Monthly Archives: June 2008

>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

and

– 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.

Please.

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

and

– 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.

“KILLED IN ACTION”
“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.

Wrong.

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
GeorgeMason1776@aol.com

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

>Vanderboegh: Sippenhaft

>(A chapter in Mike Vanderboegh’s upcoming novella, “Absolved”)

Editor’s Note: Before digging into this chapter, you may want to read an earlier excerpt from “Absolved”, which you can find here)

One Year, Two Months and Seventeen Days After the Death of Phil Gordon in the “Battle of Sipsey Street”

Washington DC, 4:52 PM EST
Office of the Assistant Director for Field Operations

The AD Ops looked up from the file and into the eyes of Special Agent Dickerson. “Anything else on Gordon?”

“Which one, sir?”

“The oldest one, the Army officer.”

“Robert Gordon, sir, and he’s an ex-army officer now,” Dickerson mildly corrected his boss.

“Yeah,” snickered the AD, “Not such a big shot since we had him run out of the service, is he?”

“Well, sir, he’s pretty down on his luck. We strung out the aiding and abetting charges as long as we could, but we didn’t really want to go to trial on those.”

The AD nodded.

“As you know his wife left him about four months ago, after his dismissal from the service was confirmed and their property seizure was affirmed by the Appellate Court. She’s living with her mother now, working as a . . ” Dickerson consulted his notebook, “A medical secretary for a physician in private practice in Duluth. Of course with his accounts forfeited he has no fallback income. Everything his father owned was also seized as products of a criminal enterprise, so he can’t tap into what no longer exists. He has been unable to get a job as a pilot or anything else, thanks to our efforts. . . His brother and sister have floated him some modest loans over the past few months but as you know, they have their own financial problems too.”

The AD beamed, since he was personally responsible for the Gordon siblings’ reversal of fortune.

“We had him under close 24 hour surveillance until after the anniversary passed. The behavioral psychologist on the fourth floor who’s studied his medical reports from the VA psychiatrist says he’s just beat, sir. He blames his father for his troubles more than us, according to the anecdotal evidence we’ve been able to gather. In fact, our shrink says we should lighten up on him a bit, now that it seems he’s not going to be a problem. Give him something to live for.”

Dickerson looked up from his notes to see the AD Ops shaking his head.

“That’s exactly what were NOT going to do. We’re going to keep grinding that bastard until there’s nothing left of him. His damned killer father wasted over a hundred of our agents but he’s dead and I can’t do anything to him, so I’m doing the next best thing. I’m going to grind every one of that traitor’s spawn into dust. Teach them to screw with the United States government.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Dickerson. “Shall I continue the electronic surveillance to verify his whereabouts?”

“Hell yes,” growled the AD.

“And what next, sir?”

“Have we audited his taxes yet?”

“No sir.”

“Well do it. I’m not going to be happy until the SOB puts a gun to his sorry head. See to it, Dickerson.”

“Yes, sir.”

Dickerson didn’t begin to breathe freely again until he got back to his kiosk two floors below. He dropped into his chair.

“Well,” asked Nick Brudi, who ran the domestic terror desk next to his, “how’d it go?”

Dickerson blew out his cheeks before replying, “Fluid, plenty fluid. The stupid bastard wants me to keep after ex-colonel Gordon until he blows his brains out.”

“Who’s? Gordon’s or the AD’s?” Brudi asked with a grin.

But Dickerson wasn’t laughing. “Yeah, that’s IT exactly,” he exclaimed. You saw what happened after we picked on the old man when he didn’t have anything to live for. And now we’re going to put his son, a West Point-trained frigging military genius and genuine hero, into the same spot? When are they going to frigging learn? When ex-colonel Gordon whips up an atom bomb out of Drano, ant poison and common household appliances and shoves it up OUR asses?”

Brudi thought for a moment. “Isn’t what the AD wants kinda contrary to the decision that the Director made after Sipsey Street?” Brudi asked.

“Yeah,” said Dickerson with disgust, “You wanna tell the AD about it? Or maybe the Director?”

Brudi sank deeper into his chair. “Not a chance in hell,” he muttered in reply.

“Well, then shut up and let me think. Now I’ve got to have an audit run on the poor bastard.”

Brudi decided he didn’t want to know any more. Even with Senator Schumer running interference for them on the Judiciary Committee, and his party in control at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, you never could tell when some lowly congressman they didn’t own might get leaked some damn memo that should have been shredded in the first place. Better not to know so he wouldn’t have to testify under oath one way or the other.

Brudi struggled not to listen as Dickerson tried to reach somebody after hours at IRS on the phone. You sure as hell wouldn’t want to send an email on THAT. Brudi approved and, nodding his head, went back to reading the latest wiretaps of that mouthy militia leader in Alabama. God, the sonofabitch was long-winded. But with the new laws passed after the Battle of Sipsey Street, his time was coming shortly. If he survived the bust, which Brudi doubted, he could be long-winded in the shower at Supermax playing drop the soap with the Muslim Brotherhood, or maybe the Aryans — they HATED this guy. The thought comforted Nick Brudi immensely.

“Fort Stinking Desert”

Just as Special Agent Dickerson was on the phone to Treasury, Robert Gordon was met at the door of a modest old ranch house in the hills outside Kingman, Arizona. Bill Pritchard, a white haired, weathered old pilot with about a gazillion hours in the air who still looked ten years younger than he was, hugged him and pulled him in close.

“Bobby, I’m damn glad to see you.”

“Same here Uncle Bill. . . It’s been a while.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t get to the funeral, Bobby . . . you know why I couldn’t now.”

“Yeah,” replied the younger man, who was clearly just about done in from the last 18 hours on the road.

