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Ride Proud, Rebel!


  Produced by Greg Weeks, Mary Meehan and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net

  RIDE PROUD, REBEL!

  ANDRE NORTON

  [Transcriber Note: This is a rule 6 clearance. Extensive research didnot uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication wasrenewed.]

  THE WORLD PUBLISHING COMPANYCLEVELAND AND NEW YORK

  _Published by_ The World Publishing Company2231 West 110th Street, Cleveland 2, Ohio

  _Published simultaneously in Canada by_Nelson, Foster & Scott Ltd.

  Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 61-6657_First Edition_

  HC361Copyright (C) 1961 by Andre Norton

  Printed in the United States of America.

  * * * * *

  To those Reconstructed Rebels ERNESTINE and WILLIAM DONALDY _with noapologies from a damnyankee_

  * * * * *

  The author wishes to express appreciation to Mrs. Gertrude MortonParsley, Reference Librarian, Tennessee State Library and Archives, forher aid in obtaining use of the unpublished memoirs of trooper JohnJohnson, concerning the escape of the Morgan company after Cynthiana.

  Contents

  1. Ride with Morgan

  2. Guns in the Night

  3. On the Run--

  4. The Eleventh Ohio Cavalry

  5. Bardstown Surrenders

  6. Horse Trade

  7. A Mule for a River

  8. Happy Birthday, Soldier!

  9. One More River To Cross

  10. "Dismount! Prepare To Fight Gunboats!"

  11. The Road to Nashville

  12. Guerrillas

  13. Disaster

  14. Hell in Tennessee

  15. Independent Scout

  16. Missing in Action

  17. Poor Rebel Soldier....

  18. Texas Spurs

  * * * * *

  FROM GENERAL N. BEDFORD FORREST'S FAREWELL TO HIS COMMAND, MAY 9, 1865,GAINESVILLE, ALABAMA.

  _The cause for which you have so long and so manfully struggled, and forwhich you have braved dangers, endured privations and sufferings, andmade so many sacrifices, is today hopeless...._

  _Civil war, such as you have passed through naturally engenders feelingsof animosity, hatred and revenge. It is our duty to divest ourselves ofall such feelings; and, as far as in our power to do so, to cultivatefriendly feelings toward those with whom we have so long contended, andheretofore so widely, but honestly, differed...._

  _... In bidding you farewell, rest assured that you carry with you mybest wishes for your future welfare and happiness. Without, in any way,referring to the merits of the cause in which we have been engaged, yourcourage and determination, as exhibited on many hard-fought fields, haveelicited the respect and admiration of friend and foe. And I nowcheerfully and gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to the officersand men of my command, whose zeal, fidelity and unflinching bravery havebeen the great source of my success in arms._

  _I have never, on the field of battle, sent you where I was unwilling togo myself; nor would I now advise you to a course which I felt myselfunwilling to pursue. You have been good soldiers; you can be goodcitizens. Obey the laws, preserve your honor, and the Government towhich you have surrendered can afford to be, and will be, magnanimous._

  N. B. FORREST, _Lieutenant General_

  * * * * *

  1

  _Ride with Morgan_

  The stocky roan switched tail angrily against a persistent fly andlipped water, dripping big drops back to the surface of the brook. Hisrider moved swiftly, with an economy of action, to unsaddle, wipe thebesweated back with a wisp of last year's dried grass, and wash downeach mud-spattered leg with stream water. Always care for the mountfirst--when a man's life, as well as the safety of his mission, dependedon four subordinate legs more than on his own two.

  Though he had little claim to a thoroughbred's points, the roan was asmuch a veteran of the forces as his groom, with all a veteran's abilityto accept and enjoy small favors of the immediate present withoutspeculating too much concerning the future. He blew gustily in pleasureunder the attention and began to sample a convenient stand of springgreen.

  His mount cared for, Drew Rennie swung up saddle, blanket, and themeager possessions which he had brought out of Virginia two weeks ago,to the platform in a crooked tree overhanging the brook. He settledbeside them on the well-seasoned timbers of the old tree house torummage through his saddlebags.

  The platform had been there a long time--before Chickamauga and the OhioRaid, before the first roll of drums in '61. Drew pulled a creased shirtout of the bags and sat with it draped over one knee, remembering....

  Sheldon Barrett and he--they had built it together one hot week insummer--had named it Boone's Fort. And it was the only thing at RedSprings Drew had really ever owned. His dark eyes were fixed now onsomething more than the branches about him, and his mouth tighteneduntil his face was not quite sullen, only shuttered.

