Please accept my apologies for stopping the telling of my story when I was only halfway through. Though I was not finished and had promised myself that I would not start the re-write until I was done I was not satisfied with what I had written and needed to do better. So, without further ado, here is the opening to “Tomorrow, we shall all die.”
I have ridden for sixty-three straight days and tomorrow at dawn, I shall make it sixty-four. There will not be a sixty-fifth. The horse I am currently riding once belonged to a General. He is a fine animal and has deigned to let me, a mere captain, ride him now. Though I do not expect him to, I hope he survives tomorrow and lives the rest of his days in freedom here in the plains. I have had three horses shot from under me, and have myself shot two out of pity. I have seen men die in a thousand horrible ways and I myself have been the cause of more than my share. At night when I sleep, I see their faces, each one in the moment before their life is erased by ball and saber and lance or on several occasions of late my own bare hands. Once I commanded a hundred of the finest light cavalrymen in the Army of the Republic. Once I was the father of a son and the husband of a beautiful wife who were the light of my life and the joy of my heart. Once we farmed my family’s land and grew the finest barley and wheat this side of the capital. Once, but not now. Now I am the chief of a ragged band, father to grimy, tired, and desperate men. Tomorrow we will all die and if we are lucky we will be buried in this empty plain and only the grass will remember our passing.
I have been discontented for some time with the state of the story I have been telling. I feel that it lacks certain depth which is difficult to find in brief posts. To that end, I am attempting a massive re-write where instead of a series of small letters over the course of the campaign, our author tells his story in one epic missive directed to his wife and child. In the course of this letter, I can delve more deeply into the events of the story while at the same time staying true to the limited perspective of our one author.
I hope this makes for a better story and a more enjoyable reading experience. Thanks for hanging in there and I promise to have new updated content coming along shortly.
Today was a rare occurrence, a transcendent Monday. I walked through the day with great joy and peace which those of you who know me will know to be a rare occurrence indeed. For what they’re worth, here is one of the thoughts that graced my day today.
I understand why it is so hard for us to follow Jesus’ rather no-brainer requests to ask, seek, and knock. In Matthew 7 he tells his audience:
Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
This appears to be rather simple, why on earth would we not ask, seek, and knock with the promise of response so blatantly spelled out? It hit me today that these can be difficult things because the one who asks must first admit their ignorance. The one who seeks must admit that they do not have. The one who knocks must admit that they are outside. We want to know, to have, to be accepted so much that we dare not admit to ourselves and others our own lack. Our pride turns us away from the very source of all things so we remain in want.
God give us grace to admit our emptiness and to seek his fulfillment.
The posts the next few weeks are going to be intermittent, but I am going to try to keep writing and post at least twice a week. I just started a new job this past Monday so I working on finding a new normal routine that will allow me to keep writing. Do not worry, dear Reader, I am just as interested as you are to find out what happens next.
Whatever happens, I am sure that it will happen tomorrow or the day after and no later. We have struck camp and the entire army is once again on the march. We are headed west to seek out and destroy utterly the invader as long as they remain in our territory. The near annihilation of the Rangers has moved the General staff to seek out engagement. It seems that they are afraid of losing their army one piece at a time and have now resolved either to destroy our foe or to lose the army all at once.
When they marched out from Fort Samuelson the four companies of the Rangers numbered tw0-hundred and fifty each. We still do not know exactly what happened to them two days ago, but there are now only about one hundred left and most of those have been wounded too badly to keep fighting and have been sent back to Fort Samuelson to convalesce. Those capable of carrying on the fight have been scattered throughout the other light cavalry units of the army. Corporal Williams and Sergeant Solomon formerly of the Forrest company are now the newest additions to my troop. They are good men though they hold themselves apart from the rest of the troop and do not speak at all about the events of the previous days. We have issued them a full kit of 5th Cavalry tack for their horses and a set of fresh navy blue uniforms from our stores, but they have insisted on keeping the faded greens they wore as Rangers.
I feel great pity for these men as they very visibly bear the burden of survival. I fear for them that their mental and emotional condition is not in sufficient strength to endure another fight against this foe. They do not speak to the others of the troop and though they both assured me of their capability to fight with the strongest oaths, I am not so certain. I have done my best to make them feel at home and have even added, with the colonel’s approval, a auburn chevron to my troop’s guidon that all may fear the combined might of the Ranger Hussars. I dearly wish that I had come to know these men under happier circumstances as we would be best of friends.
PS: I have not yet issued a decision on the ongoing drama of the name for Troop A, but am waiting to hear back about my suggestion. Davidson’s Devils.
I have no words to describe what happened today. We received word at about noon that the Auburn Rangers have suffered a severe defeat and are falling back in serious disarray. Early this evening, the first shattered men arrived in camp. They were covered in mud and blood and all were wounded in some way. They continue to arrive in groups of two’s and three’s though never any larger groups. Riders from our 2nd division who are familiar to the plains have been dispatched to uncover what happened and help rescue survivors. I volunteered my A Troop for this duty but was immediately rebuffed.
The camp a few days ago was riding high with the expectation of decisive action and a quick return to our homes and families. That confidence is gone and has been replaced by creeping fear as every man looks to the survivors who are among the bravest of us and sees only his own death at the hands of a remorseless foe. If the Rangers were abused so badly that not 1 in 4 remains alive then how can the rest of us survive. I see this thought etched on the face of every man I see.
Just before nightfall, I assembled my entire troop, 150 men, and bade them remember the defeat we handed our foe with our own hands, unhorsed, and unprepared in the dead of night. How together with Taylor’s infantry, we utterly destroyed them and ground their lives out into the dust. I told them that we will do this again and soon. We will take vengeance on those that have slain our brothers. The entire camp will be looking to us, as we have seen the foe and taken his measure. If we display fear at these recent events, they will be afraid. If we display the grim determination to see this through to the end, they will all take heart.
They were brave words and sincerely spoken, but for the disquiet in my heart that tells me otherwise.
Because of the July 4th holiday, I am taking a break until next Wednesday.
Thanks for Reading!