Jason rides into a town one day
and is tying up his horse when he hears the cocking of rifles.
As he looks up, he is surprised to find army men surrounding
him. “Jason McCord,” one of the men declares. “Your court
martial has been reopened. The war department has new
“Oh, new evidence,” Jason
“Not good,” the Captain
declared. “The evidence is you didn’t just desert your men at
Bitter Creek, but you conspired with the Indians to plan a sneak
attack.” Jason thought that was ridiculous, but the Captain had
his orders to transport Jason to Washington.
The Captain came ordered the
Lieutenant to take his guns. A cowboy ran out of the saloon and
asked Hank what they were doing. Hank wasted no time to fill
him in. “Good. Maybe this time he’ll get the firing squad!”
But Jason wasn’t going to go down
without a fight. He took a punch at one man. One of the
soldiers started to lift his rifle, but he was ordered there
would be no shooting. He put up quite a fight, but the army men
finally overtook him and forced him into the prison wagon. The
Captain wasted no time in telling Jason the other man in there
was a traitor too. “You two should enjoy the ride.”
The prisoner with him
automatically started talking to Jason. “Most men go to prison
protesting their innocence.” Jason asked about him. He
admitted he was guilty. “What they call treason, I call
“Well, if you’re guilty of
treason against a country, and they are as wrong about you as
they were about me, you’ve earned my respect and admiration.”
“And you have mine,” the prisoner
stated. “For a man they call a coward, you put up quite a
fight.” Jason wondered why he was being deemed a traitor.
“They been trying to get me for something or other ever since
the war. They can’t forget what my Rebs did to them at Cemetery
Ridge…A few miles from here. I was a thorn in their side then,
and still am.”
“I’ve never come upon Kirby’s
Raiders, but I’ve heard of them,” Jason mentioned.
“Made things pretty hard for you
blue-bellies West of the Mississippi,” Kirby smiled.
“I don’t like being called a blue
belly anymore than I like being called a coward!” Jason gave
Kirby a look that left a no doubt he was serious.
“Consider the source,” Kirby
It wasn’t long before they
stopped the horses and wagon. The Captain told one of the
soldiers to help him give the prisoners a drink. Captain Brooks
unlocked the cage, unlocked their chains, and told them to get
out for a few minutes while they watered the horses. The minute
Jason stepped out of the wagon, he started another fight.
Jason shot two of the soldiers, then told his prisoner to run
for the horses.
After they were out of sight,
Major rode up and asked one of the soldiers who was shot how it
went. “Exactly as planned, Major Meade,” he answered. “It sure
looked real enough.” The major was happy to hear that. The
Captain then demanded to know exactly what was going on. They
had arrested Jason and let him escape.
A messenger delivered a
message…to none other than President Ulysses S. Grant. He
announced that Jason had met up with Kirby, and they made their
escape. Grant was happy to hear that. He decided nobody was
going to wreck the banks and get away with it. Secretary
Richardson and President Grant were all upset over Fiske and
Goole who were out to wreck the gold market. The people on the
street were getting upset.
“If Major Meade’s plan works,
you’ll have $300,000 in gold to slow down this bank, Mister
Secretary.” The Secretary hoped Jason was successful.
“Well…Nobody knows McCord’s role in this except you, Major
Meade, and myself. See that it stays that way.” Secretary
Richardson agreed to do that. “Right now, Richardson…The man
who’s been branded a coward and a traitor is the most important
man in my administration.”
Jason stopped racing his horse
once he was sure they’d gotten away. Kirby thanked Jason for
helping him. “I was just saving my neck,” Jason explained.
“From what…I don’t know.” Kirby said they’d
be safe once they
got back to Bridger. “Bridger? That’s where they arrested us!”
“Well, they won’t do it again.
We’ll be headed out there…well cared for.” Jason stared at
Kirby as if he were crazy. “Tell me McCord, did you ever hear
of…the Knights of Liberty?” Jason thought it was some die hard
confederates still fighting the war. “We fight the authority of
that grafting corrupt carpet-bagging government of yours!” Kirby
“Not my government. Not any
more, Mister!” Jason declared.