  Five years ago--only five years? Yes, five years next month! But thepast two years of his own personal freedom--and war--those seemed toequal ten. Now there was no one left to remember the fort's existence,which made it perfect for his present purpose.

  The warmth of the sun, beating down through yet young leaves, made Drewbrush his battered slouch hat to the flooring and luxuriate in the heat.Sometimes he didn't think he'd ever get the bite of last winter's coldout of his bones. The light pointed up every angle of jaw and cheekbone,making it clear that experience--hard experience--and not years hadmelted away boyish roundness of chin line, narrowed the watchful eyesever alert to his surroundings. A cavalry scout was wary, or he ceasedto be a scout, or maybe even alive.

  Shirt in hand, Drew dropped lightly to the ground and with the samedispatch as he had cared for his horse, made his own toilet, scrubbinghis too-thin body with a sigh of content as heartfelt as that the roanhad earlier voiced.

  The fresh shirt was a dark brown-gray, but the patched breeches wereYankee blue, and the boots he pulled on when he had bathed were alsothe enemy's gift, good stout leather he'd been lucky enough to find in asupply wagon they had captured a month ago. Butternut shirt, Union pantsand boots--the unofficial standard uniform of most any trooper of theArmy of the Tennessee in this month of May, 1864. And he had garmentswhich were practically intact. What was one patch on the seat nowadays?

  For the first time Drew grinned at his reflection in the small mirror hehad been using, when he scraped a half week's accumulation of soft beardfrom his face. Sure, he was all spruced up now, ready to make a politecourtesy call at the big house. The grin did not fade, but was gone in aflash, leaving no hint of softness now about his gaunt features, nolight in the intent, measuring depths of his dark gray eyes.

  A call at Red Springs was certainly the last thing in the world for himto consider seriously. His last interview within its walls could stillmake him wince when he recalled it, word by scalding word. No, there wasno place for a Rennie--and a Rebel Rennie to make matters blacker--underthe righteous roof of Alexander Mattock!

  Hatred could be a red-hot burning to choke a man's throat, leaving himspeechless and hurting inside. Since he had ridden out of Red Springs hehad often been cold, very often hungry--and under orders willingly,which would have surprised his grandfather--but in another way he hadbeen free as never before in all his life. In the army, the past did notmatter at all if one did one's job well. And in the army, the civilianworld was as far away as if it were conducted in the cold chasms of themoon.

  Drew leaned back against the tree trunk, wanting to yield to the softwind and the swinging privacy of the embowered tree house, wanting toforget everything and just lie there for a while in the only part of thepast he remembered happily.

  But he had his orders--horses for General Morgan, horses and informationto feed back to that long column of men riding or trudging westward onbooted, footsore feet up the trail through the Virginia mountains on theway home to Kentucky. These were men who carried memories of the Ohiodefeat last year which they were determined to wipe out this season,just as a lot of them had to flush with gunsmoke the stench of aNorthern prison barracks from their nostrils.

  And there were horses at Red Springs. To mount Morgan's men on AlexanderMattock's best stock was a prospect which had its appeal. Drew tossedhis haversack back to the platform and added his carbine to it. The armyColts in his belt holsters would not be much hindrance while crawlingthrough cover, but the larger weapon might be.

  He thumped a measure of dust from his hat, settled it over hair as blackas that felt had once been, and crossed the brook with a running leap.The roan lifted his head to watch Drew go and then settled back tograzing. This, too, followed a pattern both man and horse had practicedfor a long time.

  Drew could almost imagine that he was again hunting Sheldon as a"Shawnee" on the warpath while he dodged from one bush to the next. OnlyChickamauga stood between the past and now--and Sheldon Barrett wouldnever again range ahead, in play or earnest.

  The scout came out on a small rise where the rails of the fence werecloaked on his side by brush. Drew lay flat, his chin propped upon hiscrooked arm to look down the gradual incline of the pasture to thetraining paddock. Beyond that stood the big house, its native bricksettling back slowly into the same earth from which it had been moldedin 1795.

  In the pasture were the brood mares, five of them, each with anattendant foal, all long legs and broom tail, still young enough to bebewildered by so large and new a world. In the paddock.... Drew's headraised an inch or so, and he pressed forward until his hat was pushedback by the rail. The two-year-old being schooled in the paddock wasenough to excite any horseman.

