A Civil War
by Kathi Holmes
Purpose: This is the September Birthday fic for those who want Chris hurt, I'll do my best to do that.
Disclaimer: Not mine, if they were they'd still be on the air and there would be a lot more hurt and comfort going on. They belong to the Mirisch, Trilogy, MGM and CBS and never has such a valuable property been treated so shabbily. A big thank you to MOG for creating the ATF universe and allowing the rest of us to play in it. If you want to sue, feel free you can have the cranky 11-year-old unhousebroken cat.
Author's Notes: This came to me while I was at the 141st anniversary reenactment of the battle of Gettysburg. Most activities described here actually take place at reenactments. In a couple of cases I've had to stretch the truth just a bit. No horses were harmed in the writing of this fic. My thanks to Sherri for Beta reading this. Any mistakes are mine and not hers, as I can't resist tweaking things.
Team seven was gathered around the table in the conference room awaiting the arrival of Judge Travis. Chris was sitting at the head of the table with a pile of files and a cup of coffee in front of him. Vin was seated to Chris' right with an array of junk food before him, next to him was Ezra with a cappuccino and croissant. Last on that side of the table was Josiah who was reading a copy of "Psychology Today." On the opposite side of the table were Buck sitting next to Chris with JD on his other side. The two of them were bent over JD's Game Boy. Nathan was on the other side of JD and reading a medical journal.
They all looked up as Judge Travis entered and took the empty seat at the end of the table. "Gentlemen, I have a new case for you that may prove to be not only important but something that you can have some fun with. We have been informed that a group of gunrunners have been using Civil War reenactments to move guns."
Ezra raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me, Judge Travis, but wouldn't modern weaponry stick out at one of these events?"
The Judge nodded. "This group seems to be able to keep them hidden fairly well. Who would think twice of hearing fire arms at one of these events. As I understand it, firing guns and cannons is one of the major draws at reenactments. I also understand that much of the equipment and supplies that are used are hauled in, in wooden boxes and crates, so unmarked crates of guns would go unnoticed. "
Chris looked at his team. "Even if they were marked guns no one would think much about it unless the crates were opened and modern weapons discovered."
JD bounced in his chair, excited at the idea of going to a reenactment. "So when are we going?"
Josiah laughed. "Slow down JD and let the Judge talk."
Judge Travis resumed talking. "So that you'll have access to the whole reenactment, you'll all have to go under on this one. Some of you will be for the South, some for the north and a couple of you will go as civilians or sutlers. Before you ask, sutlers are people who sold items to the army in the 1860's, and today sell items at the reenactments. They would be in a position to hear much of what is going on not only from the public, but also from the reenactors themselves. Having one of you with them would give us the greatest opportunity to find out any gossip about these gunrunners that's making the rounds."
Nathan glanced from Chris to the Judge. "So just who is going to be doing what?"
Chris looked at his men. "I talked with the judge about this and we think we've got things worked out. Nathan thought you could go as civilian working with the army hospital. All the reenactments seem to do some demonstrations on civil war medicine, and you would fit in good there." Chris handed Nathan a folder. "Some reading on what you need to know about civil war medicine and suggestions on further places to look for information."
Chris turned to look at Vin and Ezra. "The two of you are going to be on the Southern side." Chris glared at Ezra. "You both can handle the accent and will fit in. Vin you're going to be a sharpshooter. Ez, I thought you'd do well in the artillery and figured you'd enjoy learning to shoot a cannon." Chris handed them folders.
Buck looked at Chris. "And just what do you have in store for me, something with the ladies I hope?"
Chris laughed. "No, such luck, stud. You're going to be in the Union infantry along with JD. The two of you will be able to meet a number of the other reenactors from both sides that way." He tossed them each a folder of information.
Chris turned to Josiah. "I want you with the Sutlers. One of the Sutlers is a Chaplin you'll be working with him." Chris tossed him a folder.
Vin glanced at Chris. "And while we're all doing this what will you be doing, cowboy?"
Judge Travis grinned. "Chris will be an officer in the Union cavalry; I picked his cover myself thought it fit him perfectly." The others laughed at that.
Buck looked at his old friend and grinned. "Figures you'd end up being not only the only officer in the bunch but in the cavalry to boot."
Chris grinned at his team. "Think we all have reading to do for the rest of the day. Our first reenactment is in a week. We have a fitting for uniforms this afternoon at three. Ezra, I'll warn you now these uniforms are probably not up to your standards, but they are what all the others will be wearing, and I think it's important that we all fit in."
Ezra gave Chris a two-fingered salute. "I'm sure I'll be able to manage Mr. Larabee, Judge Travis, after all I am an experienced undercover agent."
The judge rose to his feet. "I need to get back to my office, if there's anything I can do to help don't hesitate to ask."
The others got up and filed out of the conference room headed for their desks with their files to start researching the characters that they would be portraying.
At two thirty Chris emerged from his office. "You guys ready to go see what our uniforms and outfits are going to look like." The others rose and they all trooped out of the office and climbed into Josiah's suburban. Chris gave Josiah the address they were to go to and they took off.
They all took the clothing they were handed and went to change. A few minutes later they emerged from the dressing room in an assortment of uniforms, none of which appeared to be new. Ezra was the first to speak. "Surely we cannot be expected to wear these. They are in abominable condition, and they do not fit correctly."
Mr. Greer, the tailor moved forward. "Mr. Standish, isn't it?" At Ezra's nod, he continued. "The reenactments you are taking part in took place after the war had been going on for awhile no ones uniform looked like it did the day they got it, particularly those of the southern persuasion. The war had brought about shortages and fabric was in short supply. By the second year of the war many southerners were wearing uniforms they got from the Yankee dead and were glad to have them."
Ezra nodded. "Thank you sir. I now see why these uniforms are in this state; we certainly look like we've been at war for a time now."
Chris stepped forward, "These should do well, the Judge said you had the other equipment we would be needing."
Mr. Greer opened a large chest and started handing out haversacks, canteens, cartridge boxes, as well as pocket watches. He then handed each of the men a small rolled bundle of cloth. "This is a housewife every civil war solider had one it held a needle and thread and other necessary items for keeping their clothes in repair."
