Passages Three

Do you save things? I do. When I’m walking along a creek bed or a forest path I find things. Odd things. Pretty things. Curious things. Sometimes I put them in my pocket. Momentos…

When I return home I put these things on the window sill in my cabin, or my bookshelves, or anyplace I can find to tuck them in. They remind me, sometimes decades later, of trips I took, vacations Kathy and I shared, people I’ve met or moments I am glad I can still recall.

The items are certainly meaningless and practically valueless to anyone beyond me. My descendants will be left scratching their cumulative heads wondering why on earth I kept this stuff. If they only knew the sacred memories they served up.
dal-

Below is one of Forrest’s interesting saves…


A Dark Date with Destiny

In 1974, a relation of Algernon Smith marched into my gallery reeking of a very strong libation, and handed me three little books. Then he started slurring his words about the original owner of the books, not knowing that I probably knew more about the man than he did. When he mentioned his price, which was three times too high, I grabbed my wallet before he could change his mind.

I was excited as the relative strode smiling from my office, rubbing his hands together. He probably didn’t realize that he would soon spend his new money on Jim Beam and then have nothing to show for our deal, and I would have these three treasures warming a shelf near my desk for the rest of my life.

Here is why the books are important to me.

In 1863, Lt. Algernon Smith was assigned as Aide-de-Camp to Major General Alfred Terry, which brings his story close to me because 92 years, and a few wars later, I too would be assigned Aide-de-Camp to a Major General.

Algernon was born in 1842, and his life started on an auspicious roll through college, and even the Civil War. He had several horses shot from under him and each time he toppled to the ground unhurt. He survived the fierce battle at Cold Harbor, the fight at Drury’s Farm, and others. In 1865, he took a bullet at Ft. Fisher, near the Cape Fear River, and was severely wounded.

He bounced back, and in 1867, after the war was over, Algernon found himself assigned to the 7th US Cavalry Regiment commanded by General George Armstrong Custer, a man who washed his teeth with salt, but in whose company Algernon was particularly comfortable.

For the next nine years Custer and Smith fought side by side through some major Indian wars, including The Battle on the Washita in 1868, and The Yellowstone Campaign in 1873. Three years later Mother Luck took a ferocious turn against him.

It was June 25, 1876, when as Commander of Company E, Algernon rode into the Valley of the Little Bighorn River with the whole of the 7th US Calvary. Within a few hours 258 of those fighting men were dead, including Custer. A bullet had cleaved a tunnel through his side even as another pierced his gallant breast. Algernon abandoned his men to join his commander on “Last Stand Hill,” where they fell together, side by side. Algernon’s body, riddled with arrows, lay supine upon the hard baked ground. He was 33 years old. They both failed to hear the last brash roll of musketry as it rolled across the hot Montana sky. Fickle is the finger that points at success.

The best book on the Custer fight, Son of the Morning Star, was written by Evan Connell, who was almost a hermit.

Nevertheless he never failed to walk down the hill from his house in Santa Fe, and meet me for Coffee at the Plaza Café. Both his memory and his golden words are two of my treasures that I will never hide.

In one of my next lives I want to be Evan Connell. f

 


 

117 thoughts on “Passages Three

  1. Gary Owen is a great song and pretty catchy at that. I’ve heard it many a time while stationed at Fort Hood. I had a really good buddy from back home in Oregon that was actually in A troop 1/7 at Fort Hood. My initial enlistment into the Army was as an Armored reconnaissance specialist cavalry scout. Tons of history with the Cavalry. I would really love to take a look at that Cavalry Tactics manual you have. I’m wondering how much of the beloved FM 17-98 (the real scout bible) is transcribed from that. Perhaps I can trade you an antiquarian Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for it. I have plenty.

