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Cheyenne Raid: A Galvanized Yankee Western short story
I think the Indians plumb just don’t like telegraph lines. Leastwise, they keep ripping them down. Then we keep putting them back up. I’ve been on duty for a while doing just that.
My names Jacob Brown and I’m a galvanized Yankee assigned to frontier duty in the Infantry of the United States Army. A Galvanized Yankee is a southerner turned Yankee. Anyhow we got some long need off time at the stagecoach home station That’s different from the swing stations because there is more there than just a station keeper and a few horses. You see among other things we are assigned duty guarding the coaches. Often that entails riding armed atop of them. When they lay over at a station, so do we. Right now we feel lucky that it is a home station because we can find some entertainment. It is larger and has more services such as blacksmiths, maybe some decent food although that depends on the supply situation. A big home station also attracts freighters and other travelers.
When we got there I could see this is one of the larger ones so it also has got a store and a few small businesses. Maybe if we are lucky there will be a saloon and a dancehall. Just like town, almost. Out here we don’t see very many women, so the men may head to a saloon or a dancehall to mingle with the girls who work there. If it’s not the big city, after spending time at lonely outposts and swing stations the hustle of saloons, stores, stage drivers, bullwhackers and all seems like a holiday. As luck would have it, I spied a face at the general store. There she was
Buffalo Soldiers helped guard the coaches.
“Mary Hutchins,” I greeted her.” She turned a little startled.
“Oh, hello,” she replied. It is nice to see you again. You were so helpful getting us through that incident at the swing station.”
“That’s my job. I thought you would’ve gone back home.”
“Not a lot to go back there for and just have to face people who will feel sorry for me losing my man.” Maybe I can find work in the next town.”
“I remember you fixing’ grub for us at the swing station. I bet they could use a cook like you right here. Oh. Then maybe I could get to see you once in a while. Kind of surprised me that she blushed. Well, she isn’t the kind of woman I’ve ordinarily met out here. Kind of forgot what normal is.’
“Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad seeing you once in awhile either.” Darned if I didn’t blush a bit myself.
We agreed to go over to the station café and have some lunch together. We were getting to know each other right well when a private came over to our table and told me that we’ve been called to duty. There are Cheyenne on the warpath nearby and there was fear they would attack the station. “Oh, oh” I took Mary’s hand and told her I had to go. “ This might be real serious. I shouldn’t say this about an officer but a Colonel John Chivington I heard hates Indians and would use any excuse to kill them. From what I been told he has been attacking the Cheyenne and other tribes without just provocation. Anyhow to cut it short he attacked a village at Sand Creek in Colorado. Old men, women and children who were no thereat at all were killed and worse. Men like that don’t belong in any army and I’ve been in two of them.
“What’s happening now?” she asked.
“Well, to nobody’s surprise the Cheyenne want revenge and they have been attacking forts and stations all over the territory. “
“Jacob, take care of yourself,” Her concern pleased me more than I knew.
“I am pretty sure this station has an escape tunnel. Find the station manager and find out where it is. If the attack goes too far, head for the tunnel and get out of here.”
I feared this would be more than a little brush-up like some other contacts with the Indians. These Indians were mad and had every right to be. If they come it will be in large numbers. The Indians massacred were friendly, unprepared for violence and were living by the rules of the treaties. They had been betrayed. I doubted that the government would give them the revenge they sought.
Life out here might be peaceful if it wasn’t for dunderheaded officers and politicians.
We set about lining up a defensive position. I said a short prayer because I thought my time to die had surely come. I said another prayer for Mary that she would find the escape route.
Arrows rained around us. Most of the soldiers were well trained enough to shield themselves from the arrows, but how long could we hold out. There were only a few of us against maybe a hundred or more Indians. We held our fire knowing that every shot had to count. I looked for a chief. If we kill him it might slow the others.
It was hardly my first battle against odds. As a Confederate soldier I fought against Union troops that outnumbered us. That’s how I ended up as a prisoner. As bad as the Union troops were, I don’t think the Indians will be nearly as merciful. They have too much anger now.
I was about out of bullets and wondering how much good my bayonet would do, when I heard a bugle call. In the distance I saw Buffalo soldiers, former slaves in the Union army. Despite my southern roots I knew that these men could outfight anything there is. I think the Indians respected them too.
Now I think I know why the Indians hate the telegraph. How else could we have sent for help?
Copyright 2011 Don Hoglund
© 2011 Don A. Hoglund