“I got a message from Regional Headquarters in Richmond,” Major Mosby advised me. “We are now under tha command of General Turner Ashby.”
“As soon as we stop tha movement of tha Yanks toward Harpers Ferry, we’re to cross South Mountain and report to him where tha Gapland Road from Burkittsville meets tha road coming up from Point of Rocks ford on tha Potomac. This’ll be near Jefferson, Maryland.”
“We are to report to him in three days. He will wait on us for one day. If we don’t show up, he will assume we ran into difficulties and will proceed without us toward Frederick, Maryland.”
“So tha fifth problem is,” Mosby added with a twinkle in his eye, “How’re we gonna get our artillery over South Mountain in time to report to General Ashby four days from now?”
I looked at him with a bewildered stare and shrugged. I turned to Al and he just looked dazed.
The Major followed my gaze and said, “Oh yes, Sgt. Madigan, this is confidential information and, if I hear any rumors of where we are supposed to be doing before we move out, you will be put in tha brig at Harpers Ferry. Do I make myself clear?”
Al’s jaw dropped open and he had a fearful expression on his face, but then the Major’s words sunk in and he stammered, “Did you say Sgt. Madigan, Sir?”
“I most certainly did?” responded the Major.
Al immediately saluted and stated, “Ya can rely on me Major to keep anything said herah to myself.”
The Major nodded his acceptance. Then he turned back to me. “Well, Lieutenant, what’s ya answer?”
I began, “I know we have about three mountain howitzers and two rifled cannon. I was gonna propose taking only the rifled cannon. The howitzers are useless for the accuracy needed for our ambush.”
The Major grinned again and said, “How about we don’t take any of our cannon and use tha Yankee cannon instead?”
I stared at him for a long moment and then said, “Okay, but will they have the light weight cannon we need for our fast moving unit?”
“It doesn’t matter. We will take only two Yankee cannon, spike the rest and use the additional teams of horses to move over South Mountain and meet General Ashby,” Mosby replied.
I looked him in the eye and said with a chuckle, “And I thought I had a bold plan. You definitely have a much more daring strategy.”
He smiled back and said, “Well, we best get on with it. Y’all get your gear together and get your supplies replenished. Jim, I want you and Sgt. Madigan to lead tha command to where we will be deployed. I also want ya to be in charge of posting tha blocking forces on tha way to Pleasant Valley. I will have command of tha blocking forces in the Valley and tha main body of men. Once we arrive at the deployment area, I want you and the Sgt to ride up to Crampton’s Gap and scout out what tha situation is up therah.”
I looked at Al and we both turned and saluted Major Mosby. We sort of just stood there looking at him with an awed expression on our faces.
Finally, he ordered, “Move.”