The Sacket Gate


Douglas Lloyd Hemmingway

A/N: all attributions are in the first and second chapters. Sorry for so long between the updates. I have been working several OT shifts as a Security Officer since the original outbreak of Covid and sometimes I have been doing good just to get housework done after work.

Chapter 3

Camp Verde, Arizona Territory April into May 1879

Captain Hammond had called us into his office about a week after Tell and I arrived at Camp Verde. "Colonel Sackett, Sergeant Sackett I sent telegrams after you arrived in camp. For Sergeant Sackett I received several in response vouching for him and his service. You Colonel, well no one even in Washington in the War Department has heard of you. However, this one just came in today Colonel. It's from the Secretary of War himself. 'To: Captain George Hammond Tenth United States Cavalry, Officer Commanding Camp Verde in the Arizona Territory. Attention to Orders: Colonel William Tell Sackett IV is to be given all courtesies afforded his rank in the United States Army. His commission is real though he's somewhat out of his time. His origins are to be considered a State Secret of the United States of America. I am not at liberty to inform you of Lieutenant Colonel Sackett's origins. If he chooses to enlighten you that is up to him. Sign: George Washington McCrary 33rd Secretary of War of the United States of America on this day in the year of our Lord 1879 in the City of Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America.' So Colonel as you can see I am to offer my services to you and by extension to Sergeant Sackett." He turned then to Tell who today wore an old pair of Government Issue Cavalry pants, a Grey broadcloth shirt, used cavalry boots he got at the Suttler's Store (the 19th Century version of the Post Exchange and Servicemen's Club for NCOs and lower ranks) and a dark Army Blue Cavalry Stetson hat. He had his sidearm in its holster strapped around his waist by the cartridge belt. "Sergeant according to Secretary McCrary you are reinstated into the United States Army as a Sergeant of Cavalry and are assigned as Colonel Sackett's Aide for the duration of his stay." I looked at Tell having a hard time concealing my smile. I said to Tell, "Congratulations Tell, welcome back into the service."

Then I looked at Captain Hammond and said, "I promised Sergeant Sackett that I would help him find the man who ordered the attack on his wagon, him and killed his wife. If we see anything concerning your mission here at Camp Verde; we will send word to you as soon as possible. Now I need to get appropriate uniforms and accoutrements. My current uniforms won't work on post or in the towns near by Captain Hammond. I mean this uniform works for now, but the cut is not the same as the Undress Uniform of this time." Captain Hammond nodded and said, "Though your field uniform will work in the wilds beyond Camp Verde, it will stick out like a sore thumb in any settlement." I agreed with his assessment. "I guess I need to acquire regulation uniforms and equipment befitting my rank then Captain."

After the meeting in the Commander's Office at Camp Verde's Post Headquarters Tell and I met up with the Quartermaster Sergeant and the Sutler at the Sutler's Store. The Quartermaster Sergeant introduced me to the Post's Ferrier, and I selected a couple of mounts for myself as Tell did the same and selected us some pack horses. At the Sutler's Store I purchased with Tell's help a Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army Revolver in .44-40 Winchester caliber and a Winchester Model 1873 Carbine in the same caliber. The Quartermaster Sergeant also made sure I had a pair of Model 3 Smith & Wesson also chambered in .44-40 Winchester. The reason was explained that this chambering was the most common and the cartridge was available almost anywhere there was a General Store. I picked up a standard open topped holster for the Colt, a right-hand draw shoulder holster for one of the Smith and Wessons and tucked the other one behind my back in a slanted holster the Sutler had the Saddler make me while we were at Camp Verde.

The morning of our last day at Camp Verde we headed out south and east towards Hardscrabble Mesa and Fossil Creek. After a couple of days travel following the Verde River, we reached the mouth of Fossil Creek. A few more days' ride up the Verde from Fossil Creek we came to the mouth of the East Verde River which we followed upriver until reaching the mouth of Pine Creek. Up Pine Creek we reached the Mormon Settlement of Pine. On the other side of the mountains from Pine was the settlement of Strawberry, our next stop. It was dusk when we rode into Pine.

Tell directed us to a small general store and saloon at the north end of Pine's only street. We got down from our horses and tied them to the rails. I looked around as did Tell searching for anyone paying undue attention to us. Today I was wearing civilian clothing except for my Model 1875 Officer's Campaign Hat with a Cavalry Branch Badge. I had the Smith and Wessons packed away but had the Colt along with a Bowie style hunting knife in its sheath strapped on. After taking care of our horses Tell and I took our relatively new Winchester 73s from our saddle scabbards and stepped up on to he wooden porch of the General Store that also doubled as a saloon. It was actually two buildings sharing a common wall with an opening between them on the inside.

Tell and I went into the Store side first. I let Tell scout out the place while I went up to the clerk at the counter. "I'm Bill Sackett and my cousin Tell over there," I said nodding with my head in Tell's direction, "are scouting a place to establish a ranch. While he and I were scouting out a location up the Verde from here someone came across our wagon and Tell's wife. Things didn't go well for Angie. Tell and I buried her a couple of weeks ago on the rim above the canyon we found her in. The person who attacked her didn't get away without her marking him. We're looking for a strong sizable man with deep scratch marks on his face. Angie got him with her finger nails as she defended herself and took a lot of skin off his face."

About that time a drover came into the store from the saloon and said angerly, "How do I know you're not lying about this here attack?" From the corner of my right eye, I saw that Tell had slipped the thong off the hammer of his revolver. As I was still facing the clerk, I had to turn around to face the person talking. If it weren't for a small mirror on the wall behind the counter, I wouldn't have seen the man come in. I had my rifle in my right hand carried by the comb with my fingers through the lever's loop. I slowly and gently moved my index finger of my right hand where I could slip it onto the trigger if need be. Slowly as not to spook the man I turned facing the man and said, "Do you doubt the word of a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army sir?"

"I am William Sackett, and this is my cousin and aide Sergeant Tell Sackett," I said. "It was two to three weeks ago Tell was ambushed while looking for a way down and Angie was attacked. I was out scouting a better route for the herd Tell's brothers were bring up behind us. I heard the shot that knocked Tell from his horse over on the rim of the canyon near the Verde River. We found the remains of Tell's wage the next day after I found Tell with a grazing wound to his scalp and his clothing already shredded from being washed down the river and scrambling his way back ashore. I patched up his wound as best I could, and we searched for Angie. After we found and buried Angie we made for Camp Verde. While Tell was healing and fighting of an infection the Post Commander telegraphed his higher command and Tell and I found out we've been reinstated into the Army. While we're looking into who killed Angie we're to scout out some bronco Apaches terrorizing the settlers around here."

Tell nodded and added, "If you meet up with a large man with deep gouges in his face tell him he made a mistake in attacking and killing my Angie. While at Camp Verde Bill and I sent out telegrams to my family. That man as good as declared war on my family. We're old Tennessee Mountain stock mister and when someone kills one of us well, we take exception if you know what I mean." I could see the cowhand's eyes widen at Tell's words