Monthly Archives: June 2008

>Vanderboegh: Black-and-Tans

by Mike Vanderboegh

(Another chapter of “Absolved”, an upcoming novella)

“You know, even when we were killing them, we felt sorry for the gun cops. I mean it really was self defense for us but they were somebody’s son, or husband or father. . . they were, they had been, Americans. (pause) So they never did seem like the real enemy, not really, not like the politicians who sent them. But the mercenaries? Those Brightfire monsters? It was a pleasure killing those bastards. They were far worse than the Feds. Hell, they didn’t even believe in what the administration was doing, they were just in it for the money, for what they got paid or what they could steal, or the rape, or the sheer sadistic cruelty of it. Some of the stuff they did to our wounded, or to our families and friends . . . terrible things, techniques they’d learned in Iraq or Afghanistan . . . (Long silence.) No, it was God’s own justice what we did to those bastards. Half of them were foreigners anyway, hired by Americans to come kill other Americans. (pause) Because of what they did to us, we’d only take them prisoner if we needed some information, and then we’d shoot them afterward. (pause) I’m not proud of it, and God will probably tell me I did wrong when I face Him, but it was a pleasure killing those monsters. And it was simple justice. (pause) May God forgive us.” — Interview transcript, 12 Nov 2024, SGT Timothy M. Murphy, sapper and team leader, Firelands Rangers militia, from Ohio State Historical Society Oral History Collection, The Restoration War, A6745, Disc #32

“It was inevitable that the administration would turn to what they called ‘private contractors’ after the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and subordinate military commanders informed the President that the Army and Marines would be unreliable to carry out Operation Clean Sweep. Even the wholesale replacement of senior officers in the Pentagon could not induce the majority of U.S. soldiers to enforce the draconian laws passed after the Battle of Sipsey Street. The administration came to realize that the most they could count on was that the military would stay on the sidelines and not turn on THEM as “domestic enemies” of the Constitution. . . . Using ‘contractors’ however had other benefits. They could (and would) be used by the administration for the ‘plausible deniability’ of some actions against the rebels and their families which were not even covered by the new laws. In addition, from a bureaucratic point of view, the means of their procurement was familiar and time-tested. Finally, using ‘contractors’ enabled the administration to hire men who were, frankly, criminals — men who could never have passed the background checks required for the military or federal law enforcement. Absent the Army and Marines, the administration desperately needed bodies to carry out Operation Clean Sweep. The ‘contractors’ made that possible, or so it was thought.” — Dr. Herbert Matthews, Restoration or Rebellion?, LSU Press, 2029, p. 56.

Air Tractor

Stealing the plane had been the easy part. It wasn’t even stolen, really, just borrowed from a friend. Not that Joe Cornyn expected to be able to return it back to Charlie Carter in one piece. He had been lucky, he knew, for C.C.’s misfortune. Well, it was an ill wind that blew no one any good and Joe had been the beneficiary of C.C.’s bankruptcy. Fuel costs had become prohibitive. No farmer could afford to pay what C.C. had to charge for cropdusting nowadays. So Charlie had shuttered his office and hanger, laid off his employees and sold off all of his company assets, save this plane, his best.

Even the hanger had been Joe’s for the using while he modified the crop duster for the job. But even that hadn’t been the tough part, although his hands, unused to metal fabrication and machine work, looked like it was. No, the tough part had been working out the details of the weapon he intended to deploy. He read crop dusting manuals (which we written with all the clear meaning and exciting prose of Chinese VCR instructions) until the data ran out his ears.

“Remember the speed of the aircraft changes the droplet spectrum. The optimum droplet spectrum can generally be developed by selecting the appropriate setup configuration. Remember turbine powered, faster aircraft, generally have more uniform patterns. And the droplet spectrum may be the most important aspect of these applications and should be carefully adjusted with nozzle selection, operating pressure and mounting configuration. . . Remember small changes in droplet diameter make big changes in droplet volume! (Example: It takes (1.6) 300µ droplets to equal 1 350µ droplet and 2.4 300µ droplets to equal 1 400µ. . . . Remember there are excellent aerial models available to help determine the expected droplet spectrum. . . Remember . . . Remember . . .”

Remember? Joe remembered that crap in in his sleep. He wouldn’t likely forget it this side of the grave.

Which, he reflected, might not be that long from now anyway.

“The AT-802/802A is the world’s largest single engine aircraft, and its popularity reflects the industry’s trend to larger, high-production turbine equipment. With a payload of 9,500 lbs, the AT-802A provides more working capacity than any other single-engine ag plane. Its power, speed and payload delivers large operation efficiencies and opens up new income opportunities.” — from the Air Tractor sales brochure.

Leland Snow sure knew how to build an airplane. The Air Tractor 802A that vibrated under Joe Cornyn’s finger tips was BIG. Its Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65AG turbine engine generated 1,295 horsepower at 1,700 RPM and the five bladed prop just clawed the heavy plane through the sky effortlessly. With a span of almost 60 feet, it’s big rectangular wings had an area of 401 square feet.

Of course, it had to be for the payload it was designed to carry. This was no Piper Cub. As a matter of fact, taking off in a fully loaded cropduster was like trying to get a wallowing B-17F loaded with 500 pound bombs off the ground. Anybody who jumped into a tanked-up Air Tractor expecting it to perform like any other single-engine light plane would end up as the main course in a combination barbeque and celestial dirt nap at the end of the runway. Someone once compared it to the difference between handling a nimble sports car versus a fully loaded Peterbilt semi. Pilots of crop dusters are required to have a one-year apprenticeship to learn how to operate and fly the aircraft safely.

Fortunately for Joe, Charlie had given him some familiarization time in the Air Tractor back when Cornyn had toyed with the idea of getting his crop duster certificate. He’d never followed it up, but he wasn’t at a loss to fly the single-engine bomber — which was what the Air Tractor was now — as he headed east to the target which lay ahead in the gathering dawn.

“Come out, you Black and Tans”

And as he flew nap of the earth, Joe Cornyn began to sing a song his grandda had taught him long before:

I was born on a Dublin street where the Loyal drums did beat
And the loving English feet walked all over us,
And every single night when me father’d come home tight
He’d invite the neighbors outside with this chorus:

Oh, come out you black and tans,
Come out and fight me like a man
Show your wife how you won medals down in Flanders
Tell them how the IRA made you run like hell away,
From the green and lovely lanes in Killeshandra.

Come tell us how you slew
Them ol’ Arabs two by two
Like the Zulus they had spears and bows and arrows,
How you bravely faced each one
With your sixteen pounder gun
And you frightened them damn natives to their marrow.

Oh, come out you black and tans,
Come out and fight me like a man . . .

Joe laughed loud enough to be heard over the Pratt and Whitney, although it was a single-seater and no one but God heard him. His grandda would understand what he was about to do this day, for little Michael Florence Cornyn had been there when, with his father off fighting with the IRA Volunteers, the Tans had beaten his older brother half to death and attempted the rape of his mother.

Young Michael Cornyn, all of twelve years old, had fetched the Webley revolver from its hiding place and killed his mother’s attacker. And when the would-be rapist’s two friends ran up the stairs to see what had happened, Michael Cornyn shot them too. His marksmanship could have been better, though, for his twin sister Mary had to finish one of them off with the butcher knife from the kitchen.

Eventually, the Cornyns made their way to America, and they raised their children with an Irishman’s memories of the courageous Volunteers and the vicious Black and Tans taught through the songs of Irish freedom.

He hadn’t even had to lie to Carter about what he was going to do. Charlie had gone and got himself busted by the Feds for violating the new “contempt of authority” statute while protesting the disappearance of his son Jim into the maw of the new tyranny. C.C. was even now spending 90 days in the federal lockup in Richmond. At least Charlie would have an alibi for what was about to happen.

Not that it would matter. If Joe hurt Brightfire one tenth of what he hoped to, he was sure his friend’s life would be forfeit too. He had removed every ID number and casting or stamping code from the aircraft he could find, but he was sure federal forensics would still find something that could use to tie the plane to Charlie. And once identified, Brightfire would make him very slowly, very painfully, dead.


If the devil was abroad in the land, and Joe Cornyn knew that he was, then the mercenaries of Brightfire were Beelzebub’s familiar demons and imps. And Joseph Michael Collins Cornyn intended to introduce as many of them as he could to their master this day. Joe sang lustily,

The day is coming fast
And the time is here at last,
When each yeoman will be cast aside before us,
And if there be a need
Sure my kids will sing, “Godspeed!”
With a bar or two of Stephen Behan’s chorus

Oh, come out you black and tans,
Come out and fight me like a man . . .


Brightfire International — Founded in 1985, this private security company specializing in “security, stability and peace-keeping operations” became a multi-billion dollar enterprise by providing “private contractors” to the U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq after 11 September 2001. The largest single employer in southeast Virginia by the time of the withdrawal of American troops from those conflicts, Brightfire began to utilized for domestic security operations, especially intelligence gathering, in the period immediately preceding the civil conflict which began with the Battle of Sipsey Street. (See also Phillip Gordon, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Operation Clean Sweep, Restoration War, Mercenaries, and War Crimes Trials, United States). Although Brightfire was not the only private security company to provide “mercenaries” to Operation Clean Sweep, they were the largest, the best known, and it must be said, the most ruthless of such companies employed by the U.S. government in the attempt to disarm its own people.

From its base on 10,000 acres in rural southeastern Virginia, at the height of its operations early in the Restoration War, Brightfire trained tens of thousands of its own “contract operators” as well as federal police recruits at the world’s largest privately owned weapons training facility. Through its Executive Air subsidiary, Brightfire provided cargo and tactical pilots and aircraft to the federal effort, eventually acquiring its own tactical air force to provide close air support to Operation Clean Sweep when the US Air Force proved unwilling to do so. — “Chillicothe, Ohio: The American Guernica,” George Wilson, Journal of American Military History, Vol. 66, No.1, 2027.

Brightfire also produced its own remotely piloted vehicles, fixed wing and blimp, as well as armored vehicles. Ironically, the Democrat party politicians who were so loud in denouncing Brightfire when it was supporting American military operations overseas, overnight became the company’s greatest defenders when it was used within the continental United States in Operation Clean Sweep. — Encyclopedia Americana, Random House, New York, 2030.


The personal last straw for Joe had been Chillicothe.

The Black and Tans . . . Joe caught himself. No, the Brightfire thugs.

Anyway, whatever you called them, or they called themselves, the murdering bastards had tried to take down an “illegal” political meeting in the southern Ohio town. The local cops had a security detail there, just to keep order. Nobody expected a Brightfire attack. They got one, though, and the Chillicothe police made the mistake of trying to talk them out of it. In the wink of an eye, there were six dead cops on the ground and Brightfire was shooting in all directions, killing men, women and kids, just like Bloody Sunday. The county sheriff stepped in, and with his deputies, what was left of the Chillicothe police and reinforced by several local militias, counterattacked and hemmed the Brightfire murderers into a warehouse on the river.

Trapped, Brightstar called down destruction on the town from above. When it was over half of downtown was a burnt-out shell. The Feds suppressed the number of civilian casualties, but best estimates said it was over a thousand dead. The government had a firm censor’s grip on the media and the Internet now, so no one knew for sure, but that’s what the Resistance Radio Network reported when it wasn’t being jammed and they were known for being more accurate than the government mouthpieces of the “mainstream media.”

Joe didn’t have any relatives that he knew of in Chillicothe. His family had not been victimized by the Feds yet. The only friend he had who’d run afoul of them was C.C. and was a 90 day jail term worth avenging by the mass slaughter he intended to inflict on Brightstar this morning?

Maybe not.

But Chillicothe was.

Chillicothe offended him as only a free man can be offended when he sees innocents slaughtered. He wasn’t a spectator in this war. He was an American citizen. And his Irish blood wouldn’t let him sit still while others died. The Sassenach, as his old grandda called them, needed to be paid back.

And Joe Cornyn knew how.


“For vapor cloud explosion there is a minimum ratio of fuel vapor to air below which ignition will not occur. Alternately, there is also a maximum ratio of fuel vapor to air, at which ignition will not occur. These limits are termed the lower and upper explosive limits. For gasoline vapor, the explosive range is from 1.3 to 6.0% vapor to air, and for methane this range is 5 to 15%. Many parameters contribute to the potential damage from a vapor cloud explosion, including the mass and type of material released, the strength of ignition source, the nature of the release event (e.g., turbulent jet release), and turbulence induced in the cloud (e.g., from ambient obstructions). . . The blast effects from vapor cloud explosions are determined not only by the amount of fuel, but more importantly by the combustion mode of the cloud. Significant overpressures can be generated by both detonations and deflagrations. Most vapor cloud explosions are deflagrations, not detonations. Flame speed of a deflagration is subsonic, with flame speed increasing in restricted areas and decreasing in open areas. Significantly, a detonation is supersonic, and will proceed through almost all of the available flammable vapor at the detonation reaction rate. This creates far more severe peak over-pressures and much higher amounts of blast energy. The speed of the flame front movement is directly proportional to the amount of blast over-pressure. A wide spectrum of flame speeds may result from flame acceleration under various conditions. High flame front speeds and resulting high blast over pressures are seen in accidental vapor cloud explosions where there is a significant amount of confinement and congestion that limits flame front expansion and increases flame turbulence. These conditions are evidently more difficult to achieve in the unconfined environment in which military fuel-air explosives are intended to operate. . . The peak overpressure and duration are used to calculate the impulse from shock waves. Even some advanced explosion models ignore the effects of blast wave reflection off structures, which can produce misleading results over- or under-estimating the vulnerability of a structure. Sophisticated software used to produce three-dimensional models of the effects of vapor cloud explosions allows the evaluation of damage experienced by each structure within a facility as a result of a primary explosion and any accompanying secondary explosions produced by vapor clouds.” — “Fuel – Air Explosives”

Years before, when Joe had been in Army aviation flying fixed wing aircraft, he had seen a GBU-43/B tested. They called it the “Mother of All Bombs” for a reason.

Cornyn had been awestruck. It was like a nuke without the radiation. And everything beneath it was broken or turned inside out.

Fuel-air weapons work by initially detonating a scattering charge within a bomb, rocket or grenade warhead. The warhead contents, which are composed of either volatile gases, liquids or finely powdered explosives, form an aerosol cloud. This cloud is then ignited and the subsequent fireball sears the surrounding area while consuming the oxygen in this area. The lack of oxygen creates an enormous overpressure. This overpressure, or blast wave, is the primary casualty-producing force. In several dozen microseconds, the pressure at the center of the explosion can reach 30 kilograms per square centimeter (427 pounds per square inch) – normal atmospheric pressure at sea level is 14.7 pounds per square inch with a temperature between 2,500-3,000 degrees Centigrade [4,532-5,432 degrees Fahrenheit]. This is 1.5 to 2 times greater than the overpressure caused by conventional explosives. Personnel under the cloud are literally crushed to death. Outside the cloud area, the blast wave travels at some 3,000 meters per second [9843 feet per second]. The resultant vacuum pulls in loose objects to fill the void. As a result, a fuel-air explosive can have the effect of a tactical nuclear weapon without residual radiation. Since a fuel-air mixture flows easily into any cavities, neither natural terrain features nor non-hermetically sealed field fortifications (emplacements, covered slit trenches, bunkers) protect against the effects of fuel-air explosives. — Lester Grau & Timothy Smith, “A ‘Crushing’ Victory: Fuel-Air Explosives and Grozny 2000,” Marine Corps Gazette, August, 2000.

Now Joe didn’t have a C-130, or a bomb casing the size of a pickup truck, or military grade RDX explosive as a burster to distribute the fuel.

What Joe had was a big-ass crop duster and 800 gallons of high-test gasoline in the spray tank. In military terms, he had a huge flying molotov cocktail. Whether it detonated or merely rained fire down on those mercenary assholes would be a tricky question at best, dependent upon weather, if he had guessed right about the micron size of the nozzles dispensing the fuel, whether the computer models he had used were right, and if (and he was afraid it was a big “if”) his improvised ignition system would work.

He knew he’d have to have a day with little or no wind, and if the forecasters were right (were they ever?), this was it. It had better be. He’d waited two weeks for it. He had debated about doing this at night, under a full moon or a maybe a “smuggler’s moon.” Finally he chose dawn, first because knew he had to see the cloud as he dispensed it and second because he had another bright idea in which, if it were to work, the plane had to be visible from the ground.

To increase the confusion, he’d painted the aircraft solid black, as the Brightfire planes were, and put company logos on the tail and wings. He was flying on the deck, using every bit of ground clutter he could to confuse the military radars that were always working to protect the many defense assets on the east coast. He had pulled the radio. There was no point in talking to anybody, and he needed every bit of weight savings he could find. He wouldn’t fool them if challenged by a flight controller and he would be flying in off-limits airspace.

What would he say to them anyway, just before he struck? The old battle cry of the Irish Volunteers – “Up the Republic!”? He could only hope that if they scrambled fighters to shoot him down short of his target that the Brightfire colors would confuse them long enough for him to do the job.


“Sir, we have an unidentified aircraft flying at low altitude headed east near the Virginia-North Carolina line. It’s not on any authorized flight list and it doesn’t answer to repeated radio calls.”

The Air Force sergeant paused. The Colonel sat up a little straighter and looked at the NCO intently.

“Show me on the display,” he ordered.

The Colonel grunted softly and asked, “Do you have a guess on where it’s headed? Norfolk, maybe?”

The NCO shook his head. “No sir, allowing for it flying around hills, it seems to always return to a bee-line for Brightfire, Virginia.”

The NCO wasn’t sure but he thought the Colonel faintly smiled.

“Shall I scramble fighters to intercept, sir?”

“Brightfire, huh? Any chance its one of theirs?”

“It’s not on any of their flight plans, sir, and they know how picky we are about that.”

The Colonel snorted. Last month, a Brightfire attack helicopter chased what they claimed was a militia pickup truck onto the Fort Huachuca military reservation. When it failed to answer challenges from the base defense force on the ground demanding that it back off, the Army had put it in the dirt, killing four Brightfire employees. The pickup truck, if it had ever existed, got clean away. Brightfire had been a lot more respectful of the chain of command since then.

“How far out from Brightfire is it, Sergeant?”

“Sir, I’d guess about ten minutes.”

“And how long will it take for an F-16 to intercept?”

“Sir, about 10 to 12 minutes.”

“Well, Sergeant, it seems like a moot point then, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, sir,” the sergeant hesitated. “Shall I give Brightfire a call, sir?”

The Colonel hestitated. He and the sergeant had been together for a while, but could he trust him with the truth? The Colonel decided he could.

“No, sergeant, let’s just sit back and enjoy the show.”

With a broad grin, the sergeant said, “Yes, sir!” and went back to his screen.

The Colonel leaned back in his chair and prayed silently, “Lord, please let this be what I think it is.”


Bill Duryea was known for his ability to remain motionless longer than seemed humanly possible. His nickname among the members of his militia reconnaissance team was “Stone,” and not just for his ability to be deathly still for long periods of time. Even so, he’d had just about enough of this hide he’d shared with Willie Crawford for the past week. The place stank of body odor, and even the buried urine and feces could be detected by Bill’s sensitive nose. A patrol dog would have no trouble pointing them out if one of the random sweeps that came through this area got downwind of them. Still, the hide was just about perfect.

A natural hole in the earth formed when the root ball of a huge old pine pulled out of the ground as the tree fell during a hurricane years back, it had been relatively easy to improve it into a sleeping area in the back and a masked observation slit in front, worked craftily into the rotting tree remnants which not only shielded them from observation, but made a dandy bullet barrier too. If need be, they could plug up the slit with natural colored burlap sandbags they’d prepared, but of course they’d be trapped. There was no back exit to this place. Although one could perhaps be dug in time, now was NOT the time. The recon team was there to sneak and peak and their ability to do that was about spent.

They’d have to leave tonight in any case. Bill had just replaced the batteries in the surveillance camera and the AN-PVS-14 night vision devices with their last set. They couldn’t use the flexible solar panel to recharge here – it would be a dead giveaway. In addition to the battery shortage, they had only one more full disc to store images on.

But, oh what they had gathered so far! It was the mother lode of practical intel. With what they had, you could plan a raid that had a reasonable chance of success. Now all they had to do was wrap up today, wait for nightfall and exfil out.

The hide was on the military crest of a low ridge right outside the Brightfire compound’s main inner gate. It overlooked corporate headquarters, the computer data center and the reception/conference building. On the backside of the headquarters was the company airport with the main hangers about a quarter mile down the runway to the east. Just past the tree line on the other side of the runway, the first roofs of the training barracks were visible through the pines, perhaps a half mile off.

“Stone” Duryea smiled. Nothing like putting all your eggs in one small basket. Everything near and dear to Peter King, CEO of Brightfire, was right here within a half-mile. Oh, if we just had a suitcase nuke, thought Bill.

Of course the compound’s buildings were constructed in another age, back before the Second American Civil War (or Third, if you counted the Revolution). It was a monument to the ego of the man who wanted to be able to walk right off his corporate jet (or helicopter) and into the back door of his corporate offices. Who would have thought that a business, even a security business, might one day have to be militarily defended?

Well, Peter King was an ex-CIA spook, and he should have thought of it. Unfortunately the militia didn’t have an air force like Brightfire, so there probably was little Peter King had worry about from the air. And this was the inner sanctum of a 10,000 acre fortress, scattered with wire, sensors and even minefields, not mention dogs and beaucoup armed mercenaries. It had taken a half a year of unsuccessful probing of Brightfire’s defenses before the unit had worked out a chink in its armor, and even then it had taken all of Duryea’s considerable skills to get them this far undetected. This could only be done once, so it had to be done right. They had tip-toed along the razor’s edge to get here, and they would likely have to sprint along it back the way they came.

A diversion had been arranged with radio clicks by a prearranged code last night.

Perhaps it would be enough.


Something moved noiselessly beside him, and Duryea turned to look into the broad, black face of Willie Crawford. “Shift change,” Willie whispered and “Stone” Duryea nodded. He loved Willie like the brother he never had. You couldn’t do this kind of insane stuff and not. If you didn’t, one of them would kill the other, or do something to get them both killed. Bill Duryea swore there were times that the could read each other’s minds. A question formed in Willie’s eyes. Yeah, Duryea nodded silently, he heard it too.

A deep-throated buzzing, growing louder, behind them, coming in from the west. They both moved toward the slit.

“Up the Republic!”

