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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Civil War Transcendence, part 325

 

I told the men to remain in the tree line. I would be back in a few minutes.

As I turned to go, Skeeter and Zeke started to go with me, but I held up my hand and said, “Y’all stay here. It won’t take me a minute to do what needs to be done.”

They looked unhappy but didn’t follow me as I eased out of the woods and rode a few hundred yards north to a thicket that hid me from site.

I stopped Stonewall and said, “Alright San Cirr Ray, I need to talk with you.”

Nothing happened. I repeated myself, but again, nothing happened. Finally, I asked, “Please, may we talk?”

At first I saw a touch of green appear about five feet in front of me.  Stonewall’s ears laid back, and his head came up to where he was alert from his hooves to his ears. I could feel the tightness of his muscles and being.

She completely materialized in front of us, and once Stonewall saw her, the tenseness left his body and he resumed his same old calm demeanor.  For the first time I took his reaction about her to heart. If Stonewall wasn’t afraid of her, then I guess I didn’t need to be either.

She had that same ‘come hither’ look, and as usual, she giggled.

I just shook my head and then said, “I need your help.”

She mocked me by putting her hand to her chest and giving me a shocked look, while uttering, “Really? The great hero, Jim Hager, needs help?”

With a loud sigh, I muttered, “I had that coming.”

She stated, “Yes, you did.” Then she grinned and cheerfully said, “What can I do for you?”

“I need to get my men safely back to camp. I shouldn’t be doing this, but I don’t want to lose them to some Yank patrol. They have been through a lot, and they are good men. They deserve better than a prison or a cold grave in a ground not of their choosing.”

“Are you including yourself in that group?” she queried.

“No, I’m not. I don’t care what happens to me. I just need them to get back to Adamstown in one piece,” I added.

325-mad-elf

“ ‘Greater love hath no man.’ Is that it?” she jeered.

I looked at her and said solemnly, “All I’m asking for is the safety of my men. You don’t have to include me.”

“What’s in it for me?” she asked.

“I’ll listen to the proposition you wanted to offer,” I conceded.

“With both of us present?” she urged.

“Yes, but you can’t kill the Yanks,” I pushed.

“Done! When can we meet?” she pressed.

“Well, we got to complete our mission here and get back to Virginia. I can probably get a furlough, and we can meet at your convenience,” I parleyed.

“Jim Hager, don’t try to weasel out of this. I’m taking you at your word. Dire consequences will occur if you don’t keep your word,” she warned.

I gulped and said, “I give you my word, Sandy.”

She was taken aback by the familiarity of being given a nickname. Then she smiled and spoke very carefully, “Don’t try to charm me, Jim. I don’t like to be toyed with.”

I retorted, “I gave you my word, but now you know how it feels to be toyed with.”

She looked at me with eyes that felt like they were flashing daggers. Stonewall picked up his head, and I could feel the immediate tenseness in his body. He had become the epitome of a medieval charger in just a few seconds and was just waiting for my order to run the alien down.

San Cyrr Ray slowly relaxed and then acknowledged, “Touché.”

Her gleeful, wanton air was replaced by a rock hard creature. Her malice permeated the area. It felt as if she could tear me limb from limb, or obliterate my essence at the drop of a hat.

I nodded at her and both Stonewall and I regarded her as an extremely lethal entity. I don’t think Stonewall or I would ever under estimate her again.

She said, “Go back to your tribe. There will be a disturbance that will mask your movement across the pike. You will be able to safely return to your camp.”

Then with a malevolent look of sheer menace, she added, “Don’t ever take us for granted. Your word is your oath, and if you break it, you forfeit your life and the lives of your friends.”

Then she disappeared. I took a big gulp of air and whispered, “I believe I just made the biggest mistake of my life.”

Stonewall snored his affirmation.

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 324

 

We reached the National Pike’s crossing of the Monocacy River. Thank heavens, no Yanks were there. So we crossed, and once we hit the eastern shore, I turned us south.

