The Brink of Extinction- “Freedom Rings” April 1865: Johnson Takes Initiative, Attempting to Quell Southern Dissent

 

The town of Pine Bluff, Arkansas is normally quiet and inviting, filled with locals and the occasional visitors. People here live in a peaceful environment with minimal conflict and have very close relationships with one another. Today; though, Pine Bluff is like a city street on rush hour. Rush hour with a 32,000 pound Tyrannosaurus Rex, that is. The results have been devastating. Buildings have been stepped on and reduced to piles of raw materials in a matter of a few minutes. The town’s Sheriff’s department has been vacated, as the members left town as soon as the 16 ton T-Rex entered Pine Bluff. It is every man for himself. One man runs out of the bar, away from the T-Rex, looking for his horse. A few seconds later, he sees it just before it is devoured by the T-Rex. He runs away in terror and looks for a place to hide. The people in this town know not what the T-Rex is or why it is here. All they know is that the beast is killing everything in its path, like a massive Tsunami or an F5 tornado.

Hours later, the entire town is in ruins. Nobody who stayed here for the slaughter survived. Those left to fend for themselves were killed as soon as they learned their bullets did almost nothing to the Tyrannosaurus Rex. In all, five buildings are destroyed beyond repair and 210 people are dead.

Surrounding states in the South are furious when they hear about the disaster that occured in Pine Bluff. Government officials threaten to separate from the Union if Johnson does not do something about the beasts in the South. Civilians have been forced to do things that they never would have done otherwise. Whether it be out of anger or for their own survival, people of the South are breaking the law in countless methods.

It’s a bright and sunny day in the state of Kansas. Summer is about to begin and the weather is getting better with each day. The bright colors of the season are about to be in full bloom. A small group of Union soldiers; 5 men, are doing a patrol on the state line between Kansas (a northern state) and Missouri (a southern state). The Pine Bluff incident has made tensions as high as they were during the war. The Gibson family incident certainly doesn’t help things either. Some southerners are out for blood, as their family members have been killed because of a disaster that never should have happened. The 5 Union soldiers are walking back and forth, wishing away the hours of the day and wanting the incessant boredom of their current task at hand to end. All of a sudden a group of men approach them. There are 12 of them. Four of the men are riding horses, one of them is driving a horse drawn carriage, and seven of them sit in the back of the carriage. All of them are armed. The men on the horses all have 1860 Colt Single Action Army revolvers, the driver of the carriage has a sawed-off double barrel 12 gauge shotgun, and the men in the back of the carriage all have beautiful Winchester repeaters, the stocks are made of a light colored oak while the rest of the gun is engraved with beautiful markings (each one different from the other). One of the soldiers speaks to the men in front of him “What brings you boys around here?”, he asks them politely. “Business or pleasu-”. The soldier never gets the chance to finish his sentence, as he is shot in the head by the man driving the carriage.  Before any of the other soldiers can do anything, they too are met with a barrage of gunfire (some of them are shot six or seven times before they even fall to the ground). The men in the back of the carriage had jumped out and shot the soldiers before they could react to the death of their colleague. “Yeehaw!”, the carriage driver yells after the soldiers are all lying on the ground, dead. “Let’s see what Johnson thinks of this!” The men then proceed to scalp all of the dead soldiers, leaving each piece of skin and hair on the ground to make the murder look as if savages committed it. The men then ride away in their carriage, having just committed murder and now attempting to go about their lives as if nothing happened.

The men are now riding towards Whichita, a city in Kansas located in the region referred to as “tornado alley”. Knowing that eventually someone will find the dead bodies of the Union soldiers and alert law enforcement, the men are attempting to flee to Missouri, and find a place to hide out until things calm down in the area where they  committed murder. They could be tried in either Kansas or Missouri, as they were on the state line. So, they are headed toward the southern state(Missouri), as they expect the state to sympathize with them more than Kansas would.

Their plan is to act as if nothing happened. They don’t shy away from law enforcement or hide in spots where nobody else is. They did this out of spite for the Union, not because they were sick bastards who just thought it would be fun to kill a guy. If they had gotten the chance, these men would have killed Lincoln (as the dinosaurs were his mess to fix), but someone already beat them to it. The men committed their crime for a purpose and therefore don’t intend to let their lives go to waste for something that they have a chance of getting away with. They are just miles from Whichita when the man in front is shot right off of his horse, only wounded because he is shot in the stomach. Before the other men can respond an entire regiment of Union soldiers; at least 55 men, emerges, some of them riding horses and the others standing together. The murderers have no choice but to stop and dismount their horses, surrender, and go on trial for their crimes. They came so close to escaping, but not close enough. Now, all they can do is wait for death, which will come to them very soon.

The men spend the remainder of the day and an entire night in jail. They are horrified, fearing for their lives because they know that they don’t have much time left in this world. They face the gallows the following morning. The entire town of Whichita has gathered around to see them hang. The 12 men are split into groups of three, as there are three nooses on the gallows. So, the townspeople are overjoyed that they get to watch the nooses drop 4 times. Believe it or not, the people here enjoy watching these proceedings. Whether it be the joy of watching justice served or a sadistic satisfaction from watching the spectacle of death, everyone here feels one way or another about public hangings. The first 3 men walk up to the gallows and stand as the hangman puts the noose around each of their necks. The first man stands their proudly, fearlessly. He doesn’t even let so much as a sniffle erupt from his nose. The second clutches a wooden cross attached to a band of rocks, his hands shaking and his knees wobbling as he trembles in fear. The third man is bawling, cursing Abraham Lincoln’s name, and attempting to justify his act of murder. They are being hanged in a Northern state, so their cries will not be met with sympathy. Instead, the Northern citizens here (some of whom may know the soldiers that were murdered personally) relish in the horror and impending doom that the men on the gallows are currently experiencing. The hangman walks up onto the gallows and stands next to the lever that will be responsible for the death of the three criminals whose lives will end at the drop of a rope. The nine other men stand in a line near the steps to the gallows, awaiting their deaths. The lever is pulled, the rope drops, the three men’s necks are broken, and the crowd cheers in sadistic satisfaction. This happens three more times, in almost the exact same fashion; as if putting the event in rewind and changing the faces of the men on the gallows over and over again. Justice has been served. The prospect of restoring balance to the country of the United States  seems more realistic now than it has in years. Unity is not a lost cause. The actions of these men were seen as they should have been, as a heinous crime, rather than what they could have been seen as: martyrdom (a situation that would have only made things worse for the rebuilding Union). The country is coming together and this event brings that possibly closer than it has been in a very long time.

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