Bounty Hunters - Excerpt
On the morning of April 9, 1865, at the Court House in the village of Appomattox, VA. the landscape which was usually emerald green, and alive with the sounds of birds singing, dogs barking and an occasional rooster crowing, was now a solid blue and gray as fighting soldiers from both the Union and Confederate armies gathered to witness the signing of declaration ending the war.
No gun shots or cannon fire interrupted the quietness of the crisp morning air.
RJ Murdock, wearing his battle-worn Grays, had takena spot close to the Court House and with a tear in his eye witnessed his commanding officer, General Robert E. Lee signing the declaration and terms of surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant ending the bloody war known as the War between the States, or the American Civil War which took the lives of over 750,000 men and boys and had pitched brother against brother and family against family.
“Well R.J, what are your plans now?” The voice was that of his best friend Calvin. The two had meet on the battlefield and had become fast friends right from day one and had covered each other’s back on several occasions, and now with the war over, it was time to make some decisions about the future.
“I’m headed for home,” whispered Calvin as if his voice would somehow disturb the morning’s quiet. Looking off in the distance at all those gathered here, and speaking to no one he continued. “Don’t rightly know what I’ll find when I get there. We saw what was done to Richmond, so I don’t plan on finding much.”
Before RJ could say anything, General Lee emerged from the Mclean House, and standing on the front porch, drew his sword, held it high into the air and officially discharged his men one last time. With that, the war came to an end, slavery was abolished, and it was time to start re-building, an effort that was marred just five days later by the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Even though there were several thousand men gathered here, it was as quiet as the inside of a tomb and RJ wondered if anyone else had picked up on just how quiet it was.
As a Term of Surrender, the confederate soldiers were allowed to keep their weapons and their horses, if they had one.
“I have nothing to go home for or to either,” exclaimed RJ. “I received a letter awhile back informing me that Grandma had passed and my two younger brothers were selling what was left of the farm. The Union Army had just about destroyed it completely, burning down the barn and setting fire to the fields. I think I’ll head west and see what I can find for work.”
“Why not stay around here, there’s plenty of rebuilding to do?”
The offer from Calvin basically went in one ear and out the other side as RJ had made up his mind to head west and had secretly hoped he could talk Calvin into joining him.
“As good as that sounds, I always wanted to head west someday and now that Gram is gone and my brothers are selling what’s left, there is nothing keeping me from following that course.” As a second thought he added, “I would imagine they’ll be headed that way too.”
“I always knew this day would come when the war ended,” said Calvin, watching all the men solemnly walking away with their heads hung low. Some men could be heard crying, knowing they were now heading home after years of fighting, and having no idea what they would find but knowing their homeland had probably been destroyed by the Union Armies.