The thunder of artillery shook the trees.
Birds took to the air, animals sought shelter in their dens, and the trees complained mightily as I passed among them.
Whoever was on the gun seemed to be having a hell of a time.
Shot after shot shredded the peace of the day and set the earth to tremble.
I wasn’t pleased.
I’d been under fire before. Plenty of times. Artillery is always troublesome. I’d seen the cannons of the British tear through ranks of the Continental Army, witnessed damage done by Secesh teams in the War of the Rebellion, and suffered through days of shelling while fighting the Germans in France and Belgium.
There were no pleasant memories. Not when the cannons roared, and I was on the receiving end.
I exited the tree line and found the artillery team had hitched up their horses and were on the run.
That would never do.
I unslung my Spencer, took a knee, and fired at the lead rider.
The shot took him in the back, knocked him out of the saddle, and sent him tumbling to the ground. The other horses on the team rode over him, as did the caisson itself. Both gunners were thrown from their seats on either side of the gun, and as the men astride their horses tried to regain some control, I fired again.
The second shot cut down two of the men on the caisson, the Spencer’s round piercing the throat of one and striking the other in the same.
With their deaths, the team came to a faltering stop, and the men dismounted.
They struggled to draw rifles from the caisson, the two thrown men racing for their brethren.
I slew three more before the men had their weapons ready and another as he tried to fire at me.
The remaining men fired a few rounds, but it was far too little and far too late.
I had a good position, plenty of ammunition, and time.
All three died within seconds of each other.
In the silence that followed, the horses stood in their traces, well-trained and inured to the sounds of combat.
It took me but a little while to spike the cannon, dump out shot and shell, and set fire to the caisson itself.
With the horses in tow, I returned to the tree line and the bitter complaints of the trees.