“Look, Bobby, I know you’re beat and Sylvia’s got a bed made up in the back for you, but I’ve got to ask you a few questions before you turn in. And I’m sure you’ve got some too.” Phil Gordon’s oldest son just nodded. “Anyway, let’s get that out of the way and we’ll cover everything else tomorrow. I’ve got some fellows coming over to meet you then and we’ll get serious.”

Robert Gordon perked up at that. “Are we going to get serious? he asked.”

“As serious as anything I’ve ever done in my life,” replied the old pilot. “But let me ask you this. Did you have trouble with the link-up outside Dallas?”

Bobby Gordon gave a thin smile. “No, but you sure have a talent for cloak and dagger. Where’d you meet that Cuban exile? I thought you weren’t at The Bay of Pigs operation.”

“I wasn’t. I met him later when we did some drops for ole Bill Colby.” The old man grinned back. “Did he scare ya?”

“No, but his frisking was so thorough I thought he was going to get out the rubber gloves.”

“Bobby,” said the old man with a suddenly straight face, “If the electronics had detected any nanobugs in you, he’d a done it so fast you wouldn’t want a smoke afterwards.”

“Where’s my car, now?”

“Bobby, its on the way to Mexico, along with a guy who looks so much like you your mother-in-law wouldn’t know the difference from three feet. Welcome to the American Underground.”

Bill Pritchard saw the shadow pass across Bobby’s face. Ouch. I forgot. After a moment he asked, “How much of the divorce was real and how much was operational cover?”

Robert Gordon sighed. “You mind if I sit down?”

“No, no, let’s go back to the den, its more secure than Langley back there.”

Pritchard led the younger man back through the hall. The exhausted younger man sat carefully, but precisely erect. You can take the eagles off a man’s shoulders, Bill Pritchard thought, but you can’t take them from his soul.

They both started to say something, stopped, then Robert Gordon went on, “No, it was real. Anna went from being a General’s daughter, married to another up and coming general officer candidate one day, to the daughter-in-law of the greatest mass murderer of federal ‘law enforcement officers’ since David Koresh. . . Matter of fact, Dad made every cop killer for the last hundred years look like underachievers.” Gordon gave that wan smile again and shook his head. “You know when Dad did something, he always went all out.”

“He had no choice, Bobby, you know that. Those bastards wouldn’t have given him a Chinaman’s chance and you KNOW that. Hell, I wouldn’t have been his friend if he wasn’t thoroughly competent at what he did.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“No, there’s no ‘guess so’ about it. We decided a long time ago when the damn political winds began to blow against us in this country that he would be the loud-mouth and I would stay still. That’s what they hated about him, that he had the guts to call ’em for the dirty freedom-stealing bastards that they were. That’s why they came to kill him. It’s the only real law that he broke, an unwritten law. He had guns and opinions at the same time — he was a FREE MAN — and the ATF won’t stand for that.”

Robert Gordon just looked at the older man. If he didn’t have the thousand yard stare, Pritchard thought, he was working on seven-fifty. “Come on, Bobby, get up and I’ll show you your room. Since we shucked you of all your luggage and clothes, I’ll go out tomorrow and get you some. You’ll stay in close here until the meeting.”

“Clothes?” said Bobby Gordon shaking his head, “That damn Cuban of yours even took my watch and my shoes. He wanted to take my West Point ring, but I told him he’d have to fight me to get it.”

Bill Pritchard laughed. “Bobby, he’s got 30 years on you but he’d a whupped you just the same.”

“Good night, Bobby,” said Pritchard, as he closed the bedroom door. Then, to himself, softly, “Get some sleep, son, you’re gonna need it.”

Bobby Gordon slept for twelve solid hours. When he awoke, Bill Pritchard was fixing huevos rancheros in an impossibly huge skillet in the ranch kitchen. “I’m going jogging,” said Gordon, “Anything I need to know about the lay of the land?”

“Yeah,” said Pritchard, “Don’t. Use the treadmill in the room off the laundry back to your left. I’d rather you didn’t show yourself just now.”

“Oh, OK,” said Gordon and back he went to the exercise room and whipped off a five mile run.

The eggs were on the table, along with bacon, Texas toast and hot sauce when he toweled off the sweat and made his way back to the kitchen. Pritchard was sitting at the table with another older man, shorter than Pritchard by a good six inches, porkier too and gray bearded with an equally gray ponytail hanging half-way down his back.

“Bout damn time you got here,” said the stranger, “these eggs is as cold as my ex-wife’s heart.”

Bobby Gordon laughed in spite of himself.

“Bobby,” said Pritchard, “meet Bill Dodd, another transplanted Alabamian who’s been living in Fort Stinking Desert so long he forgot what grits are.”

“Pleased ta meetcha,” said Dodd. “Kin we say grace now?”

“Sure,” said Pritchard.

Without further ceremony, Bill Dodd bowed his pony-tailed head and prayed loudly and fervently, “Oh Lord, help us this day to confound your heathen enemies and we beseech Thee to smite them every chance You can.” And then, more slowly and seriously, “Bless this food to our bodies and our bodies to Your service, in Jesus name we pray, amen.”

Pritchard snorted, “You’re gonna go to Hell, praying like that.”

Bill Dodd grinned, “As long as the entire Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms goes first. . . Let’s eat.”

For a few minutes there was no conversation as the plates were passed and the eggs and toast consumed.

Finally, Bill Pritchard asked, “How’s your brother and sister holding up, Bobby?”

Bobby Gordon looked at him, paused, and shook his head. “It’s been tough. Johnny and Sally are still hanging in there. Of course he lost every government contract his company had and auditors are crawling all over him. Little Phil and his brother Matt got into so many fights at school that Sally’s homeschooling them now. Sissy’s OK. Sissy’s strong. Probably the strongest one of us all. Of course her job isn’t as subject to government pressure as Johnny’s is or mine was.” Bobby looked distantly out the window in the uncomfortable silence.

