The General Militia:

The last few days, as mentioned, I've had my father up to visit. He left yesterday morning after breakfast, but not before telling me a story I hadn't heard before. It dates to the Forsyth County, Georgia of my youth: back when the local volunteer Fire Department, of which my father was a member, was still getting started.

In those days, Forsyth County was entirely rural. In the southern and eastern parts, it was cattle country, with green and rolling pastures being the main feature of the land. In the northwestern part of the county, it was timberland, and forestry was the main industry. A modestly large county, nevertheless there were often only two deputy sheriffs on duty at any shift. There was no other law, and not much need for any, but on the rare occasion that anything bad happened -- whether a fire or a car wreck or whatever -- they called out the volunteer Firemen to lend some extra, uniformed hands.

So this one day, just about six miles from my own childhood house, a couple of fifth grade kids were returning from their afternoon's sport: shooting their .22 rifles. It was probably target shooting rather than squirrel hunting, but either was a common passtime. They came out of the backcountry and onto their red-dirt road, and started walking home.

Passing a neighbor's house, they saw a couple of men they didn't recognize taking things out of it and loading it into a strange car. The two boys -- fifth graders, now -- yelled at the strangers to demand an answer as to why they were taking their neighbors' stuff. One of the men pulled a gun, and shot at them.

Well, he missed. They didn't, returning the fire with their rifles and getting him through the stomach. He and his friend panicked, but found themselves cut off from their car by the fusilade. One of the boys ran down a powerline cut to get to a bigger road, to flag help. The other tried to keep the strangers pinned.

The two strangers managed to break into a truck that was at the house they were robbing, and they went barreling down the road. However, the kid who went for help found some, and soon the Volunteer Fire Department had cut off all the local roads. By the time the deputy got there, Volunteers were standing in the middle of the roads with shotguns. Nobody had to go get one -- they were in the truck gun rack, in case they were needed.

After the two men drove off in the stolen truck, meanwhile, the other kid went home and informed his family of the robbery. They, along with their other neighbors, got into their trucks and went hunting. They recognized the stolen truck easily -- it belonged to their neighbor, after all -- and ran it off the road. The wounded man gave in at once, but the other one tried to escape into the woods. They chased him down and beat him with sticks until he surrendered.

Eventually, word of this got back to the deputy, who headed over to collect the prisoners. He, poor fellow, missed all the excitement but still got to write the report.

I'm told that was the last robbery in that end of the county for quite a little while.

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