Chapter 10: Fort Gibson
Copyright© 2015 by maypop
Ten days after they left the train in Ft. Smith, Arkansas it was truly obvious they were in the prairie. The land was rolling and very few trees were to be seen.
The fort stood on a hill that stood above all the others. It was even bigger then they could have imagined.
Loyd and Boyd rode through the gate of Fort Gibson on Saturday morning.
They were bombarded by soldiers asking, "What kind of buggy is that?"
"It is truly one of a kind. I built it for us to ride in comfort. There will never be another," Loyd said proudly, opening his door.
"We may have to stand guard over it tonight," one soldier said.
"We are not worried about it. It locks. Come on out, Bear," Boyd said before closing his door.
When Bear hopped out, they all stepped back. They soon relaxed after he made sure he got a pet from every soldier.
"Where can I find the Captain?" Boyd asked.
"He is in his office," said one of the soldiers, pointing to the sign that said,
"Come on, boy," Boyd said, talking to Loyd. It was their preplanned approach.
"Yes sir, Mr. Boyd," Loyd said loudly.
They were met by a young girl who did not look over thirteen. "May I help you?" she asked.
"I am Loyd and this is Boyd, my brother. We are here to see Captain Woods." Loyd said.
"Daddy is expecting you. Go on in. Can I play with your dog while you are in there with my daddy?" she asked.
"What is your name, young lady?" Boyd asked.
"Betsy. What is his name?" She asked, pointing to Bear.
"Bear, you stay out here with Betsy," Boyd said as he opened the door to the Captain's office.
"I am Boyd; and this is my brother, Loyd," said Boyd showing his badge.
Captain Woods looked up from his desk. He was a thin sixty-five year old man about five feet eleven with Ben Franklin glasses. He thought to himself,
"Brothers, right!" He stood up and shook both men's hands and said, "Have a seat, please."
Both men pulled up a chair and sat. Boyd said, "It is nice to meet you, Captain Woods. Captain Erkin sends his regards and said you thought you had a little problem."
"That old sidewinder landed that gravy job because he wouldn't know a problem if it bit him in the britches. I have been out here for a year." He laughed and continued, "My men have been standing guard for the ones laying track for the new railroad for the last four months. They are being attacked at night. No matter how they change guards around, they seem to still get an arrow in them. I am getting pressure to attack the Indians, but I don't think it is them."
"What is the evidence that makes you think it might be someone other than Indians?" Loyd asked.
"The Indians would shoot to kill. This band knocks out all the guards that are asleep, and the guards that are on duty are tied and gagged. Then, they steal the boxes of dynamite from the railroad crew. When the guards wake up they have been shot in the flesh of the legs with arrows." Captain Woods explained.
"That is bazaar. How many guards have you lost?" Boyd asked.
"Four are in the fort hospital now. Two will get out tomorrow, and four others have been shot before." Captain Woods answered.
"How long has this been going on?" Loyd asked.
"The railroad ask us three months ago," The captain answered.
"It is always at night?" Boyd asked.
"Yes, that is the funny part!" Captain Woods exclaimed.
"That does sound very fishy. It sounds like they are planning to put together an Army large enough to do a lot of robberies. Do you know of a gang hideout anywhere around?" Boyd asked.
"No, I did not think that far ahead. I am not a detective, but you may be right. This has been going on for at least a hundred miles on this set of tracks. They have stolen at least fifty boxes so far."
"You know, this has got to be an inside job, Captain!" exclaimed Boyd.
Loyd said argumentatively in Iroquois, "Boy, someone on the railroad crew or a guard is spilling the beans."
Boyd picked up on the code word and said in Chinese, "Yes, someone must be alerting someone about the guard setups and what railroad car the dynamite is in."
"They must have some way to signal for a meeting or a designated area to meet at a time when someone would be relieving themselves." Loyd replied in French.
"Well, we have to trust someone. Our friend who sent the message here when we got off the boat said we could trust this one, and so did our Secret Service office." Boyd shot back in French, watching the Captain to see if he might know French, but his mouth was too wide open.
"If he could connect us up with the owners building the railroad, I could hire on with the crew and you could be somewhere on the outside of the construction area watching for someone to show who would retrieve the message! You are smaller, can hide easier, and are better with Bear." Loyd said in Arapaho.
They both looked at Captain Woods. Boyd said in English, "Loyd, it is a good thing there are no flies in here."
