I brushed aside the flap of the tent. Inside, my friend and commanding officer, Isaac Guion, was scraping the dry nib of a feather pin across parchment.
“Don’t go wearing that out. Good good feathers are hard to come by out here.” I joked.
“What?” He asked, confused. “Oh. The pen. I was trying to figure out what to say in my report.”
“How about, ‘Spanish left, burned down fort, moved next door, still smell’? Accurate enough.”
Isaac gave me a disapproving frown. “The general would appreciate the brevity. The wit would be lost on him, though.”
“You were supposed to secure the eastern bank of the river, and you did it. Did it without firing a shot or getting anyone – me most of all – killed in the process.”
“Spanish are still here, though.”
“On their side of the river.” I reminded him, as I dug through his footlocker. “My father had a saying, ‘When in doubt, do the only reasonable thing. Drink tonight and worry about it in the morning.’”
I drug a bottle of bourbon from his things and pulled the cork out with my teeth.
“Wasn’t your father a minister?”
“Oh, yes. His church was very popular.”
Isaac Guion was the commander of a contingent of US soldiers sent south from what is now present-day Cincinnati to claim the Spanish fort, Assumption, on the east banks of the Mississippi as property of the newly born United States of America. Problem being, the Spanish were still occupying the fort. To his surprise, when his force arrived on the Memphis bluffs, the fort was burned to the ground and the Spanish had fled across the river.