Tom and I nudged our steeds to follow Al. I had to grab the front part of the saddle because Stonewall’s initial surge nearly emptied me from the saddle. He had definitely gotten his strength back. Al directed us south on the C&O canal path at a gentle lope that wasn’t too tiring for our horses.
After about 30 minutes I urged Stonewall forward. Once I came along side Al, I asked,
“Where are we bound?”
“To just north of the Antietam Creek Aqueduct. There is a way to get across the canal there and head east for South Mountain,” he responded.
I nodded and pulled Stonewall back to behind Tom’s cayuse.
We made good time and reached the road leading from the canal path over the C&O Canal. We walked our horses for a while letting them catch their wind. While we meandered along, Al looked off into space as if weighing circumstances and possible scenarios. He suddenly seemed to come to a conclusion. He reined his horse to a stop and insisted, “We gotta palaver.”
Tom and I looked at each other and I said, “Go on.”
“Well, Jim,” he said tentatively and looked at me to see if I would chastise him for the familiar use of my name. I just looked at him and waited for his contemplations. He continued, “It’s like this. Tha way south has no way to cross tha range of steep hills just ahead of us that run from about two miles south of herah to just below Keedysville to the nawth. And even if thar were a way across the range, tha Blue Ridge Mountain Range parallels these here hills to the east and thar ain’t no way acrost it until ya go all tha way down south ta Weverton, Marraland on tha Potomac, where ya kin hit a road that links up with the Pleasant Valley Road coming out of Boonsboro. So if’n we’s to go south, that’s tha only way that artillery could travel, but ‘twould take too long. Howsomeever, if’n we went straight ahead from here ova to Mills Road and headed nawth, we will come to the Lower Bridge Road that heads due east and goes thru gaps in both mountain ranges and hits the Trego Road. This road runs on the west side of Pleasant Valley and is west of Rohrsville, which would be a good place to hit the Yanks. Or, we can continue down Trego Road until it hits the main Pleasant Valley Road and go along it for about a mile, then branch off to the west on tha Kaetzell Road. This would take us the back way into Brownsville, which is whar you really wanted to go. The only problems are running into Yank patrols coming south out of Keedysville or running into the main Yank force on the Pleasant Valley Road south of Rohrsville. This route would save time, but could get us into a fight with some Yanks. So, it’s up to you. Which way do ya want to go?”
I looked at him and said, “Nawth.”
He grinned and again decreed, “Follow me.”