Spent the last few days writing Sully’s backstory. Hope you enjoy. Its a somewhat long winded read full of grammatical inconsistencies. Don’t hate me and tell me I didn’t warn you! I intend on bringing you more origin stories as the other members of OOTAK provide them (if they provide them). 🙂
“For the crime of aiding and abetting the enemies of the Confederate States Of America and for the willful destruction of CSA property, I, Colonel Trent Arnick, sentence you, Mary Anne Rodgers, to death by firing squad.”
Colonel Arnick affected an officious tone; he seemed strangely at ease. Sully noticed that the Colonel didn’t remove his gloves as he spoke, apparently Arnick couldn’t (or wouldn’t) be bothered to get his hands dirty. The Colonel sat, precariously, atop his mount and regarded the woman with the detached coolness of absolute certainty and just cause. The woman showed no sign of weakness in the face of death, in fact, she continued to glare at Arnick as her three young children wept beside her.
“Sergeant Beauregard, Private Mitchell dismount your horses and prepare to fire your weapons.” Colonel Arnick barked.
“Is there no decency in this man?” Beauford Sullivan Beauregard mused. “Sully”, as he was known to the men in his company, regarded the expression of his companion (and second cousin) Jack. Jack Mitchell looked at the woman with miserable, pleading eyes.
She glared back at Jack with a gaze that seemed lit by the very fires of hell itself. Her inconsolable children pleaded with Colonel Arnick, but Arnick (thinking himself a hard man) remained perfectly, mercilessly, stone-faced to their pleas.
“Colonel, sIr, I am afraid that I must disregard your immoral order. Its not that I am unwilling to destroy the enemies of the Confederate States of America, its just that I didn’t enlist in this war to kill civilians and I certainly did not volunteer to shoot women.”
Sully winked at Mary, as he was want to do when he was nervous, but he was quite certain that she misinterpreted his cavalier gesture as one of malevolence for the woman’s cheeks grew bright and red with anger, or fear, or perhaps both…
Sully shifted his attention back to Arnick’s piggish face; the man’s brooding features seemed almost comical in light of the circumstances.
“Sergeant, you WILL follow my orders or I will have you shot!”
Colonel Arnick would not budge. He would not be convinced that his orders were wrong. Sully knew that Mary Anne Rodgers would die for her crimes.
“Oh? And who would you have shoot me Colonel sir? Who would shoot a man for shooting a civilian?!”
“Sergeant Beauregard, you will execute the enemy for crimes against our country or I will shoot you myself!”
Colonel’s Arnick’s tone grew shrill.
Members of Sully’s company suddenly found better things to do and scattered within earshot of the unfolding atrocity. Every man among them had killed and some had even taken a certain satisfaction in the act, but not a single man could think of an action more heinous, more abominable, than shooting an unarmed woman in front of her children. None of the men wanted anything to do with Colonel Arnick’s orders.
“What are you waiting for you god damned yellow Rebs!” Mary Rodgers, the woman… the enemy… raved. Her roar was defiant and spittle flew from her lips as she shrieked
“You killed my husband! You killed my sons. Damn you all to hell for what you’ve done! Damn you all!”
Sully noted the terrible and pained expression etched on his cousin’s face; Jack Mitchell was not a coward, nor was he immune to the awful business of war.
Mitchell had charged the fields of Gettysburg on that horrible, hot day in July, when their company was very nearly wiped out. The Union cannonades were relentless, but neither he, nor Jack, flagged in the face of the enemy’s withering fire, though Pickett’s silly charge across a mile of open field got many of their friends and fellow soldiers killed.
Mary Anne Rodgers wasn’t the enemy, she was just a scared, enraged widow, not unlike thousands of others that the war had created. Her only crime was in not giving Arnick the family’s last hog. Her small act of defiance had raised the fat officer’s murderous hackles.
“Give me men to fight, Sully.” Jack said in a woeful and weary tone “Not women, not children. This isn’t right. You and me, we done some bad things, but we ain’t never killed no women before. We ain’t never killed someone’s mother…”
And then it happened…
Mary Rodgers acted with a demoniacal speed and strength, possessed it seemed, by the very spirit of vengeance.
The woman lunged at Colonel Arnick’s horse and managed, in one graceful move, to plant her right foot in the officer’s pretentious silver stirrup. With her right hand anchored firmly on Arnick’s pudgy leg, Ms. Rodgers nimbly plucked the colonel’s pistol from it’s holster.
