I was summarily accosted by three troopers suddenly appearing out of nowhere.
One was in front of me. One was on left flank and the last one was on my right flank. They had their carbines pointed at me. Stonewall and I had abruptly come wide awake.
The trooper in front came right up to my right side and in a guarded tone said, “Who are you?”
“Lieutenant Hager,” I replied.
“Okay Lieutenant, you can pass,” he said in a low voice.
I mimicked him by leaning over and whispering, “Where is Major Mosby?”
He turned and pointed toward the northeast. Then he murmured, “About 200 yards.” He saluted and stepped out of the way. I returned his salute and nudged an alert Stonewall forward.
I fast walked Stonewall in the direction the trooper indicated. I passed numerous troopers lying down on blankets with the reins of their horses tied to their boots. Some of the horses were eating what little grass there was in this area behind the hills masking us from the Valley Road off to our west. Other horses seemed to be asleep on their feet.
I determined that this was Captain Owen’s company, which would be the first company to hit the Yank column tomorrow. I proceeded past this company and approached another gaggle of troopers, who I guessed were Captain Greenley’s men. These troopers were also bedded down on blankets with horses’ reins tied to their boots.
I slowed Stonewall to a halt and peered into the darkness to see if I could recognize Mosby. I detected a slight murmuring, and turning toward the sound, I could see three men about 50 yards hence standing off in the road.
I nudged Stonewall and aimed him toward the men. As I approached they stopped their conversation and looked my way. I stopped Stonewall about ten feet from them and dismounted. Mosby came forward and I saluted. I reported in a subdued voice, “Sir, Captain Edwards’ men have been deployed.”
Major Mosby returned the salute and said, “Good. Tie up your horse and come join our cabal,” he muttered.
I pulled on Stonewall’s reins and directed him toward a clump of trees. I loosened his cinch and took his bridle off and attached it to his saddle. I then faced him and massaged his jaws and rubbed his neck. I whispered to him before he lapsed into his usual trance, “Don’t wander off.” As I turned to leave, I swear I heard him snore.
The Major had two men as members of his “cabal.” I recognized one as Captain Reynolds, our surgeon. I didn’t know the other one, but he acted like an assistant to the Captain. Mosby brought me into the group, which was huddled in a tight circle. Mosby enlightened me as to what was transpiring.
“We been going over what the Captn’s gonna say to the Yanks tomorrow to get them to go to the east of the Valley Road so we can hit em in the flank. Mind if he gives his spiel to ya? I wanna hear whatcha think?”
I nodded in the affirmative and turned to the Captain.