Sunday, September 23, 2018

Destination Hope – Book 5 - Reconciliation - Chapter 3

I want to thank everyone who has viewed the story. Interest has more than doubled. As we watch the Deep State defy a duly elected President for no legitimate reason, this chapter has the main character, Nathaniel, wrestling with good reasons to object to government overreach. I give this work to the LORD, Jesus and to you my readers. My consistent prayer is, “Jesus, please use this work for Your glory and give readers a great appreciation for why You chose to make The United States of America exceptional, a nation where Your gift of Liberty is protected and preserved for all mankind. For new readers, Chapter 1 is linked: here.

Destination Hope – Book 5 – Reconciliation

A Novel By:

Charles J. Patricoff

Copyright © 2014 by Charles J. Patricoff. All rights reserved.

Chapter 3

Town Hall Meeting

What a difference a day makes,Nathaniel thought. After morning roll call, he limped to the chapel to prepare for his next Bible study. He followed his normal solitary routine. In the morning stillness, his personal reading brought him to the Gospel of John, Chapter 14. He took a sip of tepid, bitter-tasting, black coffee and then read aloud Jesus’ word to His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places: if it were not so, I would have told you: I go to prepare a place for you.”
Nathaniel held the Bible in his left hand and walked about the room animating the words with his right hand.“And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there may ye be also.”
Suddenly a prisoner cleared his throat, “Uh, excuse us, Major.”
Startled, Nathaniel looked away from the words of life to find several prisoners shuffling into the chapel, some taking seats on the benches.
Lieutenant Charles Pierce stepped forward. “Major, the men want to discuss the oath like we did yesterday.”
Nathaniel moseyed to the podium, laid his Bible down, and scanned the growing crowd. “All right. Come in and find a seat, men.” He recognized many who used to be regular service attendees and dipped his head in acknowledgement. As the buzz grew louder, he pondered what God was doing. I guess I’ll just follow Your lead.
Lieutenant Pierce stepped to the front of the room and next to his friend. “Ya-all shut up, now. We’ve got serious matters to discuss.” It took a couple of minutes for the men to settle. “Okay, Major. It’s all yours,” Pierce said.
What’s all mine? “Uh, thank you, Lieutenant.”
A soldier shouted, “Read the oath, Major.”
Another soldier yelled, “Yeah, Major, what’s it say?”
Nathaniel realized he now presided over an old-fashioned, town-hall meeting. He reached for his Bible and flipped it to the passage where he had left the sought-after piece of paper—Psalm 137. “Alright men, listen up.” When every man seemed to be paying attention, he started to read.

“The Oath to the United States of America. I—”

He paused. “There is a space here for you to write in your full name, so it would go like this:

“I—Nathaniel Thomas Graham—of the County of…”

He said, “And you write in the name of the county you’re from.

“State of…

“You insert your State’s name; mine would be, Williamson County, Tennessee. Next it says that you do solemnly swear.” He shifted to the first person:

“‘That I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution and Government’…”

He stopped to emphasize “and Government”before continuing.

“‘of the United States against all enemies, whether domestic or foreign; that I will bear true faith, allegiance, and loyalty to the same.

“Men pay attention to this next phrase. You have to pledge your support for:

“‘any ordinance, resolution, or laws of any State, Convention, or Legislature, to the contrary notwithstanding; and further, that I will faithfully perform all the duties which may be required of me by the laws of the United States; and I take this oath freely and voluntarily, without any mental reservation or evasion whatever.’

“That’s it.  There is a place for you to sign your name, and the rest is for Colonel Hill to complete.”
The men sat in silence for a minute—maybe two.
Lieutenant Pierce stood. “Did you notice the differences between this and the oath you took as officers?”
“Yeah, I heard it,” a ragged soldier stated as he rose to his feet. “The dang Yankees are demanding we pledge our allegiance to the Federal government and its laws and any they might create in the future—good or bad. They can keep me here for the rest of my born days. I ain’t never gonna sign that piece of goat feed. It’s blasphemous in my opinion.” He turned to Nathaniel. “Ain’t that right, Chaplain?”
Being caught by surprise again, Nathaniel said, “Uh, I guess…I can see how you could make the argument.” Deftly, he said, “Men, if you have an opinion or something to add, I suggest you come forward and be recognized. If we are going to do this, we should have order.”
“Here, here,” several men shouted.
This is going to be a long day, Nathaniel realized.
The same pros and cons, which he had discussed with his friends the day before, surfaced. Those in favor all stood by the idea that they could get out of prison, a train ticket home, a year’s pay, and some fresh clothes and shoes. Nathaniel admitted to himself, a pair of good shoes would be wonderful. But is a pair of shoes worth surrendering one’s liberty to the Federal government? It seems too much like Esau trading his birthright for a bowl of soup.
Nathaniel weighed the contrary positions. A year of service in the Yankee Army? The folks at home will call us traitors for certain. So how could I ever go home, again? But the most powerful argument Nathaniel digested was the fact that a prisoner would trade his dependence on God to dependence on government. This, for Nathaniel, would be a form of blasphemy.
But what about Eleanor?
The meeting broke up around lunchtime without any consensus from the prisoners. Nathaniel did offer one comment: “People will swear allegiance for food, or in their case, freedom, without thinking about the consequences.”
The men in the chapel did reach one, unanimous decision: if a man chose to accept the government’s offer, other prisoners left behind on Johnson’s Island would not hold it against him.
As the men further contemplated their future after receiving their meager mid-day rations, another celebratory uproar erupted from the Yankees outside the prison compound. Soon they learned that on May 10, 1865, Federal troops had captured Given Campbell, along with his hand-picked escort, and the prize, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis. They apprehended the chief-Rebel at Irwinville, in Irwin County, Georgia. In the disarray of the moment, Jefferson Davis threw his wife’s overcoat over his shoulders and attempted to flee the Union soldiers. Later caricatures of him surfaced showing him disguised as a woman when captured, although there was no truth to the report.
The Rebel prisoners rushed out into the common area. Lieutenant Charles Pierce rushed to the keep-out wire and yelled to one of the guards posted on the catwalk near the front gates.  “What’s up, Yank?”
The guard who had cupped his left ear, dropped his hand, and peered down on the questioning prisoner. “If I heard right, Jefferson Davis has been captured. I ain’t too sure, but they are saying something about women’s clothes. Don’t know how that fits.”
Nathaniel absorbed the deeper meaning. This closes the final chapter on the Confederacy. There’s no reason to hold us any longer.

