Author: Dody Myers
2013 Reissue Edition
Trade Paperback, 6"x 9"
ISBN 978-1-62268-043-6 print
ISBN 978-1-62268-044-3 ebook
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OF THE FALLING SPRING
Author: Dody Myers
During the bloody
conflict known as the Civil War no other town north of the Mason-Dixon
line suffered as much as Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. This beautiful little
town, nestled in the Cumberland Valley, drew the attention of Confederate
forces on three occasions. Chambersburg was targeted both as a major railroad
junction and for its abundance of provisions and horses.
On October 10, 1862, the town was raided
by General James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart and approximately
1,800 Confederate cavalrymen. They destroyed the Cumberland Valley Railroad
shops, took over a thousand horses, captured hostages, and relieved the
town of much value, before returning to Virginia. Strangely enough, they
completely eluded Union forces.
On June 26, 1863, thousands of Confederate
troops camped east of town. General Robert E. Lee and General Ambrose
Powell Hill met in the town square to discuss advancement towards either
Gettysburg or Harrisburg. The decision made in Chambersburg to advance
east toward Gettysburg was a prelude to the great Battle of Gettysburg
five days later. This meeting is memorialized by a brass star on the street
surface of the town square in front of the present Central Presbyterian
On July 30, 1864, Confederate General John
McCausland entered the town and issued an order demanding $100,000 in
gold or $500,000 in Yankee currency, or the town would be burned. After
experiencing the previous visits of Confederate forces, the town residents
had removed or hidden all their valuables. As a result, the demands could
not be met and the town was torched. Some 550 buildings burned, 2,000
people were left homeless, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage
was done to personal property and real estate.
The period of time covered in this novel,
as well as the towns and battles depicted, are accurate, but instances
of military protocol may have been altered in the interest of developing
the story line.
The day that was to
forever change the lives of Abigail and Sarah Kennedy began quietly enough.
Certainly there had been no indication on this Friday morning that before
the day ended there would be an invasion of their quiet Pennsylvania town,
a rape, and a murder.
glanced at rain beating against the window panes of Susan Chamber's parlor
on Front Street, her mood as dreary as the weather outside. It was the
second week of October, almost the end of 1862, marking the second dreadful
year of the War Between the States. Only the muted chatter of a dozen
women, the comforting tick of a grandfather clock, the settling of a log
in the grate, and the steady rain pelting the tin roof broke the heavy
silence. Chambersburg's Ladies Aid Society had been gathered since early
morning to roll bandages, pick lint and make compresses for the numerous
temporary hospitals that stretched from their Pennsylvania border town
to the battlefield at Antietam Creek in nearby Sharpsburg, Maryland.
Abby grabbed another length of linen and
listlessly began to scrape its surface to raise the nap. Picking lint
was not her idea of a stimulating morning. She glanced sideways at her
sister. Sarah did not seem to mind the tedium, but then she was always
the calm, methodical one.
An hour later, Abby wiped her sore fingers
on her apron, threw the length of linen into a nearby wicker basket and
caught her sister's eye.
"That's that," she announced.
"It's way past noon, and this is our day to help at the hospital."
"Oh, must we?" Sarah whispered.
"I can't sleep at night after seeing all those poor boys with their
"Of course we must!" Abby cut
Sarah a reproachful look. "It bothers me too, but you know how important
the work is."
With a groan, Sarah looked out the window
at the pouring rain. "We'll be soaked before we reach Franklin Hall."
"It's only a block, you silly goose,"
Abby said with a chuckle. "Besides, the rain will feel good after
spending all morning in this stuffy room." She pulled heavy cloaks
from a peg by the door and handed one to her sister. "Pull your hood
over your head, and run as fast as you can."
Together they scurried along Front Street,
slipping and sliding on the muddy, leaf-strewn walkway as they darted
toward Franklin Hall. The Hall had served as Chambersburg's entertainment
center in happier days, then as a hospital when an epidemic of spotted
fever swept through an encampment of over three thousand Union soldiers
at the fairgrounds west of town. Now, together with King Street School
and the Academy, it housed hundreds of men wounded at Antietam Creek.
