Once we were out of ear shot and couldn’t be hear by the troopers or any night traffic on the Valley Road, I stopped and turned to Captain Edwards. He seemed agitated and tired. The stress of having the dual mission of keeping the Valley Traffic from moving north and of hitting the Yank column head on was daunting.
In a low voice I said, “Don’t worry about the Valley Traffic. Tell any travelers coming up from the south that there is a quarantine of the Gapland area due to bad water that has produced Cholera. They’ll need to either go back south, then west, and then north up the Chestnut Road which is on the other side of the Blue Ridge Mountains to our west. Or, they should go south, then east to the other side of South Mountain, and then head north on the Mountain Church Road. If they ask why Rebs are in Maryland and dictating a detour, tell them that both the Union and Confederate Governments were cooperating to remove this threat to the health of the whole western area. If after those explanations they give you any trouble, just put them under arrest and hold them until you hit the Yank Column.”
“In regard to the Yank column, I don’t know how long the enemy column will be allowed to progress pass Gapland before the Major hits their flanks. The head of their column might move further south than your position here. So keep a sharp lookout, so if you need to move further south using these hills to mask your movement and thus be able to swing onto the Valley Road and hit them head on, feel free to do so.”
After my little speech, I believe the Captain looked a bit relieved. I hoped this gave him some additional ideas of what to expect and how to carry out his missions. I extended my hand and he shook it.
I added, “Good luck Captain. Better let your men get as much rest as possible. Just remember to not be afraid to act if things go wrong. You will know best the situation and what to do.”
He nodded and we walked back to the troop. I mounted Stonewall, saluted the Captain, who returned my salute, and rode back toward Major Mosby’s position.
I crossed the Valley Road to the eastern side of the road behind a line of hills and loped a very tired Stonewall north. We stopped at the southern road that branched off the Valley Road and proceeded up to Crampton’s Gap. I pulled out my pocket watch and read 12’o’clock midnight by the light of the moon. I couldn’t believe we had progressed from the camp along the Potomac River to finally disposition of all the troops in one day.
I nudged a groggy Stonewall until he was awake. Then we crossed the Gapland Road and walked toward Mosby’s temporary headquarters.