Thanks for reading. If you like the story, please leave me a comment.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Destination Hope - Book 5 - Reconciliation - Chapter 2

Since I uploaded Chapter 147 people have viewed it. I don’t know if they all read it because I received comment. As I said in my first post, I give this work to the LORD, Jesus and to you my readers. My consistent prayer is, “Jesus, please use this work for Your glory and give readers a great appreciation for why You chose to make The United States of America exceptional, a nation where Your gift of Liberty is protected and preserved for all mankind." Enjoy Chapter 2 - New Questions.

Destination Hope

Book 5 - Reconciliation

A Novel By:

Charles J. Patricoff

Copyright © 2014 by Charles J. Patricoff. All rights reserved. 

Chapter 2

New Questions

The next morning after roll call, Colonel Hill summoned Nathaniel to his office. As so many other times since Nathaniel landed on Johnson’s Island fifteen months prior, Private Jacob Hakey, and three other guards, escorted Nathaniel through the prisoner housing gates. Protocol required silence as the five men advanced on the colonel’s headquarters. Nathaniel entered the outer office controlled by Sergeant Sean O’Brien and stood as a silent lamb, awaiting its fate.
Sergeant O’Brien glared at Nathaniel, his message of hate clear, and rose from his chair. He sidestepped from behind his desk, and almost snarled like a dog protecting a meaty bone as he passed the Rebel who, of all three thousand prisoners, had caused him the most trouble. Sergeant O’Brien knocked twice on Colonel Hill’s office door.
Nathaniel heard a muffled, “Enter.”
Sergeant O’Brien opened the door, stepped inside, and shut it partway. He said, “The prisoner you requested to see is here, sir.”
“Send him in, Sergeant.”
Sergeant O’Brien swung the entrance to its full width, exited Colonel Hill’s workplace, and directed Nathaniel to enter.
Nathaniel wanted to thank Sergeant O’Brien but decided it would be in his best interest to hold his tongue. After he crossed the threshold, Sergeant O’Brien pulled the door shut.
“Come in, Graham,” Colonel Hill offered.
Nathaniel noticed a different tone to Colonel Hill’s voice. With three simple words, he sounded more inviting, almost friendly. Nathaniel remained suspicious.
As Nathaniel limped toward the commandant’s desk, Colonel Hill stated, “Have a seat.”
This is new.“Thank you, sir.”
 “I received your request for a meeting.” Colonel Hill placed his folded hands on his desk. “What can I do for you?”
Nathaniel suspected this moment resulted from his petition. Knowing Colonel Hill’s short and sharp-temper tendencies, Nathaniel decided to get straight to the point. “Sir, I am interested in reading the oath of allegiance. Some prisoners have sought my counsel, whether or not they should accept the Federal government’s offer of freedom. I’m afraid I do not know how to advise them. I believe that if I could study the words, I would be able to form a sound position. My request, sir is this—may I have a copy?”
Colonel Hill’s eyes widened and a smile surfaced. “Well, for the first time since I took command, you and I agree on something.”
His desire for full honesty at all times prompted Nathaniel’s guarded response. “We were enemies, sir. I believe we are fellow countrymen now.”
Colonel Hill’s chin rose. His eyes pinched a bit. “I think I understand your point.” He rubbed his mustache and beard. “Request granted.” He shouted, “Sergeant!”
A chair scraped the wooden floor. Heavy boot steps thudded toward the colonel’s office. The door swung open, and Sergeant O’Brien entered.
Nathaniel started to stand, a demonstration of understanding his station in life, but Colonel Hill said, “Stay seated, Graham.”
Sergeant O’Brien crossed the room and came to a perfect statuesque attention. Saluting he announced, “Sergeant O’Brien, reporting as ordered, sir.”
Colonel Hill kept his focus on Sergeant O’Brien and returned his salute. “At ease, Sergeant.  Provide Major Graham, here, a copy of the oath of allegiance.”
With the fixed expression of a stone idol, Sergeant O’Brien assumed a parade rest stance. “Yes, sir.”
Colonel Hill shifted his attention to Nathaniel, “Will that be all, Major?”
Nathaniel, still somewhat uncertain by the change of behavior he witnessed, simply said, “Yes sir, Colonel Hill.”
“Then, Major,” Colonel Hill gazed upward at Sergeant O’Brien, “Sergeant.”
Recognizing the command sequence, Nathaniel rose from his chair. Both Nathaniel and Sergeant O’Brien came to attention and offered Colonel Hill a proper salute as if they were members of the same outfit.
Colonel Hill pushed away from his desk, stood to attention, exchanged the salute, and ordered, “Dismissed.”
Minutes later, Sergeant O’Brien extracted a hand-scribed copy of the oath of allegiance and handed it to Nathaniel. “Here you go.”
Nathaniel accepted the sheet of paper thinking, “Here you go, sir.”Instead, he said, “Thank you, Sergeant O’Brien.”
Stone cold, Sergeant O’Brien released the document and gestured toward the exit.
Nathaniel understood the unspoken command and left.

