American Stories Collection

Robert Butche’s American Stories Collection Celebrating American Life, Families And Adventure
Coming Soon!  A New Novel From
Robert Butche’s
American Stories Collection
Celebrating American Life, Families And Adventure

Home Is My Heart

An Epic Story About Three Generations Of Dutch Immigrants
From 1820 Holland to World War I America

Coming Spring 2016!

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Below is an sample chapter From
Home Is My Heart — By Robert Butche

Copyright © 2015 Greenbrier House Publishing, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Fire !


After the embarrassments following Colonel Wallace’s Indian brigade taking Romney, and other Union incursions, General Jackson had enough. Toward the end of January, Jackson’s forces attacked Romney from their staging camp at Vance no more than two miles to the north. When the Yankee command staff temporarily living at Journey’s End cabin returned fire the Yankee defenders were reinforced by a platoon Colonel Wallace stationed atop Dutch Hill. The Major who slept with Diederich, clad only in his pajamas, tied the boy to the ridge post – for the boy’s own safety – before going outside to defend the cabin.

The first Confederate skirmish was easily driven back to the north – toward Vance. A second attack, well past 2 a.m., came within fifty yards of the cabin. While some of the Union men ran for cover atop Dutch Hill, one of the Confederate scouts crawled across the corn stubble south of the cabin. In a break in the gunfire, he lit a fuse before lobbing a long black object toward the cabin. When it failed to explode, he cursed so loudly one of his own kind shot at him in the dark of night.

When his second fire stick landed on the front porch, it exploded in flame. In but an instant, the incendiary device set fire to the wood flooring. In less than a minute the front of the old cabin was whipping in flame and smoke.

What followed, as the cabin fire spread around the roof overhang, ringing Albet’s hand-built cabin in dancing flames, was a sustained Confederate attack that turned the darkness between opposing forces a no-mans land. Near a hundred Confederate men, firing blindly into the night, tried to charge Dutch Hill without success. Nor was the second or third charge any better. In the midst of so much noise, confusion, screaming and gunfire, there was no attempt, by either side, to staunch the flames. Not that it mattered – for once aflame, such structures burned to the ground – leaving behind only ash and memories.

In the noise of battle, no one heard terrified shouts, then horrible screams emanating from inside the cabin. In the middle of a fight for the cabin’s custody, grown men continued to shoot at one another as if nothing else mattered. Soon the fast spreading fire lit the sky in red so bright it illuminated the low hanging winter clouds. Then, once a hole opened in the roof, the outside air turned pink and gray in dense, aromatic smoke.

Diederich, absent normal physical strength, remained chained to the ridge post. From first whiff, the boy was terrified by the fast spreading stench of acrid smoke. But not for long, for once the interior papers caught fire, followed by clothing and furnishing turned to flame, Diederich was rapt in horrible, unspeakable pain. By then, his arm skin roasting and smoked, his torso oozing of water vapor he strained at his chains. Each succeeding breath took in oven-hot, smoke-filled air.

He screamed when the smoke and flame burned the linings of his trachea and seared his lungs. In his horrible anguish, his limbs flailing about trying to escape his bonds, Diederich ripped off his left hand. But it mattered not – for by then there was no escape from the enveloping cauldron.

Then, there was darkness.

Copyright © 2015 Greenbrier House Publishing, Inc.
All Rights Reserved