Vin was eyeing various guns that were mounted on the wall. "When do we get our guns, those are going to take some time to get familiar with?"
Mr. Greer laughed. "That they will, son. Judge Travis has arranged for your weapons to be brought to the ATF range first thing in the morning so that you familiarize yourselves with them and get some practice in. Mr. Standish as I understand it, a small cannon will also be there for you to practice with though the one you will be using won't be available till you get back east."
Chris stepped forward. "Thank you for your help. May we contact you if we have any questions before our first reenactment?"
Mr. Greer nodded. "Of course, I've been doing this for years, so can answer any questions you have or steer you to someone who can. I also have your tents ready for you over there by the door."
Josiah clapped his hand on Ezra's shoulder when he shuddered. "Courage, Ezra, sleeping in a tent will be good for you, help to build character."
Ezra flashed a gold toothed grin. "Mr. Sanchez, I believe that you and Mr. Jackson have both said on more than one occasion that I suffer from an overabundance of character."
They all laughed as they walked out of the shop and loaded up the suburban.
+ + + + + + +
A week later they were all at the Denver airport making arrangements to have all their gear placed on the plane. Special arrangements had been made in advance for the shipment of the reproduction firearms plus their regular armament.
While the others dealt with the paperwork required, Ezra sat in a chair near the door apparently asleep. Ezra wasn't asleep but thinking of the cannon he had been practicing with the last few days. He had discovered that he not only did enjoy working with the cannon but was also able to fire it accurately and with a fair degree of speed.
Buck came over waving a cup of coffee under Ezra's nose. "Time to wake up, pard, we need to head to the gate, thought this might help you get moving this early in the morning." He handed the Starbucks cup to Ezra.
Ezra grinned. "Mr. Wilmington, this does help to make up for being awaked at this ungodly hour of the morning. Though I have to admit this is one case I'm looking forward to going undercover on."
Chris moved closer. "Ez, I have to agree with you that this is one case that in addition to getting gunrunners behind bars should be some fun for all of us."
With that they all headed for the departure gate laughing.
The seven ATF agents stood near the rental car pick up point. Chris looked around at his team. "We'll all be seeing each other at the reenactment site. If you need to get in touch with someone and can't find them, leave a message with Josiah on Sutlers Row. We all make it a point to check in with him at least once a day. If you need to you also have your cell phones, but don't use them unless you have no other option. Don't know who might be listening in."
Chris watched his men on their way to the various vehicles they had been assigned. JD and Buck were driving off in a Jeep, while Ezra and Vin were getting into a Chevy truck. For once, Ezra wasn't complaining, realizing the truck was going to be necessary to haul his cannon that they were to be picking up in an hour. Josiah and Nathan were together in a Suburban that Josiah was going to need as a sutler to haul the items he would be selling. Chris watched them all drive off then climbed into his rental truck and headed out.
Chris pulled into the stables where he was to pick up the horse and trailer that he would be using for the duration of the case. He got out of the truck and stretched, then made his way to the stable office. As he entered the office he was greeted by an older gentleman, "Mr. Larabee, I think we have everything you'll need ready for you."
Chris shook his hand. "That would be good, Mr. Kirby, I'd like to have time to go for a ride tonight and get to know the horse before I have to ride him in the reenactment."
Mr. Kirby lead the way out of the office and toward the stable. "Cannon is new to reenactments but we've been working with him to train him to be used to the guns going off around him. He's a seven year old gelding and should do very well as long as you treat him right."
Chris grinned. "He sounds like he'll work out fine. You don't have to worry, I have experience with horses. Have one of my own back home, but I know Pony would not like the noise of the guns, particularly the cannons going off."
Mr. Kirby entered the stable and lead the way to a large box stall where Chris saw a large chestnut horse. The horse turned and came over to the stall railing sticking his nose through the rails. Chris reached out and patted him on the nose. "He's a beauty, think he and I are going to become good friends in the next few weeks."
Mr. Kirby grinned and turned to leave. "While you two get to know each other I'll arrange to have the trailer hooked to your truck. The equipment you'll need is on the chest over there, including a McClellan saddle." With that Mr. Kirby left the stable.
Chris picked up the bridle and entered the stall quickly but carefully saddling Cannon. He led the horse out of the stable and quickly mounted riding the horse around the corral until he was familiar with the animal's gait and how he responded to commands. Then he went over to the corral gate as one of the hands opened it, and rode out. "I'll be back in about an hour. Don't plan to go far, just want to get familiar with Cannon." The hand nodded as Chris rode off.
Chris pulled the truck and horse trailer up at the registration area. Getting out, he moved to the registration tent, filling in his paper work and paying the small registration fee. He was handed a map of the reenactment area and directed how to get to the federal camp. He climbed back into his truck and drove slowly to the federal camp taking note of his surroundings as he went. There were grandstands set up facing a large cleared area where the reenactments would be taking place. Behind the grandstands were several rows of large tents where he could see the sutlers setting up shop. At both ends of the sutlers area were large open sided tents with hay bales for seating, where living history talks would be held during the reenactment. Beyond the tent on one end were a number of tents where, according to the map he had the living history demonstrations would be held. He made his way to the right side of the area and followed a road to the federal camp, knowing there was another road on the left that led to the confederate camp.
As he drove by the parking area he saw Buck and JD's jeep, he continued on to the area where the cavalry were setting up. He unloaded Cannon and made him comfortable in the picket line with the other horses. Since it was a clear night he decided to leave the horse out rather than in the trailer. He moved the truck and trailer to the parking area and made his way toward the camp, following the directions he'd been given for finding where the cavalry would be camping. It was just a short distance from where the horses were picketed. He set up his tent and stowed his gear within a short space of time. He looked around and saw others arriving and starting to set up also.
As he finished setting up he saw a man already in the uniform of a general approaching him. "General, my name is Chris Larabee. I appreciate the opportunity to ride with you." Chris offered a salute, then stuck out his hand to shake the General's hand.