After Nathaniel departed, Colonel Hill exited his office and stood next to Sergeant O’Brien as Nathaniel and his escorts headed back to the prison compound. Colonel Hill asked, “What do you think, Sergeant?”
“Do you really believe he’ll sign it, sir?”
“Even if he does, I still don’t trust him.”
“Neither do I, sir. Neither do I.”
Colonel Hill came about, but before he took a step back to his office, he ordered, “Keep a close eye on him, Sergeant.”
Sergeant O’Brien let a slight grin surface on his clean-shaven face, and then suppressed it. “I always do, sir.”
“Carry on, Sergeant.”

Nathaniel entered the chapel and propped open the door to let light and fresh, spring air flow into the building. He unfolded the paper and read it as if his future depended on it. In one sense, it did. He studied the words and reached a conclusion. Sitting in silence, he prayed for wisdom.
An hour passed. Nathaniel heard many footsteps ascending the chapel’s stairs, crossing the wooden floorboards and entering the sanctuary behind him. Nathaniel twisted his torso. Private Hakey watched four prisoners pass. He yanked his musket from his shoulder.
Nathaniel rose to his feet and wiped his hands on his thin, torn trousers. He expected one, not four, and the fourth shocked him to his core. “Captain Boyd. I am surprised to see you today.”
Captain Richard Boyd said, “The word around camp is you had a chat with the commandant.”
Nathaniel looked past his approaching fellow prisoners and made eye contact with Private Hakey, who looked just as startled.
Nathaniel shifted his gaze back to Boyd. “What else are they talking about?”
Former Confederate Captain Richard Boyd said, “That’s why I followed your friends. I want to find out what’s going on around here. Nobody tells me anything anymore.”
The red-headed gentle giant, Lieutenant King rebutted, “Do you blame us?”
Lieutenant Charles Pierce declared, “I don’t know what he’s talking about, Nate.”
“Yeah, Major,” Lieutenant King folded his thigh-thick arms, stood next to Nathaniel, and glared at the unwelcomed captain.
Lieutenant William Harris said, “He’s here on account of me, sir. I told him you went to see the Colonel.”
Nathaniel shifted his attention to Boyd but asked Harris. “Did he ask for any information?”
“Not in so many words, sir. He asked me concerning your whereabouts.”
“I see.” Nathaniel shot Boyd an accusing glare. “Is this true, Richard?”
“Yeah, so what?”
Nathaniel sensed a gentle poke. Yes Lord, I remember.“Forgive me for my lack of trust, but the last time I saw you in this room, I woke up with a large bump on my head and my knee swollen so I couldn’t walk without help for a day or two.”
Captain Richard Boyd grinned. “Okay, I give you that. But now, I hope you know none of the things that happened to you were my ideas.”
Nathaniel nodded. How could I prove or disprove your claim? The others are dead and the truth died with them.Nathaniel sidestepped his way into the aisle and shuffled toward the front of the chapel. He assumed his normal position behind the podium, reached into his pocket, and retrieved the paper, which he believed would generate more controversy.

Later that afternoon, news arrived.  President Jefferson Davis had met with fourteen Confederate Cabinet officials for the last time on May 5, 1865, in Washington, Georgia. The meeting took place at a Georgia Branch Bank Building called the Heard House. The Confederate government had made one last official decision—it dissolved. The War Between the States concluded. Another celebration erupted, yet subdued by a fear that bad news might follow as it did the previous month. Fortunately for two men, the jubilant atmosphere provided a helpful distraction.
Union Sergeant O’Brien asked, “What did you learn?”
“Sergeant, I can’t say there is much there other than a concern that the oath goes beyond swearing allegiance to the Constitution. None of them have a problem with the Constitution.” Lines etched on Boyd’s forehead. His informant said, “Many made the argument they fought against you boys to defend it, but I confess I don’t like the idea of swearing allegiance to the Federal government.”

