Brother Against Brother Chapter 6

Chapter 6

The Dirty Job Squad © 2018 Steven D. Shepard

The Dirty Job Squad


There was no going home now. So Captain Douglas Ivey turned south down the River Road to Fort Turnbull again. He wished he hadn't told Sergeant Hartley to meet him at the Fort and he was regretting his mistake already. If General Taylor saw them in the morning, there would be hell to pay with plenty of cussing and yelling from him to get Ivey on the road and on his mission. But that decision was water under the Texas Avenue Bridge now. On his way he stopped by his mother's house to check on it. For some reason all the refugees were gone out of the yard now. Including the man he paid to watch the place. As far as Ivey could tell, the house was still boarded up and nobody had tried to get in. Ivey got a hammer out of the backyard shed and pried open the back door. Once inside, he went to the kitchen and pulled back a large rolled mat off the floor where his mother had labored for years cooking and cleaning. The kitchen still had the familiar smells the woman had cooked into the plank walls. Under the mat there was a recessed handle in the floor with a heavy lock on it. He could barely see what he was doing, so he reached down and pulled on the lock just to make sure it was still there. It was.

His mother's Lake Street house had a secret, something that few houses in south needed or wanted. One of the few big jobs the boys ever did with their Pa was to dig a cellar under the house that was nearly as big as the house itself. They pulled tons of red clay soil out from under the house just short of the foundations. They deposited the soil out back. His mother's body was laying under six feet of that excavated soil now. When they started the job, the boys looked forward to working with their dad Robert. Once the job turned into real work and the old man started bitching, cussing and griping about the hot sweaty labor they couldn't wait to get it done, over with and away from the old man. The red clay soil was so unstable they had to bring in timber to reinforce the walls and put in log supports for the house or the damned thing would have fell in on top of them. Their pa's bitching and griping about the expense and hard work didn't help much. Robert Ivey was just doing what he was used to. Up north, almost of the homes had cellars. They really weren't common or needed that much in the south. Most southerners would worry a hole under the house would just be a place for bugs, mice and snakes to gather. But their father's plan was to use the cellar to store food, cotton and hide money. Sometimes he even did that. When he didn't spend the money nearly as soon as he got it. It ended up mother Ivey got more use out of the cellar than anyone else. She keep food down there.

However, when Doug got the supply assignment at Fort Turnbull, he started storing equipment, supplies and weapons in his mom's cellar. He had more room and space at his own house, but there was no way he could have got three years of material from the Fort through town to his house without anyone noticing. His mom knew what he was doing and she didn't seem to care or mind. They never said much about it to each other before she died. She got as much use out of the stuff as he did. A lot of it was dry food his mother couldn't have obtained otherwise and she knew it. Thanks to her soldier son, it wasn't likely the Ivey's were going to starve. War or not.

Satisfied his stash was safe, Ivey threw the rolled mat back over the locked door in the floor. He boarded the house back up and watered his horse. He decided to give the animal another break and they both walked the three miles back down to the Fort. Ivey wasn't in a hurry because he had no idea when Sergeant Hartley was going to report. Not much could be done until he did. At the Fort Ivey finally let his animal out of its saddle to have a breathe. The stalls were full, so he let the animal into a small corral. The horse would be fine. But Ivey was starting to drag from fatigue. He had no idea what time it was. He knew it was way past his bedtime. He hoisted his gear, walked to his office and didn't even bother with a candle. He just sat at his desk in his creaky old wooden chair, put his hat on the desk and his chin on his chest and fell right to sleep in no time.

The 6:00 AM sun shining in the office window woke Captain Ivey. It was still too early for the Fort to be doing much, but when he looked backed across his desk, Sergeant Buck Hartley was sitting there in the other chair. Hartley looked like he was about to fall asleep waiting on the Captain to wake up. Other than that, he didn't look much worse for wear or tear considering he had pulled a drunk, got into a fight and thrown a man in the river the night before. It annoyed Ivey a bit that Hartley had managed to sneak in his own office and he never heard him. But Buck Hartley had been doing that kind of stuff since they was kids. He could sneak around like a damned Indian. The Sergeant had put his shirt and jacket on and was showing his five stripes. That was a rare thing. Doug yawned and stretched in his chair and the chair noise roused Hartley. The Sergeant made an attempt to stand up and at attention, but the Captain caught him midways saying, “At ease Sergeant.” “Yes Sir.” Hartley sat back down in his chair. None of that formality was really required between the two men. They had known each other all their lives and had been to school together. It was the military school training that influenced them to carry on with military protocol that was only necessary in the company of other military personnel. But they did it anyway. Hartley carried on, “Sergeant Hartley reporting as ordered.” “Report Sergeant.” Captain Ivey replied giving the command the Sergeant would have waited on.

