I looked down the road and could see nothing due to the setting of the moon. The darkened landscape could not be reconnoitered with any semblance of finding a good ambush site. I thought for a moment and, turning to Al, asked, “Is there a place in this area where we can camp for what’s left of the night and in the morning have a clear view of this area? I need to see the amount of traffic and the best place to ambush the Yank column.”
He looked at me for a moment and then looked down the road. Finally, he looked back at me and said, “I tell ya what. Thars an old friend of our family what lives just a ways down Kaetzell Road. He ain’t a Union man nor a Secessionist, but at times he has rented out slaves from a man in Brownsville to help him on his farm. I don’t think he’d mind us bunking with him for a night as long as we cleared out in tha morning. We can go up tha mountain behind his house for a clear look at tha countryside come daylight.”
“Do you think he would report us to the Yanks?” I muttered.
“I don’t think so. I can tell him we’s just wanting to see what the Yanks have been doing on this side of Crampton’s Gap. Just a harmless look see of the area.”
“Can we give him something to make it worthwhile for his silence?” I added.
Chuckling, Al looked back down the road and crooned, “Well, do ya have any greenbacks? He’d really like those.”
“How many do you think it would take?” I retorted.
It was funny. In fact, I had a good chuckle myself. Both Al and Tom had been looking down the road, but with my last utterance their heads snapped around to look at me.
“Ya mean it?” Al asked in a flabbergasted voice.
“Yeah, I meant it. How many?” I reiterated.
Al looked at me in a daze for a moment and speculated, “Oh, ‘bout five greenbacks oughta do it.”
I grinned and extended my arm down the road and pontificated, “Then lead on, Macduff.”
I could feel the eyes of both men looking at me with some apprehension. I chuckled and intoned, “Let’s go.”
Al suddenly kicked his horse and started off at a trot. Tom and I followed suit. In just a few hundred yards, Al veered off to the right on what must have been Kaetzell Road. We passed only two houses, but they were well off the road. We continued moving southwest, and at the top of a gentle rise, Al stopped. To the right of the road was a house setting back in the woods. Al motioned me forward and whispered, “Let me do all tha talking. This here man drinks a lot and I ain’t gonna vouch for how clean tha house will be. His name is Earl Hawks.”
I nodded and we followed Al up a lane to the Hawks homestead.