The first thing I did, once we had the Yanks on the run, was turn to see if our artillery men had finished spiking some of the Yank cannon. Some of the men were finishing spiking four of the Union guns, and some were harnessing additional teams of horses to two of the captured pieces.
I turned back and looked for Captain Reedy. I spied him directing his men in volley fire at the retreating Yanks. I nudged Stonewall and we galloped the short distance to where he was located. I yelled at him, “Great maneuver Cap’n. Ya saved our bacon.”
He nodded and yelled back, “What cha want us to do now?”
I pointed to Captain Greenley’s men and hollered over the noise of the volleys, “Take over Greenley’s men and add ‘em to yar company. Keep tha Yanks engaged while we move tha cannon to tha gap. When ya hear tha cannon go off, get up to tha Gap as fast as ya can.”
He nodded and saluted. I returned the salute, wheeled Stonewall around, and pointed him toward our artillery men. Nudging him, I yelled, “Let’s go.”
As usual, he sprang toward and almost dislodged me from the saddle, but I was able to grab the front part of the saddle and hang on for dear life. We arrived at the Yank artillery train in an instant. I took a quick inventory of what had been accomplished. Four of the Yank cannon were spiked, and two teams of horses had been coupled together to move one of the captured cannon. The artillery sergeant was busy directing his men in harnessing the last cannon with two teams of horses.
I searched the area for the ten cavalry troopers I had assigned to the artillery crew. They were nowhere in sight. I nudged Stonewall forward, and we raced along the western edge of the abandon Yank supply train. I finally found them ravaging a supply wagon of food. I fired my pistol in the air, which startled them.
Growling through gritted teeth, I stated, “Tha next man that picks up any Yank rations is a dead man.”
They all dropped what they had in their hands and just looked at me with a shocked expression.
“I left ya to protect our artillery men and ya go off on a plundering expedition. I ought to shoot tha lot of ya on tha spot.”
I saw a few Adam’s Apples bob up and down and a few eyes looking guiltily toward the ground.
“Now get out of the wagons and set fire to as many of these wagons as you can.” I fired my pistol in the air and yelled, “And I mean now!”
You have never seen the wild rush of men to mount their horses as occurred after my command emphasized with my sidearm. Men scattered to find something to act as torches so the supply train could be destroyed by fire. I followed their search until they found an ammunition wagon. They broke open some ammo boxes and created a fuse of sorts with torn strips from the wagon’s canvas covering. They released the wagon’s team of horses and lit the fuse. We vacated the area. A brief instant later there was a loud explosion and the wagon was blown to pieces.
I yelled at the men to quickly release ten of the Yank supply wagons’ teams of horses and to use the fires started by the exploded wagon to set fire to those wagons. Then to report back to me at the artillery train.
I turned Stonewall back toward the artillery train and nudged him. We were off as if he had the Wings of Pegasus.
We broke past the last Yank supply wagon, and I saw that the artillery men were ready to take the two captured Yank cannon to the gap. The artillery sergeant saluted and yelled from the saddle of the front horse of the lead team, “Ready to go, Lieutenant.”
I yelled back, “Let ‘er rip, Sarge.”
He saluted and began cussing and yelling as he spurred the lead horse. The horses leaned into their harnesses and began gaining momentum as they fought the force of inertia. After about thirty yards, they got up a head of steam and headed the short distance down the Valley Pike to Townsend Road and then up to Crampton’s Gap.
I breathed a sigh of relief.