It was the middle of the night.
Jason was sleeping soundly in his bed. Unbeknownst to him,
three soldiers were outside his door. Without a sound, they
snuck into the room and walked up to his bed. “McCord?” one of
the solders called. McCord didn’t stir. He reached out and
grabbed Jason’s shoulder. “McCord!” Jason naturally was
defensive since these men had just awakened him from a sound
sleep. He immediately went into action and started fighting the
Grabbing one of them, he shoved him
up against the wall. “Alright, for too many years now!” he said
between clinched teeth. “I’m sick of being set up!” The solder
tried to stop him. “I may have to take it from civilians, but
NOT from the army! Not anymore I don’t!” The soldier assured
him they weren’t there to roust him. They had orders.
“Orders?” Jason questioned. “Who’s orders?”
“I’m not at liberty to say.”
“Well then what orders?”
The soldier pulled a letter from
his pocket. “At exactly three AM on May 16, 1873, to be
delivered by hand to the hand of Jason McCord.” The soldier
flung the letter and pouch toward Jason. Jason told him he’d
carried out his orders and to get out!
After the men left, Jason opened
the letter and read.
On the Eve of any battle, there
is a destiny that makes some men enemies and some men brothers.
And so ten years ago tonight, destiny made a choice.
The words made Jason remember. He
went back in time – back to May 16, 1863 to a house he rushed
into. His gun was drawn on a man with his back to him.
“Alright, hold it!” Jason ordered. He told the man to come out
of the dark.
“You’re just in time,” the man
declared as he came forward so Jason could see him.
“General Grant,” Jason muttered in
“In time to have a drink with me,
They were alone. General Grant
closed the door while Jason announced the time was 3:10. Jason
explained to Grant that he had gotten separated from his
company. He needed to get back because there was a rumor they
would attack in the mor…Jason stopped there as Grant stared at
him. “There is, huh? Well in every war, there are as many
there are rifle shots.” Jason apologized then asked
Grant if he was hit. Should he help him get back to
“I fell from my horse,” Grant
explained. “The rumor is I was drunk. The truth is I haven’t
slept in three days.” Jason assured him he believed it. Grant
admitted that he hadn’t had a drink since many dead men ago.
Grant assumed Jason was a West Point graduate from the top of
his class. He was almost right. Grant was feeling sorry for
himself. He felt like a failure. Jason kindly reminded him of
all the victories he had won. “They weren’t failures. They
were victories.” Jason convinced Grant that he was the reason
they won at Shiloh.
“What’s your name?” Grant
questioned. He told him he was Jason McCord of the tenth
Indiana. “Any relation to Josh McCord?”
Jason smiled. “My grandfather,
“Oh…We served together during the
Mexican campaign. Fine officer. How is he?”
Jason smiled. “Well sir, he’s uh…a
little too old and too tired for this one.”
“I know how he feels,” Grant said
as he held up a bottle of whisky. “They call this pain killer.
Well, if ever there was a man in pain…” Jason thought his leg
was bothering him. “No, not my leg…and not that fever from
Panama, nor the ague or this headache…this thundering
headache…the pounding boots of a thousand ghostly battalions
battering at this brain…The men I sent to die…the men I
will…those like you. Do you know what it’s like to bury four
thousand men in one grave? I do.”
“General, someone has to give those
orders. There’s no one we’d rather follow.”
“McCord, all my life I’ve been a
failure.” He named the army, farming, real estate. “When the
war broke out, I was a clerk at my father’s store. Not exactly
like those dashing rebel generals.”
“You’re the only one who’s made
those rebel generals run, sir,” Jason reminded him.
Grant named some of those rebel
generals. “Each one a success…brilliant…Better than my own
Generals. What do they think of me?”
Jason stepped toward him. “They’d
run for you through hell-fire, General.” But Grant wondered how
long he could keep the Generals’ respect.
“How long before I fail again?
I’ve got a feeling, McCord.”
“You’re tired, sir!” Jason
“Tired, yes. Vicksburg…I’ve got a
feeling Vicksburg will be my biggest failure, and I’ll take the
lives of tens of thousands of men down with me. Do you know
what it’ll cost to take Vicksburg?”
“I know what it’ll cost if we
don’t,” Jason answered.
“Yes of course, you’re right. Take
Vicksburg and we take back the Mississippi and split the
Confederacy. Without it the war goes on for years.”
“And during those years a lot of
soldiers die. Soldiers on both sides.”
My words made Grant mad. “I can
hit Pemberton where he least expects it!” Grant declared this as
he slammed the bottle down on the table. He took a piece of
paper from his coat, telling me he had a plan. If the plan
failed, it would be a death warrant. “One common grave for the
armies of Tennessee and Ohio.”
Suddenly, the door opened and a man
rushed in pointing a gun at us. The man called us Yankees. The
man declared Jason a prisoner of war, then demanded Grant to
turn around…except he didn’t know it was Grant. Boy, were they
shocked when they discovered who it was. “Well now…Lieutenant
Lawrence, just look what you have bagged here!”
The Lieutenant stared at Grant.
“Sir, are you…?”
“That’s right,” Grant answered.
