Civil War Transcendence, part 335

 

Daphne stood up from my embrace and stammered, “Uncle Jamison, I wasn’t expecting ya for another two days.”

Looking reproachfully at Daphne he blustered, “Apparently not.”

Turning his censorious gaze on me, he bellowed, “Sir, who might you be?”

In an embarrassing tone, I hesitantly muttered, “I’m Lieutenant Jim Hager.”

The man’s eyebrows arched so high I thought they would touch the beginning of his hairline. In an exasperated voice he croaked, “Oh yes, I’ve definitely heard of you. My brother has filled me on yar exploits both at his home, at my sister’s home and with Major Mosby. Ya have put all of our family in jeopardy on more than one occasion.  We don’t need the likes of ya in Virginia. Ya will kindly vacate my home at once.”

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Image from Gone with the Wind © 1939 MGM/Warner Bros.

Daphne stomped her foot and cried, “Ya will not address a deliverer of me, my aunt and her household from the clutches of the Yankees, plus renderer of  courageous service for the Confederate cause in such an abusive manner. He has just returned from a very dangerous and successful campaign, which Major Mosby informed me couldn’t have been achieved without his able assistance. I was told by Major Mosby himself that Jim will be promoted to the rank of captain for the great service he provided.”

Two things occurred simultaneously. One; I jerked my head in Daphne’s direction,  and I swear, my mouth gaped open so wide that my lower jaw hit my chest. And two; Uncle Jamison’s eyeballs almost bulged out of their sockets.

“Don’t you talk to me like that young lady,” he roared.

If Uncle Jamison thought his would cower Daphne Jane Newcomer, he was totally mistake.

Bending over from the waist with a snarl, clinched fists and the scrunched-up face of a demon, Daphne advanced on her uncle with such malevolence that the man actually took two steps backwards.  I definitely learned one aspect of my Beloved’s character that day.  Apparently Daphne had a penchant for violence if pushed too far.  I made a note to never, ever get her really mad.

Uncle Jamison quickly brought up his hands in front of his chest as if to ward off an attack. “Well, now, maybe I was a little too hasty,” he uttered as he sidled back another step. “But you never should conduct yourself in such an improper manner in which I discovered you today,” he returned, trying to gain some semblance of righteousness for his previous utterance.

If possible, Daphne looked even more horrible when she declared through gritted teeth, “I will act any way I desire with my husband to be.”

Again, two things happened at once. One; my eyebrows arched so high that I thought they touched my hairline. And two; Uncle Jamison’s jaw gaped open so wide that it almost hit his chest.

Then Daphne straightened, while still facing her uncle, and fired the killer volley of her assault. “Major Mosby sent for me, once he had returned to Harpers Ferry, and asked me to take care of Lieutenant Hager, who was wounded when a Yankee saber blow to the back of his head befell him while leading a flanking attach on the enemy’s cavalry. I will not abandon such a brave officer and my future husband. As soon as we can gather our possessions together, we will be leaving, and you can rest assured, that my father and the proper Confederate authorities will hear of this.”

Uncle Jamison was so devastated and deflated from his niece’s onslaught that he staggered to a chair and sat down.  He took out a handkerchief from a vest pocket and wiped the sweat from his brown, while looking at the floor.  A moment later he looked at Daphne and conceded, “Okay, you can stay, but please conduct yourselves in a proper manner within the bounds of responsible courtship in the future.”

Daphne just continued to stare at him with an eagle-eyed stern gaze until the man threw up his hands and left the room.

I turned to stare with a newfound sense of respect and awe at this beautiful young woman, who imbued both the personification of the Goddess of War and the Goddess of Love in one small frame.

She let out a triumphant huff, and coming back to my bed, said, “Well, I guess we have a place to stay for a few more days.”

All I could do was gawk at this female Stonewall Jackson and nod my assent.

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 334

 

Seeing this vengeful Angel of Death standing over me with my only means of self-defense in his possession, shocked me. My whole body tensed, and my face must have displayed a look of fear and trepidation. Then a thought crept into my consciousness from long ago, “Today is a good day to die.”

Looking pointedly at Ahab, I smiled and relaxed my feeble body back into the caresses of my bed.

This ploy wiped the smile off Ahab’s face. He was hoping for me to show constant signs of terror and dread.

I continued to look him in the eye and said, “Go ahead. Do your worst. I can’t stop ya.”

He looked down at me with a hatred that could melt iron.  I quit smiling, but looked at him with all the malice I could conjure.  This must have been more to his liking because he nodded his acceptance that we would always be enemies. He dropped the Colts on the bed, turned and stalked out of the room.

It took me a few moments to let both my mind and body catchup with what had just happened. My heart was still pounding to beat 60. My mind was racing with all the scenarios that could have happened.  When I finally got both settled down, I realized that I had to be on my guard around Ahab from now on because I was fair game.

Letting out a deep breath, I murmured, “So be it.”