The look on Bill Dodd’s face was nothing short of hatred. “Sippenhaft.” He spat the word out.

The two other men looked at him. “Pardon?” asked Pritchard. “Sippenhaft. Sippenhaft is German for ‘kin liability’. It was a little thing the Nazis came up with after Count von Stauffenberg almost got Der Fuhrer with that bomb on the 20th of July, ’44. Old Himmler reintroduced the concept of ‘blood guilt’ from back in Teutonic times, or so he claimed. Said something like, ‘Our ancestors said, this man has committed treason; his blood is bad; there is traitor’s blood in him; that must be wiped out. And in the blood feud the entire clan was wiped out down to the last member.’ Something like that. The Nazis would kill a man’s wife, his father, his mother, his brothers, take away the small children, rename ’em and put ’em in orphanages so they’d never know who their parents were. Even extended it to the relatives of military commanders who Hitler thought were defeatist or cowardly. Stalin did the same thing in the Great Purge of the Thirties with ‘relatives of the enemies of the people.’ Mao did it again in the Cultural Revolution. Hell, the North Koreans still do it. It’s the mark of a tyrannical dictatorship, which I guess is what we’re comin‘ to.”

“Yeah,” said Pritchard, “I guess so.”

Bobby Gordon was silent for a moment and then, looking back out the window said, almost to himself, “It’s going to get worse.”

Pritchard reached across the short distance between them and touched the younger man’s hand gently. “You want to stop now?” he asked.

Bobby Gordon turned his gaze into his father’s best friend’s face. It was a hard gaze, and his own face was now set. “No. My dad didn’t start this war, they brought it to him. Now I’m going to take it to them, and you’re going to help me. That’s what I’m here for, right?”

Pritchard and Dodd both grinned. “Hell yeah,” growled Dodd.

“The question I’ve had in my mind ever since I buried what was left of my Dad is how? How do we reach out and get the big bastards who sent the little bastards who killed my dad? How do we get the bureaucratic SOBs who wage ‘sippenhaft‘ on innocent people like Johnny and Sissy?”

The question hung in the air only for a moment. Bill Pritchard answered with another grin, “Son, did I ever tell you what Kingman, Arizona was famous for before it was the temporary residence of that miserable methamphetamine addict and neoNazi accomplice to mass murder Timothy ‘I can’t get a date so I think I’ll be a terrorist’ McVeigh?”

“No,” replied Bobby Gordon.

So Bill Pritchard told him. And as the tale unfolded, Robert Gordon, late Colonel of the United States Army, son of the deceased Phil Gordon, “the Sipsey Street mass murderer,” began to see that the detritus of history can sometimes be cobbled together and re-forged into a modern weapon capable of equal portions of justice and vengeance.

And for the first time in a long time, Bobby Gordon began to smile.

(To be continued . . .)

>Creating More Sheeple

>

In one of his “big picture” pieces, Kevin explains much about the state of American education and its consequences here.

A sample:

***
…Regardless, I am of the carefully considered opinion that both our media and our educational system have been largely taken over by people who are acolytes of the Holy Grail that Socialism promised, and who put themselves in those positions in the belief that it is up to them to help create the New Men that Socialism cannot succeed without. Our schools, especially, have become centers for the teaching of collectivism, “identity politics,” and for want of a better term, “rage against the machine.”

And to some extent, it has worked.

To a larger extent, it has not.

What has resulted are the unintended consequences of declining standards, high dropout rates, functional illiteracy and innumeracy, almost no general knowledge of geography, history, or civics, and nearly complete ignorance of science – both general and applied.

Schools should be the foundry through which the raw material of our youth is run, coming out the other end with strong and tempered minds well prepared for the world. The ore hasn’t changed, but the ratio of dross to valuable product has grown precipitously…
***

Read it and weep – for the children and our country.

Tempus fugit.

>Living in an Imperial World: That Could Never Happen in America

>
Hat-tip to David Codrea at War on Guns for this story re our nation’s capital:

***
Under an executive order expected to be announced today, police Chief Cathy L. Lanier will have the authority to designate “Neighborhood Safety Zones.” At least six officers will man cordons around those zones and demand identification from people coming in and out of them. Anyone who doesn’t live there, work there or have “legitimate reason” to be there will be sent away or face arrest, documents obtained by The Examiner show.

Lanier has been struggling to reverse D.C.’s spiraling crime rate but has been forced by public outcry to scale back several initiatives including her “All Hands on Deck” weekends and plans for warrantless, door-to-door searches for drugs and guns.

Under today’s proposal, the no-go zones will last up to 10 days, according to internal police documents. Front-line officers are already being signed up for training on running the blue curtains…
***

More from the WaPo here:

***
When D.C. police begin stopping cars at a “checkpoint” this weekend in the Trinidad neighborhood, they will record all license plate numbers, verify residents’ addresses and ask others for phone numbers of those they are visiting, according to a directive issued by Chief Cathy L. Lanier…
***

Note also that:

***
…Officers will begin training today on the checkpoints. They will be taught, for example, that pedestrians are not subject to screening.

Motorists who resist will be arrested for failure to obey an officer. The department will keep the collected information…
***

Remember, folks – the object of this exercise is, among other things, gun possession.

Good thing these ideas would never be used where the white voters lived.

Like your neighborhood.

Welcome to Neu Amerika, or, if you prefer, the “United Socialist States of America”.

Tempus fugit.

>What Is To Be Done – Part 1: Situation

>
If media reports are to believed, the run-up to the 2008 Presidential election is now settled.