Thanks for reading. If you like what you're reading, please leave me a comment

Monday, September 10, 2018

Destination Hope - Book 5 - Reconciliation - Chapter 1

Once my former publisher informed me (and all their authors) they were going out of business, I sought a publisher for the last book in my Civil War series, "Destination Hope." After months of prayer, I felt led to publish it in my Blog. For those who have read books 1 through 4, "Separation," "Emancipation," "Consolation," and "Liberation," and as the LORD, Jesus provides me time, I intend to publish a chapter each week. I pray the concluding story will bless you and give you a greater appreciation for why The United States of America is an exceptional nation.

I give you, "Reconciliation."

Destination Hope

Book 5 - Reconciliation

A Novel By:

Charles J. Patricoff

Copyright © 2014 by Charles J. Patricoff. All rights reserved. 

Chapter 1

The Oath

An uneasy peace settled over an assumed temporary residence of the prisoner of war compound for Chaplain, Nathaniel Thomas Graham and his former comrades-in-arms. For most incarcerated in this abode, cut from the dense forest of Johnson’s Island rising out of Sandusky Bay, all good will from their captors transformed into hatred. Any assurance they received that the Federal government would treat them with justice and equity evolved into bitter resentment and mistrust. All hope for a future life of freedom disappeared under the bondage of depression. Nathaniel fought the good fight of faith. However, as each new day dawned, he grew weary of combating these evils in himself. 
The sun neared its peak this first Sunday in May 1865—a little more than four years since the angry and disenfranchised Confederates fired the first shots of what Nathaniel's fellow Southerners would call, “The War of Northern Aggression,” on an island fortress in the middle of Charleston, South Carolina’s harbor.
A paddlewheel steamer prepared to dock. On board, deck hands and island-based longshoremen raced to secure the fore, starboard, and aft ropes. Screeching seagulls flapped above the boat while stoic pelicans glided behind. Both species watched for any discarded morsels. As wage-earning men hoisted crates of supplies from the boat to the pier, several airborne scavengers pealed from their respective flocks and passed over the wooden-walled structures below. A few feathered sustenance seekers landed and strutted about the ground near a house-size box, which stood alone from the others. The sound of music emanated from within. The melody ceased and a lower resonant, muffled noise took its place.
“In closing,” former Confederate Major, Nathaniel Graham declared, making eye contact with his three fellow prisoners and two Federal guards posted in the rear of the one-story chapel. “I want to leave you with something to think about this—” Nathaniel adjusted his train of thought mid-sentence.  Then he commented, “One of the most beautiful days we’ve seen in a long, long time.”
Nathaniel shifted his gaze to the rear of the pinewood-paneled building.  Prior to Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender almost a month before at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, Nathaniel’s fellow prisoners filled the one-room chapel to near capacity during Sunday morning services – not anymore.
“We do not know what we will face in the days ahead. We do not know how much longer we will be held here, but, in this we can have confidence.” He lifted his chin. “A day will come when the war will be over. We, all of us,” Nathaniel gestured at the two Yankee guards struggling to keep their eyes open, “North and South must answer this simple yet difficult question: Now what? A day is coming when our captors will let us go. We will return to our homes. When that time comes, we must make sound choices. It is my opinion that we should think about this now and prepare so we will know what to do then. If we do, we will be in a position to help others who might be lost in the forest of indecisive hesitation.”
Nathaniel’s voice resounded with confidence and the authority of a leader who knows where he is going. “We might ask ourselves, will we behave as ministers of His reconciliation, as our passage today charged? Will we help rebuild our lives and the lives of our families, friends, and towns?  Or, will we hold a grudge, remain separated from our now rejoined country, and become perpetual enemies of peace?”
Nathaniel glanced at his five-man audience. “We have to choose to be honest with ourselves.” He pointed with his right index finger at the center of his chest.  He directed his fellow prisoners’ attention to the guards with his eyes and snapped his chin upward. “Our fellow countrymen.” And next, he gestured heavenward. “And our God.”
The risk-taking chaplain suspected that what he was about to say contributed in part to the low attendance and isolation he experienced in camp. “Separation between our brothers caused unspeakable hostility, which we witnessed with our eyes and felt in our bodies."  Nathaniel limped away from the podium and put his hand on his right knee. Then, he came to a parade rest position with his hands clasped behind his back. “And, if you are like me in anyway, my heart grieves every day over the loss of so many friends and loved ones.”
Nathaniel rocked up onto his toes and then relaxed. “When President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, we all thought, how could one government official take away private property without due process of law? Because our sense of justice was so deeply offended, we fought harder and sustained greater casualties. Two years ago, my best friend lost his leg about the same time we all lost General Jackson. My consolation...” The flashing memory caused a choking sensation. He fought through it. “I considered that I may not survive the war and concluded if we became subject to an out-of-control, tyrannical, central Federal Government, maybe I didn’t want to endure it.
“But God had other plans for you and I for here we are, confined against our will.” Nathaniel made slow, yet steady, steel-eyed contact with each man. “Yet in this place of bitter bondage, God has taught me that no matter what physical circumstances I may face, no man or institution can prevent me from worshiping Him. It is His inalienable right of liberty granted to you and me. As we read in Psalm 139 and restated in another way by Jeremiah to Israel, He knows the number of our days and the plans He has made for usto give us a future and a hope.”
Even as he paced, Nathaniel fixed his attention on Lieutenant Thomas Butler King. “Lieutenant King, I know you want to go home, to be with your wife, Bonny, and to work the ground of your Arkansas farm again.”
Lieutenant King nodded and folded his arms.
