It’s 1862, and the Civil War rages. Although the Union has beaten back the Southern armies in the east, the Confederacy is intent on opening new fronts to the west—and perhaps securing British support to widen this ugly conflict into a world war.
To contain the rebellion, Abraham Lincoln’s secret service sends exiled Virginian Harrison Raines to Texas to gather intelligence about a planned Confederate invasion of New Mexico. Raines has never been west of the Mississippi, and he will find Texan hospitality rather rougher than he expected . . .
When the hero of the Battle of Glorieta Pass is killed, Raines’s only friend in Texas is accused of the crime. To save his friend’s neck, Raines must find the real killer—or risk never making it back to Virginia alive.
A Grave at Glorieta is the fourth book in the Harrison Raines Civil War Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
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A Grave at Glorieta
A Harrison Raines Civil War Mystery
By Michael Kilian
MysteriousPress.comCopyright © 2003 Michael Kilian
All rights reserved.
The fast British packet steamer Elizabeth McGovern had been blessed with fair winds and fair skies all the way down the Atlantic coast to Havana, encouraging Harry Raines in the belief that he might actually arrive on Texas soil in time to accomplish something of the mission to which he and his fellow U.S. Secret Service agent, Joseph "Boston" Leahy, had been assigned.
The side-wheeler boasted two masts and seven sail when under full canvas. After they'd picked up the easterlies off the Turtle Islands, the captain had kept every inch aloft, running before the wind all the way across the Gulf of Mexico. Impeded by only one small storm, they'd arrived off Galveston a day ahead of their expected time — but there were several hundred miles still to travel once ashore.
Though a Virginian born and raised, Harry was participating in the great Civil War on the side of the Union and in the federal Secret Service established by former Chicago railroad detective Allan Pinkerton. Harry had been sent to this hot and sticky clime to confirm reports that the Rebels were preparing an invasion of New Mexico Territory and regions farther west, a wartime expansion that it was feared might reach as far as California. He was a poor choice for the task, as even now he wasn't quite sure where Texas ended and New Mexico began. He had hitherto never been farther west than Mississippi, but Mr. Pinkerton had been pleased with his work in the East and wanted more of it now from the West.
There was haze that early morning, and the Texas port was hard to discern along the smudgy pencil line of land at the horizon — especially for Harry, who was significantly shortsighted and vain about wearing spectacles. When he wore them, he was sometimes mistaken for a schoolteacher, and once even for a clergyman. They sat upon his nose infrequently as a consequence.
Without them, he'd been pronounced a man of agreeable countenance by a number of ladies — Southern as well as Northern. He was tall, slender, regular of feature, and had sandy-colored hair, a cavalier's long moustache, and soft brown eyes. Augmenting this was a Virginia gentleman's fancy for fine clothes. In sum, he looked the man he'd been brought up to be, a planter's son from one of the largest plantations of the Virginia Tidewater. What didn't show was how much he hated the "peculiar institution" that supported that vast estate, and the arrogance of people like his own father, who had patterned their American lives after the haughty ones of the British gentry of a century before.
"Flattest place I have bloody well ever seen," said Harry's colleague "Boston" Leahy, as they stood at the McGovern's rail looking at the shore.
Leahy had been a police detective in Boston and had an Irish-flavored Boston accent to match, so the sobriquet was inevitable. Near Harry's six feet in height, Leahy abstained from spirits and exercised obsessively. His muscular shoulders defied a tailor's ability to make his suit coats fit.
"It gets bumpier," Harry said. "I understand there are mountains out there three times as high as Old Rag in Virginia."
"Let us hope we get to have a look at them," Leahy said, nodding toward the Rebel steam frigate that was bearing down on them from the northwest. "Mr. Pinkerton would not be pleased to have us begin this undertaking chained in the hold of one of Jeff Davis's ships."
Harry was surprised by the aggressive approach of the warship and feared for a moment it might be a Union vessel, which would upset all their plans. He wanted to be taken for a Confederate operative, but not if it meant his arrest.
He tried to reassure himself that such a thing was no longer possible. The McGovern was an English vessel. The previous fall, a U.S. Navy vessel had stopped and boarded the British ship Trent on the high seas, taking off two London-bound Confederate diplomats at gunpoint. The incident had provoked a parliamentary outcry in London that came close to a declaration of war. At the very least, it had been feared that the seizure might lead to British recognition of the Rebel regime, a major objective of Jefferson Davis's strategy.
Britain had been striving to prevent the expansion of the United States into a continental power ever since American independence. The English had plotted and connived toward the creation of a separate North American republic in the Southwest — abetting some of the most ridiculous breakaway movements imaginable — and had almost gone to war trying to keep U.S. settlement out of the Pacific Northwest. Many of Britain's ruling class had viewed the firing on Fort Sumter as a blessed event. Only the British public's distaste for slavery was staying the hand of Their Lordships, and not by much.
