Finally, I was able to stutter in a loud voice, “Do ya mean, if’n you go down, I’ll be in command?”
Mosby whispered, “Hush Lieutenant. Yes, that is exactly what I mean.”
As I shook my head from side to side, I looked him in the eye and hissed, “Tha Captains won’t follow me. I’m a Lieutenant.”
Mosby grinned and muttered, “Jim, ya been in more gunfights, wounded in more shootouts and participated in more cavalry charges than all these so-called Captains put together. Once tha fighting starts, I betcha tha lot of ‘em goes to pieces. They’re gonna follow tha first man that shows he knows what he’s doin’. It ain’t a-gonna matter if he’s a General or a private.”
“Then why are you lettin’ ‘em command your companies?” I retorted.
“Cause they gotta learn some time,” he rejoined.
I looked at him for a long moment and then said, “Then don’t let yah’self go and git killed.”
He just grinned from ear to ear. Then he pointed toward the western face of South Mountain and intoned, “I’m a-gonna put Greenley’s and Owens’ companies in tha trees at the base of the mountain. They’ll have a long ride to attack the Yank’s flank, but I ‘spect if’n we don’t put ‘em therah, the Yank cavalry flanking guard might discover ‘em. Heck, they probably will anyway, but hopefully it’ll give our other companies the element of surprise.”
I looked from the mountain back at Mosby and muttered, “You don’t think this is gonna work, do ya?”
Mosby turned and looked at me and said, “This is tha best plan for inflicting casualties on tha Yanks and getting over tha mountain to meet up with General Ashby. I like tha initial plan. I just wish we had more cover here. And since I’m wishing for the moon, I wish that Gapland was located about 10 miles away from here. That town’s gonna be tha thorn in our side.”
We stood around in silence for a few more moments. Then Mosby said, “Better go and get ready. As soon as ya get back, I’m a-gonna send you to get tha two companies up and dispersed in tha trees.”
I saluted and left without waiting for his return salute. I felt nauseous. As soon as I got back to Stonewall’s lair, I grabbed my canteen and took a big swig of water to settle my stomach. My fearful manner must have created reverberations in the atmosphere because Stonewall came out of his reverie, turned his head and fixed his gaze on me.
I nodded at him and just said, “Yes, it’s that bad.”
He snored as I picked up his saddle and began the cinching process. Once completed, I said, “Come on,” and began walking back to the Major. Stonewall fell in behind me as we moseyed toward what I perceived as a great reckoning with the “powers that be.”
I looked up and saw fog starting to form on the mountain. I could feel it’s fingers of frosty air as it floated down the mountain. I grinned and thought, “Well, this ethereal curtain will protect us from discovery for a while.” In appreciation I doffed my hat toward the mountain.
Suddenly, she appeared out of the gloom. I recognized that greenish blue tint immediately.