Tuesday, April 2, 2019

June, 1876. Somewhere in the Greasy Grass

Col. Cashman gazed out at the enormous Indian encampment through his binoculars, and smiled.

"We've got them right where we want them!" he exulted to the reporter from the Fargo Manifest Destiny, who hastened to scribble down his every word.  "Now is the time to ATTACK!"

"Uh, colonel, sir, can we talk to you for a minute?"

The two 7th Cavalry captains stood in front of the colonel, hats in hand and a sickly expression on their faces.

"What? Who are you men? How DARE you interrupt me when I am explaining my MASTER PLAN to these gentlemen of the press?!"

"Um, sir, I'm Cap'n Duque an' this here is Cap'n Alphonso, as you may recall. I mean, you only have about 700 men, all told—"

"I know that! Who the hell is saying I don't know that!" The colonel gave a little, forced laugh then, and grinned at the correspondent from the Bismarck White Man's Burden, who grinned ingratiatingly back through his brown and rotting teeth.

"I was only testing you men! 'Duque,' you say," he repeated suspiciously. "What kind of name is that, anyway? Say, you're not MEXICAN by any chance, are you?"

"Um, no sir. Anyway, uh, Cap'n Alphonso an' me, we was thinkin' it might just be a good idea to put off the attack for a little while, colonel sir."

"WHAT? Why, that smacks of rank cowardice, captain! An immediate, full frontal attack is clearly what's called for!"

"Yessir. It's just, you see, sir, some of us officers was thinkin' it might be better if we waited until Cap'n Machado an' Cap'n Harper brought their companies up from the last butte, sir."

Duque regarded the distant Indian encampment uneasily for a moment.

"You see, sir, there's a awful lot of Sioux down there. And they got Comanche, too, sir. An' we're awfully shorthanded without them two fellas—"

"Then all the more glorious will be our victory, captain!" the colonel shouted, winking at Klapisch, the Indian beat reporter from the Chicago Imperialist. "Machado is just another damned Mexican and Harper does not wear a regulation beard! How do you possibly expect such men to help you—when we have SIX sterling companies at full strength?"

"Yes, well, about that, colonel," Capt. Duque said reluctantly scuffling at the ground. "You see, Cap'n Stanton's company all come down with foot-'n-mouth disease about fifty miles back, an' nobody's seen Cap'n Severino's company after they took that wrong turn the day before yesterday, and Cap'n Toonces an' his men fell off that bluff this morning. An'-an'—"

"C'mon, spit it out, man!  You know you can say ANYTHING to me, as your loving and caring commander!"

"An', well, sir, it's just that Cap'n AndOOjar ain't a lookin' so good since lunch."

At that moment, Capt. AndOOjar trotted up on his horse, looking white as a sheet.

"Well, man? What's the matter with you?" roared Col. Cashman.  "Speak up!"

At that moment, Capt. AndOOjar said nothing but toppled abruptly face-first from his saddle. A brace of arrows could be seen sticking out of his back. There was an embarrassed silence.

"So it will be TWO companies!" Col. Cashman bellowed. "That should be plenty!"

He turned to wagon full of reporters:  "Why, we're just like a—like a—fully loaded Gatling gun! Yes, tell your readers that, gentlemen!"

He turned back to the two captains.

"Where are our Pawnee scouts, captains?"

"They're doing their traditional death dance, sir."

"Very good!  And all the men have their carbines at the ready?"

"Um, except most of 'em keep jammin', an' there ain't but three rounds a man left."


Colonel Cashman swung up onto his horse, shaking his head so the reporters could all get a good look at the long blonde locks beneath his hat. He shook his head a little too hard, though, and the hat and its attached wig flew off, bringing some titters from the press wagon.

"Have the band strike up something rousing!" he ordered, trying to ignore the fallen whig.


"You know!  Like that song that wonderful British cavalry troop used to play—what were they called again? Oh, yes! The Light Brigade! Play that "Garryowen" song they loved so much!"

"Um, yessir."

The band began to play.

"Oh, this will be glorious, glorious!" Col. Cashman exclaimed as he started the 7th Cavalry forward, the men moving very, very slowly. "Captains, to your battle positions!"


They both saluted, Capt. Alphonso emitting a long arc of brown tobacco juice that nearly landed on the colonel's horse as he did.

Col. Cashman frowned, but then looked over to the press wagon again.

"A fully loaded Gatling gun! That is a good one, even if I say so myself!" He looked puzzled for a moment, then looked back at Capt. Duque. "I say, captain, do we have a Gatling gun?"

"Um, no sir."

"Right, well, no matter. On to victory!"

Ahead of the regiment, the horizon suddenly filled with screaming, whooping Sioux and Comanche warriors in their war paint, riding and running straight at them.

"I say, Duque, are those...Indians?"


"Marvelous! A negotiating party!"


Anonymous said...


el duque said...


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