Odd Tale of Emily Sodder

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Emily lives in MI just after the Civil War and her father (who was wounded at Vicksburg) needs her to go to the city of South Bend to get some parts but as she travels she finds the war may not be over yet. She also meets a young soldier along the way.

Submitted: July 20, 2012

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Submitted: July 20, 2012



Emily worked with her father in the town of Edwardsburg; she had lived there all her life and knew only that of a farm girl. It was 1880 and the scars of the Civil War were just now beginning to heal. Sadly Emily’s father’s scars would be there forever; he had been wounded at Vicksburg and could scarcely work a plow. “Pa, she said,”There are some men on horseback here for you.” The man in a shining blue coat introduced himself as Cpt. Andrew Hiller and requested to see Emily’s father. “Their Federals!” she cried. Her father snapped into attention and introduced himself. “At ease lad” Cpt. Hiller said “we’ve just come to see if you need any assistance since you served so gallantly in the war.” Emily’s father looked at his small daughter and said “You’ll have to talk to her, she does most of the work now that I can’t” Cpt. Hiller was amused by this and stepped down from his horse and approached Emily. “May I be of service to you madam?” Emily kindly declined the offer saying she could fend for it and thanked the man for his offer.

Cpt. Hiller rode off and then Emily’s father asked something of her he had not before “Emily, he said, I want you to go into town in the Indiana Territory, we need more machine parts for the steam engine in the tractor and I can’t make the trip” Emily was shocked she had never ridden more than a few miles but all the way to South Bend she wasn’t sure. “Pa that’s awful far, do you want me goin’ that far out?” Pa was adamant “You’re my only choice” So she set off not sure of where it would take her. Now you must understand that what is an hour’s car drive today was a day’s ride back then. As she rode down the trail that leads to the border out of nowhere she was stopped by men lidded in grey she was confused at first the she looked at the man’s belt the buckle said CS. They were rebels! Emily rode as fast as she could but to no success the men pointed a revolver and ordered her to give them her money.  Emily was terrified she had never heard of Rebels so far north. It was either ride and hope to out-run them of give up the money and return home empty handed. Emily knew with the war now over they must not have any re-enforcement within twenty miles. She decided to ride, and ride she did gunshots rang out behind her but still she sped down the road praying she would get away.

She managed to lose them near the small hamlet of Niles close to the border with Indiana. Emily decided to stop to freshen her horse in Niles. This would prove a mistake. As she led the horse to the watering station outside the sheriff’s office Emily felt somewhat disturbed. Then to her horror she saw two men lidded in grey with revolvers headed towards her. This was a moment where she knew that it would take every ounce of courage. As the men sprang towards her she reached inside the sheriff’s office and grabbed a coach gun. The man who seemed to be in charge yelled “Hold on there!” Emily swung the gun around and shoved it in the man’s face. He raised his arms and dropped his gun “Hold on don’t shoot what do you want?” Emily felt smug as she said “I want you and you little puppet”, who had by now also dropped his gun ,”to get out of here and leave me be!” The man was near in tears as he said “Anything you want just let me go!” Emily lowered the barrel of the shot gun as she said “Get out of here” The rebels ran with their tails between their legs Emily yelled “Go back to Virginia you raciest pigs!” Many people saw what had happen and they cheered Emily, a federal approached in his blue uniform and said “Little girl that was a fine piece of work you ought to consider workin with the army.” Emily nearly laughed and said “I would prefer to stay at home and work with my father.” The soldier removed his cap and said you are braver than I” and walked away. The inn keeper gave Emily a free room and stable for the night and she went to sleep proud of what she had done.

Morning came, Emily was up early she knew that she was now a day behind of her trip and now had to make up time wherever she could. Now Niles at the time was nothing more than a trading post for French fur traders from the north, and the parts she needed weren’t available. Still she had to go another ten miles to the industrial city of South Bend. Emily knew her father would have trouble working the farm all by himself until she got back, especially with no tractor and harvest was coming fast. Her older brother was killed in the war, so she was in no mood for rebels to be breathing down her neck on this trip.

