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Author's Notes

The roles that the Democrats and Republicans are playing in this story may confuse the modern reader. It must be remembered that the political positions of those two parties has switched over time. Lincoln, the paragon of liberality, was the first Republican president, whereas, the slave owners and states' rights firebrands were usually Democrats. Teddy Roosevelt, trustbuster and promoter of Progressivism, was a Republican. Fictional president, Rigoberto Cuautémoc Gonsalvas, was a Democrat. The rest you will have to divine on your own.

Yes, I know the caverns at Luray, Virginia, extend deep underground and not above the base of the mountain. You'll just have to forgive me for that, and I assure you, that isn't the biggest absurdity you are about to read.


Had they done it a thousand times, each with a different set of players, the end would have been very much the same, for such is the fate of the human condition.

Chapter 1: Contreras, México August 19, 1847

The bodega was dark, reeking of fermentation and dust. Stacked against the rear wall were small, black, spherical pots corked and sealed with wax. General Franklin Pierce's orderly used his knife to pry the cork from one and sniffed. Making a face he said to the empty room, "This oughta do."

Gathering four of the dusty little pots in his arms he took them across the cobbled plaza to the house the General had chosen to be his headquarters for the night. The house's owner and his family had fled when the troops entered the town but his cook lingered unconcerned and seemed indifferent to serving her patrón or the uniformed gringos. General Pierce was conversing with General Worth over platters of tampiqueña. When the orderly entered the dining room his eyes went wide. "What have you found, Williams?" he asked.

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