I couldn’t hear our main body firing at the Yank camp anymore. So I was relieved that they were probably retreating toward Adamstown. I brought our men to a halt and dismounted. We began to walk our horses to give them a breather. I guess we had trudged about a mile went we heard cannon booming toward the west.  We stopped and tried to view Braddock Heights, but there was too much intervening foliage and high ground.  The cannonade seemed to be directed toward an object further west.

I smiled and said, “I think Major Mosby has accomplished his mission.”

The men nodded, but they were too tired to really enjoy the moment.

I reasoned, “If the Yanks at the camp south of Frederick had followed our main body, they certainly would turn back to see what was happening at downtown Frederick and Braddock Heights. In fact, I hoped we have confused them so much they don’t know which way to turn.

I motioned for the men to continue walking. We came to a large road and Zeke informed me it was Reich’s Road.

I asked, “What’s tha next big road we will cross, and how far is it?”

He answered, “Urbana Pike’s next, and it’s about two miles.”

I nodded and asked, “That’s tha pike with a ford that’s closest to tha eastern edge of tha Yank camp, right?”

He just nodded in the affirmative.

I directed, “We’re gonna walk some more. Then we’re gonna mount and get past Urbana Pike.”

I suddenly got a notion and asked Zeke, “What’s the next ford after Urbana Pike and how far is it?”

“I don’t rightly remember tha name of tha road or tha ford, but there’s a side road that will take us sowth from tha Urbana Pike to tha ford.  It’s ‘bout three miles, and that ford is about four miles from Adamstown,” he informed me.

I nodded as we continued walking. We could still hear cannonade in the distance. Sometimes when the wind was blowing just right, we could hear what sounded like small arms firing also.

After a while I pulled my pocket watch out and estimated we had been walking about an hour.  I put my watch back in the coat pocket and commanded, “Let’s mount up.”

Stonewall let me know what he thought of my directive by blowing out a long snore.  I chuckled and mounted up.

The ever observant Skeeter inquired, “Does that horse know what yar saying?”

I looked at him, smiled and said, “Yep.”

Skeeter initially looked at me with an awed expression, and then thinking I was pulling his leg said, “Ahh, Lieutenant.”

I just retorted, “Let’s go.”

We walked the horses for another 15 minutes and then began a gentle lope to the Urbana Pike.

324-sentinel

The Urbana Pike was going to be a possible problem.  The Yanks might have been so spooked by our attack from the east on their corrals, that they had fortified the Urbana Pike ford and placed troopers east of the ford as pickets, plus instituted patrols of the area east of the ford.

We reached a stand of trees on the north bank of a small creek that branched off the Monocacy just to the northeast of the Urbana Ford and halted. Just as I thought, the Yanks had stationed a force on both sides of the ford. We were hidden from sight due to the tree line. However, I didn’t know the extent of the Yankee occupation of the area east of the ford.   If we withdrew and went further east to avoid the Yanks, and they had patrols to the east, we could arouse the whole Yank contingent at the ford if we ran into a patrol.  Then they would come down on us like fleas on a hound, because it looked like they outnumbered us three to one. Also, if we got into a running fight, our horses wouldn’t last. They were tired out as it was. We needed to get by the Yanks and make our way back to Adamstown at our own pace.

I shook my head after failing to come up with a solution. Then an idea came to me. It wasn’t one I liked, but it just might work.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 323

 

I figured that we were basically cut off from our main body of troops by the horde of Yanks fleeing their camp to the north and toward us. So I decided to take a run through Frederick and raise a little Cain with the local populace.  I hoped it would have the desired effect of having the Yanks on Braddock Heights come to the rescue of the Yank camp we had just assaulted.

The only problem would be that the Yanks still had horses available from that third corral we weren’t able to capture. They could have a contingent of troopers on our trail in no time.

If we were to have our fun, it had to be quickly attained. We needed to vacate the area as soon as possible.

We rode like the wind in a column of two’s to the southern suburbs of Frederick.  As we entered the residential area of town, people gaped in amazement as we galloped down the streets interrupting the daily business of the residents. People scattered out of the byways and hurried to their homes as we rode by.

