Copyright© 2020 by UtIdArWa
During the next two weeks, my schedule was full. Between my medical rounds, standing several watches as the duty physician, meetings with various Command Group members discussing the medical circuit plans, my evening free time became involved with the fittings for my new uniform.
During those fittings, Miquel and I talked. Talked about our pasts and backgrounds.
“Mademoiselle, I was born and raised on de bayou in Avoyelles Parish. Ma Mere, she was a seamstress. De finest in Louisiana. Some say she made clothes for Marie Laveau. Ol’ Marie, she was a witchy woman. Knew all bout voodoo an such. Some say Ol’ Marie liked Ma Mere so much. She put a charm on her and her kin. Day says as long as de Rossi use needle and thread, day succeed. I don’t know bout dat. But tings go pretty good for me.”
“My Mere, she teach me cloth and thread. Soon, I am a tailor in New Orleans. All de fancy men come to me. All the rich and hansome. I’m known all up and down de river. Then de war, she start. All the fancy men come to me for uniforms. Uniforms so they look hansome and brave when they ride to the cannon. So many rode away, so few come back.
“After de war, New Orleans, she is different. Days few men, and de ones left be shiftless, layabouts. Day want all de good tings, but won’t pay for dem, don’ work for dem. I grew tired of the city, she is different, And de bayou, I left behind long ago. My family, day don member me. So I head west. To Texas, den Arizona. In Tucson, I work on Cavalry uniforms. But da pay, she is low and prices high.”
“I hear bout the Spanish in California. Dey has money. Dey is fancy dressers, both da mens and de womens. So, I move to Santo Diego, and Angel city, and futher north to Monterey. And Mon Dieu, Dose Spanish, dey surely do love ta dress up. I have more work than time.”
“Den man, come to me. Miquel, He say, You come to Nevada. You come, make uniforms for Joshua Anderson. And I come. And I learn new uniforms. I also learn new clothes. De civilians, de mexican, dey are such fun people. Colors and styles and materials. I am a young man again.”
Robert’s boots were finished first. I had never felt such soft leather. They were butter-soft, fit like a second skin, and gleamed like glass. And Robert had outdone himself on the fit. I honestly couldn’t tell I was wearing boots until I looked down. I was so impressed that when I thanked him, I kissed his cheek. He got so flustered. His stutter got so bad, I couldn’t understand him. It took two mugs of chocolate and a half dozen cookies before he calmed down. And even then, he couldn’t look at me without blushing deep red.
Two days before the promotion ceremony, the uniform was finished. It had a tan jacket that ended just past the waist. The riding skirt, also tan, had a white and maroon sash as a belt. On the jacket collar were the caduceus and a gold ‘C’ for a contractor. There were Captain bars on the shoulder boards, again a ‘C’ was on top.
After two weeks of practice and inspections, the day of the promotion ceremony arrived. The opening was scheduled for 1:00 PM, just after the noon meal.
During the morning, civilian members arrived and assembled near the civilian gate. Meanwhile, the non-combat military members that wouldn’t be participating crowded near and to the side of the command gate. This included myself and members of the medical staff that had no pressing duties and could attend.
At 1:00, Colonel Anderson and the Command Group took their positions at the command gate’s front. At the signal from Sergeant Major Young, Jimmy Caldwell, the senior bugler, sounded assembly.
The troop gate opened, and after a pause, the Troops started riding in. They rode four abreast. As soon as they passed the gate onto the parade ground, they made a column right, away from the command gate. They then trooped around the perimeter of the parade ground.
The Regiments band, a newly organized group consisting mainly of several fife players and drummers, started playing a cadence for the troopers. They were joined by Jimmy and Pablo Escobar, the junior bugler.
The troops were dressed in their best uniforms, and their horses had on the finest tack. The shine from the silver and brass was almost blinding.
After that first troop had cleared the gate, they were followed by a second troop. Then a third, and surprising the onlookers, a fourth troop rode onto the parade ground.
As each troop passed Colonel Anderson and the Command Group, the Captain leading that troop raised his saber and saluted them. The exception was the 4th troop. Major Gaunte was leading them. The unit’s guidon was cased.
After passing the Command Group, they circled back to the parade ground’s left side and formed into a unit. This was repeated with each of the mounted units.
After the units were in position, the two buglers, Jimmy and Pablo, blew honors for the national flag and the Regimental banner, brought in by the honor guard.
Once everyone was in position, Colonel Anderson stepped forward. In a strong, clear voice, he started speaking. “Friends, Colleagues, Brothers, and Sisters. There are many challenges to a commander’s life. There are times that they dread and times they look forward to. This is one of those times. We are gathered here to recognize several of our own. These troopers have demonstrated abilities and judgment above the requirements for their current positions.”
He turned to His aide, Lieutenant Justice, “Steve,”
Lieutenant Justice cleared his throat and called out, “Attention to orders, to all present and as a matter of record, be it known that the unit designated D Troop (Provisional) is to be activated today and designated as D Troop (Active).
This new unit was supposed to be classified. But in a small organization like the Regiment, very little that happened on a new troop scale could be hidden very well. Whoever was going to be in command would have their hands busy. Over half of the troopers were newly graduated from the Regimental Cavalry school.
Lieutenant Justice again cleared his throat and called out, “Persons to be promoted, front and center.”
Lieutenant Ellenwood and Sergeant Pointer stepped out of the crowd to the side of the Command Group and marched to a position in front of Colonel Anderson. They both saluted, and Ellenwood said, “Lieutenant Ellenwood and Sergeant Pointer, reporting Sir.”
Anderson returned their salute. Lieutenant Justice continued. “Attention to orders, to all present and as a matter of record, be it known that Lieutenant Joseph Ellenwood is promoted to Captain. Further, Captain Ellenwood is detached from the Medical Security Detail and assigned as commander of the newly formed D Troop.”
Colonel Anderson and a pretty blond-haired young lady stepped up to Captain Ellenwood and pinned his new rank on his shoulder boards. Anderson shook his hand, stepped back a pace, and saluted. The new Captain, grinning like a boy with a new toy, returned the salute. It was with obvious reluctance that the young lady disengaged her grip on Ellenwood’s arm and returned to the sidelines.
An older brunette lady standing next to me leaned over. “You’ll be getting to know that young lady much better in the next two or three months.”