We reached the end of the bridge and rolled out onto Maryland’s shore. Then we started a pull up a steep slope to Ferry Hill. Halfway up, the horses were straining just to keep from sliding backward. The driver knew he needed to rest the horses. He put on the carriage brake, halted the horses, and told one of the servant girls to jump down and chock the wheels to take the strain off the horses. I yelled out that I would apply the chocks and began to bail out of the carriage.
Mrs. Douglas said, “Mr. Hager, you don’t have to do that.”
I answered, “It’s no trouble, Mrs. Douglas.”
As I climbed down from the coach, I happened to look up at the three servants. They had turned and were looking at me with facial features aghast. If I didn’t know better, I would have believed they thought I had three heads. I smiled at them, which made them quickly avert my gaze.
I went around to the rear of the carriage where I saw two large pieces of wood in a trough affixed to a back rail. I picked up the first piece of wood and put it behind the wheel on the left side of the carriage. As I picked up the second piece of wood, I heard some movement in the tree line next to the road.
A voice said, “Okay, y’all, put ya hands in tha air. This here’s a stickup. You, tha man behind the carriage, come around herah so’s I can see ya.”
I was taken aback by the suddenness of the confrontation. I thought quickly and said in a whiny voice, “Please let me get this wheel chocked and I will be right thar.”
By this time I had already chocked the second wheel. I pulled my pistols and coughed a few times really loud to cover the sound of cocking both firearms. I started around the end of the carriage with my hands down to my side, hoping that the pistols weren’t visible in the darkness. Apparently the highwayman didn’t see the Colts because he came out from the tree line and laughed.
Then he said, “Well, this ain’t agonna take long.”
He had a shotgun aimed at me. As I stared down its barrel, it looked like the bore of a 12-pound cannon.
He shifted his gaze to the women in the carriage and said, “Y’all get down out of that thar…”
That was as far as he got. I raised my two pistols and pulled the triggers simultaneously.
Two things happened at once. The highwayman was blown backward in the air and landed on his back. His shotgun fell harmlessly to the ground. The carriage horses decided they were fully rested and took off up the hill like a shot. The two servant girls were thrown back into the carriage on top of Mrs. Douglas, Willie and Daphne. I turned with my two pistols still pointed in the direction of the robber and watched, with mouth agape, the now completely recovered team take the hill in about three seconds flat. Luckily, the driver was able to keep his seat and began to fight to get them under control as they topped the hill and went out of sight.