Civil War Transcendence, part 304

 

Al and I were able to scrounge up some hay for our cayuses and a biscuit or two for ourselves from the quartermaster, which was unusual. Ordinarily, he didn’t have any supplies for us, and we had to forage for ourselves.

Once Stonewall and Al’s horse had eaten their allotment of food, we walked them to a small pond south of Burkittsville for a drink of water. Al and I were so tired that we hardly uttered a word during the trek to the pond nor on the return trip to Mosby’s headquarters in the local church.

Al and I entered the church.  The place was hopping with activity. Mosby had courtiers being sent in all directions to locate General Turner Ashby, plus setting up the picket schedule for the night, and getting foraging parties organized for gathering food for both animals and humans alike.

Following my example, Al had brought his horse’s saddle and riding paraphernalia into the church for safe keeping. He put his horse’s saddle blanket on his horse before we entered the church. I retrieved Stonewall’s blanket.

I left word with Mosby’s First Sergeant that Al and I would be outside bedded down next to the church.  Outside, Al and I took our horses to the back of the church and out of the wind. I put the saddle blanket on Stonewall to give him some sort of barrier against the cold.  We wrapped up in our woolen blankets and huddled next to the church, attempting to sleep.

I was okay for about 2 hours, but along about midnight the cold started creeping into my bones.  I nudged Al and said, “Time to spoon.”

He grunted and we rolled next to each other and shared blankets and coats. The heat from our bodies was a welcomed respite from the cold. I didn’t stir again until about 4:00 am. It was a very restful night, which we needed from the exertions of the previous two days.

I dozed off again, but was rudely brought awake with a kick to the bottom of my foot.  I opened an eye to see Mosby’s First Sergeant looking down at me.

He said, “Ya need to get up and report to the Major in the church.”

I muttered, “I’m up and will be there momentarily.”

The Sergeant just harrumphed and left.

I began to get pull on my boots, and poking Al, said, “Come on we gotta go see tha Major.”

Al reluctantly got up and put on his boots.

After we did our daily business in a tree line behind the church, we put on our coats and draped our blankets over our shoulders, but we were still cold. The weather had definitely changed.  Coming back to the church, we saw our horses standing where we had left them. Their breath making fog clouds in the early morning damp.

304-wood-stove

We entered the church, which was pleasantly warm. I looked at the back and front of the church for the source of this wonderful heat.  The church had been supplied with two small iron stoves. One was in the front and another in back of the auditorium. And, praise be, there were boiling pots of coffee on both stoves. Al and I made a beeline to our gear, retrieved our tin cups and poured the wonderful elixir into the army’s excuse for a goblet.

Mosby grinned at our activity and motioned us over.

“Well, gentleman,“ he started, “we have our first message from General Ashby. He has just arrived at Point of Rocks on tha Potomac River. He will begin crossing at dawn. He wants us to meet him at Adamstown, which is about 15 miles southeast of our present position.  Do either of you know where Adamstown is located?”

Al responded, “I do Major. I been there before, and there ain’t but one road that’ll get us there, the Mountville Road. Once we leave here, we will continue on the main road to the southeast, until we come to Jefferson, and then we will take the Mountville Road.”

“Good,“ Major Mosby replied.  “Okay, y’all will lead out. I’m assigning what’s left of Greenley’s company to ya. I want ya to scout ahead, and if’n there’s a problem, I want early warning of it.”

Suddenly we heard firing from Crampton’s Gap.

 

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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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