Civil War Transcendence, part 305

 

Mosby turned to one of his courtiers and ordered, “Go, see what’s happening and report to me.”

The courtier saluted and ran out the door of the church.

Mosby turned to me and said, “Y’all saddle up and get whatever troopers ya can and get up tha mountain.”

We both saluted and followed closely on the courtier’s coattails.

We saddled in haste and got on the road back through Burkittsville. We ran across the troop we were destined to command that day, which was Greenley’s old company. They were in the process of saddling their mounts.

I saw the First Sergeant and yelled, “As soon as y’all are mounted, follow us up tha mountain.”

He waved that he understood.

Al and I nudged our horses at the same time and rode like the wind toward the gap.  It was steep going and our cayuses really were winded when we reached the top.

Once we broke into the gap’s clearing, we saw a line of Quantrill’s men at the western edge of the clearing firing down the mountainside. We located Quantrill in the middle of the line firing his pistol. Riding up to his position, we dismounted and approached him.  He turned at the noise we made and a big grin lit up his features.

Quantrill

William Quantrill

“Well, Lieutenant, have ya come to see tha slaughter?” I was taken aback, not knowing if he meant that he was in dire straits or that the Yanks were.  He laughed at my puzzled look and motioned me forward. He pointed down the mountainside at Yank Infantry firing while advancing on a wide front toward the gap.

Quantrill yelled, “Sharpshooters, ready, aim, fire.”

Four shots rang out followed by four tremendous explosions.  The force of the detonations shook the ground and made all of us close our eyes and put our hands over our ears to stop the pain from concussion.  Stonewall and Al’s horse reared. Stonewall turned and trotted away about twenty five yards. Al’s horse beat a hasty retreat to the other side of the gap.

As my hearing gradually returned, I could hear Quantrill and his men laughing as they looked down the mountainside.  I glanced to see what caused such glee. Four huge holes now were part of the landscape.  All the trees around the holes looked like piles of kindling. There were men and parts of men scattered all over the ground. There were even some bodies in the treetops. The survivors were picking themselves up and stumbling down toward the Valley Pike.

I turned and looked at Quantrill. He looked at me with a grin and stated, “We worked all night to get those charges ready. Maybe tha Yanks will know better to mess with us from now on.”

I narrowed my gaze and answered, “Ya just created a blood feud with that unit. I think they’re gonna be after ya hide from now on.”

He grinned back and said, “So be it.”

I returned, “I guess we’re done here.” I turned without any salutations and left.

Stonewall was standing looking me and wouldn’t move toward me.  I walked to him and said, “That man’s is crazy as a loon. I wanna get out of here.”

I mounted.  I looked down and saw Al. I had been so shocked by Quantrill’s savagery that I hadn’t realized Al had been listening to all the palaver and had followed me. I looked around for his horse and saw it was nowhere to be found.

Automatically, I took my boot out of my left stirrup and extended my left hand.  Al, using my offerings, mounted behind me. I wearily turned Stonewall back toward Burkittsville.

 

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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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