I waved at Mosby. He caught my movement even in the dark night and picked his way amongst the prone figures toward me. I motioned to the tree that the Captains had just vacated as their nesting places.
He stopped in front of me and dismounted. His four courtiers parked their horses next to his and dismounted also. Mosby approached me and quietly demanded, “Report.”
I whispered, “The Captains have been woke up and gone to get their sergeants to wake up tha men. I told ‘em I was gonna guide them to tha tree line close to tha mountain. I also gave ‘em both some spades to clean up tha area so’s tha Yankee scouts won’t find evidence of us being here. I ‘spect tha men will be getting up pretty soon. Oh, yeah. I also directed tha wagon driver to get his wagon up to Crampton’s Gap before sunrise.” I looked at the ground for a few seconds. Then added, “I guess that’s about it, sir.”
Mosby had been staring at me the whole time. Once I had finished, he smiled and whispered, “Good.” He looked at his courtiers, who had kept their distance, and motioned for all of us to gather closer to him.
Once we had all congregated in a tight circle, he looked at each of the courtiers in turn. Then he said in a stern, but low voice, “If I go down during this fight, Lieutenant Hager’s gonna take over. You will do whatever he says. If he says for you to go tell one of tha Captains to perform a certain maneuver, you will tell tha Captain it was my order. Do you understand?”
All the courtiers nodded their acknowledgment.
Mosby turned and walked to the nesting tree. He sat down with his horse’s reins in his hand and immediately fell asleep. The courtiers followed suit in the general area.
I heard our wagon begin to roll out of camp. I quietly spoke to Stonewall, “Wake up. We gotta go.” His eyes immediately opened wide signifying he was ready to go. I mounted and directed him toward the wagon. Once I intercepted our battalion’s supply conveyance, I waved the wagon driver to stop.
He pulled back on the reins and said in a low voice, “Whoa, whoa.”
I leaned toward him and muttered, “I need ya to get down and guide tha team from tha front ‘til ya get in tha tree line at tha base of the mountain. Then ya can get back in tha wagon seat for tha rest of tha way.”
He looked at me for a moment and seemed to contemplating what I said. Finally nodding his head in understanding, he quipped, “Yessir.” He quickly descended from his dais, walked to the mule on the right of the front pair, put his hand in the mule’s bridle and in a subdued voice urged, “Let’s go Champ.” Gently pulling on the bridle, he got the team moving on the road toward Crampton’s Gap.
I turned Stonewall around and headed back to the nesting tree.
I could see men disperse among the prone troopers and begin to shake men awake. The sergeants and corporals had started the countdown to our planned confrontation.
I took in a deep breath and let it out. Looking skyward, I prayed, “Lord, help us.”