The trail leading from Niles to South Bend at that time was nothing more than a dirt path with a few trading posts along the way. Help, she knew would be scarce at best. The farther south she went the more rebels she would contend with. South Bend was a city where she would be able to get a new horse and maybe a wagon to carry the parts she needed. Emily was no older than sixteen and she knew most people in the city wouldn’t take her seriously. At the time it was few and far between where a woman so young would be buying machine parts. Even though women were filling the factories after the war since so many men had been killed or wounded. 

So she set off early that morning with a very good reputation in her wake after standing up to those rebels in Niles. The road she had picked to use was the main one hoping that way she would find help were the rebels to find her. Little did she know her worst trials were to be found when she got to the city that very next day. Where she found out the war wasn’t even close to over, not if the rebels had anything to say about it.



Emily arrived in South Bend that afternoon, the sheer size of the factories astounded her. “So many people!” she thought as she rode down the street leading into the city. As she  and her horse strode down street she heard shouts of, “Produce here!” and “Fine dresses $10.00!”. The money her father gave her burned at her pocket but she had to find John Studebaker for the tractor parts. So many buildings had the name Studebaker on them she didn’t know where to start. Emily thought to herself “Maybe if I could find an office building.” And so she rode the streets but something was out of place she couldn’t tell what but she felt uneasy as approached an ally near the back of a factory.

She was pulled to the ground and heard a voice she knew, and dreaded. It was a tall man lidded in grey with a shining CS belt buckle. Next think she knew there was the point of a rifle at her head. “This the girl from the fur camp?”, asked a man with several stripes on his shoulder. “Yea, I’d know her stench from a mile away.” Said the man she knew. The men took her under the factory to a room with a southern flag hanging on the wall. The men sat her in a chair and tied her up. “I’m sorry for the rough treatment” said the man with the stripes “we just can’t take any chances with you being so, brave” The soldier introduced himself as Col. John Prescott of the Confederate Army. He then pointed to the two men from the highway stop and introduced them as Allen and Charlie.
Emily was no fool she knew they were looking for revenge after makin a fool of them in Niles. “What do you want with me?” Emily asked. Col. Prescott said that she was being “apprehended” after refusing to “make a donation” to the rebel cause. Emily was furious “All I wanna do is get the part for our tractor and get home to my papa!”
The Coronal seem to be compassionate to her fathers unfortunate situation. “Tell ya what” said Col. Prescott “we’ll let you go just as soon as you promise to make a donation” Emily understood that the man was trying to be kind and calmed down “All the money I have is for the parts I spent my extra in Niles.” Looking up she could tell the Coronal was somewhat surprised by this. “Alright we’ll just keep ya overnight then” then almost as fast as he arrived he left her in the care of a young guard.

That night she decided she had to break out and she knew she would have to kill that guard. “I aint ever hurt a man before” she thought to herself. Nevertheless she had to get out. Emily snuck up behind the guard and yanked the gun from his hip and told him to let her go. “I aint got the keys!” the guard said “Col. Prescott tool em for safe keeping!” Emily now knew she would have to kill him “Guess that make you redundant don’t it?” Emily pulled the trigger and the man fell dead. Emily came to tears looking at what she had done. Then before she could think about it Allen and Charlie came in guns firing. Emily ran and shot back the two men grabbed at their stomachs and fell to the floor. Emily ran near crying then she saw Col. Prescott, he was more in tears than her. He stepped aside and said “You won this fair, now you may go and let me tend to my men.” She thanked him and walked out retrieving her horse on the way.

She spent the night in a fur camp on the outside of town and when she went back in town she felt very safe and at ease. Emily knew what she did was right and was certain that now she could get home safe and sound. A kind man had given her some money to buy food at the local inn and she ate well for the first time since Niles. And was promised a warm bed if she needed one.