But Abraham Lincoln was no fool and had defused the explosive situation by releasing the two Southern agents.
The McGovern's other passengers on deck were watching the approaching ship with great interest. All were in civilian dress, though Harry suspected several were Confederate military operatives of some sort. He and Leahy had been eyed with some curiosity for much of the McGovern's voyage.
Harry felt much like a man who could not swim who'd been thrown into the deepest of oceans. They'd been given the names of only three Union sympathizers who would help them — two in Texas and one up in Santa Fe in the New Mexico Territory.
Happily, there were Union forts along the upper Rio Grande and to the east of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, offering refuge were they able to penetrate that far into New Mexico. But the garrisons would not have been informed of Harry's or Leahy's coming, and certainly not of their mission. The nearest telegraph would be in Denver City.
So the two of them would have to rely on their own resources, which in Harry's case amounted mostly to two .36 caliber Navy Colt revolvers, a derringer pocket pistol, a sheath knife, and five hundred dollars in gold coins secreted in various places on his person. This, in a desolate, inhospitable country about which he knew damned little. Leahy — a city man before the war — knew even less.
Pinkerton had said he had chosen them because he feared they had become too well known in the East and he wanted them working at a far remove from the federal capital. But in the East, Harry had succeeded at this trade mostly because he had been on home ground. As in the old Negro folk tale about Br'er Rabbit, it was his briar patch. He knew most every road and river between the Virginia Capes and the mountain ridges west of Cumberland, Maryland. More to the point, he had friends in all manner of places, north and south.
Out here, most everyone they came upon would likely be an enemy.
"Don't worry, laddy buck," said Leahy, his eyes on the warship. "I don't think they'll be delaying us long. We'll be in Galveston directly."
"That is what prompts my worry," Harry said. "I feel about Texas as I might darkest Africa."
Harrison Grenville Raines had grown up among the self-styled aristocracy that had thrived along the James River almost since Virginia's founding as a colony. Breaking with his father over the slavery issue, he'd decamped to Richmond and subsequently moved to Washington City, becoming an admirer of President Lincoln even before that man was elected. Despite these sentiments, he viewed the war as the recourse of lunatics. He initially had intended to maintain a neutrality, at least as concerned military service.
But it quickly became the kind of war where a man with any self-respect and conviction had no choice but to make a choice. And so he had become Captain Raines, Union Army "scout," uncomfortable as that status made him now.
The warship hove to on their port side, displaying the Stars and Bars. The other passengers seemed relieved. Harry tried to imitate them, though relief was not his feeling at all. He stepped back, standing behind a shroud as he watched the military vessel lower a longboat. It quickly filled with oarsmen and a few Rebel Marines, led by a very junior-looking officer. As the boat approached, the captain of the Confederate frigate kept its guns aimed at the McGovern. One seemed targeted directly on Harry's head.
He moved to the side. "I wish we were ashore."
Leahy squinted at the longboat. "I expect that once we get there, you may change your mind."
The boarding party came thumping onto the deck, then stood at attention while their officer, a very young lieutenant, approached the McGovern's captain. The officers conversed briefly, then orders were given and the men, looking as though they well knew their business, dispersed and headed below decks.
Harry turned and leaned back against the rail, observing the Confederates as they went about their work. As other passengers were doing much the same, he didn't think he'd be much noticed. But the naval lieutenant abruptly concluded his conversation with the British captain and came directly over to Leahy and Harry.
"What is your name, sir?" he asked.
"Have you any identity papers?"
What Harry possessed in that regard was a letter from General Robert E. Lee, recommending him as a recruit for the Confederate States Navy, and a military pass signed by President. Abraham Lincoln, authorizing him to go where he wished within military jurisdictions.
He showed only the former, hoping it would not get him press ganged into the Confederate navy at this very spot. Harry had acquired the document while in Richmond on his last mission, keeping it in hopes the general's signature might be of use here on the frontier.
The young lieutenant examined the letter with unrestrained doubt.
"Who is this General Lee?"
"His Excellency President Davis's principal military advisor."
"The letter says something about the navy." Much of the writing had become smudged.
"The Confederacy is lacking in ships, so we serve where we can."
"You are in civilian clothes."
Harry looked down at his waist coat. "Yes."
"Is this letter all you have?" the officer asked.
"I have my cartes de visite." He produced one.
The lieutenant examined it, as though some secret code might be hidden in its lettering. Then he pocketed it.
"You reside in Richmond?"
"Yes. Well, I did."
"What are you doing out here?"
"Looking for horses — remounts for the army."
The officer glanced at Leahy, who said nothing. The lieutenant returned his attention to Harry.
"But that letter says 'navy.'"
"Easier to procure horses than ships."
"You're an American citizen?"
"I mean, on the federal side?"
"I'm a Virginian, sir. Why do you ask about that?"