The General returned the salute and shook Chris' hand. "Nice to meet you, Larabee, glad you were able to join us. My name is James Murphy, but everyone calls me Murph. This should be a good weekend, not one of the bigger reenactments the next big one is fourth of July weekend in Gettysburg. But still expecting a large turnout."
Chris grinned. "Planning to be at Gettysburg myself, that will be my first real big reenactment. Is there anything I can do to help with setting up the camp?"
Murphy shook his head. "No, everyone pretty much knows what to do. I suggest you change then spend this evening getting familiar with lay of the camp and meeting the others. The sutlers are staring to open. No public tonight, but the gates will open tomorrow morning at nine, so tonight's just for reenactors."
Chris emerged from his tent a short time later dressed in his uniform, and started to explore the camp. He made his way up and down the rows of tents stopping to chat on occasion with others that he encountered. He smiled at the sound of Buck's voice behind him. "So how do you like this so far?"
Chris turned to see Buck and JD. "So far this seems to be going well. Have you seen any sign of what we're looking for yet?"
JD shook his head. "Not yet, but there are a lot of crates around here and no telling what's in any of them. Haven't gotten to see any of the others yet either."
Buck clapped Chris on the shoulder. "Come with us. We can check on the others under the guise of exploring the camps. The confederate camp is open so we can check on the others."
Chris nodded and moved on. "Let's start with the sutlers area first, want to see what Josiah and Nathan are up to. We'll get to see Vin and Ezra soon enough."
JD grinned, "You just want to stay away from Ezra and that cannon of his. If it's anything like the ones on this side, he's going to be hard to live with. You know he's not going to let us live down the fact that he has the biggest gun." JD took off at a run as Buck started to chase him.
Soon the three of them arrived at Sutler's row and made their way slowly toward the tent where Josiah was helping out. They stopped frequently to investigate the various wares for sale. Chris stopped to look at a pair of leather saddle bags that would work well not, only for the reenactments but later with Pony. While Chris was looking at that Buck was looking at a pair of boots.
JD had wandered off and was looking at some of the ladies' dresses that were for sale when he heard a laugh behind him. "Just right for you, JD."
JD turned and glared at Buck. "I was thinking for Casey, Buck! She'd like something like this."
Chris came up and put a hand on JD's shoulder. "I'm sure she would, JD. Sarah and I used to talk about doing this one day, but never got the chance to do it."
Buck saw the look of sorrow pass over his friend's face. "Come on, there's still a lot to see, and we haven't found any of the others yet."
The three made their way to Josiah's tent where he was setting out an array of goods. "Nice to see you brothers, you all set up in your camp? Vin and Ezra were by a while ago. They were going to go to Dixie Gun Works which is a few tents down. If I know Vin they're still there."
Chris grinned. "Think we've got things set up, and I believe you're right, Ez is going to need reinforcements to tear Vin away from the guns."
Josiah hefted a large crate and started to unload it. "I've seen a number of crates like this one around here but haven't heard anything about the reason we're here. If it's one of the sutler's, I'm sure I'll hear something sooner or later once people get used to seeing me here."
The others nodded as Nathan walked in the tent. "So here's where everyone's hanging out. Just saw Vin and Ezra they're over looking at the guns."
Chris clapped Nathan on the shoulder. "So have you seen anything yet?"
Nathan shook his head. "Not yet, but then I haven't been here very long. I've managed to talk to some of the EMT's but obviously not about that. They have told me some of the things that go on at these things."
Chris nodded, "Let's find our confederates, and all have a talk and compare notes."
They all headed out of the tent in search of Ezra and Vin. None of them noticed the three men trailing them in the distance.
Chris and the others headed off looking for Vin and Ezra, stopping at several sutlers looking at what they had for sale. There was a large tent full of books that Chris wanted to come back to later and check out after he found his missing team members. They made their way laughing and talking to the end of sutlers row where they found Dixie Gun Works. Upon entering the tent they saw Vin bent over a display of guns while Ezra stood off to one side.
Ezra saw the others. "Awh, reinforcements at last. Maybe now I will be emancipated from this tent."
Buck clapped Ezra on the shoulder. "Junior having fun with all the guns, is he?"
Ezra grimaced. "We've been in this tent with no relief for over an hour, and Mr. Tanner shows no of sign of leaving any time in the immediate future."
Chris moved to Vin's side. "Vin we all need to talk. Why don't we all go get something to eat and chat? You can come back and look at the guns some more over the next couple of days."
Vin looked at Chris and grinned. "Can you believe these guns? They're made just like they did in the eighteen sixties. The workmanship is nothing like we see today."
Chris grinned. "Why do I have the feeling a lot of Tanner money is going to go into these guys' pockets?"
The others laughed. As Vin looked at them, he shrugged. "Probably will buy myself one or two of these beauties."
JD held up a pair of matched revolvers. "These are great and they're perfectly balanced."
Josiah grinned. "Seems Vin isn't the only one who finds the guns fascinating. Come on, let's eat. You can always come back here later, and I've still got work to do."
Chris grabbed Vin by the arm as Buck steered JD out of the tent. They proceeded to the food vendors, buying their dinner, then seating themselves on the hay bales under a nearby tent provided as a place to eat. The others looked at Chris as Vin spoke up. "So you get yourself a horse?"
Chris chuckled. "Yes, as a matter of fact I did. His name is Cannon, and I think he's going to work out just fine for this assignment. Have any of you seen or heard anything that might help with the case?"
Ezra shook his head. "There are a lot of people in camp, but I'm afraid that Vin and I are just too new to this, that others are not going to open up to us. Though I suspect that we are being watched, and if I might hazard a guess, Mr. Tanner's interest in the Dixie Gun Works might work to our advantage. Therefore, I shall do my best to encourage that activity."
Buck laughed. "Don't think that's going too be to hard a job to do, Ezra, though if you have to stand around and wait for him, I suggest you get yourself one of those campstools I've seen around."
Nathan nodded. "Think you have a point there Ezra, showing an interest in guns should draw out the people that we are looking for."
Chris grinned. "Wouldn't hurt to hang around there Vin and talk guns with whoever comes in, not just reproduction guns, but modern day arms too."
Vin looked at the others with a gleam in his eye. "So you're saying I can hang out in the gun tent, and you all aren't going to get all bent out of shape."