    1SG B

  2. You did a great job with that post Dal, thanks. I hate to say this, but I love that story. I have an original letter from Custer to one of his officers, Captain Yates, asking that he try to find a horse that is not “…spooked on or about the heels?” I have asked a number of historians what that phrase means and none have been able to tell me. Must have been jargon of those times. f

    • Out of boredom I asked a buddy of mine, who is an Army Historian, and he replied with “Wow, I don’t know”. His guess, which I’m sure parallels yours, is that he is searching for a horse that does not scare easily and doesn’t need extra loin heeling to do what the rider wants it to do.

      1SG B

      • Awesome. This is why I asked an Army Historian because I was pretty sure it had to be related to combat operations. His guess was just that, a guess. Thanks for the clarification. Fellow military? Are you on the ground here in NM as well?

      • I was guessing too. I regret putting that as a statement. It’s funny you responded. Nobody and I do mean nobody ever reads anything I post on this blog or any other blog for that matter. It’s probably the right answer though. It feels like the right answer. Who knows if Custer even really said that. As for my gravitar if that’s what you are referring to. She’s my daughter, in the Navy. Was stationed at Camp Pendleton but is deployed at present. But, yeah sorry I was just guessing also.

        • Hi Cloudcover, I just wanted to let you know I always read your posts and noticed when you were gone for awhile, I’m glad you’re back. I’m a big chicken and I don’t post or reply very often and I’m sorry for that because I should have, I’m always happy to see a post from you

          • I also like to read what you say cloud. Where is your daughter deployed, or can you say? f

          • I’m not sure. Sometimes she is not allowed to email out. It’s been about 6 days since she last responded. Somewhere around the horn of Africa I think.

        • cloudcover1,
          So wrong you are, Ive always enjoyed your contributions. I still claim a smile now and again when ever it snows in northern NM, because of you. You were missed for awhile more than you realize.

          • Thank you strawshadow. That surprises me. I often my comings and goings are not noticed.

        • Hey Cloudcover…I think I’ve read and enjoyed many if not all of your posts..I’ve learned a lot from you. I concur with strawshadow…your tale of nearly sliding off the mountain in a snowstorm in Northern New Mexico was gripping! Oh the places we go in our travels…and, it isn’t what we say, it’s what we whisper. Keep whispering.

          • Also…saw my first rattler of the season today by Finger Mountain. Pretty close for comfort. That white stuff ain’t mud and be careful out there NM searchers!

          • Sandy it does seem like I whisper. Actually I mutter. People are always asking me”what did you say?”

        • Good Morning Cloudcover1,

          I’m another one that reads your post, your kind of like me, by not posting a lot all the time. I tend to read post like yours and of course there are those I follow that come across with good thoughts about the chase. I always check out the newbies because I’m just curious of their thoughts with all this info available to them now, not like in the beginning when we were the ones researching a lot of this information. I do see new and different angles of looking at the poem and people trying to figure the “what if’s” and Forrest’s new thoughts so this chase can continue on and not get stagnant. So continue to post there are those of us reading them. Good luck in the chase. Bur

    • I was thinking they probably shod their own horses out in the field so maybe he had been kicked in the face a few times and wanted a horse that was “not spooked on or about the heels” since you have to grab them on or about the heels then they will bend there leg so you can put a shoe on…

        • So, I asked my Mom who currently has eight horses if she knew what this meant“…Spooked on or about the heels?” and she said she didn’t know either 🙂 But she did say that a horse that does not Spook easily is hard to find because they are prey animals — meaning other animals are always trying to eat them – so they are always on the defense and spook easily. Thought that was interesting… She said she would try to find some old farmers and ask them if they know what it means. Oh Boy!! I now know a lot more about horses than I did yesterday! Thanks Forrest! The books are really cool too!

    • Another guess from a woman who has been around horses a little: When dogs try to herd or attack, they nip at the heels of the cow, horse, sheep… a horse that doesn’t rise up to get away from that maybe? I know a smart horse will simply aim and kick a pestering dog, but most horses will leap to avoid it.

    • I’m not an expert on western riding style, but I think the term refers to riding a horse in battle. In battle, when things are chaotic, a rider didn’t want his horse spooking at every swing of the riders legs.