When we began to enter the business area of town, the number of carriages, horsemen and foot traffic increased to the point of grid lock.

I stopped the men and yelled, “Did we lose anybody?”

I heard Skeeter retort, “Naw sir.”

I turned back to the men and said, “We are going to continue through town to the north and then loop around to tha east and head sowth to Adamstown. If’n anyone gets separated, just head back to Adamstown. However, we are going to cause some real havoc in tha process. Is everyone fully loaded? If not, get that way.”

I began to quickly reload my spent Colts with loaded cylinders, and the men followed my lead.  Once I finished, I looked up and all the troopers were just about fully loaded.

I began, “We are going go on a shooting spree. We will not shoot any civilians. If we run into any Yanks, you may engage them, but mostly we will be firing in tha air and scaring tha locals out of their wits. Is that clear?”

All the man nodded.

I said, “Follow me, and start shootin’ when I do.”

I turned Stonewall around, and as we trotted further into the business district, the concerned merchants and businessmen viewed us with much consternation. In the distance I could hear Sarge Billings and the main body firing at the Yank camp. The distant gunfire plus our presence began to cause the locals apoplexy.  You could see it on their faces.

After about a block, I raised my pistol in the air, and hooping the Rebel Yell to the top of my voice, began firing. People ran for any cover they could find. Women screamed. Horse carriages stampeded out of our way, and business was brought to a halt.  I was hoping that the Yanks on Braddock Heights were viewing us in their long range binoculars. I also was crossing my fingers that the Yank commander up there would panic and send some of his troopers down to deal with us.

We continued through Frederick, taking all the roads that seemed to go north and firing our pistols in the air.  It is needless to say we caused quite a ruckus for the inhabitants of a town untouched by the Civil War. I smiled as we rode out of town. I never had so much fun in my life.

Once we were clear of the town, I halted the men and motioned for Zeke and Skeeter to join me. We stayed mounted and gave the horses a chance to catch their breath.

I rode a few yards ahead of our contingent and asked Zeke, “How can we get across the Monocacy River and head sowth?”

He gaped and then asked, “Howdja know ‘bout tha Monocacy?”

I smiled, shrugged and said, “I’ve studied maps of this area. What I don’t know is where to make a crossing of the river and keep it between us and the Yanks while we head back to Adamstown.”

Monocacy River, Maryland

Monocacy River, Maryland

He nodded and answered, “Therah’s a bunch of fords of the Monocacy on the east side of Frederick. They’s one up nawth where Liberty Road crosses the Monocacy. ‘nother un is straight east of Frederick on tha National Pike. Then farther sowth they’s Reich’s Ford. Even farther sowth they’s a ford wherah Urbana Pike crosses tha Monocacy. So ya can take yar pick.”

I thought for a moment and then probed, “Which one is closest to tha Yank camp?”

“That’d be tha Urbana Ford,” he retorted.

“I wanna keep tha Monocacy between us and tha Yanks if at all possible. We could get bottled up if’n we headed sowth right now on tha Urbana Pike and tha Yanks beat us to tha ford.  Looks to me like tha National Pike is tha closest ford on tha Monocacy.  If’n we go ahead and cross tha Monocacry, and tha Yanks cross it and come looking for us, we’d have tha whole countryside to tha east for an escape,” I reasoned.

I looked intently at Zeke and probed, “Can ya take us to tha National Pike ford?”

He grinned from ear to ear and said, “Sure as shootin’.”

I grinned back and directed, “Well, what are ya waiting for? Take us therah.”

Zeke wheeled his horse to the southeast and commanded, “Follow me.”

We all deployed into a column of two’s and took up a gentle lope behind our trail blazer.

I smiled as our intrepid band left the scene of our encounter with the Maryland populace. However, in the distance I could hear the firing of our main body. I had hoped Sarge Billings would have already withdrawn from the area and headed south.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 322

We began our journey to the Yankee horse corrals by going south and then east, staying well into the woods that skirted the Yank camp.  Once we got around to the east of their camp, I signaled for my 10 troopers to stay put in the woods while I rode Stonewall forward, with Skeeter and Zeke at my heels, to take a gander of the situation.

