Tuesday, May 20, 2008
A Confederate Map Pt. 5
As Julian Christmas wrote of the strange twist of fate that led to the map of a buried treasure, I could envision him sitting in a hole with the wounded Corporal Paulson and speaking in low whispers by the light of several burning wagons around them. I could see him checking the wound and trying to keep the feverish man alive as they quietly talked.
The strange tale of how the treasure was buried in secrecy was written here before me, but many things were left out as the handwriting continued with the story of the map.
Lt. Christmas gave the man water and prayed that they could escape back to their lines before the daylight that promised renewed fighting directly on top of their position.
The burning wagons around them gave light for Union sharpshooters and he had seen at least two men shot down while trying to move through the light from the fires. He only hoped that the fires would die down within a few hours so that he could escape in the darkness.
Lt. Christmas did not explain how he got there or the strange coincidence of how the Corporal had ended in that spot either, but I tried to piece it together in my mind.
Strange things happen in war. Remember that a simple rest stop and the finding of a small packet with three cigars changed the course of history at Antietam; and there are multitudes of stories of brother meeting brother or kin on several of the great battlefields of the Civil War. Maybe meetings like this are not merely coincidence, but fate. I had spent many late night hours trying to decipher the stilted handwriting and as the two men talked of the hidden treasure and how they could all start over after the war; finally the story of the map came out.
General Forrest and his cavalry were ordered to disrupt the supply lines that kept the Federals moving eastward toward Atlanta. The Union troops outnumbered him at least 3 to 1 and the Confederates were really no match as they found themselves out-gunned and out-manned.
The General had to split his forces and the Corporal found himself under the orders of Major Bryan. The overwhelming forces they faced soon had them cut-off and late in the afternoon, the Major was mortally wounded. Corporal Paulson had been wounded and left unconscious. When he awoke, the battle had moved on and he found himself lying next to the Major. He checked him for signs of life and found none. He remembered that the map had been carried inside the Major’s tunic at all times and after a quick check, he slipped the leather case inside his own shirt and started working himself across the bloody landscape to get back to his lines even though he was badly injured and bleeding.
Darkness, loss of blood and exhaustion had put him in the foxhole, and the circling battle had led to Lt. Christmas tumbling into the hole with him after his horse was killed. A strange coincidence had thrown these two men together in the midst of a bloody and epic battle that would end the war. The fires burned lower as Corporal Paulson pulled the leather dispatch folder from his shirt and offered to split the treasure so they could start anew in the rich Mississippi Delta after the war. Julian shook hands with him to seal the deal. Just before dawn Lt. Christmas checked on the sleeping man and Corporal Paulson had died of his wounds. Lt. Christmas took the leather packet and made his escape in the still darkness before day.