Sergeant Hartley fished in his jacket for something and brought out a folded sheet of paper. He laid the paper down carefully and slid it across the desk at Ivey with just the tip of his finger without even looking at the Captain. Ivey looked at the paper curiously for a moment before he reached out to pick it up. When he unfolded the paper, the first thing he noticed was Hartley's terrible cursive handwriting. It had been a problem for Buck in military school and caused more than one conflict with the instructors. In fact, it was terrible. Even though Ivey had seen the man's script since grade school he still had trouble reading it. When he figured out what it said, he couldn't believe his eyes. He dropped the paper down from in front of his face and stared hard at his Sergeant. He threw the paper back on the desk and asked, “What the hell is this?” “What the hell is what? Sir?”, Hartley replied faking a dim look. “The names on that paper.”, Doug pointed. “Do you know who these people are?” the Captain asked. Hartley replied slowly, “Well yes Sir, I wrote those names.” “You HAVE GOT to be kidding me!?” Doug asked incredulously. The Sergeant raised both his hands and said, “Captain, you ordered me to pull the names of soldiers out of my ass. Unfortunately, that is the quality of product that orifice is producing at this time.” Hartley responded, dropping his hands to cross his arms. Doug struggled to continue the conversation. He was tired and what Hartley was offering on that paper was just unacceptable. He struggled for the words. He wanted to, but deliberately avoided cursing and yelling at the man. It just wouldn't do any good. But he had to respond.

“Bucky Hartley, you know damned good and well that two of those people are my cousins.” Doug insisted. “That's all I need to do is to take family on a death march and get them hurt or killed. I never would be able to come back home.” Doug was right. “And this Pogue guy. Don't I know him? Who is this Jones person at the bottom?” Doug was passionate about that question. Hartley had written the last name so bad it was nearly unreadable. Sergeant Hartley paused, considered what he was going to say and then responded to his Captain with his elbows on the chair arms and his flat hands in the air. As calmly as he could, he explained, “Captain, Buddy Franklin is old enough now to go to war. His father and uncle have been marched east across the Mississippi and are fighting on battlefields as we speak. Your family hasn't heard from his daddy in six months and it don't look good. Now the boy wants to serve and he is of age. We ain't got no business telling him no.” Damned Hartley was right about that and Doug had to drop it.

“What about Albert Eddie White, Jr.? You know Junior's going deaf. He has been ever since he had that bad ear infection. How the hell are we even going to give him orders much less him taking them?” Even without coffee, Doug was beginning to wake up now from adrenaline and anger. Hartley came back at him with, “Well, we're gonna have to work with your cousin Junior. He can hear ya if he's facing you and you yell at him. Hell, yelling at people is what I do, so that ought to work. Besides, the boy can shoot nearly as good as I can. And his daddy Eddie gave him the best Sharp's Carbine rifle I ever saw. So all we have to provide him is ammo and a side arm. I'd say we're getting a bargain in the deal.” Hartley nodded his head righteously with that statement.

Albert White was going deaf. The family was not sure why. He had been bad sick when he was younger but his parents Eddie and Gracie were so broke they waited a long time to take him to a doctor. Probably too long. Since he had not been deaf all his life, he spoke good English. And he could read and write. The medicos recommend that he be sent down to the Deaf and Blind School in Houston and taught American Sign Language. Albert refused to go and he never did learn to sign. He made his way the best he could and knew how. He done OK, until Buck Hartley knocked on his door late last night and asked him if he wanted to be a soldier. Albert said yes in a heart beat. He had wanted to serve since the war started, but up till now the Army didn't want anything to do with him cause he was deaf. He didn't let on, but the Army's rejection hurt his feeling so bad he wanted to bust. Albert's way of dealing with the rejection and disappointment was, practice his shooting. And he did. Nearly every chance he got he was in the field somewhere shooting something. He almost single-handedly wiped out the white tail deer population in and around Shreveport. Actually a lot of folks were pretty annoyed at him about that. When he started in on the squirrel population they really got after him and Junior got fussed at by several neighbors. It was then he enjoyed being deaf. When Sergeant Hartley drafted him, he gave Albert the thing he wanted most in the world. Albert was scared, but he was happy.

