Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Patrick Woods

When I quit Memphis, I knew most of my acquaintances must’ve thought my rather sudden love of the secessionist movement a rather strange turn of character.

Sadly, the reality was one of cowardice and not patriotism. I’d run up some rather serious gambling debts in the weeks before the Union took the city, and I doubted my debtors would be so lugubrious in seeking repayment once marshal law lifted.

I petitioned the Provost Marshal for a pass out of the city, claiming I had a sickly mother in Alabama that desperately needed my care. A pass was granted, and I left the next day, believing my troubles behind me.

Some time later, I came upon a wagon of men traveling along the same road. They said they were refugees fleeing the tyranny of Union occupation. Jokingly, I professed to be a kindred soul, and they promptly offered me passage on their wagon.

Once I’d settled into a free space, the men around me struck into a Confederate fighting song I had never heard before.

And promptly followed it with ten more.

A sinking feeling grew in me that I’d escaped one bad situation by leaping head-long into the next.

Memphis Note
Special Order Number 1 was issued when the Union forces took Memphis during the Civil War. It established marshal law, and gave a window of time for men to either take the oath of loyalty to the United States, or petition for pass to leave the city. Several less than scrupulous people took this as an opportunity to flee various forms of debts by escaping to the other side of the Union lines.

David Nielsen

General William Tecumseh Sherman had one of those faces that seemed to have forgotten how to look kind, if, in fact, it ever knew how in the first place. And when he chose to look angry, as he did now, it was a terrible thing to behold.

“Take a letter,” the general growled at his aid.

“To B.W. Shapp, Commissioner of Memphis,” he began. “Received your letter yesterday. Apparently need to remind you that I am a general in the Army of these United States of America, and not an arbiter of petty squabbles between pathetic gabblers and drunken fools.

“You are doubtless aware of Judge Swayne and his court. I suggest you utilize it. But do remind Swayne that if he dares to try and contradict me from the bench, I’ll slap him in irons, throw him off the bench and possibly drop him from the nearest tree by his neck. Might I suggest criminals be dealt with similarly.

“Lastly, don’t forget that any further problems you might have can be easily rectified, by enlisting.”

Sherman stopped and looked over to his steward.

“Get all of that? Good. Now make it sound nice.” He paused. “But not too nice.”

Memphis Note
William Tecumseh Sherman is a cursed name in the South. He was a monster of a man that burned his way from Memphis, Tennessee to Savannah, Georgia, leaving naught but ruin in his wake. Which is why I find it funny that he had to rule over Memphis before starting off on his march to the sea. You see, Memphis was a mean town to begin with, but by the time Sherman rolled in, the only people left were the worst of the worst and the most spoiled of the spoiled. Quite possibly the most problematic mix of citizenry imaginable.