Buck clapped Vin on the shoulder. "Not as long as you come up with information or contacts that we can use to track these guys down and put a stop to them."
After eating the men all headed back to their respective camps to settle in for the night. As they broke up, none of them noticed that there was someone following each group of men, as there were a large number of reenactors strolling about the site.
As Chris, Buck and JD joined a group around a campfire; the man following them made his way to a tent on the fringes of the federal camp. In front of the tent sat a large rough looking man in a captain of the infantries' uniform. "So what are those ATF agents up to, they haven't found anything have they?"
The man shook his head. "No, Captain Morrissey, so far they haven't found out a thing. Of course, that doesn't mean they won't. There are people who may have seen something that we don't know about."
The Captain nodded. "We're just lucky that our contact at Kirby's farm found out that the ATF was on to our game. Now, at least we're a step ahead of them and able to take steps to neutralize them. Now, Brad, I want you and Larry to take care of some thing's for me tomorrow." He handed Brad a sheet of paper. Just make sure that they look like accidents and can't be traced back to any of us."
Brad looked at the paper and grinned. "Shouldn't be a problem all of these are things that might happen anyway. I'll get in touch with Larry, and we'll set things up for the morning. At least a couple of these we can take care of the during the morning battle."
Captain Morrissey nodded. "Good report to me after the mornings battle, and I'll tell you what to do next. Want to see how they react to these 'accidents'."
Brad saluted Captain Morrissey and headed out toward the main body of the federal camp.
+ + + + + + +
After the camps were quiet and everyone was in their tents for the night, Brad emerged from his tent, followed moments later by Larry. They made their way through the sleeping camp to the where the horses were picketed. After a moment, Brad moved to the horse trailer where Chris had stored his tack for Cannon. He turned to Larry and hissed. "Keep watch while I take care of this. Shouldn't take but a couple of minutes?" Brad disappeared into the trailer and was gone for several minutes before coming back to join Larry.
They then made their way toward the Confederate camp. At the confederate camp they made their way silently to the cannons and identified the one that Ezra would be using. While Brad kept look out, Larry removed the pin from one of the wheels and filed part way through it before replacing it in the wheel. Then he and Brad disappeared into the shadows.
Chris awoke with a start the next morning at the sound of a cannon being fired. He arose, dressed in his uniform quickly, and made his way outside. He followed the smell of fresh coffee to a campfire in the center of the camp where he was greeted by Buck and JD. "You ready for the fun and games to begin?" He asked, as he took the tin cup of coffee that Buck passed him.
Buck laughed. "I don't know if the kid slept at all last night. He was up before the sun was up. Not sure but think he even helped them fire the cannon this morning to wake us all up."
JD looked at Buck defiantly. "I'm not a kid, Buck."
Chris grinned at the antics of his friends and team members. "It's okay JD, have to admit I'm excited about what's going to be happening here all weekend."
JD grinned. "There's so much going on. Some of the guys were telling me that I might be able to go with them to plant the charges on the field before the battles this weekend, says that they can always use an extra hand to help with that."
Chris and Buck exchanged an amused look. Chris clapped JD on the shoulder. "Sounds like something you'd enjoy, JD, just be careful. I don't want to explain to Casey how you blew yourself up with black powder."
JD jumped to his feet. "I'm going to go see what's going on. I'll be back for the battle." With that, JD was gone.
Buck looked over at Chris. "Were we ever that young, pard?"
Chris shrugged. "Once a long time ago, remember back when we were Seals?"
Buck groaned. "Okay, you've got me on that one. Some of the stunts we pulled back then make JD look pretty tame."
Chris laughed. "JD's a good kid. He's not half as wild as we were when we were his age. Yes he's got things to learn, but he's doing well. Most of it is he hasn't seen as much as we have." He moved to get up. "I'd better go see to Cannon and get him ready for the first battle." Chris stood and moved off to where the horses were picketed, as Buck trailed along behind him.
Ezra emerged from his tent to find Vin standing outside with a cup of coffee in his hands. "I do hope that is for me, Mr. Tanner. Why anyone would choose to be up at this ungodly hour of the morning is beyond me."
Vin handed the cup of coffee to Ezra. "Come on, Ez we're wasting daylight. Most of the camp has been awake for over an hour now."
Ezra rubbed his hand over his face. "It's not even eight in the morning. Why would anyone want to be up at this hour?"
Vin grinned. "You want to get yourself together. They let the public in, in about an hour, and they have the freedom to visit the camps. Now how would you feel if some lady were to pop into your tent and find you still in bed. Besides, don't you have things to do to get ready for the battle at eleven?"
Ezra straightened up. "You are quite right, I need to make sure that limber chest is loaded and that I have enough black powder for this morning's show. Would you care to accompany me as I make my preparations?"
Vin nodded. "Sure, I'll join you. After the battle; maybe we can go back and check out the guns again. Might be some more action there now that things are open to the public."
Chris had Cannon's bridle on and had just tightened the cinch on his saddle, the others had left to join their units for the first battle. He stood next to Cannon waiting for the signal to mount up. When the signal was given, he put his foot in the stirrup and was surprised when the saddle slid from the horses back, leaving him lying in a heap on the ground.
Several men dismounted and rushed to Chris' side as he got to his feet. "I'm all right, cinch just broke."
One of the men made his way to a nearby trailer. "We can fix that quickly enough I have an extra one. My name's James Kirkwood. Here use this, and we'll be ready to go in no time." He handed Chris the new cinch.
Chris quickly removed and buckled the new cinch into place. As he placed the old cinch in his trailer he noted that it appeared to be cut. They might not know who the gunrunners were but it looked like they knew who Chris was. Chris mounted Cannon and went into his first battle with an unsettled feeling about him.
Chris rode out onto the battlefield and was amazed at the sight stretched out before him, to either side of him were row after row of men in blue in front of them were a number of cannons with their crews. As he looked across the field he could see men in gray stretched out behind their cannon. At an unseen signal the men in gray started to march out of their camp. After they were a distance in front of the big guns, the cannon started to fire. Chris felt his heart beat faster at the sight and sound. He now knew why people came out and did this every weekend. Soon the Federal cannon joined the Confederate. At a signal, the Union cavalry moved out with Chris in the middle of the group with the other officers. A few minutes later the infantry sweep out on to the field marching toward the oncoming Confederates. Soon union skirmishers encountered the Confederate skirmishers, and they engaged each other in a close battle.
