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.
"You wouldn't, you'd be providing a welcome distraction for those men in pain." the lieutenant smiled. "I don't know if you know anything about nursing, but just having their brows mopped by a beautiful woman will make the journey easier for them."
"Fine, but I'm shit at any sort of medical help. Wasn't cut out to be a nurse. Honestly, anything so I don't have to sit on another horse....like forever," Caroline agreed.
"Whatever service I can be of, sir, just tell me what to do," the man once more was trying to do the right thing.
"Good, now git those boys off the wagon and my men will load our seriously wounded onto the back. You wouldn't want the boys to see these wounds I take it. We have horses for you and the boys or the two of em can ride double. Your call," Benjamin directed.
"One of my troopers will drive. As for the ladies, they can go on the wagon or stay on horses, I'll leave it to them. Oh, and you will be compensated for the food by the US government," he added.
Benjamin had the same thoughts as some of his soldiers and his young officer. What were those young boys doing out here during a time like this? It was a real risk to come riding out in the direction of an Indian raid with kids. But it wasn't his place to be lecturing civilians. And at least the man seemed a decent sort, offering what aid he could to the troops.
"Sir we have some food, water, blankets. We can take a few in the back of the wagon too ."
"Good of you to offer. I was just about to tell you that I would be comandeering your wagon to transport our wounded. Now that you offered, I will accept," Barlow nodded.
The man moved on toward Addy and they had a quick greeting then conversation. Barlow felt good that this was the outcome of their expedition, a successful rescue of two women but that was tempered by the deaths of two of his troopers and a couple of others seriously wounded. It could have worse though.
Caroline had barely said a word on this slow journey back toward civilization and that was unusual for the normally outgoing chatty young woman. But she was not in her element, she was sore and exhausted just thankful that both she and Addy had survived. She also worried about young Lt. Greene, she knew enough about wounds to realize he still could die if his wound got infected. Finally she was so damn thirsty for a drink - not water...the troopers had canteens and she drank from one but that wasn't liquor. No alcohol for some time and it was affecting her both mentally and physically.
She listened to Addy and her brother, heard the remark about sitting on a wagon seat instead of this horse (on a more mundane level, her butt was sore from all this riding, she was a city girl to the core).
"I'd like that but not if I have to take a seat away from somebody else," she commented but then let Addy converse.
Benjamin gave up on the fruitless pursuit of the surviving war party, they were down a six or so anyhow and more than likely just heading back to their home village. If it was one thing the US cavalry learned about chasing Indians, you didn't catch 'em. Best horsemen in the world maybe. So he ordered his scouts and troopers to turn back and then spent the better part of a few hours just getting back to the rest of his command. It being dark did not help at all but the scouts were up to the task.
Once back he found out that a lot had happened - almost all good too, well except another trooper had been killed. But Lt. Greene found (had lucked into it really but no criticism there - it was the great Napoleon who had said 'better a lucky general than a good one') the women and they were alive. Looking a bit worse for wear but no dangerous wounds, the saloon girl was already wearing trousers and a bluecoat lent her by eager troopers. And Greene had a face to face encounter with an Arapaho brave looking to kill the ladies. That Indian was dead. Barlow didn't press the young officer on the details, that he could read in the report Greene would have to write out later back in the fort, for the young man was wounded and in considerable discomfort. They didn't have a doctor with this detachment but one of the troopers who knew something about wound treatment assured Benjamin the boy would live and keep his leg. Well unless he didn't take care of it properly and get gangrene.
The stage driver was quite the tough gal too. She was sporting a large bruise from where the Arapaho had belted her with his gun butt but in good humor and even told him that the two women had killed their guard and escaped on their own. Barlow was impressed.
"Well, it's a pity we don't allow women in the army, we could use a couple more like you and your friend," Benjamin remarked to Addy.
It was a tough call to make - normally traveling at night was not the wise thing to do but they had the wounded to think of and the sooner they got them back to better medical care at the fort or even town, the better. He decided darkness or not, they would head back and issued the appropriate orders.
They kept the pace deliberately slow but steady. He wasn't worried about Indian attack - Plains Indians did not attack at night and besides that war party was good as destroyed and definitely dispersed. No, the bigger danger was loss of a horse or horses to prairie dog holes or god knows what else whilst traveling in the darkness.
Even as MacIntosh fell backwards and down, the white scouts own shot proved quite lethal, killing the Indian leader with a head shot. The surviving Indians already had had enough by then, it was plain their war medicine did not help them this time. A half dozen rode away as fast as they could though one of Ki-Ne-Tay's last shots dropped one from his horse. The Arapaho was still moving when two troopers raced up to him, revolvers drawn then emptied those pistols into the luckless Indian. The man was long dead before the soldiers ran out of ammo.