Abby had read in the newspapers that more than twenty-three thousand Union
and Confederate soldiers had been killed or wounded in that terrible battle,
lasting only one day. Even in her wildest imagination she couldn't comprehend
that many men gathered in one place, let alone killed in a single day.
Abby and Sarah slipped into the side doorway
and were soon working diligently among the rows of shattered, mutilated
boys lying on makeshift litters. Abby thrust out her chin and compressed
her lips. The Confederacy with their damnable "cause" had created
all this senseless suffering.
She and Sarah toiled until dusk began to
darken the tall windows. The rattle of pouring rain mixed with the groans,
and occasional screams of the wounded so filled the room that Abby was
unaware of the excitement outside until a cold hand touched her arm, and
she looked up into the pale face of her best friend, Elizabeth Hartman.
"Have you heard, Abby?" Elizabeth
"Heard? Heard what?"
"We've been invaded by the Confederates.
Oh, Abby, Chambersburg's to be under martial law. Colonel McClure is negotiating
the terms of surrender right now."
Abby gaped at her friend.
"Jeb Stuart, and thousands of Rebel
cavalry, invaded us about four o'clock," Elizabeth continued, her
voice edged with tension.
Sarah joined them, her face blanching at
the news. "Has there been any shooting? With all the noise in here
we didn't hear a thing."
"No. They've cut the telegraph lines,
but they say they're only after horses and supplies," Elizabeth said,
worrying the ribbons of her bonnet. "Daddy's in dire need of help
at the inn, that's why I came looking for you. Every hotel in town is
filled with soldiers."
"You want me to come . . . to serve
Rebel soldiers?" Abby stammered in disbelief. "Never!"
"If you don't want to serve in the
tavern you can help make up beds. They've commandeered every room in town.
It's only for a few hours. Please!"
"But it'll be way past dark when we
finish," Sarah moaned. "We can't travel back to our farm with
Confederates camped all around us."
"It's almost dark, now," Elizabeth
reminded her. "You can stay overnight in the hotel. Daddy will send
our man to tell your papa." She pulled her cloak tight and began
to move toward the door. "I must get back to help. Please come."
She forced a tight smile. "General Stuart assured Colonel McClure
that private property would not be harmed nor people molested. You'll
be perfectly safe."
Abby and Sarah stood
in the doorway of the Falling Spring Inn staring in disbelief. The murmur
of voices rose and fell like ocean waves before an impending storm, washing
the far corners of the crowded taproom packed with soldiers in butternut
and Confederate gray.
"Abby," Sarah groaned. "Whatever
can we do?"
Abby swallowed. Much as she hated the idea
of serving Rebels she certainly couldn't trot off upstairs to make beds
and leave her sister to cope with this room full of drunken soldiers.
The poor girl was already trembling. "We must give Elizabeth a hand.
She'll need the three of us to handle this crowd. I'll help here in the
"But we've never waited on tables before.
We don't know how." Abby felt herself responding to the challenge.
This might actually be fun. She smiled and took Sarah's hand. "Come
now, in all this noise and confusion I doubt anyone will notice that we
don't know what we're doing."
Abby noticed him almost
immediately as she scurried among the tablesthe lone Confederate
officer leaning against the wall and staring at her. Unlike most of the
disreputable men crowding the room, this soldier was clean shaven and
well groomed, whipcord-lean, with dark copper hair brushed back from a
face of distinct, hard angles. His arresting green eyes traveled slowly
down her body and then back up. He gave a half-smile of appreciation.
She could feel the heat flaming her face; it was the most insulting and
provocative look she had ever received. She raised her tray of drinks
high in the air and flounced past him before he could summon her attention,
knowing all the time that his eyes were on her, watching her.
The first hour flew by and Abby quickly
became adept at moving around the crowded tables, her heavy trays bearing
beef stew, warm biscuits, rye coffee, brandy, gin, whiskey, ale or foaming
lager beer. Suddenly a hush fell over the taproom as three vagabond raiders
banged through the front door and headed toward a table set against the
log wall at the back of the taproom. They were quite drunk.
