As we cleared the Confederate Camp and headed south along the C&O Canal, I asked, “Do either of you know what we are supposed to do?”

Sergeant Canes and Private Madigan exchanged glances, and finally Sarge Canes answered, “Naw sah. We was just told to do whatever ya wants us to do.”

I looked at Canes with a bewildered stare. Abruptly, I questioned, “Well, are either of you
familiar with this part of the country?”

Sarge Canes replied,”I ain’t, but Madigan is.” Again, I looked perplexed.

I stopped abruptly and looked at the men. I began, “Well, first off, we need to get rid of all this ‘Yes Sir’ and ‘No Sir’ rigmarole. We have a long way to go and a short time to get there and back. Sergeant Canes, what is your name?”

“Thomas James Canes,” he proudly responded.

I turned to Private Madigan and said, “And your name?”

“Alfred Wayne Madigan.”
“Well, from now on we are on an equal footing. I am not a Lieutenant, I am Jim. Sergeant, you are no longer an NCO, you are Tom and Private, you are no longer a Private, you are Al. Does that meet with y’all’s approval?”

Both men were taken aback by the familiarity that I proposed, but they thought about it for a moment, then they both nodded in the affirmative.

“Listen, we have to find a place for Major Mosby to ambush the Yanks that will be leaving Boonsboro and heading south to seize Harpers Ferry. He said to find a fitting place for this ambush in Pleasant Valley. Al, are you familiar with the territory from here to the east, all the way to South Mountain?”

222 mountain gaps“Yes Sah, I mean, yes. I am.”

I thought for a moment and tried to retrieve in my mind the map of Pleasant Valley, Maryland. I remembered that Hwy 67 ran from Boonsboro to just west of Weverton in my universe. I also remembered that there were two gaps south of Boonsboro that crossed South Mountain. Tom and Al were starting to get fidgety and I knew they wanted to move.

Suddenly I turned to Al and asked, “Is Brownsville Gap passable for artillery?”

He gaped at me with a shocked stare and then finally uttered, “Naw Sah.”

I narrowed my eyes at him and he stammered, “I mean, no Jim.”

I then asked, “How about Crampton’s Gap?”

“Yes,” he answered.

“Is the road on the east side of the Gap still passable?”

Again he stared at me in wonder. “Yes, it tiz.”

“Is there more than one road leading from the Pleasant Valley road up to Crampton’s Gap?” I ventured.

“Naw, there ain’t,” he responded.

“Then we need to reconnoiter both north and south of the road going from the Pleasant Valley road up to Crampton’s Gap. Can you get us to that area in the double quick?”

“Jim, that I can do!” he answered with a grin.

Al spurred his horse and ordered us, “Follow me.”

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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