Captain Woods realized his mouth was open. He got back his composure and said, "I was at the ripe old age of eighteen when I enlisted. In 1838, they sent me to Fort William which is now Fort Laramie, Wyoming. I moved up to the rank the first officer there. Since that time, I have been all over this country, but you two just did something I have never seen. I see now what Captain Erkin meant when he said I was in for a treat. I am at your service. You ask all the questions and I will answer the best I can."
Captain Woods, if you had not been recommended by more than one person, we would not trust you!" exclaimed Loyd.
"Have you told anyone about our mission? Boyd asked.
"No! Why do you ask?" Captain Woods asked.
"If we are going to get to the bottom of this, we have to cover every track,"
Captain Woods marveled at the way these two seemed to communicate with each other. How could two so different people carry on their kind of questioning and keep up with what as going on? He was looking at Loyd while thinking these things and did not see Boyd pull out a small notebook from his pocket. He wrote in Chinese.
"Do the guards go out to the railroad construction site and come back every day?" Boyd asked, jerking him back to the present.
"No. It is a three-day ride to the construction site. Guards stay out on the site three days and are relieved. They come back and stay three days. There are three sets of guards. That way everyone gets equal R&R time." Captain Woods answered.
"Do you keep a roster of the dates each guard is at the railroad?" asked Loyd, knowing where the questioning was going.
"Yes, I do," the captain answered, getting up and going to a file cabinet. He looked a few minutes and brought out a paper from a folder. He held it out for whichever one took it from his hand.
"Now, do you have a list of each date the robbery has happened?" Boyd asked.
"Yes, I do," said the captain returning to the file cabinet. He came back with a paper and handed it to Boyd.
"Captain Woods, do you know any of the owners or men in charge of hiring on the railroad? Loyd could hire on the railroad and I would scout the area, waiting for someone to contact or attack." Boyd said, taking the paper from his hand.
"Yes, that has already been arranged by Clayton Moore. He is the one who hires and fires the crew. No one will suspect anything when Loyd rides in to work.
He will have all the proper paperwork. We just need to know what he will hire on as so we can place him. Central Pacific has put the main office in Neosho, Missouri where the railroad line forks. One heads toward Texas and the other heads out west. We are guarding the one heading out west," Captain Woods answered.
"How far is the end of the track from Neosho?" Loyd asked.
"It is not but about fifteen miles from Neosho," Captain Woods answered.
"We will head out tomorrow after church. Do you have any engineering plans that I could look over while we go?" Loyd asked.
"Yes. They sent some for us to use since we are guarding everything. I can't make heads or tails of them. I hope they will help you," Captain Woods said, retrieving these from the file cabinet.
The brothers looked at each other and said together, "What time is church tomorrow morning?"
"Sunday School will be at 9:45 and Chapel will be at 11:00. I teach the enlisted men, if you want to join the class."
"We would love to come to your class. Will we meet the soldiers that are on guard detail for the railroad?" Boyd asked.
"Yes. It is a requirement to go to church."
"Yes. That would be fine. I don't think any of my men are involved though," said Captain Woods.
The brothers said nothing ... just sat comparing the papers they were given.
Nothing was said for several minutes.
"Did you know, captain, there is one guard that has been on duty every time the railroad has been hit? Can you tell us anything about him?" Loyd asked.
"What is his name? Captain Woods asked.
"Mark Lewis," Boyd said.
"Mark Lewis enlisted here about three and a half months ago. He has been very quiet," the captain said.
"According to these files, every time the railroad has been hit it is the night he is on duty. Will he be here tomorrow?" Boyd asked.
"No, he just left here this morning," the captain said.
"How fast do they usually travel?" Loyd asked.
"I require they travel no faster than a walk. I want them to watch for possible robbery suspects," the captain said.
"Have they reported any unusual activity?" Boyd asked.
"You know, now that you mention it that is another thing that makes me think it is not Indians. They have followed tracks that had horses with shoes. They lost them in the Neosho River. I was told a trail leads down into the river. The water is up about to the stirrup. It stays that way for about fifty feet and then seems to have no bottom. The river seemed to just swallow them up!" Captain Woods answered.
"Do you have a map showing that area?" Boyd asked.
"Yes I do," Captain Woods said getting the map from out of his desk.
Boyd and Loyd said at the same time, "Can you show us the area where they disappeared?"
The captain looked for a few minutes and then pointed to the area saying,
"That is the spot where the big oak tree is drawn."
Loyd and Boyd studied the map for a few minutes and Boyd said, "Captain, that hill to the south of that oak tree is a spot where I could signal you and your men from the oak tree. How long would it take you to get there?"
