Excerpt from Chapter Four – “New Year, New Commander, New Promotion”

Published July 20, 2018

Tuesday, January 7, 1862, Wheeling (Western) Virginia— Hotel Dining Room

“Theodore, old friend, it’s great to see you!” Rufus says as he and former
collegemate Ted Greenwood sit down to have a late breakfast. “I’m glad
you could break away from counting up barrels of salt pork or whatever
and get me caught up on your activity.”

“Ha, very funny, Rufus, Captain, sir! Although I don’t have to ‘sir’
you, because I’m still a civilian, you know. I’m just using my brains for
the government, making sure all you soldiers get your hardtack and blankets,
and everything else you all lose or throw away! So you’re on your
way back from furlough in Marietta? I’m sure it was good for you to get
back after all this time. Must have been a cold boat trip upriver here to
Wheeling.”

“Oh man, it was nasty and cold getting here! There’s a lot of ice, and
our boat kept getting bumped and jammed by it all. Plus, it was crowded
with soldiers and a bunch of delegates to the West Virginia Constitutional
Convention. That’s an amazing situation, isn’t it? Union men in western
Virginia meeting to secede from a state that has seceded from the Union!
I wonder what my great-grandfather William would think about all that
is happening now,” Rufus responds. “But as to my visit home, I got to
the house at about ten at night on New Year’s Day, and it was a complete
surprise for Ma and my sisters. Even Eph was there; he got a few days
off from his regiment. That adjutant work is keeping him busy; I warned
him. It’s been almost two years since I left Marietta. I never imagined
that my means for coming back would be caused by a war, me being in
a soldier’s uniform! Hen’s death leaves such a void, though. I can see it
aged Ma quite a bit. And Mary Nye—she’s just so sad and lost, even after
eighteen months since Hen died. Henry and Mary would have made a
wonderful couple. She still stops to see Ma and Aunt Julia. A real sweetheart.
I feel sorry for her.”