If you are looking for some dapper upper class officer, well that's not Benjamin. Not that he couldn't look good enough if clad in an army dress uniform with freshly shaven face but there is no need for that out on the western frontier in a backwater outpost in Montana. Benjamin is in his late thirties but most would guess him for older. Military life is not an easy one and his career of campaigning both in the Civil War and now with the US Cavalry has aged him more than even he would care to admit. To judge him by first glimpse though would be a big mistake.
On campaign, Benjamin is at ease in the saddle, having done this very thing for so many years now. His horse was one he purchased, as many officers were wont to do. It is a six year old big solid bay gelding named Joe. Sadly he has lost mounts in action more than once, being in the cavalry is hazardous for horses too. He is simply armed, carrying an 1860 Colt Single Action revolver in a military holster. Though officially sabers are supposed to be part of a cavalryman's arsenal, like almost every regiment west of the Mississippi, these are stored away for occasional use in parades or ceremonies only. A more useful piece of equipment often hangs around his neck, a binoculars.
Traits & Characteristics
Benjamin carries himself with a quiet confidence, in action he can remain focused and outwardly calm, in an argument he can state his case with an almost reserved demeanor. But underneath all that, there is an almost palpable simmering anger at times. He has long ago formed his opinions, shaped his personal philosophy, and at this point has no desire to amend them, or even less, put up with ideas or people who are contrary to his beliefs, his ethics, his standards.
He admits it sometimes aloud even, that the tools of his trade are violence and force. He will do what he feels is necessary. He might not always approve of how the army operates or his superiors, but he has a fierce loyalty to his troopers and is consistently concerned about their welfare. That does not mitigate his belief though in the importance of discipline. "The army is neither a democracy nor a mob," is one of his personal quotes. If it concerns duty, it is best not to cross him.
Part of the job of an independent military command such as he now exercises is dealing with civilians. He has mixed feelings about civilians. Too often he finds them, especially the men, foolish and stubborn. They bring on many of the problems on the frontier with their behavior or lack of. However it is his job to protect them and in particular their families. There he feels much more sympathetic to the women and children.
A soldier since he enlisted in the Civil War, he is a career officer, the army is his life.
He currently is serving in the 2nd Cavalry in Montana territory.
+ Experienced officer, combat veteran both in the Civil War and in fighting against the Plains Indians.
+ Excellent horseman.
+ An ability to remain cool and collected even in times of great stress.
Aliases / Nicknames
He goes where the Army assigns him. Does not own a residence of his own.
Kith & Kin
Parents deceased, married sister back East, they write - rarely.
A bachelor, he would tell you he is already married - to the service.
Benjamin was born into a middle class family, he was the second of three children but the first, also a boy, died while still an infant of a sudden illness. Benjamin was seven by the time his little sister arrived. His parents were upstanding members of the town of Athens, Ohio. His father, Owen, was a college professor of history at Ohio University. He was brought up in a loving but strict household, that discipline stayed with Benjamin for the rest of his life. However his father's love of history, books, and the scholastic world did not carry over to the son. An indifferent student, the boy was much more drawn to a life of constant activity and search for adventure. He never did get into serious trouble but he was definitely into much boyhood and adolescent mischief.
Benjamin left home at the age of 17, eager to become his own man and with the blessing of his father though to the sorrow of his mother. The next decade was a time of much wandering and indifferent at best personal success. He tried a lot of jobs from dock hand on a river port to deckhand on a riverboat. Travel on the river was exciting and different though the work hard and the captain quite the tyrant. Whether he would have stuck it out for a long term career though proved to be out of his hands as disaster struck. The riverboat caught fire and on that fateful night he learned to swim the hard way when the riverboat sank, taking many lives with it. After that harrowing experience he decided to stay away from water and drifted into the uplands of Tennessee. There he took varied jobs on horse farms starting out simply mucking barns but gradually learning a lot about the animals. He found out he liked the big animals, a part of him preferred dealing with horses to humans alright. This equine experience would hold him in good stead when the war broke out in 1861.