With trembling hands I picked up the Colts, checked them to see if they were actually loaded, which they were, and put them under the bed covers.

Bessie came into the room and put my saddlebags on the bed so that I could reach them. I hazarded a look at her, and when she saw that I was looking at her, she averted her gaze.

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“How long have ya been married to Ahab?” I asked.

She was caught completely by surprise with my query, but answered proudly, “We jumped tha broom ‘bout five years ago, after I was bought to replace one of tha house servants that died. We married right off.”

I looked at her thoughtfully for a few seconds. She returned my gaze with equanimity. She wasn’t playing the game of being a servile person anymore. She revealed her true character, a strong and mature woman.

Then she quietly asked, “How come you’re alive? He came in here to kill ya. What did ya do?”

“That’s between him and me,” I retorted and looked at her with a new level of understanding of the undercurrents that ran through the Newcomer household.

She just nodded, put on her demeanor of servitude, turned and walked rapidly out of the room.  I looked after her and thought, “That’s another one to be leery of. She’s as dangerous as Ahab.”

Daphne traipsed into the room with her toothbrush and a look of contentment until she saw my countenance.

“What’s wrong?” she demanded.

“Nothing. I just had an insight as to how things really work in Virginia,” I chuckled.

With a worried look she questioned, “How do ya mean?”

“Oh, it doesn’t matter. Let’s brush our teeth in unison. Can we get a communal bowl of water for the baptism?” I quipped.

This must have tickled her funny bone because she laughed out loud and yelled, “Bessie, fetch us a bowl of water.”

From the hall we heard, “Yes’m.”

In a jiffy, Bessie entered the door with a half filled bowl of well water and left the room.

I asked Daphne, “Can you help me sit up for this necessary health procedure?”

She laughed again and said, “I sure can. Just don’t do too much too soon.”

I raised my hand and said, “I promise. Scout’s honor.”

I could tell she had never heard of this 20th century colloquialism. I had made a faux pas. So I reached out with my arms and said, “Help me up.”

She rushed to help me, and after a few moments of maneuvering, I was able to get propped to a sitting position in bed.  I extracted my dental paraphernalia from my saddlebags. Daphne picked up the bowl and sat down on the edge of the bed. We immersed our brushes in the water, put dental powder in our palms and dipped the brushes in the cleaning solution, which coated our cleaning instruments. We looked at each other like two kids about to embark on an adventure and began the age old brushing motion we learned in our youths.  The sweet-tasting dental powder quickly enticed a swift flow of saliva for which we weren’t ready. Soon we had white foam coming out of our mouths and must have look like we had hydrophobia.  We got to laughing so hard that we were spraying foam over each other and the bed covers.  Finally, we spit enough of dental cleanser into the bowl to regain some control of our taste buds.  Then we went on laughing for a few minutes.  Once we had regained some semblance of propriety, we looked at each other and again collapsed into howls of laughter.

We hugged and gradually she rested with her head on my chest.  I reached down and took her beautiful face in my hands and said, “I love you.”

She was too choked with emotion to respond, but kissed me deeply with tears running down her cheeks.

Suddenly, from the doorway we heard, “Here, here, what is all this?”

We looked up to see a squat-body man viewing us with an appalled glare.

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 333

 

“We got here after Major Mosby sent word to me that ya had been severely wounded and to come take charge of yar recovery.  So I got Ahab and Bessie to help me move ya to my uncle’s place,” she informed me in a satisfied tone.

Then she looked sternly at me and said, “Ya are to have bed rest for at least a week and then a recuperation of another two weeks. Those are tha doctor’s orders, and I plan to carry ‘em out to tha letter. Do I make myself clear, Jim Hager?”

I looked at my new commanding officer with eyes as wide as saucers, an ashen face and a mouth gaped open enough to catch flies. I actually saluted, which got Daphne’s goat.

She put her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes to slits as she bellowed, “I mean it.”

I couldn’t do anything but start giggling. After a few seconds Daphne joined in and sat on the edge of my bed as we both convulsed into laughter.  After we recuperated, I held up my right hand and vowed, “I promise to take it easy.”

This must have been what Daphne wanted to hear because she laid her head on my chest and sputtered, “When tha Major sent for me, I was so fearful that ya were mortally wounded.  Upon arrival at tha Confederate hospital in Harpers Ferry, I was escorted to yar bed.  I was aghast at yar pale complexion and shallow breathing. I knew I had to get ya away from that forum of death as soon as possible. Luckily, I had brought Ahab and Bessie with me. We immediately loaded ya in a carriage and came here.  Ya were unconscious and jabbering tha whole way.  Ya kept saying a few words that didn’t make any sense. Something about ‘keeping away from tha aliens’ and ‘sand seer ray.’ What did ya mean by that?”

I knew I was on dangerous ground so I lied, “I have no idea. I guess you can chalk it up to being out of my mind for a while.”  To get Daphne’s mind off my rants and ravings I asked, “By the way, how long have I been out of my mind and sickly?”