  Red Springs' stock right enough, of the Gray Eagle-Ariel breed, whichwas Alexander Mattock's pride. Born almost black, this colt had shed hisbaby fur two seasons ago for a dark iron-gray hide which would growlighter with the years. He had Eclipse's heritage, but he was more thana racing machine. He was--Drew's forehead rasped against the weatheredwood of the rail--he was the kind of horse a man could dream about allhis days and perhaps find once in a lifetime, if he were lucky! Givethat colt three or four more years and there wouldn't be any horse thatcould touch him. Not in Kentucky, or anywhere else!

  He was circling on a leading strap now, throwing his feet in a steady,rhythmic pattern around the hub of a Negro groom who was holding thestrap and admiring the action. Mounted on another gray--a mare with adainty, high-held head--was a woman, her figure trim in a habit almostthe same shade of green as the fields.

  Drew pulled back. Then he smiled wryly at his instinctive retreat. Hisaunt, Marianna Forbes, had abilities to be respected, but he very muchdoubted if she could either sense his presence or see through the leafywall of his present spy hole. Yet caution dictated that he get about hisreal business and inspect the fields where the horses he sought shouldbe grazing.

  He halted several times during his perimeter march to survey thecountryside. And the bits of activity he spied upon began to puzzle him.Aunt Marianna's supervision of the colt's schooling had been thebeginning. And he had seen her later, riding out with Rafe, theoverseer, to make the daily rounds, a duty which had never beenundertaken at Red Springs by any one other than his grandfather.

  Aunt Marianna had every right to be at Red Springs. She had been bornunder its roof, having left it only as a bride to live in Lexington. Thewar had brought her back when her husband became an officer in theSecond Kentucky Cavalry--Union. But now--riding with Rafe, watching inthe paddock--where was Alexander Mattock?

  Red Springs was his grandfather. Drew found it impossible to think ofthe house and the estate without the man, though in the past two yearshe had discovered very few things could be dismissed as impossible.Curiosity made him want to investigate the present mystery. But thememory of his last exit from that house curbed such a desire.

  Drew had never been welcome there from the day of his birth within thosewalls. And the motive for his final flight from there had only providedan added aggravation for his grandfather. A staunch Union supporterwanted no part of a stubborn-willed and defiant grandson who rode withJohn Hunt Morgan. Drew clung to his somewhat black thoughts as he madehis way to the pasture. The escape he had found in the army was nolonger so complete when he skulked through these familiar fields.

  But there were only two horses grazing peacefully in the field dedicatedby custom to the four- and five-year-olds, and neither was of the beststock. One could imagine that Red Springs had already contributed to theservice.

  Of course, Morgan's men were not the only riders aiming to sweep goodhorseflesh out of Kentucky blue grass this season, and here the Unioncavalry would be favored.

  There was a slim chance that a few horses might be in the stables. Hedebated the chance of that against the risk of discovery and continueddebating it as he started back to the tree house.

  Drew had known short rations and slim foraging for a long time, but thepresent pinch in his middle sharpened when he sighted the big house,with its attendant summer kitchen showing a trail of chimney smoke.

  Alexander Mattock might have considered his grandson an interloper atRed Springs; certainly the old man never concealed the state of hisfeelings on that subject. But neither had he, in any way, slighted whathe deemed to be his duty toward Drew.

  There had been plenty of good clothing--the right sort for a Mattockgrandson--and the usual bounteous table set by hospitable Kentuckystandards. Just as there had been education, sometimes enforced by theuse of a switch when the tutor--imported from Lexington--thought itnecessary to impress learning on a rebellious young mind by a painfulapplication in another portion of the body. Education, as well as ablooded horse in the stables, and all the other prerequisites of a youngblue-grass grandee. But never any understanding, affection, or sympathy.

  That cold behavior--the cutting, weighing, and judgment of every act ofchildish mischief and boyish recklessness--might have crushed some intoa colorless obedience. But it had made of Drew a rebel long before hetugged on the short gray shell jacket of a Confederate cavalryman.

  Drew had forgotten the feel of linen next to his now seldom clean skin,the set of broadcloth across the shoulders. And he depended upon theroan's services with appreciation which had nothing to do with boastedbloodlines, having discovered in the army that a cold-blooded horsecould keep going on rough forage when a finer bred hunter broke down.But today the famed dinner table at Red Springs was a painful memory toone facing only cold hoecake and stone-hard dried beef.

  He had circled back to the brush screening the brook and the tree house.Now he stood very still, his hand sliding one of the heavy Colts out ofits holster. The roan was still grazing, paying no attention to a figurewho was kneeling on the limb-supported platform and turning over thegear Drew had left piled there.