Captain Ivey picked the paper back up off his desk and looked at it again. He didn't really want to. He let out a big sigh and asked, “OK, so who is Steve Pogue?” “Oh he's one of them Irishmen that come over from Texas. Some of them can't get work over there cause the Texans don't want'em. Cause they're Catholics. His brother Pat wanted come too and look after his brother. I told him no. It don't make sense to get both of them killed.” Hartley offered. “For God's sake that man is about five foot five inches tall. How the hell is he even going to get on a horse?” Doug asked. “He's got some damned novel ways of doing it Doug. I seen him jump step up on a wall and leap back into the saddle. Damnest thing I ever saw. He's like a damned a circus acrobat.”, Hartley smiled big amused as he said this. “I only have one reservation about Pogue.” Hartley said. “The man is too damned happy all the time. Always smiling. There's something demented about it. He even laughs at my bad jokes. I don't know what the hell the man is so glad about. But other than that, he'll do.”

The next two men on the list were Pat Moe and Thomas Richardson. The Captain only knew them as regulars stationed at Fort Turnbull. They were not assigned to him. He would have to get to know them the hard way on the trail and on the mission. It wasn't the best of possibilities, but it was all he had. But as for the last two names on Hartley's list, now it was time to fight. “What is Jimmy Russell's name doing on this list?” Buck had to know Ivey didn't like Russell . Buck looked back at Ivey hard this time and put steel in his voice. “That worthless son-of-a-bitch has had it too easy for too long. He's been hiding behind Taylor's skirt since the war started. I know you and him have had detail and your hands full trying to keep Taylor supplied. But that asshole Russell has been profiting from it. And if you don't know it, you sure suspect it. It's time for him to become a soldier.” Doug shook his head no, even while Hartley was saying what he knew was true. “Buck, you know we need men on this mission we can rely on and trust. Even a good man will let you down. It happens. When it happens we need men who will pick themselves back up and keep going. We both know Russell is a spineless lizard. I don't care to be in the field or in combat with such a man. The answer is not no, but hell no.” Hartley figured that would be Captain Ivey's response but he took the chance anyway. He figured men like Russell would get what's coming to them sooner later. But he didn't know when. As the men were finishing their criticism of Staff Sergeant Jimmy Russell, he walked by Doug's office window on his way to work unseen. The plank walls of Doug's office were never meant to be sound proof. Russell heard most of what they had to say about him. He wasn't happy about it, but there wasn't much he could do about it. Time would tell.

“OK, what is this last name Buck? For Christ's sake I can't even read it.” Doug asked. Hartley hesitated a bit and then said, nearly under his breath, “Littlefoot Jones.” Doug snapped his head up, looked at the Sergeant hard and asked, “What?” “Littlefoot Jones.” Hartley replied a little louder. “Littlefoot Jones?” Doug replied. “Yes Sir, Littlefoot Jones.” Hartley replied in kind. “Isn't Littlefoot Jones a woman? A Choctaw Indian woman?” Doug asked as calmly as he could. “Why yes Sir, I believe she is.” Hartley offered. Doug looked at him even harder, if that was possible, caught his breath and asked loudly, “LITTLEFOOT JONES?” He paused, avoiding what he really wanted to say. What he did say was, “Didn't her mama kill her daddy?” Hartley replied calmly, “Oh yes, Sir. But there wasn't much else she could do. He was beating the hell out of her at the time. I asked her mama if it was OK if Littlefoot come with us. She said it was alright if I looked after her. Captain, she is the best damned hunter and tracker I know. The gal can ride and shoot and she knows this country better than you and me both.” Doug interrupted the Sergeant with a rude shout, “LITTLEFOOT JONES IS A WOMAN!”