There were definitely three horse corrals, and they were full of unsaddled horses.

The enclosures were situated about 25 yards apart. They began about 50 yards from the edge of woods, from where I was positioned. The next corral was about 25 yards further west from the one in front of me, and the last one was another 25 yards from the middle corral.  The northern edge of the Yankee camp was about 50 yards south of the corrals.  There were three Yank troopers acting as guards at each corral.

I took one last survey, and the three of us rejoined the men.

I dismounted and gathered the men around me.  I gave them an idea of the lay of the land and the number of guards.

Then I directed, “We are gonna go a little further nawth of here and then swing east toward tha corrals. I want to put tha corrals between us and tha Yankee camp.  We’re gonna break from cover and ride like tha wind toward tha first corral.”

I pointed to two of tha men and said, “Y’all will be in charge of getting tha corral gate open and stampeding the horses out. The rest of us are gonna be shooting at tha guards and then we’ll ride to tha next corral.”

I pointed to another two men and said, “Y’all will be in charge of getting tha second corral open and stampeding tha horses. The rest of us will be shooting at tha guards, and then we’ll ride to tha last corral and do tha same thing.”

I pointed at two more men and said, “Y’all will be getting tha Yank horses out of tha last corral. We’ll be covering ya and waiting at tha last corral for tha four men detailed to stampede tha horses at tha first two corrals. Once we have everyone, you will follow me. I will take you back tha way we came, or we will proceed further west and try to join our main body of troops. We might even take off and go through Frederick raising Cain. Just keep an eye on me and obey my commands. Is that clear?”

They all nodded that they understood.

I then asked, “Any questions?”

They all shook their heads.

322-stampede

I added, “We’re gonna have a lot of help from tha main body of our troops. They’re gonna be hittin’ tha Yank camp and causing havoc while we hit tha corrals.”

This brought smiles from the men.

I smiled back and said, “Mount up and let’s get this show on tha road.”

It didn’t take much to get the men inspired.  They were happy to do some damage to the Yanks in their own backyard.

We walked our horses to the edge of the woods. I stopped the men, who I had arranged in a column of two’s with our rustlers on the outside rank, pulled two pistols from my belt, put Stonewall’s reins in my teeth, cocked the hammers on the Colts and nudged Stonewall with both knees. He broke from the woods like a comet and the men behind me followed suit.

We made it to about fifteen yards of the first corral before the Yank guards heard us. I guess the wind was from the south and covered the noise of our thundering herd.

The three Yanks were at the south side of the corral where the gate was located and had to run around the corral to see what was causing such a hullabaloo.

I shot the first Yank that appeared and another one went down from the fire of my men.  The third Yank took off running like a streaking comet for the Yankee camp, screaming for help.

Zeke and Skeeter were right behind me in a column of twos. I waved for them to follow me to the second corral.

The Yank guards at second corral came around the eastern side of the corral in time to see the two guards at the first corral go down and to come under fire from me and Skeeter, who was in the rank closest to the second corral.  Looking down the barrels of four Colts and about to be run over by charging cavalry, convinced them to skedaddle to the Yank camp.

About this time we heard bugles blowing for ‘Assembly’. Then another wonderful sound erupted from the woods to our east as Sarge Billings led our main body of troopers down two company streets of the Yank camp. The Rebel Yell was distinctively heard followed by a multitude of gunshots. Both had their desired effect, because Yanks began hightailing north out of the Yankee camp. Some were running to get to their mounts while others were just running away.

I motioned for the men to continue to follow me to the third corral.

The influx of fellow Yankee soldiers gave the three guards a measure of gumption to stand their ground. I fired first one pistol and then another as we galloped toward the corral, but I could tell we wouldn’t be able to capture this enclosure.  I veered off to the north and circled back to the second corral with the men following me closely. By this time the two men detailed to empty the first corral had succeeded and were riding to join us.  The men at the second corral were still trying to get the Yank cayuses moving out of the pen. About half of the horses had vacated the area when we arrived.