She sat up and looked at me closely. She knew I was trying to change the subject and wasn’t being totally truthful with her, but she didn’t pursue it further as she answered, “Ya were out of yar mind and feverish for about five days before ya came back to tha land of tha living about two days ago.”

I looked at her intently for a few seconds and then ventured, “Well, Doc, whatcha recommend for my rehabilitation?”

She smiled from ear to ear and prescribed, “Bed rest for a while with medical care by me.”

I nodded in confirmation and added, “My sentiments exactly.”

333-tooth-powder

I opened my arms, she leaned forward and we kissed. I quickly ended the mutual expression of love and abruptly said, “Do you have any tooth powder and a tooth brush perchance? I know my breath must be atrocious.”

In a surprised tone Daphne answered, “We confiscated yar saddlebags before we left Harpers Ferry, and I believe those items were a part of tha contents.

“Could ya bring me a pan of water and those items I mentioned?” I implored.

“Certainly! Do I need to employ tha same type of items also?” she questioned sheepishly.

“No ma’am. It’s just that I have been on tha campaign trail and haven’t had tha time to take care of my dental hygiene,” I replied.

“Nevahthaless, I believe I will join ya in yar dental curriculum,” she expressed with a favorable intonation. “Bessie, please bring Mr. Hager’s saddlebags and a pan of water,” she called. Turning to me she stated, “I’ll go get my dental paraphernalia and be back in a jiffy.”

I nodded at her and relaxed in the bed.  However, a few minutes later I was startled, when Ahab came into the room carrying a pan of water accompanied by Bessie, who was carrying my saddlebags.

I slapped my arms to my sides as if I could pull my Colts from my belt, but to no avail. They were not there. At the same time I tried to sit up quickly and was racked with pain that was centered in the back of my head. I fell back on the bed and closed my eyes, grimacing with the throbbing of my neck muscles and what seemed like the whole back of my skull from the rapid, but futile, use of injured body parts.  I didn’t move and had to let the pain slowly dissipate before I could open my eyes.

When I did, Ahab was standing over me. His right arm was no longer in a sling and in each of his meaty paws he held one of my Colts. His face displayed an expression of triumphant glee, and in a sarcastic timbre he intoned, “Ya looking for these, Marse Hager?”

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 332

 

Daphne laughed at my visual sign of concern.

I blushed and shyly smiled at the distressful look I had given her.

Stilling enjoying my discomfort, she began to put victuals on a plate for me. In the process, she began to ask me questions about what we had been through. As I began to enlighten her of all the traveling we had to endure, the close individual combats in which I had participated, the men I had killed, the numerous small and large engagements of our unit, the many missions that I had been assigned and carried out, and lastly, the fighting that had resulted in the wound I received, she ceased to fill my plate with food and set it down on a small table. Then she sat on the edge of my bed and took my hand in hers.  As I finished relating what I had encountered, except for the bothersome alien presences, her eyes were as wide as saucers, her breath was coming in gasps, her face was flushed and her cheeks were wet with crocodile tears.

For several minutes she just looked at me. Then in a subdued voice she murmured, “I never knew it was so horrific and dangerous. From what you related, it seemed to never cease to require all yar strength each and every moment of the day.”

Then she gently took my head in her hands, and leaning down, kissed me softly for what seemed like an eternity of tender blissfulness. Her display of love, affection and understanding sent me into a reverie that was almost trance-like. She must have sensed my loss of consciousness because she pulled back from our kiss and smiled at my stupor.

I rasped, “That was amazing,” and fell asleep.

I woke to a room, dimly lit by lanterns, plus a ghostly presence that I immediately recognized.  She seemed to fade in and out of view as she glided toward me.  I looked up at those mesmerizing eyes and said, “How long have you been here?”

She smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes.  “You almost got yourself killed and for what?” she blurted.

“For honor and duty. Concepts your species has forgotten or never had,” I retorted.

“When did you ever have such heroic notions in your universe?” she sarcastically responded.

“Maybe it took coming to this universe to discover those traits. And just remember, you sent me here!” I snapped.

332-angry

Her eyes suddenly flared to a bright turquoise and seemed to burn into my head. I had to put my hand up in front of my eyes to stop the sharp pain that racked my brain.  All of a sudden I smiled and the pain stopped abruptly.

“Why are you smiling, human?” she queried with an aggravated tone.

“I just thought it seemed amusing that you were trying to kill your guinea pig without getting the cooperation you have always wanted,” I chuckled.

This seemed to shock her. Her cobra-like gaze ceased and she realized that the lack of my infatuation with her had deferred her from her mission. Suddenly, she was all business, “Do you want me to heal you?”

“No. I want nature to take its course,” I replied.

“You mean, you want time to woo the girl,” she correctly stated.

I grinned and said, “How right you are. I don’t know what to expect from our bargain. So, I want to enjoy life while I can,” I exclaimed.

