Salute the Soldier Briefly — episode #23
Jas was out of a job and was hoping to find one
soon. While traveling he came across a sign which
read Colossus Mining Company. He thought he'd check
to see if they were doing
When he got there he could hear voices coming from
an old shack. He tied his horse to an old broken
down wagon wheel and walked over and knocked on the
door of the shack. As Jas stepped off the front
porch and headed to take a look in the window of the
shack, a man by the name of Sample came out holding
a shotgun on Jas. You could hear someone yelling
from the background who was out there. Sample told
him that it wasn't anything he couldn't handle.
Jas told the man that there was nothing for him to
handle and that he was looking for a job with a
mining outfit and asked him if he did the hiring. He
was a very unfriendly cuss and with that he raised
his shotgun and said....."Just the firing, which I
am on doing if you don't get on that animal and ride
on out of here," as he held the shotgun on Jas. Both
men just stood there looking at each other. Jas then
slowly turned and headed for his horse. The man then
turned quickly and went inside. Seems like whatever
was going on in there was mighty important to him.
Inside the miner's shack there was a miner's court
going on. It seems that Charles Briswell has been
accused of stealing a musical pocket watch and
killing its owner. They accused him of breaking the
old man's neck just to get his music. Briswell
called this trial a mockery of justice. "You haven't
listened to one word of my defense. I have a right
to a fair trial!" "I demand a fair trial!"
Yelled Briswell. "This is nothing but a kangaroo
court!" You have no authority to try me!" "In the
first place your evidence is purely circumstantial!"
Jas could hear everything that was being said. As he
slowly started to walk towards the shack, words from
his trial started through his head.
"Gentleman.....the evidence against me is
circumstantial; I am not guilty as charged."
He then could hear Briswell saying....."Yes I have
the watch. The old man's dead and I'm alive! But
that doesn't make me guilty!" Exclaimed Briswell
Again words started to go through Jas's mind about
his trial. "Yes all the others died. I was the only
one to come out alive. But the fact that I am alive
does not make me guilty."
Jas then entered the shack and Sample held his
shotgun on him. "I thought I told you to ride out of
here," stated Sample. "I still need that job," said
Jas. Sample then turned to Wheeler. "What kind of a
job?" Asked Wheeler. "I'm a mining engineer, thought
maybe you could use one," said Jas. "Sure is a big
one Wheeler.....I bet he could make a picky poke
fly," said Slate. Wheeler looked Jas over and asked
him if they had worked some other place before.
"No.....not that I can remember," said Jas. "Well
we're long on brains and short of
hands around here," said Wheeler. "We lost a man
yesterday. Fancy Dan here busted his neck." Wheeler
was referring to Briswell as he walked towards him."
"Now we're gonna bust his neck, after we hold
miner's court," laughed Wheeler.
"I didn't kill him.....I was just passing by." "The
old man suggested a card game.....I cleaned him out
and rode away," said Briswell. "Ah he's flat out
guilty," claimed Wheeler. Wheeler then turned to Jas
and asked him if he wanted to hire his muscles or
not? Jas told him that it didn't look like much of a
future with their outfit. "In that case you better
get out!" Stated Wheeler. Wheeler then turned to
Briswell and said....."We have a legal matter to
attend to!" Jas unexpectedly grabbed a hold of
Sample's shotgun and drew his pistol. "This will
keep it legal," said Jas. Jas then told Sample to
let go of the shotgun.
"Now.....let's hear from Mr. .....Said Jas. "Charles
Briswell," said Briswell. "What does Mr. Briswell
have to say," said Jas. "Well.....they said that I
broke old Jenkins neck," said Briswell.
"Well.....that's the way we found him." "His
money.....gold watch was missing," said Wheeler.
"Let him finish his story," said Jas. "I won those
things from the old boy playing poker; he thought he
had a pat hand. I raised him.....I won it all with a
straight flush and then he left." "No point in
hanging around after he was wiped out." Somebody
else must have come along later and killed him, it
wasn't me." stated Briswell. "Well if he was wiped
out.....why did somebody kill him?" Asked Slate.
"How should I know.....maybe it was you.....you were
always fighting, you wanted money," said Briswell.
Wheeler looked at Briswell and then looked at Jas.
"Now I got you placed!" said Wheeler. "Your Jason
McCord.....the coward of Bitter Creek!" You should
have seem the look on Sample and Slate's faces when
Wheeler knew who Jas was. "Well you're a fine one to
be preaching fair play to us," said Slate. Briswell
interrupted....."He knows what it like to be accused
of something he didn't do and no one to prove
otherwise." "He's more fortunate then I am.....he
has a witness!" Jas was surprised by this statement.
"Witness? What are you talking about?" Asked Jas.
"Me! I saw the whole battle from a butte I was
prospecting," said Briswell. Wheeler wanted to know
why Briswell didn't know Jas from the beginning. "I
did.....he wasn't advertising his name, so I
didn't!" Briswell looked at Jas and said....."You
were handed a rotten deal. The army would have given
you a metal if they had seen what I saw," said
Briswell. "Well you ain't gonna see nothing
else because we're gonna hang you!"