Nathaniel shifted his gaze to Lieutenant William Bradford Harris.  “Lieutenant Harris, if I were a betting man, I’d wager you can’t wait to restart your dry goods shop taking advantage of,” Nathaniel cleared his throat, “I mean taking care of, river travelers in your riverboat port of Greenville, Mississippi.” Even the sleepy guards chuckled at Nathaniel’s attempt at humor.
“And, Lieutenant Pierce” Lieutenant Charles Pierce sat up“No one wants to leave this place more than you. How many times did you try to escape and make your way to that hideaway bayou you affectionately call home down in Louisiana?”
The men laughed. Lieutenant Pierce held up his right hand spreading all five digits.
Nathaniel’s eyes widened. “Five?” More laughter surfaced. “And all of you worked diligently to help me design, dig, and construct the escape tunnel.” Nathaniel read the disbelief etching across his fellow prisoners’ faces and the slight bulging of their eyes. “It’s okay men, we tried. We know how it was discovered, but we must forgive and not give into our natural desire to seek vengeance.” He held up both hands as he did the day he found his horse, Max. The memory of stopping that frenzied, out-of-control horse flashed through his mind. I miss riding Max. Did he survive the war?
“No men, if we are to know peace in whatever the Lord has planned for our future, we must choose the path of reconciliation.  God created all life to live under His liberty, but we can choose bondage. Because of sin, our nature is to gravitate toward bondage. It is easy to let someone else, other than God, lead us, guide us, and tell us what to do, how to live, etcetera. As Joshua admonished the Children of Israel in the last chapter of the book that bears his name, choose for yourselves who you will serve.  As for me, I choose to serve the Lord and learn from Him how to live under His liberty, even if I remain confined in this prison, never to see my espoused bride, or return to my Tennessee home, or, if it is His will, die in this place.”
Taking up the position of authority behind the lectern, Nathaniel drove his sermon to his concluding, essential point. He grabbed both sides of the podium and scanned the tiny congregation. Knowing they might not agree with his stand, he steeled his spine trusting he presented God’s opinion. “As your chaplain, as one who fought with you for the cause of liberty, as one who bears the scars of battle on my body, I adjure you to write to your friends and family members back home. Beseech them to ratify the amendment. Jesus Christ won the war for our eternal souls. It was for freedom’s sake that He died so all men, which He created, can live free. As His follower, how can I hold another believer in an institution of bondage? We have an opportunity to be the first former Confederate soldiers to embrace the abolition of slavery for the entire nation. If I could vote, I would cast my lot in favor of ratification. Should God provide you with the opportunity, I urge you to do likewise.
“For me the issue is settled, and I recommend this to your further and deeper consideration.” Nathaniel took a deep breath expanding his chest several times the normal capacity, and released its hold as he delivered his soul. Scanning his sparse audience he said, “Shall we pray and commit the rest of this beautiful spring day into His capable hands?”
After the closing prayer, hymn, benediction, and formal dismissal, Lieutenant Harris approached Nathaniel. “Major, may I speak freely with you, sir?”
“What is it Lieutenant?”
“Sir, I think I understand what you mean about our choices, but what you’re asking ain’t easy.”
Nathaniel placed his right hand on William’s left shoulder in an attempt to help settle the younger man. “William, I know and let me encourage you. God knows it is hard, too. But He will never leave us nor forsake us if we choose to follow Him. If we do, He has a way of making the difficult easy. But if we choose the easy way life offers, we may find it harder in the long run.” Nathaniel searched for signs of comprehension to manifest on Lieutenant Harris’ face. Seeing none, he inquired, “Do you remember our Bible study in the Sixth chapter of John’s Gospel?”
Lieutenant Harris’ eyes shifted and then fixed on the chapel’s angled ceiling for a brief second. “I’m not sure, sir.”
“That’s fair. We’ve covered a lot of material and it is easy to forget the details. So, let me summarize.
“Yes, sir.”
“Our Lord’s teaching grew deeper and more difficult in content and required a deeper and greater commitment from His followersmore than the twelve. When they argued that His demands were getting too hard, in chapter 6, verse 66, many of His disciples turned away and ceased following Him.  Jesus turned to the twelve and asked, ‘Are you going to leave, too?’ Peter answered, ‘Where are we going to go? You have the words of life.’ ” 
Nathaniel waved his right arm, drawing attention to their surroundings. “William, where are we to go?”
Lieutenant Harris swiveled his head to his left, then back to his right. “I guess nowhere.”
Nathaniel blinked.  He missed the point.  I’ll have to try another approach.  “For now, Lieutenant, for now. Let us speak more about this later, maybe after supper?”
William seemed to force a smile. “I would appreciate it, sir.”
“I’ll look for you, then.”  Nathaniel patted Lieutenant Harris’s shoulder.
Lieutenant Harris appeared to accept Nathaniel’s encouragement, came about, and shuffled for the chapel’s exit.
After straightening up the chapel under the watchful eye of Federal sentry, Private Jacob Hakey, Nathaniel stepped outside, took a deep breath, closed his eyes and lifted his face to absorb the direct, warm afternoon sunlight. He allowed the rays to wash over him, cleansing him in an unexplainable bath of energy.
“Are you alright, Major?
Nathaniel shook himself into the present and snapped his head to his right, making eye contact with a confused looking young man in a clean and pressed blue uniform.  “Have you ever seen a prettier day, Private?”
“Uh no, not recently, sir.”
Nathaniel swiveled his head and stared at the open field in an attempt to relieve the perceived tension. Then, he inquired further, “Do you have any news for me?”
“Sir, you know I can’t.”
“Can’t hurt to ask...”
“Are you done here, sir?”
“Yes, Private.” Nathaniel placed his free left hand on his hip and took another deep breath.  His head shifted from left to right. “I believe I’ll take a walk around the exercise grounds.”
“You know I can’t leave you alone, sir.”
“I know. Your boss, Colonel Hill doesn’t trust me, does he?”
“He still considers you the biggest trouble maker in this camp.”
“But what do you think, Private?”
“Major, I don’t get paid to think.”
Nathaniel grinned as he peered over his left shoulder at his Yankee companion. “You coming?” Nathaniel hobbled down the two wood steps to the camp’s greening grass.
“Are you sure you can make it all the way around?”
