Due to the narrow cut of the mountain road, the Yanks could only ride two abreast. They weren’t taking any precautions, but barreling up the mountain ready to give us ‘what for’. This worked in our favor.
I could feel the men getting itchy to fire, so I said in a loud voice, “Steady men. Not yet.”
I looked down to where Captain Edwards was located. He was looking back at me with an expectant air, but I just shook my head “no.”
When the leading Yanks saw us in the road acting as a barrier, the leading two of their column fired their carbines. I heard their bullets whine over us. I waited until their front two men were within 20 yards of Captain Edwards’ battle line.
I yelled, “Front rank, ready, aim, fire. Load.” Ten carbines sounded as if one large explosion erupted from the mountain. It echoed down into the valley.
One of the two leading Yank troopers was ripped from his saddle and thrown back into the second file. The other lead Yank and his horse went down in a big pile in the middle of the road. The converging Yankee troopers plowed into the downed trooper creating a melee of crashing, rearing and falling horses and men.
I yelled, “Second rank, ready, aim, fire. Load” Another explosion erupted from our contingent as deadly missiles found their targets and added to the chaos.
Yanks were veering off on either side of the road to dodge the pile up on the road. I looked at Captain Edwards and nodded my head. He turned back to his men, and momentarily, I heard the report of thirty carbines followed by random shots of Colt pistols.
I ordered, “Front Rank, rise. Squad, forward march.” I marched the men down the road to where they filled the gap between the left and right wing of Captain Edwards’ men. Once in place, I ordered, “Front Rank, kneel.”
We looked at the mayhem below. There were dead Yankee troopers scattered on the road and on the landscape on both sides of the road, plus two dead horses in the road. However, a game Yankee captain had quickly gotten his men extricated from the carnage and was rallying them for another charge.
I yelled, “Front rank, ready, aim, fire. Load. Second rank, ready, aim, fire. Load.”
The bullets flew into the Yankee ranks, and that was all it took to help them vacate the mountain. The Yank troopers turned tail and galloped away with the Yank captain following them and cussing them for cowards all the way.
A cheer went up from our men that reverberated down into the valley. Men were throwing their hats in the air and pounding each other on the back.
I fired my pistol in the air and all shouting ceased. “Get up the mountain and form up. We ain’t done yet,” I yelled. This shocked the men, but they started scurrying up the mountain.
Once we were all assembled on the ridge line, I formed Al’s company as the lead company and Captain Edwards’ company as the rear company. I yelled, “Forward in single file, march.”
We began a precarious ride along the ridge to join up with Mosby, who I hoped was holding Crampton’s Gap.
Just about two minutes later, we heard two cannons fire a volley. I thought, “Oh, no. Mosby is in trouble.”