I halted our men at the second corral and yelled, “Cover our men while they get their job done.”

We set up a line on the north side of the corral and shot over the fence at any Yanks that came toward us. It didn’t take but a few minutes for the corral to be emptied. Our two men had stayed mounted while driving the horses out of the pen, and when the last of the horses escaped, they broke from the corral and rode around to the east to join us.

I turned to the north and waved the men to follow me as we headed into the southern edge of Frederick.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 321

The Corporal grinned back and answered, “Their corrals are nawth of tha camp. They’s got about three of ‘em. But they don’t got too many men protecting ‘em. I’d say ‘bout 15, all told.”

“What about tha camp? How’s it laid out?” I queried.

“They’s got 5 company streets with tents facin each other nawth to sowth on each street,” he stated.

“How far are tha company streets from tha corrals?” I quizzed.

“They’s ‘bout 50 yards,” he returned.

“Are therah any tree lines or woods that’d allow us to get up close to tha camp or tha corrals?” I probed.

“Yes sir. They’s a tree line to tha sowth and east of the company streets,” he informed.

I turned to Sarge Billings and questioned, “How many men do we have with us?”

He looked down at the ground to do the cyphering in his head. Then he looked up and said, “’bout fifty.”

I went silent and looked as if I had gone into a trance. Then I focused on the Sarge and directed, “I’m gonna take ten men and skirt tha Yankee camp to tha sowth and then to tha east using tha woods as cover. I want ya to take tha rest of the men and divide ‘em into two groups in formations of two men abreast. Follow me to the woods east of the Yank camp and face the men to the west.”

“When ya hear us raise Cain at the corrals, have the two groups of yar men charge down the two southernmost Yankee company streets, firing into tha tents. When y’all clear tha streets, reform in tha woods to tha south and fire at tha Yankee camp.”

“We will go back east into tha woods when we are through stampeding the Yank horses and try to come around to join ya. However, if we aren’t successful and the Yanks get thar horses, they might try to charge ya.  If’n they do, don’t wait on us. Take off south to Adamstown.”

“We’ll head east, and then south, and make for Adamstown on our own. Is that clear?”

Sarge Billings grinned and said, “It’s as plain as day.”

I grinned back and said, “Which troopers do I get?”

He smiled and said, “F troop.”

F Troop image via Warner Bros./ABC

F Troop image via Warner Bros./ABC

I almost laughed out loud, but stifled it in time.  The connotations weren’t lost on me. I added, “I’ll give ya 30 minutes to get yar men in place. Then I’ll attack.”

Sarge Billings nodded and pointed to my troop of men. I nodded back and rode to tha members of F Troop with Zeke and Skeeter in tow. Their corporal saluted me when we rode up. I returned his salute and directed, “Yar troop is to come with me. Stay in single file and don’t say a word. We’re gonna do some horse rustling.” The surprised look on the corporal’s face was worth the wise crack I had made.

We walked the horse into the woods to the south and began our trek to the Yankee horse corrals.

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 320

 

It took about half an hour for the main body to meet us at our location.  When they arrived, Sarge Billings saluted and I returned his salute.

“On y’all’s way to Adamstown, Sarge Madigan took over command of the company from me,” I asked, “Where’s he now?”

Sarge Billings returned, “He was reassigned to Major Mosby soon as we got to Adamstown.”

I nodded and then began, “I’ve sent two scouts to find tha Yank garrison. Once we whipped ‘em back down tha road, I was hoping they’d turn tail and head to their base camp. I believe that’s what they did.

“When our scouts come back with tha location of tha Yank garrison, you and I will reconnoiter and see what’s tha best plan for attack.  I want to scare ‘em so they’ll call for help from Braddock Heights or at least raise enough Cain so Mosby can surprise tha Yank contingent on tha heights.  When we do hit tha garrison, I want tha Yanks to end up following us sowth, hopeful with reinforcements from tha heights. We will just have to attack and see what happens. Do ya have any questions?”

The sergeant let out a deep breath and shook his head.  I looked at him closely. He seemed tired and haggard. I asked, “Are ya alright sarge?”