Yelled Wheeler. Wheeler then looked over at Jas and
said....."And you might have some company!" All the
while laughing. Jas then cocked his gun and stuck it
in Wheeler's face and said....."Your not gonna hang
anybody." He then demanded that Briswell loose be
cut loose. Wheeler told Slate to go ahead and cut
Briswell loose. "Nice deal!" "You scratch my
cowardly back & I'll scratch your cowardly hide,"
said Slate as he cut the ropes around Briswell's
hands. Jas then threw the shotgun to Briswell and
told him to get their guns. Jas then smashed open a
barrel of whiskey and threw all their guns into it
and told Briswell to get on the horse outside. Jas
then lit a match and dropped it into the barrel.
Wheeler said that it would go off in a minute, but
reassured them sooner if it was descent whiskey that
was in the barrel. Jas then ran out and he and
Briswell rode off together. The four men rushed to
get out of the shack just as the bullets started to
go off. "If that McCord's a coward.....I never wanna
run into anyone with guts!" Yelled Wheeler.
Jas & Briswell rode for quite a ways before
stopping. They stopped to look back, but no sign of
them. Briswell said he was on his way to Yucca City.
Jas felt different; there was no Army Garrison at
Yucca City. "What do you want with an Army
Garrison?" Asked Briswell. As long as there's a
saloon, a poker game and some women that was all
Briswell was interested in. "You can get to that
later. Right now I'd like to know what you saw at
Bitter Creek." "You said you were prospecting there,
you don't look or act like a prospector," said Jas.
Briswell told Jas that he was a geologist, Magna
CumLaude, Oxford. "I spent years following the
Elusive Yellow from India, South America, finally
here." Jas told Briswell that he would like him to
tell his story to an Army officer that was if they
could find one. Briswell said he would tell it to
Jas and Jas could tell it to the Army. "They
listened to my story once.....I don't think they
would appreciate a new version coming from me," said
Jas. "I see your point," said Briswell.
"Good.....then we'll head for Fort Hobson, alright?"
Said Jas. "If that's what you want," said Briswell.
They started on their way towards Fort Hobson.
They traveled for quite a ways when they saw
something in the distance that looked suspicious.
Jas said he would go ahead on foot and see what was
going on. There was an Army camp that was ransacked
by an Indian. There was a soldier hanging from a
tree and an Indian by the campfire. With his saber
in hand Jas slowly snuck into the camp, and
surprised the Indian. As Jas and the Indian started
in hand to hand combat a shot rang out. Briswell had
shot the Indian.
There happened to be a Cavalry troop nearby and when
they heard the shot they rushed to see if there was
a problem with their soldier that were on look out.
Just as the Cavalry arrived Jas & Briswell was
cutting down the soldier from the tree. "We cut him
down as soon as we could Lieutenant, he stepped on a
few renegades by mistake," said Jas.
Lt. Shanley recognized Jas right away. They shook
hands. Both men were glad to see each other. "They
worked my corporal over pretty good, Apache style,"
said the Lieutenant. "Obviously you two know each
other," said Briswell. "I served with the Captain at
Shiloh, Fredericksburg and in the Comanche wars,"
said the Lieutenant. "Unfortunately, not at Bitter
Creek," said Briswell. The men all glanced at each
other with Jas saying to the Lieutenant....."If I
remember, you lost two good friends at Bitter
Creek." "As I recall.....you lost thirty," said the
Lieutenant with a smile. "That's not much of an
accommodation Lieutenant, but it's the best I've had
in a long while, thanks!" Smiled Jas. "Are you
taking the corporal to Fort Hobson?" Ask Jas. The
Lieutenant told him no and that they were bivouacked
not far from there and there was a medical corpsman
them. The Lieutenant asked Jas why. Jas told him the
story of Briswell seeing what had happened at Bitter
Creek. He asked the Lieutenant if he could record
Briswell testimony and send it on to headquarters,
in hopes of his case being reopened. The Lieutenant
said he would be glad to in hopes that Jas would be
"I saw McCord shoot down five Apaches and when he
ran out of bullets I saw him use his saber. Two more
Apaches were sliced lengthwise like bloody melon,"
said Briswell. "Those details aren't necessary,"
said Jas to Briswell. "You never know what small
detail will help," Said Briswell. "He hacked down
three more Apaches," the Lieutenant
interrupted....."You said two." "I did? They were
falling all around like leaves." "Suddenly one of
them cam up from behind McCord and laid him out with
the butt end of a carbine, directly beside the body
of General Reed." "I figured McCord was dead and so
did the Apache. The Army dead were lying all around
and no one was moving." The Lieutenant asked if
McCord ran out. "Who could run out on the dead?"