Like his father before him, Benjamin was staunchly against the institution of slavery, in fact his father used to say he almost named the boy Spartacus who had led the greatest slave rebellion in Rome's long history. He also felt a loyalty to his home state and headed north as things spiraled out of control into war. Caught up in the frenzied early patriotism, Benjamin enlisted in the Union army - the cavalry to be specific. He has never looked back since, the army suits him.
Benjamin joined the 3rd Cavalry in May, 1861 but by August of the same year it's designation was changed to what it would remain from there on, the 6th Cavalry. By 1862 this young regiment was earning it's spurs with continual campaigning while assigned to the Army of the Potomac. Benjamin advanced quickly from private to sergeant for showing both "aptitude and fortitude" or so said the report of his company commander. He and the unit participated in constant skirmishes. Benjamin learned that he could overcome his fear and function on the chaos of a battlefield while many about him could not.
In 1863 the 6th Cavalry would get their first real full scale battle, Brandy Station, where they would lose several officers and one sixth of their strength to casualties. Benjamin killed his first man there, pistoling a rebel horseman who was in the act of aiming a sawed off shotgun at him. It might have bothered him more if he had not lost men he knew from his own unit. It was kill or be killed. You get him before he gets you, another lesson he would never forget.
It was during the Gettysburg campaign, that 6th Cavalry became celebrated for it's gallant rearguard action fighting to hold off two of the South's finest cavalry brigades at Fairfield. To this day, Benjamin believes this to be the fiercest fight he had ever been in. Every officer in the regiment but three became casualties and losses were heavy among the troopers too. Benjamin was lightly wounded but ignored the wound while rallying stragglers during the final withdrawal. This time he reckoned he killed perhaps four or five of the rebels but though he killed them he admired them for their boldness and courage. Unlike some, Aurelian never could build up a hate for the Confederates, they too were soldiers just doing their duty. However they were fighting for an unjust cause, of that he remained certain.
Given the heavy officer losses and his own performance, Benjamin was promoted to lieutenant and soon after then to captain. The Sixth continued to perform well the remainder of the war, being in on the final crushing defeats of the army of Robert E. Lee just outside of Appomatox. Aurelian was thankful when the war ended soon after. But unlike so many he did not muster out but decided to stay in the army.
Post war saw the 6th, greatly reduced in numbers due to budget cuts, sent on out west of the Mississippi where it helped enforce the Reconstruction in Texas. Because they did not need as many officers those were pruned too and Benjamin considered himself lucky to be retained though he was reduced in rank to lieutenant. He understood it was all about seniority, it was how the army operated. So be it.
Of course one of the other reasons the army and thus the cavalry were out west were the Indians. Indian problems were endemic and the army found itself overstretched in the vastness of the ground they were expected to cover. Regiments were broken up into smaller detachments and these were deployed all over to try and help the growing population and enforce Indian Agency decrees. Naturally Benjamin went where he was sent.
Just prior to being sent to Montana, he had the satisfaction of being promoted back up to captain and currently is in command of an understrength company of troopers. While he is a veteran and a few of his NCOs are also long serving, most of his men are recruits. He took the revelation calmly enough, you learn to work with what you got.
The fight was out of the Indians by then. They had already suffered the loss of their hoped for guns when the rifles and ammunition were destroyed by the white themselves. One could never understand the white man for it had been whites who arranged the deal. They were a small tribe and could ill afford the injury or even worse death of their warriors. Discouraged they rode off, sadly having to leave a pair of their own behind. It could only be hoped the whites would not mutilate them so they could journey to the happy hunting grounds of their new life in one piece.
Benjamin gave orders to his command to cease fire, immediately echoed by his sergeant and other NCOs. The firing ceased to be replaced by some hoots and cheers among the troopers, others more quietly just patting backs and grinning that they were alive. Barlow's tactic of holding the ground rather than try to escape had worked. There never would have been a chance the troopers would have outran the savages who were much superior on horseback. Firepower though had been in the cavalry's favor.
