Civil War Transcendence, part 284

 

As we walked down the mountain, I checked my pocket watch. It was barely 9:00 am. It seemed like half the day had already passed instead of just two hours.  As I replaced the timepiece, I witnessed the sun break through the scud layer of clouds and cast a brilliant sheen on the valley before us. The brightness made me squint and tear up from the sudden assault on my eyes.

284-watch

I let out a sigh and thought, “Well, there goes the protection of the fog. It’ll be burnt off before you know it.”

For some reason, I began to contemplate my ever changing orders lately. First, I was required to direct our forces from our Potomac River camp to Pleasant Valley. Second, I had to personally engage in two fights to get us here. Third, I was sent to scout out Crampton’s Gap to see what the situation was up there. Fourth, I directed three cavalry companies to their present deployment. Fifth, I was responsible for getting the two cavalry companies to their present position in a tree line at the base of South Mountain. Sixth, I was originally designated to lead our forces in case Mosby went down.  Thank heavens, that order had been replaced by making sure the cannon we captured from the Yanks gets to the top of Crampton’s Gap.

I probably have left out some other orders over the last two days, but that was it in a nutshell.  I made a vow to myself: “If I make it out of here alive, I’m retiring from the Army.“

Mosby was met by a courtier when we reached our horses.  They spoke in whispered tones for a moment. Mosby turned and beckoned me to join them.

He pointed to the north and said, “Thar moving quickly. Tha head of their column is already at Locust Grove, which is nawth of Rohersville. Our boys at Rohersville Station probably got ‘em in their sights already. I ‘spect they’ll be at Gapland in another two hours.”

I nodded in agreement.

Mosby turned to me and queried, “How ya gonna hit ‘em?

“Greenley’s company is already headed northwest on the Townsend Road toward the valley pike. Once we break out of the protection of tha woods, if’n we swing due north, we can skirt around a small ridgeline and hopefully stay out of sight of tha Yank artillery contingent. If ya could provide a diversion, we can come on line and hit tha Yanks a surprise blow in their flank. I don’t know what protection tha Yank artillery will have, but any  attack y’all could make would help us immensely. Also, I ‘spect that Captain Reedy’s northern blocking force won’t be too far behind us and can help us too.”

Mosby grinned and nodded his agreement. He turned to one of his courtiers and issued an order for Captain Greenley to join us.

As the courtier walked down the road on his mission, I went in search of Stonewall.  I found him sedately standing next to the tree where I had left him an hour ago. As usual, I hadn’t encumbered him in any way, but he had stayed where I left him.  I gave him a quick massage, during which I uttered, “t’won’t be long now.” He snorted and went into his meditative state. I just wished I could be as calm as he was.

 

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 283

 

283-light-artillery

We headed up the road to Crampton’s Gap for a ways until we were out of sight and the columns of troopers couldn’t hear us.

Mosby stopped and said, “We gotta hit ‘em early or late. The Black Flag swindle is no longer viable. With Owen’s prior information that something was gonna happen, they would have seen right through it.  I want those Yankee cannon more than I want to cripple the Yank column.  The Yanks are gonna go through Gapland and we can’t attack through the town. It would cause civilian death and destruction. I’m for attacking late, but the question is ‘how late?’”

I pondered the situation and then said, “Attack when the whole kit and caboodle are in Gapland and before the artillery enters the town, since they are the last of the Yank column. Then our units can bottle ‘em up in the town and give our artillery men time to take the Yank cannon and get ‘em up to Crampton’s Gap. Once our artillery men have control of the cannon, then we can break off and get the men up to the gap, too.”

“The only company that will have a hard time getting up to the gap will be Captain Jameson’s. He’s west of Gapland.  Ya told all the Captains to do what comes natural if there is trouble. He could go south and hit the roads going back to our camp south of Sharpsburg, or go south all the way to Weverton on the Potomac then go east and try to link up with us later.”

“I told Captain Edwards, our southernmost blocking company, that he might have to extend further south before he will be able to hit the head of the Yank column. So he should be flexible to do the right thing.”