"I would say, about a day riding hard." Captain Woods said.
"How many men do you have available to make the maneuver?" Boyd asked.
"There are sixty men here and I could put together forty," The captain answered.
"Let us check things out in Neosho first. Do you have a telegraph office?"
"Yes, we do," he answered.
"Can we go in there by ourselves and send and receive messages?" Boyd asked.
The Fort Captain got up, walked around his desk and headed for the door,
"Follow me," he said. He had never seen two men who looked so different yet so alike. It was like they were connected at the hip. He had laughed when Captain Erkin had said he was sending twin brothers, one black and one white. Heck! He had seen identical twins that were not tied to the hip as close as these two were.
Betsy was not at her desk nor in the room; neither was Bear. They walked out on the porch and Betsy was throwing a stick and Bear was faithfully retrieving it.
"Where in the world did that bear come from!" exclaimed Captain Woods.
"Funny you should say the word bear. That is Bear, our dog," laughed Boyd.
"Well, I will guarantee you he is in good hands with Betsy," said the captain leading the way into a door to the right of them.
"J. R., go out on the porch and wait for me. I need you to do something. I will be out in a minute," the captain said, and when he was out, he continued,
"Take all the time you need; I will be outside."
Boyd sat down and began their messages:
Boyd Harris 1535 to SSW—over
Have strong lead to railroad robberies—over
Need railroad foreman to make big shipment—over
Name is 'Clayton Moore—over
Make shipment irresistible Tuesday morning—over
Have foreman to brag loud about incoming shipment Monday—over
Believe one soldier may be involved—over
Loyd Harris will board and be new laborer to set trap—over
Boyd will follow out of sight—over
Boyd Harris—over and out
Four minutes later he received the answer he needed:
SSW to Boyd Harris—over
Railroad will comply with trap—over
Northbound train at 1300 hours—over
Find a bank for the ramp—over
Room for buggy and horses—over
Use Yankee Bravo to stop train—over
Train arrive in Neosho, Missouri 2100 Sunday night—over
Catch westbound train Monday morning 0800—over
Arrive at end of track 1300 hours—over
SSW—over and out
Boyd to SSW—over
Would like to have Clayton Moore meet at station—over
Will have Loyd lead buggy down to Clayton Moore—over
Have them talk as though it is a buggy Clayton has ordered—over
Have a railroad executive's car for Boyd—over
Loyd will then head toward livery stable—over
Boyd will wait in the executive's car until Loyd leaves—over
Boyd will come out of executive's car to meet Clayton—over
Boyd and Loyd will stay separate until job done—over
Boyd Harris to SSW 10/4—over and out
Five long minutes had passed before the telegraph started chattering that rat—a—tat—tat sound.
SSW to Boyd Harris—over
Clayton Moore will comply with all you said—over
Executive car next to the cattle car—over
Stay out of sight on ride to Neosho—over and out
Boyd to SSW—over and out
Boyd and Loyd stepped out onto the porch of the headquarters and Boyd said, "Captain, we need to talk to you in your office."
"Corporal, resume your watch," Captain Woods said. He then led the brothers back into his office.
"Captain, we are going to have to go flag the northbound train now. We hope to visit your Sunday School class another time," Boyd said.
"It has been a pleasure to meet you; and, I will be looking forward to another meeting under better circumstances," Captain Woods said.
They had Bear to say good-bye to Betsy and untied the horses from the hitching rail. Once in the buggy, they waved at everyone and headed for the gate which was open by the time they reached it.
They headed to the place on the track where they could load the buggy.
When the train came into sight, Boyd got out the signal mirror and using the sun and Morse code, he signaled Yankee Bravo, flagging the train down. It did not take long to run out the loading ramp and run the buggy and horses up the ramp into the cattle car.
They went into the executive car with Bear right at their heels. The room car was furnished with nice reclining leather chairs and a big couch. Bear claimed the couch so each of the boys got a chair. Everyone was soon fast asleep. They woke up with Bear whining at the sound of the train whistle signaling the upcoming Neosho Train Station.
They hooked up the horses to the buggy and Loyd waited patiently until the doors opened. Boyd went back into the executive car and watched out the window.
When the doors were opened, Loyd led the horses and buggy down the ramp. Clayton Moore met him.
"Mr. Moore, I am Loyd Harris. My brother, Boyd, is in the executive car.
