By choosing to locate "proof" of the war in the figures of these locomotives, Bayard chooses to reject loud artillery, the Rebel yell, and flying regimental colors as sources of authority through which to understand and participate in the war.
There is simply no ending, no moment of finality that necessitates judgment on the part of either Bayard or Faulkner.
It is, after all, Ringo and not Bayard who declares "This War aint over.
And so now Father's troop and all the other men in Jefferson," Bayard remarks, "and Aunt Louisa and Mrs Habersham and all the women in Jefferson were actually enemies for the reason that the men had given in and admitted that they belonged to the United States but the women had never surrendered" (188).
Like the returning soldiers Bayard remembered at the beginning of the novel, Drusilla testifies to a distant, epistemologically uncertain reality that the war creates but which remains unreadable in the domestic discourse of the homefront.
The most confusing part of Reconstruction for Bayard is trying to reconcile the myth of his father, the great fighter of Yankees, with the new community leader willing to ally with the Yankees to ensure racial stability.
Instead, Drusilla in the final episode moves in a sense above the behaviors and personalities of Bayard, Redmond, and George Wyatt, becoming "the Greek amphora priestess of a succinct and formal violence" (219) who structures and presides over the ritual of masculine vengeance that Bayard is expected to perform.
The most dramatic moment in the narrative--the moment that most clearly reveals the impact of Bayard's decision upon his community (and, by a long extension, upon Faulkner's sense of the Southern past), is not the scene in which Bayard lets Redmond escape but the one prior to that, in which Drusilla reads his intention to do so.
Drusilla's horror here comes largely from the fact that Bayard has desecrated her role in the story--his presumed cowardice has befouled the symbolic gesture of kissing his hand that was her only remaining responsibility in the drama.
Whether or not Bayard survives the duel and whether or not Redmond remains in defiance or runs away defeated are not the indices of the social evolution that Faulkner is exploring in this novel, just as the title word "unvanquished" does not signify the military status of the clearly vanquished Southern army.