But the veteran officer still had one bit of drama to take care of. It seemed Mercier was dead and a few troopers stated their bespectacled guide, Mr. Crabbe, had been the one to shoot the fellow dead. Their own Indian, the scout, then had pounced on Crabbe. Things were still tense. The Apache had also knifed a warrior who by some miracle had managed to reach him armed with a knife. Talk about a suicidal gesture. One Indian right among thirty plus armed whites? Well, he got his wish, he was dead now. But a pair of troopers had guns leveled at Ke Ni Tay for attacking Crabbe, they were totally confused with what all was going on and on edge.
"Alright, you men, lower your weapons. See to your horses, we will be getting out of here! Go! I got this!" Barlow approached both Crabbe on the ground and the Apache holding his bloody knife.
"It seems our Mr. Mercier didn't make it. Just like his cargo," he asserted then held out a hand to help Crabbe to his feet.
"It will go down in my report he was shot dead by the Indians. Oh...and you are going to have to return that pistol, it's government property," Benjamin gave the man a knowing look.
Benjamin wasn't going to be a hypocrite, he had wanted to shoot Mercier himself but now this civilian did it. There was no way he would press any charges over it. And he would be the one writing the report.
As for the Apache, he turned to him, "Good fight. Go tell MacIntosh we are heading back as soon as I get my wounded and dead properly cared for."
Like most Indians, they were fierce brave fighters but they weren't much for suffering casualties. It only made sense really, a tribe only had a very limited number of fighting age men and that even included boys and old men in a pinch. They started pulling back then, a few jumping off their ponies to try and recover wounded or even dead. Indians didn't like to leave their men behind even if deceased. Others kept firing at the white eyes to give covering fire for those brave souls risking their lives to retrieve the unlucky ones.
The warrior killed by MacIntosh had a lot of pull with the rest of the braves it seemed as that appeared to be a major factor in taking the starch out of them. All the more important then that they get to him and take his body off for a proper Indian ceremony to send him off to the happy hunting grounds. Two more Arapahos galloped up to where the big man was sprawled in his own blood. One of them leaped off his mount and hastily began tying a hide strap around the dead man's feet so they could drag him off at least a distance out of range of the white men's fire. The other rider, a youth, remained mounted but was holding the reins for his comrade.
On the opposite far side of the trooper's skirmish line there was still a lively exchange of fire as the Indians were firing at the cavalry's horse line as opposed to the harder targets of the troopers. Barlow worked his way in that direction, saw the tactic and turned to shout more orders.
"Corporal Givens, take your section and reinforce the horse holders. Keep control of those horses!"
Meanwhile Mercier's nerve seemed to be giving out as he edged closer to his horse then suddenly decided he was going to mount and make a break for it. Probably not a smart move as these angry Indians might well kill him too but panicky individuals often make bad choices. The horse tried to shy away from his first mounting attempt but on the second try he was in the saddle.
The oncoming Indians weren't eager to die and the sudden fusillade stopped their charge as some warriors turned their horses around to gallop off (for now) while others who had rifles began to dismount and open up fire of their own. It was typical Indian warfare, warriors could do what they willed in a fight, lacking any real command structure.
Barlow had counted on stopping the hostiles out of their own shorter ranged but faster firing weapons so while fire was now incoming on the skirmish line most of it was short or inaccurate. Nevertheless it was always an uncomfortable experience to be fired at and a few of the raw troopers quickly went to the ground rather than keep shooting. Both Barlow and his veteran sergeant noted and then attended to those recalcitrant soldiers to get back to firing.
On both flanks Indians were fanning out with the thought of encircling the white eyes, while others dismounted to fire enfilade or try to creep forward in the tall grass to close in for better shots. A few of the experienced bucks had it in mind to try and do whatever they could to stampede the cavalry's horses. It wasn't easy for the poor horseholders to manage four big animals in such a noisy chaotic situation. If they could get behind the whites then charge the horseholders, it was almost certain they could stampede at least some of them.
Mercier did not join the skirmish line, it's not like he wanted to fire on his customers after all. But he was nervous, in this pitched firefight, the Indians might just kill him with as little thought as any other soldier. He instead kept a tight grip on the reins of his horse, ready to make a ride for it if the cavalry unit couldn't hold up under the pressure. He'd already lost his cargo, his profits, but he sure as hell didn't want to lose his life.