“We’re going to find out. All I know, walking helps. My knee gets stiff if I sit for a spell. It’s too nice a day to let it go to waste, wouldn’t you agree?”
Shouldering his musket and taking up a position a few paces behind his prisoner, Private Hakey reminded, “Like I said, sir, I don’t get paid to think.”
Nathaniel collected his thoughts while enjoying the afternoon walk around the interior grounds. He took note of the leafy green trees beyond the northeastern fence line and wondered if he would ever see the outside world again. It’s been a month since General Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia and a couple of weeks since General Joe Johnson turned over his eighty-nine thousand soldiers to General Sherman in North Carolina. Shouldn’t that be good enough to let us go home? But the specter of President Lincoln’s assassination ruled, like a brutal dictator, over all who sympathized with the broken, beaten, and now subjugated South. Eleven days have passed since the Yankees killed that maniac, Booth. That vile, little man silenced the lone and strongest voice of reason, and destroyed the best friend the South ever had.
Since regular warmer air returned to the island, these afternoon walks before evening roll call had become his routine. Each day, weather permitting, Nathaniel’s right leg grew stronger, but the limp remaineda permanent feature, like an identifying scar across a man’s face. He passed the now quiet and unused baseball field he and his fellow prisoners built. Grass grew in sporadic patches throughout the once active diamond. By order of the commandant, there would be no more games. Nathaniel missed them. Several were rather entertaining and helped relieve a prisoner’s worst enemyboredom.  Nathaniel feared many of his comrades still blamed him for the loss of the sport and all other privileges. At least the Federals let them walk.
Nathaniel glanced at the traversing sun. They’ll round us up for roll call, soon. Two other prisoners approached. Nathaniel outranked both men, but no one saluted in recognition or respect of another’s station since the war had ended. Nathaniel overheard them discussing the latest news. The Yankees were closing in on the capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis somewhere in the State of Georgia. Nathaniel mused. If they capture him, the war will be over for certain. Then what?
When the soldier closest to Nathaniel passed, he let his left shoulder crash into him, causing Nathaniel to stumble. If not for Private Hakey’s quick catch, Nathaniel would have landed on his backside.
“I got you, sir.”
“Thanks, Jacob.”
“Seems to me not many of your Rebel friends like you much.”
“It’s okay, Jacob. I don’t blame anyone for their feelings. It’s between them and God.”
“Well, sir, I’ve learned one thing about you.”
“What’s that?”
“You practice what you preach.” Jacob smiled.
“I’m trying. If not for some expecting me to teach the scriptures, I’d be just another struggling sinner trying to figure out life and make it through day-by-day.”
Nathaniel limped forward and his Yankee protector followed keeping a watchful eye for any further disturbances. Thirty minutes passed. They lapped the baseball field, horseshoe pits, and gardens. Nathaniel dodged a fiery dart of guilt as he considered how the produce kept him and his fellow prisoners well-fed during last summer, fall, and winter while his comrades protecting Petersburg and Richmond starved to death. He wondered if his best friend, Marvin Jenkins, survived.  His thoughts drifted next to his fiancĂ©es brothers and considered what it might have been like vanquishing men they fought against for close to four years. But one image consumed his mind and caused him to focus his mental energiesthe woman who captured his heart. One question repeated, Is Eleanor well?
As Nathaniel neared the rear of barrack number 11 with Federal Private Hakey straddling behind, he heard the sound of the evening roll-call assembly. Private Hakey encouraged, “I reckon you’ll have to pick up your pace, sir.”
“We’re almost there, Private. I suspect I’ll make it on time.”
“I don’t want to nag you, sir, but you don’t need to anger Sergeant O’Brien again.”
“I’m moving as fast as I can, Private.”
“Can I help you, sir?”
Nathaniel sensed he should accept. “Come to think on it, Jacob,” he said to his gracious jailor, “I could use a hand.”
“No offense, Major, but you could use a leg.”
The enemy friends laughed and Nathaniel accepted the human crutch. Together they hustled between barracks 9 and 11 and hopped to Nathaniel’s fellows forming their lines in front of blockhouse number 5. Taking his second in command position, Nathaniel stood at attention, at least a close facsimile of the correct military posture. Sergeant O’Brien took his time counting heads.  Before he finished, Colonel Hill appeared on the catwalk above the compound gates. Nathaniel assumed there must be news to report.
After supper, Nathaniel sought out Lieutenant Harris to fulfill his earlier promise. The younger prisoner sat across from his chaplain, fidgeting. Nathaniel noticed his edginess, and the deepening etchings forming on his usually wrinkle-free forehead. “So, what’s on your mind, William?
“Can we keep this just between us, sir?”
Nathaniel gave his affirmation.
Lieutenant Harris rubbed the top of his thighs, then moved his hands above the wood-planked table and folded them together. “I wanted to hear your opinion on a matter I’ve been thinking on it for some has to do with what Colonel Hill talked to us about out there.
“William, are you thinking about taking the oath?”
Lieutenant Harris leaned forward and in rapid succession twisted his head to his left and right as if to see if anyone listened to their conversation. He almost whispered, “Yes, sir.”
Nathaniel controlled his expression like a seasoned riverboat poker player.  With a reciprocating tone, he said, “I see.” Nathaniel tilted his head and scratched his thinning hair. “You said you wanted my opinion. It sounds to me you’ve made up your mind.”
“Sir, can you blame me? I want to go home.”
“But William, you know the terms. Colonel Hill has offered them several times. I suspect he’s getting pressure from the war department, but even if you apply, take the oath, and receive a discharge, they won’t let you go home.”
“I know that, sir. But I figure a year of service in the Yankee army is better than being” He scanned the barrack“cooped up in this place.”
“You know Colonel Hill will post your name so all can see, and most of these men will think you a traitor.”
“I’m aware of all these things, Major. There’s no telling how long the Yankees will keep us here. So if this is a way I can get home, I’m going to take it.”
Nathaniel felt his facial muscles tighten.  Maybe I should take the oath, too.
Thanks for reading. If you like what you're reading, please leave me a comment.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Accountability – What is it?

