With Colonel Snow dead, Jas is forced to carrying out the attack without warning the fort.
Jas and his band of soldier reached the fort and are ready to put on their show for the soldiers at Fort Perry. Jas told the men to shoot high and ride hard.
The solider on the parapet of the fort saw the soldiers racing to the fort with the Mexicans bandits' right behind them, shooting at the soldiers.
Reveille was sounded and the guard on the parapet yelled....."Calvary under attack.....open the gates!"
Jas and his soldiers rode hard through the gates and into the fort. It seemed to the cavalry that they had scared off the bandits.
Jas rode up to the soldier at the gates and ordered him to close the gates. He then rode over to another soldier and told him that the rest of his company was pinned down at the O'Royle and gave the order for him to go after them. The Captain called for a platoon and then headed off after the bandits.
Major Whitcomb and Corporal Dewey came out of the general head quarters and approached the Colonel (Jas) as to what was going on. Jas told the major that they had been attached by bandits and part of his company was still pinned up at the O'Royle. Jas told him that his men needed medical attention and asked him to see to the defense of the fort. "I'm in command here," Said Major Whitcomb. "I out rank you major," said Jas. "I wasn't told of any other outfit that is operating in this area," said the major. "I'm telling you now!" "I gave you an order!" Said Jas. They both stood there for a moment looking at each other. The major then saluted Jas and told some of the soldiers to get those men to the infirmary. It looked like they made it. Brissac was pleased. After the major and the lieutenant left he walked over to Jas with a big smile on his face and said ....."So those were a few of the well chosen words!" Jas, Brissac and Crispo then headed for the general head quarters. There was a solider, Private Tyler, standing outside watching them. After the three men entered the general head quarters, Private Tyler ran to talk to the major. Private Tyler recognized Jas as the Coward from Bitter Creek. The major asked him if he was sure. "I ought to be sir!"
The major then went over to one of the corporals and told him to round up the men that had just come through the gates and put them under guard.
When Jas, Brissac and
Crispo got to the office with the sign 'Pay Masters' on it, Jas and the other two men forced their way in by kicking the door open. They demanded the corporal to open the safe. Brissac told the soldier they wanted the payroll Fort Lowell, all thirty six thousand of it. Once the safe was unlocked they knocked out the corporal.
While Brissac and Crispo were cleaning out the safe Jas stood and watched. When they were almost finished, he held a gun on them and said....."Let me have those guns!" Just then the major and some soldiers barged into the office. He told the major that Brissac and Crispo were two of the Marauders wanted by the army. The major took Jas's gun and placed him under arrest. He left Jas know that he knew who he was. The corporal that was knocked out had just come to and told the major that they had known about the army payroll. Jas told them that he was the one who told them to lure them there. The major had his men strip Jas of the colonel's hat and insignia and gave them the order to burn the items. Jas tried to tell the major that this raid was planned along with Colonel Snow and that he was to contact him when he was ready. The major told Jas that they would go over it when Colonel Snow got back. "He won't be back sir.....Colonel Snow was killed.....I found out too late. I had no choice.....I had to go through with this raid!" Said Jas. "Look! I'm on special assignment from Washington," said Jas. The major told him he was digging himself in deeper with every word McCord!" "Colonel Snow is dead.....killed by you and your friends.....no doubt!" "You're wearing the United States Uniform.....on a United Stated installation.....according to the sentence of your court marshal.....that alone is punishable by death!" Jas tried to get the major to listen to him, but he wouldn't. The major told him he would face a firing squad the next day.
While Jas was locked up in the stockade he had an unexpected visitor, Private Tyler. "McCord.....I'm going to get on that firing squad tomorrow morning if I have to give six months pay for it," said Tyler. Jas looked at him and said....."That's expensive target practice." "I almost went to Bitter Creek with you McCord!" "But my best friend
went instead, Jim Whitcomb.....Major Whitcomb's son." He then took Jas to see Major Whitcomb.
The major told Jas that he didn't buy his story, he felt he was trying to wiggle out of this and save his own hide. "A scheme known only to you and Colonel Snow and now Colonel Snow was conveniently dead, isn't he?" Asked the major. Jas walked over to the major's desk and told the major that President Grant himself gave him this assignment. "President Grant!" "You're not only a coward and an outlaw, but your insane, or you think I am!" Jas asked the major to contact the president, but he wouldn't hear of it, he felt if he did he would be making a fool out of himself. He told Jas that his friends were being transferred to Fort Lowell tomorrow. Jas asked him if he wanted to take care of him personally. The major stood and looked Jas straight in the eye and said....."McCord.....I fought my way up through the ranks, bucking fools and bungling idiots like you. I wish I had been at Bitter Creek!" Jas told the major that he had just heard his son was there and that he was sorry. The major told him that his son's application was turned down to West Point, but it took a yellow belly like Jas to make it. "It seems to me that you are nursing a pretty big hatred for the army yourself major," said Jas. "I hate army mistakes! Men who make it easy! Background.....influence! Connections in the right circles!" Yelled the major.
"A West Point man.....hand picked by the God's." "Coddled and bottled and fed by the academy." "Handed to the commission on a silver platter," said the major. "You personnel opinion of me and the academy is beside the point." "I've got to get word to Washington right away!"