The next President of the United States will, in all probability, be either

– a unprincipled anti-gun RINO opportunist who believes that what the American economy needs is more central planning and, despite his two oaths (as an officer in the U.S. Navy and as a U.S. Senator) to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”, that

***
“…I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I’d rather have the clean government.”
***

or

– an inexperienced anti-gun junior Senator with the most liberal voting record in the Senate, an appallingly expensive domestic agenda, and millions of followers with a frothing case of messianic delusion.

Top that, at least in Obama’s case, with the real possibility of control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the situation is bleak indeed.

What is to be done?

No, not the tract by proto-mass-murderer V.I. Lenin.

Instead – what is it that freedom-insistent Americans need to do, in detail, to maximize their chances in the coming Storm?

Many of the posts on this blog to date have been published with the hope of awakening the reader to the multiple and converging threats to human freedom appearing over the horizon.

Hopefully, those posts – whether concerning the demise of traditional America, the ongoing economic collapse, the rise of the transnational socialist police state, or the related spectres of energy and food shortages – have been of some use towards that end.

With the approach of the 2008 election and its aftermath, however, it’s time for a slight shift in emphasis.

Think of it as transitioning from “there’s a fire in the woods just outside town” to “here’s what we need to do to fight the fire.” We’ve already started this effort with our “SHTF Medical” courses, and our next one is later this month.

Those who think that what we’ve discussed to date is “too radical” or “scaremongering” had best move over to the children’s table.

The adults amongst us are going to have a serious discussion.

Join us, please.

>Quote of the Day

>
Do you really think we want those laws to be observed? We want them broken. There is no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals. When there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking the law. Create a nation of lawbreakers and then you can cash in on the guilt. Now that’s the system!Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957

Cited by Kevin in his discussion of the Massachusetts empty cartridge case expulsion matter. Read the whole thing at his place, and weep for the cradle of the American Revolution.

And that law cited in defense of the school district?

Obeyed by the same type of folks who keep mattress tags attached for fear of prosecution.

Baaah, baaah, baaah….

Tempus fugit.

>SHTF Medical Course – Coeur d’Alene, ID – June 20-22

>Field Expedient Medical Care for Outdoorsmen in Austere Environments

This two-day (16 hour) course of instruction will prepare the motivated outdoorsman to treat life-threatening and function-threatening medical conditions in the wilderness without access to classical EMS and medical resources.

The working hypothesis of this program is an injury or illness sustained by a family or work group remote from medical resources by distance, time, or availability (grid down) over a short to intermediate interval.

Taught by a retired Emergency Physician with 35 years of Trauma, EMS/ Rescue, and instructional experience, the methods and techniques taught are derived from over 10 years of front-line trauma care in an urban gangland zone and over 35 years of medical practice in environments as diverse as remote underground in caves (delayed evacuation to surface of 20 hrs), on the side of remote hills (48 hr bivouac in “whiteout” conditions), and at sea. The trauma concepts are compatible and consistent with the current military method of Tactical Combat Casualty Care.

Topics Include:
• The priority of medical care/stabilization in the survival skill set
• Triage: When to use the resources at hand, to benefit the most individuals, and preserve the “team” capability
• The “Priorities” of care for the single victim vs. the “Survivability” of the single victim in remote (time/distance/accessibility) austere environment
• The Major (Medical) Life Threats: Function and Management
• Anatomy of the life-sustaining systems of the human body
• Cover and concealment: high-threat extraction concepts
• The Big Three Survivable Life Threats-Airway control issues, pneumothorax/tension pneumothorax, and external hemorrhage
• Advanced airway techniques for the average sportsman /citizen, with expanded scope knowledge: Nasal Airways, cricothyrotomy
• Basic and Advanced Treatment of Thoracic Wounds- Stopping the air leak, and/or venting the pressure
• Basic and Advanced External Hemorrhage control- Direct pressure, mechanized direct pressure, hemostatic agents, pressure point use behind cover, tourniquets
• The science, and fairy tale, of fluid resuscitation
• Monitoring the head injured patient
• Stabilization of fractures and splinting for functional use
• Definitive wound care: Cleansing, Debriding, Closing
• The Team “Debilitators”: infection, vomiting/diarrhea/field sanitation, dehydration, toothache, soft tissue injuries, hyperthermia, and hypothermia
• Dealing with burns or cold induced wounds (frostbite, frostnip, etc.)
• Current therapy of envenomations: snakes, spiders, bees
• Pre-Pack Pharmacy: What you want to have before venturing into the outback
• Teammates with pre-existing disease: how not to make it worse
• The “Jericho Scenario”: Protection, Decontamination, and Treatment for chemical and biological agents

NOTE: This NON-CERTIFICATION course is presented for YOUR INFORMATION ONLY. All personnel take NO RESPONSIBILITY for your use of this information in a real-life situation.

Where: Coeur d’Alene, ID; Silver Lake Motel

When: June 21-22 (although there will be an intro session on the evening of Friday, June 20 for those who can arrive early)

How Much: $300 per person; team discount of $25/team member.

More info: westernshooters@gmail.com

>Vanderboegh: The Window War

>Time passes.

How much – and how little – has changed.

Mike Vanderboegh wrote this piece several years ago.

The mark of the classics is their enduring relevance.

Enjoy.

The Window War
by Mike Vanderboegh


Author’s Note: The events related in this are set in the real town of Hobbs, New Mexico. Although some names have been changed to protect the guilty, it begins early in the morning, the day after tomorrow.

“And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had…and his sling was in his hand; and he drew near to the Philistines.”– 1 Samuel 17:40

“We Americans have set dangerous precedents. We can rest assured that those pushing for gun control have no intention of stopping short of total gun confiscation. At some point, we who cherish liberty must summon the courage of our forefathers and tell America’s tyrants, ‘Give me liberty, or give me death!’ The longer we wait, the greater the ultimate bloodshed.” — Walter E. Williams, Professor of Economics, George Mason University.

