The sun rose higher and higher and I got scared-er and scared-er.
Mosby was asleep by a tree with his horse’s reins tied to his boot.
I wished I could manifest the same calm. I also wished that Stonewall had hands and could give me a massage instead of vice versa. However, I stood in front of my cayuse and continued to give him a rubdown. It was the only way I could keep my hands from trembling.
A few minutes later, Mosby stirred and got up. He gave his horse’s reins to a courtier, came to where I was standing and queried in a matter of fact voice, “Seen anything yet?”
“No sir,” I replied.
“Well, let’s go take a look,” he suggested.
I quit massaging Stonewall, and when his eye opened, I said, “I’ll be back in a minute.”
Mosby just grinned at our communication as I followed him toward the head of Captain Greenley’s line of cavalry.
We reached the end of Greenley’s line and began to climb straight up the steep slope of the mountain, jockeying for a good site to view the Yanks column through the trees. After about 50 paces, Mosby sat down and took out his binoculars. Adjusting the lens, he observed the northern part of the valley.
He murmured, “Hmmm. Tha rear of thar column has just cleared Rohersville, and tha head of thar column is at tha junction of tha Valley Pike and Trego Road, where Captain Reedy’s company is located. Thar cavalry flankers are still close to tha main body and parallel to it with tha head of thar flankers just fifty yards ahead of the leading infantry regiment.”
Then he chuckled and relayed, “And they still don’t have any advance scouts. I betcha they didn’t believe they would be hit until south of Gapland. And I also betcha they’ll send out advanced scouts when tha head of tha column gets to tha south of Gapland.”
He turned to me and said, “Well, Lieutenant, we best get back to tha men.”
I nodded and we descended the mountain back to the Townsend Road and walked back to our horses.
In a low voice Mosby told a courtier to get First Sergeant Walker and Capt. Greenley.
When the men arrived, Mosby explained, “Capt. Greenley, Lieutenant Hager will be leading yar company and tha artillery men out Townsend Road, through some hills and on line to hit tha Yanks’ artillery train. Ya will assault tha Yank column when tha Lieutenant gets yar company on line. Tha Lieutenant’s job is to get tha cannon we need to Crampton’s Gap. Ya will follow his orders in completing that mission.”
Captain Greenley nodded, and looking at me, said, “Yes sir.”
Mosby turned to Sergeant Walker and said, “Sergeant, I’ll be riding with yar company. We’re gonna hit tha Yank flankers or whatever contingent they’ll have on this side of Gapland to give Lieutenant tha element of surprise when Capt. Greenley’s company attacks tha Yank artillery train.”
The Sergeant returned, “Yes sir.”
Looking at both commanders, Mosby said, “As quietly as ya can, get yar men are up and ready to go. We should be moving within tha hour. Dismissed.”
We saluted and Mosby returned our salutes. Then our last conference broke up. I went to see about the artillery men.
Greenley’s company was already facing northward, which was the way we had to advance. So he walked toward the head of his column to order his sergeants to quietly rouse the men and have them ready to mount at a moment’s notice.
I accompanied him in total silence until I came upon the artillery contingent, which was at the back of Greenley’s column. They were arrayed in uniform with the traditional red piping on their sleeves and collars. I found their sergeant and pulled him aside.
He saluted and I quietly informed him with as much confidence as I could muster, “I’ll be leading tha column out and behind some hills to keep tha Yanks from seeing us. I’m gonna bring tha company on line, and we’ll assault tha Yank artillery train. As soon as we break out of tha treeline, I want ya to break your men off to tha left and parallel Greenley’s column.”
“Follow us as we charge. We’ll take tha artillery train. Ya bring yar men up and start spiking tha cannon and getting the teams of horse hooked up to the cannon that we’re ‘spouse to take. Once ya got ‘em ready to go, take off back up tha road we’re on now to tha top of tha mountain. I’ll be keeping an eye on ya. If’n ya run into trouble, I’ll get help to ya as soon as I can.”
The Sergeant looked at me in daze and had a quizzical look on his face and reluctantly said, “Yes sir.”
He was so agog that he forgot to salute.
I smiled and assured him, “Don’t worry about anything ‘cept getting those cannon up tha mountain.”
He nodded again, but his demeanor didn’t seem right.
For some reason I asked, “How many cannon have they told ya to take up tha mountain?
“All of ‘em,” he replied.
“Who told ya that?” I hissed.
“Captain Owens,” he answered.
I replied, “Captain Owens was not correct. You are to spike all but two of tha cannon. Attach tha extra teams from tha spiked guns to tha teams for tha two cannon and get ‘em up tha mountain.”
The Sergeant’s countenance took on a refreshed glow as he replied, “Thank ya Lieutenant for changing tha orders. I didn’t know how we were gonna get tha whole battery up that mountain. It won’t cause us a problem to get just two up therah.”
I nodded and added, “Quietly, get yar men up and ready to go. Won’t be long now.”
He saluted me and headed toward his men.
I meandered back to Mosby and Stonewall. When I got there, I looked at Captain Owens, who was still tied up and guarded by a courtier.
I walked over to the guarding courtier and asked, “You ever shot anybody?” He shook his head that he hadn’t
“Do ya think ya could?” I queried.
“Yes sir,” he answered.
Pointing at Owens, I ordered through gritted teeth, “If he so much as tries to get to his feet, I want ya to kill him and do it quietly.” The courtier looked at Mosby to see what his response would be.
Mosby just nodded in the affirmative.
Captain Owens’ face turned white as a sheet.