“Okay, human, but the time is fast approaching that will require you to perform. So you better heal quickly and woo even quicker,” she declared and then disappeared.

Her reappearance and the reminder of my required participation in some alien plan were very disconcerting.  I had gotten a headache from her abnormal probing of my cranial cavity and her hateful presence.

Just as I was starting to think of ways to get out of the alien verbal contract, Daphne came into the room and looked around.

“Was there someone here that you were talking to?” she asked.

“I must have been talking out loud to myself. I guess the lump on my head has caused some neurological damage,” I answered.

“Some what?” she demanded.

“Oh, never mind. Listen, I’ve been meaning to ask ya, ‘Where are we?’ I don’t recognize this room or what little I can see of the outside landscape from tha window,” I said, trying to change the subject.

Initially, all I got from Daphne was, “Hmmph.” Then she said, “If ya must know, we are at my uncle’s house in Martinsburg, Virginny.”

I gaped at her and mumbled, “How did we get here?”

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 331

 

I heard the door shut as Hattie left the room.

After a moment or two, Daphne still clung to me, and I could feel rather than hear her gentle sobbing.

I reach down to lift her up, but she said, “I look like tha dickens. Please don’t look at me.”

I said softly, “Ya always look like an angel.”

Then she gushed, “When ya went away, we didn’t part on tha best of terms. I was angry and tried to forget ya, but I couldn’t. Jim, I know therah’s a reason for ya being herah. I know it’s somethin’ important. I also believe it’s dangerous, but I wanna be with ya for as long as possible. Jim, don’t ever try to keep me out of yar life again. Please don’t.”

I smoothed her long raven hair as I murmured, “I won’t. I promise.”

She began to gently cry again. I was forever trying to understand this beautiful woman, but her crying stumped me.

I tenderly asked, “Why are ya still crying?”

“They’re tears of joy,” she said.

I had heard her say this before, but I truly didn’t understand the different reasons for weeping. I softly said, “Darling, do what ya need to for as long as ya want. I love ya and enjoy having ya near me.”

I think that brought a smile to her face, because she stopped weeping, and rising up, she gently kissed me. I was ashamed that I had put a wedge between us when I left to join the cavalry. I really could never have rejected this gift from God. I was a fool for thinking I could.

She sat on the edge of my bed and we just looked at each other with loving eyes.

Finally, she sighted and asked, “Are ya hungry?”

I smiled and muttered, “I am digesting the most wonderful nourishment just looking at ya.”

She blushed and coyly returned, “Well, aren’t ya tha biggest Lothario alive.”

We both chuckled.

Suddenly, I felt my stomach let me know that it was ready to be fed.

I put my hands on my middle and said, “I guess I could eat something. Why dontcha get me a bite and we can talk? I’ve got a whole lot of questions to ask ya.”

“I’ll get ya some food and be right back,” she promised. Then she hurried from the room.

I looked around and didn’t recognize my surroundings. I was reclining in a very elegant bedroom with a ceiling about fourteen feet high, trimmed in a ten-inch crown molding painted pale yellow. The walls were ecru.

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Looking around the chamber, I mentally calculated the room measured at least fourteen feet by fifteen feet. It was as large as a master bedroom in a 21st century home.

Focusing on the furniture, I spied a dark brown armoire positioned on the opposite wall. It must have been about six feet tall with massive metal rings attached to open two huge doors. A woman’s dressing table with an attached wood rococo-framed mirror was on the far wall opposite the foot of the bed. A multi-colored high-back chair was situated in the leg space of the table.  Three drawers lined each side of the table and were festooned with butterflies for handles.  A multitude of bottles covered the top of the table with a variety of colored liquids.  Lastly, I viewed what seemed to be a powder puff placed in a holder of powder just like my 21st century grandma had on her dressing table.

The room also had various wooden stands with ceramic vessels located throughout the room. In one corner of the room, opposite the bed, there was a wooden cabinet with glass inlaid doors and sides. The interior of the cabinet housed many delicate figurines placed on four glass shelves in several modes of social rapport.

Two windows of enormous height were on the outside wall of the room. They must have faced the front of the house, because I noticed a tree-lined road leading into the distance from one of them.  Drapes that were affixed to the inside of the windows rose from the floor to the top of the windows. A sixteen-inch cornice connected the drapes at the top of the window. Both drapes and cornice were decorated with an entwined red roses and green ivy pattern.

I had just finished the observation of my recuperative environment when Daphne opened the hall door and walked in, followed by two servants carrying trays of food and drink.

My eyes must have bugged out of my head as I declared, “Daphne, I can’t eat all that food.”

She returned, “I know, but at least ya will have better than what tha army has probably issued over tha last month.”

I had to smile at that quip. She joined me in grinning from ear to ear.

The servants cleared some of the small wooden stands and deposited the bounteous supply of edibles on them before leaving the room.  They gently closed the door as they left.