And just as sudden as the ambush had commenced, the firefight now was finished. Clouds of white smoke hung in the air, there was the horrifying whiny of a badly wounded horse thrashing on the ground at least til a single pistol shot rang out ending it's suffering. The troopers made sure none of the downed warriors were alive. One veteran knelt down by a corpse with his knife to commence scalping the unfortunate but Barlow ended that.
"You there! If he's dead, leave him be! Round up any guns they might have!" the detachment commander was once more trying to take charge of the chaos.
"Lt. Greene, are you still able to function properly? See to it any other wounded are being given medical attention!"
He sought out MacIntosh, "How you doin'? You gonna be able to ride?"
This wasn't finished yet as far as he was concerned.
"Sergeant, get two sections mounted right now! Corporal, my horse!"
Benjamin heard MacIntosh call out, he expected the Indians would be making another charge. The veteran officer wasn't so sure, the Arapahoes had the advantage of surprise that first rush and they used it to good effect. But that wasn't the case now, though he knew he had to do everything in his power to get his troopers ready just in case.
"Alright, men! Form skirmish line! Form skirmish line! Hurry up!" he was shouting out as he walked among them. The skirmish line command told the troopers that one in four men were detailed off to grab onto the horses' reins of the others. Not an easy task when some of the animals were quite skittish from what just had happened. But then battle was never easy. It was confusing, it was terrifying, and it was damnably unfair.
He could only hope Greene remembered his role in this formation, to get directly behind the skirmish line and pace behind the men, keeping them focused, calm as much as that could ever be expected in the chaos. An officer's job wasn't to shoot his weapon but see to it the troopers did the firing.
The war party had done well in that sudden charge out of nowhere. Actually so far in their entire raid they'd gotten the jump and thus the advantage on the white men. It was almost too easy, success was going to their heads, the intoxication of victory. They really should have rode off, bided their time, and maybe struck hard and fast later. But they were fired up and bloodthirsty to kill yet more of the hated waischus. So they turned their horses and charged back again the way they had come, their war leader encouraging them to the front with loud war cries soon echoed by the rest.
It was a mistake.
This time the soldiers were on foot, kneeling or leaning against tree trunks, their carbines ready. Barlow watched the Arapahoes coming on again weaving their ponies thru the trees straight for them. He waited but not too long. Let the Indians get just too close and some of the men might panic and break.
"FIRE AT WILL !" he then roared the command, they could now fire independently as fast as they could reload their single shot Sharps carbines. A ragged volley erupted along with a cloud of smoke then the men desperately commenced the loading process. Some men were faster than others. Some just fired the first shot then pulled their revolver and used that with it's six shot chamber.
This time the Indian charge faltered as both men and horses went down. Almost half the Arapahoes were hit. Those not struck veered off to either side of the troopers, a few of the veteran Indians riding by leaning so far to one side that most of their bodies were behind the horse. It takes a fine rider to do that but no one could say the Plains warriors were not superb riders.
Teestou's trusted coal black horse was struck with more than one bullet, its front legs collapsing and sending the warrior crashing hard onto the ground. He didn't even realize another bullet had hit him in the side, adrenalin and sheer fury fueling his focus to keep fighting. He rose to his feet, having lunged for and recovered his Henry rifle then started to aim at the closest of the hated waischus.
The man standing not fifteen yards in front of him was not wearing a soldier's bluecoat but no matter, he was a white man and he must die. They all must die!
It was the veteran scout, MacIntosh. Who would fire first?
Benjamin now heard out his scouts, he hoped Lt. Greene listened to these conversations too. Just might learn something. And someday it might come in handy for the young lieutenant.
"They were scouts, scouting their back trail which was pretty confusing, but we came out of the trees and there they were. Lit out, so we're close and I'm thinkin' maybe well have a whole pack of 'em on us pretty quick like, unless, they're waiting to draw us in. We're close, real close." MacIntosh explained.
"Maybe they come, maybe they wait to see how many you are." Ke-Ni-Tay offered. which caused MacIntosh to nod in agreement.
"Hmmm, both valid possibilities. Well, as long as you gentlemen are still reasonably confident in your earlier opinion there was only about a dozen or so hostiles, I think we should..." Benjamin never got to finish his decision. It was made for him.
From a low rise, loosely studded with trees too, there came a single loud harsh cry followed immediately by a whole of bunch of cries and war hoops and up and over that crest the entire Arapaho war party now launched a wild charge straight for the troopers.
Numbers wise the soldiers had the advantage but in war numbers often times meant little. The element of surprise could make up for a lot of numbers and the ferocity of one side might stampede even the heaviest of odds.
