Mosby gestured to Al and me to follow him. He led us out of earshot of the column to the rear of one of the vacant houses, turned and asked, “Sergeant, do ya have any other clothes besides your uniform that ya can wear? The reason being, I wan y’all to sneak down south without arousing any attention to yaself and ride up to Crampton’s Gap. I gotta know what we can expect once we get up therah tomorrow.”
Al responded, “Colonel, I ‘spect I kin find some clothes in one of these herah houses that I can use.”
“Good,” Mosby replied, “cause as soon as ya can get dressed, I wantcha to move out.”
I sort of took a deep breath and rejoined, “Yes, Sir.” I looked at Al and said, “Pick a house.”
He grinned, went to the backdoor of the house behind which we had our parlay and entered. Mosby left and I hung around the house for Al to reappear.
I waited about 15 minutes and was just about to check on Al’s progress when he walked out the backdoor looking for all the world like a farmer going to weekend market. He had shed his uniform trousers and frock coat and had donned dirty gray cotton pants that covered his brogans, a dull blue shirt and a black shell jacket. He had even switched his gray cavalry hat for a battered black felt hat. He left his jacket open and I was able to see three pistols in the belt he wore to hold up his pants. He didn’t have any bracers on for additional means to support his trousers. He grinned at me and I grinned back.
“Jim, was ya getting antsy?” he asked.
I just nodded and said, “Sure was. This is gonna be a very dangerous assignment. I wanna get it over with quick as we can.”
“Ya reckon our saddles will give us away?” he asked.
“I don’t know. We’ll just have ta chance it,” I answered.
“Well then, let’s git,” he stated.
We walked to our cayuses. I stopped for a moment and massaged Stonewall’s jaws and his forehead. He closed his eyes as usual and seemed to go into deep meditation.
In a low voice I muttered, “Thanks fellow for all tha danger you’ve allowed me to put ya through today without one complaint. I’m afraid we both will be pretty tuckered out once this campaign is over. I promise ya a big mess of oats and some rest time when it’s over.”
Stonewall sort of nudged me with his nose as if he understood what I said.
Al had already mounted and said, “Are ya talking to that therah hoss again? Ya know he don’t know wha you’re saying.”
“He knows,” I retorted.
Al chuckled and added, “ Ya know, Jim, I didn’t know I would have such excitin’ adventures when the Colonel assigned me to ya. But your talking to animals sort of puts all this into a different category.”
I snickered as I mounted Stonewall and thought, ‘Al, you don’t know the half of it.’