I raised my eyebrows that we were left alone unchaperoned in what was no doubt a lady’s boudoir.  Daphne saw my expression and responded, “I’ve got ya alone for tha first time in months and I’m not gonna let ya out of my sights.”

I visibly gulped.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 330

 

330-familyThis was too weird. Verna Elsey was my grandmother on my father’s side.  I had never met her. She had died when my Dad was about twelve years old.  She lived in Lexington, Kentucky and is buried there.  At least she was in my time period.

I continued to gaze at her with a slack-jawed moronic look. She probably thought I was addled from the saber blow to my head.

Finally, I recovered enough to ask, “How did ya get here?”

She was startled by my question. It took her a moment to react. “I have lived in this valley all my life,” she replied. “Why do ya ask?”

I swallowed hard and thought I’d better give a really coherent reply. “I’m sorry. Ya remind me of someone and for a moment I thought you were that person.”

She nodded with an expression of relief and patted me on the shoulder. “Ya better be on yar way. The whole kit and caboodle are leaving and ya don’t want to be left behind,” she declared.

I nodded and slowly got to my feet. I was a bit light-headed, but after a few seconds got my equilibrium and walked out of the house to the porch.  Zeke and Skeeter were standing at the hitching rail in front of the house.  As I ambled unsteadily down the three porch steps, they decided I was too wobbly to proceed on my own. Each came forward and took one of my arms. They directed me to Stonewall, who gave a loud whinny to let me know he was glad to see me. I smiled as the two men boosted me into the saddle.

Zeke said, “Jim, are ya well enough to ride on yar own?”

I looked at him and replied, “Yes, I’m okay. Hand me the reins.”

He complied, and the two men mounted their own cayuses.

I looked at Zeke and directed, “Take us to Harpers Ferry.”

He nodded, and we trotted out of Adamstown, Maryland and headed south. After about two miles, we caught up with the main force.

We saw Major Mosby take his leave and salute General Ashby, who continued south to cross the Potomac River at Point of Rocks. Major Mosby’s companies continued west to Harpers Ferry, while skirting the Potomac River to the north.  Me and my small entourage followed.

I had developed a splitting headache and had to slow our progress to a walk. Soon, the rest of the unit was out of sight.  We ambled along for a long time. Not having to trot or gallop Stonewall really did help my headache. Toward twilight we reached Weverton, which was about four miles from Harpers Ferry.  The men wanted to find a place to stay here for the night, but I vetoed that idea. I wanted to be in the confines of our garrison as soon as possible. So, we continued westward at a walk.

I don’t remember much after we left Weverton. I must have blacked out. I do remember waking up once. I was still in the saddle, but leaning forward on Stonewall’s neck.

We made it to Harpers Ferry, because I remember Zeke giving the sentinel that was guarding the bridge over the Potomac a hard time for stopping us because we didn’t know the password.  That was the last I remember.

I awoke to a nice breeze blowing over me. I tried to rise, but my head hurt too much, and I lay back down. Suddenly, there was a blurry figure bending over me.

I blinked a few times and, as my eyes focused, I saw an angel looking down at me.

Daphne Jane Newcomer smiled, gently touched my face and stammered, “Ya were in such a bad state, when ya got here, that I thought I’d lost ya, Jim. Thank the Lord you’ve pulled through.”

I must have been given some sort of sedative, because all I could do was smile as I drifted off into oblivion.

I came to my senses again, but didn’t feel as if I had been given any drugs to induce sleep. I moved to adjust my back, which was aching from being in a prone position for too long. Abruptly, Hattie Gray came into my view.

“Well, it’s about time ya woke up. We been waiting on ya hand and foot for nigh on to a week,” she declared.

I smiled and said, “Thank ya Hattie. Seems like you’re always taking care of me for some reason.”

She smiled her gap-tooth smile that I had come to love and blushed. “Well, me and Ms. Newcomer been splitting time nursing ya back from death’s door.”

That reminded me, “I woke up once and saw her bending over me. Is she still here?”

“Yes siree. She’s getting some shut-eye in a room down the hall. I’ll go get her,” she stated.

“Naw, Hattie. Let her sleep. She probably needs it,” I concluded.

A door to the room quickly opened and Daphne appeared. She rushed to my bed, knelt, and laid her head on my chest. She began to cry.

Hattie uttered, “I’ll be a-goin’ now,” and left the room.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 329

 

I woke with the worst headache imaginable.  Someone had laid me across the top of one of the cannon’s limbers. I slowly tried to sit up when I felt hands grip me so I wouldn’t fall off. We were moving at a fast clip, and thank goodness, I didn’t hear any firing. So, I hoped we had run the Yanks away.

My nursemaid let me put my right hand to the back of my head. I felt a large bump there and when I brought my hand down there was blood on it.

329-bandage

“What happened?” I asked.

“Don’t know sir,” was the answer. “You was brought to us as we started out and told to take care of ya. That’s all I know,” the speaker added.