“I’m a prisoner of war.” One of the soldiers was really having
a good time with this, which didn’t make the Lieutenant very
happy. The Lieutenant apologized for the men’s behavior.
“I do believe that you’ve grabbed
hold of a heap more than even you can handle here,” Darcy
declared to the Lieutenant.
The soldiers with the Lieutenant
even offered to help him get the prisoners back to the camp. He
could be the shiniest hero in the south! The men with
Lieutenant Lawrence were deserters. Lawrence explained he was
taking them back to trial. “Some trial!” one of the soldiers
declared. “Me and my brother would’ve just been shot!”
“Any man that runs from battle
deserves to be shot,” the Lieutenant explained hastily.
The men thought they had hope for
their future now that the Lieutenant had captured General
Grant. He would be more interested in him then the deserted
soldiers, they figured. The men all knew how much of a asset
Grant was. Lawrence was so excited, he could hardly stand it!
He figured Grant was their ticket to peace.
Then he surprised
his two prisoners. “Gentlemen, will you give me your word that
you won’t try to escape?”
“No,” Jason answered.
“Nor would I, sir, if I were you,”
Lieutenant Lawrence said. The deserters laughed.
It appeared the soldier was in
quite a position. His prisoners made fun of him, wondering if
he’d trust them with guns, or if he’d risk losing the prize.
The Lieutenant knew he couldn’t chance Jason and General Grant
getting away. “Alright, get their guns.”
“General Grant, if I had you in my
sights on the battlefield, I’d pull the trigger without any
compunction. But you are a prisoner of war, sir. And I don’t
wish any harm to you. I’m going to do everything I can to get
you safely to Vicksburg. “
“I understand,” Grant answered.
“You’re a good soldier, Lieutenant.”
Suddenly, Darcy turned the gun he
was holding on Lawrence. He held the cocked gun right up to the
Lieutenant’s temple. Jason decided to act fast. He went to
punch Darcy, but Darcy held the gun up to him. “I’ll turn your
belly to red,” he warned.
“There’s no one to give orders,”
the other Darcy brother declared. “So I’ll promote myself and
I’ll give orders to everybody! Ain’t that right, Brother?”
“That’s right, Brother Joe!”
“Order number one…Brother Jim,
fetch me that bottle of corn that General’s drinking.”
“That’s a good order, Brother Joe!”
Jim declared. Joe threw the bottle to Jim, and the two started
“Next order…” Joe pointed the gun
at the General. “General Grant…”
“Darcy…” Jason stepped forward.
“I’ll give you my word. We won’t try to escape.”
“You’re too late, Yankee,” Joe
declared. Then he announced they were going to kill the
“Darcy, NO!” Lawrence shouted.
“Yeah! And then you’re going to
get it, Lieutenant. And then high-pockets. And me and my
brother’s going to be the high-mucking heroes! Nobody’s ever
gonna know we was legging it!” The Lieutenant begged Darcy not
to do this by promising not to bring up the matter of his
desertion. “Oh, indeed you will not, Lieutenant! Because
you’ll be dead!”
“Alright, kill me,” Lawrence said
then. “But take General Grant back to our lines.”
“He’s worth more to the Confederacy
alive,” Jason tried to point out calmly.
“Not to me, he ain’t. Dead men
don’t talk!” Darcy declared.
“You do this and
both your souls
will burn in hell!” Lawrence threatened then. But they weren’t
concerned about the here-after. They were concerned about the
here and now. Darcy cocked his gun and pointed it at the
Lieutenant Lawrence made a move,
getting himself shot in the process. It was a struggle as Jason
and Grant fought the men. Before his eyes closed, Lawrence was
able to shoot one of his prisoners. Grant and Jason walked over
and kneeled down beside the Lieutenant. “You alright sir?”
Jason asked Grant.
“Yes, I believe so,” Grant
answered. “Thanks to you…and him.”
Suddenly, they heard horses riding
up. Jason hurried to peer out the window. “Grey or blue?”
“Blue, Sir,” Jason answered as he
went to open the door. It was quite a group that busted into
the house just then. Grant introduced them as Generals Wallace,
McPherson, Sherman, and Sheridan. They wondered what happened.
“Never mind. I thought my orders
were that you four should never ride together.” They said they
were looking for him – they had disobeyed orders. “Uh huh…Well,
McCord here tells me that there’s a rumor we’re going to attack
here this morning.”
“According to your orders, Sir. We
are awaiting your word to hit Clinton.” Grant announced that he
and Jason had made up some new plans. “Isn’t that so, McCord?”
Jason gave a brief laugh. “Yes
“We storm Champions Hill instead.”
Grant started giving the Generals orders. While doing so, Jason
picked up the mapped plans of Grants from the floor and handed
it to him. “We never did have that drink together, did we?”
Grant asked Jason.
“Well, maybe someday in Heaven or
Hell or somewhere in between. What time is it, McCord?”
Then Grant was gone in the night.
Present time, back in Jason’s hotel
room, sitting on the bed reading his letter.
And so, McCord, on the Eve of
that battle, Destiny had chose to make us brothers. It’s been
ten years now. About time we had that drink.
Jason took the flask from the
clothed bag and took a drink.
In the White House, Grant took a
drink as well. Then he broke the glass into the fireplace.
They would forever be bonded…