Looking at the map on the table I inquired, “Does this map depict the terrain east of here all the way to South Mountain?”
The Major nodded his head in the affirmative.
Immediately, I stated, “The Union force will be coming out of Boonsboro day after tomorrow. We have to be in position to hit them from ambush by tomorrow night. The places that I recommend we plant our troops and artillery will allow us to vacate the valley by way of Crampton’s Gap after our assault. However, we will need a lot of blocking forces to guarantee the surprise attack we need to crush the Yankee contingent.”
The Major looked at me with a dazed expression for a long moment and then demanded, “Show me.”
I pointed on the map to the approximately place of our present position and began, “If we leave here tomorrow afternoon and travel south on the C&O path (moving my finger as a guide on the map) to where the Antietam Creek flows into the Potomac, we can exit onto the Mills Road.”
Pointing once again with my finger I began to trace on the map. “Following the Mills Road north, we can turn east on the Lower Bridge Road and follow this road through the pass in the line of steep hills just below Keedysville and the pass in the Blue Ridge Mountains into Pleasant Valley onto the Trego Road. Once in the valley we will take the Trego Road south and follow it down to where it joins the Main Road through Pleasant Valley.”
“Proceeding another mile we will deploy our artillery with a cavalry support troop behind a small knoll east of the Valley Road that has access by two roads up to Crampton’s Gap, which is directly east of the artillery position. Two blocking cavalry companies will be deployed as blocking forces behind a series of hills to the west of the Valley Road both north and south of the artillery positon. The main cavalry will be west of the Valley Road directly across from our artillery position. However, there are four problems.”
The Major studied the map for a few moments to get the suggested disposition of our troops in his mind. Then he turned to me and declared, “I see five problems.”
My stomach was already in my throat just from being so bold to dictate a complex plan to such a veteran military commander, but, when he made his declaration, I turned every shade of red and got a panicked look on my face.
He looked me in the eye, grinned and stated, “I didn’t say I disapproved. I probably see the same problems that you do. Tell me your four problems.”
I breathed a sigh of relief and looked at Al. He grinned back at me. Then I began.