      When the legs would swing, the spurs would jab the horse unexpectedly, and sometimes the horse would frighten (spook) and then buck or run away.

      If this behavior didn’t get the rider killed, the horse would eventually begin to ignore signals from the rider’s spurs, and the horse would essentially become useless.

      • Oh, it might also refer to a horse that isn’t familiar with crossing water. Many horses not familiar with water will spook when it touches their heels…

    • In one of my favorite movies the scene between Kurt Russell and Billy Bob Thornton they say:

      Billy Bob: “well for a man that don’t go heels you run your mouth kind of wreckless don’t you”

      Kurt Russell: “no need to go heeled to get the bulge on a tub like you”

      Here is the scene on YouTube it is at about 1:30:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnXgVcrcyWM

      In that scene the meaning of heels or heeled is unarmed. If I had to guess I would say Custer is asking for a horse that doesn’t get spooked when the shooting starts…

    • Forrest,
      Thank you for sharing so many of your interests and insights with the search community.I for one am very glad you are still involved in the chase you so ingeniously created for all of us chasers. I am grateful to you for all of the knowlege I have acquired during my time in the chase. I visited pigeon ranch last year and was surprised to be able to feel the significance after all the time that has passed. I find it encouraging to think these books share a space near Flywater. I sure would love to visit your library as I am also very fond of old books…..well any how I found an obscure reference to the word heel you mentioned, basically it could be a slope or a hill. I am not a horseman myself but I believe that going up and down steep grades can spook some horses.

    • I dont think anyone has mentioned this yet. If they have Forret i appogize

      Custer was looking for what the greeks called a meek horse. Meek war horses are submissive to the rider to such an extent that they forego even their native instincts. That’s what you need from the horse if you are going to charge Up the creek.

      Lugnutz

      • Yep, lugnutz, as Forrest asks in his vignette “Patriarch of the Remuda,” “What do they know about horses?”

        I think whenever F asks a question, it’s a beacon pointing toward something important.

        I think it’s good to know a lot about horses… 🙂

    • This may not be right, but I didn’t see anyone else mention it. Roping was common for cowboys and likely turning into a rodeo sport by then. I suspect that he may have been referring to a “heeler” type of roping horse. Roping horses are super docile and relaxed most of the time until it’s time to “perform” – and then they’re off to the races, so to speak, and so I suspect that would make good battle horses. Headers always want to lead (and won’t follow), and heelers want to follow and won’t lead. Heelers also tend to want to be on the right with the headers on the left.

      It sounds like he wanted a heeler because it wouldn’t be spooked by the horses (heels) in front of it.

  3. Very interesting post Mr. Fenn. Thanks for taking time to share it with us. I recall standing on Last Stand Hill when I was just seven years old, and it’s the only time I’ve been there. I’m a native Montanan with parents who drank western history rather than Jim Beam. One visit was enough for my family. That experience was a singular time in my 55 years that I felt an erie presence of ancient souls, and the memory remains strong to this day.

    • Is a “spooked horse” a phantom, ghost, white horse name is Ed?

      https://www.wordnik.com/words/spook

      Spook synonyms
      Part of Speech: verb
      Definition: frighten, scare
      Synonyms: alarm, curdle the blood, discomfort, horrify, make one’s blood run cold, make one’s teeth chatter, panic, petrify, scare away, scare stiff, scare the pants off of, scare to death, startle, strike terror into, terrify, unnerve

  4. I love books. 🙂
    I saw a copy of the Infantry Tactics one on eBay once, and I almost bought it.
    All this recent posting about books is really giving me an incentive to go out into the dark recesses of my garage and rescue the 200 or so old books my daughter’s grandfather left her. He was an MIT graduated who lived an oil well life in Texas.

    There might be a treasure or two in there, and might renew my daughter’s interest in books if I can get her away from work long enough to look through them with me. 🙂

  5. Great post. Forrest is in excellent form. I visited Ft. Fisher once, beauiful long white beach. At low tide you can sometimes see a wrecked blockade runner. I didn’t see it on that trip but I did see what’s left of the Nashville near Savannah.