It was midday before she found the office where Mr. Studebaker worked. The building was very ornate and she felt quite relaxed as she waited in the office. Then a large man stepped in and a boy about her age beside him. “Mr. Studebaker I assume?: Emily said trying to be professional “The only.” The large man said with a smile. “My father needs parts for his tractor and he sent me with the money.” She said as she put the money on the table. The man let out a smile that was a mile wide, “Your Emily Sodder aren’t you?” he asked with an energy not before seen. “Why, yes I am how do you know?” Emily Replied, “Your reputation and story proceed you Ms. Sodder” he said kindly “You fought off the rebels in Niles and made an incredible escape last night.” He said near laughing. “Why thank you sir.” She replied. “So your father telegrammed me and I know what parts you need a fresh horse and a wagon with the parts are waiting for you outside along with an armed guard for your protection.” Emily was over taken with his kindness. “How can I repay you?” Mr. Studebaker was clearly a man of honor for his only reply was “Make sure these parts get back to your father.”

Emily set off once again with her fathers parts in tow. As she moved through she kept a sharp eye out for an angry Col. Prescott, but she saw no one she recognized for once she though “I can ride and be at ease.” The two men that were sent to guard her were two Union soldiers Cpl. Allison and Sgt. McGruder of the 169th Indiana. She gazed in amazement at their stories. Both men had served under Gen. Grant for part of the war and Cpl. Allison was at Gettysburg. She noticed Sgt. McGruder has a scar on his leg and she asked what had happen. Sgt. McGruder said firmly “There are things I don’t ask you, and there things I’d rather you didn’t ask me.” With that we walked into his tent leaving Cpl. Allison to watch over the horses and parts. Emily looked at the Corporal and she felt safe looking at the black steel and hard wood of the rifle he had shouldered and ready to fire if need be. Emily had not felt so at ease all through the journey and now she knew she was safe.

The next morning as Sgt. McGruder slept Emily and Cpl. Allison sat by what was left of the nights fire and talked. She marveled at every word that came out of his mouth. The stories of combat and victory and those of defeat and loss. He spoke of a Pfc. Sodder whom he knew quite well throughout most of the war until he had been wounded at Vicksburg. Emily knew that this man had served under her father and she grew close to him. Before breakfast that morning Emily found herself again speaking of the war with Cpl. Allison. She asked him “How did my father get wounded?” Cpl. Allison looked uneasily at Emily and sighed. “It’s time I told you what happen at Vicksburg that the papers never told you.” Emily was greatly worried by this and settled in to listen to another story of the Corporal’s war. “It was the third week of the siege, me and three other men were holding the line just to the south of the city. We thought we had the rebels bottled up pretty good but we were oh so dearly wrong.” Emily could see the Corporal becoming somewhat emotional over this story and was worried she had crossed the line. Yet Cpl. Allison continued “We didn’t know the rebels had mortars in the city and they began to fire at us. Your father was our commanding officer at that time.” Emily was awestruck she was confused at how well he could remember so long ago. “Our position took a direct hit and your father was badly hurt we had to get him out but it took almost an hour before a nurse arrived we almost lost him, he went home after this and never came back.”

Emily looked at Cpl. Allison and asked “What’s your name?” He smiled and said “My name is Brandon.” Emily saluted like her father showed her and said “Thank you for looking after my father.” Brandon was amused by this and hugged her “I would have been even more careful had I known he had such a beautiful daughter.” Emily blushed and kissed him on the cheek. Sgt. McGruder spoke out “Hope I’m not interpreting but we have parts to move.” Emily mounted her horse and looked back at Brandon as he grabbed his gun and got on the wagon. She spurred her horse and led the wagon towards her house. Sgt. McGruder pulled up alongside Emily and said “I heard what he told you I am very sorry about your father.” Emily looked at him and said “He is braver now than ever.” Sgt. McGruder handed her a note and said not to open it because it was for her father.  She swore that she wouldn’t and rode on