I nodded and focused on my precarious position. I was facing backwards and saw what looked like a company of men following us.  I looked at my benefactor and saw by the red strips on his arm that he was a sergeant of artillery.

He asked, “Ya wanna turn around and face forward?”

I nodded and he helped me turn around. The wind created by our movement felt good on my face.  I closed my eyes and leaned forward as I lost consciousness.

I awoke to someone putting a cold wet cloth on the back of my head. I was face down on a divan.

A woman said, “There, there now. Take it easy. Be careful. You’ve had a nasty crack on the head.”

I said, “I would like to sit up.”

“Okay, but be careful,” she chided.

I gently rolled on my back, which caused severe pain to my head and neck.  I had to wait a moment or two before I attempted to sit up. I gripped the back of the divan with my left hand and pulled myself up while pushing down with my right hand. As I came to a sitting position, I swung my legs to the right and came to a sitting position on the divan. However, the sudden surge in pain made me feel nauseous. I leaned back on the divan and breathed deeply for what seemed like an hour, but was probably just a few minutes. When the pain subsided sufficiently, I opened my eyes to behold an older woman in a green dress looking at me with a worried expression. I gingerly put my right hand to the back of my head and felt a dressing wrapped around my head.

I looked at my surroundings and understood I was in a house.  I looked at the woman and asked, “Where am I?”

She smiled and said, “You’re in Adamstown.”

I nodded and probed, “Where’s Major Mosby?”

She put her hand to the side of my face and queried, “How da ya feel, Lieutenant?”

“Like I’ve been run over by a whole herd of buffalo,” I rejoined.

She smiled and said, “Major Mosby’s next door, and I sent for him when ya started to stir. He oughta be here in a minute.”

Sure enough, Mosby strode in the room at that exact moment, “Well, Jim, how do ya feel?”

I grinned and said, “Everybody is asking me that question. Well, to tell ya the truth, I feel pretty bad, Major.”

“No doubt. Ya took a blow from a saber. Ya can thank yar lucky stars that it was a glancing blow, but our surgeon still had to put about twenty stitches in yar head,” informed the Major.

“I take it that we ran the Yanks off?” I asked,

“Yes, thanks to yar leading that attack on their flank,” he said. “They were stopped cold in their frontal assault. I had our right company charge them as an added bonus. We had ‘em in a pincher move. They saw the futility of their ways and broke and rode off.

“Jim, we’ve gotta move pretty quick. General Ashby and our men are gonna head south to Point of Rocks. General Ashby will be crossing the Potomac and getting back with General Jackson. We won’t cross the Potomac, but will skirt its nawthern bank back to Harpers Ferry,” he informed. “How are ya for riding?” he inquired.

“I ‘spect I can make it. When do we leave?” I asked.

“Some of the men have already left. Yar two men are outside and waiting to help ya ride south. I’ve got to get going. I just wanted to say that ya did a great job on this herah raid,” he acknowledged.  “Take care and I’ll see ya later,” he added.

He saluted and left the room. He left so rapidly that I didn’t even have a chance to salute.

I looked at the woman who apparently had taken care of me and said, “Ma’am, I apologize for not even asking yar name.”

She smiled and said, “Verna Elsey.”

I gasped and looked at her as if I had seen a ghost.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 328

Looking at the Yank foray toward our company, deployed to the right of our cannon, I understood that the Yanks were really outmatched.  This bunch had to be from the Yank camp south of Frederick City, and they had to be mounted on the horses from the third corral that we were unable to liberate. This was good, because they probably were riding south and accidentally ran into Mosby’s command coming back from Braddock Heights. So I reasoned these Yanks weren’t any of the Yanks advancing from Middletown that Mosby’s unit had fired upon from Braddock Heights.

I happened to look at the left of the Yank line and observed only a skirmish line. So, they were employing almost all of their force against the right of our line.

I yelled at Zeke, “Let’s go.”

He was used to my weird ways by now and didn’t hesitate to follow. I nudged Stonewall, who once again rose to the occasion and moved quickly into a gallop.

I hurried to Major Mosby and shouted, “Those Yanks are from the Federal camp.  They only have a skirmish line on our left. If we attack their skirmish line, we can rout ‘em.”

He made a command decision and ordered, “Ride to the left, and tell Captain Owens to charge the Yankee line!”

I yelled, “Yes sir,” gave a quick salute and rode like the wind for the middle of Captain Owens’ line.

We found the Captain without any trouble. He was stationed behind the middle of his line with a courtier by his side.  I waved and shouted as we galloped toward him, “Major Mosby orders us to charge the Yank line and turn their flank.”

He recognized me but was sort of flustered by my abrupt arrival and brisk orders.

So I added, “The Yanks are understrength in front of your line. If ya charge, you can rout them and flank the Yank advance on our right.”

He grasped the situation and yelled back, “So be it.”  Then he roared, “Forward men at the double quick.”

Although Captain Owens’ men were fighting as dismounted cavalry, they knew how to charge as infantry.