Sergeant Hartley looked back at his Captain with a made up confused face that pretended Ivey's shout caught him a little off guard and hurt his feelings. He looked back across the desk at Ivey blinking and deciding what he was going to say. He already knew what he was going to say, but the stress of the moment was a little too entertaining to waste. Ivey wasn't finished yet, “What in the hell are you thinking?! What makes you think that I would even consider taking a woman out in the field with a bunch of horny young men! Hell, they'd probably rape her! And if they didn't, the Yankees would!” There was a lot more Ivey could have said and should have said, but he stopped himself. He sat there breathing heavy. If it had been anyone else other than Buck Hartley that had proposed such a crazy idea, Ivey probably would have pistol whipped them. But Hartley was too damned big and tough. That that would not be a wise move.

Sergeant Hartley let the Captain catch his breath and then he responded, “Captain Ivey, we ain't overrun with choices here. Now you told me to go out and get you troops. That's what I done. If you want anything better or different you're gonna have to allow me time to go east cross the Mississippi River and bring back some real soldiers. Cause there ain't none here.” As he said this Hartley leaned forward in his chair putting his elbows on Ivey's desk. As he declared this truth he pointed both his open palmed hands at Ivey daring him to come up with a reasonable response to anything Hartley had just said. Truth was, Ivey couldn't. But he was an Army officer and he was going to have the last word. “Sergeant Hartley, if you bring that damned Indian woman along with us, I want her breasts bound, her hair cut and I want her in uniform.” Hartley interrupted with, “Sir that won't be a problem. Littlefoot ain't got much in her shirt anyways.” “Let me finish Sergeant!” Ivey interrupted right back. “I also want her riding point or bringing up the rear and keeping a wide berth from the other men both on the trail and in camp. Is that clear Sergeant?” Hartley stood at attention and said, “Yes Sir!”

There followed an empty and pregnant pause that Sergeant Hartley let stand there and hang in the air for just a little too long. Then he volunteered, “That's not her real name anyway.” “WHAT!?” Ivey yelled incredibly. Hartley repeated, “Littlefoot's not her real name.” Captain Ivey nearly bellowed at the man, “Well what, pray tell, is her real name?” Hartley added, “Her real name is Chickenfoot. At least that's the name her daddy gave her. But she don't like it. It's best not to call her that. It can start some real trouble.” “GET THE HELL OUT OF MY OFFICE!” Ivey yelled back at him and picked up an ink well like he was going to throw it. Sergeant Hartley saluted quickly and raced for the door. And that was that.


There was no going home now. So Captain Douglas Ivey turned south down the River Road to Fort Turnbull again. He wished he hadn't told Sergeant Hartley to meet him at the Fort and he was regretting his mistake already. If General Taylor saw them in the morning, there would be hell to pay with plenty of cussing and yelling from him to get Ivey on the road and on his mission. But that decision was water under the Texas Avenue Bridge now. On his way he stopped by his mother's house to check on it. For some reason all the refugees were gone out of the yard now. Including the man he paid to watch the place. As far as Ivey could tell, the house was still boarded up and nobody had tried to get in. Ivey got a hammer out of the backyard shed and pried open the back door. Once inside, he went to the kitchen and pulled back a large rolled mat off the floor where his mother had labored for years cooking and cleaning. The kitchen still had the familiar smells the woman had cooked into the plank walls. Under the mat there was a recessed handle in the floor with a heavy lock on it. He could barely see what he was doing, so he reached down and pulled on the lock just to make sure it was still there. It was.

His mother's Lake Street house had a secret, something that few houses in south needed or wanted. One of the few big jobs the boys ever did with their Pa was to dig a cellar under the house that was nearly as big as the house itself. They pulled tons of red clay soil out from under the house just short of the foundations. They deposited the soil out back. His mother's body was laying under six feet of that excavated soil now. When they started the job, the boys looked forward to working with their dad Robert. Once the job turned into real work and the old man started bitching, cussing and griping about the hot sweaty labor they couldn't wait to get it done, over with and away from the old man. The red clay soil was so unstable they had to bring in timber to reinforce the walls and put in log supports for the house or the damned thing would have fell in on top of them. Their pa's bitching and griping about the expense and hard work didn't help much. Robert Ivey was just doing what he was used to. Up north, almost of the homes had cellars. They really weren't common or needed that much in the south. Most southerners would worry a hole under the house would just be a place for bugs, mice and snakes to gather. But their father's plan was to use the cellar to store food, cotton and hide money. Sometimes he even did that. When he didn't spend the money nearly as soon as he got it. It ended up mother Ivey got more use out of the cellar than anyone else. She keep food down there.