“Our northernmost company under Captain Reedy can actually help Captain Greenley’s men to hit the artillery train.”

Mosby turned and said, “Good. You see the way to make this happen. I was hoping you understood how the combined force of Greenley and Reedy is a plus for us. I want you to go with Greenley, when I give ‘em the okay to move out. I want you to make sure those cannon get up to the gap.”

I nearly swallowed my tongue, but replied, “Yes sir.”

With the plans for the attack transformed, we walked down the road to the waiting men.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 282

 

In a jiffy, Captain Greenley and his second in command, who was a Lieutenant, plus Captain Owen and his second in command, who was First Sergeant Walker, walked up to Major Mosby and saluted. Mosby returned their salutes.

He nodded at two courtiers who bracketed Captain Owen. Mosby faced Captain Owen and said, “I won’t tolerate any traitorous act that might jeopardize the success of this mission. Captain Owen, you are relieved of command and subject to court martial. Sergeant Flannigan, you will assume command of your company.”

The thunderbolt Mosby unleashed hit all of us out of the blue, especially Captain Owen, who started to speak, but was summarily told by Mosby to remain quiet.

From 1993 documentary, Civil War Journal

Mosby, from 1993 documentary Civil War Journal

He turned to his courtiers and murmured, “Take Captain Owen into custody, tie and gag him, and remain with him until ya receive further orders from me or Lt. Hager.”

Immediately, the courtiers went to work. They relieved the Captain of his side arm, gagged him and tied him up. One of them took him further into the tree line and sat him down with his back against a big oak.  His gaze swept each and every one of us. When his eyes rested on me, they gleamed with hate and fury.  I just looked back at him without a stupefied stare.

Mosby whispered, “Gentleman?”

We all turned to look at him with questioning expressions on our faces, but he held up his hand and explained, “When one of my courtiers couldn’t find Captain Owen for a brief meeting, I went to his company and (pointing to the First Sergeant) asked the First Sergeant Walker where he was. Tha sergeant said he had left without explanation and walked north toward tha pond. I don’t know the reason, but I had a bad feelin ‘bout it. So I had a courtier trail him.  Tha courtier is a good woodsman and wasn’t detected when he saw Captain Owen give Hawks a paper. Captain Owens returned to camp.

Mosby turned to me and continued, “Tha message that was passed was on tha man that yar horse so adroitly executed.  You must have just missed Captain Owen’s return.  Hawks saw ya coming and must of reacted when he recognized ya.”

“My courtier was just reporting the clandestine meeting he had witnessed, when ya reported tha dead man by the pond.  I sent my courtier to investigate.”

“Lieutenant, ya forgot to search Hawks thoroughly. My courtier came back with Hawks’ body and tha message. He told me that Hawks was tha man Captain Owen had met with.   I realized that tha Black Flag idea was a bust because tha Yanks were already expecting us to do something.”

Turning to look at Owen, Mosby continued, “Owen must have been slipping messages to the Yanks all along.”

I was red in the face from my lack of thorough search of Hawks. I stared at Mosby in awe and finally asked, “When did ya pull tha Black Flag bunch back in?”

“Before we went on our ride to view tha Yankee column,” Mosby answered.

“Whatcha gonna do?” I queried.

“Don’t know yet. Come walk with me for a ways and let’s discuss it.” Mosby turned and looking at the rest of the assembly said, “Gentlemen, y’all may return to yar commands.”

The officers were so shocked that they forgot to salute, but just kept gawking first at Owen and then back to Mosby in a repetitious movement.

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 281

 

281_binoculars

Mosby went to his horse and pulled his binoculars from a small case in his blanket roll.  He looped them by the leather strap around his neck and then motioned to me and one of the rested courtiers, indicating we should mount up and follow him.

Once we were aboard our horses, Mosby led us out behind Greenley’s company, staying in the tree line along the base of South Mountain. We headed in a northerly direction.

I figured Mosby would want to observe the Yankee column. I just hoped we wouldn’t be discovered by the Yankee cavalry flankers.