  The scout flitted about a bush, choosing a path which would bring himout at the stranger's back. That same warm sun, now striking from adifferent angle into the tree house, was bright on a thick tangle ofyellow hair, curly enough to provide its owner with a combing problem.

  Drew straightened to his full height. The sense of the past which haddogged him all day now struck like a blow. He couldn't help callingaloud that name, even though the soberer part of his brain knew therecould be no answer.

  "Shelly!"

  The blond head turned, and blue eyes looked at him, startled, across abowed shoulder. Drew's puzzlement was complete. Not Sheldon, of course,but who? The other's open surprise changed to wide-eyed recognitionfirst.

  "Drew!" The hail came in the cracked voice of an adolescent as the otherjumped down to face the scout. They stood at almost eye-to-eye level,but the stranger was still all boy, awkwardly unsure of strength ormuscle control.

  "You must be Boyd--" Drew blinked, something in him still clinging tothe memory of Sheldon, Sheldon who had helped to build the tree house.Why, Boyd was only a small boy, usually tagging his impatient elders,not this tall, almost exact copy of his dead brother.

  "Sure, I'm Boyd. And it's true then, ain't it, Drew? General Morgan'scoming back here? Where?" He glanced over his shoulder once more as ifexpecting to see a troop prance up through the bushes along the stream.

  Drew holstered the revolver. "Rumors of that around?" he asked casually.

  "Some," Boyd answered. "The Yankee-lovers called out the Home Guardyesterday. What sort of a chance do they think they'll have against_General Morgan_?"

  Drew moved toward the roan's picket rope. As his fingers closed on thathe thought fast. Just as the Mattocks and the Forbeses were Union, theBarretts were, or had been, Southern in sympathy. Most of Kentucky wasdivided that way now. But what might have been true two years ago wasnot necessarily a fact today. One took no chances.

  "You come back to see your grandfather, Drew?"

  "Any reason why I should?" The whole countryside must know very wellthe state of affairs between Alexander Mattock and Drew Rennie.

  "Well, he's been sick for so long.... Didn't you know about that?" Boydmust have read Drew's answer in his face, for he spilled out the newsquickly. "He had some kind of a fit when he heard Murray was killed----"

  Drew dropped the picket rope. "Uncle Murray ... dead?"

  Boyd nodded. "Killed at Murfreesboro in sixty-two, but the news didn'tcome till about a week after the battle. Mr. Mattock was in town whenJudge Hagerstorm told him ... just turned red in the face and fell downin the middle of the street. They brought him home, and sometimes hesits outdoors. But he can't walk too good and he talks thick; you canhardly understand him."

  "So that's why Aunt Marianna's in charge." Drew thought of Uncle Murrayswept away by time and the chances of war as so many others--and noemotion stirred within him. Murray Mattock had firmly agreed with hisfather concerning the child who was the result of a runaway matchbetween his sister Melanie and a despised Texan. But Uncle Murray'sdeath must indeed have been a paralyzing blow for the old man at RedSprings, with all his pride and his plans for his only son.

  "Yes, Cousin Marianna runs Red Springs," Boyd assented, "she and Rafe.They sell horses to the army--the blue bellies." He used the term withthe concentration of one determined to say the right thing at the righttime.

  Drew laughed. And with that spontaneous outburst, years fell away fromhis somber face. "I take it that you do not approve of blue bellies,Boyd?"

  "'Course not! Me, I'm goin' to join General Morgan now. Ain't nobodygoin' to keep me from doin' that!" Again his voice scaled up out ofcontrol, and he flushed.

  "You're rather young----" Drew began, when the other interrupted himwith something close to desperation in his voice.

  "No, I ain't too young! That's all I ever hear--too young to do this,too young to be thinkin' about things like that! Well, I ain't muchyounger than you were, Drew Rennie, when you joined up with CaptainCastleman and rode south to join General Morgan--you and Shelly. And youknow that, too! I'll be sixteen on the fifteenth of this July. And thistime I'm goin'! Where's the General now, Drew?"

  The scout shrugged. "Movin' fast. Your rumors probably know as much as Ido. They plant him half a dozen places at once. He might be in any oneof them or fifty miles away; that's how Morgan rides."

  "But you're goin' to join him, and you'll take me with you, won't you,Drew?"

  The lightness was gone from the older boy's eyes, his mouth set incontrolled anger. "I am not goin' to do anything of the kind, BoydBarrett." He spoke the words slowly, in an even tone, with a fraction ofpause between each. Men of the command had once or twice heard youngRennie speak that way. Although difficult to know well, he had thegeneral reputation of being easy to get along with. But a few times hehad erupted into action as might a spring uncoiling from tight pressure,and that action was usually preceded by just such quiet statements asthe one he had just made to Boyd.