  6. Horses know if you know, and they know if you don’t. One story goes…you don’t need a $30000 horse, you need a $1000 horse and $29000 of riding lessons. : )

    • Speaking of Dark date with destiny…you must have ants in your pants IW…hopefully not fire ants !
      Interesting that both sides of the CWar used Casey’s manuals…and even more interesting that Custer totally disregarded tactics that may have enabled his ego to make better decisions.

      • I’m seriously freaking out Ken. I just recently (past cple days) realized my book formatting is all wrong. I screwed up on placing images in (which brought them under 300 dpi), and I have a fast approaching deadline to get this right. I know my mistakes, so now I’m reformatting the entire book (including images) and for the next week I’m working 8am-8pm, so all this has to get done at night when I could be sleeping. This is exactly what I deserve for thinking I could self-publish my first book without hiccups. As they say in the publishing industry, I’m about to start “burning the midnight oil” 😛

        • Hey Will…chill…I am excited about your book. The devil is in the details…or so it is said. Sleep is overrated and can only really be enjoyed when one is asleep…and thus…the wheel keeps turning.
          I want to hear about your upcoming search and I am sure there are some out there that are on pins and needles. Be well…

        • Are you actually “self publishing” or doing an e-book?
          It makes a difference to what needs to be done prior, to what is done during either self or e-book.

          • Self publishing through CreateSpace. I have about 80 images in it, so they don’t offer format services for anything over I think 40 images. So I’m DIY the formatting for 6 x 9 paperback and they will convert it to Kindle E book. Once I get this formatting fixed, and look at it through the interior reviewer tool they have, I can then submit it all (cover complete) for file review and final proof.

          • YES! I loaded up the first three chapters in their reviewer tool (virtual book) and the rework I did cam out perfect. Just got 16 more chapters to go whew!

      • Well, to be fair, both sides were trained at the same West Point and roughly the same time and many of the Officers knew each other and went to school together ..

        Brad

  7. Interesting story as usual! I am especially liking the recent couple of posts about old books. And another title is added to my Amazon wishlist! 🙂

    dal,
    I apologize if this question has already been addressed elsewhere, but I was curious: how do Forrest’s posts get categorized on the site? It seems like a “passage” post could sometimes just as easily be categorized as a “scrapbook”, “vignette”, etc. & vice versa. When Forrest shares a post, does he direct you where to post it, or do you decide yourself which category seems most appropriate to file it under? Or is it more of a chronological necessary for the website (i.e.: The scrapbook category gets too full, so a new category folder is created to reduce clutter, etc.). Thanks!

  8. “In one of my next lives I want to be Evan Connell. f”

    Haha in my next life I wanna date Evan Connell, he was a good looking man.

    • Sweettea,

      Evan never married but had a short romance with a lady name Gale Garnett, you might have heard her song “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine”. I wonder if this song was meant for Evan and maybe this is why he- as Forrest said ” was almost a hermit”. This chase has done at least one thing and that is it has made me learn things I never would have know with out it. LOL . Here’s Gale’s .song 1965 enjoy. Bur

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9qhovT-x6S8

      • Bur,
        Thanks for the info and song link, whether she wrote it for him or not you started a nice little story in my mind. Oh the song how tragic, makes my heart ache. She WAS beautiful with a lovely voice to boot!
        If only Martha couldve met Evan!

        • Sweettea,

          Gale also wrote novels and collect art. Wonder if Forrest ever knew her and sold her some of her art? Your a little young to know her early songs ( so am I, not) but she is a interesting lady who played Indian and Spanish roles in movies too even though she was from Australia. Not sure if that helps with that “little story in your mind” but good luck in the chase. Bur

          JDA good luck, and I didn’t know you were a singer? As for me I think I sound good in the shower. Lol

      • HA! Love that song Sweattea……It’s on my thumb drive of oldies I listen to in my truck.