We slipped through the tree line and happened upon a deer path, which meandered amongst the woods. It was hidden from the Valley Pike and made it a lot easier to move almost soundlessly through the trees.

We actually went as far as a position parallel to the southern edge of Rohersville before Mosby brought us to a halt.  We dismounted and waited on the Yanks, who were notorious slow marchers.  It was almost eleven before the head of their column entered the northern part of Rohersville.

Mosby had a good look at the column and then handed the binoculars to me.

As I viewed their marching style, he whispered close to my ear, “Their flankers are only out about fifty yards on either side of tha main body. Our courtier was right. They have no advanced scouting party. They either don’t feel there’s a danger of being hit at this juncture of their march, or they wanna combined cohesive force that can react to any attack against ‘em.  Lastly, they’re a-gamblin’ that if they’s hit, their enemy won’t have artillery.”

Mosby added quietly, “I’ve seen enough. Let’s get along.”

We mounted and surreptitiously vacated our observation post and headed back the way we came.

Once back at the position below Crampton’s Gap. Mosby motioned for two courtiers to come to him.  I watched them closely as he took them aside and talked secretively to them.  The two courtiers dispersed with one going toward Greenley’s company and other toward Owen’s company.

Something was up.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 280

 

I dismounted, along with Mosby and his courtiers, as the night was just giving way to what appeared to be a bright morning without a cloud in the sky.

We sat down by the roadside in some grass and in the shelter of a thick stand of hardwoods.  Horses snored and leisurely shifted from one leg to another. They wiggled their skin and lashed their tails like whips to rid themselves of horse flies.

280-sunrise

Birds began their early morning songs.  Butterflies and bees began their flights to visit the fall flowers.  Owls were heard to make their last plaintive cries before seeking their daytime shelters.

We all dozed off for 15 to 20 minutes of restful oblivion.

Mosby stirred and shook one of his courtiers who came awake with a grunt.  Mosby dispatched the rider to have the doctor and his attendants take up their positions north of Gapland. The rest of the group headed south of Gapland.

In a few moments, we heard the horses canter off carrying the different parties to play their roles in diverting the Yank column.

Mosby shook one more courtier awake and told him to go up toward Crampton’s Gap until he had a good view of the valley. When the Yank column came into view, he was to observe where the cavalry, infantry, artillery and supply wagons were positioned in the cavalcade and the number of each contingent. Once he had that information, he was to report his findings to Mosby. The courtier mounted and started his struggling horse up the steep grade at a walk.

Mosby, not seeming to have a care in the world, grinned at me, laid back down by the roadside, put his hat over his face and went sound asleep.

I just shook my head and tried to do the same, but to no avail. I was worrying about everything I had no control over. Finally, I sat up, crossed my legs Indian- style, closed my eyes and concentrated on my breathing. It was hard to eradicate all other thoughts from my mind, but I was successful. After what seemed like a few moments, I opened my eyes. The sun was up. I checked my watch. It was 7:00 AM.  I must had meditated for a longer period than I thought.

Above us, we heard the movement of a horse’s arrested steps trying to keep from slipping down the hill.  In a few moments the courtier from up the mountain reported that the Yankee column could be seen about five miles to the north on the Pleasant Valley Pike.

Mosby asked him, “Did you see where their artillery was positioned in their column?”

“Yes sir,” responded the courtier, “They’s in tha rear.”

“Tarnation,” was Mosby’s exasperated reply. After a moment of dwelling on the implications of this development, Mosby asked, “Well, what were tha dispositions of their cavalry, infantry and supply wagons?”

“Sir, tha supply wagons are in tha rear of tha column as usual, but their cavalry haven’t sent forward any scouts. They do have flankers, but no advance parties. There are about three companies of cavalry leading tha column followed by three regiments of infantry.”

Looking pleased Mosby muttered, “Interesting.”

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Civil War Transcendence, part 279

 

It was eerie.  It seemed as if we were commanding a Corps of the Dead.  Except for the movement of the horses and men, there was total silence.

