Lieutenant Pelham was very thorough. He sent me home to rest and told me he would send his best riders to the Martinsburg’s Garrison and another to Harpers Ferry to deliver Major Mosby’s message. He also was going to send a message to Mosby with a description of what had happened. I thanked him profusely.

Pelham rode off to the Confederate camp across the Potomac to gather his riders and then to Ferry Hill to copy Mosby’s message and write his description for Mosby.

I meandered to an old set of stone steps that were three risers high located on German Street. These steps began from the wood sidewalk on the left side of the street and ended abruptly with the climber three steps higher than the sidewalk and facing German Street. It was utilized for short guys like me with huge horses so we could mount them without having to perform feats of mountain scaling just to get on our cayuses.

I finally got Goliath positioned so I could climb up the steps and then jump in the saddle. Once mounted, I headed to Hattie’s Place.

Isleepy cowboy dozed off during the trek, and Goliath stopped, because he didn’t know where he was supposed to go. I don’t know how long I was out, but I woke abruptly and took in my surroundings. Goliath had craned his neck around and was looking at me with what seemed like a quizzical expression. I could just about hear him think, “Okay, Jim, where’s we gonna go now?”

I laughed in spite of exhaustion and said, “Let’s go.”

Goliath continued on the road out of town and in a few minutes we were at Hattie’s Place.

I again slid off Goliath instead of the standard dismount. I took him into the barn and unsaddled him, but was too tired to give him a rub down. Wearily I mounted the steps to the house porch. The sun was just rising over the tree tops and the sound of the Potomac River was hypnotic in its flow. I stopped on the top stair and turned to look at the glorious beginnings of this wonderful day.

I had one of those moments when all’s right with the world and you feel it is just great to be alive.

I don’t know why my gaze was drawn to the Maryland side of the river, but I thought I had seen the flash of light reflecting off of glass. I shrugged and turned back to enter the house.

I grabbed the door knob, but as I leaned forward, caught my right boot on the top step. I fell forward against the door just as I heard a distant rifle report. I felt a bullet smash into the door about six inches above my head. Almost immediately, I heard a heart-stopping yell.

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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