Civil War Transcendence, Part 64


I woke with the singing of the birds outside my hotel room window. The sun was just coming up. So, I got up, poured water from a pitcher into a basin, and washed the upper part of my body and face.

I felt refreshed and ready to head back to Shepherdstown. Downstairs, I found a small breakfast area in the lobby and ordered coffee. I relaxed and looked out the window onto Shenandoah Street, which was just starting to stir with some wagon traffic. I took my time and enjoyed the beautiful fall colors of the trees on the far bank of the Potomac River.

I finally stirred, got my bags together, and went to retrieve Beau for the back-breaking trip.

I got Beau from the livery stable, and thank heavens, didn’t owe any additional money for his upkeep. I had decided to take the River Road straight north from Harpers Ferry, rather than going west to Halltown and then north on the Shepherdstown Pike to Shepherdstown.

I understood that it wasn’t as good a road, but it cut about 2 miles off the trip. Any less time spent riding Beau was appreciated. I got directions to River Road from the livery stable owner, mounted Beau, and began the sacroiliac-destroying ride.

I learned that the River Road to Shepherdstown was mostly used by the locals whose farms were located north of Harpers Ferry. The main road from Harpers Ferry, through Halltown, to Shepherdstown was mostly used by the traveling public. I stopped on the way out of town at a local mercantile store and purchased some bread and cheese for my lunch along the way.

We (meaning Beau and I) had journeyed about five miles and were two hours into the ride when I saw some cavalry troopers riding toward me. They were covered in dust, and it was hard to ascertain if they were Confederate or Union.

Cavalry ColumnThe leader halted the troop of about 30 men in front of me and asked where I was going. I answered that I was going to Shepherdstown. He wanted to know if there were any cavalry in Harpers Ferry. I answered truthfully that I hadn’t seen any.

I kept looking into his eyes, but in the periphery of my vision, I saw that he didn’t have any insignia on his collar. He did wear two insignia stripes on his shoulders.

This was a Yankee detachment bent on some mischief in or near Harpers Ferry.

He bid me good day, and I touched the brim of my hat to him. They rode off in a hurry as I sat there, not knowing how to alert the Confederate garrison in Harpers Ferry.

About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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