Civil War Transcendence, part 243

When Captain Greenley rode up, I saluted and asked, “Captain, we might have a fight on our hands in a less than an hour. Can you dispatch 10 troopers to follow me up the road on a reconnaissance?”

“Yes Lieutenant,” he responded and motioned for the first 10 troopers in his company to come forward.

By this time, our cavalcade had entered the Harpers Ferry Road.  As the troopers advanced to our position, the Captain ordered them, “You are now under the command of Lieutenant Hager.”

Their sergeant saluted the Captain, then turned to me saluted and said, “Lieutenant, we await your orders.”

I returned the salute and said, “Follow Sergeant Madigan forward. I need to talk with Captain Greenley.”

Al continued moving forward and the small contingent followed him.

Antietam Creek

Antietam Creek

I turned to Captain Greenley and said, “You are at the head of the column and need to provide protection from any surprise attacks. You will momentarily cross the Antietam Creek and will encounter a road going off to your left, which is actually going west.  Take this road and put out flankers and advance scouts. The road I have described will continue west for about a mile and then it forks. Take the left fork, which will take you almost due north.  I am going to take your 10 troopers and make sure that Yanks aren’t on the right fork in some sort of ambush. If you hear us firing, send another 20 of your troopers toward me as soon as possible. However, you need to personally continue to command the rest of your company and to provide protection for the column. Do you have any questions?”

The Captain sort of looked at me for a moment as if processing what I had said. Then he said, “No, Lieutenant, I believe I understand.”

“Good,” I responded.

We saluted, and I turned Stonewall toward the south and nudged him with my boots.

As usually, I had to hold on for dear life as my steed played the devil with my back when he whirled and jumped forward.  It was like having a whiplash of the body and not just the neck.  Anyway, we crossed the Antietam, turned left at the road I described to the Captain, and caught up with Al and the troopers in no time.

We loped in a two abreast formation for about ¾ of a mile.  I finally raised my hand to stop and reined in Stonewall.  We all settled down to a walk, which gave the horses time to catch their wind.  As we approached the fork in the road, I pulled a Colt and so did Al. The rest of the contingent followed suit.  I turned to the men and said, “The main body is going to take the left fork. We are going in fast on the right fork to see if there is a Yank ambush lying in wait. We might draw fire. If we do, return fire and shoot to kill.”

The looks on the men’s faces seemed to harden, which I was glad to see. I ordered, “Okay, let’s go.” I kicked Stonewall and held on for dear life.

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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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