Accountability. I’ve been thinking about this word, lately. Proverbs 9:10 from the New American Standard version of the Bible states, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” If this is true, and I believe it is, does it follow that the rejection of God is the beginning of foolishness?

Psalms 53:1 states further, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God,’ They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice; There is no one who does good.” Does accountability begin with having a healthy fear of God, too? I suppose if you reject God, you have no reason to fear Him. If people do not fear Him – the Holy One Who can condemn them to eternal damnation – they will act above the law, unaccountable to anyone. If they don’t fear Him, why would they choose to be accountable to law and order legislated or constituted by mere men and women, regardless of their title.

If a person is not accountable to anyone, then it’s easy to embrace the lie, “The ends justify the means,” popular with today’s culture. Once this false notion becomes internalized, corruptible flesh suffers corruption and then, that person rises above all authority – a god unto oneself.

I have become fully persuaded that it is a fearful thing to find oneself in the hands of an angry, Almighty Creator and Supreme Judge of the Universe, and discover, all too late, the ultimate, eternal accountability.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

How Many More Mollie Tibbetts?

Mollie Tibbetts
Murdered by Illegal Alien

Both political parties ignore the facts regarding the US Citizen deathtoll caused by illegal aliens. No government law enforcement department at any level (Federal, State, or Local) maintains statistics on the number of murders or vehical accident deaths caused by illegal aliens. It is my opinion the ruling class elites, the deep state unelected and unaccountable Federal Government employees and bueracrats, the “Never-Trump” Republicans, the deranged-Democrat Party, lying-leftist liberals, and the bloodthirsty media do not want US Citizens to know the truth. We, The People of the United States of America, are left to wag our heads in dispare and guess at what our eyes see, ears hear, and hearts grieve over the loss of loved ones, such as Kate Steinle, or Mollie Tibbetts, and thousands more.
Kate Steinle
Killed by Illegal 

This study, ILLEGAL ALIENS MURDER 12 AMERICANS DAILYreported by Joseph Farah, on November 28, 2006 on WND, can give us some incite as to where we are, today. If you read his analysis, an average of 25 US Citizens are killed each day by illegal aliens since September 11, 2001. He wrote this article in 2006. We can see the increase. If all local reports were compiled, I would wager the daily average has grown, maybe exponentially. If we calculate simple math, 25 deaths daily times 365 days in a year equals 9,125 US Citizens killed annually. If you multiply that annual estimate since September 11, 2001 by the 17 years since that fateful day, the stagering number approximates, 155,125. It is reasonable to believe the actual figure is higher.