However, when Doug got the supply assignment at Fort Turnbull, he started storing equipment, supplies and weapons in his mom's cellar. He had more room and space at his own house, but there was no way he could have got three years of material from the Fort through town to his house without anyone noticing. His mom knew what he was doing and she didn't seem to care or mind. They never said much about it to each other before she died. She got as much use out of the stuff as he did. A lot of it was dry food his mother couldn't have obtained otherwise and she knew it. Thanks to her soldier son, it wasn't likely the Ivey's were going to starve. War or not.

Satisfied his stash was safe, Ivey threw the rolled mat back over the locked door in the floor. He boarded the house back up and watered his horse. He decided to give the animal another break and they both walked the three miles back down to the Fort. Ivey wasn't in a hurry because he had no idea when Sergeant Hartley was going to report. Not much could be done until he did. At the Fort Ivey finally let his animal out of its saddle to have a breathe. The stalls were full, so he let the animal into a small corral. The horse would be fine. But Ivey was starting to drag from fatigue. He had no idea what time it was. He knew it was way past his bedtime. He hoisted his gear, walked to his office and didn't even bother with a candle. He just sat at his desk in his creaky old wooden chair, put his hat on the desk and his chin on his chest and fell right to sleep in no time.

The 6:00 AM sun shining in the office window woke Captain Ivey. It was still too early for the Fort to be doing much, but when he looked backed across his desk, Sergeant Buck Hartley was sitting there in the other chair. Hartley looked like he was about to fall asleep waiting on the Captain to wake up. Other than that, he didn't look much worse for wear or tear considering he had pulled a drunk, got into a fight and thrown a man in the river the night before. It annoyed Ivey a bit that Hartley had managed to sneak in his own office and he never heard him. But Buck Hartley had been doing that kind of stuff since they was kids. He could sneak around like a damned Indian. The Sergeant had put his shirt and jacket on and was showing his five stripes. That was a rare thing. Doug yawned and stretched in his chair and the chair noise roused Hartley. The Sergeant made an attempt to stand up and at attention, but the Captain caught him midways saying, “At ease Sergeant.” “Yes Sir.” Hartley sat back down in his chair. None of that formality was really required between the two men. They had known each other all their lives and had been to school together. It was the military school training that influenced them to carry on with military protocol that was only necessary in the company of other military personnel. But they did it anyway. Hartley carried on, “Sergeant Hartley reporting as ordered.” “Report Sergeant.” Captain Ivey replied giving the command the Sergeant would have waited on.

Sergeant Hartley fished in his jacket for something and brought out a folded sheet of paper. He laid the paper down carefully and slid it across the desk at Ivey with just the tip of his finger without even looking at the Captain. Ivey looked at the paper curiously for a moment before he reached out to pick it up. When he unfolded the paper, the first thing he noticed was Hartley's terrible cursive handwriting. It had been a problem for Buck in military school and caused more than one conflict with the instructors. In fact, it was terrible. Even though Ivey had seen the man's script since grade school he still had trouble reading it. When he figured out what it said, he couldn't believe his eyes. He dropped the paper down from in front of his face and stared hard at his Sergeant. He threw the paper back on the desk and asked, “What the hell is this?” “What the hell is what? Sir?”, Hartley replied faking a dim look. “The names on that paper.”, Doug pointed. “Do you know who these people are?” the Captain asked. Hartley replied slowly, “Well yes Sir, I wrote those names.” “You HAVE GOT to be kidding me!?” Doug asked incredulously. The Sergeant raised both his hands and said, “Captain, you ordered me to pull the names of soldiers out of my ass. Unfortunately, that is the quality of product that orifice is producing at this time.” Hartley responded, dropping his hands to cross his arms. Doug struggled to continue the conversation. He was tired and what Hartley was offering on that paper was just unacceptable. He struggled for the words. He wanted to, but deliberately avoided cursing and yelling at the man. It just wouldn't do any good. But he had to respond.