Even before the AT802A cleared the tallest trees on the last major hill before Brightfire, he knew he was dead-on target from the navigational markers he had jotted on his clipboard. He knew he would see the buildings at the front gate, but he also knew he wanted a body count in retribution for Chillicothe. So instead of aiming for the corporate headquarters and surrounding buildings he made straight across the runway for the training barracks.

Huge long low buildings, row upon row, they were said to be able to hold 10,000 men while they trained away at being bloodthirsty killers of American citizens. But as he buzzed the headquarters and the airfield he threw one, then another, little box with a small parachute attached. They had no sooner left his hand when they began a warbling wail that every American soldier knew was the signature sound of a chemical-biological attack sensor. The few folks who were out and about froze, then ran to get inside.

As he gained altitude over the barracks, he tossed out more with the same result. He was low enough still to see mens’ mouths working soundlessly, “Gas! Gas!”

OK, now you’ve seen me, watch this, Cornyn thought. He had done a lot of gaming for this moment.

How fast? How high to start with the bottom layer? How many passes to get rid of 800 gallons? What droplet size? Would he live?

Don’t think! his mind screamed at him. Do!

The buildings were actually longer and wider than he had planned, so he made his initial run higher than he thought he might. Out came the fuel, brilliant purple in the dawn’s sunlight. He’d put inert dye in to enable him to spot the cloud. Of course, this made it more visible to the mercenaries on the ground, too.

And between the sight of the purple cloud, the cropduster and the gas alarms, they drew the immediate wrong conclusion: this was a chemical or biological attack. Their only hope was to get inside and tape up those barracks. No way would Brightfire have issued 10,000 MOPP suits to their trainees. So as much as the scurrying men below wanted more protection, they just knew that to run without a mask and suit was death.

And they did what Joe Cornyn wanted them to do.

They ran inside their thin-walled barracks.

One pass, then another. The propwash disturbed the cloud in some places, mended it in others. It was drifting lower, lower. Joe became aware he was singing another song his grandda had taught him, the battle hymn of the Irish Republican Army, and he was singing it in Gaelic:

Amhrán na bhFiann
Seo dhibh a cháirde duan Óglaigh,
Cathréimeach briomhar ceolmhar,
Ár dtinte cnamh go buacach táid,
‘S an spéir go min réaltogach
Is fonnmhar faobhrach sinn chun gleo
‘S go tiúnmhar glé roimh thíocht do’n ló
Fa ciúnas chaomh na hoiche ar seol:
Seo libh canaídh
Amhrán na bhFiann

We’ll sing a song, a soldier’s song,
With cheering rousing chorus,
As round our blazing fires we throng,
The starry heavens o’er us;
Impatient for the coming fight,
And as we wait the morning’s light,
Here in the silence of the night,
We’ll chant a soldier’s song.

And then the tank was empty. 800 gallons gone that fast!?!

Joe pulled back on the stick, turbine and prop screaming, clawing for altitude above the cloud.

Sinne Fiánna Fáil
Atá fé gheall ag Éirinn,
Buidhean dár sluagh tar túinn do ráinig chughainn,
Fámhóidh bheith saor.
Sean-tír ár sinnsir feasta
Ní fhágfar fé’n tiorán ná fé’n tráil
Anocht a theigeamh sa bhearna bhaoil,
Le gean ar Ghaeil chun báis nó saoil
Le guna sgréach fé lámhach na bpiléar
Seo libh canaídh Amhrán na bhFiann.

Soldiers are we whose lives are pledged to Ireland;
Some have come from a land beyond the wave.
Sworn to be free, No more our ancient sire land
Shall shelter the despot or the slave.
Tonight we man the gap of danger
In Erin’s cause,
come woe or weal
‘Mid cannons’ roar and rifles peal,
We’ll chant a soldier’s song.

Joe’s intention had been to get high enough above the cloud, fire the star cluster rockets he had attached to the wings, and keep on going, presenting his tail to the blast and hope he had enough altitude to trade if he stalled out.

He saw now that it would be impossible to do that and to make sure of the detonation. The purple drifted lower, faster.

No second chance.

No choice.

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph and all the saints be with me,” Joe breathed a prayer, and pulled the trigger on the star clusters.


When the gas alarms started going off, “Stone” Duryea leaped to the rear of the hide and broke out the M-40 gas masks for the both of them. They always carried them and two CS grenades apiece in case they needed to break contact with a pursuing foe who was unlikely to be carrying such protection themselves. For the same reason, they also carried two M49A1 trip flares each to use as hand grenades to throw behind as they didi’ed away at night, blinding any pursuers. They were careful men, which was why they were still alive.

But of the two scouts, Willie Crawford had the greater presence of mind this day. He pushed the surveillance camera to the front of the slit, set it on continuous wide-angle and only then did he put his mask on. Below them, no one was now visible outside the buildings. When they saw the purple cloud growing over the barracks, drifting down, they snugged their masks a little tighter.

Duryea spoke through the voicemitter on his mask, “We’re upwind, I think.”

Crawford just grunted. He hadn’t noticed any breeze.

But when “Stone” Duryea and Willie Crawford saw the star clusters fall toward the cloud, they instantly knew what was about to happen. No time to retrieve the camera at the front of the slit, they packed sandbags in behind it as fast as they could.

Willie shouted “Cover your ears and open your mouth.”

Duryea did, and then the world came apart.

Joseph Michael Collins Cornyn had wanted to survive this attack if he could.

He didn’t.

He also wanted a detonation and not a deflagration of the fuel air cloud.

In that, he got what he wanted. And in the getting, he paid the Black and Tans back for Chillicothe almost ten times over. He not only got all the barracks, smashing them flat to kindling with blood jam running out the splintered cracks, but he also wrecked the airfield, the corporate headquarters and the computer center and secondary explosions of fuel pumps and utilities finished the job.

In all 9, 248 mercenaries were killed outright. And every one was a combatant, there was no “collateral damage” of innocent civilians.

732 were wounded, but many of them died subsequently. It is difficult for the doctors to put you back together once you have been turned inside out by concussion. It was the greatest single blow struck by the resistance against the forces of the administration, and it made government recruiting dwindle to almost nothing. The war would now be decided by the forces in the field, unless the military decided to jump in on the government’s side or, it increasingly seemed possible, perhaps on the side of the resistance.

Indeed, the blow to the government’s morale was so great, that they might have tried to hide the butcher’s bill if it hadn’t been for Willie Crawford’s camera. Of course the camera didn’t survive the blast, but the disc did. And so did Willie and “Stone” Duryea, who had no trouble exfiltrating out of the Brightfire compound’s shredded defenses with the greatest piece of combat footage of the entire Restoration War. And it was a good thing that they could read each other’s mind, because after that they were both very hard of hearing.

The government never did figure out who had carried out the FAE strike on Brightfire. Joe Cornyn and his plane were blown into so many pieces over such a large area of Virginia peat bog that reconstructing the forensic evidence was impossible.

Charlie Carter was released at the end of 90 days from the detention block in Richmond and came home to an empty airplane hangar and a cryptic goodbye note from Joe Cornyn.

It ended with his signature and below it, a P.S:

“Up the Republic!”

>Vanderboegh: Mercenaries

Go to Chris Horton’s place and read Mike’s latest essay.

It’s important.

Tempus fugit.

>A Dissenting View on Heller

From comments cited by Billy Beck:

Martin: “Allow me a least one day of optimism, however!

Not one second, sir.

The more I think about this, the more I’m convinced that there is nothing good in it. What I see here is the Supreme Court acting as a focus-group for legislators and administrators: the Court is telling them how to tweak the program.


I started to slog through the majority opinion today, and will be working on my take hopefully for Independence Day publication.

What I have seen so far, when properly used by the OpFor, is Supreme Court authority for a complete abolition of “…weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns…” (Heller at p. 52).

More skepticism here.

So what can an average law-abiding RKBA activist do now?

Buy more AKs, ARs, FALs, Garands, and any other semi-automatic battle rifle or carbine, along with many mags and much ammo. Ditto with precision long-range rifles and associated equipment (e.g., riflescopes, bipods, and spotting scopes, along with reloading equipment and lots of components).

Keep doing so, as often as you can.

Then practice with that equipment regularly, under practical conditions, as discussed here and here.

Help others to learn those skills, whether by teaching yourself or hiring folks to do so.

For “lawful purposes”, of course, such as home/farm/ranch defense, citizen-based homeland security, target competition, and personal protection.

Of course, such firearms are already “in common use at the time” (p. 55), aren’t they?

Tempus fugit.

>On the Impossibility of Limited Government and the Prospects for a Second American Revolution

>More weekend reading, after you come back from both the gym and the range, from the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

An excerpt:

…How does secession fit into a bottom-up strategy of social revolution? More important, how can a secessionist movement escape the Southern Confederacy’s fate of being crushed by a tyrannical and dangerously armed central government?

In response to these questions, it is first necessary to remember that neither the original American Revolution nor the American Constitution was the result of the will of the majority of the population. A third of the American colonists were actually Tories, and another third were occupied with daily routines and did not care either way. No more than a third of the colonists were actually committed to and supportive of the revolution, yet they carried the day. And as far as the Constitution is concerned, the overwhelming majority of the American public was opposed to its adoption, and its ratification represented more of a coup d’état by a tiny minority than the general will. All revolutions, whether good or bad, are started by minorities; and the secessionist route toward social revolution, which necessarily involves the breaking-away of a smaller number of people from a larger one, takes explicit cognizance of this important fact.

Second, it is necessary to recognize that the ultimate power of every government — whether of kings or caretakers — rests solely on opinion and not on physical force. The agents of government are never more than a small proportion of the total population under their control. This implies that no government can possibly enforce its will upon the entire population unless it finds widespread support and voluntary cooperation within the nongovernmental public. It implies likewise that every government can be brought down by a mere change in public opinion, i.e., by the withdrawal of the public’s consent and cooperation…

Read the whole thing.

Tempus fugit.

>The Warrior Way as Survival Strategy

I assume that everyone who reads this blog also makes a daily stop at This long but valuable article is a good example why such a stop is wise:

…Preparedness, survival, or any other euphemism one can assign to our interest is as much mindset as gear, land or other physical manifestation of prudence. It is in itself a way of life that incorporates simple daily teachings, practice, and when training, the incorporation of real-life situational aspects that can better model an actual emergency scenario or a situation of social unrest. Any competent defense professional will say that greatest advantage in warfare is information, followed by logistics, then combat power. It’s no use having the greatest army in the world if you don’t know where the enemy is nor if you can’t you feed your troops. As Napoleon so famously postulated, an army marches on its stomach.

So with those adages in mind, how does one prioritize daily living to more readily understand these concepts? We all have things we do on a daily basis, so the question of incorporation becomes one of time management, especially given the marvelous source of information now available in today’s 24 hour “always on” culture. For instance, instead of perusing the morning newspaper or watching the morning breakfast, find several reputable financial news sources such as the online versions of the The Wall Street Journal or Barron’s. Start educating yourself on how markets move, how seemingly insignificant moves in commodities or futures, such as pork or wheat can have a direct impact on your daily life. This also gives you markers to start creating your own scenario planning data for acquisition planning, and in the worst case, a timeline for moving to your retreat. American’s are notorious for living in a bubble, in what is now a deeply materialistic culture, and missing the obvious signs of downturns both in the US and abroad. This new discipline has an upside as well, in that by becoming a more financially-aware individual, you can make more informed decisions on how to manage cash flow or even become a day-trader, freeing up capital for other, more serious purposes. Understanding the world around you, looking at information as intelligence rather than simple factoids and being aware of the bits and pieces that can provide a different and in many instances, a more accurate picture of what is really going on, is a skill that will pay one back in spades. Think outside the box!

Next, personal fitness is a must. In any crisis situation, adrenalin levels, stress, even physical injury can manifest themselves in a variety of ways that can cripple or terminate the best laid plans. It is therefore mandatory that anyone considering a preparedness strategy baseline their family health. The advantages of this are twofold: first, it gives one an idea of how much exercise they will need to incorporate into daily life to bring them to a level of basic fitness of a recruit in the US Army, ideally the Marines, which is not as hard as it may appear. Second, this will aid in identifying a medicine acquisition plan for family members so you are not caught short in a crisis situation…

Read the whole thing, and then get moving.

Time for contemplation is well past.

Take one action, every day, and see where you are in a month.

Enjoy your weekend.

Tempus fugit.

>Next Stop: Chicago

>From Tam comes this encouraging news:

…Following Thursday’s (5-4) ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects an individual civil right to keep and bear arms, and that a municipal gun ban violates that right, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) filed a federal lawsuit (complaint) challenging the City of Chicago’s long-standing handgun ban.

“Chicago’s handgun ban has failed to stop violent crime,” SAF founder Alan Gottlieb stated. “It’s time to give the Constitution a chance.”

In addition to SAF and ISRA, plaintiffs include Chicago residents Otis McDonald, a retiree who has been working with police to rid his neighborhood of drug dealers, and who wants to have a handgun at his home; Adam Orlov, a former Evanston police officer; software engineer David Lawson and his wife, Colleen, a hypnotherapist, whose home has been targeted by burglars. Attorney Alan Gura, who argued the District of Columbia challenge before the high court, and Chicago area attorney David G. Sigale, represent the plaintiffs.

“Our goal,” Gura said “is to require state and local officials to respect our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Chicago’s handgun ban, and some of its gun registration requirements, are clearly unconstitutional.”

Hammer time, Mayor Daley?

And to the statist thugs in the Heller dissents, as well as the toadies who wrote this editorial at the Chicago Tribune:

Sic semper tyrannis.

>Follow-Up: Decision Time for Bob Barr

>Having received no response from the Barr campaign to the policy information request described here, I’ve got a suggestion for a new campaign poster aimed at the RKBA activist.

David apparently has received no response either.

But there has been time for the candidate and campaign to string together these pretty words re Heller.

Very impressive – now what about your role in the Lautenberg amendment?

Make your own poster here, if you wish.


To quote KdT, I’m off to the range.

Tempus fugit.


decision here.



And here.

Our thoughts later.

We have some time.

>Countdown to Heller: With Bated Breath…

>With a little more than twelve hours to go, here’s the cover page by Drudge Report editor Matt Drudge as of 8:37 pm edt the evening before Heller.

Too cool.

I believe Captain John Parker had an appropriate word or two as well, as did Colonel (later General) John Stark:

Live free or die. Death is not the worst of evils.



Remember always what it took to make us Americans – and how that lesson applies even today.

Semper fidelis.

UPDATE 2107 EDT 25 July: Mike Vanderboegh just sent this piece, which speaks for itself:

‘Twas the night before Heller
and all through the dwelling
The sweet odor of Hoppes
Was there for the smelling.

The patches were scrubbing
the bores with light oil.
And all was in readiness,
thanks to the toil.

The bolts were tested
with a “clack-clack-clack,”
In case Justice Kennedy
veered off the track.

Paratus et viglio.

>Volk on Freedom

>Oleg illustrates one of the many differences between those who have learned human history and those who pretend to have not.

Tempus fugit.

>Vanderboegh: Closed Hand – An Open Letter to the ATF’s Jim Cavanaugh

>25 June 2008

Special Agent in Charge James Cavanaugh
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Nashville Field Division
5300 Maryland Way, Suite 200
Brentwood, Tennessee 37027
via email:

Dear Jim,

I know you get heartily sick of everybody busting your chops on 28 February and 19 April each year. Being a raid planner for that bloody fiasco in 1993 must be something you would rather forget. But here we are again, on the ragged end of another Bush administration, getting ready for another anti-gun Democrat to move into the White House. If you’ve been keeping track of my Internet scribbling (and if you don’t one of your subordinates surely does), you know I’m often sounding the warning about “Waco Rules.” You know, about how you gun cops can do anything we armed citizens can’t or won’t stop you from doing. Y’all never did get punished for your crimes in the ’90s — not the abortive, murderous Waco raid where you had to back up, humiliated, out of ammo, with your hands in the air; not your perjury in front of Congress about gunfire from helicopters; not your cowboy disregard for the 4th Amendment rights of citizens here in Alabama — yes, you escaped serious scrutiny every time.

And you might be thinking just about now, like Prefect of Police Louis Reynault in “Casablanca,” whether the incoming administration might not appreciate another demonstration of your “efficiency.”

Along those lines, let me draw your attention to another pertinent anniversary which happens to fall today. It was a previous attempt by the United States government at “gun control.” The Cheyenne and Lakota people call it, “The Battle of the Greasy Grass.” It is more popularly know as the Battle of the Little Big Horn and was fought on 25 and 26 June, 1876:

As you probably remember, General Custer and 270-odd of his men did not survive the experience. Indeed, his raid plan was just about as botched as yours was on 28 February 1993.

Unfortunately for him and his men, he was dealing with native American warriors, the finest light cavalry in the world – not bizarre Christian sect members whose first reaction when you assaulted them was to call 9-1-1. The result was a few hundred markers like this which still dot the eastern Montana prairie:

Marker stone on the battlefield

“U.S. Soldier, 7th Cavalry, Fell Here, June 25, 1876.”

Recently, other markers such as this one have been placed nearby:

Marker stone on the battlefield

“Closed Hand, a Cheyenne warrior, fell here on June 25, 1876, while defending the Cheyenne way of life.”

You should understand that many of us gun owners today feel the same way as the Cheyenne and Lakota did about the predatory federal government in 1876 — especially after the Olofson case proved to all of us who were paying attention that Waco Rules still govern the ATF. You can and will do anything we can’t or won’t stop you from doing. The rule of law — the faint hope for the justice of a fair trial — is no longer likely for the gun owners your agency selects as targets.

Olofson proves that.

History is never predictive, but it is always instructive. So I offer this memory of a previous attempt at “gun control” as a cautionary tale. Remember, if you will, the Cheyenne warrior Closed Hand, whose mortal remains lie on one of the hills above the Greasy Grass, surrounded by many more anonymous markers which read simply, “U.S. Soldier.”

It would be a mistake to think that we, the armed citizenry of the United States in the 21st Century, would defend our way of life any less vigorously than the Lakota and Cheyenne of the 19th Century. On a practical note, I might also point out that there are many more of us and we are far better armed and equipped than the best Cheyenne brave.

I mention this just in case somebody in your department feels as froggy as you did on 27 February 1993. We have absorbed the lessons of history, including recent history, and I don’t think you’ll get a second chance at backing away with your hands in the air.

After all, Christian mercy didn’t do the Davidians a lick of good in the end, did it?

And if the justice system works like it did for poor Olofson, then it really is Waco Rules, right?

The Law of Unintended Consequences sure does bite.

Be safe.

And remember Little Big Horn.

One of future King Barack the First’s unruly subjects,

Mike Vanderboegh
PO Box 926
Pinson, AL 35126

>On the Evening Before Heller

>It appears that the Heller decision will be announced tomorrow – Thursday, June 26th.

This essay by TheGeekWithA.45 sets the stage nicely. An excerpt:

Tonight, in the slanting light of a pleasant evening much like any other, I paused, as day segued into night.

Soon, perhaps as early as tomorrow, the Supreme Court will render a judgment on the meaning of twenty seven words. This judgment will either be fundamentally consistent, or fundamentally inconsistent with the belief that as Americans, we specifically retain unto ourselves the right to own, possess, and have with us, available for instant use, formidable arms; that this right is ensconced in our highest law; and that this ensconcement actively protects that right, today, with as much force and vigor as any and all other enumerated rights.

The sun has set, unmarked in the minds of far too many.

Tomorrow, it will rise, and we may learn something of the state of our beloved Republic. The ruling could blatantly stand against us, pronouncing a non right. The ruling could also embrace any of a number of possible perversities, pronouncing an impostor who wears the clothing of a right, but whose exercise in some way comes to a nullity, either by cunningly disguising a highly conditioned privilege, or by some other swindle.

The odds of a perverse ruling are slim, but not zero. History tells us that the Supreme Court has pulled some doozies in the past.

If the outcome is perverse, then the sun has truly set on anything recognizable as our free Republic of free humans.

{With thanks and apologies to Lincoln & Jefferson:}

Eleven score and twelve years ago, our founding fathers risked it all and won big, bringing forth something truly new and just and good under God’s sky: a nation conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the astounding proposition that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

We have been fighting to keep this, ever clawing our way to “a more perfect union” ever since, and we have come close to losing it on more occasions than any of us are comfortable admitting.

Upon emerging from Independence Hall after the Constitutional convention, it is said that Ben Franklin answered a passer by’s question as to what sort of government they had made, and his simple, terse response, “A Republic, if you can keep it”. This statement has built into it the implicit question as to whether such a Republic can be kept, a question reiterated in Lincoln’s day, and echoed in our own.

It may well be that but for the stubborn refusal of some number of Americans throughout history, the answer would be “No”…
Read the whole thing, please.

Highly recommended also is David Hardy’s note re different perspectives on Constitutional analysis.

Interesting times, indeed…

Tempus fugit.

>Decision Time for Bob Barr

>As the rumors of his candidacy first surfaced, I sent an email to the exploratory committee asking for the same kind of unequivocal support for the Second Amendment expressed here by Ron Paul:

…More importantly, however, the debate about certain types of weapons ignores the fundamental purpose of the Second amendment. The Second amendment is not about hunting deer or keeping a pistol in your nightstand. It is not about protecting oneself against common criminals. It is about preventing tyranny. The Founders knew that unarmed citizens would never be able to overthrow a tyrannical government as they did. They envisioned government as a servant, not a master, of the American people. The muskets they used against the British Army were the assault rifles of the time. It is practical, rather than alarmist, to understand that unarmed citizens cannot be secure in their freedoms. It’s convenient for gun banners to dismiss this argument by saying “That could never happen here, this is America”- but history shows that only vigilant people can keep government under control. By banning certain weapons today, we may plant the seeds for tyranny to flourish ten, thirty, or fifty years from now…

In response, I received nothing – not even the courtesy of a “we’ll get back to you”.

After the campaign officially launched, I sent a $100 donation, and noted again the importance of an unequivocal (some would say “absolutist”) statement re the Second.

They gladly took the money, but the requested statement?

No response – neither to me directly, nor, much more importantly, on the campaign website.

Then David Codrea posted this challenge to the Barr campaign:

An Open Challenge to Libertarian Presidential Candidate Bob Barr

Mr. Barr,

As WarOnGuns visitors were recently reminded, based on reporting by Gun Owners of America:

On September 28, 1996, you issued a memo on Congressional letterhead advocating:

The Lautenberg amendment with the Barr language is strong protection for women and children.