It didn’t take long for the order to filter down the line. It was a haphazard formation as some squads were on the move before others advanced. The formation resembled an inverted “V” with the point of the “V” headed right at the middle of the Yank skirmishers.

Needless to say, when the Union skirmish line saw a full company coming at their position, they fired some quick rounds and then skedaddled.

I saw what was happening and yelled at Captain Owens, “Tha Yanks ahead of us are retreating. We need to turn yar line and hit tha Yanks attack on their right flank. I’ll help move the left wing of yar line and ya move the right.”

The Captain nodded and spurred his horse toward the right of his line yelling for them to ‘right wheel’ and keep firing. I rode to the left of the line and yelled for the troopers to keep a close tie to the men beginning to wheel to the right.  They understood immediately and began the maneuver.

However, we began to hear, “We are out of cartridges! We are out of cartridges!”

328-hand-to-hand

Also, we could make out that the fire from our company to the right of our cannon, facing the Yank advance, was dwindling.  Everyone was running out of ammo.

I commanded, “Forward. We’ll take ‘em barehanded.”

The men hesitated for just a moment, so I dismounted and handed Stonewall’s reins to Zeke. Then I ran out in front of the men and yelled, “Let’s go men.”

At the time, I didn’t realize how stupid my little gambit was. The good thing was; the men began to reform into a firm battle line while uniting with the right wing of the company. The bad thing was; the Yanks were mounted and began to fire into our line. Men were going down as we advanced.

Since I was out front as the leader of the left wing, I was the first to accost mounted Yankee troopers. I still had two fully loaded Colts, so I fired indiscriminately at any Yank I saw in front of me. I don’t know how many enemy I unhorsed, but it cleared out Yanks in front of me and created a bulge of sorts in their line that the men behind me flowed into creating a wide break.

Our Troopers actually got close enough to grab Yank troopers and pull them off their horses. It became melee. Men were pistol whipping each other and wrestling on the ground while riderless horses stampeded back and forth over the open field.

I had emptied my pistols and was reaching for my additional loaded replacement cylinders when I felt something slam into my head.  Then everything went black.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 327

 

It seemed like two minutes, but it was about an hour and a half later. We were aroused by firing in the distance. I gingerly got up and began to put a saddle on Stonewall. Other members of the company were stirring also. I saw Skeeter and Zeke saddling their cayuses a few tents further down the company street.

I finished saddling Stonewall and mounted. Riding down the street, I motioned to Skeeter and Zeke to follow me. We continued heading north between the two row of tents. I found the rest of our crew getting their horses saddled.

I stopped in front of them and said, “We’re going ahead and seeing what is happening. I want y’all to get saddled up, get as many carbine cartridges and pistols that each of ya can carry, and follow us as soon as ya can. I got’sa a feeling we are gonna need ‘em.”

One of the men ventured, “What if tha quartermaster won’t issue us what we need?”

“Take ‘em by force, if need be, and tell him I authorized it,” I growled.

I rode off with the troopers’ mouth agape at my orders. I turned to look back at Skeeter and Zeke. Skeeter looked appalled, but Zeke just grinned from ear to ear.

Six horse team pulling a supply wagon

Six horse team pulling a supply wagon.

We rode northeast on the Mountville Road and then turned north on the Ballenger Creek Pike before running into Mosby’s two ammunition wagons hightailing toward our camp.  We got off the road just in time to be run over by the racing drays. The speed they were maintaining indicated they were empty and just trying to make it to the camp for more ammo.

We nudged our mounts to an all-out gallop and soon came upon one of Mosby’s four companies headed toward our Adamstown camp. We got off the road to allow them to pass, but didn’t see who the company commander was as they sped by us.

The sound of firing was getting closer the farther north we galloped.  All of a sudden, there were two cannon explosions. I was just hoping they were ours.

We came around a bend in the road and saw Mosby sitting his horse behind two cannon crews that were busy reloading their field guns. There seemed to be a dismounted company of our cavalry in battle line to the left of the road and another dismounted company on the right side of the road. There was a mounted company in reserve located on the left side of the road and behind the deployed dismounted one.  I quickly rode to the Major and saluted. He was startled at my sudden appearance.

“Can I be of assistance in any way, Major?” I queried.

“Yes, we need ammunition badly. Can you procure us some?” he requested.

“Sir, we have some ammunition on the way, but not enough to resupply three companies,” I advised.

“Well, the company in reserve is out of ammo and the two companies on battle line are just about out,” he warned.

“What are we up against, sir?” I questioned.

“A reinforced company that is heavily armed, but once we were able to find a place to unlimber our cannon and fire at them, they halted their attacks. They have set up a battle line and are probing our lines at the present time.  When we came south off Braddock Heights, they hit us from the east and have been harassing us ever since,” he conveyed. “However, once they figure out we don’t have canister or grape shot, they will, no doubt, be more aggressive.”