“Bucky Hartley, you know damned good and well that two of those people are my cousins.” Doug insisted. “That's all I need to do is to take family on a death march and get them hurt or killed. I never would be able to come back home.” Doug was right. “And this Pogue guy. Don't I know him? Who is this Jones person at the bottom?” Doug was passionate about that question. Hartley had written the last name so bad it was nearly unreadable. Sergeant Hartley paused, considered what he was going to say and then responded to his Captain with his elbows on the chair arms and his flat hands in the air. As calmly as he could, he explained, “Captain, Buddy Franklin is old enough now to go to war. His father and uncle have been marched east across the Mississippi and are fighting on battlefields as we speak. Your family hasn't heard from his daddy in six months and it don't look good. Now the boy wants to serve and he is of age. We ain't got no business telling him no.” Damned Hartley was right about that and Doug had to drop it.

“What about Albert Eddie White, Jr.? You know Junior's going deaf. He has been ever since he had that bad ear infection. How the hell are we even going to give him orders much less him taking them?” Even without coffee, Doug was beginning to wake up now from adrenaline and anger. Hartley came back at him with, “Well, we're gonna have to work with your cousin Junior. He can hear ya if he's facing you and you yell at him. Hell, yelling at people is what I do, so that ought to work. Besides, the boy can shoot nearly as good as I can. And his daddy Eddie gave him the best Sharp's Carbine rifle I ever saw. So all we have to provide him is ammo and a side arm. I'd say we're getting a bargain in the deal.” Hartley nodded his head righteously with that statement.

Albert White was going deaf. The family was not sure why. He had been bad sick when he was younger but his parents Eddie and Gracie were so broke they waited a long time to take him to a doctor. Probably too long. Since he had not been deaf all his life, he spoke good English. And he could read and write. The medicos recommend that he be sent down to the Deaf and Blind School in Houston and taught American Sign Language. Albert refused to go and he never did learn to sign. He made his way the best he could and knew how. He done OK, until Buck Hartley knocked on his door late last night and asked him if he wanted to be a soldier. Albert said yes in a heart beat. He had wanted to serve since the war started, but up till now the Army didn't want anything to do with him cause he was deaf. He didn't let on, but the Army's rejection hurt his feeling so bad he wanted to bust. Albert's way of dealing with the rejection and disappointment was, practice his shooting. And he did. Nearly every chance he got he was in the field somewhere shooting something. He almost single-handedly wiped out the white tail deer population in and around Shreveport. Actually a lot of folks were pretty annoyed at him about that. When he started in on the squirrel population they really got after him and Junior got fussed at by several neighbors. It was then he enjoyed being deaf. When Sergeant Hartley drafted him, he gave Albert the thing he wanted most in the world. Albert was scared, but he was happy.

Captain Ivey picked the paper back up off his desk and looked at it again. He didn't really want to. He let out a big sigh and asked, “OK, so who is Steve Pogue?” “Oh he's one of them Irishmen that come over from Texas. Some of them can't get work over there cause the Texans don't want'em. Cause they're Catholics. His brother Pat wanted come too and look after his brother. I told him no. It don't make sense to get both of them killed.” Hartley offered. “For God's sake that man is about five foot five inches tall. How the hell is he even going to get on a horse?” Doug asked. “He's got some damned novel ways of doing it Doug. I seen him jump step up on a wall and leap back into the saddle. Damnest thing I ever saw. He's like a damned a circus acrobat.”, Hartley smiled big amused as he said this. “I only have one reservation about Pogue.” Hartley said. “The man is too damned happy all the time. Always smiling. There's something demented about it. He even laughs at my bad jokes. I don't know what the hell the man is so glad about. But other than that, he'll do.”

The next two men on the list were Pat Moe and Thomas Richardson. The Captain only knew them as regulars stationed at Fort Turnbull. They were not assigned to him. He would have to get to know them the hard way on the trail and on the mission. It wasn't the best of possibilities, but it was all he had. But as for the last two names on Hartley's list, now it was time to fight. “What is Jimmy Russell's name doing on this list?” Buck had to know Ivey didn't like Russell . Buck looked back at Ivey hard this time and put steel in his voice. “That worthless son-of-a-bitch has had it too easy for too long. He's been hiding behind Taylor's skirt since the war started. I know you and him have had detail and your hands full trying to keep Taylor supplied. But that asshole Russell has been profiting from it. And if you don't know it, you sure suspect it. It's time for him to become a soldier.” Doug shook his head no, even while Hartley was saying what he knew was true. “Buck, you know we need men on this mission we can rely on and trust. Even a good man will let you down. It happens. When it happens we need men who will pick themselves back up and keep going. We both know Russell is a spineless lizard. I don't care to be in the field or in combat with such a man. The answer is not no, but hell no.” Hartley figured that would be Captain Ivey's response but he took the chance anyway. He figured men like Russell would get what's coming to them sooner later. But he didn't know when. As the men were finishing their criticism of Staff Sergeant Jimmy Russell, he walked by Doug's office window on his way to work unseen. The plank walls of Doug's office were never meant to be sound proof. Russell heard most of what they had to say about him. He wasn't happy about it, but there wasn't much he could do about it. Time would tell.