Chris kicked Cannon into a trot and followed his men into the battle. He saw Buck and JD as he rode by them to try and circle behind the Confederate lines. Even though he hadn't seen him, he knew that Nathan was on the field somewhere with the other field hospital staff and the present day paramedics to be close by if they were needed. As he looked across the field at the approaching Confederates, he knew that Vin and Ezra were out there somewhere. The only one of them not on the field of battle was Josiah, but Chris knew that Josiah was in the stands watching over the rest of them like a guardian angel.
Vin could see the Union cavalry as they neared where he was with the skirmishers. He was able to see Chris where he rode with the other officers. Vin grinned as he took aim at Chris and pulled the trigger on his rifle, while raising the barrel to actually shoot at the sky. Not that Chris knew Vin was using him as a target but it was still fun to pretend, and he would tell Chris later, well maybe not. Vin looked behind him and smiled at the sight of Ezra with the other artillerymen. The man seemed to be totally at home with a cannon, and to be having the time of his life.
The battle continued to rage around Chris and Vin as they caught occasional glimpses of the others on the field. Finally the battle was winding down; Chris rode with the rest of the cavalry past the spectators at the end of the battle. One of the young people in the stands moved down close to the ropes separating the public from the reenactors. As he moved closer to the horses, he blew a tin whistle loudly, very close to Cannon who reared up on his hind legs. Chris struggled to bring the horse under control but could feel himself slipping from the saddle as the nervous horse danced beneath him. Chris tumbled from Cannon's back landing heavily on his left ankle. Chris lay there cursing as various reenactors rushed to his side. One of the first to reach him was Nathan who kneeled down next to Chris. "Let me look at it." Nathan carefully removed Chris' boot and examined the swelling ankle. He then reached into the bag he carried and placed a cold pack on the ankle. "It doesn't seem to be broken, but you need to come back to the medical tent and get it checked out."
Chris glared at Nathan. "Is that really necessary? Why can't you just wrap it up and let me get back to camp. I need to take care of Cannon and get ready for the battle this afternoon."
Nathan shook his head. "You're not going to be doing anything 'til you get that ankle checked out." Just then a golf cart showed up and Nathan helped a grumbling Chris into the back.
Buck came up as Chris was getting in the cart. "Don't worry I'll take Cannon back to camp and take care of him for you. Go with the medical personnel, and I will be over as soon as I get Cannon taken care of."
Chris nodded. "Thanks, Buck. Shouldn't take too long to get this taken care of. I want to check out some things when I'm done at the medical tent."
Nathan frowned and grumbled. "You need to stay off that ankle not be traipsing around this place all afternoon."
Chris grinned at Nathan. "Yes, mother, I hear what you're saying, but I have things that need to be done. How about I agree to take it easy and stay with one of the others at all times?"
Nathan laughed. "I'll take that for now unless the Doc at the tent says that ankle is broken. If it is then you need to go to the hospital to have it set and you won't be doing any reenacting for several weeks."
Chris groaned. "Your bedside manner stinks. You're supposed to make the patient feel better, not worse."
Nathan laughed. "If I did that with you and the others none of you would get medical care unless you were unconscious or half-dead. I save the bedside manner for patients who need it. With men like you, I need a whip and a chair. I swear some of you could have one arm hanging off and you'd still try to tell me you were fine."
Everyone gathered around laughed.
+ + + + + + +
Chris lay on a cot in the medical tent with his ankle propped up on a pillow and surrounded with ice packs. He was sure it was turning all the colors of the rainbow. He thought back to all that had happened that morning. It seemed that they or at least he anyway, had drawn some unwanted attention. A moment later the tent erupted in commotion as JD and Buck entered, followed a moment later by Nathan. "You guys sure know how to make an entrance."
Buck laughed. "Well, stud, we just wanted to let you know we were coming in, just in case you were entertaining one of the lovely ladies around here."
Chris grinned. "Buck I leave the ladies to you, that's one competition I want no part of."
Nathan moved to the foot of the cot and started removing the ice packs from Chris' ankle. "I'm going to wrap this ankle for you, and I've got a pair of crutches for you."
Chris interrupted. "Now those aren't really necessary."
Nathan glared at Chris. "Yes, they are you didn't break your ankle but you did sprain it. You can ride the horse in the reenactments, but you need to take it easy and not overdo."
Chris nodded. "All right, if it means that I can get out on the field. We need to talk, it seems I've drawn some unwanted attention, whether it's related to the case or not I don't know. For the time being, I want all of you to keep your distance in case it is related to the case, and they haven't tagged the rest of you as being ATF agents."
JD paced back and forth. "But if we do that, who's going to watch your back?"
Chris grinned at the kid. "You guys will still be around to watch my back during the reenactments, and I'm going to try to stay in the middle of crowds as much as I can. Don't think they'll try anything to public, don't want to draw attention to themselves."
Buck glanced at Chris. "What makes you think that someone is on to you?"
Chris set up on the edge of the cot. "When I was mounting Cannon this morning the girth broke and I ended up sitting on the ground. When I went to change it, noticed the old one seemed to have been cut most of the way through."
Nathan put his hand on his boss's shoulder. "Be careful, Chris, we can't always be around, and it would easy for something to happen here that looks like an accident, but isn't."
JD broke in. "Do you think that kid with the whistle has anything to do with them?"
Chris shook his head. "I don't want to think so. Think he was just an excited kid being a kid and didn't realize that whistle would upset the horses, after all Cannon wasn't the only one that was nervous about that sound."
Nathan frowned. "Chris, if they have made you, you're going to have to be careful. You weren't badly hurt this time, but with that ankle you're going to be slow and that makes you a sitting duck."