Our troopers began to cinch their mounts’ saddles without a word. Squad by squad, they were given hand signals to lead their horses to the pond for water. Once back in camp, the horses were allowed to munch on the grass that dotted the landscape. No sounds escaped the human beings.

Once Captain Owens’ men had watered their horses and allowed their cayuses a few minutes of chewing the grass, the Sergeants and Corporals gave the round up hand signal. Troopers mounted their steeds and formed into their squads.

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Captain Owens turned to me and waved that his company was ready. I gave the signal to follow me, and we filed out in a column of two’s overland between two hills, up an incline and onto the Townsend Road, which was the northernmost road from the Pleasant Valley Pike up to Crampton’s Gap.  This road enters a wooded area that runs parallel to the base of South Mountain before it merges with the Gapland Road and ascends South Mountain.  As I looked back toward the camp, I could just make out some men tidying up the camp area.

I marched the company into the tree lined path for about fifty yards, which I felt hid them from the Valley Pike. Then waving my arm to the left, I executed a countermarch to the left, which means I turned one hundred eighty degrees and went back the way we had come.  The men picked up on my maneuver without any problem and followed my lead. Once the company had completed the countermarch, I halted and turned Stonewall back, facing the Valley Pike. The troop followed suit. Captain Owens’ company was now facing the Valley Pike and in place so they could charge out of the tree line in a battle line of two ranks.

I turned to Captain Owens, who was at the head of the company and to my left. I saluted. He returned the salute.

I leaned over and whispered, “You will need to dismount and have the men and horses rest until the Yanks show up. I don’t know when that will be. Major Mosby will direct you when to attack.”

The Captain nodded and I rode away.

I loped Stonewall down the Townsend Road and back to the camp area.  Once there, I headed south and quickly found where Captain Greenley’s Company was located.  As I approached his men, I could hear a murmur of voices.

I rode amongst the men and said in a strangled whisper, “Shut up and keep it quiet.”

One of the men said in a quiet, but firm voice, “Says who?”

I gingerly walked Stonewall toward the man.  When I had reached his position, he glared up at me defiantly.  I quickly pulled my colt and hit him over the head. He went down like a poled ox.

I turned to the other men and said in a stage whisper, “If anybody else mutters one word, he’ll get worse than this’un did.”

All of a sudden a First Sergeant appeared. I pointed at the unconscious trooper and whispered, “Put that man under arrest subject to court martial.”

The First Sergeant saluted, and understanding my order, didn’t utter a word.

All movement had stopped to witness the scenario.  As I looked up, all the troopers got busy getting their horses ready for departure.  It took longer, since they had a longer distance to travel to water their horses.  When the last of the troopers returned to camp, Captain Greenley, who undoubted had been informed of my encounter with one of his men, glared at me for a moment and then raised his hand that his company was ready.

I smiled and raise my hand to follow me. In a column of two’s I directed the company south to the Gapland Road, which was the southernmost road from the Valley Pike to the Crampton’s Gap.  I turned the company east on this road, which also enters a tree line, and after about 150 yards, merges with Townsend road to head straight up South Mountain to Crampton’s Gap. However, I didn’t have to do any counter marching of this company. Once we reached the merger of the two roads, I held up my hand and the company halted. I turned Stonewall to the left. However, these troopers apparently didn’t have a clue what was going on. They sat their horses facing toward me. I turned, looked at Captain Greenley and pointed toward the Valley Pike. He finally got the idea and turned to the left to also face the Pike. The rest of his depleted company followed suit.

Finally, they were in position. I saluted the Captain, but he didn’t return my salute. I leaned to my left toward him. He quickly reacted by reaching for his pistol.  His weapon was encumbered by the flap that fitted over his pistol. I was not so stymied. I had my pistol out with my right hand and pointing just under the Captain’s nose in a jiffy.

I whispered, “We don’t have time for personal grievances. I was going to tell ya to dismount yar men and rest yar horses. We will have to stay in this position until tha Yanks appear. Major Mosby will tell ya when to attack tha Yank artillery battery. Do ya have tha artillery men that are gonna be spiking tha guns and takin tha cannon to tha Gap?”

