The Yanks were riding ‘Hell Bent for Leather’. They wanted to catch up with us so bad that they weren’t really in any type of formation. They were crowded together in a gaggle as they came around the sharp bend in the road.

I didn’t hesitate when they came within range. I stepped out on what was left of a small front porch and began firing at the lead riders, first one Colt and then the other. I saw one rider fall from the front of the pack and create mass confusion when the riders behind him tried to maneuver their horses to keep from trampled him.

Al added to donnybrook by firing into their right flank. Another rider fell from his gunfire.  It was pure chaos.  The Yanks didn’t have their sabers unsheathed, their pistols pulled or their carbines out of the sockets. Apparently, their leader was in such an ‘all fire hurry’ that he forgot a basic tenet of a unit. Have your men armed and ready to fight at all times.

236 rider shot

The fracas was almost amusing.  Horses trampled downed riders. Riders careened off each other causing their horses to start bucking. We kept shooting. I emptied the two Colts in my hands, shoved them in my belt, pulled my last pistol and began shooting again. Al was doing a better job. He was deliberately aiming his pistols and not wasting his shots. Another Yank went down. I guess that was the straw that broke the camel’s back, because in one accord, they turned tail and galloped back the way they came.  I kept firing as they rode away and saw one of the Yanks grab his shoulder, but the bullet didn’t unhorse him.

Al yelled, “Let’s get!”

I nodded, and putting my half empty Colt in my belt, I ran back through the shack, untied Stonewall, mounted and rode around the edifice back into the road.

Al joined me there and we looked down on our handiwork. Two Yanks lay in the road and looked horrific. They must have been trampled by their fellow riders. Another Yank lay in a ditch on Al’s side of the road with an exaggerated crook in his neck probably the result of a fall from his horse.

“How many did you count that got away?” Al asked.


“Well, we best git before they get up thar gumption and come back.”

I nodded. We turned toward the west and the C&O Canal Path and kicked our cayuses into a gallop.  As usual, I had to hold on for dear life when Stonewall took to wing.

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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