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Civil War Youngster
We were all sittin’ on fallen trees around the crackling dull fire. I was starin’ into the darkness of the woods, tryin’ to stay awake. The campsite was a real peaceful one; Lots of small animals and the wild flowers were as colorful as a rainbow. It made me feel like I was back home, layin in the fields. Our General, Marty was playing his harmonica, a real slow and majestic tone. I closed my eyes for a split second, just to be startled awake by a siring pain in my ear. It felt like a rabid wolf had just attack my ear and ripped it clean off!
“It’s a ambush!” Shouted Lou from behind me.
“Joey!” Get’ch yalls gun!” ordered Lightning.
Without even thinking ‘bout it I grabbed my gun and sprang up just like if I was sittin’ on a spring. I glued my hazel eyes on the darkness of the night, just waitin’ for someones wearin’ a blue uniform to run out. Finally I saw my target, but he must of saw me first ‘cause by the time I got my gun up to my eye, I saw a flash of light from his barrel, a loud ringin’ in my one ear and I was on the ground holdin’ my gut in pure agony.
My name is Joey. I’s grew up here in southern Alabama. Our town was not a big one but I aint small neither. Its got lots of stores for peoples to buy fancy cloths in, a general store and a school house. The roads aint that nice, there made out of dirt and when it rains, the way turns to flat out mud and no ones can ride on it. The town was surrounded by big ole’ fields full of wild flowers and butterflies. I was 12 years old when I decided to join the Confederate Army. I didn’t know what we was fightin’ about but I liked guns and killin’ things. I live with my Ma, ‘cause my Pa died a couple years back from an indian raid on the town. So I’s is the man of the farm. I don’t got much schoolin’ but I’s can says my ABC’s and I’s can count all the way to twenty. I stand as tall as a house doorway, I can run just as fast as every other man in my town, and I is the towns fastest hay bailer.
“Where you headed to sir?” questioned the lady.
“I’s headed to the general store. Ma need some flour.” I explained.
“Well you look like the kind of yougin’we need in the army.” She told me.
“The army ma’am? Which one?” I asked.
“Well the southern one of course. Don’t you know our country at war wit it self? North against South.” She explained to me.
“yes’m I knows about that but I aint smart enough to be in no army.”
“Well sure you is! Do you know how to fire and reload a gun?” she asked me.
“Yes, ma’am I do, I got one myself.” I told her.
“Then you is smart enough. Come on, come sign up. You get paid lots of moneys too.”
“Oh, well I reckon that a swell deal then ma’am.”
“Well then sign here sir.”
She handed me a pen, then the paper. I look back and forth at both of them.
“ Come on sir. You’s know to spells right?”
“No ma’am I’s don’t”.
“Then what’s yall’s name? I will sign it for ya’s.”
“Its Joey ma’am.”
“ And yalls last name?”
“I don’t know it ma’am, I’s never used it.”
“Oh, well then I think that’s all we’s need. Thank you Joey, and welcome to the Confederate Army of these southern states of America!”
I shook her hand and ran home as quick as I could. I was happier then a ‘lil kid on Christmas mornin’.
“Did you’d get the flour darlin’?” my ma asked.
“No, ma, this lady got my attention instead, and I’s got big news!” I told her.
“ Well I need that flour, so you’s better turn your hind end around and go get it.” She told me.
“ Yes, ma’am I wills, but first I gots to tell yalls somethin’.”
“Ok, what is it?”
“I’s joined the southern army!” I rejoiced.
“You did what?” barked ma.
“I’s is gonna fight for the Southern army in the comin’ Civil war.” I said sheepishly.
“Why would you’ins do somethin’ as dumb as that? Your only 12!” she screamed.
“Well the lady says I wills get lots of money for doin’ it.”
“That’s if you live to get it!”
“Well ma, I’m gonna fight and live!”
With that said, I’s stormed out and I never looked back. Trotted down the dirt and gravel covered way, back to the lady that had signed me up.
“Excuse me ma’am,” I said.
“Yes, Jo… Joey?” she stammered.
“When’s the next train leavin for da war?” I asked.
“Well the next train leaves in about 2 days but I don’t go straight to the war. First it goes to trainin’ camp, then another train will take you to a state to go fight in.” she replied.
“Ok much appreciated ma’am.” I sprinted down the way again “cause the nearest station was about a days walk away. In trainin’ camp a met a feller named Lou.
Lou was from Tennessee, I’s didn’t know where or what that was, but I didn’t ask ‘cause I wanted ‘em to think I had schoolin’ and was older than 12. Lou was the first person I had ever met that was taller than I was. He had yeller hair and real white skin, he looked old ut he said he was thirty-two but I cant count no higher than twenty so, I aint sure just how old that is. I also met some guys who looked just like one and other. I think they called ‘em tins or somethin’. I didn’t know there real names but everyone called them ‘Thunder’ and ‘Lightning’ they were from Arkansas. I knows where that one was.
‘Thunder’ look just how real thunder sounds. He was a real heavy guy but he could move faster than I could. I cant believe how strong he was! One day on one of our morin’ jogs there was a big ole’ oak tree layin’ on our trail, ‘Thunder’ just walked over to it, picked up one side and moved it, as if it was as light as a goose feather, and he continued joggin’. We all just looked at each other and ran on to catch up wit’ him. His voice was so deep that it could’ve rattled walls if he yelled.
‘Lightning’ look like real lightning sounded too. He was as high as I is and was faster than all of us, he had bright yella hair and he was real thin. When we would have to do somethin’ that ya’ had to have speed for, ‘Lighning’ would finish first. We were all real good pals, we ate breakfast lunch and dinner together, and all slept in the same tent. After Trainin’ camp was done, we all got put into the same unit. Except for ‘Thunder’ he got put on the ‘front line unit’ and ended up diein’ ‘bout a week after he left. It was real hard on all of us but it effected ‘Lightning’ the most. He didn’t let it show but I’s could tell.
“Joey, Joey! Get up bud we’s got to move!” Lou shouted from above me when I opened my eyes again. I looked around to see ‘Lightnings crippled body, layin on the ground, The fire was still smolderin’ given off just enough like to see General Marty’s head splattered with his or someone elses blood in the background but he was still alive. I looked down at my own stomach to see my insides. I took one final look around, then back up at Lou.
“ Tell my ma, I’s went to go stay with pa.”
“ What you talkin’ ‘bout Joey? Your still alive!”
“Good luck friend.” I stared up at Lou until everything went as dark as night when there is no moon out.