All the Captain could do was stare into the muzzle of my pistol. He finally gulped and nodded in the affirmative.

I smiled and whispered, “We’ll take up any grievances once this is over.”

The Captain just continued to look in the barrel of my Colt without uttering a word.

I put my Colt back in my belt and turned Stonewall to the right. After walking him just a few yards, I saw the end of Captain Owens’ Line. Just about this time Mosby and his courtiers came up the Townsend Road, and riding to the rear of Owens’ company, came to the merger of the two roads. Taking up a post at this point, Mosby had a commanding view of the Valley Pike in the distance and he could direct the two companies when and where to attack.

I saluted and he returned the salute.

He murmured in a quiet voice, “Might as well dismount and wait on the Yanks.”

 

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 278

I waved at Mosby.  He caught my movement even in the dark night and picked his way amongst the prone figures toward me.  I motioned to the tree that the Captains had just vacated as their nesting places.

He stopped in front of me and dismounted. His four courtiers parked their horses next to his and dismounted also. Mosby approached me and quietly demanded, “Report.”

I whispered, “The Captains have been woke up and gone to get their sergeants to wake up tha men. I told ‘em I was gonna guide them to tha tree line close to tha mountain. I also gave ‘em both some spades to clean up tha area so’s tha Yankee scouts won’t find evidence of us being here. I ‘spect tha men will be getting up pretty soon. Oh, yeah. I also directed tha wagon driver to get his wagon up to Crampton’s Gap before sunrise.” I looked at the ground for a few seconds. Then added, “I guess that’s about it, sir.”

Mosby had been staring at me the whole time.  Once I had finished, he smiled and whispered, “Good.” He looked at his courtiers, who had kept their distance, and motioned for all of us to gather closer to him.

Mosby's Rangers

Mosby’s Rangers

Once we had all congregated in a tight circle, he looked at each of the courtiers in turn. Then he said in a stern, but low voice, “If I go down during this fight, Lieutenant Hager’s gonna take over. You will do whatever he says. If he says for you to go tell one of tha Captains to perform a certain maneuver, you will tell tha Captain it was my order. Do you understand?”

All the courtiers nodded their acknowledgment.

Mosby turned and walked to the nesting tree. He sat down with his horse’s reins in his hand and immediately fell asleep. The courtiers followed suit in the general area.

I heard our wagon begin to roll out of camp. I quietly spoke to Stonewall, “Wake up. We gotta go.” His eyes immediately opened wide signifying he was ready to go. I mounted and directed him toward the wagon.  Once I intercepted our battalion’s supply conveyance, I waved the wagon driver to stop.

He pulled back on the reins and said in a low voice, “Whoa, whoa.”

I leaned toward him and muttered, “I need ya to get down and guide tha team from tha front ‘til ya get in tha tree line at tha base of the mountain. Then ya can get back in tha wagon seat for tha rest of tha way.”

He looked at me for a moment and seemed to contemplating what I said. Finally nodding his head in understanding, he quipped, “Yessir.” He quickly descended from his dais, walked to the mule on the right of the front pair, put his hand in the mule’s bridle and in a subdued voice urged, “Let’s go Champ.” Gently pulling on the bridle, he got the team moving on the road toward Crampton’s Gap.

I turned Stonewall around and headed back to the nesting tree.

I could see men disperse among the prone troopers and begin to shake men awake. The sergeants and corporals had started the countdown to our planned confrontation.

I took in a deep breath and let it out. Looking skyward, I prayed, “Lord, help us.”

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 277

 

As I left the presence of the alien, I patted Stonewall on the neck and said, “I’m sorry I jerked on your reins old fellow. She took me by surprise.” He snorted back, which made me chuckle. “I promise to never do it again,” I added.  He provided another snort.  With my apologies completed and accepted we preceded to the cavalry camps.