On the skirmish line the troopers suffered their first casualty when a man gave a pained cry and collapsed to the ground dropping his carbine and reaching for one of his knees now shattered by a bullet. Right after that another trooper spun about and collapsed into a heap, this luckless fellow having taken a round in the head killing him outright.
One big warrior had managed to dismount on the flank and he was in range with his Henry and now was pouring fire into the hated white eyes, singing his war chant even as he fired and levered and fired. He might have been less confident if he only knew that he was presenting his back to the pair of scouts in the brush. And they were in range of him too.
Benjamin liked the ground picked by MacIntosh for two reasons - first off, it gave some shelter for the horses and cover for the dismounted troopers now forming a skirmish line. Secondly, it had a wide swath of open ground about it which meant the cavalry Sharps carbines could open up long range. These guns were single shot but they outranged the faster firing magazine rifles like Henrys and Winchesters. Though he hoped the oncoming Indians didn't have very many of those repeaters, one of the reasons they sought to buy from bastards like Mercier.
"I'd stay close, Mr. MacIntosh. You go up high and you could get surrounded and we couldn't help you. I am betting we can stop the red men cold from this position," he addressed his veteran scout, who had done excellent service so far. But the scouts weren't hired to carry the fight to the enemy, just find 'em. Now it would be up to the Army to do their job - should it come to that.
Sure enough the Indians were not only approaching from what was now the detachment's front but some riders were heading around on both flanks. Indians did not fight like white men, they did not have officers, even war chiefs were only obeyed if a particular warrior felt he like it. They were a mob but a dangerous one. They had another major Achilles heel too - they did not like to take casualties. And who could blame them? Their tribes were tiny compared to the steady tide of whites pouring into the territory. They could ill afford many losses, especially fatalities given the warriors could not be replaced short of some boy growing up to manhood. Even then some of the Indians now riding at them were no doubt in their early teens even. And if they did press the attack, Barlow meant to make them pay for it with losses.
He stood there watching the impressive sight of some sixty seventy braves riding toward them, decked out in feathers and riding a mix of many colored horses, fine ponies. Many of the braves were stripped down to breechclouts , some even had taken time to paint their bodies to make them look even more fearsome. And there was no doubt, they were brave men fighting for their people and their very existence. Much as Benjamin admired them it didn't change anything. He was here to fight the hostiles, his job was about violence and killing. He would do his job.
Benjamin had hoped the Indians would start shooting first, let them start the affair but they were continuing to close, shouting out their wild war whoops. He could not afford to let them get too close though, it would ruin his advantage of longer range. He had to decide now.
"Commence fire! Commence fire! Fire at will !" he suddenly shouted as loud as he could.
The entire front of the skirmish line, some thirty troopers strong , exploded in a roar and sending up clouds of smoke. Then as fast as the troopers could individually break open their carbine breeches, extracting the spent shell, then shoving a fresh one in and levering it shut again, the next shots were much more sporadic than that impressive opening volley.
The Indians reacted to the firepower by veering off, one warrior had toppled from his mount, and two ponies crashed to the prairie ground struck by rounds, throwing their riders. Some of the Indians now returned the firing from horseback but it was hardly aimed fire and it was out of their prime range too.
More warriors began flanking. A man would have to be courting death to continue to charge into the teeth of that fire.
Exactly as Barlow had figured. But it was early and he well knew the fight was far from over.
ooc: Plain facts when it came to Plains warfare, both sides fired a huge amount of lead and yet casualties were usually very low. Custer's Last Stand was an abberation not the norm. He had also been trapped in rough hilly terrain and the Indians closed in from everywhere where the troopers longer ranged carbines did not have an advantage. I'm not writing this engagement as a Hollywood movie but closer to what it would have been like, just so you know.
As the scouts rode off on their search for the right terrain, Benjamin now organized his withdrawal, he didn't like the word 'retreat'. But if done right, it wouldn't degenerate into that really dangerous word 'rout'. If his troopers dissolved into every man for himself skedaddle the Indians would run down and kill everyone of them. But as long as they kept their discipline and he didn't make any stupid mistakes, he was confident he could hold off the hostiles.
