He heard it all, Charley did; heard the drums and songs and slogans
and knew what everybody and his rooster was crowing.
There was going to be a shooting war. They were having town meetings
and nailing up posters all over Minnesota and the excitement was so
high Charley had seen girls faint at the meetings, just faint from
the noise and hullabaloo. It was better than a circus. Or what he
thought a circus must be like. He'd never seen one. He'd never seen
anything but Winona, Minnesota, and the river five miles each way
There would be a shooting war. There were rebels who had violated
the law and fired on Fort Sumter and the only thing they'd respect
was steel, it was said, and he knew they were right, and the Union
was right, and one other thing they said as well--if a man didn't
hurry he'd miss it. The only shooting war to come in a man's life
and if a man didn't step right along he'd miss the whole thing.
Charley didn't figure to miss it. The only problem was that Charley
wasn't rightly a man yet, at least not to the army. He was fifteen
and while he worked as a man worked, in the fields all of a day and
into night, and looked like a man standing tall and just a bit thin
with hands so big they covered a stove lid, he didn't make a beard
yet and his voice had only just dropped enough so he could talk with
If they knew, he thought, if they knew he was but fifteen they wouldn't
take him at all.
But Charley watched and Charley listened and Charley learned.