Tattered and grimy, the men wore uniforms
of butternut home-spun, their pants tucked into knee-high boots. Sabers
and bowie knives hung from their hips, and gray or black slouch hats adorned
with feathers and plumes covered long matted hair and tangled beards.
Their leader, Billy Baines, was a mite of
a man who made up for his lack of size with a pair of Navy Colts. The
Raiders were familiar with every mountain trail and wooded nook in Maryland
and Northern Virginia, experts at striking, scattering and melting into
the countryside, eluding vastly superior enemy forces.
The men sat down and were soon ignored.
The din of voices resumed.
Every bench and table overflowed with boisterous
Confederates, many singing "Dixie" at the top of their lungs.
Around the room, conversation ebbed and flowed. Outside the rain poured
and inside the drinks flowed. Curses and drunken laughter filled the room
that reeked of unwashed bodies, sour whiskey, and stale tobacco. Every
table was filled; soldiers lined the walls, milling around the bar. Baines
and his companions were on their third round of drinks and growing noisier
by the minute.
Abby had been serving food and drink for
almost an hour, deliberately avoiding the far side of the room. Now, drawn
by an unsettling attraction, she found herself approaching the copper-haired
officer she had noticed earlier.
"Can I get you anything, sir?"
she asked in a businesslike voice.
"Only your company."
"That's hardly possible, even if I
had the time . . . or the inclination."
"Then a mug of ale will have to suffice."
His voice was low, a slow, drawling sound.
"As soon as I can. It seems as though
every Rebel soldier in this room wants to drown himself in liquor."
He gave her a sardonic smile. "War
tends to do that to a man."
Unable to come up with a quick retort Abby
cast him a baleful glance, and left him standing against the wall. She'd
make sure he had to wait. She maneuvered her way toward the bar and served
several other tables before returning with his drink. As he removed it
from her tray she furtively inspected him. His eyes were greennot
an ordinary green, but a deep turquoise, and when they fixed themselves
on her she felt an odd lurch in her stomach.
"My name is Ford McKenzie," he
"I don't care to know your name."
"Oh! I thought we were becoming acquainted."
He grinned. "I'd like to know yours."
With a nervous gesture she reached up to
smooth her hair. "Ah . . . Abigail . . . Abigail Kennedy."
"Abigail. That's a pretty name. As
pretty as the lady it belongs to."
A faint flush sped up Abby's neck, and she
answered him with a coy smile. This man was having an effect on her she
didn't care to analyze.
"Do they call you Abby?"
Just then a soldier staggered against her,
knocking her off balance. Ford reached out to steady her and as his warm
hand lingered on her arm she again felt that odd sensation in her stomach.
Whatever was the matter with her? He was a Confederate officer, for heaven's
sakea hated Rebeland here she was practically flirting with
Elizabeth hurried by and shot her a puzzled
Abby jerked her arm away. "I must get
back to work," she said.
He nodded and let her go.
Thoughtfully Ford watched her as she retreated.
He admired the way she carried herselfthe proud tilt of her head
and the willful set of her chin. She moved among the throng of men with
a poise few women possess, yet he suspected she was still in her teens.
It was quite evident that she was not an ordinary barmaid, probably a
local girl pressed into service to tend this unexpected assault on their
small town. As she stopped at a nearby table to take an order, she turned
so that she was facing him. He grinned, wondering if that move was intentional.
Her yellow flowered dress spread its billowing material over voluminous
petticoats, lovely on her trim figure. Gray eyes, framed by black lashes,
were turbulent, obstinate, robust with life, and thick, ebony hair lay
softly on her shoulders, the heat in the room causing tiny tendrils to
curl around her face.
Ford stifled a smile as she made a great
show of indifference to his scrutiny. He would like to know her better,
but his stay here was only temporary. He would be back in Virginia tomorrow.