If we who are alive and remain do not demand an end to this illegal alien invasion and carnage, our fellow citizens will have died in vain. Bleeding heart liberals are willing to let thousands more bleed out. Senator Warren said as much when she placed her open borders ideology over the grief-stricken parents who lost their child. She’s more concerned with criminal illegal aliens being separated for a short time from their children. Her behavior indicates she cares nothing for the families who have been permanently separated by this undeclared act of war against American citizens.
Socialist Warren

155,125 and counting. Will this be the last legacy chapter written in American History? Did the experiment in America, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal die because the people embraced the tryanny of social justice with its rise of sanctuary cities and lawlessness rather than liberty and equal justice under the law for all? Isn’t the first duty of the Federal Government to provide for our common defense? Since the ruling class won’t, it’s time WE THE PEOPLE took matters into our own hands. It’s time – it’s long over due – that we hold a Convention of the States, and restore our nation upon the principles and values embedded in the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.
Do we even remember what these are? It was never immoral freedom to do whatever one pleases. It was, is, and hopefully will be again, individual liberty balanced and brideled by personal responsibility.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Is a Second American Civil War Coming to a Neighborhood Near You?

Battle of Gettysburg - July 1 -3, 1863

On July 3, 2018. I posted an article, “Is America Barreling into Another Civil War.” Recent events have caused me to wonder if it is inevitable. Has the political left living within our nation become so violent that the only way to stop them is with equal or more lethal violence. I pray this is not the case because we are all God’s children and nothing breaks His heart more than to see His kids failing to be kind to one another. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any on the political left who want to engage in civil discourse, only radical civil disobedience, civil disturbances, civil unrest, civil riots, civil violence, civil insurrection, all which leads to civil war. 
In my July 3rdarticle (linked here), I offered three parallel comparison pieces of historical to contemporary evidence that are stirring the passions of the uninformed. In summary: Democrat leaders reacted childishly to the election of a Republican President and sowed the seeds of rebellion and infuriated their constituents. The news media present one-sided stories to inflame their readers, listeners, or viewers. And last, clamoring masses seek endlessly for any partly legitimate reason to incite a violent response from their perceived political enemies.
Let me be clear. Those of us who voted for and still support President Donald J. Trump and his commitment to follow the principles and values of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution are not your enemy. We are your fellow citizens who uphold the foundational doctrines of our nation: 1) All men are created equal; 2) We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights; and 3) The just powers of government are derived from the consent of the governed. You who disagree with the 2016 election may not consent, but rebellion is not the answer. The recent acts of your fellow, “Resist,” members may make news headlines (summary item # 2 above), but it does nothing to promote open dialogue between differing world views. Scaling the Statue of Liberty and preventing people from visiting our national symbol, doesn’t offer a solution to our immigration problem. It demonstrates that the individual may have sincere feelings, but is greatly misinformed and lacks good judgment. Attempting to sell, “Impeach 45,” apparel in our retail stores does not stimulate honest, intellectual debate. However, it does promote mindless chanting. It fails to improve our economy or provide long term career opportunities for people who are beginning to find meaningful employment, again, thanks to deregulation of our businesses and cutting personal and corporate income taxes.
Finally, the Federal bureaucracy continues to operate as a shadow government. Because they are unelected, unaccountable, and ideologically impassioned to stop President Trump from succeeding, I pray for our president’s safety and the safety of his family. These Washington insiders have the access, the means, the motive, and probably the will to assassinate our president who is doing everything he can to reestablish the Federal government on Constitutional principles and values – something the left and the deep state operatives reject. Without substantiating proof, they reject as lies the three doctrines of God given individual liberty stated above. I want to be clear. I embrace these doctrines because I believe in the fatherhood of Almighty God and the brotherhood of man. I trust in His word that we are all created in His divine image, and we are all partakers of His divine spirit. You have no quarrel from us who follow His Spirit. Why then do you rage? Why are you provoking a second civil war?
I will address this subject at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers’ Conference, when I present a workshop titled, “America at the Crossroads.” And I, with my class, will be seeking God for solutions so that we can bridge the gap between what divides us as a people, and reunite us as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
If you agree with this post, please share it with your friends. If you would like to participate in my workshop, if you believe God is calling you to write for His purposes, and if you need encouragement to carry out His calling, I believe you’ll gain, immeasurably by attending the wonderful Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers’ Conference, where Jesus is exulted above all. There is still time to register by following this link: Register.