When he could finally pull himself free and some of the other mourners were comforting his wife he went to check on Jeffrey. Marybelle met him in the hallway. "Is this young man responsible?" she asked.
"Certainly," the General answered. "Why?"
"I can't keep my daughter away from him!" the maid answered. "I've told her not to bother the gentleman and your son, that they're busy. But she continues to find some excuse to go into the room. She just took their supper in a while ago. I'd prepared it, and was going to take it in, but she grabbed it before I could. I've never seen her so infatuated with a man! It just makes me nervous!"
Jeff smiled. "A young girl," he remarked, "and a handsome young man? I'm sure you had a few crushes on a few young men in your day, too, Marybelle!" The man smiled.
"Yes sir!" she answered, "But nowadays, sir, with some of the things that men do with little girls, a mother's got to be cautious!"
"How true!" the General answered, "How true! But I assure you, madame, the young man is completely responsible, and you have absolutely nothing to worry about."
He continued on into the boys' room. He found everybody giggling and laughing. "What is so funny?" the General remarked, coming in.
"Oh, sorry father!" his son answered. "Jeffrey was just teasing me and little Marybelle, saying we might get married some day. Marybelle's reply got us going. I'm sorry. I know it's not appropriate to be laughing right now."
"Your sister would not want you not to be able to laugh," the General answered, "she certainly loved to enough!" He ruffed the little girl's hair. "You don't think my son would make a good husband?" he asked.
"Mama says I'm not to get interested in no white boys," she answered, "not that some of them aren't just adorable. But marrying them just makes too much trouble for colored girls."
The General suppressed a giggle. "Well," he managed, "take the dirty dishes back to the kitchen. This gentleman has some important work to do!"
"Excuse me," Henry put in, "nature is calling and I can't wait! I'll be right back, father."
"Get!" his father answered, and the boy hurried off. While he was gone the General commented "The girl's mother is worried about her infatuation with you. You think they might get married, huh?"
Very matter of factly Jeffrey answered "They'd better, or I won't be here! That's my mother!"
"OH!" the General sighed. "No wonder she's drawn to you! Anything yet?"
"Not a thing!" Jeffrey answered. "As far as I can tell things have gone exactly as they were supposed to have had. There's no diversion at all."
Henry returned and sat back down at the computer. "If I knew what we were looking for," he put in, "I might be able to speed things up."
"It would be a turning point in the war," Jeffrey answered, "something so important that if it hadn't happened the south would've lost the war."
The young man thought for a moment. "Well," he finally commented, "my history teacher always said that the turning point of the war wasn't on land but in the water, at The Battle Of Hampton Roads when The Monitor was sunk with a motorized torpedo and The Union thought the vessels had a design flaw and didn't build any more. The Mirrimac destroyed the Union blockade ships. Later the motorized torpedo attacks on Boston and New York devastated them. The resulting fires destroyed 65% of New York, and, 35% of Boston! The Confederacy's intelligence was so good they knew where all the munition ships were. It was utter devastation! Miraculously all the torpedo pilots were retrieved. The Union never learned the secret of the torpedoes until twenty years after the war when The Confederacy figured the technology was so obsolete that it was safe to reveal the secret of how they had devastated The Union."
Jeffrey looked at the young man, eyes wide. "Motorized torpedoes?" he asked, "Show me about these!"
The young man tapped some codes into his computer. "Here we are!" he remarked. "The motorized torpedo, invented by Patrick Shaunassey, a boiler engineer, who was a patient in the consumption sanitarium at Carlton, Virginia. The first torpedoes were built in the consumption sanitarium's workshop. After the first battle of Hampton Roads between The Merrimac and The Monitor which resulted in a draw, neither ship being able to seriously harm the other, Shaunnassey brought one of his torpedoes to the captain of The Merrimac, explaining how it worked. That evening The Merrimac went back out into the water, drawing out The Monitor. As the two ships exchanged volleys, Shaunnassey piloted his motorized torpedo into The Monitor's side. She blew up, and sank in seconds. The success of the weapon thus proven, The Confederacy began to build hundreds of them, and use them with devastating results, breaking The Union blockade."
Jeffrey stared at the pictures of the strange looking devices. "How were they piloted?" he asked.
"The pilot laid on top," Henry explained, "maintaining the boiler, and keeping the torpedo on course. At the last moment before the torpedo struck he would roll off into the water and an automatic guidance system would keep the torpedo on course 'til it hit its target."
"Incredible!" Jeffrey muttered. "But The Union still had horrendous numbers of ground troops. How did The Confederacy overcome that?"