Bob Stone stared at the ceiling in the darkness, the popcorn surface barely discernible in the soft glow of the porch light filtering through the bedroom curtains. He had come home angry– just about as angry as he’d ever been– and he knew that sleep would not come with his mind still clicking along at about ninety miles an hour. Better to try to walk it off, he thought, since I can’t shoot anybody over it. At least not yet.

As he gently rose from the bed, his wife stirred. He froze, and soon her breathing resumed its regular pattern. No need to disturb her anymore than he already had tonight. The meeting had been stormy and had run on into the late evening.

Afterwards, he and his friends had refought the arguments for almost an hour. And yet, when he got home, his wife was waiting up (the kids had long ago been put to bed for it was a school night). Amy was anxious to hear what had happened with the Congressman. Bob told her in clipped, furious sentences and her anger rose to meet his with the re-telling. A half-hour later they had turned in, but Bob was too tired and angry to sleep. As Bob collected his pants and shirt from the chair, the clock clicked over to 1:47.

Ten minutes later, he was walking toward downtown in the New Mexico spring night. It was chilly, as it usually is when the sun goes down in the desert, and he was wearing his work jacket. Like most folks in Hobbs, Bob made his money working in the “oil patch”. Times had been pretty thin for a while, but now that the price of oil was up thanks to OPEC, things were picking up in the oil and gas business all over the Southwest. It wasn’t anyone messing with his money that made Bob Stone mad this night. It was someone messing with his God-given liberty.

They were being sold out. That was the long and short of it. Oh, the Congressman put on a long face, and swore it wasn’t any of HIS doing, but they were being sold out, no doubt about it. The Republicans had come up with their own gun control bill, trying to protect their left flank against Clinton-Gore in the upcoming Presidential race. From now on (and for the first time in American history), law-abiding private citizens were going to have to ask the federal government’s permission to sell a firearm to another law-abiding private citizen. Not even King George the Third had been so grasping. In addition, there would be no more “high-capacity” rifle or pistol magazines imported. (“High-capacity” meant greater than ten rounds.) Domestic production had already been forbidden in the so-called “assault weapons ban.”

George “Dubya”, the Congressman said, insisted upon it, and the Republican majority leaders in Congress were going to go along. The latest shooting of children by other children (read: “gang members”) at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. hadn’t helped.

“But don’t they realize that D.C. has the strictest gun control laws in the country?” someone behind Bob had shouted. “How will passing one more law help that?” It wasn’t about reality, the Congressman sighed, it was about perceptions. And he didn’t have to add that the antigun liberal media had the corner on perception-making.

Bob had listened quietly for over two hours. He’d had enough and now rose to his feet. “But WE put you Republican jerks in power!” he half-shouted. “WE made you a majority party in ’94 because you told us you’d try to roll back the Clinton gun-control agenda. Even Clinton blamed the Brady and so-called “Assault Weapons Ban” laws for the Democrat’s loss in ’94. It was gunowners who put you in power, and kept you in power these past six years, and now you’re selling us out! Why don’t you look up how much money Lea County gunowners gave you and your Republican brothers over the past six years?”

The Congressman opened his mouth to reply, but Bob cut him off in a low, determined tone: “But I’ll tell you one thing, Mr. Republican Congressman, you’ll never get another stinking dime out of me or my friends! We won’t pay you for the privilege of pissing on our backs and telling us it’s raining!” The room erupted into loud clapping and cheers.

Almost drowned out in the din, the Congressman cried: “But it’s not MY fault!”.

“Whose is it then?” three or four people shot back at him, almost in unison.

The Congressman had the look of a deer in the headlights of an oncoming truck. He had come here prepared to talk about Social Security, but nearly every question had been about gun control. Reaching for an answer that wouldn’t be a mistake in front of this hostile crowd, he came up with: “The Columbine killers. Everything changed after Columbine.” Wrong answer.

The room erupted. Someone threw an empty coffee cup that landed well short of the Congressman. Bob was back up on his feet, shouting full-throat this time: “That’s a load of crap and you know it! When your Republican bosses in the House came to you with this treason, did you tell them that passing it would violate your oath to uphold the Constitution and that you would be forced to resign from their party if they went ahead with it?!? Well, did you?!?”

The shouted question cut through the air and the crowd quieted, wanting to hear the answer. The Congressman was silent, looking down at the empty coffee cup on the floor.

Bob repeated the challenge: “Well, did you?”

The Congressman stirred from his appreciation of the trash on the floor to ask, “Did I what?”

“I think you heard me the first time, Congressman, but I’ll repeat it so we can get an answer: When the House Republican leadership told you they intended to pass this treasonable bill, did you tell them that it would violate your oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States’ and that you would be forced to resign from their party if they went ahead with it?”

The Congressman hesitated, then answered: “Well, uh, no. Look, if I resigned my seat every time a vote didn’t go my way…”

Bob cut him off: “I didn’t say ‘resign your seat’, Congressman. I said, ‘resign the party’. The people of this district sent you up there. You took an oath to uphold the Constitution. Your party is about to assist in the destruction of one important part of that Constitution. If you resign out of principle and become an Independent, I feel sure that the people of this district will return to your office when it comes time for re-election. So let me re-phrase the question: When you go back to Washington, will you seek out the House leadership and tell them that if they pass this bill, you intend to resign their party and become an independent because you refuse to be a party to treason?”