“OK, what is this last name Buck? For Christ's sake I can't even read it.” Doug asked. Hartley hesitated a bit and then said, nearly under his breath, “Littlefoot Jones.” Doug snapped his head up, looked at the Sergeant hard and asked, “What?” “Littlefoot Jones.” Hartley replied a little louder. “Littlefoot Jones?” Doug replied. “Yes Sir, Littlefoot Jones.” Hartley replied in kind. “Isn't Littlefoot Jones a woman? A Choctaw Indian woman?” Doug asked as calmly as he could. “Why yes Sir, I believe she is.” Hartley offered. Doug looked at him even harder, if that was possible, caught his breath and asked loudly, “LITTLEFOOT JONES?” He paused, avoiding what he really wanted to say. What he did say was, “Didn't her mama kill her daddy?” Hartley replied calmly, “Oh yes, Sir. But there wasn't much else she could do. He was beating the hell out of her at the time. I asked her mama if it was OK if Littlefoot come with us. She said it was alright if I looked after her. Captain, she is the best damned hunter and tracker I know. The gal can ride and shoot and she knows this country better than you and me both.” Doug interrupted the Sergeant with a rude shout, “LITTLEFOOT JONES IS A WOMAN!”

Sergeant Hartley looked back at his Captain with a made up confused face that pretended Ivey's shout caught him a little off guard and hurt his feelings. He looked back across the desk at Ivey blinking and deciding what he was going to say. He already knew what he was going to say, but the stress of the moment was a little too entertaining to waste. Ivey wasn't finished yet, “What in the hell are you thinking?! What makes you think that I would even consider taking a woman out in the field with a bunch of horny young men! Hell, they'd probably rape her! And if they didn't, the Yankees would!” There was a lot more Ivey could have said and should have said, but he stopped himself. He sat there breathing heavy. If it had been anyone else other than Buck Hartley that had proposed such a crazy idea, Ivey probably would have pistol whipped them. But Hartley was too damned big and tough. That that would not be a wise move.

Sergeant Hartley let the Captain catch his breath and then he responded, “Captain Ivey, we ain't overrun with choices here. Now you told me to go out and get you troops. That's what I done. If you want anything better or different you're gonna have to allow me time to go east cross the Mississippi River and bring back some real soldiers. Cause there ain't none here.” As he said this Hartley leaned forward in his chair putting his elbows on Ivey's desk. As he declared this truth he pointed both his open palmed hands at Ivey daring him to come up with a reasonable response to anything Hartley had just said. Truth was, Ivey couldn't. But he was an Army officer and he was going to have the last word. “Sergeant Hartley, if you bring that damned Indian woman along with us, I want her breasts bound, her hair cut and I want her in uniform.” Hartley interrupted with, “Sir that won't be a problem. Littlefoot ain't got much in her shirt anyways.” “Let me finish Sergeant!” Ivey interrupted right back. “I also want her riding point or bringing up the rear and keeping a wide berth from the other men both on the trail and in camp. Is that clear Sergeant?” Hartley stood at attention and said, “Yes Sir!”

There followed an empty and pregnant pause that Sergeant Hartley let stand there and hang in the air for just a little too long. Then he volunteered, “That's not her real name anyway.” “WHAT!?” Ivey yelled incredibly. Hartley repeated, “Littlefoot's not her real name.” Captain Ivey nearly bellowed at the man, “Well what, pray tell, is her real name?” Hartley added, “Her real name is Chickenfoot. At least that's the name her daddy gave her. But she don't like it. It's best not to call her that. It can start some real trouble.” “GET THE HELL OUT OF MY OFFICE!” Ivey yelled back at him and picked up an ink well like he was going to throw it. Sergeant Hartley saluted quickly and raced for the door. And that was that.

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