Al and I froze in our tracks. I didn’t move my head, but my eyes darted in all directions. I couldn’t see anyone.
Then we heard, “Drop them thar hawg legs you gots hidin’ behind yar breeches.”
Al and I gently let our Colts fall to the ground.
Next the voice said, “Back up 10 paces and put yar hands in tha air.”
Again we complied.
Finally, three men came from trees in the distance with weapons trained on us. I looked at them with a furrowed brow. They were too far away to be the source of the voice giving the commands.
As the men approached one of them said, “Clancy, ya and Jeb can come down now.”
I was astonished that two men began to climb down from the closest tree to the campfire. It didn’t seem that the voice had come from above us, but apparently it had.
Quickly we were confronted with 5 men aiming weapons at us. Two had muskets, one had a shotgun and two had cavalry carbines. They didn’t have on uniforms per se, but they had a military air about them. I did spy one of the men had on a Confederate gray wide brim hat with the yellow tassels indicating cavalry.
I suddenly piped up, “Who are you people?”
The man that had ordered the men out of the trees retorted, “We might ask ya tha same, friend.”
Sensing we might be amongst our own, I took our lives in my hands and answered, “Lieutenant Hager and Sergeant Madigan, Confederate Cavalry. Now who are you?”
The leader said, “It’s okay boys,” and lowered his carbine. The rest of his men followed suit.
“I heard of you from John Mosby,” he informed me. “How is ole Johnny Boy now days,” he asked in a highly unceremonious tone.
“He’s doin just fine, but who are ya and why are ya up herah?” I demanded in an exasperated tone.
“Lieutenant, you and the Sergeant can pick up yar hawg legs. We was sent up herah by Captain Mosby ta make surah that tha Yanks hadn’t occupied this herah Gap. And by tha way, my name is Captain Bill Quantrill,” he added.
I know my mouth dropped open and I must have looked at him like a goggle-eyed gaping ape, because he laughed out loud at my humorous expression.
My mind was racing so fast that my words got twisted in utterance, “But ya… I mean … ya can’t be herah… ya just can’t be… ya’re supposed ta be in Kansas.”
“What?” the famous raider replied.
Taking on a ghastly look he indignantly told me in a self-righteous voice, “I ain’t nevah been ta Kansas in my life. I was raised in Virginny and know’d John Mosby all my life. We’s a company of Partisan Rangers, who’s been sent up herah by him to keep tha Yanks from taking this Gap before he makes it up herah with his command tomorrow.”
During this highly unsettling discourse, Al must have picked up my Colt for me because he nudged me and, handing it to me, said in an amused tone, “Herah, ya might need this.”
I turned to him and, when he got the full impact of my facial expression, he turned serious and stated, “Jim, ya look like ya seen a haint.”