"Mount up! Mount up!" he started shouting to his men who scrambled for their horses. Mercier and his lot could do what they wished now, he no longer cared.
Forming up into a column of fours, the cavalrymen wheeled then headed away from the wagons now beginning to burn and directly in the opposite direction where the Indians watched them. Barlow estimated them to be perhaps a hundred or so. Of course there was always the distinct possibility they weren't revealing all of their strength.
"Sergeant, take the rear of the column, see to no stragglers!" Benjamin now mounted his own experienced horse.
As the cavalry rode away the rounds in their cartridge boxes inside one of the wagons began to cook off from the flames. No, the Indians weren't getting anything useful out of this little expedition at least, Benjamin noted with satisfaction. After a few hundred yards, he pulled on his reins to turn his mount about to check on the hostiles. Sure enough they were on the move now, just not following but spreading out in a ragged crescent, intent on flanking the white men and no doubt, eventually surrounding them. Nothing he did not already expect. Now he just had to hope his scouts would find suitable ground. He also noted two of Mercier's men had broken away and were actually heading straight for the Indians. One of them he had noticed earlier was pretty much more Indian than white, a halfbreed at best. Maybe he was of the very tribe that now pursued them. He guessed them for Arapaho, maybe Cheyenne. Whatever, they were off reservation and according to the government policy now in effect, that made them automatically hostiles.
He rejoined his men and they thundered on a steady pace but not a full gallop until there was the Apache on a rise, waiting.
Cresting that slope, he now spotted MacIntosh waving his rifle . Yes, that place would do just fine. He hurried now to again get to the head of the column of troopers.
"Down there. Head there!" he gestured and shouted at the top of his lungs then led them toward MacIntosh.
In a scant few minutes, the detachment had dismounted, every fourth man holding horses while the other three formed a skirmish line behind the cover of the collapsed bank, almost a ditch really.
"Corporal, unfurl the colors, and plant it in the ground by me. Bugler, stay close in case I need you. Sergeant, take the left!" he let a man lead his mount to join the rest of the horse line as he was going to stand with his men, supervising the skirmish line. No rifle for him, officers had more important things to do, though he did unsnap his military holster just in case he needed to draw his Colt Army revolver. Just then he thought of something as he noticed Mercier and two of his men also dismounting. He looked about and spotted Crabbe.
Now looking for MacIntosh, he was just yards off, he called out, "Good choice of ground, Mr. MacIntosh! Can you see to it that our guest, Mr. Crabbe, is provided with something to shoot with just in case. Oh, and no shooting unless I give the order. The Indians are going to have to start this ball."
As Benamin thought out his tactical options, the veteran scout spoke up.
“Was it me I’d fire them wagons an’ light out. They got horses tied on them wagons, so they can run for it as well. Reckon them Injuns’ll be in a scalpin’ mood. Amma’nition in their hands is as bad as new carbines! Them coal oil lamps on them wagons an' a match'll do jest fine!"
Benjamin nodded immediately, "That actually is excellent advice, Mr. MacIntosh! We will do that."
He turned to his men and barked out orders to douse the wagons with the contents of the lamps and even a few of the yet unemptied barrels of the liquor then set them on fire. Also cut loose the horses. Mercier once more reacted with horror.
"You can't do that!" but no sooner had he said it, he gave up the protest. Mercier knew he was a helpless spectator now.
"Now, Mr. Mercier, you and your men can mount up and ride off to join your customers. Maybe explain nicely to them you don't have a damn thing for them anymore. Sure they'll be understanding. Or you ride with us, I don't care which," Barlow informed the man.
Next the officer turned back to MacIntosh and his Apache.
"Alright, we are going to fall back but I damn well know we can't outrun the hostiles. So I want to fall back to the first defensible position I can find. That's where you come in, head back the way we came. Make sure there aren't more of them behind us already. And when you find a reasonable rise or big enough dry bed to take our horses, wait. We will be coming behind you and that's where I will organize my defense.."