Asked Briswell. He thought it was a complete
massacre and it made him feel squeamish and that he
had left immediately. The Lieutenant completed his
report and had the Sergeant sign it, then Briswell.
The Lieutenant asked Briswell why he didn't come
forward and tell this story at the time Captain
McCord was on trial. Briswell told the Lieutenant
that he was in India for a time and had heard about
the trial when he returned. The Lieutenant told the
men that this report would be relayed to the proper
level at once and that headquarters may want more
information from him later. Briswell wanted to head
out and do more prospecting. The Lieutenant asked
him if he could wait a week to ten days. Jas told
Briswell that he could put up with him at the hotel
in Yucca City. Briswell said he had to work for a
living. The Lieutenant assured him the Army would
compensate him. Briswell said that was fair enough.
The Lieutenant then walked over to Jas and
said....."I know it's not official yet.....but
Jas & Briswell headed towards Yucca City. It was
quite a ride and the horses were getting tired. Jas
stopped and told Briswell that they should camp
there for the night and let the horses rest.
Briswell wanted no part of camping there for the
night. He wanted to get to Yucca City and the
saloon. Jas was suspicious of Briswell, he seemed
anxious to split from Jas. Briswell said not and
that he'd meet him in town. Jas wasn't so sure.
Briswell told Jas that they were even, they both
bailed each other out of a sticky situation. Jas
confronted him about his story; it was pretty
skimpy, he was sure the Army would want more,
including him. Jas was so anxious to get his story
on record that he didn't stop to examine it closely
enough. "That tree that you said you were hiding
behind up on the hill.....was
it a Juniper?" Asked Jas. "And that first Indian you
shot.....did he have two feathers in his hair or
three?" Asked Briswell. Jas studied him for a bit
and then said....."I see what you mean." "I was
watching a massacre, I wasn't classifying trees."
"We'll still camp here and ride into town tomorrow,"
said Jas. Briswell agreed.
They dismounted and tied their horse to a tree. Jas
then walked over to Briswell and said....."I'm still
curious about one thing Briswell." "You say you saw
me fall beside General Reed.....how do you know it
was Reed?" "Did you see his uniform by the light of
the camp fire from way up on that hill?" Briswell
told Jas that he was trying to trick him. Jas told
him that's exactly what the Army brass would do.
Briswell said he can try & trick him all he wants,
but everybody know Apaches don't fight at night.
"That's what everybody thinks Briswell.....you
haven't been in this country long enough for you to
know.....Apaches fight when they are in the
mood.....day.....or night." "Are you calling me a
liar McCord?" "Thirty dead troopers at Bitter Creek
are calling you a liar." "That massacre happened at
night." "Is that a fact?" Asked Briswell.
"Alright.....so I lied." "I saved your hide because
you sounded innocent, not because I wanted you to
lie for me," said Jas. "The Lieutenant believed my
story.....why do you hold the Army in such high
regards.....one lie wipes out another." Jas told
him....."There is something more important then
convincing the Army.....I wanted to know the truth,
for myself!" "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth
McCord." "Do you want to go back to being branded
now that the slate is clean?" "You want to dirty
your name again?" This just angered Jas. He grabbed
a hold of Briswell and said....."My name may be
dirty to others.....but now you've made it dirty to
me!" Jas then shoved him to the ground. Jas looked
at him and said....."Saddle up.....we're going back
to the Army camp." Briswell walked over to his
horse. He caught Jas unaware when he pulled a
derringer out of his saddlebags. "I could have
killed you before.....I had a dozen chances," said
Briswell. "Those miner's were right about you
weren't they? You did kill that old man." "Yes I
killed him.....I meant to choke him but he was just
too brittle," said Briswell. "One more thing I would
like to know....." With that Jas took his jacket and
flung it at Briswell making Briswell drop his gun.
Jas then charged at Briswell. Jas hit him hard.
Briswell rushed over to Jas's saddle bag and took
out Jas's saber and threw it at him. Just missing
him. Again they started fighting. Jas getting the
best of him. Jas hit him again. Jas grabbed him and
said....."You'll get another trial Briswell.....but
not by a kangaroo court!"
Jas took Briswell and headed back to the Army camp.
Lt. Shanley asked Jas what he was doing there. Jas
said he would like to see his journal again. The
Lieutenant agreed and asked the Sergeant to get him
the journal. Jas then took the journal and ripped
out the page with Briswell's statement & signature
and crumbled it up. "I found out a little too late
that Briswell was lying. He wasn't anywhere near
Bitter Creek." Jas then asked the Lieutenant to
forget what had happened earlier. Jas then mounted
his horse. The Lieutenant walked over to Jas and
looked up and him & said....."You didn't have to
tell me ya' know." "Yes I know," said Jas. The
Lieutenant then saluted Jas. As he started to walk
away Jas called to him....." Lieutenant according to
regulations a soldier salutes the uniform.....not
the man." I just broke a regulation.....report
me.....Captain!" said the Lieutenant.
around The McCain Ranch