We feel the best way we can stay incognito is to be separated totally and not be seen together. After we talk, I will lead the horses down to the livery stable. This meeting between you and me must be as though these are your horses and buggy. I want you to pet each horse and act as though you are glad to see him."
While Clayton petted the horses he said, "You said you would take the horses to the livery stable. Don't do that. Instead, take them to the alley beside the general store and you will find the barn behind the two-story house. It has a big set of double doors. Knock and Henry Lewis will open the door. Lead the horses and buggy inside the hallway and tell Henry to put the horses in the two stalls at the end."
"Okay that sounds good to me." Loyd said. As he led the horses away he thought to himself, "Could this be a coincidence, that both men have the same last name?"
"How do you and Boyd plan on executing the trap at the construction site at the end of the tracks?" Clayton asked.
Loyd interrupted him and said, "I will go now. We do not want to create suspicion standing here. We will cover everything after I have put up the horses."
As he led them away, Boyd watched from the window to see if he could recognize a probable spy lurking somewhere in the shadows. He watched Loyd disappear beside the general store. He then said, "Come on Bear," and walked out the door of the executive car to meet Clayton.
Clayton Moore did a double-take when Boyd stepped from the car with Bear at his heals and said, "Sit Bear. I am Boyd Harris, Mr. Moore, glad to make your acquaintance."
"I guess the joke is on me. The Secret Service failed to inform me that one of you was white and the other one was black, and you brought a bear with you. I guess it is hard trying to act as though you are brothers." Clayton Moore chuckled.
"You don't understand, Mr. Moore. First, Loyd is my brother, and has been my brother since my parents adopted us when we were both seven months old from a governmental orphanage. We have always been together. Our parents' business left us with enough money that we could purchase your railroads for all it's worth and pay cash. Bear is our partner and goes where we go. Now, let us begin walking to your house and I will fill you in on the rest of the story."
"Okay," Clayton said as he led the way toward his house, thinking 'How do my facial expressions keep getting me in a mess'.
Loyd knocked on the barn door. "Who is there?" a gruff voice shouted.
"Loyd Harris, sir. I got 'a buggy and some horses 'fer Mr. Moore." Loyd said trying to sound like a southern black man.
"Just a minute!" came the reply.
The doors opened and Loyd led the horses and buggy into the barn hallway and said, "Mr. Moore said, 'Leave da buggy in da hallway and tell you to put da horses in da last two stalls."
"Don't expect me to do your job, boy. You see the stalls." He said with a snotty attitude. He then took a double-take at the size of Loyd and quickly continuing he said, "Sorry, no offense man."
Loyd said nothing ... just did as he was told. While he did as he was told, he looked around without been conspicuous. He spotted Henry talking to a man at the back corner. It paid off when Henry walked back up as Boyd was putting the final horse in a stall.
He apologized again. Then in a 'let's be friends' tone he asked, "Have you heard anything about what is going on at the end of the rail line?"
"They said something about it being da largest shipment yet. That's why I got hired. I was to deliver this here buggy on da way. I'm a'done here. I'm a'gonna go out to my aunt's house. I'll catch da train out tomorrow and work as a laborer,"
Loyd said, sounding joyful.
"That is what I thought I overheard Mr. Moore saying this morning." Henry said.
"Okay, see you later. I am gone." Boyd said as he shut the stall door. He headed for the outside door.
As he was doing so, he watched Henry walk back to the man and say something. He watched the man run out the door at the same time he went out. He got on his knees and crawled to the corner of the barn. He watched the man get on a horse and head in a direction that would take him about three miles north of the end of the track.
Loyd made sure no one saw him go to the big house and knock on the back door. The butler let him in and led him to the parlor where his brother and Clayton Moore were sitting at a conference table.
"I think I have found the culprit that is leaking information. We need to make sure we are in a secure location where no one can hear us talking," Loyd said in Arapaho.
Boyd saw the look in Loyd's eyes and replied back in French, "Bro, what have you seen? I have seen that look before."
"Yes, write down on paper for him to get us alone in a room that is totally secure ... with no vents, fireplaces, or thin walls where someone can overhear us."
Loyd said in Chinese."
"Sounds good to me, boss." Boyd answered in German.
Clayton Moore looked back and forth at the two, totally flabbergasted at how, when they spoke in a language, they even sounded like they were born to only speak that language. He had been to Germany and could speak enough to snicker to himself at Boyd calling Loyd boss. He looked back at Loyd waiting for him to speak when Boyd handed him a piece of paper. It read, "Take us to the captain's room."