Upon arrival at the make-shift camps of Captain Owens and Captain Greenley, I viewed that our one lone wagon was also there.  I rode to the wagon’s location and dismounted. Abruptly a man in civilian clothes crawled from underneath the wagon and looked at me.

I asked, “Are you tha driver?”

He nodded in the affirmative. “What’s yar name?” I asked.

“Jake Summers,” he answered as he stood up.

“Well, Jake, I need you to get hitched up (pointing to Crampton’s Gap) and get tha wagon up thar and outta sight by daylight. You think ya can do that?”

He looked at the steep grade for a few moments and then said, “If’n ya was to give me two men to chock tha wheels for tha climb, I betcha I kin.”

I nodded and asked, “Ya got anybody in mind for the chockers?”

He grinned and said, “Yessir, I do.”

“Well, get ‘em and get going. I don’t wantcha in view when tha Yanks start their move this a-way.” I directed. Remembering a job that had to be taken care of, I probed, “Oh, yeah. By the way, ya got any shovels or spades?”

277 two spades

He nodded in the affirmative. “Well, give ‘em to me.”

He didn’t question the order, but walked to the end of the wagon and pulled out four spades. He gave them to me, grinned and scurried away to get his chockers.

Holding two spades with each hand, I moved through the camp, which possessed an eerie silence, except for an occasional snore. Stonewall walked along behind me periodically poking me with his nose. I guess he wanted to let me know he was covering my back.

I needed to find the Captains, but there wasn’t a command tent signifying the Captains’ headquarters.  I finally saw a man, who apparently couldn’t sleep. He had gotten up and was smoking a pipe. As I neared his position, I saw the stripes of a First Sergeant on his sleeve.  When a got to where he was puffing contentedly, I asked quietly, “Where’s Captain Owens and Captain Greenley?”

In between puffs he asked, “Who wants to know?”

I replied with a grin, “Lieutenant Hager.”

That brought a smile. Pointing a finger to a big oak a few yard away, he replied, “They’s overah thar beside that tree.”

I returned, “Thanks sarge.”  He nodded and went on smoking his pipe.

Stonewall and I walked gingerly through a row of sleeping men to the two mummified prone figures.  I set down the spades and shook both of the sleeping officers.

Both awoke with a start and squinted at me in the dark, trying to make out who had disturbed their slumbers.

I whispered, “Captains, Major Mosby ordered me ta get y’all up and guide ya to tha tree line at tha base of tha mountain, so’s tha Yanks can’t see ya before we attack ‘em.”

“Okay,” said one of the officers. The other one didn’t respond, but just unwrapped himself from his mummy’s shroud and got up.

“I brought two spades for each company so’s we can clean up the area of any horse droppings and other camp refuse before the Yank scouts get here,” I said as I handed them to the captains.

They took them reluctantly as I added, “We need to be out of here in forty-five minutes.”

This sort of shocked them. Immediately they hurried off to find their First Sergeants.

I turned and Stonewall came forward expecting a head and jaw massage, which I began to apply. He closed his eyes and went to that calm place where he always goes when I start to gently rub his head and jaws.  Finally, I said, “If we pull this off, it will be a miracle.” Stonewall lazily opened his eyes, snorted and then closed them again.

A few minutes later I saw horsemen in single file cautiously picking their way through the sleeping horde. Mosby and his courtiers had arrived.

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 276

 

I wasn’t ready for her appearance and it shocked me. I jerked back on Stonewall’s reins, which I know he didn’t appreciate one bit. (No pun intended) My faithful steed stopped in his tracks and whinnied his disdain for my barbaric tactics.  I didn’t have time to say I’m sorry.

She moved so quickly that one second, she was ten yards from me and the next, she was standing to the right side of me with her hands on my brogans and looking up at me with her mesmerizing gaze.

276 elven queen

“Why have you persisted in putting yourself in danger? You had many chances to extricate yourself from this senseless conflict.”

I was stung by her question and statement. My anger surged to the forefront. I bent over until my face was about two inches above her lovely forehead and hissed through gritted teeth, “Your so-called civilization put me here against my will. I made do with what I knew beforehand, and I evolved with the situations that were presented. Don’t give me any self-righteous alien clap-trap!”

