|If Only: A Daughter of the Civil War's Story
Author: UnionKate PM
Katherine Richards's father was killed in the Civil War. But that doesn't stop her form wanting to join the Union - and when she does, she never could've imagined the hardships, tragedies, joys and sacrifices she would have to face. Follow Kate in her journey as she fights her way through the harshest war in American history. R&R, please! I'm terrible at summaries!Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Chapters: 10 - Words: 17,222 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 09-03-12 - Published: 08-15-12 - id: 3050693
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hi everyone! I'm new to fictionpress, but I've been writing stories like this one for a long time. I want to get this one published once it's done, but I wanted some feedback on it first! I hope you guys like it, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE REVIEW! If you've got any questions, just message me! So just sit back, relax, and enjoy If Only: A Daughter of the Civil War's Story.
Chapter 1: A Union Girl
The barrage of soldiers and horses surged forward at the captain's resounding command. Men yelled; battle cries rose into shrieks of agony as the two forces – Union and Confederate – clashed with weapons glinting, eyes glowing, and hooves tearing the earth. I restrained my own mount – a glossy chestnut stallion – with a tight grip on the reins. He pranced eagerly in place; his nostrils flared pink. His body was tense with anticipation.
"Easy, boy," I murmured. The high-strung thoroughbred's ears flicked back in my direction, reluctantly listening. "That's it."
He shook out his mane and exhaled for the first time in a long while, but fire had ignited in his eyes and no words of mine could douse it.
I reached tentatively over my shoulder, fingers brushing the rifle I had yet to use, aside from target shooting. Fully loaded with bullets and gunpowder, it was ready to fire – the trigger cried to be used in the heat of battle. But fear seemed to paralyze me. My hands were unable, unwilling to unstrap the gun, settle it against my shoulder, and lay a careful finger beside the trigger. My mind knew I'd have to. My heart knew I couldn't - not yet.
One of my fellow soldiers called to me from the mob – it was Ryan, waving frantically with his own rifle in hand. "Come on!" he cried. "We need you! We need-"
Then a Confederate troop was upon him, coat flashing grey, his horse's legs flailing for a foothold. The two grappled viciously – a gunshot rang clear among the commotion, and the Confederate clutched his horse's neck as they galloped away, a red stain blossoming on his thigh.
Ryan gave me a quick, triumphant glance, beckoning me forward with one hand.
"I'm coming," I whispered. "I'm coming…"
I heeled my horse forward, finally summoning up the courage as I reached around, unclasped my rifle, and notched it in the crook of my shoulder.
The next few moments happened so swiftly I could barely make sense of them.
A gunshot ripped the air.
I felt a sudden blaze of pain in my side, burning its way into my consciousness like a wildfire. My scream of terror and pain – oh, the pain! – sliced through the noise of battle. Darkness smudged the corners of my vision. I lost my balance; the world lurched sideways, and I felt myself disconnect from the saddle, sliding, toppling, falling through empty air, striking the ground with a dull thud and rolling a few agonized feet before coming to rest – my body, but not my mind. My brain swirled with questions, demands, all without answers. Who shot me? Where was I hit? I'm going to die… oh, I'm going to die… I'm sorry, Mother, I'm sorry, Heather, I'm sorry, Eleanor… Oh, what I wouldn't give for a last farewell…
And then harsh realization struck me. They're going to find out… find out my secret… find out why I acted so strangely... why I so rarely spoke and why I never looked anybody in the eye.
And then a wave of shadows swept over me, and everything – my vision, my thoughts, and my hope – went black.
I woke suddenly, panting, a cold sweat slicking my forehead. The dream had been so real – so vivid. I almost checked my shoulder for a rifle and my ribs for a bullet wound. Of course I found none. It was all just something in my head, something I fantasized about.
Something called joining the Union Army.
I slid silently out of bed, shedding my nightclothes as my hands groped for something to wear for the day. I extracted something from the dresser drawer; I pulled it over my head before reaching for a brush, running it through my dark chestnut hair. Bleary-eyed, I paced across the room to the full-length mirror dominating the corner.
The reflection gazing back at me was the reason I couldn't fulfill my dream.
My feet were small, almost dainty, leading up to pale, slender legs. My clothes – like that of a stable boy, a fact that would be much to my mother's dismay – clung to my willowy midsection. A silver necklace with a sterling key for a pendant was clasped around my throat.
My face was attractive – or so the townspeople liked to say – with high cheekbones, pale, porcelain-perfect skin, a dusting of freckles across my nose, and eyes that were an almost startling shade of rich, oceanic blue. My hair – dark and smooth, like the coffee Eleanor, my sister, made – hung in loose waves several inches past my shoulders, parted neatly down the center.
I was banned from the army because I was a girl. A fourteen-year-old girl, one of three sisters born to a wealthy Massachusetts family – the middle child, preceded by the oldest sibling, Heather, and followed by the youngest, Eleanor, a little pixie of a child with soft, curly golden hair and fine features like our mother's. Our father, Samuel… he'd joined the army, like I so desperately wished to do. Only he'd never come home. He'd been killed – one of many soldiers lost in the worst of many battles won by the Confederates. The only time our mother had ever cried was when he returned – in a coffin, his belongings packed and shipped with his body. Among the items was a journal. Every day, I read a week or two's worth of entries, savoring the tales of heroic victories, tragic losses, and the thrilling everyday life of a soldier that loved the north almost as much as he loved his family. He spoke of his unconditional adoration for Heather, Eleanor, and me, Katherine, as well as our mother.
I turned, discouraged, from the mirror and went to my nightstand. The top drawer was locked. I unclipped the key from around my neck, slid it carefully through the keyhole, and turned it, waiting for the click of three tumblers before I tugged the drawer open.
Inside, sitting in a nest of royal blue fabric from Daddy's uniform, was a well-worn journal, the leather cover laced with cracks. I sighed as I inhaled its musty aroma – the smell of my father. Gently, like I was handling glass, I lifted the little booklet from its place, settled onto my bed, flipped it open to a bookmark and started to read.