He looked at me and said, “We been given every dangerous mission on this here raid. I was looking for some rest for my men and their horses.”

I nodded in agreement and then said, “Well, yar company has shown to be tha best of all five companies. I guess that’s why you got picked to do most of tha dangerous missions.”

“That’s all well and good Lieutenant, but the company has lost almost half its men. If’n we go into battle against this garrison, we’re liable to get wiped out,” retorted the sergeant.

I looked the sergeant in the eye and stated, “I can’t promise ya what will happen to us during this raid, and I know it has been hard on tha men so far. But we gotta keep tha Yanks from taking Fredericksburg and this raid will do a lot to throw Old Abe and General Scott into a frenzy to protect Washington City. So we have to do tha best we can while we’re here to mess up tha Yankee’s plans.”

The sergeant let out another deep breath and agreed, “I know Lieutenant and tha men appreciate yar riding out front and not saving yarself like most hoity-toity officers do. Not that yar a hoity-toity. It’s just that it seems this war will never end.”

I nodded and requested, “If’n y’all will just hang tough for a little longer, I’ll see what I can do in tha way of leave for tha men.”

The sergeant actually got a smile on his face and acknowledged, “Tha men would greatly appreciate that. Don’t worry about us Lieutenant. We’ll do our duty. We just like to hear that we are appreciated ever once in a while.”

“Well, y’all are appreciated. You can bet on that,” I added.

The sergeant nodded and we both turned to see the scouts filtering back through the woods from their reconnoitering.

The corporal and the other scout rode to us and saluted. The sergeant and I both returned the salute.  I said, “Well, Corporal, where are tha Yanks?”

320-union-cavalry-camp

The corporal shook his head and said, “There’s a whole passel of ‘em about a mile to tha east. There’s about 500 of ‘em. We counted five company flags, two 12 inch cannon, and a bunch of tents.  Tha one good thing is there ain’t no fort. They’s camped out in tents.”

I demanded, “Are they cavalry or infantry?”

“Oh, they’s cavalry, Lieutenant,” replied the corporal.

I grinned and queried, “So where do they keep their horses?”

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Civil War Transcendence, part 319

 

Sergeant Billings had the troop in a two men abreast formation and the advance skirmishers out in front of our contingent in no time.

I yelled, “Forward at the gallop,” and we moved out.

As I rode by Sarge Billings, who was at the head of the troop, I shouted, “Yar in command. I’m going forward to see what we are up against.”

He waved that he understood.

Zeke and Skeeter were following me as we galloped north toward Frederick. I put Stonewall back into a lope when we got right behind the advance skirmishers. We must have gone about a mile and a half, when the skirmishers brought their cayuses to a halt at a crossroads.

I rode up to them and asked, “What’s wrong?”

“We don’t know which way the Yanks went,” answered a corporal.

I let my gaze scan from west to north to east. Once I looked east, I could see just an inkling of dust above a tree line on the road that had crossed our main pike and headed east.  I turned to the corporal and ordered, “We will go east. Leave a man here to direct tha main body to follow us.”

He saluted, ordered a trooper to stay to give directions and took the rest of the skirmishers to the east at the gallop.  Zeke, Skeeter and I followed close behind.

We hurried toward, what I hoped was the Yank cavalry troop. We had proceeded about a mile, when the skirmishers came to a halt and rode off the road into a tree line. I rode up to them and the corporal pointed to where the road we were on crossed a larger pike that ran north to south. The Yank cavalry troop we had been following was crossing the pike and still headed eastward. I had guessed right that the Yank garrison was to the east of Frederick, but I had thought they would be located to the northeast.  If the garrison was due east, we had a better chance of escape after our coming attack.

I motioned Zeke to come to my side.  Once he was in positioned to my right, I pointed toward the pike and asked, “What’s that road?”

He immediately said, “It’s tha Design Road.”

“Where does it lead to the sowth?’ I asked.

“It goes down south to the other side of Adamstown,” he responded.

“Is there another road east of tha Design Road that goes south?” I queried.