On October 12, 1996, you sent a letter to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, claiming you “improved” the Lautenberg language so it could not be struck down by the courts, stating:

Under the Lautenberg language — which was cleared up through my amendatory language that was adopted — there was no consistent definition of “crime of domestic violence,” and therefore the entire provision would have been declared unconstitutional. My language corrected this deficiency by setting forth the common elements of the crime that would apply to everyone.

On Mar. 6, 1997, your editorial, “Don’t Wink at Violence,” was published in USA Today. In it, you wrote:

[Lautenberg] is important and worthwhile legislation, and we cannot allow its effectiveness to be reduced.

Despite the fact you then voted for Lautenberg as part of an omnibus spending bill, there are those who would like to hear your reasoning. I’m among those.

But I think you need to go one step further. With the exception of your USA Today piece, which can be purchased individually (but not disseminated in total without violating copyright), the other referenced documents aren’t accessible to scrutiny.

This issue will not go away, Mr. Barr–you will either address it directly, and explain yourself–or ignore it.

I challenge you to release and post the full text of your memo, your AJC letter, and your USA Today opinion piece, and let gun owners read your words for themselves. And I challenge the Libertarian Party to demand it of you as well.

Response from the Barr campaign?

Nothing – despite several gentle reminders from David.

Today, after stewing for several days, I jumped on board with this note to the campaign:


Received your email below today re the YouTube efforts.

As head of Congressman Barr’s eCampaign, you must realize the importance of building and sustaining momentum on the ‘Net if the candidate is to stand a chance.

That is why the Congressman’s failure to answer the questions posed by David Codrea here is so inexplicable.

David’s blog is widely read and extremely influential with one of the key demographics in your campaign.

The failure to address David’s questions might possibly be explained by lack of notice, but there are a LOT of people drawing other, derogatory conclusions from the silence.

I am one of those people, as not only have David’s questions gone unanswered, but so too my prior emails to the campaign requesting an unequivocal statement of direct support for the Second Amendment from Congressman Barr.

My initial $100 donation to the campaign was an ante, as has been my support for the Congressman on our blog:

Plug 1

Plug 2

Plug 3

I am an attorney located in Atlanta, and am ready, willing, and able to support Congressman Barr to the full extent of Federal election law. However, you and the campaign should know that I will not be making further contributions, in kind or in cash, until this matter is addressed satisfactorily.

Please fix this omission quickly. I look forward to your reply by close of business, Atlanta time, June 25, 2008.

We’ll see what, if any, response comes from the Barr camp.

But if the sanctity of private weapons as a bulwark against government tyranny were a strongly-held belief, that principle would already be featured on the Barr campaign website.

I wonder if the citizens of Pompeii and Herculaneum felt this way in the days before their little encounter with history?

Tempus fugit.

>Weather Forecast: Grim


Courtesy of Codrea’s War on Guns comes this excellent piece forecasting the Storm ahead – excerpt follows:

As never before since World War II, America faces one of her darkest hours as the storm clouds gather from a myriad of sources intent on destroying the notion of a free, constitutional Republic.

The problem is that this time around, the threat is much worse.

During WW II the threat was from the outside as totalitarian forces pressed against us from both the East and the West. Europe and Japan were a formidable foe, but Americans stood fast upon the principles of liberty.

Today, however, the threat is two-fold. The threat is both from the outside and the inside…

Read the whole thing, and then continue your preps.

Yes, David, there is a storm coming in.

Tempus fugit.

>And So It Begins

>Courtesy of the Congressional bill tracking service Thomas and our friend KTO, the complete text of HR 6257, known as the “Assault Weapons Ban Reauthorization Act of 2008”, as introduced on June 12, 2008:

Assault Weapons Ban Reauthorization Act of 2008 (Introduced in House)


(a) RESTRICTION- Section 922 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding after subsection (u) the following:

`(v)(1) It shall be unlawful for a person to manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon.

`(2) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to the possession or transfer of any semiautomatic assault weapon otherwise lawfully possessed under Federal law on the date of the enactment of this subsection.

`(3) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to–

`(A) any of the firearms, or replicas or duplicates of the firearms, specified in appendix A to this section, as such firearms were manufactured on October 1, 1993;

`(B) any firearm that–

`(i) is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action;

`(ii) has been rendered permanently inoperable; or

`(iii) is an antique firearm;

`(C) any semiautomatic rifle that cannot accept a detachable magazine that holds more than 5 rounds of ammunition; or

`(D) any semiautomatic shotgun that cannot hold more than 5 rounds of ammunition in a fixed or detachable magazine.

The fact that a firearm is not listed in appendix A shall not be construed to mean that paragraph (1) applies to such firearm. No firearm exempted by this subsection may be deleted from appendix A so long as this subsection is in effect.

`(4) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to–

`(A) the manufacture for, transfer to, or possession by the United States or a department or agency of the United States (including the United States Armed Forces and, under regulations pursuant to title 50, United States Code, the National Guard and Reserve), or a State or a department, agency, or political subdivision of a State, or a transfer to or possession by a law enforcement officer employed by such an entity for purposes of law enforcement (whether on or off duty);

`(B) the transfer to a licensee under title I of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 for purposes of establishing and maintaining an on-site physical protection system and security organization required by Federal law, or possession by an employee or contractor of such licensee on-site for such purposes or off-site for purposes of licensee-authorized training or transportation of nuclear materials;

`(C) the possession, by an individual who is retired from service with a law enforcement agency and is not otherwise prohibited from receiving a firearm, of a semiautomatic assault weapon transferred to the individual by the agency upon such retirement; or

`(D) the manufacture, transfer, or possession of a semiautomatic assault weapon by a licensed manufacturer or licensed importer for the purposes of testing or experimentation authorized by the Secretary.’.

(b) DEFINITION OF SEMIAUTOMATIC ASSAULT WEAPON- Section 921(a) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding after paragraph (29) the following:

`(30) The term `semiautomatic assault weapon’ means–

`(A) any of the firearms, or copies or duplicates of the firearms in any caliber, known as–

`(i) Norinco, Mitchell, and Poly Technologies Avtomat Kalashnikovs (all models);

`(ii) Action Arms Israeli Military Industries UZI and Galil;

`(iii) Beretta Ar70 (SC-70);

`(iv) Colt AR-15;

`(v) Fabrique National FN/FAL, FN/LAR, and FNC;

`(vi) SWD M-10, M-11, M-11/9, and M-12;

`(vii) Steyr AUG;

`(viii) INTRATEC TEC-9, TEC-DC9 and TEC-22; and

`(ix) revolving cylinder shotguns, such as (or similar to) the Street Sweeper and Striker 12;

`(B) a semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of–

`(i) a folding or telescoping stock;

`(ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;

`(iii) a bayonet mount;

`(iv) a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor; and

`(v) a grenade launcher;

`(C) a semiautomatic pistol that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of–

`(i) an ammunition magazine that attaches to the pistol outside of the pistol grip;

`(ii) a threaded barrel capable of accepting a barrel extender, flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer;

`(iii) a shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel and that permits the shooter to hold the firearm with the nontrigger hand without being burned;

`(iv) a manufactured weight of 50 ounces or more when the pistol is unloaded; and

`(v) a semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm; and

`(D) a semiautomatic shotgun that has at least 2 of–

`(i) a folding or telescoping stock;

`(ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;

`(iii) a fixed magazine capacity in excess of 5 rounds; and

`(iv) an ability to accept a detachable magazine.’.


(1) VIOLATION OF SECTION 922(v)- Section 924(a)(1)(B) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking `or (q) of section 922′ and inserting `(r), or (v) of section 922′.

(2) USE OR POSSESSION DURING CRIME OF VIOLENCE OR DRUG TRAFFICKING CRIME- Section 924(c)(1)(B)(i) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting `or semiautomatic assault weapon,’ after `short-barreled shotgun,’.

(d) IDENTIFICATION MARKINGS FOR SEMIAUTOMATIC ASSAULT WEAPONS- Section 923(i) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following: `The serial number of any semiautomatic assault weapon manufactured after the date of the enactment of this sentence shall clearly show the date on which the weapon was manufactured.’.


(a) PROHIBITION- Section 922 of title 18, United States Code, as amended by section 2(a), is amended by adding after subsection (v) the following:

`(w)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), it shall be unlawful for a person to transfer or possess a large capacity ammunition feeding device.

`(2) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to the possession or transfer of any large capacity ammunition feeding device otherwise lawfully possessed on or before the date of the enactment of this subsection.

`(3) This subsection shall not apply to–

`(A) the manufacture for, transfer to, or possession by the United States or a department or agency of the United States (including the United States Armed Forces and, under regulations pursuant to title 50, United States Code, the National Guard and Reserve), or a State or a department, agency, or political subdivision of a State, or a transfer to or possession by a law enforcement officer employed by such an entity for purposes of law enforcement (whether on or off duty);

`(B) the transfer to a licensee under title I of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 for purposes of establishing and maintaining an on-site physical protection system and security organization required by Federal law, or possession by an employee or contractor of such licensee on-site for such purposes or off-site for purposes of licensee-authorized training or transportation of nuclear materials;

`(C) the possession, by an individual who is retired from service with a law enforcement agency and is not otherwise prohibited from receiving ammunition, of a large capacity ammunition feeding device transferred to the individual by the agency upon such retirement; or

`(D) the manufacture, transfer, or possession of any large capacity ammunition feeding device by a licensed manufacturer or licensed importer for the purposes of testing or experimentation authorized by the Secretary.’.

`(4) If a person charged with violating paragraph (1) asserts that paragraph (1) does not apply to such person because of paragraph (2) or (3), the Government shall have the burden of proof to show that such paragraph (1) applies to such person. The lack of a serial number as described in section 923(i) of title 18, United States Code, shall be a presumption that the large capacity ammunition feeding device is not subject to the prohibition of possession in paragraph (1).’.

(b) DEFINITION OF LARGE CAPACITY AMMUNITION FEEDING DEVICE- Section 921(a) of title 18, United States Code, as amended by section 2(b), is amended by adding after paragraph (30) the following:

`(31) The term `large capacity ammunition feeding device’–

`(A) means a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device manufactured after the date of enactment of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition; but

`(B) does not include an attached tubular device designed to accept, and capable of operating only with, .22 caliber rimfire ammunition.’.

(c) PENALTY- Section 924(a)(1)(B) of title 18, United States Code, as amended by section 2(c), is amended by striking `or (v)’ and inserting `(v), or (w)’.

(d) IDENTIFICATION MARKINGS FOR LARGE CAPACITY AMMUNITION FEEDING DEVICES- Section 923(i) of title 18, United States Code, as amended by section 2(d), is amended by adding at the end the following: `A large capacity ammunition feeding device manufactured after the date of the enactment of this sentence shall be identified by a serial number that clearly shows that the device was manufactured or imported after the effective date of this subsection, and such other identification as the Attorney General may by regulation prescribe.’.


(a) STUDY- The Attorney General shall investigate and study the effect of this Act and the amendments made by this Act, and in particular shall determine their impact, if any, on violent and drug trafficking crime. The study shall be conducted over a period of 18 months, commencing 12 months after the date of enactment of this Act.

(b) REPORT- Not later than 30 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Attorney General shall prepare and submit to the Congress a report setting forth in detail the findings and determinations made in the study under subsection (a).


This Act and the amendments made by this Act–

(1) shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act; and

(2) are repealed effective as of the date that is 10 years after that date.


Section 922 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following appendix:


`Centerfire Rifles–Autoloaders

`Browning BAR Mark II Safari Semi-Auto Rifle

`Browning BAR Mark II Safari Magnum Rifle

`Browning High-Power Rifle

`Heckler & Koch Model 300 Rifle

`Iver Johnson M-1 Carbine

`Iver Johnson 50th Anniversary M-1 Carbine

`Marlin Model 9 Camp Carbine

`Marlin Model 45 Carbine

`Remington Nylon 66 Auto-Loading Rifle

`Remington Model 7400 Auto Rifle

`Remington Model 7400 Rifle

`Remington Model 7400 Special Purpose Auto Rifle

`Ruger Mini-14 Autoloading Rifle (w/o folding stock)

`Ruger Mini Thirty Rifle

`Centerfire Rifles–Lever & Slide

`Browning Model 81 BLR Lever-Action Rifle

`Browning Model 81 Long Action BLR

`Browning Model 1886 Lever-Action Carbine

`Browning Model 1886 High Grade Carbine

`Cimarron 1860 Henry Replica

`Cimarron 1866 Winchester Replica

`Cimarron 1873 Short Rifle

`Cimarron 1873 Sporting Rifle

`Cimarron 1873 30″ Express Rifle

`Dixie Engraved 1873 Rifle

`E.M.F. 1866 Yellowboy Lever Actions

`E.M.F. 1860 Henry Rifle

`E.M.F. Model 73 Lever-Action Rifle

`Marlin Model 336CS Lever-Action Carbine

`Marlin Model 30AS Lever-Action Carbine

`Marlin Model 444SS Lever-Action Sporter

`Marlin Model 1894S Lever-Action Carbine

`Marlin Model 1894CS Carbine

`Marlin Model 1894CL Classic

`Marlin Model 1895SS Lever-Action Rifle

`Mitchell 1858 Henry Replica

`Mitchell 1866 Winchester Replica

`Mitchell 1873 Winchester Replica

`Navy Arms Military Henry Rifle

`Navy Arms Henry Trapper

`Navy Arms Iron Frame Henry

`Navy Arms Henry Carbine

`Navy Arms 1866 Yellowboy Rifle

`Navy Arms 1873 Winchester-Style Rifle

`Navy Arms 1873 Sporting Rifle

`Remington 7600 Slide Action

`Remington Model 7600 Special Purpose Slide Action

`Rossi M92 SRC Saddle-Ring Carbine

`Rossi M92 SRS Short Carbine

`Savage 99C Lever-Action Rifle

`Uberti Henry Rifle

`Uberti 1866 Sporting Rifle

`Uberti 1873 Sporting Rifle

`Winchester Model 94 Side Eject Lever-Action Rifle

`Winchester Model 94 Trapper Side Eject

`Winchester Model 94 Big Bore Side Eject

`Winchester Model 94 Ranger Side Eject Lever-Action Rifle

`Winchester Model 94 Wrangler Side Eject

`Centerfire Rifles–Bolt Action

`Alpine Bolt-Action Rifle

`A-Square Caesar Bolt-Action Rifle

`A-Square Hannibal Bolt-Action Rifle

`Anschutz 1700D Classic Rifle

`Anschutz 1700D Custom Rifle

`Anschutz 1700D Bavarian Bolt-Action Rifle

`Anschutz 1733D Mannlicher Rifle

`Barret Model 90 Bolt-Action Rifle

`Beeman/HW 60J Bolt-Action Rifle

`Blaser R84 Bolt-Action Rifle

`BRNO 537 Sporter Bolt-Action Rifle

`BRNO ZKB 527 Fox Bolt-Action Rifle

`BRNO ZKK 600, 601, and 602 Bolt-Action Rifles

`Browning A-Bolt Rifle

`Browning A-Bolt Stainless Stalker

`Browning A-Bolt Left Hand

`Browning A-Bolt Short Action

`Browning Euro-Bolt Rifle

`Browning A-Bolt Gold Medallion

`Browning A-Bolt Micro Medallion

`Century Centurion 14 Sporter

`Century Enfield Sporter #4

`Century Swedish Sporter #38

`Century Mauser 98 Sporter

`Cooper Model 38 Centerfire Sporter

`Dakota 22 Sporter Bolt-Action Rifle

`Dakota 76 Classic Bolt-Action Rifle

`Dakota 76 Short Action Rifle

`Dakota 76 Safari Bolt-Action Rifle

`Dakota 416 Rigby African

`E.A.A./Sabatti Rover 870 Bolt-Action Rifle

`Auguste Francotte Bolt-Action Rifle

`Carl Gustaf 2000 Bolt-Action Rifle

`Heym Magnum Express Series Rifle

`Howa Lightning Bolt-Action Rifle

`Howa Realtree Camo Rifle

`Interarms Mark X Viscount Bolt-Action Rifle

`Interarms Mini-Mark X Rifle

`Interarms Mark X Whitworth Bolt-Action Rifle

`Interarms Whitworth Express Rifle

`Iver Johnson Model 5100A1 Long-Range Rifle

`KDF K15 American Bolt-Action Rifle

`Krico Model 600 Bolt-Action Rifle

`Krico Model 700 Bolt-Action Rifle

`Mauser Model 66 Bolt-Action Rifle

`Mauser Model 99 Bolt-Action Rifle

`McMillan Signature Classic Sporter

`McMillan Signature Super Varminter

`McMillan Signature Alaskan

`McMillan Signature Titanium Mountain Rifle

`McMillan Classic Stainless Sporter

`McMillan Talon Safari Rifle

`McMillan Talon Sporter Rifle

`Midland 1500S Survivor Rifle

`Navy Arms TU-33/40 Carbine

`Parker-Hale Model 81 Classic Rifle

`Parker-Hale Model 81 Classic African Rifle

`Parker-Hale Model 1000 Rifle

`Parker-Hale Model 1100M African Magnum

`Parker-Hale Model 1100 Lightweight Rifle

`Parker-Hale Model 1200 Super Rifle

`Parker-Hale Model 1200 Super Clip Rifle

`Parker-Hale Model 1300C Scout Rifle

`Parker-Hale Model 2100 Midland Rifle

`Parker-Hale Model 2700 Lightweight Rifle

`Parker-Hale Model 2800 Midland Rifle

`Remington Model Seven Bolt-Action Rifle

`Remington Model Seven Youth Rifle

`Remington Model Seven Custom KS

`Remington Model Seven Custom MS Rifle

`Remington 700 ADL Bolt-Action Rifle

`Remington 700 BDL Bolt-Action Rifle

`Remington 700 BDL Varmint Special

`Remington 700 BDL European Bolt-Action Rifle

`Remington 700 Varmint Synthetic Rifle

`Remington 700 BDL SS Rifle

`Remington 700 Stainless Synthetic Rifle

`Remington 700 MTRSS Rifle

`Remington 700 BDL Left Hand

`Remington 700 Camo Synthetic Rifle

`Remington 700 Safari

`Remington 700 Mountain Rifle

`Remington 700 Custom KS Mountain Rifle

`Remington 700 Classic Rifle

`Ruger M77 Mark II Rifle

`Ruger M77 Mark II Magnum Rifle

`Ruger M77RL Ultra Light

`Ruger M77 Mark II All-Weather Stainless Rifle

`Ruger M77 RSI International Carbine

`Ruger M77 Mark II Express Rifle

`Ruger M77VT Target Rifle

`Sako Hunter Rifle

`Sako FiberClass Sporter

`Sako Safari Grade Bolt Action

`Sako Hunter Left-Hand Rifle

`Sako Classic Bolt Action

`Sako Hunter LS Rifle

`Sako Deluxe Lightweight

`Sako Super Deluxe Sporter

`Sako Mannlicher-Style Carbine

`Sako Varmint Heavy Barrel

`Sako TRG-S Bolt-Action Rifle

`Sauer 90 Bolt-Action Rifle

`Savage 110G Bolt-Action Rifle

`Savage 110CY Youth/Ladies Rifle

`Savage 110WLE One of One Thousand Limited Edition Rifle

`Savage 110GXP3 Bolt-Action Rifle

`Savage 110F Bolt-Action Rifle

`Savage 110FXP3 Bolt-Action Rifle

`Savage 110GV Varmint Rifle

`Savage 112FV Varmint Rifle

`Savage Model 112FVS Varmint Rifle

`Savage Model 112BV Heavy Barrel Varmint Rifle

`Savage 116FSS Bolt-Action Rifle

`Savage Model 116FSK Kodiak Rifle

`Savage 110FP Police Rifle

`Steyr-Mannlicher Sporter Models SL, L, M, S, and S/T

`Steyr-Mannlicher Luxus Models L, M, and S

`Steyr-Mannlicher Model M Professional Rifle

`Tikka Bolt-Action Rifle

`Tikka Premium Grade Rifle

`Tikka Varmint/Continental Rifle

`Tikka Whitetail/Battue Rifle

`Ultra Light Arms Model 20 Rifle

`Ultra Light Arms Model 28 and Model 40 Rifles

`Voere VEC 91 Lightning Bolt-Action Rifle

`Voere Model 2165 Bolt-Action Rifle

`Voere Model 2155 and 2150 Bolt-Action Rifles

`Weatherby Mark V Deluxe Bolt-Action Rifle

`Weatherby Lasermark V Rifle

`Weatherby Mark V Crown Custom Rifle

`Weatherby Mark V Sporter Rifle

`Weatherby Mark V Safari Grade Custom Rifle

`Weatherby Weathermark Rifle

`Weatherby Weathermark Alaskan Rifle

`Weatherby Classicmark No.

The introduction of this bill is your permission to go and buy every single AR, AK, and FAL you can get, along with at least a dozen full-capacity mags for each.

Tempus fugit.

>Vanderboegh: Allegory

by Mike Vanderboegh
18 June 2008

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” – George Washington

“Allegory is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas as charity, greed, or envy. Thus an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning.” — English Teacher Theodore Nellen

A New “National Floral Emblem”

On 23 September 1986, the House of Representatives passed a joint resolution naming the rose as the “national floral emblem” of the United States. The Senate had passed the resolution in 1985. In one of the more useless acts of his administration, President Reagan signed this resolution into law on October 7, 1986 in a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.

Of course – where else?

Well, that was then and this is now. Ronaldus Magnus is dead and buried, and his office has been occupied since by puny creatures with cravenly appetites masquerading as men. As a student of history, I cannot but help be struck by the fact that while government grows more powerful and grasping, the men who direct it grow more unprincipled, corrupt and incompetent. (Think Lord North’s administration which precipitated the American Revolution.) This situation is unlikely to change after the next election, unless perhaps for the worse.

With that in mind, and with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives dedicating its new way-over-budget national headquarters in Washington DC recently, I would like to propose that the rose be replaced as the “national floral emblem” with something more appropriate to the new realities of government in the 21st Century. It should first be planted in the lobby of ATF’s new headquarters, for no other agency quite so demonstrates its dubious advantages.

And here it is:

Audrey II – the unofficial flower of the BATFE and proposed new “national floral emblem” of the United States.

“On the 23rd day of the month of September, in an early year of a decade not too long before our own, the human race suddenly encountered a deadly threat to its very existence. And this terrifying enemy surfaced, as such enemies often do, in the seemingly most innocent and unlikely of places . . .”