Chris nodded. "I know but there's not much I can do but be in crowds as much as I can. In camp that's not a problem, there's always someone around. Or I'll hang around the living history tents, plenty of talks going on there, and from the looks of things they're never empty, and some of those talks are things I want to hear anyway. Don't figure I can get in too much trouble sitting on a hay bale, Nathan."
Buck laughed. "Knowing you, Chris, you don't have to go looking for trouble. It will come find you."
Chris glared at Buck. "Shut up, Buck. JD, help me to my feet, and let's go find something to eat before we have to get ready for this afternoon. Guys, want you to let the others know what's going on and to keep their distance from me. No need to draw unnecessary attention if we don't have to."
JD pulled Chris to his feet, as Nathan handed Chris his crutches. Then Chris hobbled out of the tent trailed by Buck and JD, as Nathan watched them go.
+ + + + + + +
Vin stood waiting for Ezra to load the caisson. "Come on, Ez, the battle's going to start soon."
Ezra continued to carefully load powder and equipment onto the caisson. "Mr. Tanner, I require just a few moments to get everything in its proper place. If we're going to do this, then I shall do it properly."
Vin grinned as he leaned against a nearby wagon. "Just wish we could have seen the others earlier but there wasn't time. Maybe after this battle we can touch base with them."
Ezra put another cask of powder on the caisson and wiped his hands. "We can try, but don't forget there's still that sharp shooting exhibition this afternoon and aren't you supposed to be a part of that?"
Vin grinned and nodded. "I'd almost forgotten about that. Should be a fun competition. Some of these boys are really accurate with these weapons, will be interesting to test my skills against them."
Ezra grinned. "I've no doubt that you'll do us all proud, Vin. Now what we need is the gentleman to show up with the horse that is to haul this caisson over to where the cannon is, then we can get everything in place for the battle which should be starting shortly." He pulled a pocket watch out and looked at it. "If he keeps to his schedule, he should be here any minute."
Several minutes latter Ezra was hitching the cannon to the back of the caisson, while another reenactor held the horse. He and the other members of his crew were preparing to move the cannon into place for the next battle.
Vin had gone off to join his unit for the upcoming battle. As Ezra and his crew moved the cannon onto the field across the uneven field the carriage was heard to creak and groan. Suddenly there was a loud crack and the carriage lurched to the right toward Ezra who was knocked to the ground as the barrel of the cannon shifted and slid down onto him.
There was an explosion of activity as people came running and calls were made over walkie talkies to get assistance to shift the cannon from Ezra and to summon the paramedics.
Ezra looked up embarrassed at the crowd of people surrounding him on the ground. "Please, I'm all right. I'm in a depression in the ground. If some of you will move the barrel of the cannon, I'll be able to remove myself from my current predicament."
A number of men approached the cannon barrel, including Vin. One of the organizers took charge. "On three boys lift and move the barrel so we can free his foot. One. . . two. . . three." At that the men lifted the cannon and Ezra scrambled to his feet.
Ezra was immediately surrounded by several EMT's, all of whom tried to get him to lie down and let them examine him; Nathan was in the lead of this group. Ezra backed away from them holding his hands in front of him. "Gentlemen, I assure you that I am fine. Look where I was lying. You will see a depression in the ground." He pulled up his uniform pant leg. "As you can see, the skin isn't broken and there isn't even a bruise."
Ezra moved over to the carriage of the cannon along with several of the other artillerymen. They examined the carriage. One of the officers spoke up. "The wheel isn't broken, and neither is the axle."
Ezra knelt and looked at the connection between the wheel and the axle. "It appears the pin is broken." He removed the pin and examined it, frowning. It appeared to be broken cleanly in two, like it had been cut. He slipped the broken pin in his pocket. "I have some extra pins on the caisson. If you gentlemen will assist by hoisting the wheel and aligning it with the axle, I do believe that we should be able to render a timely solution to our present dilemma."
One of the people looked around confusedly. "What did he just say?"
Vin chuckled. "I believe he said if he picked up the wheel and lined it up with the axle he could have this cannon ready to move in a couple of minutes."
Ezra glared at Vin, doing a fairly good imitation of Chris. "That is exactly what I said, Mr. Tanner."
The men swarmed around the cannon, lifting the wheel and moving it into place on the axle. Ezra then slid the pin to hold the wheel into place. The men then lifted the cannon barrel and placed it back on its carriage. In no time at all, Ezra and the crew of his cannon were moving into the line of battle along with the rest of the Confederate artillery.
Soon the afternoon battle started, and for the next hour, the men fought back and forth across the field. Ezra found himself distracted at times as he kept fingering the pin in his pocket. Apparently he had drawn some attention, the question was whether it was from someone he personally had offended, or if it was the gunrunners he was there to investigate. He wanted to talk with Chris and the others. Nathan had informed them of Chris' suspicion that someone was on to him, and now it seemed that Ezra too had drawn unwanted attention in his direction. There was to be a dance that evening for the reenactors. They were all going to be going so that they would have an excuse to touch base with each other over the course of the evening.
Ezra was drawn back to his surroundings, as the tide of the battle shifted, and it was again time to move the cannon or risk being captured by the Yankees. He helped his crew move the caisson into position and attach the cannon and then led the horse back toward the Confederate camp.
Vin meanwhile was with the rest of the sharpshooters in front of the grandstands facing a row of targets. With each round of the shooting, there were fewer men shooting at the targets that were moved farther and farther from the shooters as the rounds progressed. This was one of the few times that real ammunition was used as opposed to shooting just black powder during the reenactment, and there were many security measures in place to assure that no one got hurt. Finally, it was down to just Vin and one other shooter. Brad grinned; he wanted to beat this guy so badly, showing up an ATF agent would be nice even if at the moment none of the others knew he was an agent. They took turns firing until Brad missed the bull's-eye. Then it was down to Vin. If he made this shot he would be the winner. Vin lined up his shot, let it out slowly, and then squeezed the trigger. He smiled as he saw spotters wave the white flag that indicated he had hit the bull's-eye.
Ezra made his way back to his tent after watching the sharp shooters, planning to try and get a cleaned up before the evening dance. He was not to thrilled about the outdoor showering facilities available but short of leaving the encampment, which was not an option, it was either the showers or nothing. As Ezra emerged from his tent with a change of clothes, he was surprised to see Vin standing there. "I don't remember our having plans for the rest of the afternoon, Mr. Tanner."
