RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 8 . . Rebels . . Part 6
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 6 of Chapter 8 . . . Rebels. A new part will be posted every Thursday. This chapter stands alone, starting here; however new readers may want to start at the beginning.
CHAPTER 8 . . . REBELS . . . Part 6
It started to rain. Dan and George moved down into the railcar, but kept the door open; observing the spectacle before them. The rain had absolutely no bearing on the ferocity of the flames consuming the once-magnificent covered bridge.
Confusion and panic prevailed along the riverbank and in the Columbia rail yards prior to the bridge burning. Most of the citizens fled nearly as soon as they heard and saw Rebel cannonballs dropping into Wrightsville and falling into the river.
The severing of the bridge negated any chance of a rapid wave of Rebels flooding into Lancaster County; resulting in citizens cautiously wandered back closer to the river in ever increasing numbers. The river bridge totally engulfed in a raging inferno was not a sight to be missed, even if it was raining.
The light of the burning bridge allowed the troops in Columbia to observe movements of Rebels along the waterfront in Wrightsville. Militia movement in Columbia quickly shifted downriver to the canal dam much later in the evening when a group of Rebels could be seen attempting to cross over the breast of the dam.
This rapid movement of the militia caused a panic among the citizens of Columbia. The crowd that had gathered suddenly dispersed. Several minutes later, Johnny hopped into the railcar, assuring George and Dan, “No Rebels are getting across that dam. I only made it halfway across when I was younger. This side of the canal dam gets extremely narrow, especially with high waters, like we have today.”
Dan and George stayed another night in Columbia, sleeping inside the railcar. Monday morning, Johnny passed the word, “The train will be moving out in one hour. We’ll be carrying some of the militia upriver to reinforce two places where the Rebels could possibly attempt to ford the river.”
The boys sat on the roof of the railcar with some militiamen. As the train pulled out everyone had their final look at the remains of the bridge. It was still smoldering. The red glow was replaced by a scattering of blackened, smoldering timber resting against or on the lonely stone piers.
The train dropped about one-half of the militia off at Chestnut Riffles. Dan decided to take that opportunity to tend to the horses and told George, “lets ride in with the horses for the next few miles, they’re getting restless.” Dan really wanted to stay out of sight for the next few miles; they were approaching Bainbridge.
Dan did not want to risk being seen by any of the individuals he had known in Bainbridge. It had been three years since he ran away from his Guardian. Had Uncle Rufus moved from this area, as he had planned? Or, after Dan faked drowning in the river, to make a clean get-away, did Uncle Rufus decide to stay in the area?
Dan’s life the last three years had been exceedingly pleasant with the Billmeyers; he did not want to risk loosing this lifestyle by an unfortunate sighting. Dan had extreme anxiety as the train came to a stop in Bainbridge. The locomotive had to take on water, but then was delayed when the militia was instructed to wait on the train in Bainbridge for further orders.
George coaxed Dan, “Lets explore.” Dan told George, “You go ahead. I’m not feeling very well. Besides someone should stay with the horses.” George immediately jumped out of the railcar as Dan cautioned him, “Don’t go to far, we may not be staying long.” To Dan, the nerve-racking wait in Bainbridge seemed to go on forever.
Go to Chapter 9, Part 1