"A shame," he murmured to himself, "she's a very intriguing
The evening had turned
into a rowdy affair with much whooping, hollering, swearing, and thumping
of boots on the wooden floor. Abby had just finished serving Baines' men
another round of drinks when the tavern door flew open and her father
shoved his way into the crowded room. His eyes, cold with fury, raked
the smokey interior until he spotted her. With a sweep of his arm he motioned
Abby to his side.
She hurried across the room, swallowing
a lump in her throat. Something must be wrong back at the farm. Papa had
apparently hurried in from the fieldshis homespun work shirt and
old fashioned broadfall trousers caked with mud. A vein pulsed in the
temple of his broad face.
"They took our horses," he sputtered
before she could speak. "Took them right out of the stableBay
Hunter and Princess and Blaze. Said they'd make a fine seat for their
officers." The veins in her father's neck stood out in vivid ridges
and his face grew scarlet. "I've been searching the streets for hours.
I swear I'll track those thieves down and kill every blasted one of them."
"Oh, Papa, I'm so sorry."
"Cannon fodder . . . that's what they'll
Abby's brow knotted with concern. Suddenly
she saw him as oldold and tired and utterly defeated. This war was
exacting a terrible toll on him. First her brother, Tom, had marched off
to fight for the Union and now his favorite horses had been taken to serve
the Confederacy. God, how she hated these Southerners; it was their fault
the country was at war.
"Come, sit down," she said.
He exhaled heavily. "They gave me a
worthless receipt, mind you. How in the world will we farm without horses?"
Abby looked away, shaking her head in commiseration,
but a shout from the bar drew her attention to the filled trays waiting
to be served. "I'll talk to you later, Papa. I must go now; Sarah
and Elizabeth can't handle these tables alone."
"I plan to stay the night. I was worried
about you two girls. It's not safe to travel, the roads are swarming with
"What about Brandon?"
"Ila is with him. He's thirteen, old
enough to stay at home as long as our servant is there. The damage to
our farm is already done the wretched Rebels stole everything they could
lay their rotten hands on." He glanced sourly around the room. "This
is no place for you and Sarah."
"Elizabeth and Mr. Hartman need our
"Well, I'll wait here until you are
More tankards of dark
ale were served to the table against the wall. Abby's father, a narrow
line etched between his brows, sat quietly, his pale eyes flickering over
the crowd, pausing, then settling on Baines. He cocked his head and watched
Abby and her sister shuttled between tables
with confidence now.
Billy Baines watched the girls while swigging
lustily at his mug. The one called Sarah captured his imagination as she
moved about the tables sedately, vulnerable to the jibes of the noisy
soldiers. Blond and pretty, with a heart-shaped face now flushed with
color, she was rounded in all the right places, yet not heavy in arms
or hips. Only her bodice showed the maturity of full breasts that made
a hot wave sweep into his belly.
"Girl!" Baines yelled, waving
his pewter mug in the air to attract Sarah's attention. "What must
a thirsty warrior do to get another drink in this god-forsaken watering
"Shut up, Baines," one of his
companions muttered, casting an embarrassed glance around the suddenly
"Yeah, Billy. You want these Northern
folks to think we Southerners are uncivilized?" the other man asked,
color flushing his bearded face.
Baines banged his fist on the table with
a hollow laugh. "Don't give a particular damn what the citizens of
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania think of us. Long as they hand over their fat
horses and keep my belly filled." He wiped spittle from his mouth
with the sleeve of his filthy jacket, his gaze traveling up and down the
lush figure of Sarah, as she approached with full mugs of ale. "And
maybe furnish a little poo-tang for a man far from home."
When Sarah leaned over to place the drink
before him he ran his hand up her arm. She jerked away so violently the
ale slopped over the table and onto his lap.
"Slut! You'll pay for that," he
bellowed, clutching her arm in a viselike grip.
She gave a little squeal of alarm, and in
seconds Abby and her father were at her side.
"Take your hand off my daughter,"
Mr. Kennedy growled, his eyes blazing.
"Your daughter, huh? Pretty little
thing. That other gal yours, too?"