That’s right.

It’s “Audrey II” from Little Shop of Horrors.

Nothing else typifies the Imperial Federal Government today quite so well.

You know, I’m always looking for items of popular culture that I can use to teach the Founders’ lessons. “A Bug’s Life” was a movie that I excerpted to make a point in my essay in the ’90s, “What Good Can a Handgun Do Against an Army?” where I compared Hopper and his gang of predatory grasshoppers to the black-clad ATF.

But it wasn’t until I heard (second-hand) the other day of a threat to my life and liberty that I made the connection between Audrey II and the present day Imperial Feds. I’ll spare you the details, but it’s one of those “somebody I know was talking to somebody else” stories, the upshot was that certain members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are unhappy with my recent writings.

“He doesn’t know who he’s messing with,” one of them was reported to have said.

And I flashed back to Audrey II singing:

Better wait a minute
Ya better hold the phone
Better mind your manners
Better change your tone
Don’t you threaten me, son
Ya gotta lot of gall
We gonna do things my way
Or we won’t do things at all

Ya don’t know what you’re messin’ with.
You got no idea
You don’t know what you’re lookin’ at
When you’re lookin’ here
Ya don’t know what you’re up against,
No, no way, no how
You don’t know what you’re messin’ with,
But I’m gonna tell you now!

I have had dealing with a variety of law enforcement officers over the years – sometimes friendly, sometimes confrontational. Of all of the state, local and federal cops I’ve met, the federal gun cops have always had the worst attitudes, even when they didn’t know what I thought of them up front. The ones I have met all seem to be equal parts of inferiority complex and bully. Consequently, they’re always threatening whenever anybody refuses to kowtow to them.

“Don’t you know who I am?” I’ve been asked more than once.

Get this straight!
I’m just a mean green mother from outer space and I’m bad
I’m just a mean green mother from outer space
And it looks like you been had
I’m just a mean green mother from outer space,
So get off my back ‘n get out my face,
‘Cause I’m mean and green
And I am bad!

Wanna save your skin, boy?
You wanna save your hide?
You wanna see tomorrow?
You better step aside
Better take a tip, boy
Want some good advice?
You better take it easy,
‘Cause you’re walkin’ on thin ice

Ya don’t know what you’re dealin’ with
No, you never did
Ya don’t know what you’re lookin’ at,
But that’s tough titty, kid!
The lion don’t sleep tonight,
And if you pull his tail, he roars
Ya say, “That ain’t fair?”
Ya say, “That ain’t nice?”

Ya know what I say?
“Up yours!”

I love Levi Stubbs’ characterization of Audrey II in the 1986 movie version of “Little Shop”. But I got to thinking how much that movie is really an allegory about tyrannical government. Government never starts out being oppressive, it just grows that way.

Same with Audrey II. At the outset, Seymour Krelborn, a lonely orphan, exploited by his employer and pining for the true love of a girl who works with him in Mushnick’s Skid Row Florists, is looking for companionship. He finds and nutures the small and helpless looking plant, talking to it, trying everything to get it to grow. Then, after pricking his finger with a rose thorn, he discovers Audrey II eats human blood.

At first the plant brings business to the shop and notoriety to Seymour. Audrey, the girl not the plant, has secretly liked Seymour but has not felt worthy of him. With the grow of the plant, Audrey is Seymour’s biggest supporter, which Seymour wrongly attributes to his new-found success. The plant has grown considerably on Seymour’s voluntary blood donations, but becomes more demanding:

Audrey II: Feed me!
Seymour: Does it have to be human?
Audrey II: Feed me!
Seymour: Does it have to be mine?
Audrey II: Feeeed me!
Seymour: How am I supposed to get it?
Audrey II: [singing]

Feed me, Seymour
Feed me all night long
That’s right, boy
You can do it
Feed me, Seymour
Feed me all night long
‘Cause if you feed me, Seymour
I can grow up big and strong

Audrey II promises Seymour success:

Would you like a Cadillac car?
Or a guest shot on Jack Paar?
How about a date with Hedy Lamarr?
You gonna git it.

Would you like to be a big wheel,
Dinin’ out for every meal?
I’m the plant that can make it all real
You gonna git it

I’m your genie, I’m your friend
I’m your willing slave
Take a chance, just feed me and
You know the kinda eats,
The kinda red hot treats
The kinda sticky licky sweets
I crave

Come on, Seymour, don’t be a putz
Trust me and your life will surely rival King Tut’s
Show a little ‘nitiative, work up the guts
And you’ll git it

But Seymour has reservations about Audrey II’s growth requirements:

I don’t know. I don’t know
I have so, so many strong reservations
Should I go and perform mutilations?

Audrey II counters:

Think about a room at the Ritz
Wrapped in velvet, covered in glitz
A little nookie gonna clean up your zits
And you’ll git it

Seymour’s will weakens:

Gee I’d like a Harley machine,
Toolin’ around like I was James Dean,
Makin’ all the guys on the corner turn green

And the plant seals the deal by arguing:

So go git it
If you wanna be profound
And you really gotta justify
Take a breath and look around
A lot of folks deserve to die

Audrey II draws Seymour to the window to show him the Human Audrey being abused by her boyfriend, the sadist dentist Orin Scrivello. Maddened at the sight, Seymour is convinced and they sing together:

If you want a rationale
It isn’t very hard to see
Stop and think it over, pal
The guy sure looks like plant food to me.

He’s so nasty, treatin’ her rough,

Smackin’ her around and always talkin’ so tough.

You (I) need blood and he’s got more than enough

So go git it!

So Seymour does, and the transformation is complete. Audrey II, which started out as Seymour’s creation, has now made Seymour his servant. He becomes more demanding, and Mushnik the Florist is eaten.

But Seymour’s fame continues to grow, and although he still thinks Audrey loves him for his success, in the play upon which the movie is based, he sings:

My future’s starting,
I’ve got to let it.
Stick with that plant and gee, my bank account will thrive.
What am I saying?
No way! Forget it!
It’s much too dangerous to keep that plant alive.

I take these offers, that means more killing.
Who knew success would come with messy, nasty strings?
I sign these contracts, that means I’m willing to keep on doing bloody, awful, evil things.
No! No! There’s only so far you can bend!
No! No! This nightmare must come to and end!
No! No! You’ve got no alternative Seymour old boy,
though it means you’ll be broke again and unemployed.
It’s the only solution, it can’t be avoided:

But still Seymour hesitates until Audrey II finally tries to eat Audrey I.

Seymour confronts Audrey II, “Every household in America? Thousands of you eating… that’s what you had in mind all along, isn’t it?”

Audrey II sneers back, “No sh-t, Sherlock.”

And Audrey II begins to threaten Seymour with the lines above, and then sings, accompanied by pods which have appeared growing on his tendrils:

Watch me now!
I’m just a mean green mother from outer space and I’m bad.
I’m just a mean green mother, a real disgrace,
And you’ve got me fightin’ mad
I’m just a mean green mother from outer space,
Gonna trash your ass,
Gonna rock this place,
‘Cause I’m mean and green and I am bad

Don’t you talk to me about old King Kong
You think he’s the worst, well, you’re thinkin’ wrong
Don’t talk to me about Frankenstein
He got a temper, ha! He ain’t got mine!

You know I don’t come from no black lagoon
I’m from past the stars and beyond the moon
You can keep The Thing, keep The It,
keep The Creature, they don’t mean sh-t

I got one style, major moves
I got the stuff and I think that proves
You better move it out
Nature calls
You got the point?
I’m gonna bust your balls

Here it comes!
I’m just a mean green mother from outer space and I’m bad
I’m just a mean green mother, a real hard case
You can’t beat this trouble, man
I’m just a mean green mother from outer space,
So just beam him up
It’s all over, ace
I’m mean and green
And I. Am. Bad!

Confident in its increasing (and, it thinks, invincible) power, Audrey II and the pods sing while attacking Seymour, trying to kill and eat him. The shop is destroyed, the ceiling falls in, walls collapse, electrical cables are broken and Seymour is buried, defeated, perhaps dead.

But just as evil always contains the seeds of its own destruction, the plant has unwittingly given Seymour the weapon to kill it. A large electrical cable with its sparking end is seized by Seymour’s hand emerging out of the rubble. He slaps it to one of Audrey II’s tendrils and electrocutes the plant, which blows into atoms.

Audrey and Seymour are married and settle down in a little suburban tract home “somewhere that’s green.”

In the flower bed out front is a new, tiny Audrey II.


The Founders who crafted our constitutional republican system thought they had done the best they could, but as George Washington’s words at the beginning of this essay indicate, they were apprehensive and fearful that even it would someday grow out of control.

It has. A government which once answered to the people is now issuing its own orders to the people, and occasionally killing them for its own purposes.

Just ask the Davidians.

A little bitty domestic plant, cultivated for the right reasons, has grown into an alien killer vegetable interested in nothing but its own survival and growth.

I agree with Seymour Krelborn. Allegorically speaking, “the vegetable must be destroyed.”

In the meantime, let Audrey II become the new “national floral emblem.” Nothing fits our present-day Imperial Federal leviathan quite so well.

It is perhaps fitting, however, that no threatening ATF agent I ever met could deliver his lines quite as believably as Levi Stubbs.

Even the ones who are as ugly as Audrey II all grown up.


Mike Vanderboegh
PO Box 926
Pinson, AL 35126

>Living in an Imperial World: Teach Your Children Well Redux

>Hat-tip to The Smallest Majority for finding the appalling example above of childhood conditioning towards police power and citizen submission.

After reading the product description, I’m tempted to order the lousy thing just to get the “limited edition comic book FREE with every order”:

Product Description
Pull over! The traffic police have blocked the road to all vehicles. Wearing realistic uniforms and printed emergency vests, they have set up a roadblock with 4 warning lights and 2 pylons. They are also equipped with a map, stop sign, and pistols.

Read Existing Thing’s take on the topic, and a logical extrapolation from such propaganda:

I’ve even got an idea for a whole new line of toys, starting with “Overwatch Scouts – complete with scale-replica spotting scope, camo netting, and .338 Lapua long-range sporting rifle!”

Tempus fugit.

>Vanderboegh: Decisive


“The Battle of Bunker Hill” by Dan Troiani

“The day — perhaps the decisive day — is come, on which the fate of America depends.” — Abigail Adams

An Appreciation of the Battle of Bunker Hill on its Anniversary
by Mike Vanderboegh
17 June 2008

“But even when the level of training reached its lowest ebb, late in the 1760s, the militia troops still practiced their marksmanship, and handling of weapons remained important. There developed an easy-going familiarity with weapons, something that can be best described as the Rogers influence: care of the weapon and marksmanship received attention, and sham battles (Rogers’ favorite training) took place at every muster….In the fall of 1774 the picnic atmosphere disappeared from troop exercises and the men began to train in earnest…These men knew they might soon be facing the regulars on the battlefield, and they did not intend to be scoffed at this time. Would there be time enough to form the militia and minute men under new officers and prepare them to stand against the regulars? Luckily the provincials were not starting from scratch. They possessed two important assets which were to be of immeasurable help in the coming months: the minute man concept, which was well understood by all the soldiers, and…..a heavy distribution of combat veterans from the French and Indian War.”
General John Galvin,
“THE MINUTEMEN”, 1989, Pergamon-Brassey

“Colonel Prescott will fight you to the gates of hell.”

Today, 17 June, is the anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, which in the odd way of historical memory, was actually fought on Breed’s Hill outside British occupied Boston in 1775. Following Lexington and Concord on 19 April 1775, the British, having been given a bloody nose by the Massachussett’s militias, withdrew into Boston. Soon, the Redcoats were surrounded by tens of thousands of American militia from several states, but few American officers wanted to test the British defenses by direct assault.

But if they couldn’t carry out a general attack against the dug-in British (who were supported by naval gunfire from ships in the harbor), they could tighten the noose around the Regulars. Thus, on the night of 16-17 June, Colonel William Prescott led 1500 men onto the peninsula overlooking the city. After a disagreement between militia commander Israel Putnam, Prescott and their engineering officer, Captain Richard Gridley, Breed’s Hill was decided to be more defensible than Bunker Hill.

There, using Gridley’s plan, they built a fortification 160 feet by 80 feet with ditches and earthen walls. They reinforced a fence running away from the redoubt down to their left and added ditch and dike extensions toward the Charles River to their right. With the dawn, British ships began firing upon the works but were unable to elevate their guns high enough to hit.

Across the river channel in Boston, General Gage and his staff stood talking with loyalist Abijah Willard, who was Prescott’s brother-in-law. Looking through a telescope, Willard recognized Prescott.

“Will he fight?’ asked Gage.

“As to his men, I cannot answer for them,” replied Willard, “but Colonel Prescott will fight you to the gates of hell.”

It took almost six hours for Gates to gather his infantry and get them poised to strike. General Howe was to lead the major assault, drive around the Colonist’s left flank, and take them from the rear. Brigadier General Pigot on the British left flank would lead the direct assault on the redoubt. Major John Pitcairn, of Lexington Green fame, would command the flank or reserve force. It took several trips in longboats to transport “the lobsters” to the eastern corner of the peninsula at Moulton’s Hill. It was a warm day, and with wool tunics and 60 pound field packs the British were finally ready by about 2 p.m.

“Hey, diddle diddle, right up the middle.”

The Colonists also reinforced their numbers and position. There were perhaps 2600 British Regulars and 1500 American militia about to slug it out toe to toe. But the Brits were going have to come and dig the militia out from behind their fortifications.

In retrospect, the British should have used their control of the harbor to deposit troops behind the Americans and bag the lot. In retrospect, the Americans should have prepositioned more powder and shot with the forward troops. The Americans, after all, had little artillery and this was to be a fight of rifles, muskets, and at the end, bayonets for those who had them.

But hindsight, as they say, is twenty-twenty. Fortunately for the Americans, however, British General Howe rejected all of his other tactical possibilities and came at them “hey diddle, diddle, right up the middle.”

It was a slaughter.

The first assaults on the fence line and the redoubt were met with massed fire at close range and repulsed with heavy British losses. The reserve, just north of the town, was also taking casualties from rifle fire in the town.

Howe’s men reformed on the field and made a second unsuccessful attack at the wall. They were again thrown back with heavy losses.

By this time, the Colonists had lost all fire discipline. In traditional battles of the eighteenth century, companies of men fired, reloaded, and moved on specific orders, as they had been trained. After their initial volley, the Colonists fought as individuals, each man firing as quickly as he could. The British withdrew almost to their original positions on the peninsula to regroup. The navy, along with artillery from Copp’s Hill on the Boston peninsula, fired heated shot into Charlestown. All 400 or so buildings and the docks were completely burned, but the snipers withdrew safely. In the third British assault the reserves were included and both flanks concentrated on the redoubt. This attack was successful. The defenders had run out of ammunition, reducing the battle to close combat. The British had the advantage here as their troops were equipped with bayonets on their muskets but most of the Colonists did not have them. The British advance, and the Colonists’ withdrawal, swept through the entire peninsula, including Bunker Hill as well as Breed’s Hill. However, under Putnam, the Colonists were quickly in new positions on the mainland. Coupled with the exhaustion of Howe’s troops, there was little chance of advancing on Cambridge and breaking the siege.”
— Wikipedia, “The Battle of Bunker Hill.”

Gage’s troops had swept the field, but at what cost! Over a thousand had been shot, with 226 immediately dead and 828 wounded. A disproportionate number of these were officers, all of Howe’s staff save the general himself were down or dead. The militia lost 140 dead, 280 wounded and 30 prisoners (only 10 of whom survived imprisonment).

“‘Twas a famous victory,” the poet had said. The surviving British officers did not think so about Breed’s Hill. Wrote a mortally wounded Colonel Abercrombie from his deathbed to Lord Loudon, “A few such ‘victories’ would Ruin the Army.”

Pitcairn and Salem

Of the British dead, one was mourned by some on both sides. Major Pitcairn, the Scottish Royal Marine who was respected by the citizens of Boston as one of the more reasonable members of the occupying force, was shot down by Peter Salem, a freed slave who served in Captain Drury’s company of Colonel John Nixon’s 6th Massachusetts Regiment.

Major John Pitcairn, killed at Bunker Hill by Peter Salem

A veteran of Lexington and Concord, Salem fought again at the battles of Saratoga and Stony Point and died in the poorhouse of Framingham, Massachusetts at the age of 68 in 1816. A gravestone monument was erected in his memory in Framingham in 1882.

Pitcairn’s body never made it home, and is buried in Boston like so many of his fellow British soldiers and Marines from that bloody day.


“As time went by we built the mythology of the Minute Men even further. We depicted them as a small but courageous band of farmers who responded to a spontaneous call to arms, an untrained and poorly armed rabble. The truth, of course was very different. There were actually 14,000 colonials under arms in the militia and Minute Man regiments. They were alerted by organized alarm riders via a system that dated back to the 17th century wars. They had trained intensively for a year and were armed with the same type weapons as the British. Lexington was an important battle in the history of the United States, not only because it was the opening moment of the war that created our country but also because it provides us a microcosm of the drift to war– with all the tensions, the misinterpretations, the fears and the posturings, the courageous and the foolish acts that augur the clash of arms.” — Galvin, Ibid.

“They had trained intensively . . .”

Peter Salem did not hit Major Pitcairn by happy accident. He hit him because he was a practiced rifleman.

Keep that in mind for future application.

The colonists were certainly undisciplined as militia are wont to be. Some used the excuse of carrying wounded to drift away from the battle entirely. Somebody forgot to bring up the ammunition in time. Some sat within easy supporting distance of the fight on Breed’s Hill, and did not move forward into the fight at a critical moment.

But the significance of the fact that the American militia had faced the Regulars and, for a time prevailed, was not lost on either side.

“Something else, something entirely intangible and perhaps not even recognizable at the time, had occurred on June 17, 1775. Men who were not fighters by trade or inclination had stood side by side behind their earthworks and their fences and had waited calmly while some of the most formidable fighters in the world advanced against them in ordered ranks. They had not run from artillery fire, they had stood up to the wild terror of a bayonet charge, and they had broken only when their ammunition gave out and they could fight no more. A few months earlier the odds against the success of any American military effort would have been overwhelming; the regular army was an object of dread, not to be tested. Now Americans had met it face to face, and like a
figment of darkness suddenly exposed to the light, it could be seen for hat it was– an army that commanded great respect, but one composed of men no taller or stronger than any others. By demonstrating that some ordinary American farmers had stood against this formidable enemy, the battle of June 17 proved, as nothing else could, that others might accomplish the same thing. Had they failed, it is just conceivable that the rebellion might have sputtered out.” — Richard M. Ketchum, DECISIVE DAY: The Battle for Bunker Hill, 1962, Anchor Books.


Training and preparation made the difference.

And I told you all of that to ask you this: What have you, a member of the armed citizenry of the United States, done lately to honor these men’s sacrifices?

What training have you done to maintain and build the skills required of a member of the unorganized militia of this Republic?

You haven’t?

If you are not organized, if you are not trained, if you have not obtained and maintained the skill of a rifleman, then the only “mythology” you need worry about is the one inside your head.

Peter Salem would tell you to pull your head out of your arse and get busy.

Tyrants are not deterred by untrained braggarts.

Mike Vanderboegh
PO Box 926
Pinson, AL 35126

Editor’s note: See also David Codrea’s take on this anniversary.

>Reminder: Grid-Down Medical Course – Coeur d’Alene, ID – June 20-22

> Details here.

Hope to see you there.

Tempus fugit.

>Quote of the Week

Fjordman, posting at Gates of Vienna, on the existential crisis facing free men and women from totalitarianism a la the EU, resurgent Islam, and the multicultural death wish:

Lastly, I will focus on Milton Friedman, who along with F. Hayek is one of the villains of Klein’s book.

According to her, Friedman has stated that “only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.” Friedman believes that during a crisis, we only have a brief window of opportunity before society slips back into the “tyranny of the status quo,” and that we need to use this opportunity or lose it.

This is actually very good advice, and it’s in my view the strategy Western survivalists should now follow. When I first started blogging I was concerned with how we could “fix the system.”

I’ve gradually come to the conclusion that the system cannot be fixed, and perhaps shouldn’t be fixed. Not only does it have too many enemies, it also has too many internal contradictions. If we define the “system” as mass immigration from alien cultures, globalism, Multiculturalism and suppression of free speech in the name of “tolerance,” then this is going to collapse.

It’s inevitable.

The goal of Western survivalists — and that’s what we are — should not be to “fix the system,” but to be mentally and physically prepared for its collapse, and to develop coherent answers to what went wrong and prepare to implement the necessary remedies when the time comes. We need to seize the window of opportunity, and in order to do so, we need to define clearly what we want to achieve.

What, exactly, is Western civilization? What went wrong with it, and how can we survive and regenerate as a vulnerable minority in an increasingly hostile world?
Read the whole thing, and remember that without both American ideals and the courage to preserve them, freedom across the globe will sputter and fade.

Tempus fugit.

PS: For the story of Holger Danske as pictured above, go here.

>What Is To Be Done: Pressing the Reset Button – Parts 1 and 2

>Kevin at The Smallest Minority refreshes his 2003 essay Pressing the Reset Button with an updated consideration of the topic here.

Kevin is a smart fellow, and I recommend that you take the time to read both essays, as well as stopping by his place daily on your strolls through the ‘Net.

Here’s my concern, though – and some sincere open questions for all 2A/RKBA advocates:

1) Given that, as referenced by Oleg’s poster above and numerous other examples as outlined by David Codrea’s War on Guns, .gov forces across our nation are intent on violating the clear language of the Second Amendment, as written, pretty much any time they want, is there any reasonable doubt remaining as to the desired endstate of the American statists, their collaborators in the two major political parties and the Supreme Court, media oligarchs, and the global transnational progressive movement?

2) If a rational analysis of the past sixty years of human history does in fact lead to the conclusion that government agencies and their allies want to eradicate private arms ownership as quickly as possible, doesn’t that make a brutal conflict inevitable between

– those forces at the local, state/provincial, national, and transnational levels


– free men and women who believe that weapons possession and use is a fundamental human right, to be defended unto death?

3) If such a conflict is inevitable, then aren’t essays asserting that “resistance is futile” actually increasing the probability of bloodshed by encouraging gun confiscators to downplay the unintended consequences of their actions?

