The Captain gently cleared his throat and softly began, “I’ll have a black flag, that I was able to construck outta a black shirt found inna house in Rohersville Station, which I will wave when tha Yankee Column approaches.”
I held up my hand after this brief soliloquy. He stopped and gave me a reproachable look.
I delicately asked, “Captain, where are you from?”
His countenance changed to one of uncertainty and he murmured, “Well, Richmond, ah course.”
I nodded in agreement and sighed, “Well, Captain, I’m afraid that you won’t do to talk with the Yanks. Your Tidewater accent will tip the Yanks that you are not from this area almost at once.”
He puffed up like a bullfrog and was ready to argue the affront I had made to his lineage, when I suddenly turned to Mosby and whispered, “Is there anyone in the surgical team that might have an accent that is neutral or even Northern in modulation?”
“Major!” the Captain said in a normal voice.
Mosby raised his hand and uttered in a whisper, “Shhhh, do ya wanna raise everybody in the area?”
This quieted the Captain’s retort and cowed him to be quiet.
Mosby looked at me for a long 30 seconds and said, “Why don’t you make the spiel to tha Yanks? Your accent’s sort-a neutral and it definitely ain’t a Virginny accent a-tall.”
I was taken aback by the suggestion and then remembered the Yankee Captain I had been having a run in over the last few months. I responded, “I can’t do it, Major. That Yankee Cavalry Captain knows me, and so do a lot of others in the blue uniform that I have accosted.”
Mosby nodded in agreement, and with an exasperated whisper asked, “Well, who else can do it?”
The Captain pointed at his assistant and stated, “He can. He took his trainin’ in Philadelphia and is from northeastern Maryland. He doesn’t sound too southern for yourah needs.”
We all turned to the young Lieutenant, and Mosby softly said, “Speak for us, son.”
The Lieutenant grinned, and in a low bass voice quizzed, “What do you want me to say?”
His voice was as a combination of Delaware brogue and Maryland drawl. It would be music to the Yankees’ ears. We all smiled from ear to ear and Mosby put his hand on the Lieutenant’s shoulder and declared gently, “You been elected for this very important duty. You gotta convince tha Yankees to bypass Gapland and take to tha area to tha east of tha town. Ya think ya kin do that Lieutenant?”
“Yes sir,” came the prompt reply along with a knowing grin, which was not what I had expected.
I would have been scared to death with this monumental mission. Our whole strategy depended on the Yankees not going through Gapland. I didn’t know why the young Lieutenant was so all fired confident with this major task.