The Congressman’s aide crossed over and, sheilding the microphone, whispered something in the Congressman’s ear. The Congressman nodded. The aide returned to the sidelines as Hobbs police officers began to filter into the room from the side and rear doors. The aide had summoned them on his portable phone the moment the coffee cup was thrown.

The Congressman leaned into the microphone, “Well, I’ll have to think about it.”

Bob wouldn’t let it go.

“What’s to think about?” he shot back. “Either you have principles or you don’t. If you don’t, have the guts to say so now.”

The Congressman shook his head. “I said I’ll have to think about it. What you’re asking is pretty extreme…”

“Extreme?!?” Bob countered. “Extreme?!?. Congressman, you ain’t even close to seein’ ‘extreme’ yet. Don’t you realize that if you don’t find the guts to stop these treaonable SOBs in Congress, and that if the judiciary doesn’t have the guts to stop them in the courts, that someday soon gun-owners like the ones in this room are going to have to stop them in the streets with rifles in our hands? Congressman, you’d better pray you never see ‘extreme’, for if you do it’ll take more than all the cops in Hobbs to protect you from the widows and orphans of the men who will die fighting to preserve the God-given liberty you didn’t have the guts to risk your precious political career for!”

The room erupted once again, the cops moved to the front, and the Congressman departed out a side door, almost as fast as it takes to tell. And now, four hours later, Bob was still furious.

They don’t roll up the sidewalks at sundown in Hobbs, but the streets were fairly deserted this time of night, or morning actually. Even the cops who usually patrolled every twenty minutes or so in the business district Bob was walking through were busy on drunk and disorderly patrol over on Del Paso or out on Bender Street (no pun intended). The bars close in New Mexico at 2:00 A.M. by state law, so between 2 and 3 is often the night shift patrolman’s busiest time. As it turned out, that was a good thing for Bob.

To be truthful about it, Bob was still so mad he wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention where he was walking. Later, he would attribute his arrival at the scene of the crime to either his subconcious mind or the hand of God.

But all of sudden, without knowing why, he stopped and looked up from his thoughts. And there, smack in front of him, was 509 East Broadway. Now as it happens, 509 East Broadway, Hobbs, New Mexico, is a modest, well-kept building with sort-of old-fashioned windows flanking the entrance. It also happens to be the headquarters of the Lea County Republican Party.

Now Bob Stone was a church-going, law-abiding fellow. Oh, he’d done his share of tearing around violating traffic laws when he was young and stupid, but never anything serious. A Lea County boy born and bred, the only time he’d seen the inside of the local jail was when he’d bailed out Manny, his buddy from the gas plant, when Manny had been busted for driving drunk on Bender Street at 2:10 in the morning.

But as Bob Stone looked up at the sign proclaiming 509 East Broadway as the Heaquarters of the Republican Party of Lea County, New Mexico, a snatch of conversation from earlier in the evening (yesterday?) came back to him like divine inspiration.

Bill Dodd, a hunting buddy of Bob’s, was a bit of a history buff. They had been standing around after the meeting, trying to answer the question: “What do we do now?”

“Well, ah don’t know about y’all,” (Bill was originally from Alabama) “but when the Sons of Liberty wanted to make a point back durin’ the Revolution they’d get a bunch o’ folks together and go pay the local Tories a call. Usually they’d just bust their windows (Bill pronounced it ‘winders’) with rocks and tell ’em the next time it’d go harder with ’em. The Tories usually got the message and moved away or shut up about likin’ the King. Glass bein’ so expensive back then and Tories bein’ mostly rich folk, it seemed the natch-rel thing for the Sons to do. An’ it worked. Maybe we ought-ter do the same thing to these gun-control puke-politicians.”

They all had laughed, and the conversation moved on, but Bill Dodd’s words now came back to Bob loud and clear. He looked at the windows, he looked at the sign, and he looked up and down the street. Nobody. Nothing but the street lights going through their paces for traffic that wasn’t there. But what to use for a rock?

The streets of Hobbs, New Mexico, are pretty well kept. On any other night, the plan that was forming in Bob Stone’s angry mind would have failed for lack of ammunition.

But as it so happened (and later Bob ascribed it to none other than divine intervention) there at the curbside was a piece of broken concrete which had dropped off the back of a demolition company’s truck about ten o’clock the previous morning.

Somebody, Bob decided, wants me to do this.

Bob Stone picked up the chunk of concrete. Smooth on one side, it had been part of the parking lot of an old greasy spoon south of town that had been demolished to make way for a new BP super-station. He hefted the chunk. Yep, he decided, just about right.

Even so, Bob hesitated. He wasn’t a vandal by training or inclination, and if a car had come by just then, even as angry as he was, he’d have given the whole thing up. But in hesitating, another thought came to him: How would anyone know WHY he had thrown the stone through the Republicans’ window? If he intended to make a political statement, the rock would have to be accompanied by a message lest the act be dismissed as ordinary juvenile hi-jinks.

His hands went to his jacket pockets, finding (and instantly rejecting) his note pad. First of all, it had his company logo on each sheet (now wouldn’t that be bright?), and secondly, he had no way of attaching it to the chunk of concrete. Tape and rubber bands were not items he routinely carried. But when his right hand found the felt-tip marker he always carried in his left breast pocket, he knew that the missile would be the message.

Moving a few steps to take advantage of the street light, Bob rotated the chunk so its flat side was up, and wrote across the top of the flat, “Second Amend.” (he ran out of room). So he wrote underneath the first line in smaller letters: “Shall Not Be Infringed.” He re-capped the marker, and placed the pen back in his jacket pocket.

His resolve had returned. He was going to do it now, even if a car came by. Even if a cop came by. He was going to send the Republicans an old-fashioned Sons-of-Liberty message. He didn’t even check again to see if the street was clear, though it was. He positioned himself at what he judged was the proper distance and heaved the concrete telegram as hard as he could.

