As we walked down the mountain, I checked my pocket watch. It was barely 9:00 am. It seemed like half the day had already passed instead of just two hours. As I replaced the timepiece, I witnessed the sun break through the scud layer of clouds and cast a brilliant sheen on the valley before us. The brightness made me squint and tear up from the sudden assault on my eyes.
I let out a sigh and thought, “Well, there goes the protection of the fog. It’ll be burnt off before you know it.”
For some reason, I began to contemplate my ever changing orders lately. First, I was required to direct our forces from our Potomac River camp to Pleasant Valley. Second, I had to personally engage in two fights to get us here. Third, I was sent to scout out Crampton’s Gap to see what the situation was up there. Fourth, I directed three cavalry companies to their present deployment. Fifth, I was responsible for getting the two cavalry companies to their present position in a tree line at the base of South Mountain. Sixth, I was originally designated to lead our forces in case Mosby went down. Thank heavens, that order had been replaced by making sure the cannon we captured from the Yanks gets to the top of Crampton’s Gap.
I probably have left out some other orders over the last two days, but that was it in a nutshell. I made a vow to myself: “If I make it out of here alive, I’m retiring from the Army.“
Mosby was met by a courtier when we reached our horses. They spoke in whispered tones for a moment. Mosby turned and beckoned me to join them.
He pointed to the north and said, “Thar moving quickly. Tha head of their column is already at Locust Grove, which is nawth of Rohersville. Our boys at Rohersville Station probably got ‘em in their sights already. I ‘spect they’ll be at Gapland in another two hours.”
I nodded in agreement.
Mosby turned to me and queried, “How ya gonna hit ‘em?
“Greenley’s company is already headed northwest on the Townsend Road toward the valley pike. Once we break out of the protection of tha woods, if’n we swing due north, we can skirt around a small ridgeline and hopefully stay out of sight of tha Yank artillery contingent. If ya could provide a diversion, we can come on line and hit tha Yanks a surprise blow in their flank. I don’t know what protection tha Yank artillery will have, but any attack y’all could make would help us immensely. Also, I ‘spect that Captain Reedy’s northern blocking force won’t be too far behind us and can help us too.”
Mosby grinned and nodded his agreement. He turned to one of his courtiers and issued an order for Captain Greenley to join us.
As the courtier walked down the road on his mission, I went in search of Stonewall. I found him sedately standing next to the tree where I had left him an hour ago. As usual, I hadn’t encumbered him in any way, but he had stayed where I left him. I gave him a quick massage, during which I uttered, “t’won’t be long now.” He snorted and went into his meditative state. I just wished I could be as calm as he was.