        We’ll sing in the sunshine
        We’ll laugh every day
        We’ll sing in the sunshine
        Then I’ll be on my way

        I will never love you
        The cost of love’s too dear
        But though I’ll never love you
        I’ll stay with you one year

        And we can sing in the sunshine
        We’ll laugh every day
        We’ll sing in the sunshine
        Then I’ll be on my way

        I’ll sing to you each mornin’
        I’ll kiss you every night
        But darlin’, don’t cling to me
        I’ll soon be out of sight

        But we can sing in the sunshine
        We’ll laugh every day
        We’ll sing in the sunshine
        Then I’ll be on my way

        My daddy he once told me
        Hey, don’t you love you any man
        Just take what they may give you
        And give but what you can

        And you can sing in the sunshine
        You’ll laugh every day
        You’ll sing in the sunshine
        Then be on your way

        And when our year has ended
        And I have gone away
        You’ll often speak about me
        And this is what you’ll say

        We sang in the sunshine
        You know, we laughed every day
        We sang in the sunshine
        Then she went on her way

        • To cool Goofy,
          I can picture you singing that cruising down the highway, even though I don’t know what you look like. “Keep on truckin”. Bur

  9. My friend is a huge book lover. I should know, I’ve helped him move those boxes many heavy times. The other day he, as a non believer, he held TFTW and without even opening it said “this is a really nice book.” Then he fanned the pages and said again, “this is a really nice book!” Like he was congratulating me for having this. I guess a book doesn’t have to be old to be appreciated. Treasures new and old. I believe he is now a believer, he can feel it. Congratulations are in order, but not for me, yet. g

  10. ” Fickle is the finger that points at success.” Sounds like a forecast of the upcoming adventures of some searchers of treasure…and reminiscent of many before.

  11. Has anyone ever been riding on a lazy, warm Sunday afternoon and have a horse spook at the flicker of a branch, he will turn about on his heels and run………can’t have that happen in battle..,.just my guess.

  12. However on a lighter note it’s time to pick polk salad and drink sassafrass tea here in the land that is down river .

      • Sweettea ,
        It’s old tradition in our Family ,along with eating eggs and wild onions and drinking black coffee in the spring . Just love coffee myself

        • Wig Reeves,
          Same here, we had coffee in our bottles. You say “polk salad” , most say poke salad sense its fr the poisonous poke weed. Are you from Georgia by chance? Most North Georgia say Polk Salad.

  13. I’m really enjoying these passages posts, about the books especially. This has a great story attached to it. I’m going to share it with my dad because he’d go nuts over the original Casey’s manual. He’s a Civil War history buff (though he’d be difficult about it and call it “The War Between The States”). I think he’s got a Hardee’s manual in his collection, but I might be wrong. That’s his thing, though. I think he’s got over 1,000 books on the Civil War and a decent amount of them are antique.

    • These are from my (modest) collection of antique Boy Scout Handbooks. It was printed in 1927 — pre-dates Forrest by three years!

      http://jeremyparnell.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/IMG_2388-e1490836663246.jpg

      http://jeremyparnell.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/IMG_2389-e1490836639778.jpg

      I’m really into books so I thought I’d share with the other bibliophiles out there.

      From the Foreword:

      “To you boys of America, we bring this Scout book of gleanings of the things those boys have discovered across the centuries. Life’s as big as we make it.”

        • I’m going to have to inventory these as I’ve got quite a few through the 20s, 50s, and more modern ones through the 80s and 90s. I think I’ve got one that anyone who’s been a Scout may recognize.

          I’ve got #1257 of 3000 of the Presidential Issue signed (or stamped, can’t tell) by George H. Bush in 1990.

          They may be worth something but I never looked that up because I promised myself I’d never sell them.

      • Pulled it out and looked, I was mistaken 1926 Handbook for scoutmasters, front cover signed Henry J. Schofot 1927 I can’t make out the last name.

      • Jeremy P.