4) Similarly, if such a conflict is inevitable, shouldn’t the intellectual horsepower of the 2A/RKBA community be focused on winning that war, whether through

– political means (the so-called “soft war”),

– the candid and widely-disseminated discussion of “the unthinkable” and other positive propaganda (see, e.g., the classics by John Ross, Boston T. Party, James Wesley Rawles, and Matthew Bracken, along with everything written by Mike Vanderboegh over the past 15 years),

and, if necessary,

– unrelenting armed defense of fundamental human rights against the transnational elites, their media minions, and their hired thugs?

Consider, as an example of what should be coming from the freedom-minded community, this downloadable book recently cited by Codrea and Horton’s Mindful Musings.

While you mull those issues, just keep in mind this link from Instapundit listing the anti-gun proclivities of the next President of the United States, who will, at current course and speed, enjoy a veto-proof majority in both Houses of Congress.

Let me be completely clear.

There is nothing I want so much as to live the rest of my (hopefully very long) life in peace and prosperity.

I want government forces around the world to honor and obey limitations of their power, just as the blessed Irish people insisted a few days ago in their rejection of the EU Constitution/Treaty of Lisbon.

I want adults in every country to understand and accept the challenges of individual freedom and political liberty.

I want children around the world to grow into responsible, healthy, educated adulthood.

I want my species to live up to its potential for Good, and reject its blood-soaked and irrefutable history of tyranny, oppression, and slaughter.

But what I want and what I will actually get in the remaining years of my life are likely to be miles apart.

If there is a viable formula to avoid the coming Horror without abjectly submitting to It, please share that roadmap.


For without a “new way forward”, as Kevin noted in another essay, we have some tough history coming.

I can’t escape the conclusion that we are hosed, and we each should use the time remaining in the most efficient and effective way possible, rather than wasting it on wishes and illusions:

Tempus fugit.

>Volk on Freedom


Oleg reminds tyrants-in-training what happens when defiant, armed people realize that there is no other choice.

Tempus fugit.

>Vanderboegh: Poor White Boys – The Past as Future

>(The conclusion of a chapter in Mike Vanderboegh’s upcoming novella, “Absolved”. Written to the tune of “Star of the County Down” by Clinch River Pearl)

February 28: The Deacon’s Grandson

“The Revolutionary War in the southern states has received little attention in comparison to the detailed study given the campaigns in the North. This is unfortunate since much decisive action took place there, but perhaps the nature of the struggle accounts for the historians’ neglect. The heroes of the southern fighting were not the officers of the Continental army but rather the natural leaders of the people, who had learned their skills in the continuing effort to seize the land of the Indians.

By achieving better perspective of the past, something may be accomplished in the present. For the hero of this book has fallen on evil times. He is called various unflattering names today and is the butt of comic-strip buffoonery and the ‘villain’ of serious novels. Because he remains an individualist, he is a safe target.

There’s nothing new in this attitude, of course. In the Revolutionary War period, he was sneered at by the rich merchants of the lowlands, he was held in contempt by the Continental army’s high command, and he was considered less than human by the British. Major Patrick Ferguson called him a bandit, a barbarian, a mongrel. He had little respect for law and order. He could be quite ruthless. He was also superstitious and at times naïve. Yet Theodore Roosevelt could write of him:

‘The fathers followed Boone or fought at King’s Mountain; the sons marched south with Jackson to overcome the Creeks; the grandsons died at the Alamo.’

And, it should be added, the great-grandsons provided Lee and Johnson with the best fighting infantry the world had yet seen. Poorly clothed, half-starved, they responded magnificently to magnificent leadership and almost won America’s second civil war as their forefathers had won the first.

Moreover, in wars since, they have always been the cutting edge. As F.N. Boney, the Georgia historian, puts it: ‘There is no shortage of rednecks in the neat, quiet American military cemeteries which now dot the globe. However rejected in normal times, the redneck has always been welcomed when the nation went to war.’

Peace is the dream today, and the redneck shares that dream. For him it was often a “rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.” He never started a war, but he was always ready when his home and personal liberty were threatened. And because of the readiness to do his duty, this nation was founded and kept alive….

Given proper leadership, the mountain man can still be motivated. But in recent years such leadership has been largely lacking. The potential remains untapped, but it is there. As my father used to say in Happy Valley– you may turn the damper up, you may turn the damper down, but the smoke goes up the chimney just the same.”

— Hank Messick, King’s Mountain, 1976.

It was Will Shipman’s 51st birthday, not that he felt like celebrating. The weather was cold, the coffee was cold, he had a cold and his wife had been acting cold as a brass monkey all week. Will knew why Mary was mad at him, but there was little he could do about it. Sometimes you’re just stuck with the duty, whether you want it or not. Mary didn’t understand that. Well, maybe she understood it, but that didn’t mean she had to like it and she had never been shy about saying what she thought. Heck, that was one of the reasons Will had married her in the first place. Although, Will reflected, it had been a lot more endearing when they had been in their twenties than it was now in their fifties.

“Sometimes you’re just stuck with the duty.” His old shooting buddy Phil Gordon had told him that late one night on one of the rare times they’d spoken about Vietnam. William Sheats Shipman had been too young to participate in the “Southeast Asia War Games,” and one night while sitting at the campfire after an unsuccesful day on the deer stands, Will asked the older man what it had been like. Uncharacteristically, Phil Gordon told him. Probably because he considered Will like a younger brother, Shipman thought.

The Shipmans and the Gordons had been kin-close for generations, almost 200 hundred years now, Will realized with a start. Both families traced their ancestry back to two men who had marched with Andy Jackson in the Creek War. Together they had helped avenge the Fort Mims massacre, and at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend they had broken the power of the Red Stick Creeks forever. Hezekiah Shipman and John MacKenzie Gordon had served under Colonel Coffee and his sergeant of scouts, the legendary David Crockett of Tennessee. One thing about following Davy Crockett around – each had learned to count on the other man’s skills and they had saved each others’ life so many times they had lost count.

After the fighting ended, they each took the 160 acres of free land that the cash-poor government had offered the veterans in lieu of pay, and had tramped over north Alabama looking for parcels they liked. Finally they made their hatchet marks on trees bounding 320 acres in what became Winston County, Alabama.

Being Indian fighters, and with the memory of the burned stockade at Fort Mims fresh in their nostrils, they picked defensible high ground above some of the richest bottom land in the area (not that there was much of that), building cabins hard by each other, each straddling the property line within rifle shot.

It was inevitable that a Gordon daughter would marry a Shipman son, formalizing kinship ties that had first been forged in battle. Succeeding generations of Gordon and Shipman sons went off to the wars of their country (and, once, the war came to them). The lucky ones came back. But even if they didn’t, there were always sons left to shoulder the rifles the next time their country called.

Will had joined up too, in his time, and as an up-and-coming NCO, helped rebuild the Army after the disaster of Vietnam. He enjoyed making a difference. You could just FEEL the Army regain its bearings and its honor, especially after Ronald Reagan became President. Will decided that he would be a “lifer.”

But God had different ideas.

There were a lot of screw-ups during the Grenada operation that were never really publicized. Will Shipman got caught in one of them. By the time he left Walter Reed, he was rated unfit for further service and let go with an honorable discharge and “the thanks of a grateful nation.” He never talked about it, even with family. Mary knew, of course, and Phil Gordon, but that was it.

Once, for his birthday, Mary had framed his Purple Heart. It was beautiful to everyone except Will Shipman, who was reminded once again of the shipwreck of his hopes. He put it in his desk drawer, and never hung it on his den wall as Mary had intended, an act that he knew hurt her feelings.

He had made a good life, though, after the Army and Mary was happy for the change. She had followed him dutifully from one dilapidated post to another during his short career. She’d paid her dues and Will knew that without a doubt, Mary was happier now than she had ever been, with the kids married off and grandkids popping up every year or so. Which was why, Will knew, that she was so upset about what must come next.

Lord, Will spoke in silent prayer looking at gathering gloom of the winter sky, I sure wish I had Phil here to talk this over with. After the ATF had murdered Phil Gordon (and Will Shipman had no doubt it was murder, even if Phil had made it a poor trade for them) he had wanted to go to war again. He got ready and so did his friends, the ones he knew he could count on.

But the country — shocked by the body count Phil had left among his attackers, confused by the media lies that criminalized him and his poor family afterward, or (like Will) shocked into the sudden realization of how ill-prepared they were for a war that they should have seen coming and reluctant to resume the shooting until they WERE ready — well, the country was holding its breath.

But everyone knew this phony peace could not last.

The Governor had said so too. Invoking the old notion of the “doctrine of interposition,” he had warned the Feds that there would be no more Sipsey Streets in his state. Several southern and western states’ governors did the same. The Alabama Department of Public Safety was no longer cooperating with their federal counterparts. In retribution, federal matching funds for everything from highways to welfare was cut off.

Right now the Governor had half of the state police intelligence unit keeping track of the movements and probable intentions of every federal policeman in Alabama. A state grand jury was sitting at that very moment, hearing evidence that the Attorney General — the first African American to hold the job and a staunch defender of the Second Amendment — was hoping would lead to a murder case against the ATF. All indications were that the Feds, for their part, intended to indict the Governor for failing to obey the new federal laws passed in the wake of Phil Gordon’s personal Little Big Horn. There were even rumors that the Feds were trying to engineer a political coup d’etat in favor of the Lieutenant Governor who was a pro-administration Democrat toady.

Will thought it was like being in a bar room, faced off against a bunch of yay-hoos, waiting for the beer bottle to topple off the table and set the brawl off with a crash. You could see it tipping, but you couldn’t do a thing to stop it. But if the Governor meant to stand between Phil Gordon’s murderers and the people of Alabama, Will Shipman would stand with him.

So even if Mary didn’t like or understand it, Will Shipman was stuck with the duty. And if ever he felt like shirking it, Will just couldn’t do it. The ghost of Phil Gordon, among others, wouldn’t let him.

1861-1865: Aunt Jenny and the Ghosts of Winston County

Now Will Shipman was a man of many parts, as some folks say. Depending upon how you reckoned it, he was a husband, a father and grandfather, a hard-worker, a devout church-going man, a Civil War reenactor, a registered voter, a disabled veteran, a former Republican and a man whose opinions were respected by most all who knew him. He had an easy-going manner and nothing much got him excited, although he was mighty upset and morally offended about how the country had been going lately, even before the Battle of Sipsey Street.

But he also was a man with a secret and a duty. The duty was tied up with the secret and vice versa, or “vicey versey” as they say in Winston County. Truth be told, Will Shipman WAS Winston County, and Winston County WAS Will Shipman. You couldn’t understand the future of the one, without understanding the past of the other.

As I said, Will’s family had been in Winston County just about since God made dirt, settling over in the western part of the county near Natural Bridge. The natural bridge itself (that is the rock bridge, not the town named after it) was beautiful then and now despite all the bloody history that has gone on around it. It is the longest natural bridge east of the Mississippi, spanning some 148 feet. Over 60 feet high and 33 feet wide, you must walk beneath the bridge among the wild magnolias, snowball bushes, rare ferns, mountain laurel and Canadian hemlock trees in order to appreciate the awesome beauty of its size. Indians sheltered under it long before the Will Shipman’s ancestors came, and it was Will’s favorite place in the whole world. Sitting beside the ferns In the quiet of a warm afternoon, the glade seemed to be his own private Eden. He had courted Mary beneath the stone bridge, and he proposed to her atop its arch not long after he got back from Basic Training.

But if the natural bridge and Winston County were beautiful, and they were, it was a terrible beauty nonetheless. Only someone raised in Winston County knew or cared about the particulars of the darker side of history in those parts. There was plenty of it. The Byler Road, the first state highway in Alabama, ran right by Natural Bridge and connected the Tennessee and Tombigbee river valleys. Completed in 1822, the road was only slightly less infested with hijackers and highwaymen than its more notorious cousin, the Natchez Trace. An incautious man traveling the Byler Road could find himself at dusk on a lonely stretch and never be seen again.

Even without the highwaymen, Winston was a harsh place to try to make a go of it. First of all, the county is “mostly up and down and very little sideways” as one pioneer put it. The topography of Winston County varies from rolling and hilly to rough and mountainous. God had covered the county with huge, deep-green forests, consisting of oak, poplar, beech, chestnut, sorghum, holly and shortleaf pine. Yet the soil was so poor that the yeomen farmers who settled there scratched out a bare subsistence at best. Even in places where the soil was sufficient for the growing of crops, the unpredictable weather, especially the rains, stunted the growth of cotton, the principal cash crop in the 19th century. Consequently, the production of corn made the most hard cash for the settlers, especially when turned into whiskey. Bootlegging is an ancient and honorable trade in Winston County: always has been, and likely always will be. Although, it must be admitted that by the first decade of the 21st Century, the modern criminal class in the mountain regions of the South had long since graduated to marijuana and crystal methamphetamine as far more lucrative cash crops.

But as tough as life was for settlers in Winston County in peacetime, the Civil War seared the county and its people and forever changed them and defined them as proud and defiant survivors. Will knew all the stories. Many of his ancestors on both sides of his family had killed, and had been killed in turn fighting for the Union or simply for the right to live and be left alone.

Back before the turn of the 21st century, Will had picked up a book called “Bushwhackers” about the war in the mountains of North Carolina. It was one of his favorites because the descriptions of what went on in the Tarheel state mirrored what had happened to his own people. William R. Trotter introduced his history with this passage, which Will Shipman recalled word for word, he had read it so many times:

“The events that happened in the mountain counties. . . furnish a microcosmic view of the Civil War’s effects. The fighting, the suffering, and the dying all took place on an individual scale, and there is a recognizably human profile to the drama. You can tell this much from the way the Civil War period remains alive in the generational memories and oral traditions of the mountain region. This certainly includes, but goes far beyond, the still-vivid demarcations between Republican and Democratic voting patterns in certain counties. For mountain families whose roots go back far, the collective memories do not stop with the stories of those who fell at Gettysburg or suffered at the hands of Sheman’s invaders. When they speak of the Civil War, they also speak of the dark night on a backwoods lane when great-great grandfather was cut down by bushwhackers, or of that raw frontier morning when great-great grandmother stood on the front porch of her cabin and watched a patrol of Thomas’ Legion — full-blooded Cherokee warriors hot with youth and heritage — ride whooping through a patch of morning sunlight with fresh Unionist scalps dangling from their saddle horns.

It was a personal kind of war, up in the mountains. It produced its share of heroes and more than its share of bloody-handed villains. The fighting took place in a different dimension than the organized battles on the main fronts, where huge formations of uniformed men fired massed volleys at other huge formations of distant, faceless, uniformed men. In the mountains, there was little of that long-range impersonal killing. In the mountains, the target in your gunsight was not a nameless figure a thousand yards away, positioned at the other end of a smoke-obscured battlefield crowded with regiments. Indeed, he was an individual human being with a clear and unique face, and he was, all too many times, a man whose identity and home you had known since childhood. When you pulled the trigger on such a man, you did not leave a heap of distant bones—one more swollen, powder-blackened piece of carrion among hundreds, heaped on the same acreage. You left a dead man whose wife and children you probably knew by name. . .

The war in the mountains may not have been large, but it was vicious, and it took place on an all-too-human scale. . . It was this kind of war in the mountains: The killers had names, their victims had kin, and everybody owned a gun.”

Now, going on a century and a half later, neither the descendants of the killers nor the descendants of the victims had forgotten a thing. And heck, everybody in Winston County still owned a gun, Will thought with a chuckle, most of us own more than one. Some of us own a LOT more than one.

Will had been raised on the stories of the “Free State of Winston.” What was it somebody had said of the Irish? They had forgotten nothing of history and learned nothing from it, either… something like that. Well, Will Shipman hadn’t forgotten where he and his kin came from, but whether he had learned something from history, well, that remained to be seen.

The “Free State of Winston” got its name from the turmoil in the region at the opening of the War Between the States. The county, like several of the mountainous counties of northern Alabama had sent anti-secession delegates to the secession convention down in Montgomery and they had been as popular with the planters who ran the convention as a fart in church. A Winston County delegate, Christopher Sheats, had been thrown in the Montgomery County Jail because he refused to change his vote.

After the Jefferson Davis declared the Confederacy on the steps of the Capitol Building in Montgomery, Chris Sheats was let out of jail. He returned to Winston County an older and wiser man, but no less determined to oppose secession. The mountain folk held a meeting after Chris Sheats’ release and passed a resolution declaring that if the Confederacy left them alone, they would leave the Confederacy alone.

Dick Payne, one of the few secessionists at the meeting, sneered “Ho, ho! Winston County secedes! The ‘Free State of Winston.’”

Sneering aside, the people of the hills of north Alabama sincerely hoped that they could continue to live in peace, undisturbed by a war they wanted no part of. It was not to be. Two new laws of the Confederacy saw to that.

The first was the draft law. Conscription parties made up of the Home Guard and draft officers came up into the hills looking for recruits, willing or unwilling. After the first young men were shanghaied, the mountaineers either got of the way of the conscription parties or ambushed them. The fact that the planters exempted themselves from the draft made it easier for the mountain dwellers to resist. This was called the “20 nigger rule”. If a planter could show ownership of 20 slaves, they were exempt from the draft. To men who had been arguing that it was a rich man’s war but a poor man’s fight, this law merely proved their point.

The second, and worse ordinance as far as the mountaineers saw it, was the tax-in-kind law. This law said that every citizen of the Confederacy was obliged to pay taxes for the support of the army, and it they couldn’t afford to pay money, they would have to pay “in kind”, that is a portion of their livestock and crops. To the subsistence farmers of the hills, a visit from the Home Guard to take their hogs or milk cow could mean starvation for their family. Coming from a government that the hill folk refused to believe in the legitimacy of any way, this was mere thievery. It was too bad for the Home Guard, but stealing from poor folks with guns has always been a dangerous task. And the Winston County folks not only wouldn’t be pushed around, but they had a highly refined sense of personal justice.

Will Shipman knew all the stories, but not until the book and movie Cold Mountain had the Confederate Home Guards ever been portrayed to the larger nation as the thieving murderers that they were. Will liked that movie a lot. His ancestors had killed more than few Home Guards and he was proud of it.

Will was also related to Aunt Jenny Brooks, and he was even prouder of that. The story of Aunt Jenny was just one of the legends to come out of the war in the mountains, but as Will Shipman well knew, it was true. He had seen the hickory stick.

Will had heard the story of Aunt Jenny Brooks told many times by many folks, but the first time anybody had put it to paper was back in the nineteen thirties when Carl Carmer related what old Tom Knox told him:

“’When I knew her,’ said Tom, ‘she was a little dried-up ol’ woman but she had talkin’ blue eyes. She run this county like she was queen of it. Nobody ever candidated round here without she said so. When they had the War Between the States a lot o’ people in these parts felt like they. . .didn’t want to fight for rich folks in the Black Belt so’s they could have niggers do their work for ‘em free. Folks in this county was pretty well fixed then. They was makin’ liquor the same as now, and the lumber companies hadn’t cut over the woods an’ druv away the game an’ spiled the land. So Henry Brooks, Aunt Jenny’s husband, said he wasn’t goin’ to be a soldier, he was satisfied to stay right here an’ mind his own business.’”

“Not long after that a party of Confederates came up into the hills to force men into their army. Henry Brooks wouldn’t run from ‘em when they come to his house but he fought when they tried to take him away an’ they shot him dead. Aunt Jenny’s four boys was little shavers then but she got ‘em all out o’ bed an’ made ‘em swear on the dead body of their pa that they’d kill the men that shot him. Well, sir, in the next forty year they got ever’ one of ‘em. They kep count with notches on a hickory stick. Aunt Jenny had three of ‘em herself. One was for the leader. She cut his head off an’ cooked it till it was jest a skull an’ made it into a soap dish. She used it ever’ day, an’ jest a minute before she died she washed her hands in it for the last time.’”

The last shots of the extended feud that began with the murder of Henry Brooks were fired in McCurtain County, Oklahoma, in 1904. In the end, all of the men who participated in the killing of Aunt Jenny’s husband were dead, along with a considerable number of their sons, brothers and friends. Aunt Jenny outlived ‘em all. Jenny sure enough kept count, Will knew – he had seen that hickory stick. The skull soapdish had come up missing over the years. His Daddy had said it had apparently been buried by church-going niece of Jenny’s who thought it looked satanic, half-grinning at her from the mantle piece over the fireplace.

After the battle of Shiloh brought the Federal army into the Tennessee River Valley, the menfolk of Winston County and the other surrounding mountain counties went down to enlist. The 1st Alabama Union Cavalry Regiment was mustered into service at Corinth, Mississippi in 1863 and served with distinction till the end of the war. Their fellow Alabamians called them traitors and tories and mossbacks and other names unfit to print.

The men of the Free State of Winston didn’t care what they were called as long as they were left alone. No one pushed them around. No one. As far as they were concerned, you messed with mountain folk at your own peril. If the Confederates had lost the war, and along with it most everything they owned or held dear, well, the mountaineers figured the planters had asked for it and they deserved what they got. Of course after Reconstruction ended and the planter class took back over, things went hard for Winston County. But things had always been hard up in the hills, and if the unionists regretted the decision they had taken, they didn’t tell their descendants about it.

But, oh, the stories they had left – some like Aunt Jenny’s and some that were worse.

Will Shipman shivered and gathered in the wool blanket tighter around him. Oughta throw another log or two on the fire. Gettin’ too old for this re-enacting stuff. It had been all right when the sun was shining, the blue wool uniform helped maintain his body heat. But the sun was gone now, and the naked trees around the campsite flickered in and out of the darkness like the ghosts that some said still haunted these parts.

There was Mitch Kennedy, who was shot dead by the Home Guards and whose body was pretty well ate up by the hogs before his sickly wife could get help to bury him. And poor Henry Tucker, on leave from the First Alabama Union Cavalry, who Stoke Roberts and the other Confederate Home Guards had staked to a tree, cutting off a piece of him at a time while a slow fire tickled his naked feet. Roberts had finished him by cutting out his liver and eating it, they said. They left him there, staked to that tree. But Tucker’s neighbors and kin had caught up with Roberts later and did the same things to him that he had done to Henry, stroke for stroke. They didn’t eat him though, because they were Christians after all.

All the ghosts from the war, all the evil, Will Shipman thought. It was easy enough in the gathering gloom to believe they still stalked through these dancing trees in winter, looking for the justice in death that they had been denied in life. Will guessed that was why he had become a civil war re-enactor to begin with. It was his own way of letting the ghosts know that they were not forgotten. And some of those ghosts were family. He didn’t need to play soldier like some other re-enactors in Company C seemed to. He’d been a real soldier, in a real war, even if it had been a little one. So long ago and far away it seemed now.