Colonel Arnick, startled by the woman’s sudden ferocity, exclaimed
“Shoot the woman!”
Upon hearing the Colonel’s words, Mary quickly cocked the pistol, aimed for the man’s head and pulled the trigger.
Most of Colonel Arnick’s head disappeared in a gout of blood, flesh and flame.
The men who had previously scattered came running back to the booming sound of Arnick’s revolver. Their faces were flushed with panic. Most recoiled in horror at the headless condition of their commanding officer; his corpulent body flopped wildly on the back of his powerful mount.
“Jeeeesus God, Sully!?!” Jack laughed unconsciously, reeled for a moment and stumbled back. His mouth was an “O” of surprise and horror.
The woman’s children were wailing. “No Momma no! Don’t momma, please, God, don’t! They’ll kill you for certain now! They’ll kill us all!”
Mary Rodgers hopped off Arnick’s horse and trained her newly procured weapon on her would-be executioners.
“If I could, I would KILL every last one of you damned rebels myself!”
“Ma’am, please, ma’am…” Jack began, but Sully immediately noticed that his cousin’s pleas would be of no use.
The woman cocked the pistol’s substantial hammer. There was a loud click as the cylinder spun into position. Sully watched, with little surprise, as she pulled the trigger.
It seemed an eternity before his hands would obey him, but when they did, Sully’s draw was well practiced and deadly; both of his Colt Dragoons were out in a flash. It wasn’t the first time he had killed, but he knew this day would haunt him for a long, long time. He took none of his usual satisfaction in killing…
Sully unleashed a withering hail of fire in the matter of a few moments. Mary Rodgers, wide-eyed and surprised, did “the dance” as a dozen large caliber balls ripped through her gaunt frame. Smoke billowed from the barrels of Sully’s weapons; he tasted the burnt cordite hanging in the air. His face bore an expression of savagery and his eyes glazed over in the red haze of battle. Blood pounded through his veins, hot and heavy, and for a moment he imagined his insides boiling over: Sully’s world would always be a cauldron of death.
And as quickly as it started, it was done.
Mary Rodgers lay splayed, profanely, on the ground. The woman’s tattered dress lay tangled around her; her skinny, white legs glistened in the sun. Some of the men that had run back to the scene now turned away in disgust. Some of the men, quite used to killing, fell to their knees weeping.
Sully stared at his hands in disbelief for a few moments.
There was a worse sight than the twisted corpse of Mary Rodgers; there were the bodies of her three children who had been cut down as they rushed to their mother’s side when the shooting began.
Sully dropped his pistols and began to openly weep at the sight of their small, broken bodies.
Jack gasped. Mary Rodgers had shot him in the abdomen. The wound looked bad. Jack wouldn’t make it out of this forgotten little corner of the country alive.
“Sully!” Jack gasped again. Blood gurgled in the back of his throat and he began coughing. “I’ve been shot cousin. She shot me!”
Sully stooped down and cradled the dying man.
“You’re gonna be okay Jack.” Sully tried hard to keep his composure “We’ll get you to a surgeon. You’ll be right as the mail in no time! You’ll be alright!”
“Sully, don’t tell my momma what we done here today. She don’t need to know that I shot a woman. That I shot children. I don’t wanna go to hell Sully. I didn’t wanna do this…”
Sully’s tears burned like lava and carved trails down his grimy cheeks.
“Am I going to hell Sully? Please Sully!”
Jack began coughing more violently; he gasped audibly. Sully would hear the sounds of his dying cousin for the rest of his life; one never forgets a death rattle when one hears it.
“Don’t talk Jack. You’ll be back home before the spring. You’ll be a plowin’, in no time and your momma is gonna fix you mashed taters, biscuits, soup beans and rhubarb pie for dinner when you get back home!”
The thought of home made Jack smile before his eyes rolled wildly and his body convulsed so violently that Sully had to strain hard to keep his grip. Sully held his cousin, his best friend, his comrade in arms, until he died as the men of Company A watched on solemnly.
Someone quietly hummed a mournful tune as the bodies of Mary Rodgers and her children were laid to rest. Sully dug their graves in silence.
“Oh the years go slowly by Lorena
Snow is on the ground again…”
And Beauford Sullivan “Sully” Beauregard would forever hear that mournful dirge echoing through his nightmares…