“There’s over one hundred of us.
Men who are dedicated to establishing a new Confederate empire
in the Caribbean.”
Jason laughed. “That sounds like
a pipe dream! It takes a lot of money to start an empire.”
“It’s no dream!” Kirby declared.
“And we have a lot of money.” Then he explained. “Just before
Lee surrendered, our rangers captured the largest shipment of
gold ever to sent from California to the Union. Over three
hundred thousand dollars, and I’ve got every penny of it!”
Jason acted shocked. “Well
Colonel, I believe you CAN start an
empire.” Kirby assured
Jason they would. Then he told Jason they could use a man of
his experience and background.
Jason showed him the chain that
still joined them together.
“We’re joined, Colonel.”
That night, they attended the
secret meeting. All the “knights” were dressed in white capes
and hoods. Only the leader looked different. He wore a red
cape over his white one. Jason watched through a slit in the
door. Two men were talking. The other man was dressed in a
purple cape over his white hood. They were disappointed the
Colonel had made it back. Now they’d never get their hands on
that gold, Jason heard. “No, this is better,” the man in the
red cape declared. “We’ve hunted for it before and couldn’t
find it. Now we’ll trick him into telling us where he hid it,
then we’ll get rid of him.”
The meeting came to order. They
said the sacred pledge:
We pledge to thee the secret banner of the realm.
And forsaking all other loyalties
Dedicate our lives and our treasures to the ultimate victory
Or our noble order
Kirby and Jason came out from the
back room then. Everyone started greeting him, but the main in
charge demanded order. “It’s good to have you back, Colonel.
But bringing an outsider to a meeting violates the first command
“I wrote those orders,” Kirby
declared as he came forward. “I know when I can violate one.”
He turned to look at the rest of the members. “I propose this
man for membership. Jason McCord, formerly of the army, and
now he’s mostly accused and hunted by those same treacherous
forces. I would have never gotten back here if it hadn’t been
for his dire courage. When our forces are ready to attack,
we’ll need a man of his background and experience.”
“I have heard of his background,”
the leader declared. “He’s known as the coward of Bitter
“That story’s a lie! He was
accused a coward!” Kirby declared. “The army was going to
execute him on some trumped up charges. I say that Jason McCord
has more reason to be behind our cause than any man in this room
tonight!” Kirby asked for the vote. Two of the higher ups
“Well…” The leader snarled. “I
suppose the army’s loss is our gain.”
Kirby asked for the mace. The
leader didn’t give it to him. The second time, Kirby was a bit
more forceful and the leader gave it to him. Kirby turned to
Jason, telling him to kneel. He inducted him into the group.
Then Jason was given permission
to talk. “Well, Colonel Kirby tells me you need guns and
ammunition. I’ve got an army contact. It may take some of your
gold, but I can get you all the weapons you need.” The leader
asked Jason how he found out about the gold.
“I told him,” Kirby declared. “I
captured it, I control it! My men and my son died at Cemetery
Ridge for it. That’s more than enough!”
The leader stepped forward. “But
so far, all we’ve heard is why we need McCord. I’d like to know
why he joins us. A coward doesn’t enlist to fight.”
Jason punched him so hard he fell
to the ground. Jason hovered over him, a stern look on his
face. “I don’t know who you are, but don’t ever call me that
“But I do know about you,
McCord. And I’ll keep an eye on you…every minute!”
At the White House,
Richardson brought in another telegram from Major Meade.
“They’ve had no word from Jason McCord.” Grant said they’d have
to introduce gold into the Market until Fiske and Goole choke on
Grant was worried. He told
Richardson to wire Major Meade and tell him to get in touch with
Jason somehow and “get the gold tonight or watch this country go
into a panic first thing in the morning.” Grant ordered him to
find McCord. “FIND McCORD!!!”
One night, Jason snuck quietly
into the stable. He didn’t see anyone as he made his way to
saddle his horse. But his hands froze when he heard the cocking
of a gun. He turned to see Sheriff Gorman with a gun trained on
him. “You made a mistake coming back here, McCord,” Gorman
declared as he took Jason’s gun from his pants. “These men are
beating a bush for you.” Jason told him he was wrong. “Don’t
tell me, I saw them hauling you out of here. They want you
Jason stayed calm as he
explained. “Look, my arrest was part of a plan. I’m working
for Major Meade.”
