A civil war Major-general makes an unearthly pact, which condemns the USA to a life time of hell
August 29th - 30th 1862, Richmond, Kentucky, and the day the tide was turned..Sitting alone, in his tent, Major-General William ‘Bull’ Nelson surveyed the battlefield below from his viewpoint on the surrounding hills, Nelson could see all that was happening.
Having taken over from the wounded Mahlon Dickerson Manson, and with troops fighting themselves to a standstill, neither side having a tactical or numerical advantage, Nelsons’ command looked tenuous at best, he had been told to hold Richmond at al costs.
’Mahlon, how we can we hold this position ?’ he asked the former commander. ’Damn those Yankee sharpshooters, picking us off at will, we daren’t move out, and yet here we are trapped and getting picked off, they cut the supplies, and the men are dropping with hunger and thirst in this heat.’
Mahlon looked at the man who was replacing him, the large form blocking the tent flaps.
‘Grants’ orders are clear Bull, hold Richmond, he did not say how.’
‘Sure, but they are getting supplied as we starve, and run out of ammunition. Sooner or later we will be overrun.’
‘This is not the Bull Nelson, everyone fears is it ?’
‘Usually, I can see a way forward and rush to take the advantage, here it is stalemate, or a slow death.’
At the edge of his vision, Nelson saw a dark shadowy figure, ashen complexion thin body with spindly fingers, and long thick nails twisted and gnarled..
‘Did you see that Mahlon.’ Bull asked.
‘Sure I did, Bull, been seeing him and his like all day around the bodies, taking a sip from their necks, just don’t know what in the name of God they are.’
‘Damn well gives me the creeps it did there.’
‘We hold the town Bull, so can outlast those Yankees.’
‘Reckon we can that, Mahlon.’
The grey figured approached the 2 men and said: ‘I am afraid, you are both wrong gentlemen.’
‘And just who are you, and how the blazes do you know that.’
‘Although of no importance my name is Nosferatu, as for how I know we have many names, but all cultures know of us, some call us vampire, others the undead.. But all know we are timeless and I have travelled back from your future to this day.’
‘Saying we believe you, which we don’t.’ Bull said. ‘How can you help turn this stalemate.’
‘Before I tell you, you know there is a price and you might not like it.. So before I tell you my plans, I will tell you what will happen if you don’t accept.’
‘This ought to be a darn good tale.’ Mahlon chided ’coming from the future to tell us what will happen now, next thing he will say is we will lose this battle.’
‘Exactly, my friend, that is what will happen.’
‘And just how is that going to happen, both sides are matched equally, so nobody has a larger army to move ?’
‘You may hold the town, but you are cut off, with your back to the river, this is a very good defensive position, with the hills, but you are still trapped.’ they grey figure pointed out.
‘Got ya there Bull.’ Mahlon commented. ‘So how are we going to lose when we have armies the same size ?’ Bull chided the strange and eerie figure.
‘As you said, they are picking you off like rats in a barrel, you cannot go and take them on, tomorrow they will launch an early artillery attack, and follow that with a charge on your right flank.’
‘Sounds a good Yankee ploy that, Mahlon.’ Bull remarked.
‘And then what ?’ Bull queried.
‘Being harassed, you will mount a charge through the cemetery, get held back and then pushed back to Rogersville, where your troops will get captured.’
‘NEVER !’ shouted Bull Nelson. ‘My fine troops in their hands, don’t know who the hell you are, but sound like a God damned Yank to me.’
The grey figure bent low over the men, stooping its long thin, spindly back it said:
‘No, I am for neither side, but you MUST have my help or this night will be remembered for the wrong reasons, for your side.’
‘Oh. I MUST have your help !’ Nelson screamed at this abomination. ’and why is that ?’
’If you don’t this night will be remembered for all times, as the night that Richmond fell.’
’Bull, you know what this means don’t you ?’ Mahlon shivered at the thought, despite the oppressive heat in the tent.
‘Yup, if we fall the way is open for Lexington and Frankfort, our troops cut to pieces and separated from supply lines, we will lose the whole flank, if we fail.’
‘Still don’t believe a damn word this thing says, Mahlon.’
‘You don’t have to. Look around you at your men, weak with hunger, lacking energy, soon you will be forced to try and break free, and then…’
‘Yes, you said, Richmond, then Lexington and Frankfort will fall quickly as the Yanks march through. Just need time to think.’ Bull Nelson said.
