The Lost Company — Chapter One: First 1,000 words

Posted on Monday, March 28th, 2011

Civil War re-enactors go back in time to the Civil War

Chapter 1

Captain Jack Hickman stood in front of the company, not quite knowing what to say. The fifty-nine-year-old antique dealer faced his followers, fifty friends all who enjoyed Civil War re-enacting. Jack had commanded these men (and two women) on dozens of occasions, but this time it was different. This time Hickman was going to lead his fellow re-enactors into danger. The officer gazed at them, his eyes weary from lack of sleep. They had stayed up most of the night, huddled over a smoky fire, talking their situation over. However, in the end, the group had decided, and voted unanimously- – they would risk their lives.

“Now, this isn’t the time for me to make a long speech,” Jack began, “There just ain’t nothing funny about what we’re going to do. In fact, it could be down-right dangerous.” Hickman paused, swallowing. He ran his gloved hand through his beard, brushing at the dew and rain droplets which had collected on the gray hair. “We all decided last night that we’d see this thing through, so, there ain’t a whole lot more to say.”

Hickman found that he had no more words. He shook his head and then studied the faces of his friends standing before him. On the company’s far right stood Jack’s longtime acquaintance, Leon Drake. The sixty-six-year-old retired salesman chewed at the stump of an unlit cigar and peered back at him stoically. A feeling of confidence surged through Hickman’s shoulders. If that old first sergeant was going to stick around, then things couldn’t be too horrible. Jack slowly scanned the faces of the men in First Platoon, starting with the questioning face of Corporal Tom Nanni. Next to the thirty-nine-year-old lawyer stood the hulk, big Keith Harvey, and after that ten more.

Jack Hickman knew each front rank man had a rear rank partner, but he didn’t bother to inspect them. Hickman knew First Platoon had Sergeant Joe Liechty standing right behind them, making sure everyone was where they were supposed to be, and prepared for what was going to happen today. The captain’s eyes passed from First Platoon to Second. The front rank was occupied by Corporal Phil Bluestein, and then ten more. Again, Hickman knew each front rank rifleman was matched by a rear rank partner, but he knew Second Platoon’s sergeant, John Crabb was back there, shepherding his boys. Hickman sighed. Today they would find out if last night’s decision would be a mistake.

“Captain,” said Leon Drake, “looks like we’ve got company coming.”

Jack turned and noticed a mud-splattered sergeant major approaching. Hickman suddenly had more to say. “I just got one more thing to add,” the captain said quickly, “Those fellows over there,” Hickman pointed to the hundreds of soldiers who were going about the business of starting another day out in the field, “They don’t know who we are, and probably don’t give a damn, neither. But they will be quick to judge us if we screw up. So, today, you must forget who you are, and where you came from, and just do what you are told to do. Tonight, we’ll know a hell of lot more than what we do now. Hell, this whole thing might be over by then. So, just remember, listen to my orders, do what your sergeants tell you, and don’t go and do any thinking on your own.”

The sergeant major splashed through the yellow mud and came up to Hickman and saluted, “Captain, I’m here to lead you out to the picket line. Is your company ready?” Hickman glanced at his men, gazed at them for a moment, and then turned back to the grizzled veteran. Hickman nodded. “Then sir, please follow me.”

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