Yet he still had trouble with night skirmishes. He wouldn’t do them, even now. The flashes and bangs in the night brought back too many personal demons, too much memory. That was one thing he had discovered. Sometimes, you can remember too much.

Corporal Dan Cutter, who was an advertising account executive in Birmingham during the week, emerged from his A-frame tent wrapped in a federal pattern greatcoat, fiddle in his right hand and a bottle of Bushmill’s Irish Whisky in his left. Bushmill’s, the toast of the cavalry.

Cutter came over and sat down on the hardtack box next to his captain.

“Have a pull, Captain?” the fiddler asked, offering the bottle to Will.

“Thanks,” Shipman said, unscrewing the cap and taking a sip. “Just don’t tell my wife,” Will added, handing back the bottle.

Cutter grinned, “I’m the soul of discretion, sir,” and took a pull himself.

Replacing the cap, the corporal set down the bottle between them on the cold earth.

“Would ye like a tune, Captain?” said the fiddler in his best fake-Irish brogue.

“Sure,” said Will, “Anything.”

Cutter put the fiddle to his chin and struck up “Bonaparte’s Retreat.” The mournful tune echoed in the dead woods and by ones and twos, other men and boys of Company C, 1st Alabama Union Cavalry Regiment gathered around the fire, listening.

Will Shipman ignored them, staring out into the trees, deep in thought about his wife, Phil Gordon, the country and his duty. Yep, he was stuck with the duty, that was sure. His daddy had stuck him with the duty, just like his grandpa had stuck his daddy with it. His daddy had been off to the war when the whole thing had happened. When he got back, Will guessed it had been five or six years before Grandpa Shipman had told his son about what was in the old mine. Both a burden and a legacy, the secret passed from generation to generation and now it was his. And the times being what they were, it was getting close to the time when Will Shipman was going to have to open up that dark shaft and deal with his deadly inheritance.

“Bonaparte’s Retreat” ended, and Tommy Curtis sat down with his dulcimer beside Cutter on a large piece of cut firewood.

“Star of the County Down?” Cutter asked.

Curtis nodded, and they struck up the tune by Clinch River Pearl. The music was beautiful but, if anything, sadder than “Bonaparte’s Retreat.” Music fit for ghosts, Will thought. They probably approved the serenade, at that.

1945: The Preacher, the Deacon and the Boxcar

His daddy had told him how the family came to have the responsibility. The Preacher Luke hadn’t known about his son’s last caper until after the funeral. His no-account brother-in-law Curtis Stampp had sidled up to him at the cemetery after the service.

The bootlegger made his condolences and then asked the Preacher if Matthew Mark Luke had called him before his death. The question took the preacher by surprise, and the obvious interest of his wife’s brother in the last days of his son instantly worried him.

“No,” said the preacher. “Did you?” He fixed the bootlegger with his best right-hand-of-God look.

“Uh, naw,” stammered the bootlegger. “I was jest wondering if’n you’d heard from him.”

“No,” said Parson Luke, still suspicious.

“Uh, well, I’m sure sorry about the boy. I know y’all didn’t get along but I always liked him.”

The preacher just looked at the bootlegger, and tried to remember that he was commanded to love the sinner but hate the sin. With his brother-in-law, that was especially difficult.

It was two days later, when he’d heard from his wife and other family members that Stampp was asking around about Matt Luke and some sort of railroad boxcar, that the preacher began to suspect that his brother-in-law might have had something to do with his son’s death. But it was his experience with Captain Harrison Fordyce, United States Army, that made him certain of it.

Fordyce roared into the little town of Natural Bridge like General Patton four days after the mortal remains Matthew Mark Luke were laid to rest. Accompanied by three MPs, with the Winston County Sheriff and a state police captain in tow, Fordyce arrived at the little parsonage in a Dodge staff car with all the politeness of a Sherman tank. Fordyce was a fast-talking, nasal New England Yankee, with all that implies to a southerner. He was in a position of authority and was used to getting his own way. He was also in a lot of hot water with his superiors over the missing boxcar and the botched investigation. This did not improve his humor nor did it do anything for his manners. And manners are important in Winston County.

Without polite preamble, the captain began to grill the preacher and his wife over their son’s misdeeds, the missing boxcar, and their duty in time of war to assist the government in retrieving property their son had stolen. Not knowing any of this, Mrs. Luke broke down into tears and was so distraught that even hardboiled Capt. Fordyce allowed her to flee to her bedroom while he continued the interrogation of the parson.

Preacher Luke was unhelpful to the CID captain. How could he be otherwise? His son had hardly shared the fact that he was a gambler, bootlegger and whoremaster. Captain Fordyce thought differently, and wondered if a few days in jail might jog the parson’s memory. Not trusting the sheriff, Fordyce asked the state police captain to take the preacher under arrest to Birmingham, where he was lodged for four long days and nights. Fordyce had learned something though. Before taking Preacher Luke into custody, he made sure that the minister did not suffer from claustrophobia.

The incarceration did not improve the preacher’s memory, as indeed it could not, and it didn’t improve his opinion of the government, either. From the very first minute of Fordyce’s Gestapo tactics, Preacher Luke had determined he would tell the overbearing captain nothing. In fact, he decided that if he ever did find out about this mysterious boxcar, Fordyce was likely to be the last person he called.

Turned out of Birmingham Jail without an apology or a ride, the preacher made his own way back to Winston County, determined never to leave there until the Lord called him Home. But he was also determined to find out about the boxcar and what relationship it had with his son and his crooked brother-in-law.

The day Parson Luke was let out of jail in Birmingham, Deacon Warren Shipman was out hunting when his coon dogs hit on the trail of a raccoon that cut across the old Sipsey Coal Company mine tipple on the far corner of the preacher’s property. The Reverend Luke owned more than 240 acres that he had inherited on the death of his Uncle Jeremiah. Jeremiah had sold the mineral rights for a song back in the 1890s, and in the Twenties the West Sipsey Coal Company had sunk a number of shafts looking for the black rock to feed the growing steel industry in the Birmingham industrial district. The coal company had some success, but then ran into water and methane, the twin banes of the coal miner’s existence.

In 1930, a gas explosion killed two men and the blast caused the lower levels of the mine to flood. Hammered by the depression in addition to the disaster, the company folded. The last thing it did was wall off the lower level, board up the mine entrance and post it with big warning signs. Creditors came and hauled off the equipment and the abandoned mine buildings were dismantled over the next decade bit by bit to provide bricks and wood for other construction in the county. By 1945, the only things left to show there had been a mine there was the abandoned tipple and the railroad track spur which led in from the main line.

So it was that when Deacon Shipman came around the tipple, chasing his dogs who were chasing the ‘coon, he came face to face with the boxcar sitting on the siding and stopped short. The deacon took a look at the lock on the door, saw the US markings and knew even before he looked that this was the boxcar the preacher had been thrown in jail over. Mrs. Luke had told him all about it. But the baying dogs were growing fainter in the distance, so Deacon Shipman grabbed up his shotgun and continued on the hunt. But he’d tell the preacher about this as soon as he saw him.

It took the preacher the better part of a day to get back to Winston County and his frantically worried wife. The next morning he rose to discover that there was little kindling left in the box so the Reverend Luke commenced to splitting some more out back. It was here that the Deacon Shipman found him and imparted the news about the mysterious boxcar.

“Warren, I want you to promise that you won’t say a word to anybody about this,” said the Reverend.

“Preacher, after what they put you through, I won’t tell a soul. But what are you gonna do with it?” asked the deacon.

“I don’t know, Warren. Let’s us go take a look in it.” So they took a sledge and chisel from the preacher’s barn to use on the lock and hiked back to the mine.

Deacon Warren Shipman remembered the moment they rolled back the door on that boxcar for the rest of his life. Not so much for the fact of what it contained, but for the words that blurted out of his preacher’s mouth.

“Well I’ll be dipped in shi….” Parson Luke caught himself at the last instant. He hadn’t always been a preacher of the Holy Word, and the curse from his sinful youth had just popped out. The deacon stared at his pastor, shocked to the soles of his shoes.

Reverend Luke’s face flushed a deep purple. “I’m sorry, Warren, I just…” His voice trailed off. So this was what his son had died for. After Fordyce’s litany of Matt’s alleged sins down at Aliceville, the preacher had few illusions about what his son had been up to. Reverend Luke also knew that his low-life no-account brother-in-law was involved in this business up to his eyeballs. Well, his son had stolen this war material, that much was plain, and by rights it ought to go back to the government.

But the last representative of the United States government that the good reverend had encountered was that nasty Yankee, Captain Fordyce. What right did the captain have, terrorizing his wife like that? And by what right had the CID man thrown him in jail on no evidence, for that matter? The minister still faced the next Sunday service, and the deacon board afterward, when he would have to explain to everyone the extent of his son’s misdeeds and his own involvement. Would the congregation believe him when he told them he had nothing to do with it, despite the fact that the Army had him arrested? He thought they would, but already the gossipy old biddies were making up stories about what they did not know.

To turn the boxcar back to Fordyce was like ratifying that the CID man had a right to do what he did. When the captain had explained to him how his son had died, the Reverend Luke knew it was true. The boy always did have a terror of small spaces. And wasn’t that his fault? But the guilt and the shame and the anger worked on him at cross purposes without decision. What should he do? If he didn’t give the boxcar back to Fordyce, he’d be stealing too, wouldn’t he? And there was never a thought of letting Curtis Stampp have the proceeds of his criminal conspiracy.

His son was dead and buried. The precious son he had held so proudly the day of his birth had gone. Somewhere he had gone astray, and now all the hopes and dreams the preacher had for his son were gone, too. Gone and buried. Buried, the Reverend Luke thought. Yes, that’s it, buried.

He turned to his head deacon and explained what he wanted to do with the contents of the boxcar. They had been friends since the age of twelve, grew up together, hunted and fished together, raised cain on Saturday nights together, found the Lord at the same camp meeting together, and settled down to their lives in Winston County together. Warren Shipman was probably more outraged than the preacher over what had been done to him and his wife by that stinking Yankee.

“Yup, Jim, I’ll help you. But it’s going to be a big job and I don’t think we’d better bring anybody else in on it. It’d better be just you an’ me. We ought not tell our wives either.” The preacher nodded. “We’re gonna need some tools,” the deacon went on. “A team of mules an’ a flat bed freight wagon and a snatch block. There’s enough timber around here to do the job, but it’s gonna take a while. What bothers me is what are we gonna do with the boxcar once we get it unloaded? That shiftless sheriff is gonna come nosing around here one of these days and how are you gonna explain THAT?” Shipman pointed at the huge railroad car.

“I don’t know, Warren,” replied the reverend. “I’ll think on it.”

February 28: The Duty

“Star of the County Down” ended on its last, mournful notes. The deacon’s grandson awoke from his reverie. He was still cold.

“Cutter, you’re depressin’ me with all that scratchin’ fit for a funeral. Can’t you do better than that?”

“What did ya have in mind, Captain?” asked the fiddler.

Shipman looked around at his comrades gathered round the fire.

Little Jimmy Flynn offered, “How ‘bout ‘Poor White Boys’, Cap’n?”

The men agreed, Shipman could see. It was the 1st Alabama Union Cavalry’s unofficial marching song. It was also know as “The Perfect Penultimate Grayback Piss-off Song.”

“Cutter,” said the captain, “Do you know ‘Poor White Boys’?”

“Captain, is the Governor a Baptist?”

“Yeah, I reckon he is.”

“Well, all right then,” said the fiddler and began to scratch out the tune of “Bonnie Blue Flag”, that most sacred of Confederate battle songs, only the words the boys of the “Thirsty First” sang along with the music would have horrified the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

“We are a band of planters, unfaithful to our wives,
Fighting for our property, but frightened for our lives.
So when our rights are threatened, our cry goes near and far:
Send us a million poor white boys to fight our wicked war!
Hurrah! Hurrah! For planter’s rights Hurrah!
Hurrah for the poor white boys who fight our rich man’s war!”

The Bushmills’ bottle came up again, making the rounds, sloshing into tin cups.

“Ye men of valor gather ‘round, and help us in our plight.
Old Abe’s freed the dark-skinned girls with whom we spend the night.
And just because ye have no slaves, we’ll give you one or two,
As long as you help us in our fight against the Yankee crew.
Hurrah! Hurrah! For planter’s rights Hurrah!
Hurrah for the poor white boys who fight our rich man’s war!”

In between the verses, the cups were upended, burning throats, and the singing got louder if not more melodious.

“Of course we know that you won’t fight for rich men’s property,
You hardly have enough to eat to feed your family.
So ‘state’s rights’ is the banner we choose to lead your ranks,
And now we won’t repay our loans to all those Yankee banks!
Hurrah! Hurrah! We’ll profit more, Hurrah!
Hurrah for the poor white boys who fight our rich man’s war!”

As the verse ended, Corporal Klingman, already half-lit from his private stock when the Bushmills began its journey and who was standing with his left boot on a piece of firewood, stumbled when it rolled under him and he almost fell into the fire. His friends roared with laughter, and resumed singing, but the beginning of the next verse was a little ragged.

“But when the long roll beckons and you all fall into line,
Of all the many faces there you surely won’t see mine.
I’ve business to attend to, and I’m certainly no fool.
I’ll stay right here and hide behind the ‘Twenty Nigger Rule.’
Hurrah! Hurrah! For planter’s rights Hurrah!
Hurrah for the poor white boys who fight our rich man’s war!”

Their voices echoed down the glen, through the naked trees. If there were indeed Unionist ghosts out there, they liked the tune.

“We’ve mountain loads of cotton that’s already been picked,
Bought by the Confed’racy, unable to be shipped.
Jeff Davis says to burn it, but the Yanks’ll buy we’re told.
We’ll compromise our principles, IF THEY PAY IN GOLD!
Hurrah! Hurrah! We’ll profit more, Hurrah!
Hurrah for the poor white boys who fight our rich man’s war!”

The bottle came ‘round to Shipman again, but the captain declined to take another drink, handing it off to First Sergeant Williams, who took a healthy slug, even by cavalry standards.

“And when the war is over, and our independence won,
We’ll host a celebration for those left alive to come.
There’ll be food and drink aplenty and our daughters there to charm,
Engaged to other planter’s sons WHO NEVER LEFT THE FARM!
Hurrah! Hurrah! For planter’s rights Hurrah!
Hurrah for the poor white boys who fight our rich man’s war!

Hurrah! Hurrah! For planter’s rights Hurrah!
Hurrah for the poor white boys who fight our rich man’s war!”

The re-enactors of the First Alabama cheered and hooted and huzzahed. This was their song and they loved it. Their forefathers had despised the Confederacy and this was their way of letting everybody know that if it was good enough for their great- great- granddaddies then it was good enough for them.

Somebody yelled “Minstrel Boy!” and the fiddler struck up the tune with all of the by-now well-lubricated troopers joining in.

“The minstrel boy to the war is gone, in the ranks of death you will find him.
His father’s sword he has girded on, and his wild harp slung behind him.”

His father’s sword, Shipman thought, staring into the fire. Yeah, that’s what I got.

“Land of song, said the warrior-bard, though all the world betrays thee.
One sword at least thy right shall guard, one faithful harp shall praise thee.”

Will Shipman made up his mind. He knew a fellow who had a friend who worked in the governor’s office. Maybe there was a way he could discharge the duty he was stuck with, officially. Mary would like that. Lord knows that in the Governor’s sea of troubles he might not notice one more. Then again, maybe the contents of the mine would help a little, in the right hands. He’d make the call on Monday. Will blew hot breath on his cold fingertips, and then held his hands palms out toward the fire, flexing his fingertips up and out, luxuriating in the warmth.

“The minstrel fell but the foeman’s chains could not bring that proud soul under.
The harp he loved ne’er spoke again, for he tore its chords asunder,
And said ‘no chain shall sully thee, the soul of love and bravery.
Thy songs were meant for the proud and free, they shall never sound in slavery!’”

“Never sound in slavery.” That was a cause in which Will Shipman had enlisted a long time ago. It wasn’t new to Winston County either.

Yes, he’d make that call on Monday, he surely would.

And Phil Gordon, he knew, would be pleased.

(To be continued . . .)

>The Obamessiah and the RKBA

>A quick note to the Judas goats and leg-tinglers who plan to vote for the Obamessiah:

Bird Dog at Maggie’s Farm lays out next POTUS Big Commie Hopeychangey’s Second Amendment record with citations, chapter and verse.

A sample (citations for each assertion in original article):

FACT: Barack Obama voted to allow reckless lawsuits designed to bankrupt the firearms industry.

FACT: Barack Obama wants to re-impose the failed and discredited Clinton Gun Ban.

FACT: Barack Obama voted to ban almost all rifle ammunition commonly used for hunting and sport shooting.

FACT: Barack Obama has endorsed a complete ban on handgun ownership.

FACT: Barack Obama supports local gun bans in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and other cities.

FACT: Barack Obama voted to uphold local gun bans and the criminal prosecution of people who use firearms in self-defense…

There’s lots more, so go and read the whole thing, then spread it far and wide.

Come December, it’ll be too late for “I wish I had…”

Tempus fugit.

PS: Tam says it all:

>Repost: Becoming a Model Bad Citizen

Even more relevant now than when first posted last summer:

JPFO posted this alert last year, describing several ominous developments in the growing American state security apparatus, including pain beams, robot law enforcers, and the increased domestic use of spy satellites.

Turnabout being fair play, please consider reading and then implementing appropriate techniques from the following freedom classics:

1) Claire Wolfe’s The Freedom Outlaw’s Handbook: 179 Things to Do ‘Til the Revolution: Even if you never take any of the more than 179 steps towards greater personal freedom described by Ms. Wolfe, you and your soul will benefit greatly from the first read and all subsequent re-reads.

2) Jefferson Mack’s Invisible Resistance to Tyranny: How to Lead a Secret Life of Insurgency in an Increasingly Unfree World: Along with its companion volumes re operating

– a safe house

– a 21st-century underground railroad


– an intelligence/espionage ring,

Mr. Mack’s books are a fine start to educating yourself and others on what will need to be done in the coming Dark Years. Most commendably, “Invisible Resistance” is free from the bravado and systemic delusions that permeate much modern-day resistance lore.

3) Take the time to read Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail in its entirety, reflecting on its message of implacable resistance to tyranny and injustice. Most importantly, consider for yourself the morality of resistance to injustice versus the immorality of acquiescence in the societal suicide planned by the transnational Western elites, not only for themselves but our families as well.

4) Learn about citizen-warrior mindset from these three excellent resources on the Swiss militia:

The Swiss and the Nazis: How the Alpine Republic Survived in the Shadow of the Third Reich by Stephen Halbrook;

Target Switzerland: Swiss Armed Neutrality In World War II, also by Stephen Halbrook; and

Total Resistance by Major H. von Dach of the Swiss Army.

Then act bravely and wisely.

A long Night is coming, and a new Dawn is but the faintest of possibilities.

Tempus fugit.

>Vanderboegh: Poor White Boys – The Depot, the Camp, and the Preacher’s Son

>(A chapter, in part, from Mike Vanderboegh’s upcoming novella, “Absolved”. Written to the tune of “Star of the County Down” by Clinch River Pearl)

Author’s Note: I first heard the tale of the wayward boxcar back in the late Eighties. Whether it was true or not I cannot say, but I know there were folks up in Winston County who believed it. What happened to it, and most importantly where it’s contents are today is anybody’s guess. I suppose some folks know, but they’re not talkin’. You never can tell, though. We may yet see some items off that boxcar’s bill of lading, if push comes to shove. In the hills of red-dirt-poor Winston County, nothing goes to waste, and they hardly ever throw anything useful away. 😉

“We must be the great arsenal of democracy.”
— Franklin Delano Roosevelt, December 29, 1940

“The men of the mountain are down in the vale,
And the flags of Shelburny are loose to the gale –
And tho’ gentle the Forth, yet her sons never slight,
For the mildest in peace are oft boldest in fight.”
–The Wexford Insurgent, a traditional Irish Ballad

January 22, 1945: The Depot

It was Monday and James Boatwright was late. He was late and he was cold. It was 19 degrees and he was chilled to the bone, and not just from the winter weather. As he hurried across Broad Street dodging traffic he slipped on the ice and almost ended up under a passing Ford cargo truck. The military policeman at the Broad Street Gate was laughing as James recovered and slipped-slid through the crusty brown slush at the curb. Boatwright ignored the MP and rushed through the gate, running as fast as the snow and his worn-out shoes would allow until he launched himself into the Intra-Depot Bus just as it was pulling out of “D” stop in front of the Depot headquarters building.

Had the MP not recognized him and allowed him to pass without checking his ID, Boatwright would have never made it to his desk on time. But the MP had been working his post for about three months now, and he knew Boatwright to be one of the many department managers of the busy Columbus Army Service Forces Depot. In fact, though the MP did not know it, James Boatwright was one of a few of the Depot’s 14,000 man (and woman) workforce whose seniority predated the war.

Built in 1918 on 281 acres of swamp & farm land well east of downtown Columbus, Ohio, the Columbus Quartermaster Reserve Depot was well-sited to take advantage of three major railroad lines. By the end of “The War to End All Wars”, the Depot had expanded to 25 warehouses. Most of these were dismantled after the war ended, and during the Twenties the Depot’s mission became reconditioning war materiel for resale.

Renamed in 1930 as the Columbus General Depot, it was used during the Thirties as the District Headquarters for the “Triple Cs”—the Civilian Conservation Corps—for Ohio and West Virginia. Thus it was to the Columbus General Depot that in 1933, James Boatwright, hat in hand, applied for a floor sweeper’s job. The fact that James was a veteran of the “Great War” helped him secure his position, as did the fact that his uncle had worked at the Depot since the groundbreaking in May, 1918.

If he ever felt guilty about using his family connection to get a job, James didn’t remember it. It was the “Great Depression” and his family was just short of eviction. Being hired by the Depot was the best thing that could have happened at the time, and certainly James had repaid his employers, the taxpayers of the United States of America, with years of diligent hard work. When he had time to think about it (which wasn’t often), James wondered if the current “Great War” would be followed by another depression. “I suppose we’ll have to start numbering the depressions like we number the world wars now,” James had grumbled to his wife just last week.

