RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 8 . . Rebels . . Part 1
RAILCAR GOLD is a historically accurate multi-generational fictional tale of hidden treasure, primarily set in York County, Pennsylvania during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. This is Part 1 of Chapter 8 . . . Rebels. A new part will be posted every Thursday. This chapter stands alone, however new readers may want to start at the beginning.
CHAPTER 8 . . . REBELS . . . Part 1
The last two years seemed to pass so quickly for Dan. Now it was the spring of 1863, Dan was 11 years old. Dan practically became a member of the Billmeyer family; he always ate with them and went to all their functions.
Charles Billmeyer finally admitted to Dan that he had searched for over a year on word of a runaway orphan matching Dan’s physical description and his Uncle’s occupation. Finding none, Charles concluded that Dan’s Uncle was not fit to be his Guardian in the first place. Charles told Dan, “You’ve proved yourself to me. You’re welcome to stay with my family as long as you want.”
Adam, the Billmeyer Family carriage driver had volunteered and would be leaving in a few days to join the ranks of the Union Army. Charles placed Dan in charge of the stable and carriages until school started in the fall.
Charles instructed Dan, “I’ve already had a word with George; if you need help at the stables, ask George. I’ve made it clear to him that you’re in charge and that he is to do as you ask.” Dan was leery of this arrangement, since George was a year older and Charles’ son; however George accepted this enthusiastically and actually had fun helping Dan. George also was more focused on letting Dan teach him about horsemanship and carriage driving.
In June, rumors began to spread around York that the Rebels had begun an invasion of Pennsylvania. A week later, it was confirmed that the reports were true. News reached York that the rebels had occupied Waynesboro on June 23rd. It was also reported that a large Confederate force was continuing to move east.
Billmeyer & Small were making plans to ship all railcars on wheels into Lancaster County, and further east if need be; even if they were only partly completed. The railcars were loaded with some of the critical tooling and drawings for the business. Charles Billmeyer had Dan and George hauling items from the family home for transport in these railcars.
News reached York that rebels occupied Gettysburg on Friday, June 26th. Notwithstanding partly completed car frames, only one shippable railcar remained at Billmeyer & Small; Dan had been told it was scheduled to be shipped out on Saturday. This railcar was being loaded with the last few items from the business and from the families of Charles Billmeyer and David E. Small.
Friday at the supper table, Charles suggested that his family would be safer if they did as David Small’s family were planning to do, to head east. Ultimately Elizabeth vetoed any such idea.
On Saturday, Dan and George had hauled the last load of items from the house to the final shippable Billmeyer & Small railcar. It was being coupled to a train leaving for Wrightsville and the Susquehanna River Bridge to Columbia. As with each previous Billmeyer & Small railcar containing their personal items, two armed workers were on board. Charles Billmeyer and David Small gave them their instructions as the locomotive was building steam to leave; then it was on its way.
Shortly thereafter the Northern Central Railway locomotive “The Susquehanna” came barreling into the York Railroad Station. George Small, the engineer, shouted, “the rebels have captured Hanover Junction.”
George Small excitedly told what happened; “We were just passing Hanover Junction heading back to York, when we saw Rebel Cavalry approaching the junction via the branch railroad. They tried to head off the locomotive, but I opened the throttle to the limit and dove into the tender for cover as rebel bullets whizzed by.”
Charles asked Dan, “Of the five horses in the stable I know you have your favorites, which one would you give up to the rebels? Because I want you and George to each take two horses and leave for the Susquehanna River Bridge as soon as possible. If you run into rebels, don’t be heroes; give them the horses. You should be able to catch up with the railcars, they all have plenty of provisions for the guards onboard.”
Go to Chapter 8, Part 2