Civil War Transcendence, part 96


Captain Mosby took me into his quarters and dismissed the sentry.  He offered me a seat and a glass of bourbon, which I readily accepted.  Once he had brought his chair from around his desk, so that we were face to face and only about three feet apart, he asked me to tell him what happened.

I related the whole occurrence, including my crude response at the conclusion of the fracas and my hasty departure.

At the end of my tale, Mosby just sat there and looked at me for what seemed like hours, but was probably only about 60 seconds.

Finally he said, “Hager, undeniably, you are the most perplexing person I have ever met. You are full of surprises.

“I was told by the town marshal this afternoon, before you arrived with the news about the Yank cavalry, that a person had gotten away from being robbed by Jones Gill last night.

“When we were at the Newcomer’s, you shared that you had been at the newspaper office today.  The marshal had mentioned that the victim who had been jumped by Gill and his brother had just come from the newspaper office.

“I never believed in my wildest dreams that the person that got away from the Gills was you.  But it was you, wasn’t it?”

I just nodded my head.

Mosby added, “I just now made the connection about the Gills.

“Well my friend, you really know how to make an impression.  First, you get away from the two worst characters in the region, and then you best the meanest bare hands fighter in Western Virginia.

“Good Lord! You are going to have everybody in the area trying to pick a fight with you, just to see if they can whip the man that bested Ahab Dugan. Plus, Ahab will be after you in the foreseeable future.”

bare knuckles boxing

I just stared at him in stunned silence.

Then I blurted, “What do you mean the meanest bare hands fighter in western Virginia?”

Mosby retorted, “About 30 years ago, Ahab was a field slave for the employer of our dinner host’s father, Mr. Newcomer, Sr., who had seen Ahab fight for his employer against all comers. Ahab had earned a lot of fight money bets for his master. Mr. Newcomer, Sr. somehow procured Ahab his freedom, and he has been the guardian angel, if you want to call it that, for the Newcomers ever since. And I understand that anyone that has ever crossed the Newcomers has never lived to tell about it. Supposed they were visited by your new-found nemesis, Ahab.

“Man, when you step into a bed of snakes, you do it in style. Jones Gill and his brother Seaborne aren’t going to take kindly to being outdone by a school teacher either. They have a reputation to uphold.”

The impact of what I had done, and who I had done it to, literally took my breath away.

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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