Civil War Transcendence, Part 65


I tried to think of ways to contact the Confederate Garrison at Harpers Ferry.

The fastest way would be by telegraph, but there were no cities on this road that had a telegraph. Also, there were no Chesapeake & Ohio canal locks on the other side of the Potomac that I could contact to send a messenger. Lastly, there was no railroad in the vicinity that I could flag down to send a message to Harpers Ferry.

If I could contact a boat on the Potomac River, which ran close to the River Road, I could get them to send a message, but it would take them a long time to arrive in Harpers Ferry.

I finally decided that the only way to get word to the Confederates was to ride to Harpers Ferry myself.

I would have to ride like the wind and somehow get past the Union Troops. I sure wasn’t going to do this on Beau.Black Stallion

I looked around for the nearest farm house, but none was in site. I kicked Beau like the dickens and got him to a fast trot headed north. A two story house loomed in the distance, and I kept Beau moving until I entered the front yard of the house.

A lady in a homespun dress came out on the porch to see who I was and asked, “What’s ya doing stranger?”

I quickly explained that I had to get word to the Confederates in Harpers Ferry, since a Union Cavalry Patrol was headed that way. I gave her a quick synopsis of meeting the Cavalry on the road.

I asked if she had any fast horses that I could ride back to Harpers Ferry. The lady eyeballed Beau, and after looking me up and down, let out a huff.

I reassured her that what I had stated was truthful and that I would return the horse as soon as I had alerted the Confederate garrison. I added that I was the new school teacher in Shepherdstown, and Mr. Throckmorton, the local banker could vouch for me.

I guess the latter statement sort of gave her the okay to trust me, and she said, “There’s a black stallion in the barn, but you’ll have to saddle him yourself.”

I thanked her and kicked Beau into another fast trot to the barn.

I didn’t have as much trouble with the stallion as I thought I would. He was in a stall, and although he wasn’t familiar with me, he allowed me to put a horse blanket and saddle on his back and clinch it up tight. Thank heavens I remembered how to tie all the straps from my horse riding days as a youth!

I tied up Beau and mounted the stallion.

I headed back to the house, and the lady came back out on the porch. I asked her the name of the horse.

“Sampson,” she replied.

She asked if I had any firearms, and when I said no, handed me a six shot Colt pistol.

She said if I was going to get past the Yanks, I would have to skirt to the west or right side of the road. The east or left side of the road was too steep and dropped off toward the river.

I thanked her profusely and headed Sampson toward Harpers Ferry. I kicked him hard, and we took off like a bullet.

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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