Then came Pearl Harbor, and the Depot workers knew they would be called upon to support the war effort just like 1918. They had no idea, however, how large a task they would be asked to perform. It was a bigger war, with many fronts, and the demands of the services for arms and materiel were huge and insatiable. The Depot grew, and grew again, buildings multiplying at a ferocious pace. In August, 1942, the Quartermaster General took over the Depot and it was renamed the Columbus Quartermaster Depot. In this war, the Depot would support all the services, not just the Army. Later that year, another 295 acres were purchased and the building went on and on: more vast sheds, more rail sidings, more offices to handle the workload: Salvage Office, Lumber Office, Motor Maintenance, even Chemical Warfare. In 1943, its named had been changed yet again to the Columbus Army Service Forces Depot, but to everyone who worked there it had always been, and would always be, simply called “The Depot.”

Over 14,000 war workers now bustled across the Depot’s nearly 600 acres at all hours every day, and some of them were prisoners of war. James never felt comfortable having POWs doing critical war work. It was all very well to use them on the farms growing grain and such. How much sabotage could they do there? But here, at the Depot, with vast quantities of munitions passing through there were unlimited opportunities for criminal mischief. Oh, the Italians were trustworthy enough, James reflected. Once beaten, they stayed beaten and were more docile and agreeable than the native Americans who worked at the Depot. But the Germans…..well, James Boatwright hadn’t trusted a German since 1918 and he wasn’t about to start. He kept a vigilant eye on the Germans in his immediate area and he constantly urged his supervisors and lead men to do the same. There hadn’t been a case of sabotage in his area that he knew of, and there wouldn’t be if he could make sure that the Germans were carefully watched. Not that the Germans, or anyone else, had spare time to think up mischief. They were too busy.

Five thousand rail cars entered and left the Depot every month. John Carmody, a friend of James’ who kept track of such statistics from his office up front in the headquarters building, said that if all the cars were put end to end, by the end of the year they would form a train well over a thousand miles long. In February 1943 alone the Depot had shipped over 53,000 tons of guns, ammunition and other ordnance supplies to the far-flung battlefronts. Carmody also told Boatwright that the Quartermaster Section was shipping about ONE HUNDRED MILLION field ration meals a month. From fresh meat to antiaircraft guns, from clothing to bridge sections, from jeeps and trucks to medical supplies, the Depot took it in, inspected it, repackaged it, selected it, and shipped it on to its ultimate destination: the biggest war the world had ever seen.

On the wall next to his desk was a clipping from the Depot newsletter, “The Log of Columbus.” Almost two years old now, it read: “The gigantic task in which all of us are engaged to bring freedom again to the nations of the world has been aptly called a war of supply. Never before has so much depended on keeping the tools of war moving to the fighting fronts. This Depot is one of the most important links in the chain of supply.” James kept the small clipping as his own little war poster, for he believed every word of it.

Even before the war, the President had called the United States “the arsenal of democracy.” Looking out the bus window as he passed by the long sheds full to bursting, crated antiaircraft guns and searchlights sitting in the open storage areas and forklifts rushing to and fro, James Boatwright knew he was looking at just a small portion of that arsenal. He was proud of the job he did, even if at the moment he had no business doing it.

James Boatwright was sick. The flu had been going around, and James had caught a piece of it. His temperature at the moment was about a hundred and two. He had alternately chilled and burned for two days now. His wife had not wanted him to go to work today, but he felt he had to. Not that today was any more important than any other day but merely because he knew that his sons, and a lot of other fathers’ sons, were counting on the supplies that would move through the Depot this day. James wanted to make sure that his part was done right. And there wasn’t one of his subordinates he could trust to keep an eye on all the many facets of his job.

So when he made it to his desk, he hung up his hat and overcoat, put his lunchbox on the shelf and began to organize his day. First he had to clean up the mess. Over the weekend someone, probably that 4F kid Jimmy McKnight, had been using his desk as a combination dinner table and library reading room kiosk. There were crumbs everywhere. (Was that mayonnaise on his telephone handset?) Spread out across his desk was Saturday’s edition of the Columbus Evening Dispatch. James didn’t mind someone using his desk, but he darned sure wished they had the manners to clean up after themselves. Well, there was a war on, right? Standards slipped in wartime, that was a given, so James merely sighed and began to sweep the crumbs into his wastebasket.

The newspaper drew Boatright’s attention. He’d been too sick to read the paper the last couple of days and this was still news to him.

“REDS 204 MILES FROM BERLIN” screamed the headline in the Dispatch. “Five Red Armies Strike Nazis; Reich Invaded at Three Points,” read the next line. “Simple Ceremony Marks 4th Term Inauguration,” said a lesser headline in the upper left corner, below which was a picture of the President being sworn in by Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone. James sighed. Well, I didn’t vote for him, he thought.

Mr. Boatwright had drummed a practical knowledge of the history of American constitutional jurisprudence into his son’s head to supplement James’ Catholic school education. And Mr. Roosevelt (his father had referred to him as “THAT man,” until the day he died in 1937) had bent the Constitution into a pretzel to accomplish his “New Deal”, even going so far as to threaten to pack the Supreme Court to coerce the justices into getting what he wanted. Many Americans thought Roosevelt to be a deity only slightly lesser than Jesus Christ. James had a different opinion. It was, however, a minority opinion. Well, that’s democracy for you, James thought.

“Torpedoed Ship’s Crew Strafed by Japanese,” read the headline just above the fold. Just to the right of that tragedy was a story that caught James attention:

“Canadian Draftees Revealed AWOL”
“Ottawa, January 20 (AP) –
Half of a group of Canadian home defense soldiers drafted for overseas service went absent without leave before embarkation, and 6300 are still at large, Defense Minister A.G.L. McNaughton disclosed today. Some 1500 of these 7800 returned voluntarily or were apprehended, he added, and about 500 of them sailed for Britain along with the others who did not take authorized leaves….the 6300 will be classed as deserters if they do not return within 21 days.”

Boatwright snorted in derision. Canucks. That figured. Such behavior squared with his own experiences with Canadians in the First World War. Shaking his head, his eyes scanned on down to “Casualties in Central Ohio”. “Ah, blessed Heavenly Father, there’s little Vic,” James whispered.

“Columbus — Sea. 1c Enio John Centurini, 23, E. 3rd Ave, in the Pacific; Cpl. Victor R. Lake, 25, 2481 James Road, in Germany.”

It wasn’t news to James, of course. The Lakes lived two doors down from the Boatwrights and Mrs. Lake had received the telegram over a week ago. The government always delayed the press release of casualties so the families wouldn’t suffer the shock of reading about it in the papers the same time as their neighbors. Still, occasionally the telegram didn’t get delivered to the right person and there was more than one father or mother or wife who read about the death of their little Jimmy or beloved Johnny over morning coffee.

What a waste, James thought. Another marvelous boy cut down in the spring of life, one of millions of such boys all over the world. Ah, God in Heaven, what a waste. All because of the murderous greedy bastards who start the dirty stinking wars. The fires of Hell weren’t hot enough for Hitler, Tojo and Mussolini. Stinking bastards. May they meet their Maker swiftly.

The war was close to being over. That much was clear from the headlines. We were going to win the war, the only question uppermost in James’ mind was how many American boys lives would be required to end it, and would one or more of his three sons be among the fallen?

Hitler’s last gasp had been that Battle of the Bulge thing. Surely that WAS his last gasp. He couldn’t have another surprise like that up his sleeve, could he? But then there were the Japs. One look at the map told you that they still were in a lot of places they had to pried out of, and we hadn’t even got close to the home islands yet. How horrific was that going to be?

“Jap Resistance Mounts in Fury In Luzon Fight.” Now this story drew James Boatwright’s full attention. James’ son Billy was a sergeant in the 37th “Buckeye” Division. And the Boatwrights hadn’t had a letter from Billy since last month.

“Tank Battles and Artillery Duels Flare Along Invasion Front” James read on down the column.

“Sisson was captured after a nerve-wracking night in which Japanese pressed the attack incessantly against American infantry and anti-tank guns pinned down by artillery firing from overlooking ridges. As soon as the Japanese armor withdrew, screaming Nipponese foot soldiers charged. They were beaten off with losses to both sides…. Similar tank and Banzai charges were reported elsewhere in the sector, where Japanese were burned out of 20 foot holes by flame-throwers….”

James stopped reading. Flame-throwers. Wasn’t there something from last week about flame-throwers? Some unfinished business, he half-remembered. He discarded the newspaper into his trashcan, and began to survey his desk seriously for the first time. Rifling through his pending basket, he found it. There was a shipping order for twelve M2-2 flamethrowers. Let’s see, James scanned the attached note. Ah, that was it. James rose and walked out his office door into the bedlam beyond. Scanning the frantic activity, he spied the man he was looking for corking off by the water cooler, trying to make time with Betsy Sillers. James grinned. Sillers wouldn’t give Chief Cooper McCarthy the time of day if he was the last man on earth. Betsy had sense.

“McCarthy! Come here for a second!” he yelled.

McCarthy, a hard-drinking Irishman with an uncommonly big beer belly, danced across the shed runway, dodging a passing forklift. When he got within earshot he said, “Yeah. Boss?”

“Did you get those flame-throwers re-crated for shipment?” Boatwright asked.

“Uh, what flame-throwers?” McCarthy feigned ignorance.

“You know damned well which flame-throwers, McCarthy. The ones I talked to you about twice on Saturday.”

James didn’t wait for a reply. “Now get your ass over to Shed 11 and get them ready before I send you to the paymaster to pick up your last check.”

Boatwright executed an about face and went back into his office, leaving the Chief Cooper spluttering what little he remembered of his father’s Gaelic curses.

One of James Boatwright’s principal duties was the supervision of the Freight Consolation station. Shipments from all the various sections of the Depot that were less than a carload were brought to the FC station in the south end of Building 12. There it was sorted and consolidated to get the economical benefit of shipping in full carloads. Those flame-throwers that William O’Rourke McCarthy had been goldbricking on were all that was needed to fill out a railcar going to the port of Oakland where ships were destined for various points in the Pacific theater. And that shipment needed to leave today, if possible.

James scanned down the consolidated bill of lading, which contained some unusual items:

2 M55 Quad Fifty Caliber anti-aircraft machine gun trailer mounts, complete with 200,000 rounds of .50 caliber belted ammunition, ball, tracer, and armor piercing incendiary, as well as extra gun-mounted ammo cans and spare barrels; 4 of the new M20 75mm Recoilless Rifles, tripod mounted complete with direct fire sights plus 400 rounds of 75mm armor piercing and high explosive ammunition…

James guessed the first two items were “packaged” so they could go into immediate action. Although the destinations were different, they were probably both intended for the Philippine theater.

Then there was another big package. It consisted of 200 M3 .45 caliber submachine guns with 2,000 magazines and 120,000 rounds of .45 caliber ball; 200 of the new M2 Carbines with 2,000 magazines and 120,000 rounds of .30 Carbine ball ammunition; 100 M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifles with 1200 magazines; 100 M1903A3 rifles with grenade launching attachments and crates of high explosive, white phosphorus and antitank rifle grenades with launching cartridges; there were even more crates of Mark II hand grenades. For the Springfields and BARs there were 240,000 rounds of M2 ball ammunition packed in bandoleers and 5 round stripper clips. In addition, there were boxes of web belts and ammunition pouches of the appropriate types for all the weapons, in matching quantities going to the same address.

These had to be intended for some guerrilla group in Asia, thought Boatwright. Almost all shipments to U.S. military units were not bundled like this. They would ship whole boxcar loads of arms, other boxcar loads of ammo, and most often these would be shipped direct from the manufacturers or arsenals which produced them. But there were plenty of places that the Japanese still held, and these items looked like they were packaged to enable them to be re-bundled without delay and dropped behind enemy lines. James had seen packages like this before, going to the ETO. (In fact, although Boatwright never knew it, those arms had been dropped to the French Maquis by the OSS. This package was intended for a particularly effective anti-Japanese partisan group in French Indochina which the OSS had been working with for some time. Its leader was a little Communist named Ho Chi Minh.)

Then there was another line item that, like the 75mm Recoilless Rifles, James had never seen before.

There were 20 M3 “grease guns” like the others in the “package” but these were being shipped with sound suppressors. Hmm, thought James, silencers. No magazines or ammo were included with this shipment so presumably the recipients would already have both.

And of course there were the twelve M2-2 flame throwers and 24 refill tanks, as well as organizational support maintenance kits. No fuel of course, that would be available wherever these were going. Sergeant Billy Boatwright had written his father about watching GIs of his division using these devil’s backpacks on Jap pillboxes on Bougainville in March of last year. James shuddered to think of the sights his youngest son had seen. His own war had been terrible enough, but he suspected, no, he knew, that the scientific ingenuity of man had made this war even worse.

There were more light items: bales of uniforms, anti-flash garments and hoods for naval gunners, aircraft carrier deck signal paddles, pith helmets, mosquito netting and MP brassards as well as ping pong balls and paddles headed for some USO or hospital. All of it was destined for the Port of Oakland. James checked the total weight of the cargo, plus the space calculations. Yes, it was not too much over the 100.000 pound maximum gross for the 50’6” long car (as measured internally) and the stuff would fit with some backing and filling by the POWs. (There was a time when James would have never considered loading a railcar more than the max, but this was war and there was a continual shortage of boxcars.) The balance would have to be right, not too much on one side of the car or the other. But the German POWs were usually pretty good at that, better than most of the Americans on the loading crew who worked the forklifts.

The POWs. James Boatwright grimaced. They would bear watching with this one. Give one unattended POW a minute to fool with a case of hand grenades and it could be Armageddon on his loading dock. He would watch this one himself.

By the time McCarthy came back with the re-crated flame throwers (and it was record time for him), the loading of the railroad car was well under way, all under the watchful eye of James Boatwright. There was some trouble with the balance, but after taking some items off and rearranging them, it finally worked. They were just about to fit the last items in by hand when James Boatwright passed out and hit the dock floor as if he’d been pole-axed.

The Depot medics were summoned and, with the assistance of the American lead man and his helper, carried James to the ambulance. Someone yelled at the POWs to “hurry up and finish the job goddammit!” In went the last boxes and the door was sealed.

In the confusion, no one noticed Feldwebel Helmut Grass switch the bills of lading on the outside of the car with the next one up the track.

Helmut, recently of the 252nd Panzer Grenadiers, had been waiting for such a moment for three months, ever since he had been posted to the Depot. According to the Geneva Convention, POWs weren’t supposed to be employed in war work but Helmut didn’t mind. He figured (quite correctly) that Germany probably had American POWs doing war work back home, and besides, he thought that the job would give him ample opportunity to help the Fuhrer and the Fatherland by engaging in a little sabotage.

Raised in the Hitler Youth, Helmut was a big believer in the Fuhrer and the Fatherland. He liked to think he had remained faithful to his blood oath even after he was captured in Normandy. Even so, by the date of his capture on June 13, 1944, Helmut’s military ardor had cooled considerably. In fact, he had been hysterically happy to be captured. Flattened in a roadside ditch, he had pissed himself in fear while the P47 “Jabos” worked over his unit’s convoy with bombs and machineguns, again and again until the stench of roasting flesh made him puke his last three breakfasts. He was still hiding there two days later when an advancing American infantry unit scooped him up. Helmut was too demoralized to resist. Even now he dreamed every night of the smell of roasting flesh. He could still smell it. Sometimes he dreamed the flesh was his. On those nights he woke up screaming to find his mattress soaked with sweat and urine. His continual shame made him an even bigger Nazi in the POW barracks than he had been in the Hitler Youth.

As for sabotage, Helmut had been sorely disappointed. He was too closely watched during his service at the Depot to as much as spit in the “Amis’” coffee. His best opportunity had been today. “25 Grenades, Hand, TNT Frag, MK.2 with fuze” read the crates that Helmut had helped position in the car. “Grenade” meant pretty much the same thing in several languages and Helmut understood exactly what was in those crates, but every time he looked up there was that verdammt American supervisor staring back at him, looking for all the world like a hawk about to sink its talons into a field mouse if it so much as twitched.

When Boatwright had collapsed and the rest of the crew was distracted, Helmut seized the chance to do the only thing he could think of to wreck the American war effort: he switched bills with another railcar that the crew had earlier loaded with clothing. If he could not destroy the cargo, he could at least send it where it was not needed. He was exultant. He had struck a blow for Fuhrer and Fatherland. He had in some small measure begun to atone for puking and pissing in fear at the bottom of that French ditch.

Helmut watched as the American assigned to document the loading matched the wrong bill of lading with railcar’s number. As the crew went on to loading the next car, he began to hum the “Horst Wessel Song.” His fellow POWs looked at him like he was crazy, which of course he was.

February 2, 1945: The Camp

It was a Friday afternoon in the warmest February Bill Hackney could remember, but then Bill was a native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, not Aliceville, Alabama. A lumberjack by profession and a family man, Bill had initially been spared the draft. As a lumberjack he plied a trade that was ruled to be essential to the war effort, for everything that the “arsenal of democracy” turned out was shipped in wooden crates, lashed to wooden pallets, loaded onto wooden box cars, transported to wooden warehouses, and handled by men who slept in wooden barracks.

But in July, 1944, Bill’s wife told him she had fallen in love with a discharged soldier, a local fellow who had come home minus his right leg below the knee after an encounter with a Jap knee mortar on New Guinea. She wanted a divorce. It was crazy, but Bill figured maybe he could save his marriage by becoming a soldier himself. If she wanted a soldier, then a soldier he would become. He went down to the recruiting office and signed the papers. She laughed when he told her. Fortunately the kids were upstairs sleeping. He slapped her face so hard it spun her around and dumped her on her butt on the kitchen floor. She wasn’t laughing when he walked out the door. But then, he wasn’t either. It was the first time he’d ever touched her in anger, and though she’d deserved it, he wasn’t proud of it.

Well, at least boot camp kept him so busy he barely had time for the memory to rankle during the day. The long nights were different, though. He had plenty of lonely, ugly thoughts then. With all the war news of casualties, casualties and more casualties, Bill figured he’d end up in a mattress cover six feet deep somewhere in France or maybe on some Central Pacific hellhole. So he was surprised when God smiled on him and he drew an assignment to the 305th Military Police Escort Guard Company stationed at the Aliceville POW Internment Camp.

Located close to the railroad junction in Aliceville, Alabama, the camp had been built by the Blair Construction Company of Montgomery, Alabama and was opened for business on June 2, 1943 when the first prisoners arrived by train at the end of a long journey that had begun at El Alamein. The camp consisted of more than 400 buildings, employed more than 1200 military and civilian personnel and housed over 6000 German and Italian POWs.

Throughout 1943 and 1944, the original complement grew with new arrivals from Sicily, Italy, France and Holland. Prisoners were employed mostly as agricultural laborers at local farms, and there hadn’t been an escape attempt since August, 1943, when a couple of Nazi fanatics had managed to get themselves shot trying to get through the wire. Why they didn’t walk away from a work detail when they were already miles away from the camp was a mystery to guards and prisoners alike, but then as Sergeant Wilkie put it, “Well, ya gotta be pretty fricking stupid to be a Nazi anyways.”

Most of the prisoners figured they were pretty fortunate to be sitting the war out in safety rather than fighting in some doomed last ditch ‘kessel’ on the Eastern Front. Of course even if they had escaped, where would they go? Mexico? That might be an option for somebody interned in say, Arizona. (There had been rumors of a successful escape from a camp in that state.) But Alabama? You would have to be wire happy to try. Not that there weren’t soldaten who didn’t go nuts behind the wire. The camp hospital had its own mental ward, and occasionally a suicide was found hanging by a knotted bed sheet from an overhead pipe or rafter.

Hackney also had heard the rumors that every now and then some POW would make an unflattering comment about the Fuhrer and end up as an “unexplained death.” The American camp commander wasn’t too fussy about autopsies in such cases and if the Nazis still held sway in some of the tar-paper barracks there wasn’t much the 305th MPEG Company could do about it. Gerald Stabler, the mayor of Aliceville and the town undertaker still got the business generated thereby, for which services the U.S. Army reimbursed him, if not very handsomely.

But if the POWs didn’t talk much politics or religion to the guards or each other, they were scrupulous about keeping to the rules when outside the wire on work details. It wasn’t uncommon for the MP guard to take the two shotgun shells he was issued out of his weapon, sit down with his back up against a tree and go to sleep with the twelve gauge across his legs. When the work was done, one of the Krauts would gently wake him, and back to the camp they would go.

For their part, the guards never mistreated the prisoners (unlike some camps) and some became fast friends with POWs, although it was against the rules. The townsfolk had lined the streets and gaped at the prisoners when they first marched from the railroad station in 1943. (“As if we had horns and a tail,” one prisoner had told Hackney.) But now, almost two years later, some of them would invite POWs into their kitchens on a hot day and give them lemonade. Both MPs and POWs agreed there were worse places than Aliceville, Alabama to serve out the war.

But at the moment, Private First Class William J. Hackney had a problem. In fact, he had a big problem. The problem was a railroad car that should have been loaded with the winter clothing issue for 6000 men. But when Hackney had broken the door seal on the car and the POWs had pulled open the door, instead of courdoroy pants and cotton shirts with “PW” strips sewn on them there were crates of ammunition. Instead of standard issue PW overcoats there were hand grenades. Hand grenades! Plus Lord alone knows what behind that! Hackney had followed orders and brought a work detail to the siding to unload what was supposed to be a bunch of clothes. Now he had twenty German soldiers hanging around looking at crates of munitions that they quite certainly recalled how to use.

The first thing Bill did was to load his shotgun with his two puny little shells. They hardly seemed adequate for the occasion. Two shells divided by twenty Krauts: nope, Mrs. Hackney’s oldest son didn’t like the math at all. Bill didn’t see any of the more notorious camp Nazis in this bunch, but then, how do you tell a Nazi just by looking at him? He ordered the crew boss, Gunter Muller, to shut the door and move his work party away from the car a good twenty yards or so. He then told Gunter to send a man to summon Sergeant Wilkie. Gunter’s command of English was excellent and he complied with the commands instantly, barking out Hackney’s instructions in rapid-fire German. A “kreigie” went running down the siding to the supply office. Hackney moved in between the car and the Krauts. Gunter sensed how scared the Private was and ordered his men to sit down facing away from the siding.

“With your permission, Sir, I have instructed ze men to sit down,” said Gunter, maintaining his distance from both the rail car and the shotgun.

