When Mr. Throckmorton returned, we both took turns telling what had occurred during the raid on the town, the Yankee cavalry mission of blowing up the bridge, the escape of one of the prisoners, and the assassination of Marshal Wells. I discretely left out the matter of the dead robber.
But the harrowing experiences we did relate caused Captain Mosby’s body position to change from sitting at the back of his chair to a gradual movement to the edge of his seat. He didn’t interrupt us during our debriefing. When we had finished, he sat back in his chair, steepled his hands together, closed his eyes, and contemplated all the information.
After a few moments, he opened his eyes and said, “On behalf of the Confederate Government, I want to thank you for your patriotic actions. It has been most commendable. Mr. Throckmorton, if you could pass this commendation along to the town via the town council, I would appreciate it.”
Mr. Throckmorton nodded his head and looked at me. He said, “Captain Mosby, I have offered the job of marshal to Mr. Hager, but he has declined the offer. Don’t you think he would make a fine town marshal?”
I turned pale and stuttered, “I’m not, I, ah, mean, I am not suited to that kind of responsibility.”
Captain Mosby laughed softly and, looking at Mr. Throckmorton, declared, “If there was anyone more suited to be a town marshal, I don’t know who it would be.” Then looking at me with a conspiratorial smile he said, “But, I think Mr. Hager might be helpful in a different way.” Both Mr. Throckmorton and I raised our eyebrows at this assessment.
Mr. Throckmorton stated that there was to be a town meeting tonight at the Methodist church and asked if Captain Mosby could speak and assure the town of the government’s protection. He said he would most definitely speak about the protection of the town. The captain asked what time the meeting would start. Mr. Throckmorton said all town meetings started at 7:00 pm. The captain thanked him, and we vowed to be on time for the meeting.
Once outside, the captain saw his squadron’s wagons come into town and said that he had to get the troops billeted for an overnight camp, and asked if we could meet before the gathering tonight. I assented, but begged to have a few hours of sleep due to being up for about 48 hours. He nodded and asked when I could come by their camp, which would be to the south of town. I looked at my watch and saw that it was about noon.
“How about 5:00 pm?” I prompted.
He nodded and, with a very serious look on his face, said, “I have to ask you some very personal questions.”
I visibly gulped as he turned and went to mount his horse.