We didn’t know if the Yanks would follow, but we were taking no chances. We galloped the horses until we came to the Harpers Ferry Road, which connects Harpers Ferry with Sharpsburg, Maryland.

Once we crossed this main road, we walked the horses for about 200 yards and let them to catch their wind. Then we cantered them further west and luckily there was an access to the C&O path, which ran next to the C&O canal. Once on the path, we alternated loping the horses and then walking them until we came to the mouth of the Antietam Creek.

237 pocket watch

I was hoping that at the confluence of the Antietam and the Potomac that we would encounter Confederate pickets, but there were none there.  I pulled out my 19th Century time piece and marveled that it was only 12:30. I automatically rewound the watch and began to muse on all the happenings since we woke up at Hawks’ cabin this morning.

This was the first time we really had a chance to reflect on what had occurred this day. A pain hit my heart when I thought of Tom.  I had to swallow the anguish and make myself think of the mission we needed to complete. Al had been deep in thought, too. So when I let out a sigh, he turned his head and looked at me.   I nodded to him and again we began to lope the horses along the canal path.

It was about another hour before we ran into the first advanced pickets, which were at the junction of the C&O path and the Miller Sawmill Road. They had been told to be on the lookout for us, and we were ushered into camp and immediately taken to Major Mosby’s tent.

The major was sitting at his desk looking over a map when we entered.  He stood and we saluted. He returned the salute and, looking at me said, “Well, have you got the information that we need?”

I nodded in the affirmative.

He looked at Al and said, “That will be all private.”

I raised my hand and offered, “Major, I would like for Al to stay. His expertise is needed for the execution of a plan we would like to discuss.”

The Major’s eyebrows went up both for my informal naming of Private Madigan and for a possible plan to stop the Yanks foray against Harpers Ferry. The Major looked at us for a moment and then asked, “Where’s Sergeant Canes?”

I lowered my head and almost whispered, “We wouldn’t be here with this information if Tom hadn’t sacrificed himself to stop the pursue of Yank cavalry on our tail this morning.”

I looked up and locked eyes with the Major with a sad continuance.  He held my gaze for a moment then declared, “What do y’all have for 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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