(read before Act One)

So that’s it, then. We’re on our own hook now. There’s no help for us — not from Company L, not from our people variously, sure as h–l not from Nethercutt’s Southern Rangers, no not by a jug-full. We have been abandoned, and the curse of Cain is upon us.

What we came to do has been done to a turn and there is some solace in that — we are yet soldiers. What cruel irony then that our own forces will shoot us as deserters if we show our faces just as quickly as the rebels will hang us from any convenient tree. We must rely on one another now. It is a lonely feeling and frankly cold comfort, but I believe we have a slender reed of hope. It lies to the east.

We know the country, her roads and byways. We may even know parties not altogether unsympathetic to our cause. Were we to return to New Bern in good time and under our own power, no one could accuse us of anything but misfortune. So east we go, together, heads held high, with one hundred miles of rebels stirred like hornets between us and our salvation. May God clear us a path.