Benjamin turned away from the now prone Mercier who was nursing a pained jaw and looked up at his veteran scout who was speaking.
"Now I ain't no businessman neither Cap'n. Not hardly. I reckon we best find out where he was planning to meet up with the Injuns, they'll be plenty sore when he don't show."
"Yeah, they no doubt will. But even if we find the Indians, what can we do about it? Seems to me that's more Mercier's problem now than ours," the captain was thinking of his options even as he replied.
"Was we to locate an ant hill, I figure Ki Na Tay here could find out right pronto anything you'd like to know, well 'less Mercer here jest comes clean on his own."
"I don't know....he might not truly know the exact camp site, tribes move around a lot as you full well know," Benjamin remarked. He was half tempted to just send Mercier out with MacIntosh and the Apache and drop some very obvious hints he didn't want the fellow back alive. But he wasn't ready to go that far........yet.
Just then one of the troopers shouted out to all who could hear.
" INJUNS! ON THE SKYLINE!" the man was pointing too.
It was the very direction that Mercier's two men had been heading before the scouts rounded them up and brought them back. Sure enough, while details were hard to make out, there were definitely mounted figures against the horizon on that slope crest. Looked to be at least a good dozen, maybe more. And that was only the ones that could be seen. Benjamin knew that you had to be just as worried about the ones who might well be out of sight.
"Well, I believe those are Mercier's customers, Mr. MacIntosh," Benjamin calmly declared.
They were still well out of range so the officer had time yet to come to his choice of tactical options. Retreat or stand. Whatever, he was not going to show worry, that would be noticed by the troopers.
Benjamin knew that MacIntosh was onto his scheme to deprive this so called legal gun and whiskey runner his trade goods. He figured the man would never testify against him if it came to it. At this point, Benjamin wasn't taking into account future consequences to his career anyhow. The guns especially could never fall into the hands of hostile Indians. He had seen to that.
Benjamin turned once more to his troopers, "Gentleman, stove in all those casks and dump 'em! Every last drop!"
Mercier was beside himself, "You simply can't do this! I paid for these goods and have a legal right to sell them!"
"I'm no businessman, Mr. Mercier, but I'd say you got swindeled. All of these goods were worthless. But that's your problem, not mine," Barlow smiled coldly.
"This is an outrage!" the man blathered on.
Benjamin stepped up to him and threw a sudden punch, knocking the fellow to the ground, "Outrage? Don't start with me on outrage. An outrage is giving guns and firewater to Indians who will then use it to kill whites, mostly settlers who come out here to start up a new life for their families. If I had the authority, I would hang you right now, you bastard. So do not start with me about outrage."
Benjamin now waited for his scouts to approach with easy talking distance. He saw they had the pair of men who had tried to escape well in hand, didn't even need to shoot them.
"Cap'n," MacIntosh greeted, "Whatcha got there? new made Henry's? Bet they fetch a purtty price." He looked up at the man on the wagon seat. "You boys trade for scalps and the like, 'er injun wimmen to mistreat."
Mercier glowered but was just too upset to formulate words as he watched his precious cargo being busted into useless scrap metal.
"No, Mr. MacIntosh, all these rifles are defective goods. I have ordered them destroyed lest Mercier here peddle them to innocent customers," Benjamin was dripping with sarcasm.
"These two here," the scout jerked his thumb at the two, "they weren't real happy to come back this way."
"Well, I don't give a damn about their feelings. But good work," the captain shrugged.
Just then another trooper approached the discussion carrying a small barrel in both hands, it seemed heavy though.
"Excuse me, sir, but we found these in the other wagon. There's liquid in 'em," he duly reported.
"Set it down, trooper. Then stave it in and let's see what sort of liquid," Bejamin already knew the answer even as he watched the soldier use the butt of his carbine to obey orders.
"Someone hand us a cup!" Barlow ordered and his young bugler came trotting up with his tin mess kit cup in hand.
"Thanks," Barlow knelt on one knee and dipped the cup into the liquid, then sniffed it, followed by taking a sip. He had been right in his assessment.
