry. The man ahead of me was clad all in black and riding a dark horse which blended perfectly with the shadows but was quite clear in the moonlight.  The man turned in the saddle and fired again at me a total of four times, and finally retrieving my saddle gun I tried a wild shot, and immediately heard a cry from the rider ahead and a flash as his rifle fell from his hands into the dirt of the road.  He quickly disappeared  and the hoof beats died away as I reached the place where the rifle lay in the road.  I quickly dismounted and picked up the gun and looked it over.  It was a new repeating rifle and it had the letters "LKH" carved into the rifle butt.  Whoever LKH was, he is now without a very expensive rifle with his initials on it.

I rode the rest of the way to the rocky trail that led off from the main road.  I stayed in the tree shadow the whole way and left the road leading my horse to make sure it was quiet.  This was beginning to get very sticky and I didn't like it at all.  If I told Col. Abert about this attack, I am sure that he would stop the mapping trip to the South, and I didn't want that to happen.  As I rode back across the farm fields I turned the problem over in my mind.  Nobody was sure where I would go or which way I would choose a my route, so that was safe.  Instead of going South, I would go North to cross-over the eastern branch of the Potomac and then go South.  There were several Union Forts along the route and each one had a garrison, so at least the beginning of the trip, (the first fifteen miles or so) would be pretty well covered.  After that as Hezzie ha warned blending in would be the only shield.

By the time the farmhouse lights were in my sight I had made my decision.  I would alter the trip route to go North and cross the East Potomac above Washington City, and take the central route South instead of the coast route.  I would leave a message and the captured rifle to be delivered to Col. Abert after we are underway.  I rode into the yard at the house my decision firm in my mind.  It would be good to be in the company of friends once again.

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