‘That ain’t you Bull, you got a reputation for charging right in.’ Mahlon queried.
‘True, but this is different those are battles, here we are talking of the whole of this Union flank being torn apart, towns we love being handed over.’
The creature looked at Bull Nelson, and said with a voice full of loathing: ‘
Time unfortunately, is the one thing you do not have, as the sunsets, so does your chance of turning the day ahead, decide you must and quickly.’
Standing there bent over with long fingers and dark nails, shrouded in grey, skin the colours of dried parchment, the sight of the creature was enough to chill the blood of any mortal soul.
‘You say, if I refuse your offer we lose here, Lexington and Frankfort fall, and this is known as the night that Richmond fell.’
‘IF, and that is a big if, I accept your offer, you claim to be able to turn this our way. How ?
‘That I will not say, until you decide to accept or refuse my help. So I know payment is due. And you wont just take my plan and use it to win.’
‘Seems we are in a bind here.’ Mahlon commented. ‘He knows we will lose IF we refuse, but wont tell us how to win, unless we accept his offer, and we don’t even know it yet.’
Nelson took but a few seconds before saying: ‘Ok, you have us, I accept, what price ?’
‘The price is. No matter how futile the battle, how drawn out it gets, you have to keep on killing each other, so my people can feed on the corpses, and our strength grow amongst your dead. As we take control of their bodies.’
‘God almighty Bull, what have you agreed to now !’
‘I know Mahlon, but it was this or seeing the damned Yankee flag flying in our cities. Ok, we give in, what is the plan then. ?’ Nelson said, total resignation showing clearly now.
With the contempt of these mere mortals seething through his broken teeth as he whispered the plan, this hideously malformed creature continued:
‘Under cover of darkness, move the troops of the 55th Infantry Regiment that are on the right flank, which is where the artillery will hit soon, to your centre, when the cavalry charge the area where they think there are only a few survivors, they will be met with cannon fire from Lieutenant Lanpheres’ artillery and halted..
This will mean the infantry cannot march on the flank, you hold that position with the 16th Infantry Regiment. Then as the fight gets intense on the flank you drive the 55th, 66th and 71st Regiments up the road between MacCrays’ and Hills’ troops, causing a split force, and ensuring your triumph.’
After considering the strategic evaluation of the plan, Nelson ordered the movement, silently under cover of darkness, the 55th moved to the centre of the line.
‘You know, Bull, this could work.’ Manson said.
‘Sure hope so, or I just sold my soul to that thing, for nothing.’
As night fell, the cannons roared loud, just as foretold they hit the right flank where the 55th should have been, a couple hours of constant artillery rounds, and then silence.
The next thing to be heard was the sound of hooves as the predicted cavalry charge approached, then the sound of the Union cannons as they tore through the charge, Lanpheres’ meagre 6 guns had done their role, the cavalry was halted, the position held.
The 16th Indiana moved slowly forward to engage their foe, who were now fighting a holding position, as from their other flank the could see the 55th, 66th and 71st regiments cutting through the middle and splitting the forces at the hill.
As the sharpshooters tried to contain one flank with an accurate volley, the 95th, Ohio Regiment, held back until now led a charge on their position, with two fields of fire now the shooters effectiveness lessened, and the were turned, their flank cracked open now the Confederate troops in turmoil, Kirby Smiths’ planned victory now in ruins as Cleburne could only hold a losing flank position here with little support, and the cavalry charge by Scott that was supposed to hold the enemy right before the infantry went in, torn apart by cannons.
Seizing the moment Nelson ordered a cavalry charge through the middle and routed the opposition, Cleburne was pushed back, Richmond held, and Lexington and Frankfort saved as the Union marched on through Kentucky, banners held high, grateful citizens cheering their troops on.
‘We did it, Bull.’ Manson said ‘Saved Richmond and this flank.’
‘But as what costs, look out there at those things, Mahlon, what did I do. Those men, even the Yankees, much as I hate their living souls, died for a cause, and now I have enslaved them for a lifeless eternity.’
Union, Confederate, black, white, rich or poor it mattered little as the dead have no allegiances, as the grey shadowy figures moved amongst the dead, feasting on the rotten carcasses, and watching as more rose up.
All around was the stench of rotting flesh, as the corpses came to life, their flesh hanging in shreds from broken, ragged bones.