Close to a third of the troopers were still raw recruits and this was their sudden unexpected introduction to real war. Recruits got seven shots with their Sharps carbines in St. Louis then were shipped out to various units and most frontier posts did not wish to use up precious ammo giving them more experience. Most of these would be lucky to hit a stationary target past fifty yards, and that while standing still and aiming free of any danger let alone being now under fire and threatened by oncoming danger. Even most experienced troopers were not really all that good with marksmanship. It was a myth a soldier could learn fast in battle, too often they just blundered thru it.
Needless to say many of the horses were startled then spooked by the uproar of angry human cries then the loud crack of shots as the Indians opened up from their mounts. Horses reared up, whinnied, a few even bolted before their riders could gain control. Some of the men were so shocked they did not even reach for their carbines holstered at the side of their saddles. A few hardened vets were instead pulling the army revolvers for this sudden close in brawl, the carbines being single shot breechloaders.
The Indians mostly veered off just yards short of the jumbled up hated waischus though two bold ones literally rode right thru the ranks. These men were all superb horsemen and some had repeating rifles. A couple might even be considered crack shots.
One trooper grunted and toppled backward off his saddle to thud like a sack of grain onto the forest floor. Another screamed and bent over his saddle holding one arm.
Barlow unsnapped and jerked out his own Single Action army revolver and snapped off a couple rounds at the oncoming savages. If he hit the Indians gave no indication. In truth very few of the troopers were even getting off the wildest of shots, it was all just chaos.
Despite the advantage of surprise and their enemies confusion, the Arapahos had no intention of trying to grapple in a hand to hand struggle with heavier numbers of soldiers. None of them even wanted to leave their horses. Their intention had been to cause mass confusion, inflict what losses they might then ride off over hills and under cover of trees for the whites to maybe chase them. There wasn't a cavalryman who couldn't outrun an Indian even on a flat plain much less this rugged terrain.
As the Indians scattered away it was obvious they had won the first round of this but it was certainly not over yet. Barlow was not just an officer, he was a fighter. It would take a lot to make him ever admit he was beaten.
No, this was just getting started!
ooc: The whole incident probably lasted under two minutes so when you write your reactions please don't do too much too fast 😀
They'd just come up over a low ridgeline when Benjamin saw his two scouts below, at least the Indians hadn't gotten them. Thank the lord! It was now time to find out what - if anything - new they had found out.
The cavalry came to a halt just short of the two scouts, Benjamin nodding acknowledgement before speaking up.
"Well, Mr. MacIntosh, did you run into 'em? Or did they try and bushwhack you?"
Either way any contact at all showed they were on the right track most likely. That could be a double edged sword though. The closer they got to the war party the riskier it became for the white women captives.
There! Two more shots soon followed after the initial shot. That cinched it, no deer hunter. His scouts had found the Arapahos or even worse the Indians had jumped them. He had a direction to orient on the firing and it was ahead of them. Benjamin glanced at Lt. Greene.
"I'm betting our scouts have found the Indians, one way or the other. Let's head toward the sounds."
Then he raised his arm to wave forward and called out in a commanding voice, "Troop, at the double, follow me!"
Yes, it was indeed possible they would be riding full into an ambush but that was the risks one needed to take. Soldiering was not a safe career. The scouts might be in trouble. And then there still the women prisoners.
The cavalry now picked up speed as they rode toward the 'sound of the guns', a tried and true military option.
The Arapaho scouts had hurried to get the hell out of there, not waiting to see if they were being chased. They wanted to let their war party now there were waischus coming.
ooc: Sorry, I did not catch that Javia had replied.
IC: The Indian was looking down at the tracks.
"Take some time, track crisscross, lead off many ways, but we follow and soon tracks come together. Maybe ten-twelve warriors but no more." Ke-Na-Tay called back.
McIntosh said, "Good sized party Major, but I think we can take 'em. Problem being they just might kill the women, if they haven't already, when we hit 'em."
"Fortunes of war. There is no guarantee on things on this," Barlow sighed.
"What do we normally do in a situation like that? Is it best to sneak up or try and rush 'em?" asked his second in command.
It was a fair question, he wished he had a firm answer but he did not. Barlow would try though.
"Well, pretty much what we are hoping to do now. That is first off you have to find them, not easy if they don't wanna be found. Then once you do, you need to judge the odds, take into account the local terrain, see if you also can get eyes on the captives, and then come up with a quick plan."
"Normally you know the army likes to engage the hostiles at a good distance, take advantage of our Sharps carbine range but in this case we won't be able to do that. We are going to have to rush 'em so we can get to the women. That make sense?"
"Alright, McIntosh, go do your job and be careful. If you get into trouble remember we will be trailing behind you, head back that way."
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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