Heads up! Better get with finishing up your read of The Last Day of Forever, because I just uploaded the files to CreateSpace for the exciting conclusion to this epic story.
Here I go making predictions again… I expect to have it published in June.
Meanwhile, here is a teaser for you from An Eternity of Four Years. This scene takes place in the spring of 1862 and the boys from Louisiana are joining Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley for the start of Jackson’s famous Valley Campaign.
As the sun rose on the morning of 19 May 1862, we marched out of camp. Ewell went north, and the Louisiana Brigade went west. Taylor had me ride along with him so he could question me about Jackson. Blue rode along with Taylor’s servant.
As we drew near New Market and Jackson’s camp, Taylor had his regimental commanders tighten up the formation. The men of Taylor’s Louisiana Brigade, 3,000 strong, marched down the Valley Turnpike and into Jackson’s camp that evening with regimental bands playing smart martial airs, the drums beating the cadence, and bayonets and polished gun barrels glistening in the warm glow of the setting sun. It was a sight to stir the hearts of even the most hardened.
Taylor and his staff were in the vanguard, followed by Wheat’s band playing The Girl I Left Behind, then the Tiger Rifles in their fancy zouave uniforms following close behind the band. The Virginians and Marylanders of Jackson’s command poured out of camp and lined the road on either side, hooting and cheering us on. That only served to make us prouder. The bands played louder, and we put even more snap into our step. I am here to tell you that there was no grander sight than this magnificent brigade marching proudly up the turnpike under our blue pelican battle flags. My heart fairly wanted to burst from my chest!
Jackson watched from a distance as his fresh new brigade trooped smartly by. He soon sent a member of his staff to greet us and instruct us to march through his whole army to camp on the north side. We didn’t realize it at the time, but the Tigers were being positioned in camp so we would march in the vanguard of Jackson’s army when we broke camp the next day and moved north.
We marched into the fields designated for us, and our officers shouted commands in French to the amazement of Jackson’s troops gathered around to watch the show. Our bands continued to play, and some of our boys joined in pairs and danced in gay abandon as if their partners were the most beautiful Creole belles of New Orleans. Once more the battle hardened veterans of Jackson’s Valley Army cheered.
Taylor laughed at the amazed Virginians then turned to me. “Where is he, Captain?”
I looked about for Jackson. I had seen him earlier when we marched down the pike but had lost him in the crowd. I soon spotted his lanky figure sitting on a rail fence overlooking the camp and road. “That’s him, sir, there on that fence,” I replied, pointing.
“Come along, Captain. I expect you will want to tell him hello.”
“Yes, sir.” I followed Taylor as he made his way through camp to Jackson.
Stonewall was sitting on the top rail, sucking on a lemon to ease his stomach problem as was his habit. He wore high cavalry boots that seemed oversized even for him, and his uniform was faded and weathered looking. I soon realized it was the same one he had worn back at VMI. He had a dark heavy beard, and brooding eyes peeked out from under the bill of his kepi, which he wore rakishly low over his brows so as to almost hide his eyes. He looked weary and much older than when I had last seen him.
I held back, and Taylor stepped up and introduced himself. Jackson nodded and glanced over at me for a moment. Then turning back to Taylor, he asked in a low even tone, “By what route did you march today and how many miles?”
“Keazletown Road. Six and twenty miles.”
Jackson gestured with his lemon to our brigade. “You seem to have no stragglers.”
“Never allow straggling, sir.”
Jackson nodded knowingly. “Then you must teach my people. They straggle badly.”
One of our bands struck up a tune, and the men began dancing again. Stonewall watched for a few moments then said softly, “Thoughtless fellows for serious work.”
Taylor turned and looked over his shoulder at his brigade then turned back to face Jackson. “I expect the work will not be less well done because of the gayety, sir.”
Stonewall nodded but made no reply. Turning once more to me he said, “I believe I know you?”
“Yes, sir. I was a student at VMI, class of ‘60.”
Jackson smiled. “Of course,” he replied evenly. “You’re Ethan Davis, aren’t you? The moustache deceived me. How are you, Captain Davis?”