The lieutenant nodded back toward the British skipper. "The captain there said he thought you were a Yankee."
Harry's blood seemed to freeze. "What made him think that?"
"He said you talked kindly about President Lincoln at dinner the other night."
And so he had. He could think of no circumstance where he might speak ill of the man, though now he wondered if one might present itself if he wasn't careful.
"The good captain presumes too much from a chance remark," he said. "I am a loyal Virginian."
"Are you armed?"
"Yes. Who is not these days?"
"Indeed. Most particularly so out here."
The lieutenant smiled, turned and moved along the deck. He paused to talk with two more passengers, then went to take the report of one of the details he'd sent below, who was now returning. Before long, his entire boarding party had reassembled, apparently having found nothing worth bothering about below.
By the time the Rebel sailors were back in their longboat, the British captain had ordered up steam.
"You're packed?" Harry asked.
"Aye," said Leahy. "Hours ago."
"I'll go ready my bag. I want to be the first one off this ship."
"As I warned you, laddy buck. You may swiftly have a change of mind."CHAPTER 2
Don Luis Almaden y Cortes had been twenty-eight years old the first time the Americanos had invaded Santa Fe. He had been no admirer of General Santa Ana, the Mexican president, whom he viewed as a vain and avaricious despot. But Almaden had taken up arms and helped fight the gringos anyway, for they had been invading not only his community but his country — the Republic of Mexico — which he felt bound to defend no matter who its leader.
The first U.S. troops to appear in the city in that long ago war were regulars under General Stephen Kearny. They had easily brushed aside the local resistance, swiftly taking possession of Santa Fe and the one-story Palace of the Governors on the town plaza without a shot fired. These American soldiers, a mix of veterans and volunteers, had conducted themselves in an orderly, disciplined fashion, treating the local population with respect.
Unfortunately, they'd moved on, to take part in the United States' inexorable conquest of the richest prize in that war — California. Thereafter, in Santa Fe, and in Taos just to the north, the problem was the ragtag Texans who'd come into New Mexico in the wake of the regular army and behaved like the conquering barbarian hordes of antiquity. Two of the kitchen maids at the Almaden hacienda out in the countryside east of Santa Fe had been raped, and more than a dozen horses had been taken. At that, Almaden had considered himself fortunate.
Now, sixteen years later, the Anglos were invading again. But the New Mexico they'd ridden into had become an official territory of the United States. These gringos were self-declared foreigners — the army of a newly created and loathsome republic called the Confederate States of America. Don Luis Almaden was their enemy, a citizen of the United States.
He would resist the foreign invader once again. He had been preparing for this ever since word had arrived of the Confederates' victory over the Yankees in February, down at a Rio Grande River crossing called Valverde.
But the news that had broken that morning — that the invading Texans were now north of Albuquerque and heading straight for Santa Fe — had somehow taken him by surprise, unnerving him not a little. It was one thing to prepare for a disaster, another to actually confront it.
His coach and four-horse team were waiting outside. He was seated in the study of his sprawling adobe house, just east of Santa Fe's plaza, contemplating what remained to be done before he fled the territorial capital.
The windows behind him were open to the street, and dust was sifting inside from the inordinate amount of horse traffic moving into and out of the town. He ignored it. Placing two loaded revolvers on the desktop, he set about his business, which mostly involved going through papers he had kept in a locked lower drawer.
He set aside three letters and a map, which he folded over and placed inside the leather lining of his boot. The other papers he gathered up and took to his stone fireplace. Kneeling, he struck a match and set them afire.
There was a rapping at the door. Almaden rose, but before he could reach the desk and the pistols he'd left upon it, the door opened. It was well he'd not been able to fetch up his weapons. The intruder was only his son, Roberto.
"The soldiers are near, Father — way up the Albuquerque road. They'll be in Santa Fe by tonight."
"I know. I've been trying to find you. I need you and your brother to take some things from here, take them to safety."
The young man came nearer. "I saw the coach is outside. What things?"
Almaden nodded toward the far corner of the room, where an Indian blanket covered a large chest. "That, for one. I want it out of Santa Fe as soon as possible. I'll give you a map to show you where to go. Now, where is your brother?"
"Eduardo left for Fort Union — to join the militia."
"Without speaking with me?"
"He left at once. Said it was a long journey."
"Fort Union is on the other side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Not that far." Almaden had doubts about his youngest son.
"Then he'll be there all the sooner. Shall I take Isabel with me?"
Almaden shook his head. "No, I need your sister here."
"But it will be dangerous here."
Almaden grinned. "That's why I need her." He didn't wait for his son to fathom that irony. "Do you have others you can trust? Friends? People not mixed up with the Hidalgo group?"
Excerpted from A Grave at Glorieta by Michael Kilian. Copyright © 2003 Michael Kilian. Excerpted by permission of MysteriousPress.com.
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