With what seemed to him to be an atomic crash, the chunk sailed through the window easily. No alarm went off. Hobbs wasn’t that kind of town. But Bob Stone began to run away.

He ran west down East Broadway, passing the Martin Boot Company, then crossing over to the other side of the street. He kept on running– laughing, scared, and immensely proud of himself. He ran until he was winded, past where East Broadway turns into West Broadway. A thought occurred to him then that it was probably a stupid thing to be running down the streets of Hobbs at just past two in the morning. If anybody did drive by they’d rightfully conclude he’d been up to no good. And he didn’t have the right shoes on to be able to convince a curious cop he’d been out jogging.

So when he caught his breath, he began to walk west on West Broadway at a normal pace. He passed Desert Guns, his favorite local gunstore, owned by one Mark Stone (no relation, unfortunately, for Bob wouldn’t have minded a family discount). He wanted to put as much distance between 509 East Broadway and himself before he made the wide turn that would take him back east to home. So he continued a block or so past the Western Motor Company, when he realized with a start that his night’s work was not yet done. For there in front of him was 604 West Broadway: The Democratic Party Headquarters of Lea County, New Mexico.

It was true that the Republicans had taken his money, his time, and his support only to sell him out. Bob supposed that that was why he was so angered at the Republican betrayal– he expected more of them. You didn’t expect your so-called friends to stab you in the back. But the Republicans in truth were only half the problem. It was the Clintonista Democrats who had brought the country to this state. And while it was true that Democrats could no more be blamed for stealing the rights, liberties and tax money of their fellow citizens than rattlesnakes could be blamed for biting (it was, after all, their declared mission in life), their windows deserved breaking nonetheless. Indeed, Bob reflected with a silent laugh that although he had killed many a rattlesnake in the desert around Hobbs he had not as yet killed a Democrat, although Democrats were an infinitely a greater threat to peace and the Republic.

Well, there’s a time and place for everything, Bob decided. Tonight, he would merely break their windows.

And as he stood contemplating the windows at 604 West Boadway, he noted to his satisfaction that they were nice big, expensive plate glass windows. It would cost the Democrats much more to replace these than it would the Republicans to fix their modest, old-fashioned window panes. This, Bob Stone thought, was more than fitting. But the breaking need a bit more preparation. Bigger rocks, perhaps. No, not bigger rocks, just more preparation. Bob fingered the automatic center punch in his work jacket pocket. Yeah, he decided, just the right instrument of destruction for these tempered-glass targets.

He went to the alley behind the building foraging for ammunition and found two new bricks prepositioned there by what Bob Stone was now convinced was the hand of the Almighty. It could not have been by accident, of that he was certain. Bob pulled out his marker and wrote, lazy-dazy, winding the letters around the holes in the brick: “Second Amendment– Shall Not Be Infringed.”

Somewhat stealthier now, he checked the street before sidling up to the windows. To each he gave several preparatory hits with the automatic center punch. Spiderwebs of fractured glass appeared on each window. Then, checking the empty street one last time, he backed away from the windows and heaved the bricks one after the other with all the speed his overage pitching arm could muster. If the Republican window had sounded like an atomic bomb, these sounded like two hydrogen bombs, and Bob gave into his fear just long enough to run across the street. As the last shards of the windows were still falling, giving way to gravity and dropping with lesser explosions, Bob began to control his fear and slowed to a walk.

And so it was that he walked casually all the way home. As he passed one of the cross streets he noticed blue lights down toward East Broadway. He smiled, and walked just a bit faster. His wife stirred slightly when he eased himself back into bed, but Bob Stone had cured his angry insomnia and, happy now to be a criminal, he fell instantly asleep. Sleeping, he would later say to himself, the sleep of the just.

It all might have ended there had it not been for an editor at the local paper, the Hobbs News-Sun, who along with his college education had acquired a virulent liberal bias about things such as gun-control. Determined to show-case the “lawlessness” of gunowners, he assigned himself as the reporter on the story and also wrote the first of several (he thought stinging) editorials. The story was picked up by the state Associated Press, and eventually made its way to USA Today and the New York Times.

As if to prove that the Law of Unintended Consequences was alive and well, it was when the story went national that strange things began to happen. In Marion County, Ohio, somebody who read the USA Today story decided that breaking the windows of Democrats and Republicans was a pretty good idea. So did all his buddies at the Whirlpool plant.

As a matter of fact, it was about a baker’s-dozen Buckeyes who first decoyed the cops, then smashed every window in both party headquarters the next night. Some were broken with nicely inscribed smooth stones that, like little David, they had fished out of a stream. On each was written the entire text of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Windows too high, small or inconvenient to reach with stones were finished off with ball bearings fired from slingshots or baseball bats.

In lightning raids two nights later, the same crew smashed the windows of both partys’ headquarters in three neighboring counties. It was bipartisan vandalism, and more news stories were generated. Fearing that the rock-throwers would come to his house, the chairman of the Marion County Republican Party resigned. When his Democrat counterpart did not, someone broke the windows in his house, too. One of the more thoughtful vandals taped the business card of a local glass company to his front door.

With “The Marion Incident”, window-breaking on behalf of the Constitution began to spread. In about four weeks, 194 local headquarters of both parties were “ventilated” with rocks, bricks, concrete blocks, shotputs, lead weights, tire irons, antique civil war cannon balls and in the case of one Democratic party headquarters in Michigan, a twenty-pound brass jackass of unknown origin. Attached to, or written upon, each was the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Similiar missiles found glass targets at the homes of no fewer than 56 politicians of both parties who had been prominent supporters of gun-control.