It was noon before they reached Niles there they would get fresh horses and make any repairs they needed to the wagon. The soldier that spoke with her after her run in with the Rebels gave her a blue soldiers uniform and a saber. She changed into it and looked in the mirror. Two stripes wore on her shoulder. Brandon walked in and looked at her. “Your father would be very proud.” She smiled and said “I didn’t even earn these stripes.” Brandon laughed and said “You earned the last time you were here and that night in South Bend.” He took her by that hand and walked her into a back room where a Hennery Rifle sat on the table. He smiled and said “It’s yours.” Emily was half laughing “You trust a woman with a rifle?” Brandon smiled and the her the rifle and a bag of shot and powder. “You need to protect yourself and your father.” She took the rifle and put it in the holder on her saddle. Brandon helped her onto her horse and said “You look like an officer.” And he snapped to attention. Emily got down from her horse and kissed him “Thank you.” She said laughing. “It would be best if we kept this away from Sgt. McGruder” Said Brandon. “I’m more worried about my father” Emily said “he might take your head off!” Brandon laughed “If I remember Pfc. Sodder he’ll be makin jokes before we will.” Emily smiled “Your probably right.” With that she returned to her horse and rode to meet Sgt. McGruder.

When she rode up alongside him McGruder said “You know I saw that right?” Emily looked at him and said jokingly “Someone has to have fun on this trip!” McGruder laughed and called Cpl. Allison over and they headed north hoping to reach the farm the next morning. Their hopes however were thrashed as for as they headed North they came across a confederate road-block. At the head of the attack was Col. Prescott Emily called out to Col. Prescott. “John” she said “It’s me Emily Sodder please let us through!” Col. Prescott looked shocked to have run into her again “Emily?” he yelled “Alright enough of my men have died by your hands we’ll let you through for 10lbs. of shot and powder!” Emily looked at Sgt. McGruder and said “What do you think Sergeant?” McGruder pondered the situation for a moment and said “There are too many of them for us to handle we have no choice but to comply to their demands” It was now that Brandon arrived “Sir, they have us surrounded what do we do?” Sgt. McGruder told him “Get 10lbs of shot and powder in a barrel we will trade with them for our passage.” Brandon looked puzzled but said “Yes sir.” And walked to the wagon. Emily got down from her horse and walked cautiously up to Col. Prescott. “So you got one of those blue uniforms did you?” he said almost disappointed. Emily looked at him firmly and said “Yes, I have its my father’s uniform.”

She softened her tone and asked ”How are Allen and Charlie?” Col. Prescott snapped back “They’re dead.” Emily looked at her hands as if they were covered in blood “I’m sorry.” she said. Two other CS soldiers walked along side Col. Prescott but John said “No! leave her be.” They stood down and returned to the blockade. Emily put her hand on John’s shoulder “Here comes Brandon with your shot and powder.” Before she could even finish speaking Brandon set the powder at Col. Prescott’s feet. Brandon took Emily’s hand and said “Let’s get back” Emily agreed and Col. Prescott let them through. As they rode away Emily yelled “I’m sorry John” there was no answer. She felt bad for him but still she rode on. It was another two hours before they reached Emily’s house. Her father stood at the gates waving and cheering she then approached Sgt. McGruder “Where is my daughter?” he said bluntly.  Sgt. McGruder pointed and a figure in a blue uniform and said “Right there.” Emily’s father approached her and said “Emily? Is that you in that uniform?” She smiled as wide as she could smile and hugged her father “How I have missed you!” she cried. Brandon came alongside Emily and took her hand “Pvt. Allison?” he said shocked. Brandon took his former comrade in an embrace and said “I haven’t seen you since Vicksburg.” Emily’s father said “What are you now a Major?” Brandon laughed “No sir, only a corporal.” Brandon then returned to Emily’s side and put his arm around her. “Sir? I think you know what I’m about to ask you.” Emily’s father laughed and said “Emily, is this true?” She blushed and stepped closer to him. “Well then” Emily’s father said “Looks like we should have ourselves a little celebration!” That night the property was alive while many of Father’s old friends came to wish the new couple well. There were flags and banners hung on the wall and Emily paraded around in her blue uniform hand in hand with Brandon. Then Emily noticed a grey uniform and she walked up behind the man and said “May I help you?” The man turned around and she was surprised to see the face of Col. John Prescott. Emily asked “What are you doing here?” John looked back softly and said “We heard of your soon to wed and I thought I would give my dear opponent my final visit, on more friendly terms.” Emily respected this and offered him food and drink, and later that night as the sun touched the ground the two were wed. In the audience a whole row of grey uniforms just as happy as those in blue, the scars of the war here at least had healed and it was all due to the odd tale of Emily Sodder.

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