Vin grinned, as he leaned against a tent pole. "Thought maybe someone should watch your back. I saw the way you looked at that broken pin. It wasn't broken, was it?"
Ezra reached in the jacket of his uniform and handed the pin to Vin. "You tell me, what do you think?"
Vin took the pin and looked at it while turning it over in his hands. "Doesn't look to me like this broke on it's own."
Ezra nodded. "My thoughts precisely, it appears to me that someone made alterations to it to assure themselves that it would fail when the cannon was moved over rough ground."
Vin frowned. "Think we need to get this to a lab just to be sure that what we suspect is right. Why don't you get your shower, then we can get this to Josiah. I understand he's going into town tonight. He can take this with him, and get it to a lab while he's there."
Ezra gave Vin a two-fingered salute, as he moved toward the showers. "Sounds like a plan to me."
+ + + + + + +
Buck stood, getting ready for the evening. "Awh, with all the lovely ladies here tonight, I'm looking forward to an enjoyable evening."
JD laughed. "Buck, just remember these ladies are either married or the girlfriends or daughters of the other guys here. Don't think any of them would appreciate you coming on too strong to their ladies."
Buck admired his reflection in the small mirror hanging on the nearby tree. "Now you know I would never do anything to a lady that she didn't want me to do."
JD nodded. "I know that Buck, but what about what her daddy don't want her to do?"
Buck turned and moved toward JD, who danced just out of his reach. "JD, what her daddy doesn't know won't hurt him."
JD grinned, as Chris approached behind Buck and tapped him on the shoulder. "Now Buck, remember we're here to do a job, not antagonize anyone's boyfriend or father. We need these people to not be watching our every move; I don't need someone taking pot shots at you because you were messing with his lady."
Buck pouted. "Now Chris, you know I would never let my love life interfere with the job."
Chris laughed. "Just make sure it stays that way, ya old dog. You guys ready to head up to the dance, want a chance to see the others, and have a message I want Josiah to phone in to the judge when he goes into town later tonight." The three of them headed off toward the sutlers area to see Josiah, and from there, they would proceed to the dance.
As Chris and the others approached Josiah's tent, they saw Vin and Ezra leaving. Chris stopped at another tent. "Let's look around here a few minutes give them a chance to clear out. Also, this way we can watch them, and see if it looks like anyone is following them." They looked at the wares in the tent, while watching Ezra and Vin walk toward the other end of the camp; none of them saw the men who were on the other side of the tent trailing several tents behind Vin and Ezra.
After a few minutes Chris and the others headed into Josiah's tent. "Josiah, thought we'd check in before going to the dance, and I have a message I want you to phone to the judge, about what happened with my bridle today."
Josiah nodded. "Chris, there's more, Ezra had a little accident this afternoon with his cannon, seems the wheel fell off, and his foot was trapped under the barrel when it rolled off the carriage." He held up his hand as the others began to ask questions. "He's fine, not a scratch on him, he landed in a low spot on the ground. He left the pin with me to have in analyzed. I'm going to drop it at a lab. Ezra and Vin seem to think it might have been cut." He handed the pin to Chris to examine.
Chris examined the pin and handed it to Buck. "Does look like an awful clean break to me. Have the lab call either you or the judge with the results."
Buck handed the pin to JD. "Anything else we should know about. Seems to me that at least Chris and Ezra have been made, don't think either of them should be alone for the time being."
Josiah took the pin back from JD and put it in his pocket. "Vin said he's not going to let Ezra out of his sight until we have these guys under arrest or this reenactment ends. Of course, that means next weekend he's back to watching Ez's back."
JD grinned. "I bet Ezra ain't too happy about having Vin watching him all the time."
Chris placed his hand on JD's shoulder. "Probably about as happy as I am having you and Buck watching mine. Now come on we have a dance to get to, try to keep an eye on each other. Also, try to sound out anyone you can about unusual activity in the camps. Josiah, tell the judge that we seem to be making all the right people nervous." With that, Chris turned and made his way slowly out of the tent trailed by JD and Buck.
+ + + + + + +
Chris sat on a hay bale watching as Buck danced by with one of the ladies. He chuckled to himself. Who knew that Buck was able to do these kinds of dances? He'd never thought of Buck as being able to do the Virginia reel. Now Ezra, he had expected it from, and he had not been disappointed. The man was dancing with a lovely lady, wearing a one of the prettiest dresses Chris had seen that night. Chris was brought out of his musings when Vin came up and sat down next to him. "Mind if I sit here for a moment?"
Chris shook his head. "Not at all, but a young man like you should be out there dancing with one of the lovely ladies around here, not sitting with a gimpy man on crutches."
Vin blushed. "I can't do those dances. I have two left feet and that doesn't look to be easy to do."
Chris laughed. "Have a feeling it isn't as easy as some of them make it look. See that young man over there. So far he hasn't tripped his partner, but it's not for lack of trying." Chris pointed to where JD was dancing with a young lady.
Vin lowered his voice. "You have any leads on who it is that might be after you and Ezra?"
Chris shook his head. "No, but Josiah is taking that pin from Ezra's cannon in to be analyzed. I also asked him to have the judge run some background checks on the names of the people in charge of these reenactments. Seems to me that at least one of them has to be involved in this."
Vin nodded. "I see your point; it would make it easier for them to have someone on the organizing committee that could help steer attention away from them."
Josiah headed back to the reenactment site. He had phoned the judge and updated him on events since their arrival at the reenactment. He had dispatched the pin from the cannon wheel to the lab, and the report was promised for Monday morning. He had been able to grab dinner in town and was looking forward to getting back in time to, hopefully, enjoy the end of the dance. Josiah was not paying attention to what was going on around him, instead he was thinking of the case they were working on. He was brought out of his reverie when he felt a sharp thump, and the truck pulled toward the side of the road. He brought the vehicle under control and looked in the rearview mirror to see another truck behind him, and it was speeding up. Josiah sped up trying to avoid the oncoming truck. He thought he was going to make it when they crested a hill and in front of him was a slow moving car. It was impossible to pull into the other lane as it was populated with cars. He stepped on the brake and braced for the impact that he was sure was coming. He felt the other truck hit him, and he fought to keep on the road, but it was a losing battle. He felt the truck slide off the road and come to a stop in a ditch.
