“Alright Jim. You’re making sense. We have a contingent of about 500 men at Harpers Ferry,” the Major said.
I looked at him for a long moment and then mused, “So the number of men they have really isn’t enough to take Harpers Ferry.”
“No it’s not, but it is enough to keep us occupied while a larger force moves south toward Richmond,” he concluded.
“So they probably will send a force south through Pleasant Valley from Boonsboro to hit Harpers Ferry from the west and keep us occupied, while a larger force on the other side of South Mountain will flow south,” I presumed.
“Yes, that is what I believe and will telegraph my conclusions to Headquarters in Richmond in the morning.”
“Major, may I make a suggestion?” I queried.
The Major turned a worried look in my direction and nodded.
“Why don’t you let me ride to Shepherdstown and telegraph your message tonight? I don’t believe there’s a moment to lose based upon the slip of the tongue by that Yankee commander to Mr. Sage. Also, if the Yankee legion coming from Boonsboro could be ambushed and pushed back to Boonsboro, it would open a way for the larger Yankee Army east of South Mountain to have its supply line cut and their advance stymied.”
The Major’s face broke into a fierce grin. “You and I must be of the same kith and kin. That was just what I was a-thinkin’. But aren’t you pretty well bushed from all your feats of daring do?” he chided with a laugh.
“I hate to leave Stonewall here, but if you gave me a fresh horse, I believe I can be in Shepherdstown in two hours and have your message on the way to Richmond a lot quicker than anyone trying to get to Harpers Ferry and have it sent from there,” I deduced.
“Jim, I will have the message ready for you in half an hour,” he promised. “Corporal, bring me some more paper and a new quill, now. And get a fresh horse for Mr. Hager!”
I walked out of the Major’s tent and was immediately met by the Corporal, who assigned a Private to get me a fresh horse from the picket line. I walked over to Stonewall and put my hands on either side of his jawline and gently rubbed and patted him while speaking in a gentle voice, “Well Pard, we did good work today. Sorry I can’t take you to Shepherdstown, but you need the rest. Hopefully, I will see you a couple of days.”
Stonewall closed his eyes and enjoyed the massage.