Standing up he turned and offered the cup to MacIntosh, "Apparently meant for his Indian friends, what do you think, Mr.MacIntosh does this stuff seem fit for sale in your opinion?"
(OOC: It's whiskey but I imagine you guessed that)
The civilians were not giving any trouble, smart move by them for they were thoroughly outnumbered and outgunned. Barlow now needed to see if the cargo these jaspers were hauling was what he thought it was. Turned out there was a fly in the ointment though. That greasy bastard, Mercier, produced a document from his coat and waved it in front of the officer.
"See here now, before you go flyin' off the handle, I got me every right to be out here and to be engaged in my business. This here document should prove it too. You take a read now," Mercier rounded on him.
Benjamin scowled but seized the paper and gave it a skim. It was a paper from the Indian Agency, a government letterhead on top too. Looked damn official. He glanced up from it to eye Mercier.
"So what is this now? You're working for the Agency?"
"Just read it! The Agency has given me the license to dispense trade goods with the native tribes and look at the signature on the bottom a the page. Mr. Arthur Boswell himself signed that. If you don't believe that, you'll have to get in contact with the man yourself then," Mercier seemed confident.
Well, the veteran captain now did decide to give it a careful read and sure enough it did say that this .....man was acting in accordance with agency intentions and approval. In effect it was a federal government license to trade with the Indians.
Benjamin seethed but refrained from exercising that emotion in anger. Leastwise for now.
"Very well then, Mr. Mercier. But I want to cast my eyes on these trade products of yours anyway," he declared icily.
"Now, now, you don't need..." Mercier started.
But Barlow spun around and headed for the closest wagon, ignoring the man's protests. His troopers had hauled a few crates out of the wagon bed and had them on the ground. Barlow looked down then snapped an order, "Corporal, open that one."
"I protest!" Mercier had followed of course, not so confident anymore.
"Duly noted, now shut up!" Barlow growled then returned to watching the soldiers pry open the one crate.
"Shit!" the soldier looked surprised then looked to his commander.
Barlow peered into the now open crate. Rifles. Factory new rifles or so they looked to be. Henrys. Fast firing Henry rifles.
"Eight of 'em, sir," the trooper remarked as he picked one out and handed it up to the captain.
Barlow examined the weapon more thoroughly, yes it was factory new, mint shape. Indian troubles all over the territories and here was a cargo of rapid firing guns for the red men.
"We got a bill of sale for those from my supplier, everything is all legal, captain," again Mercier tried to get his view across.
Benjamin now glared at the man, his eyes a mirror of his building fury.
"Is that so? We will see," Barlow now handed the rifle to his top NCO, "Sergeant, test this rifle out by smashing it as hard as you can against the wagon wheel."
"What?" Mercier was wide eyed.
The sergeant grinned, "Certainly, cap'n." Then he gripped it by the long barrel and gave it two hard swings so the weapon thunked forcefully very close to its chamber, lever, trigger mechanisms.
"That's good, sergeant. Gimme it," Barlow now had the rifle back in his hands and once more examined it.
"I believe this weapon is defective. It will not fire properly."
"Probably right, sir," the sergeant nodded then gave a wolfish smile to the horrified Mercier.
"Defective goods. That would cheating the customers and with the government's good reputation at stake too," Barlow now smiled.
"Alright, men. I want everyone of those crates opened and any rifles you find, you destroy them as they are of no use to anyone in such conditions," he ordered.
"This is an outrage! You cannot do this!" Mercier was beside himself now.
"It is an outrage, I agree. But I assure you I can and will do this. And there isn't a damn thing you can do to stop me. Although I dearly hope you will try," Benjamin spoke calmly enough but anyone could see he was very close to losing his self control and Mercier would suffer dearly if he did.
Just then, a trooper shouted, "Cap'n, the scouts are comin' back!"
Sagas of the WIld West is a roleplaying game set in a fictionalized version of the town of Kalispell in Montana territory. Our stories begin in 1875 and are set against the backdrop of actual historical events.Sagas was inspired by the classic television and movie westerns. Our focus is on writing, storytelling and character development.
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