Civil War Transcendence, part 287


I never looked back as we broke out of the tree line. I just turned Stonewall to the north to skirt some hills that shielded us from the main Yankee column.  Continually rotating my right hand over my head and forward, I motioned that I wanted the company to follow me.

We bolted around a set of small hillocks and began to curl to the northwest. I really didn’t know what to expect on the other side of the knolls, but I remember that the last Yank regiment had only half way entered the northern part of Gapland.

Suddenly, I reined in Stonewall, and all the men behind me began to hastily bring their mounts to a stop to prevent crashing into their comrades in front of them. This was going to be the tricky part. In any unit maneuver, whether it is cavalry or infantry, there is an accordion effect.  I knew that the company was stretched out with a lot of intervals between horsemen, due to my brass acceleration out of the tree line.

I turned to Captain Greenley and abruptly commanded, “By files left, march!”

I knew this probably wasn’t the appropriate command for cavalry, but Greenley got the idea and turned to face toward the Yank column. All the men to his left began to turn in two ranks to face the Yanks and join in a slow march to keep the company line. As each set of two’s joined the march, they turned to face toward Gapland.

As we reached the bottom of the eastern face of hills between us and the Yanks, I leaned forward and looked down our ranks.  We were perfectly aligned. I looked behind us, and the artillery sergeant had his men in a column of twos ready to descend on the Yank artillery contingent.

I yelled at the top of my lungs, “Charge!”

I kicked Stonewall. We rode up over the hills, and before us was an awesome site.  Yankee infantry men were standing in their ranks craning their necks to see what all the firing was about to the south and to the east.

I screamed, “Fire!”

Our band of brothers fired piecemeal instead of in a volley, but the affect was nevertheless felt by the Union soldiers. We had completely surprised them.   As Yankee men began to fall, their officers were thrown into a panic.

I kept our men at full gallop toward the Union infantry. They were intimidated and forced to move to the west, leaving their dead and wounded.  Once we reached the Valley Pike, I called a halt and yelled for Captain Greenley to continue to fire at the Union infantry. We had completely cut off the artillery train and supply wagons from the infantry protection.

I pulled Stonewall backward and walked him down the back of our line. I yelled until 10 men on our end of the line heard me and ordered them to follow me.  I finally got them turned to the north, and we headed toward the Yank artillery train, which wasn’t but 50 yards north of us.


Our artillery sergeant had already deployed his men and began firing at the Union artillery men. Some of the Yanks had skedaddled, but others were trying to protect their guns and were firing back. As Stonewall raced toward the scattered group of Union men, I began firing my pistol at any and all blue coats. My small party followed suit, and as we reached the Union cannon, the rest of the Yanks vacated the area by running down the western side of the supply wagons.

I immediately yelled at our Artillery Sergeant, “Get ‘em spiked and haul tha rest up to tha gap.”

He nodded back.

I turned to my group and declared, “Stay and protect our artillery men and accompany them to the gap.” I pointed to one of the men and ordered, “Yar in charge.”

He gulped and nodded.

I turned Stonewall and headed south. As I approached Greenley’s men, I could see the Yanks had rallied and were making a stand. They were also starting to inflict casualties on our men.  I saw a ragged Union volley take down more of our men including Captain Greenley.


About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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