“Sir, as soon as my men arrive with the resupply of ammo, why not let us distribute the new armament to the reserve company and let me lead a flank charge to dislodge, and hopefully, make the Yanks withdraw?” I inquired.

“When will your resupply men arrive?” he demanded.

“Momentarily, major. I will send a courtier to speed them up,” I promised.

“Then do it Lieutenant. We need to get the enemy off our trail. The men are exhausted and need some relief,” he admitted.

I turned to Skeeter and ordered, “Go back and hurry up the men with ammo!”

He saluted and rode off toward Adamstown.

At that moment the two cannon roared sending their missiles toward the Yanks.  Unfortunately, it was only six pound solid shot.

At that moment the Yanks surged forward toward our company located to the right of the pike.  Zeke and I nudged our mounts in that direction.

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 326

 

I eased back to the men. They had remained still and quiet, which was really not amazing, because they and their horses were exhausted.

They all turned toward me as I rode amongst their midst. I motioned for them to gather around me. Once they had assembled, we resembled a wheel. I was the hub, and the men were the spokes.

I said in a low voice, “Thar’s gonna be a disturbance in a few minutes. I want ya to not be scared, but to follow me. We are going to quickly cross tha Urbana Pike and head sowth. Once over tha pike, we’ll ride at tha gallop for a few hundred yards, and then walk our mounts for a good ways. We have about eight miles to get to Adamstown. So stay close to me and watch me for directions. Do y’all understand?”

I looked at each one in turn, and they all nodded.  I rode to the edge of the tree line and studied the ground between us and the pike.  It was flat and not an impediment in sight.

326-tempest

All of a sudden, two winds whipped up: one to our left and one to our right. They created funnel clouds that swirled and screamed like banshees.  These anomalies of nature produced walls of wind and dust with a gap of about 75 yards in between for us to ride through.

I yelled at the top of my voice, “Follow me,” and nudged Stonewall forward.

At first he didn’t want to go, but I kicked him and yelled, “Let’s go boy.” He started slowly, but picked up speed as I directed him between the pillars of dust and wind.  I felt like a member of the Children of Israel crossing the Red Sea. I turned to see if the men were following me. Most of them had trouble getting their mounts to move forward, but once Stonewall moved out, they reluctantly followed.

We all made it through the gap and galloped like scared jack rabbits for about three hundred yards. I had a hard time getting Stonewall to stop. He was scared out of his wits. Finally, he stopped running because he basically ran out of gas.

I dismounted and began to lead him down a road that paralleled the Monocacy River. His reserve of adrenalin was gone. It was all he could do to stumble along behind me.

All the men had dismounted and began leading their cayuses on our trek south.  I think they and their horses were in the same shape as Stonewall.  I motioned to Zeke to take the lead and direct us south.

He nodded and took the point position. Suddenly the roar of the twin tornado-type funnel clouds ceased. San Cyrr Ray had fulfilled her part of the bargain. Now it was up to me to fulfill my part of it.

After about half a mile, I stopped our band of exhausted men and horses.

“Let’s take a rest,” I ordered.

They all willingly tied their horses to trees along the road and lay down in the road for a brief rest.  Soon snores permeated the air.

I nodded off for a few minutes, but soon awoke with a sense of urgency to get back to our camp in Adamstown.  I roused all the men and didn’t have too much trouble in getting them back in the saddle and onto the road heading south. They were fearful of running into a Yank patrol and wanted to get further south and out of harm’s way.

It didn’t take us too long to travel to the where the side road we were traversing crossed the Buckeystown Pike.  At this point, Zeke directed us south on this pike for about two miles and then west on another side road that brought us to Adamstown just as the sun was setting.  We meandered into town to find the small provost contingent guarding our camp.

The men reached their tents and began the process of getting their mounts unsaddled, fed and watered. I told Zeke and Skeeter to join them and to take care of Stonewall for me. They gladly took those orders to heart.

I walked back to the house that was General Ashby’s headquarters. Only a quartermaster sergeant was manning the control center. I asked him the dumb question of the day, “Have ya heard anything from Major Mosby?”

He gave me a ‘how dumb can you be’ look and uttered, “No.”

I returned, “Did they give ya any indication before they left as to when they would be back?”

“No sir,” he answered.

I nodded, left the sergeant to his work and began walking back to the company camp.  I made it just in time to see Stonewall being fitted by Skeeter with a nosebag filled with oats. Once he had attached the nosebag, Skeeter went into a tent on the company street.

As I approached Stonewall, he turned his head, looked at me, snored and returned to the delectable contents of his nosebag. As I walked toward him I saw a brush on the ground that I picked up and began the age old process of grooming. He munched contentedly and enjoyed my efforts of combing his wet hide.

After a few minutes I didn’t hear anymore munching, so I walked to where I could look Stonewall in the face. He was fast asleep.  I grinned as I removed the nosebag. He didn’t even stir. I was too tuckered to find a tent. I just laid down in a patch of grass near Stonewall and went sound asleep as soon as my head hit the ground.

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