“Uh, yeah….Great, Gunter….Uh, and, thanks,” stammered Hackney.

Gunter nodded, once, and stood very still.

Like cavalry riding to the rescue, Sergeant First Class Walter “Wendell” Wilkie came barrelling down the track. “Hackney, what the hell is this Kraut all upset about?” demanded Wilkie, hooking his thumb back over his shoulder at the POW runner who followed him at a respectable distance.

“Uh, Sarge, we got us a SNAFU with this car. It don’t have our cargo in it, it’s got somebody else’s,” replied the Private First Class.

“All right, well get a couple of those Krauts to open her up so I can take a look,” ordered the Sergeant.

“Sarge, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” replied Hackney. He leaned toward Wilkie and whispered, “There’s ammo and grenades in that car and God knows what else. It’s packed to the gills!”

Sergeant Wilkie eyed Hackney suspiciously. “No shit?”

Hackney nodded vigorously. “No shit, Sarge. That’s why I had ‘em move away from it.” He added, “I think we oughta get that damned thing outta here pretty damned quick.”

“Private, that sounds like a damn fine idea,” agreed Wilkie. Unbuttoning the flap on his holster and touching the butt of his .45 in reassurance, the Sergeant eyed Muller and his crew. “OK, here’s how we’ll do it. You escort Gunter and the rest of them Krauts up to the headquarters building and pick up Corporal Zelenski on the way. Don’t let these guys outta your sight or let ‘em talk to anybody. You make sure Gunter keeps these mothers quiet. Tell Zelenski I said to keep these Krauts under guard and away from the rest of the camp until we get this car outta here. Tell him to get as many men as he needs from the interior guard to make that happen. When he’s got all the help he needs, tell him to send four more MPs with you back here, and tell ‘em to come with full magazines. And top off your shotgun too. You got that?”

Private First Class William J. Hackney nodded, “Yes, Sarge.”

“Repeat it back to me,” demanded the Sergeant.

Hackney did. As the Sergeant expected, Pfc. Hackney got the first part right, and most of the second part wrong. Wilkie repeated his instructions, and this time when the Pfc. repeated it, Hackney got it right.

“OK, then,” Wilkie ordered, “Get Gunter with the program and move ‘em off quick march. And come back here double time.”

“Right, Sarge,” said Hackney, adding, “I’ll be back with help as soon as I can.”

“You damn well better,” snapped the Sergeant, ‘or I’ll have you on permanent tower guard for the rest of the war. You’ll have to eat, sleep and shit up there.”

Hackney’s head bobbed up and down in agreement. All the guards hated tower duty. He turned and issued his orders to Gunter, repeating the instruction for absolute silence. Of course Gunter had heard the Sergeant’s orders himself and, unlike Pfc. Hackney, he had understood them correctly the first time. Gunter saluted, American style, did an about face and strode down the embankment to his crew who had remained seated with their backs to the railcar. Executing another about face, Gunter commanded them to rise and fall in. The POWs leaped to their feet, quickly sorting out a line.

Keeping a straight face, Gunter addressed them in German in a conversational tone: “OK, kameraden, these ‘Ami’ arschlocks are crapping bricks about what’s in that ‘wagen’. They want us to follow that frightened private ‘quick march’ to the headquarters building and to say nothing to anyone along the way. Follow me.”

With their backs to the Americans, the Germans grinned. There were no Nazis in this work party, just German soldiers trying to make it home. None of them wanted to be a dead hero. But the nervousness of the Americans reminded them that they were still ‘Deustche soldaten’ and feared by their enemies. So they smiled as they faced right and marched in perfect step to the headquarters building, looking every bit the German soldiers they once had been and, in truth, still were.

February 5, 1945: The Boxcar & the Preacher’s Son

By Friday evening the crisis was over. A switch engine had been summoned from the small Aliceville yard and the boxcar had been moved away from the camp and re-secured with an Ordnance Department padlock. After it left the camp area, Gunter and his men were released to go back to their barracks. The unrepentant Nazis who secretly controlled the inner camp raged that such an opportunity for “making our own Second Front” had been lost. The rest of the POWs, including Gunter, thought them mad as hatters but said nothing. Despite their disappointment at being denied the opportunity for posthumous Knight’s Crosses, the Nazis praised Gunter for the way he had maintained the German military spirit in the face of the cowardly, frightened Americans. They reluctantly agreed that there had been little else Gunter could have done in the face of Sergeant Wilkie’s vigilance.

As far as the American army was concerned, the only thing left was the paperwork. Something had to be done about getting the boxcar back on the way to its correct destination. And someone had to find out “where in the pluperfect Hades” (to quote Captain Arliss who was a religious man and not disposed to profanity) the correct rail car full of the camp’s winter clothing issue was. On Monday morning, both of these jobs fell to First Sergeant Matthew Mark Luke, the NCO in charge of the 305th’s quartermaster and transportation office.

Now as one might suspect from his name, Matthew Mark Luke was the first-born son of a preacher. And like many a preacher’s son, Matt Luke was a rebellious young man when he was growing up. In fact, that was how he had come to be in the army. It had been a cold night in November, 1937, when the Winston County, Alabama, probate judge caught young Matt deflowering his fair daughter in the carriage house. (Well, in fact the young lady who was not yet of legal age had been deflowered previously more than once by others, but that was a fact that was both unknown to the judge at the time and immaterial in the heat of his rage.)

Matt Luke’s life was saved that night by four happy accidents. First, the judge had snatched up his pistol instead of his shotgun when he had gone in search of his daughter. Second, the sight of his young daughter screaming and leaping about “in flagrante delicto” (as the legal community calls it) and “buck nekkid” (as they say in Winston County) disconcerted the judge greatly and spoiled his aim. Third, the Lord had placed a window right above the equally nekkid Matthew M. Luke, thus facilitating his rapid egress from the scene. And last, but certainly not least, the judge was drunker than Cooter Brown and couldn’t have hit the broadside of the carriage house if his life depended on it.

The only thing the judge DID manage to hit in his fusillade was a coal oil lamp that promptly exploded all over the upholstery of the judge’s Model A Ford, which began to burn like the Devil himself had just returned it after taking it for a spin around the Lake of Fire. Thus in one night did the judge lose his Model A, his carriage house and his illusions about his daughter’s virtue. It is hard to say which loss hurt him worse, but the neighbors who knew him best thought he mourned most over the Model A.

As for Matthew, he paused only long enough after his unclothed run home through the backwoods of Winston County to do four things. He put tincture of iodine on his scratches (and some places hurt more than others). He jumped into a shirt, britches and shoes. He kissed his Momma goodbye. And he told her he was off to join the Army.

Army life suited Matthew Mark Luke. His sergeants were easier on him than his daddy had been. He’d been snapping to attention and saying “yessir” and “nossir” since he was two, which impressed the officers. Being a Winston County boy he could shoot straighter than most of his fellow soldiers, who were primarily sickly, cross-eyed city folk who’d never handled a rifle in their lives. Such martial competence always endears a young recruit to his drill sergeants. Better than that, he got to drink when off-duty and nobody yelled at him. He also got to debauch himself with willing young women and no one tried to shoot him. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, he had a winning smile and wholesome good looks that allowed him to locate and acquire items for his fellow soldiers that they otherwise could not obtain. Matthew Mark Luke found a home in Army.

An army, especially an army in peacetime in a country in the middle of a depression, is a place defined by its scarcities. Private Matthew Mark Luke quickly came to understand that the supply clerk gets first dibs on anything that comes into the unit officially. He also understood intuitively that unofficially a supply clerk, especially a quick-witted supply clerk with a preacher-son’s nose for human frailties, can corrupt even the most straight laced officer or NCO if he can lay his hands on that man’s vice of choice. In view of future events, it probably would have been better for the good order and discipline of the Army if Matthew Mark Luke’s recruiting sergeant had met the Winston County probate judge before he signed the young man up. Unfortunately, future First Sergeant Matthew M. Luke did not introduce them. As a result, Parson Luke’s son got the best of the bargain.

By the time of Pearl Harbor four years later, Matt Luke had made Staff Sergeant in the Regular Army, a meteoric ascent in peacetime. He had accomplished this by bribing his officers and blackmailing his NCOs. He also ran the post betting pool and provided moonshine to the enlisted men (though he was so slick that the Provosts could never catch him). Considering that Prohibition had ended years before, this was no mean feat. He did it by undercutting everyone else’s prices and going directly to the distiller— who just happened to be his Uncle Curtis who lived up near Natural Bridge. Curtis Stampp (his Momma’s brother) had been a moonshiner all his life, as had his daddy and his daddy’s daddy before him. It was said that the Stampps had planted more terminally surprised “revenooers” in North Alabama than any other family. The Stampp family product was quality ‘shine that never made anybody blind or killed ‘em with just a drink or two, and that was about the most you could expect from any white lightning. It also made Sergeant Matthew Mark Luke a comparatively rich man.

Now like any other important and influential man, Uncle Curtis Stampp had friends. Rich friends. Important friends. Crooked friends. Some of these friends controlled the Alabama Democratic Party, which at the time was the only real party in Alabama, except in Winston County on account of the Civil War, but that’s another story and besides the Stampps had Winston sewed up anyway. Some of those friends also controlled the gambling and bawdy houses that flourished outside army posts all over the state, heck, all over the SOUTH. One of these towns was Phenix City, just across the river from Fort Benning, Georgia. Later on, after the war, some of Curtis Stampp’s friends had the Attorney General-elect of the state of Alabama assassinated because it looked like he was serious about cleaning up Phenix City. They didn’t really have a name for their group back during the war, but Curtis Stampps and his friends later on came to be called the “Dixie Mafia.” Some of their criminal descendants still call many of the shots in Alabama to this day.

After Pearl Harbor, Sergeant Luke realized that he was in on the ground floor of a big opportunity. The Army, his Army, was fixing to be a LOT bigger. More soldiers meant more vice and more money in his pocket. But there was a catch. While Matthew Mark Luke was patriotic enough to wish the Japs and the Krauts were all blown to hell, he wasn’t about to risk his own hide to do it. So a considerable amount of his time was taken up with using his influence (and that of his uncle) to make sure he never left the continental United States. By February, 1945, he had been transferred, and transferred again, each time promoted to greater responsibility, always in supply. His latest assignment had been of his own choosing, and promised to outlast the war. It was convenient in that it was located in his Uncle’s “Area of Operations” as they say in the Army. He may have been in the Army, but Matthew Mark Luke was doubly home.

Being the senior supply NCO at Aliceville offered many opportunities for an unscrupulous entrepreneur. The prisoners all had nothing but time to burn, and the Germans especially were skilled with their hands. They could take a tin can and make a beautiful ashtray out of it. There were woodcarvers galore, and their work (intricately carved gnomes and walking canes were the most popular) brought good money from civilians outside the wire. In return for the POWs’ art works, First Sergeant Luke traded them cigarettes, candy, liquor and on, occasion, women. By February, 1945, he was rolling in dough.

But like most self-made rich men, Matt Luke never had enough money and he was always looking for new opportunities. And, like most successful thieves, he had grown a bit careless. But the boxcar presented a golden opportunity, if he could just figure out how to pull it off. It had dropped into his lap like a ripe peach, and he wasn’t going to let it get away if he could help it.

First, he had to get a look at the goods. On the pretense of making sure that “nothing was missing.” First Sergeant Luke took a stroll over to the railroad depot and unlocked the door. Luke slid open the boxcar’s door and climbed up to the top of the stacked freight. Yup, there were grenades all, right, and lots of cases marked “Ammunition, Ball, .45 Caliber.” Crawling over top of the crates, working his way along the space between the roof of the car and the freight, First Sergeant Luke played his flashlight on the stenciling. “Gee-zus H. Chraaast,” Luke whispered his daddy’s Lord’s name in vain. There were cases of .45 caliber grease guns here to go with the ammo. He’d seen enough. Uncle Curtis would know where to move this merchandise.

Turning himself around in the cramped space, Matthew Mark Luke banged his head on one of the smaller crates on top. He cursed, then shined his GI flashlight on the markings. “Ping pong balls?!?” Hey, he could use those! Luke made his way back to the door opening and shoved the case of ping pong balls over the edge and out the door. The crate tumbled, bouncing twice, and landed about ten feet away from the tracks, upside down. Scampering down the stacked freight, the Master Sergeant jumped out of the car, slid the door back shut and replaced the padlock. Slinging the small crate over his shoulder, First Sergeant Matthew Mark Luke headed back to town, immensely pleased with himself.

Seventy five yards away, hidden in the shade of the rail yard office roof, two men watched Luke carry away the case, although at that distance it was impossible to tell what the contents of the box were.

“You were right to call me, Mr. Peevey,” said the taller of the two,

“Yes, sir,” replied Peevey, “I knowed that sumbitch was up ter no good.”

“Don’t mention a word of this to anyone. Go home and make some notes about what just happened in case you’re asked to testify about it later. Be sure to note the day and time.”

“Yes, sir,” said Peevey. “I sure will, Captain.”

First Sergeant Luke turned right after he left the rail yard, easing on down the alley behind Aliceville’s main street, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible with his burden. Finally he came to the back door of the “rooming house” that everyone in town over the age of 10 knew was a discreet bordello and that almost no one knew was owned by one First Sergeant Matthew Mark Luke.

Dumping the ping pong balls on the floor just inside the door, Matt Luke entered the “boarding house” kitchen and made his way to the front room where the telephone was. There was no one about at this time of the morning. The “boarders” were all still sleeping upstairs, resting from their nightly exertions.

Twenty-five minutes and three phone calls later, First Sergeant Luke left the “boarding house” by the same door he had entered and made his way back to the camp. With Uncle Curtis’ assistance, he was about to steal a boxcar of United States government property. All he had to do now was to arrange with the proper office at the camp to generate the documents and make the official phone calls necessary to send the boxcar on its way. And since that office was run by one First Sergeant Matthew Mark Luke, he didn’t think that would be a problem. Smiling like the cat that ate the canary, the preacher’s son began to hum “In the Mood.”
. . .

Exactly one week later, First Sergeant Luke’s empire came crashing down upon his head. The crate that broke the camel’s back was filled with ping pong balls.

Captain Harrison Fordyce, Provost of the Aliceville Camp, appeared suddenly one morning in the supply office, flanked by no less than four MPs. Fordyce had been investigating Luke’s extracurricular activities for six months and prior to entering the office it had already been a busy morning. MPs under Fordyce’s command had already raided Luke’s whorehouse as well as a separate gambling establishment. Local police had not been contacted about the impending raids because Fordyce knew that most of them were on Luke’s payroll. Indeed, one of Aliceville’s finest had been found snoring next to the bawdyhouse madam. A state police captain was brought in from Montgomery to give the raids in town legal cover, but the operation was entirely Fordyce’s.

Luke had known from the week of Fordyce’s arrival at Aliceville Camp that he might become a problem. His sources told him that Fordyce was a bit of religious prig, and that the Captain neither smoked nor drank, did not apparently chase women and had no sense of humor whatsoever. Luke had approached the Captain from a number of angles offering various temptations but Fordyce had always ignored the hints or turned him down flat. In fact, Fordyce had been sent to Aliceville by the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division specifically to investigate complaints against First Sergeant Luke. This day represented merely another victory in the Captain’s lifelong crusade to rid the Army of vermin like the Winston County preacher’s son.

But the threat of Fordyce was never enough to cause First Sergeant Luke to alter his operations. He was making too much money, having too much fun, and had grown both cocky and sloppy. Stealing the ping pong balls had been the ultimate stupidity. He had wanted them for a third enterprise he planned for Aliceville, a “recreation center” for soldiers with perfectly legal billiard and ping pong tables on the first floor and highly illegal (and profitable) slot machines on the second. He certainly could have purchased a million ping pong balls with just one day’s proceeds of his gambling and prostitution enterprises. But they were there, and he felt untouchable, and so he stole them because he could. Now that crate sat in Captain Fordyce’s office, evidence of Luke’s theft of government property. It was turning out to be a bad morning for First Sergeant Matthew Mark Luke. He was unceremoniously slapped in the camp brig, and the official grilling of his subordinates in the supply office began.

By the next day, Captain Fordyce was ready to question the First Sergeant about his nefarious activities. He had left Luke stewing in the brig all the previous day to improve the disgraced NCO’s willingness to cooperate. Fordyce had found this technique brought results in previous investigations. And he had many questions for Luke.

For example, this business of the ping pong balls was complicated by the fact that all documentation about the rail car– its arrival at the camp, Sergeant Wilkie’s report, even the incorrect bill of lading– was missing from the files. The crate still bore US Army markings it was true, but unless the ping pong balls could be proven to have been government property by some documentary trail, the theft charge was in trouble. Fordyce was just about to have Luke brought over for interrogation when two pieces of news reached him almost simultaneously.

First, the boxcar was missing from the Aliceville rail yard, and Station Master Peevey had no idea where it had gone. Second, First Sergeant Matthew Mark Luke would not be available for interrogation that morning as his body had been found swinging from a bed-sheet in the brig.

Captain Fordyce could not have known that the First Sergeant was a claustrophobe. Ever since his daddy had locked him in a closet for punishment when he was a boy, the preacher’s son had a positive horror of enclosed spaces. After reading his report, the Captain’s superiors did not fault him for the outcome of the investigation. The court martial of the First Sergeant, even given wartime security rules, would have been messy and embarrassing to the Army as well as the town of Aliceville. Far better that Luke had solved their problem in the way he had chosen.

With Luke’s death, the problem just vanished. His little empire disappeared instantly and without a trace. No charges were filed. The prostitutes, gamblers and lesser bootleggers left town, and the clientele they had serviced now had to go further afield for diversion.

The mortal remains of First Sergeant Matthew Mark Luke were transported by rail to the Natural Bridge station on the Southern Railway in Winston County, where the coffin was collected by his family. Two days later, his daddy gave a eulogy for the prodigal son. And if there was regret and remorse for the way he had lived his life, the grief and the tears at his graveside were no less real. In time, the U.S. Army provided an official headstone for the career soldier.

Less than ten miles away as the crow flies, another monument to the life and times of the wayward preacher’s son sat on a deserted siding of an equally deserted old coal mine. His last and biggest scam had been successful.

Not that it would do Matthew Mark Luke any good where he had gone.

(Next: Poor White Boys – The Boxcar and the Duty.)

>Volk on Freedom

>Oleg reminds us of the Power of One.

One man.

One rifle.

Tempus fugit.

>Basic Rifle Marksmanship Series: Part II(B) – Aperture Sights

>Before we begin today’s lesson, please take a few minutes to review our previous discussions on safety and the use of open sights.

Aperture sights, sometimes called “peep” sights, are a relatively recent innovation in iron sight technology. First fielded en masse with the British Pattern 14 rifle, American soldiers encountered the peep sight with the P14’s American cousin, the M1917 Enfield. Its superiority over open sights for both reactive and deliberate fire has made the aperture sight a standard on American miltary longarms since then, including today’s M16/M4 rifle/carbine system.

The aperture itself is housed on the rear of the rifle’s receiver, with the center of the sight’s circular opening being parallel with the centerline of the rifle’s bore. In using the aperture, the shooter looks through the center of the opening and concentrates on the front sight, per the diagram above.

With the proper focus, the shooter does not see the aperture itself. Instead, the aperture forms the frame for the rifle’s front sight, which is then placed properly on the target:
You’ll notice in both diagrams that the front sight post is centered exactly in the middle of the aperture. Failute to achieve and maintain this centered front sight post will lead to elevation errors (due to the front sight post being too high or too low) or windage errors (due to the front sight post being skewed to the left or right of center aperture).

That’s today’s lesson – short and sweet. Remember to look through, not at the aperture, keep the front sight post centered in the opening, and you’ll have this lesson mastered in no time.

Until next time….

>POTUS 2008: More with Bob Barr


Liberty Maven brings us two extended video interviews with Bob Barr, Libertarian candidate for President:

Glenn Beck Interview (Part 1 is directly above)

Bloomberg Channel Interview

Don’t consider drinking the McCainiac koolaid without watching these interviews, doing your research, and thinking seriously about Barr.

In an ideological war, even symbolic victories are important.

>Vanderboegh: An Open Letter to the Gun Control Crowd


An Open Letter to the Gun Control Crowd
You’re almost there.

Regardless of who wins the presidential election, you’ll have a candidate who agrees with you on government seizure of control of the private sale of arms. (You call it “closing the gun show loophole.” but not even King George III was so tyrannically grasping.) You will also probably have a veto-proof Democrat (read, “the party of gun control”) majority in both houses of the federal legislature, so you think that the next order of business after that will be a real “assault weapons ban” which will force us “bitter clingers” to turn in our semiautomatic rifles of military utility. Do that, and you think you have finally overturned the Founders’ system by securing a government monopoly of violence. For it is truly at government’s altar that you worship and not that of God-given individual liberty.

So things could not be brighter – you’re almost there. You have that old Chris Matthews’ thrill running up and down your leg. Oh, you’re concerned a bit about what the Supreme Court decision might be in the Heller case, but you’re pretty sure (with good reason) that even if they uphold the individual right to arms those black robes will split the baby and still leave you enough wiggle room to shove your agenda forward. So for the first time in a long time, you think you’re about to win.


Not even close.

You have extrapolated our predicted behavior from your own cowardice. You know that YOU would not have the temerity to resist a “democratically elected” government’s order so you think the same applies to us. Again, you couldn’t be more wrong. For forty years, since the Gun Control Act of 1968, our side has been pushed back from the free exercise of our God-given rights and each time we gave in on “reasonable” gun control it bought us nothing, for you took it as signal of our irresolution and pushed us back again.

Of course it’s really our fault for we have been TOO law-abiding and we never pushed you back. Now, having backed us against the wall, you are about to give us no choice. Your nanny-state meddling with free people is about to achieve critical mass, and the explosion will be catastrophic to your plans.

Pass a ban on private sales of arms and we will defy it.

Pass a ban on semiautomatic rifles of military utility — in effect, try to disarm us — and we will refuse to turn them in.

Send thugs to come and take them from us and we will shoot back.

People are going to die – lots of people.

And that’s only the beginning.

That’s it.

That’s all I have to say.

You’re about to get what you have been wishing and scheming and working toward all your lives.

I hope you’re happy with the unintended consequences of your “victory.”

Mike Vanderboegh
PO Box 926
Pinson, AL 35126

Author’s note: Feel free to distribute this far and wide. Send it to a gun-grabber. It might make their day. 😉