"Indeed she is. Now . . ."
At this moment, the red-haired officer Abby
had been talking with earlier strode toward the table with an air of command.
"Baines, I believe you and your companions have had enough to drink
tonight. It's time you leave," he ordered. There was no doubting
Baines wiped away a small mustache of ale
foam with his sleeve and jumped to his feet, knocking his chair against
the wall, his face flushed with indignation. One of his companions grabbed
his arm. "Come, Captain Baines. You know General Lee will have your
ass if he hears about any Southerner mistreating a woman."
Baines swayed on his feet and opened his
mouth to protest, then snapped it shut. His gaze roamed up and down Sarah's
body, coming to rest on her full bosom, lust plain on his flushed face.
His companions snickered and took his arm, steering him toward the door
of the hotel, and within minutes they splashed from the shelter of the
tavern into the blowing rain.
Baines had set up camp along Falling Spring
Creek, not more than a mile east of the center of town, and he fell onto
his cot fully clothed, seething with drunken resentment and unrequited
desire. The more he thought about the shapely girl the more intense his
desire became. He cast a look about the darkened tent at his loudly snoring
companions. He wanted the barmaid from the hotel, but any girl would do.
He sat up, his blood aflame, tucked his colt.44 into his belt and crept
outside. It had stopped raining and a heavy fog enveloped the camping
area, swirling about the tents like clumps of wool awaiting the spinning
He followed the creek and within half an
hour heard the roar of tumbling water. It was the sound of the waterfall
he had heard earlierthe hotel must be close by.
He rested, breathing hard. The inn was dark
except for one tiny window where a lantern flickered behind flimsy curtains
billowing in the gentle breeze. Billy moved closer. The window was set
into a slight protrusion from the rear wall, probably not much more than
a sleeping alcove. He drew closer, chuckling with drunken delight as a
shadowy figure moved to stand in front of the open window. It was the
shapely girl from the tavern who had been serving him. Sarah, the one
with the big tits. Luck was with him tonight.
The girl doused the lantern and moved to
close the open window, then hesitated as though savoring the sharp cold
Billy held his breath. She lowered the window,
then moved away. Quiet descended and Billy sank to the ground to wait.
He gave her half an hour to get to sleep,
then crept to the window, worked it open slowly, and pulled aside the
fluttering curtain. Moonlight illuminated the sleeping girl, her full
figure outlined beneath a thin sheet.
Hot blood rushed to his groin. Silently
he squeezed himself through the narrow opening, for once thankful for
his small stature, and carefully lowered himself to the floor.
He was on her in seconds, covering her mouth
with his hand as she frantically tossed her head in terror. The force
of her resistance caused him to lose his grip on her mouth, and she bit
one of his fingers. With an oath he pulled his revolver from its holster
and pushed it into the side of her throat.
"Lay still if you want to keep your
pretty neck," he growled.
He gathered her face between cruel hands
and covered her lips with his, a hard brutal kiss not intended to give
pleasure. She writhed beneath him, her eyes transfixed with horror. "Now
let me see those globes of yours," he said, tearing at the fabric
covering her breasts.
Her lips formed a mute plea and she gave
a terrified scream. Then her eyes rolled back in her head and she seemed
to lose consciousness. Her nightdress rode high on her legs, her breasts
spilled from the torn fabric. He almost lost control. He was hard as a
It was over in seconds and his spent body
collapsed on hers. He lay motionless for a moment, then as he heaved himself
from the bed the door flew open and the girl's father and her sister,
clad only in their nightclothes, entered the room.
In the throes of his climax he had carelessly
allowed the revolver to slip from his fingers onto the floor, and now
his eyes searched frantically for its whereabouts. Abby, seeing her ravaged
sister spread-eagle on the bloody sheet, threw herself at Billy like a
rabid dog. She hit him with such force he fell backward against her advancing
father, and they both fell to the floor. Both sets of hands scrambled
for the revolver, but only one found it in time to take aim and fire.
"Oh, my God," Abby screamed. "You've
©2013 Dody Myers