Written dispatch to the Commander-in-Chief at 2:30 PM, from the officer commanding the Allied forces at Spy Hill:
"Some of the Fifth Light Infantry here now, and I hear the Third coming up, but force really inadequate. What reinforcements can you send to hold the hill tonight? We are badly in need of water. There are many killed and wounded.
"P.S. If you wish to make a certainty of hill for night, you must send more Infantry and attack enemy's guns."
Written dispatch to the Commander-in-Chief at 6:30 PM, from the officer commanding the Allied forces at Spy Hill:
"The troops which marched up here last night are quite done up. They have had no water, and ammunition is running short. The enemy are now firing heavily on both flanks (rifle, shell, and machine-rifle), while a heavy rifle fire is being kept up on the front. If my casualties go on at the present rate, I shall barely hold out the night.
"A large number of stretcher-bearers should be sent up, and also all the water possible.
"The situation is critical."
Written dispatch to the Commander-in-Chief at 10 PM, from the officer commanding the Allied forces at Spy Hill (having received no reply to the previous dispatches):
"Regret to report that I have been obliged to abandon Spy Hill, as the position became untenable. I have withdrawn the troops in regular order, and will come to report as soon as possible.
From the Commander-in-Chief to the High Masters' Commission on the War in the Magisterial Republic of Mip:
"We had awful luck on that day; I had got two big guns and a mountain battery halfway up Spy Hill, when the troops came down. If we had had the luck, out of all the colonels up there, to have found a really good fighting man, we should have been in Fort Frederick in two days."
"How many are left?"
We stood in the churned-up mud near Spy Hill, the General and I, watching the long train of weary, stumbling Landsteader soldiers retreating west along the dusty turnpike. I had to hold onto the rocky boulder next to me to keep from swaying. It was my fourth day without sleep; I had been awake all night, after admitting defeat in the Battle of Spy Hill.
We were hearing rumors that the Mippite soldiers had retreated overnight as well . . . but had returned the next morning to find Spy Hill unoccupied. Now it was theirs.
I shook my head in response to the General's question. "We've had no time to call the roll, sir, but I'm estimating that our casualties are over a thousand. About one-third of the men in my own battalion fell." I lowered my gaze from Spy Hill, pockmarked from the pom-pom fire, seeing in my mind's eye the last image I had witnessed when I left the mountain: Fairview, still motionless in his ninth hour of death.
"Yes," said the General in a faint voice. "Yes, I thought so."
We were both silent, listening to the sobs and moans of the soldiers who were retreating. A couple of unwounded soldiers passed us, carrying wounded men who were too weak to walk. There weren't many wounded men amongst us; we'd had no time to gather most of our wounded before we fled from the hill.
I had half expected, upon reaching the General, that I would be arrested at once. After all, I had disobeyed the order given to us by the Commander-in-Chief. No surrender.
"I have done all I can, and I am not going back," I had told the General defiantly. "Better six good battalions safely down the hill than a bloody mop-up in the morning."
The General, though, had simply shaken his head. "Preparations for the second day's defense should have been organized during the day, and have been commenced at nightfall," he had said carefully. "As this was not done, I think you exercised a wise discretion."
It was a small consolation, to know that I would not face a court-martial. But I knew that, in the years to come, my decision would be criticized by many men who had not been at Spy Hill—
Oh, why do I bother to say this? You know the rest. You know that I am now known as the man who surrendered Spy Hill – the officer who admitted defeat when the Landsteaders were on the point of victory. My name will remain infamous for as long as the cycle of rebirth continues.
But this tale is not really about what happened at Spy Hill. It is about what happened afterwards, in the moments that have never been written about.