“You expect me to swallow that?”
“Well, I was heading for his
camp,” Jason answered. “Take me out there. I’ll let you
explain it himself.” Gorman thought that would give Jason a
chance to plan his escape on the way. “Listen to me, Sheriff.
A secret organization has three hundred thousand dollars worth
of gold the government needs. They’re planning on moving it
tonight. I’ve got to get to Major Meade!” Jason’s voice was
pleading now. “Get me to the Major!”
“I’ll do better than that,
McCord,” Gorman declared with a sly grin.
Jason found himself facing
Colonel Kirby. “Alright Colonel. Now do you see why I don’t
trust McCord?” Gorman asked as he held a gun on Jason.
Kirby apologized “Sir Falcon?”
Jason asked after Kirby called the
Sherriff by that name. “He’s
the one I heard plotting against you before the meeting.”
“I know what I’m doing! And I
know what you are. You’re nothing but a blue belly, McCord!”
Kirby declared angrily.
“Alright, Kirby, Maybe I am
working for the Government,” Jason admitted. “But he still
wants that gold!!!”
“He’s only trying to split us
up,” Gorman explained carefully. “We need to start moving that
gold right now.” He figured there may be men waiting around to
hear from Jason.
“Don’t listen to him, Kirby! He
wants the gold. If he gets it, he’s going to forge all about
you and your empire!” Jason argued.
“Your word means nothing now!”
“Be sensible! Your outfit’s
broken up, it’s shot to pieces!” Jason softened his voice.
“Get that gold away from here, Kirby. Turn it over to the
government. It might buy you your freedom.” Gorman asked Kirby
to tell him where it was so he could get it right now. Kirby
hesitated. He was thinking about what Jason was telling him.
“It’s in the barrels, where
McCord thought it was all the time,” Kirby admitted.
“Thanks, Colonel,” Gorman
smiled. “Now I’ll take charge of it. Shoot me…two escaped
prisoners.” Without hesitation, he shot Kirby. Kirby fell
over. Jason took that moment to punch Gorman. They struggled.
Gorman fought dirty, trying to choke Jason to death, but Jason
was strong. They fought over the barrels. Kirby came to and
took his gun. He shot Gorman, killing him.
Jason lifted a bag from one of
the barrels and found that it was only dirt. Kirby fell to the
ground. He was about to die. Jason walked over to him and bent
down. Gently, he announced his finding to Kirby. “There is no
gold down here,” he announced softly. “Is there, Kirby?”
“No,” Kirby whispered. “Only
sands. They fought traitors!”
“Where is it? That gold?” Jason
asked. “You can’t build your empire now. But it can do a lot
to help the country you stole it from.”
“No empire…” Kirby mumbled
“Kirby, you were fighting a war,
but it’s over.” Jason reminded him that Robert E. Lee himself
had asked us to make this “One strong, unified country.” Kirby
was listening. “You can help me more than ever now by telling
me where that gold is.”
“Everything I loved…fought for…is
buried on Cemetery Ridge.” Then he died.
And that’s where the army found
the gold. They gathered it up from the cemetery on Cemetery
Kirby sent the men away and rode over to where Jason sat
waiting. “You will bury the Colonel next to his son, won’t you,
Major?” Jason asked.
“We will, McCord,” Major Meade
promised. “I want to thank you again…for myself, for the army,
and for the United States treasury. “
Jason smiled. “Well, I guess the
gold is important, but smashing an outfit like the Knights of
Liberty may do a lot more good in the long run. You know, men
like that don’t really threaten us. They certainly do dirty
“Well, sometimes we do a little
dirtying ourselves,” Major Meade admitted. “As in your case.
I’ll be reporting to President Grant. Any message?”
“Yes,” Jason answered with a
grin. “Tell him it took seven years, but we finally won the
Battle of Cemetery Ridge.” The two men saluted each other then
rode off in different directions.