Civil War Transcendence, part 187


Photo Credit: Horse in the dark by

Photo Credit: Horse in the dark by

I had been indigent in not taking care of my newly acquired personal mode of transportation when I arrived at Hattie’s place, so even though Major Mosby wanted me forthwith, I decided to water and feed my horse. There were oats in the barn, and I got some water from the river for the steed.  I gave him just a little grain and didn’t let him drink too much water.

While performing all these chores, I decided on giving him a name. I chose Stonewall.  I took the time of looking him over from his muzzle to his forehead, to his withers, to his dock, and finally to his tail.  He was totally black except for the coronet and pastern of his left front leg, which were white. His tail had been cropped off just above his point of hock, and he had a U.S. brand on his right buttock.

He wasn’t too large or too small. My dad could have told me how many hands tall he was, but I didn’t know how to perform that type of measure.  I also didn’t have the knowledge to judge his age, but he was passive enough to let me pull his lips back to view his teeth and gums without too much trouble. He wasn’t missing any teeth and they weren’t worn down badly, plus the gums weren’t a weird color, so I declared him a fit cayuse.

His eyes had a semi-intelligent look, and he wasn’t spooked easily when I made any sudden moves.  He wasn’t as spirited as Sampson, the Throckmorton’s horse, but he wasn’t as dumb as Beauregard, the sawed off horse I had rented from the local livery stable and ridden to Harpers Ferry, by a long shot, either.

Once Stonewall had finished his victuals and water, I saddled him and stood in front of him, holding his bridle so that we looked at each other eye to eye.  He didn’t blink or try to pull away from me.  I said in a low voice, “Stonewall.” Then I hugged his neck. His ears went back, but he didn’t try to dislodge me. I mounted and we rode off toward the Confederate camp.

I arrived at the picket line at about mid-afternoon and was ushered to Major Mosby’s tent.  His orderly motioned me through to the inner sanctum, where I found Mosby poring over a map.  He looked up and said, “Well, there you are. Take a seat and look at this map. We are going to have company in the next few days. I am going to need some information as to where the Union forces will be moving to flank our position on the Virginia side of the Potomac, plus any other information as to the number of troops coming at us from the Maryland side of the river.  Can you get this type of information for us?”

Looking at the map, I thought for a moment and asked, “Are there other crossings of the Potomac besides Williamsport to the north or Harpers Ferry to the south?”

This made the major raise his eyebrows. “How do you know about Williamsport?” he demanded.

“I know about the geography of this area, plus down the Potomac toward Washington. Are the only major points of crossing the Potomac south of Harpers Ferry at Point of Rocks, Cheek’s Ford and White’s Ford?”

This made the major turn and look me with a surprised expression. Then his gaze narrowed and he demanded, “Once again, Mr. Hager, how do you know about these crossings if you aren’t from this area?”


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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