My vehemence surprised her. She actually took a step backwards and looked at me with a hurt expression.  I straightened in my saddle. Stonewall turned and looked at San Cirr Ray and whinnied as if to add, “See what you made him do to me?”

My color was still up, as we say in the South, so I added in a quiet but firm voice, “Now, I would appreciate it if you would get out of here, keep out of the coming battle, and let nature take its course.”

She let her hands drop to her side with a sense of hopelessness and looked dejectedly at the ground. Her hood had fallen to her shoulders, when she moved close to me, revealing her beautiful elven features. I have to admit that at one time I was drawn to her splendor.  But, no more.  For the first time in many months, I was angry with my predicament. I was being used as a pawn in the aliens’ game. I didn’t know their rules or their goals and, since this female had been assigned to my dilemma, I had been treated as her private boy toy.

I was fed up. I just wanted her and her whole species to leave me alone.

Nudging Stonewall with my knees, I looked straight ahead and rode toward South Mountain with a determination that, if I lived through this campaign, I would make the aliens pay for Shanghai-ing me.

 

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Civil War Transcendence, part 275

 

Finally, I was able to stutter in a loud voice, “Do ya mean, if’n you go down, I’ll be in command?”

Mosby whispered, “Hush Lieutenant. Yes, that is exactly what I mean.”

As I shook my head from side to side, I looked him in the eye and hissed, “Tha Captains won’t follow me. I’m a Lieutenant.”

Mosby grinned and muttered, “Jim, ya been in more gunfights, wounded in more shootouts and participated in more cavalry charges than all these so-called Captains put together.  Once tha fighting starts, I betcha tha lot of ‘em goes to pieces. They’re gonna follow tha first man that shows he knows what he’s doin’. It ain’t a-gonna matter if he’s a General or a private.”

“Then why are you lettin’ ‘em command your companies?” I retorted.

“Cause they gotta learn some time,” he rejoined.

I looked at him for a long moment and then said, “Then don’t let yah’self go and git killed.”

He just grinned from ear to ear.  Then he pointed toward the western face of South Mountain and intoned, “I’m a-gonna put Greenley’s and Owens’ companies in tha trees at the base of the mountain. They’ll have a long ride to attack the Yank’s flank, but I ‘spect if’n we don’t put ‘em therah, the Yank cavalry flanking guard might discover ‘em. Heck, they probably will anyway, but hopefully it’ll give our other companies the element of surprise.”

I looked from the mountain back at Mosby and muttered, “You don’t think this is gonna work, do ya?”

Mosby turned and looked at me and said, “This is tha best plan for inflicting casualties on tha Yanks and getting over tha mountain to meet up with General Ashby. I like tha initial plan. I just wish we had more cover here. And since I’m wishing for the moon, I wish that Gapland was located about 10 miles away from here. That town’s gonna be tha thorn in our side.”

We stood around in silence for a few more moments. Then Mosby said, “Better go and get ready. As soon as ya get back, I’m a-gonna send you to get tha two companies up and dispersed in tha trees.”

I saluted and left without waiting for his return salute.  I felt nauseous. As soon as I got back to Stonewall’s lair, I grabbed my canteen and took a big swig of water to settle my stomach.  My fearful manner must have created reverberations in the atmosphere because Stonewall came out of his reverie, turned his head and fixed his gaze on me.

I nodded at him and just said, “Yes, it’s that bad.”

He snored as I picked up his saddle and began the cinching process. Once completed, I said, “Come on,” and began walking back to the Major. Stonewall fell in behind me as we moseyed toward what I perceived as a great reckoning with the “powers that be.”

275 foggy mtn

I looked up and saw fog starting to form on the mountain. I could feel it’s fingers of frosty air as it floated down the mountain. I grinned and thought, “Well, this ethereal curtain will protect us from discovery for a while.” In appreciation I doffed my hat toward the mountain.

Suddenly, she appeared out of the gloom. I recognized that greenish blue tint immediately.

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