Civil War Transcendence, Part 67


I reined in Sampson abruptly, dismounted, and put my hand over his nose. I had seen this done a hundred times in the cowboy movies. I hoped it would keep him from answering the whinny from the horse up ahead.

I could barely make out a horse and rider through the thick woods, about 75 yards up the trail. Abruptly, two horsemen rode toward the unknown rider. There ensued a conversation, and the three riders rode back to the River Road.

I had a hard time holding Sampson’s reins with my hand over his nose. He was really acting up, because he wanted to neigh to the three horses. I was able to walk him around and settle him down, but it was a hard job.

I got one good look at the riders as they headed to the road. Two were Yanks, and the third one was a woman. One of the Yanks had her reins and was leading her horse toward the main body of cavalry.

The first thing that entered my mind was: Kidnapped.

I mounted Sampson, and we continued skirting the Yankee column for a few hundred yards. I figured that the Yanks had their hands full with the woman, so her capture had bought me some time.

I started angling Sampson toward the River Road, and after what seemed like an eternity, we hit the main road. I kicked Sampson hard.

This time, I was ready for his burst of speed, and we took off like a shot. I ran him at full gallop for about 20 minutes, but it seemed like an hour. I started to see houses, the closer we got to Harpers Ferry.

Harpers Ferry

Modern photograph of the view riding into Harpers Ferry

Suddenly, the road turned southwest. I wanted to go south, so I left the road and rode cross country toward Bolivar Heights. I guessed that if there were any Confederates in the area, they would have a lookout post on the highest prominence this side of the two rivers.

Sampson was starting to fade; so I let him lope instead of gallop. We hit the road that ran along the top of the heights, and we encountered people walking along the road.

I saw a gentleman in his finery, walking along the road, and reined Sampson to a halt. I asked where the closest Confederate contingent was located. He said straight ahead about two more blocks. I thanked him and kicked Sampson hard.

We rode off in a cloud of dust.

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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