As I was about to explain we had left the camp before a password was issued, Al challenged, “Jerimiah, is that’s you?”
I jerked my head in Al’s direction. I couldn’t see his face due to the darkness, but I saw him raise his hand in abeyance of any question I might have.
“Who’s that?” came the answering challenge from out of the gloom.
“It’s Al. You ole varmit.” Al retorted with a chuckle.
“What’s y’all a-doin’ outside the camp this late at nite?” came a return inquiry.
“We’s been on a special mission for Major Mosby and, if’n ya don’t let us in to see him, he’s gonna have your guts for garters.”
This possible punishment must have broken the log jam because we quickly heard, “Alright, come on in.”
We walked our horses forward and were suddenly surrounded by six troopers with carbines. A soldier, who must have been Jerimiah, walked forward from the group. He came first to my side and looked at me closely. Then he walked behind me and approached Al. Looking up at Al, he extended his hand and uttered, “Al, you ole warthog, what cha doing out at this time of night?”
Al laughed and shaking Jerimiah’s hand answered, “We been up on the mountain to check the Gap for Major Mosby. We rode out before the password was issued.”
“Well, ya need to be more careful. If’n ya got to go out again, the password is Frederick,” he informed.
“I promise to be more careful in the future,” Al vowed. “Jeri, by the way, where is Major Mosby right now?”
“Don’t rightly know. Three companies are just about ready to lite out and be deployed. He’s moving around among ‘em and tellin’ ‘em to be quiet as church mice. All the troopers had to make sure they don’t got no equipment that will jangle, and the Major has threatened death if’n anyone talks before we been deployed. But I betcha by now he’s probably at the head of the column that’s riding out,” Jerimiah disclosed.
“Thanks Jeri. Take care of ya’self,” Al replied.
Then we trotted out of the knot of soldiers and headed toward Rohersville Station.
After trotting about 400 yards, we ran into scouts and flankers of the main column. It was eerie how quietly they moved. There was no banging of canteens against saddles or slapping of carbines again the flanks of the horses. Apparently Mosby’s threats had been believed. The small wave of horsemen engulfed us and then flowed past us into the obscurity of the night. We stopped to wait on the main body, and in a few minutes, the tsunami of our contingent surged toward us. Mosby was at the head of the column, and as he approached, we could see him lock his gaze on us. Once he was within 10 yards, he just motioned for us to accompany him. Al and I flanked him.
Mosby turned to me and whispered, “What cha find in the Gap?”
I matched Mosby’s low voice with, “Quantrill’s up thar with some men. He’ll be reinforced all night with his Partisans.”
Mosby just nodded and looking heavenward muttered, “God grant.”