As Jas leaned on the major's desk he said....."I know who's really behind those raids and why! It's secret information that could lead to or avoid a full scale war!" The major told Jas to tell him this secret information and he would decide and he would decide if it's important. "In your frame of mind major.....I wouldn't take a chance on telling you," stated Jas. He angered the major. As the major stood he said....."McCord.....I'm the judge and jury here! Not you! This time your background or your big connections won't get you out of it!" "I don't care if the armed chaired solders back in Washington like it or not!" "They wrote the book, the book says you should be shot!" "I'm ordering you shot.....tomorrow morning at dawn!"
The major then called Tyler into his office and told him to take Jas back to his cell.
When the cook and the
guard brought Jas's supper to him, Jas knocked out the cook while the guards back was turned. Jas then called the guard and told him there was something wrong with the cook. The guard rushed in to take a look at the soldier. Jas then hit the guard and knocked him out too. Jas then took the soldiers hat and gun. Brissac and Crispo saw what had happened. Crispo leaped up from eating his supper and called to Jas. Brissac then pulled back Crispo and told him to let him go, it would only make Jas look more guilty.
It was night and that made it easier for Jas to slowly walk out of the Guard House and get a horse. Two guards walked by him without batting an eye. As he got to the gates a soldier stopped him. Jas told him he was a courier for Major Whitcomb and had a message for the commander at Fort Lowell. The soldier opened the gate. As Jas slowly started through the gate, Corporal Dewey was on guard in the parapet and recognized Jas.
"It's McCord!" Yelled Dewey. He then jumped down from the parapet and knocked Jas off of his horse. Jas was then surrounded by a number of guards with their rifles held on him. He was taken to the major's headquarters.
"If I needed any further proof McCord.....this is it." "Innocent men don't run.....I was about to give you the benefit of the doubt," said the major. He told the soldiers to take Jas back to his cell and double the guards on Jas. As they were leaving the major called to Corporal Dewey and told him a job well done.
Corporal Dewey had his men line up. They were to draw to see what six soldiers would be on the firing squad. The solider put several pieces of paper in his hat and the men drew from there. They were not allowed to open the piece of paper until everyone had drawn. When the corporal came to Private Tyler, Tyler said as he rubbed his hands together....."Shake me a winner, corporal!" The corporal said to Tyler....."The only winners are the ones who draw blanks." Tyler asked the corporal what was eating him. If he liked the coward why didn't he let him escape? The corporal told him that he didn't especially like Jas; he just didn't like having to kill him. The corporal went on down the line. Tyler sneaked a look at his paper. His was blank, but the solider next to him was one of the six to be in the firing squad. They exchanged papers and some money, Tyler was getting his wish, one way or another. The corporal told them all to look at their papers and the six that were chose were to step forward. Tyler was the first in line. There were five men that came forward. The corporal looked at his paper. He was the sixth soldier. The corporal told the men to report to the armory a half hour before dawn and that six rifles will be issued by the supply sergeant.....five with live ammunition and one with blanks. He then dismissed the troops.
While Jas was in his cell, he could hear Crispo calling him like.....Captain Stupid.....Colonel Stupid. Crispo was laughing because Jas was supposed to capture them and instead Jas's own government was going to kill him.
Back in the barracks, Private Tyler was practicing taking aim. He wasn't taking no chance of missing Jas. It was getting on Corporal Dewey's nerves and he told him to stop it. Tyler asked him what was bothering him and asked him if he had ever shot Indians before. Dewey told him, this was different. That was war, this wasn't the same. They weren't standing there with six soldiers blasting away with their hands tied behind their backs. "This isn't just somebody.....this is the coward of Bitter Creek!" Said Tyler. "He's a man Tyler," said Dewey as Tyler started to interrupt him, Dewey told Tyler to shut up.
It was dawn and Jas was lined up in front of the wall. The six soldiers were ready. The major walked over to Jas and asked him if he wanted a blindfold. Jas told him he didn't. As the major turned to walk away he called him back. "I know you go by the book.....isn't it customary to grant a final request?" Asked Jas. "If it's reasonable," said the major. Jas looked at him and said....."I think it's reasonable."
Crispo and Brissac were in their cell waiting and listening. Crispo wished he could see the firing squad, but he couldn't. "This isn't fair.....why should they have all the fun?" "This is a very bad army.....they hide when they do something pleasant." "They refuse to share!" Said Crispo. "Perhaps the sound from the shots will amuse you," said Brissac. "This is true.....my mind sees very good, I can enjoy it better," said Crispo. Just then Crispo was content, he heard the shots ring out. "Beautiful! A very itchy place on my back has just been scratched," said Crispo laughing. Crispo called the major over to his cell window.
"Very good job.....he died like a coward.....huh?" Asked Crispo. The major told them they would be transferred to Fort Lowell the next day. "Tell me something.....since it's too late to do him any good.....was he the leader?" Asked the major. Brissac chimed in and said Jas was a very bad leader. He told the major that Jas insisted on this attack. But Crispo couldn't let it go at that. "I knew what he was all along, a traitor!" Crispo and Brissac started to argue. Brissac told him to shut up. "I tried to kill him, but you stopped me!" "Your stupid, he leads us into this trap!" "That's what it was.....a trap!" "He still worked for your army.....and now your army has killed him!" Said Crispo laughing. The major thanked Crispo. "McCord!" Called the major. "You were right, that was a reasonable request." Crispo wasn't laughing anymore.
Jas was ready to leave. He stopped in to see the major before he left. "You know McCord.....you must have been petty sure of yourself and me.....waiting until you were in front of a firing squad," said the major. Jas told him he wasn't so sure. He then took a piece of paper from his coat pocket and told him that it was a note he had written to President Grant to be delivered in the event of his death. Jas then crumbled it up and said....."Now I can take care of it in person, thanks to you."