Josiah sat there trying to calm his breathing. He tested his arms and legs and determined that nothing seemed to be hurt. He opened the door and climbed out of the truck and was met by a man. "Sir, are you all right? I saw the whole thing; it was like he was trying to knock you off the road."
Josiah climbed up out of the ditch and looked at the marooned truck. "I'm fine, nothing broken just a few bumps and bruises. You didn't get his license plate number by any chance did you?"
The man shook his head. "No, if there was a plate there it was covered with mud, which is unusual since we haven't had any rain in more than a week. I called the police on my cell phone. They should be here any minute. Is there anyone I can call for you?"
Josiah shook his head. "No, everyone I know around here is at the reenactment and I know they don't have their phones turned on. Thanks for your help. It's nice to know there are still people who will help out their fellow man."
The man grinned. "My name's James O'Neal I live just down the road there. If you're all right, I'll leave you here and go get my tractor, think I should be able to pull your truck out of the ditch with that."
Josiah grinned. "I'd appreciate that, I'd hate to have to hang around and wait for a tow truck to make it out here. I'm sure my friends will start to worry if I don't show up soon."
James moved toward the road. "I should be back by the time the police get here. If not tell them I'll be back in a few minutes." With that he climbed in the truck and headed down the road.
+ + + + + + +
Josiah climbed out of the battered truck and made his way to the dancing, hoping to encounter at least some of his teammates. It was becoming obvious that for the moment the gunrunners had the upper hand, as they knew who the ATF agents were, and at the moment, the ATF had no idea who they were. This was a situation that Josiah was sure was not going to continue for long.
Josiah arrived at the location of the dance and looked around for his teammates. He saw Chris on the other side of the area, sitting on a hay bale with Vin. As he made his way toward Chris, Josiah spied Buck, JD and Ezra dancing with some of the ladies. It was only when he was almost to Chris that he spied Nathan talking with some of the other reenactors.
Josiah started to move toward Chris and Vin when he was brought up short by a voice calling to him. "Over here, I need to talk to you."
Josiah made his way cautiously to man wearing a Confederate uniform. Josiah could see that he was in plain sight of a number of people, which made him feel safer somehow. "How can I help you?"
The man looked around quickly. "I heard some men talking about you and your friends. They say that you're ATF agents."
Josiah could see the man was nervous and decided that keeping his profession secret wasn't going get him what it appeared this young man had. "We are. Heard there were some funny things going on at the reenactments, just want to make sure that your people are safe."
The young man looked around, obviously spooked by something. "I heard about the accidents you and your friends have been having, that ain't right. I know there are men here selling guns, and I don't mean the reproduction ones that we use."
Josiah nodded and motioned to the young man to follow him. "Let's go over here where there's less chance we'll be over heard." Josiah moved to where they could still see the dancers but had more privacy.
The young man followed him. "My name is Jack, last name doesn't matter none now, but these guys have been selling guns out of both camps. They don't dare do it on Sutlers row, too many eyes around there including the security and police. The camps have less security, pretty much police themselves."
Josiah sat on a nearby hay bale. "Do you know who any of them are?"
Jack shook his head. "Not by name. One is a union officer, and he has at least two other people in the Union camp. Think there are another two or three in the confederated camp. Wish I could tell you more, but that's all I know for sure."
Josiah nodded. "Thank you, Jack. It's more than I knew a few minutes ago. If you hear anything else, let me know. We need to shut these guys down before someone gets hurt."
Jack chuckled. "Seems to me that someone already has. You look a little worse for wear. When I saw you tonight that's what helped me decide to talk to you. I've seen you around the last two days. You seem to care about the people here and talk to them. Don't seem that you would do anything to bring unnecessary pain to any of the folks here."
Josiah shook his head. "I just want to keep the majority of the people here safe so they can enjoy this hobby. Only people I want are the ones using this as an excuse to break the law."
Jack looked around nervously again. "Think we better separate. It won't do you or me any good if people get the idea that I'm helping you. I'll keep my eyes open and get back to you if I see or hear anything." With that Jack drifted out to join the crowd around the dance floor.
Josiah made his way over to where Chris and Vin were sitting. "We need to talk several things have happened, one may even help us with the case."
Chris did not look at Josiah. "How about we meet at the food tent in half an hour I could use a cup of coffee."
Josiah nodded and moved off toward Nathan.
+ + + + + + +
Soon all of them were gathered around a table in the back corner of the food tent. Josiah was the first to speak. "I got the pin sent off and contacted the judge. He's going to see that we have the report on Monday morning. On my way back here, I was run into a ditch by a truck, and it wasn't an accident."
Nathan moved toward Josiah who waved him away. Chris nodded. "I would say that all of us have managed to make people nervous. Watch your backs and try not to go anywhere alone. You all right, Josiah?"
Josiah nodded. "I'm fine. I knew it was going to happen so was able to control things. Just a few minor bruises, Nathan." He stared hard at the team's medic. "On my way to the dance after I got back, I met a man who knows who we are. He's heard rumors in the camp. Says there are at least three men in the union camp who are running guns. One of them is an officer, and that there are two or three in the confederate camp."
Ezra shifted in his seat. "Well, that seems to show that there is no sense in pretending anymore that we don't know each other. It would appear that our presence is an open secret."
Chris nodded. "Don't think there's any need to pretend anymore that we don't know each other. Keep your eyes open, and at least now, we know that there are five or six guys that we are looking for."
Buck rose to his feet. "If we're done, I've been keeping the sweet Miss Lillie waiting long enough."
JD laughed. "Which one of those ladies is Miss Lillie Buck? She the one who kept stepping all over your feet?" JD rose and rushed from the tent followed by a yelling Buck.
A moment later the others were startled to hear a loud explosion and went running from the tent. There was a large crater in the ground and nearby lay JD and Buck.