[Editorial Note: Since the comments trail on this post has turned into a conversation on whether or not the Confederacy existed at this point in time, rather than about the paragraph and its other literary merits, I am making the executive decision to delete the man's title from the paragraph. For more details, see my post in the comments trail. Please disregard the deleted rank title when judging this post.]
In the black winter night, a man clung to the top of a telegraph pole while around him icy winds blew. Skeletal tree branches popped and swayed in the storm. Angry gusts grabbed at the tails of his woolen overcoat, cracking them in the darkness with the sound of a bullwhacker's whip. The man tested the abyss for signs of approaching humans but there were none--for none dared to enter the swirling, black eddy of nature's wrath. Tonight, he knew, Satan was awake and pushing open his mighty doors. Working a pocket key under the wire the man took a deep breath, then tapped out the message. "Lincoln en route. Assassins waiting." Once, twice, three times he sent the encrypted message while the wind howled its protest. Would the eight assigned men succeed in killing the gangly president-elect? If Abraham Lincoln lived or died tonight, he wouldn’t hear about it over these lines. Removing a pair of wire cutters, [deleted rank title] Eli Slater leaned out into the darkness as far as he could, clipped the wires and climbed down the pole into war's coming fury.
See comments here.