  Boyd, however, was never one to be defeated in a first skirmish ofwills. "Why not?" he demanded now.

  "Because," Drew offered the first argument he could think of which mightbe acceptable to the other, "I'm on scout in enemy-held territory. IfI'm taken, it's not good. I have to ride light and fast, and this isduty I've been trained to do. So I can't afford to be hampered by agreen kid----"

  "I can ride just as fast and hard as you can, Drew Rennie, and I haveWhirlaway for my own now. He's certainly better than that nag!" With anarrogant lift of the chin, Boyd indicated the roan, who had raised hishead and was chewing rather noisily, regarding the two by the tree housewith mild interest.

  "Don't underrate Shawnee." For an instant Drew rose to the roan'sdefense and then found himself irritated at being so drawn from the mainargument. "And I wouldn't care if you had Gray Eagle, himself, underyou, boy--I'm not taking you with me. Let us be snapped up by theYankees, and you'd be in bigger trouble than I would." He gestured tohis shirt and breeches. "I'm in uniform; you ain't."

  "No blue bellies could drop on us," Boyd pushed. "I know where all thegarrisons are round here--all about their patrols. I could get usthrough quicker'n you can, yourself. I ain't no green kid!"

  Drew slapped the blanket down on Shawnee's back, smoothed it flat with apalm stroke, and jerked his saddle from the platform. He could not stayright here now that Boyd had smoked him out--maybe nowhere in theneighborhood with this excitable boy dogging him.

  The scout was driven to his second line of defense. "What about CousinMerry?" he asked as he tightened the cinch. "Have you talked this overwith her--enlistin', I mean?"

  Boyd's lower lip protruded in a child's pout. His eyes shifted away fromDrew's direct gaze.

  "She never said No----"

  "Did you ask her?" Drew challenged.

  "Did you ask your grandfather when you left?" Boyd tried acounterattack.

  This time Drew's laughter was harsh, without humor. "You know I didn't,and you also know why. But I didn't leave a mother!"

  He was being purposefully brutal now, for a good reason. Sheldon hadridden away before; Boyd must not go now. In Drew's childhood, hisfather's cousin, Meredith Barrett, had been the only one who had reallycared about him. His only escape from the cold bleakness of Red Springshad been Barrett's Oak Hill. There was a big debt he owed Cousin Merry;he could not add to it the burden of taking away her second son.

  Sure, he had been only a few months older than this boy when he had runaway to war, but he had not left anyone behind who would worry abouthim. And Alexander Mattock's cold discipline had tempered his grandsoninto someone far more able to take hard knocks than Boyd Barrett mightbe for years to come. Drew had met those knocks, thick and fast,enduring them as the price of his freedom.

  "You were mad at your grandfather, and you ran away. Well, I ain't madat Mother, but I ain't goin' to sit at home with General Morgan comin'!He needs men. They've been recruitin' for him on the quiet; you knowthey have. And I've got to make up for Sheldon----"

  Drew swung around and caught Boyd's wrist in a grip tight enough tobring a reflex backward jerk from the boy. "That's no way to make up forSheldon's death-runnin' away from home to fight. Don't give me anynonsense about goin' to kill Yankees because they killed him! When a mangoes to war ... well, he takes his chances. Shelly did at Chickamauga.War ain't a private fight, just one man up against another--"

  But he was making no impression; he couldn't. At Boyd's age you couldnot imagine death as coming to you; nor were you able to visualize thehorrors of an ill-equipped field hospital. Any more than you couldpicture all the rest of it--the filth, hunger, cold, and boredom withnow and then a flash of whirling horses and men clashing on some road orfield, or the crazy stampede of other men, yelling their throats raw asthey charged into a hell of Minie balls and canister shot.

  "I'm goin' to ride with General Morgan, like Shelly did," Boyd repeateddoggedly, with that stubbornness which seasons ago had kept himeternally tagging his impatient elders.

  "That's up to you." Suddenly Drew was tired, tired of trying to findwords to pierce to Boyd's thinking brain--if one had a thinking brain athis age. Slinging his carbine, Drew mounted Shawnee. "But I do know onething--you're not goin' with me."

  "Drew-Drew, just listen once...."

  Shawnee answered to the pressure of his rider's knees and leaped thebrook. Drew bowed his head to escape the lash of a low branch. There wasno going back ever, he thought bitterly, shutting his ears to Boyd'scry. He'd been a fool to ride this way at all.

 
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