“There’s the Buckeystown Pike. It goes down sowth and stays east of the Design Road,” he informed me.

I thought for a moment and said out loud, “I betcha the Yank garrison is somewhere in the vicinity of the Buckeystown Pike.” Then turning to the corporal, I ordered, “I need ya to take one man and scout from here to the south a ways and then go east. I want ya to find the Yank garrison and, once ya do, high tail it back herah to me.”

The corporal said, “Yes sir,” and, pointing to one his three men, began to weave into the woods to our south as per my orders.

I turned to the last two of the skirmishers and directed, “Go back to the main body and have them come here as quickly as possible.”  They immediately turned and rode back the way we came.

I looked at Zeke and he was the epitome of claim. I turned to Skeeter. He had me under intensely scrutiny. I smiled at him and asked, “Ya got any questions Skeeter?”

‘Yes sir. I believe ya’re gonna try to get tha Yanks to chase us sowth, but will it draw tha Yanks off Braddock Heights?”

I smiled at him and uttered, “All we can do is try.”

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Civil War Transcendence, part 318

 

318_cavalry

The Yank troopers had been riding two abreast. The last two Yanks turned to see what was making all the noise when six colt slugs hit them. They fell from their mounts, which caused their horses to stampede into the rest of the column.

Our continuous firing and screaming resulted in pushing the enemy patrol about a hundred yards to the west. We unhorsed two more Yanks before the commander of the Yank patrol brought his men under control and got them into a battle line facing us.

At that point, we considered retreat the better part of valor. We turned tail and rode like the wind back to the cross road junction we started from.

It didn’t take long to reach our destination. We halted in the middle of the crossroad and were elated to see the head of our contingent galloping toward us.

I yelled at the top of my lungs, “Company front (face to the left), draw carbines and prepare to repel attack.”

I kept repeating the orders and pointing to the side road from which we had emerged.

Sergeant Billings got the idea that we had stirred up a hornets nest from our gunfire and my commands. He took over and quickly got the company into a battle line facing the supposed direction of an enemy attack. I have to say he did a great job in getting our bunch ready. I was just hoping the Yanks had fallen for our ruse and were following.

We were in luck. The Yanks came flying down the road four abreast and mad as wet hens.  Thanks to Sarge Billings, our boys were in battle line along Ballinger Creek Road facing to the northwest and the charging Yanks.

It took a few moments for the approaching Yanks to see our formation and understand they were being sucked into an ambush.  When Sarge Billings saw the Yank officer, who was leading their attack, throw up his arm and begin to slow down, he yelled fire.

Twenty carbines of our front rank erupted. It sounded as if one shot had been fired. The destruction was unimaginable.  The Yank officer and the first four Union troopers were blown from their saddles.  The resulting chaos was mindboggling.  The remaining portion of the Yank column dispersed into individual troopers trying to rein in their mounts and keep from riding into the backs of their comrades. It was like wasps flying out from a nest when it was struck.

At this juncture, I rode to the left end of our line, and pointing to the last four ranks, yelled at the top of my voice, “Follow me.”

I brought the men forward in formation, and turned them to face north. We fired into the Yank’s right flank. This cause even more panic, but it had the desired effect I wanted. The Yanks began to stream as a herd to the north, riding the gauntlet past our line of battle, heading toward Frederick.

I halted my requisitioned troopers and yelled for them to get back into line.

Hurrying to where Sarge Billings was stationed, I directed, “Get tha men in formation with five skirmishers in advance and follow those Yanks. They’ll take us to thar garrison.”

The Sarge looked at me as if I had lost my mind and uttered, “Ya want to fight tha Yank garrison?”

I retorted, “No! But I wanna spook ‘em a bit.” Then I grinned from ear to ear.

The Sarge just shook his head, and yelling commands to the troops, got the company ready to head north into Frederick.

I looked up and saw Zeke and Skeeter ride up from the front of the column.

“Where ya been?” I asked.

Zeke reported, “We got separated from ya when we got back to tha crossroads. We been up front shooting at tha Yanks.”

“Well, ya are gonna get a chance to do some more shooting. Let’s go!”

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