He stuck up his thumb, got up, and shouted to the maid, "Bring us coffee to the library!" He walked through two sets of big three-inch solid double doors that slid back into a twelve-inch wall. Boyd, Loyd, and Bear followed.
The room was impressive. It was twenty by twenty. The walls were full of shelves eight feet tall and there was not a single space for another book.
"Have a seat, men and let's get down to business." They each sat in chairs that swiveled located in front of the big oak desk from which Clayton Moore sat in a big leather chair. Bear found a white bear rug where he was content to lay on in the corner behind the desk out of sight of the door.
The real pretty black maid brought in a tray with three cups and a pot full of coffee. There was a cream pitcher and sugar bowl there also. She set it on the desk that separated them and poured the cups full. Boyd watched her every move.
"I will close the doors on my way out, sir." She said.
"Thank you, Sherrie." Mr. Moore said.
When the doors were closed Boyd laughed and said, "You might want to send little brother on the assignment soon before he elopes with your maid."
"You have just over-stepped the line this time. Trust me, Boyd!" Loyd shot back almost shouting the word, "Boyd."
Mr. Moore was still not convinced that these two Secret Service agents were not put together as brothers by the incompetent, always bickering Washington bureaucrats. In his mind, he just knew blows would come next between the two.
This big black man was about to make mincemeat out of this little white man. The brothers suddenly stopped. It was like they suddenly looked at each other and knew what each other was thinking.
"Okay boss, I know you saw something tonight. I can see it in your eyes."
Boyd said to his brother so low you could hardly hear it.
"Mr. Moore, when did you hire Henry Lewis?" asked Loyd in the same quiet tone.
"Three and a half months ago. I needed a man; and when he applied, he informed me that his brother was in the army at Fort Gibson. That was enough for me," replied Mr. Moore.
"Are there any others employed for you that might be with those two?"
"No. Everyone else has been with me for several years. I have found that if you want loyal employees you must pay them well," answered Mr. Moore.
Loyd informed him about their findings at Fort Gibson and what he saw at the barn. Mr. Moore said nothing but got up, went, and opened the doors.
He shouted, "Mike, can you come here please."
Within a minute Mike stood in front of Mr. Moore and said, "Yes sir, Mr.
"Go to the barn and bring Henry Lewis back here even if you have to drag him. Knock when you come back. Say nothing of what you have seen tonight or heard." Mr. Moore demanded.
"Yes sir!" Mike shouted and was gone. It was obvious he did not like Henry.
Both boys giggled at it for he was bigger than Loyd.
Mr. Moore shut the doors and sat back down and said, "First, I have a confession to make. I did not have much faith in your abilities at the beginning.
But now I see you are very capable. When he comes in, he is all yours."
Boyd said, "Mr. Moore, when he comes in we will need to get some very important info from him and quickly. We are all three equal partners and capable of playing our part. Sit back and be entertained."
"Very well, I have always enjoyed a good play," chuckled Mr. Moore. He was getting more interested in these two all the time.
Within minutes, when the knock came on the door, Mr. Moore said, "Come on in."
The doors slid open and Henry stepped in. He was surprised when he saw Loyd and this other man swivel around and face him as the doors slid closed behind him. All he could think to say was, "What is the meaning of this?"
Loyd started by saying, "Henry Lewis, who was the rider that rode away when I left the barn?"
"Uh, uh, I don't have a clue what you are talking about?" Henry sputtered.
Boyd said, "Bear, take him down to your size." Bear reacted so fast that the nine by five rug he was lying on was wadded up in a roll in the corner behind him.
Mr. Moore almost jumped out of his skin himself! Bear was on his hind legs with his front paws on Henry's shoulders before he could react from the sound of him moving.
Henry, who was terrified of big dogs, literally passed out and slid down the door only to be propped up in a sitting position by Bear's weight against him.
When he came to, he was greeted by a black head bigger than his own with a snarled big nose and four white fangs four inches from his face. Needless to say, Henry would have to be woke up again.
"Back up, Bear," Loyd said.
Bear backed up until his paws were inches from Henry's feet.
Boyd spun around and said, "Mr. Moore, do you have any smelling sauce?"
Mr. Moore was so infatuated with what he was witnessing, he just reached into a drawer and pulled out a roll of cotton and handed it to Boyd. Loyd and Boyd moved the chairs over until they were on each side of Henry so when he came to he was completely surrounded.
Boyd ran the sauce under his nose. He sputtered again and opened his eyes.