        I like your open page picture, I saved it for a reference. You know in my thoughts Boy Scouts are related in the chase. In fact it just so happened after solving my solve of the poem to that special place Forrest secreted his trove there just happens to be something related to “Boy Scouts” in the vacinity of that area. Thanks for posting this. Good luck in the chase. Bur

        • I’ve often wondered about the two rock circles or stars I stumbled on, Its hard to see, but viewable from google earth. one is on top and one is down in river bottoms. a good place to think if you ask me.

  14. This is my third time mulling over Passages Three, and I’m still baffled by it. I’m sure there is some little hint in it somewhere, but I’m still puzzled. I’m not sure if I should read it a fourth time though. It makes me start to feel dizzy.

    • Good morning Sparrow,

      Yes to me there is a hint in there and you just need to know how “they” (hint) are related to the chase. I appreciate Forrest writing here at Dal’s whether or not it something that contains hints or not. Maybe it’s just me but I seem to have seen quite of few hints mingled in his writings for some time here and Jenny’s site. I’m one that believe he wants “indulgence” found sooner then later. Good luck in the chase. Bur

      • I agree with you Bur. Let’s find that darned thing this search season guys!!! The sooner the better…Once weather is nice and it is safe to search – TRY to STAY SAFE all! JDA

  15. From what I remember. A horse and rider that is depicted with its two front legs in the air represents the rider has died honorably in battle. When one leg is in the air the rider has died of natural causes. I think.

  16. Thank you Dal and Mr Fenn. Life seemed to be too short for many back then.
    What’s that they say about the universe? Throw a dart in space and it might just come round and hit you in the butt. Hokahey !

  17. I would urge learning more about the great organization we know as the Boy Scouts of America. The history of the BSA is a fascinating one, indeed.

    Founders such as Earnest Thompson Seton, James West, and Robert S.S. Baden Powell remain exemplary legends. (Earnest Thompson Seton established ‘Woodcraft Indians,’ the first ‘tribe’ invited to his property rather than prosecuting some for having vandalized the property earlier.)

    I am also reminded of another current and dedicated ‘legend’ who is known to have extended a similar opportunity to troubled youth in his area.

    In closing; there remains yet another BSA founder you may not have heard very much about. A personally revered gentleman of mine: Edgar M. Robinson. A dedicated humanitarian whom spent ‘time’ working with boys at the YMCA, as well as giving of his energy to the BSA in providing an invaluable foundation during their first crucial year:

    http://scoutingmagazine.org/issues/9810/wwasa.jpg

    Mr Robinson passed away in 1951. I will always remember him. I hope once you read about the genuine dedication and positive influence he continues to provide to the YMCA and the Boy Scouts of America to this day; t you’ll remember him too.

    • If I find the chest I want to retire and be a troop leader, I think. I just love doing scouty stuff and there are to many boys without father figures. I think if I volunteer my time like that maybe I can finally finish this bridge I’ve been building.

  18. Don’t ever let desire for the treasure lure you into a dangerous situation. Written by the fingers of Sage Fenn. WWMW 11-25-16

  19. “Spooked on or about the heels”, pretty sure they are talking about the rider’s heels. Some horses are very sensitive in the flanks area. It must be something like the knee reflex, when the doctor hit your knee you leg swings up. Horses have a lot more muscles to reflex.

  20. Hmm, noticed several bloggers contemplating potential clues in this passage. IMHO the clues here are…

    …cleaved a tunnel
    …hard baked ground
    …almost a hermit.
    …walk down the hill

    ~ C’est si bon?~

    ~Wisconsin Mike

  21. Catching up is painful. I missed this passage. However, I really like the quote, “Fickle is the finger that points to success.” Too confident, too sad to go too soon and miss the true success. Success is a specially woven fabric that sometimes is black as night and blood red in the beginning and completed with spring green and summer yellow. Being gone a year has its price of a staggered life of catching up which I dutifully will do in many aspects. I don’t regret my leave, not ever, because my existence is woven with special times and understanding.

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