I am not overly fond of merfolk, and they did nothing to change my mind during the war.
Several times I came across groups of two or three, and each time I did, so I sent them off with a few well-placed shots. They have alternately been a nuisance or a scourge, depending on their numbers.
I had heard rumor of more merfolk, tales of wounded men being dragged off hospital ships and vanishing into the Tennessee or the Mississippi. Entire skiffs went down in calm waters, patients and orderlies alike lost to the murky depths.
When the USS City of Nashville came along and reported a large number of men ‘committing suicide’ by leaping overboard, I knew it could not be. My only fear was that there would be more than a handful.
I was right to be concerned.
When I arrived on Monday morning, the chief medical officer informed me of three suicides the previous evening. It had become necessary to post guards around the ship, and even two of those over the weekend had jumped into the river. After some mild threats, I got the man to admit that he was losing an average of five men a night, and he had been for almost two weeks.
That was more than a handful of merfolk could eat. A school was feeding, and they needed to be stopped.
For the rest of the day, I gathered up what weapons I could, made certain they were in working order and looked for men who would fight.
It wasn’t an easy task. Many of the men were too wounded to do more than wait for transportation further north, where they might have a chance to recover from their injuries.
By nightfall, I had formed a unit of a score of men, soldiers who had seen horrors on the battlefields and who had no desire to die at the hands of creatures few believed in.
It was a few hours after the moon had risen that the merfolk scaled the sides, and when they did, they found a hot welcome. Several of the merfolk reached the windows, and I suspect they wished they hadn’t.
The wounded were pleased they had.
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