Rewards were offered– none was collected. Only in a few cases were the perpretrators caught, and most of those were teenage sons of well-known gun owners. In one case in Texas, the windows were broken publicly by a citizen who sought arrest for his civil disobedience. In a jury trial, he was quickly acquitted.

“The Window War” became nightly fodder for the television talking heads. And with more publicity came more broken windows. Commentators on the left condemned “vigilante justice” and “lawlessness” and called for political window-breaking to be classified as a “hate crime.” Commentators on the right spoke against lawlessness more softly, pointing out that it was the Clintonistas who had made a business of flouting the rule of law (most recently in the case of Elian Gonzalez), and that destroying windows was probably a lesser crime than destroying the Constitution. And everyone agreed with MSNBC’s “Hardball” Chris Matthews, a life-long Democrat, when he observed: “These are all gun-owners breaking the law. I suppose we should be grateful they’re using rocks.”

The polls sent the politicians mixed signals about how the public felt about The Window War. Initially overwhelmingly disapproving of such vandalism, the numbers began to shift as the “War” went on, the issues that had prompted the window-breaking became better known and nothing but windows were being harmed. There was a natural sympathy streak in many Americans for those who fought city hall.

Exactly one month after Bob Stone broke his first window at 509 East Broadway, copy-cat incidents were happening ten or twenty times a night with no end in sight. After two buckets, one containing rocks and the other containing a mixture of tar and feathers, were delivered to the Mississippi home of Senator Trent Lott, the Majority Leader decided, (with the concurrence of “Dubya”), that the political price of Republican gun-control had grown too high. It wasn’t the implied threat that got to Lott so much as the fact that the card which accompanied the buckets was signed by some of his campaign contributors, one of whom was a distant relative. With the help of several relieved Democrats, Lott killed the bill.

With the Window War threatening to muddy up his campaign for President, Candidate “Dubya” called Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America (it was widely recognized that the “rockers” were not listening to the National Rifle Association, which they regarded as a sell-out organization) and quietly promised that if he was elected he would sign a bill that rolled back all of the Clinton-era gun control laws if Pratt could just guarantee that no more windows would be broken. Since the window-breakers weren’t under his control either, Pratt said he couldn’t promise anything, but he would try.

Three days after Senator Lott killed the bill, the last “shot” was fired in the Window War by twenty members of a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in New York who snuck up on the home of the Empire State’s virulently anti-gun Attorney General while he was away and peppered it with Revolutionary War musket balls fired from Gamo “Wrist-Rocket” slingshots. Police responding to the alarm found a big folding sign-board blocking the driveway. It read: “Sue this!”

Across the country, the volunteer soldiers of The Window War read the papers, talked among themselves, and decided to await further developments with a truce. The only Americans who were sad to see the rocks stop flying were the owners of the nation’s glass companies.

The howling of Clinton, Gore, Schumer, Feinstein and Company sounded like a banshee chorus but it could not resurrect the bill. Nor could they make it an effective campaign issue against Bush–he had condemned the vandalism in the strongest terms. After George “Dubya” Bush was elected President, and the Republicans retained control of the Congress, the tide of gun control receded. It wasn’t that Dubya and his GOP colleagues had “discovered” any principles, they were simply smart enough to recognize that that particular political skunk was best left in the bucket. The reminder that political decisions sometimes have personal consequences acted like a tonic on Republicans and Democrats alike.

The Window War was won, and to the astonishment of many gun owners, no one had been killed. It had long been thought that bloodshed would be required to make the liberals understand that God-given rights are not compromisable. All it had taken was a few hundred rocks and other missiles and one brass jackass.

Many men and women would later claim to have been window-breakers, ten times as many as there probably were. But back in Hobbs, no one ever knew who broke the first window in the gun-control war, and that was just fine with Bob Stone. The only person he ever told was his wife, Amy. Together, they decided to keep Bob’s foray into petty crime just between themselves. Neither of them was sure just how they could explain their Daddy’s night of window-breaking to the kids.

Author’s Postscript: The story above is one possible future for this country. There are others far worse. As J.R. Nyquist recently wrote of the Elian Gonzalez federal kidnapping:

“Specific events, regardless of their actual importance to history, sometimes capture the human imagination. In doing this, they become rallying points for masses of people. They become pivotal to political careers. Such events can bring about the collapse of governments or determine the outcome of elections….Except for clueless and apathetic persons, America has been split into two hostile ideological camps. One is the anti-communist or anti-statist camp, which looks to traditional moral values, the Constitution, a strong family unit and the free market. The other camp is socialist or “progressive” in its outlook, globalist and environmentalist in its policies.”

There is no reconciling the two futures these camps represent. One or the other will win in the end. The war up to now has been waged in the political and social arena. The time is fast approaching when this political and social “war” will spill over into armed conflict– real civil war. If it does, it will happen mostly because everyone thinks it impossible. For sixty years, the liberals have used our respect for the law against us. Each time they moved the line of law to further their agenda, breaking off a bit of the Constitution, we, as law-abiding citizens have backed up grumbling but complying. And why should they stop pushing us back from our God-given liberties? We’ve never pushed back to stop them. We have been TOO law-abiding.

Remember one thing: Adolf Hitler was elected, and the Nazis passed laws justifying every horrible act they later committed. In such a country, law-breaking is not a crime but a virtue. Before we get too far down that road, perhaps a little window-breaking is in order. Waiting too late to oppose tyranny has always led to bloodshed. Let us avoid that if we can.

But history holds such windows of opportunity open only so long, and ours is rapidly closing. Perhaps by breaking a few windows now, we can escape the horrible alternative. And if in the unlikely event my modest story should become fact, somewhere The Sons of Liberty will be smiling.

Mike Vanderboegh
PO Box 926
Pinson, AL 35126
GeorgeMason1776@aol.com